Iamerge could not imagine what to do. His friend, normally a tower of emotional strength, was devastated and though he could think of nothing to do he was there, witnessing the break-down. Finally, reflexively, Iamerge reached out and patted the man on his shoulder where he lay. Conal seized him with his one good hand and wept and wept.
Iamerge might have run, but anchored by Conal’s iron grip he could not. He sat and desperately tried to think of what to do. At last Conal’s grip loosened as his sobbing subsided. When Conal finally released his hold completely Iamerge felt relief and yet, strangely, a sense of loss. He reached out and patted the man as he’d done at the first.
“Thank you Iamerge, you’re a true friend.” Conal whispered, then he lay back and covered his tear reddened eyes with his arm.
“If there’s anything I can do. . .” Iamerge offered.
From across the room a gruff voice called, “What do I need to do to get something to eat in this place?”
Iamerge and Conal both burst out laughing. Iamerge punched Conal gently on the shoulder before he rose and was treated to the same old twinkle in his eye that he’d come to expect from the man. “I’ll have to see if the hungry monks have left us anything.”
“I need bark tea!” came a quavering call from another quarter, pain evident in the voice.
“I can get you some cold,” called Conal. “I’m sure the brothers will bring hot later.” Conal and Iamerge exchanged smiles and went to their duties, self imposed though they were.