Iamerge stepped out into the day and closed the guesthouse door behind him. He was more than a little disappointed that Rhuary UiBirlinn was nowhere to be seen. Another opportunity squandered, he thought.
Nothing to be done about it. I’ve things to do anyway. Iamerge headed for the refectory. The wounded men were waking, and along with herbal remedies to deal with their pain would be a their need for food.
Fortunately, the monks had done a good job supplying that need after a bumpy start. At first, they counted up mouths and imagined they need only supply that much more, but the monks of the Biblious Monastery kept themselves on very short rations. Wounded men needed much more, not just to feed them what they were accustomed, but also more to fuel their recuperation.
Iamerge had benefited from this realization. It was a benefit of being with the wounded that he was fed like one. The monks were unstintingly generous as soon as they realized their error. Iamerge expected that there would be ample food waiting for him in the Refectory.
In a community without doors one hears things. It wasn’t long before Iamerge began to hear urgent words. It seemed that the meeting between Gospels and UiBirlinn had moved indoors and the refectory had become the conference room.
It was awkward, but Iamerge decided he might best be served by hovering near the door while the conversation continued. It was not difficult to hear Rhaury UiBirlinn, “This hill of yours is indefensible as it now stands. . .” Perhaps my opportunity is not gone, Iamerge thought.
“We do not need to defend it, this place is the Lord’s,” said a voice that Iamerge guessed was the new abbot.
“Master UiBirlinn, you needn’t worry about us. Our lives are in God’s hands. If we die we gain reward, if it is for Christ’s sake. Every man of us is commited to it.” That seemed to be from Gospels.
“What madness is this? If you mean to commit suicide, go find the monsters. I am sure they will oblige, but do not provide the meal that brings them to my gates.”
“We do not wish death. . .” began Gospels, but the new abbot spoke louder.
“For a chance at martyrdom we would indeed count ourselves blessed, every man of us. We do our duty before the Lord, and if He will offer us this cup of martyrdom then how can we refuse?”
“You are mad then. These are not devils to tempt you, they are monsters who will eat you. If you think defeat at their hands will be some honor, you go to them, but you will do nothing but feed them. You will gain no honor, at least nothing that I would call honor.” Iamerge thought about stepping in, but then UiBirlinn continued, “Is the cow honored to be roasted, or the hog blessed bacon to be?”
“It is not that,” spoke Gospels, ” just, all things, even something that might seem senseless or tragic, can be made into good by our Lord.”
“That would be some trick, that. The lot of you killed and consumed and that to the good? Will you sour in their bellies and so bring them down? Wear thee hemlock and nightshade as you go, for eat you they will.”
“Pardon us Master UiBirlinn. We take your point, I think, but you do not know our Lord.” Gospels had a way of speaking that could silence you with a whisper, his very softness seemed to make his words more potent, “At one time we had plans for a tower. It was to house our bells, famously, the very ones for which the town is named. Perhaps we should consider making a tower to hold us safe as well as to house the bells.”
“It seems to me too late for that sort of effort. . .”
“Indeed, it was half a century ago that the plan was abandoned Gospels.”
“True, and yet our guesthouse is the foundation of that tower and the bells rest in vaults beneath it. If God provides this extremity, perhaps he can provide the stone masons and crafters to make us a tower now that we need one.”
“Do you imagine that it could be so, brother Gospels?”
“Give glory to God brother abbot. His timing is not man’s timing nor are His thought my thought. Still, I have long wanted to see those bells installed, and if God will have a fortress, perhaps he will provide it and home for my bells as well.”
“If you find stone-masons then you’ve found a rare thing. I need such myself. I plan to raise a wall above the current palisade, but at low tide an army could walk around the fortifications near the water. I need to extend the wall into the bay or perhaps build a wall across the dockside and fortify the wharf. Either way I’ll need stone work if it is to be done right.”
“Are you going in?” The question from behind nearly made Iamerge jump out of his skin. Iamerge whirled to find brother Corinthians behind him.
“I hadn’t yet decided,” he managed, but Corinthians seemed unaffected by his eavesdropping and he calmed.
“They ran me out, or rather invited themselves in and started all that and I felt the call else-where.” Corinthians smiled, “I expect you’re looking for the victuals for the wounded and the pain mendicants.” a look like concern drifted across the old man’s face, “What do you imagine they are on about anyhow?”
Not wanting to reveal what he overheard Iamerge said, “God only knows”
Corinthians beamed, “Surely that is true. He does.” Being reminded of Providence seemed good enough for Corinthians. God knew and so he had no need to concern himself. “Wait here, I’ll get you what you need and be back in a few moments. Corinthians patted Iamerge on the way by and slipped in to the refectory.
Again I’ve let my chance pass, Iamerge thought. With nothing to do but wait, he let his attention drift back to the conversation within.