A shadow passed close and Iamerge woke disoriented and a bit confused. “Iamerge?” a voice said. Iamerge opened his eyes and was blinded by the sun, lower now and shining directly in his eyes.
Blinking, he threw his arm over his eyes, “yes, I’m here.”
Seeing Iamerge’s discomfort, Gospels moved to his side, “I didn’t see you after Teirt, and I was afraid you’d left us. . .” Gospels seemed to run out of words or pause to consider, “. . .I had hoped to ask you about what you meant to do.”
Iamerge probably shouldn’t have been irritated by the monks prying, but the muddle he’d made of his morning angered him too much, “What, am I not allowed to leave this place? It’s really none of your business what I do.” He instantly regretted his pique, but it was too late, the words were spoken and he saw Gospels harden at his harsh words.
Before he could speak to take back what he’d said he saw the battle on Gospel’s face and then, remarkably, a sheepish smile grew where there had been wounded pride, “You are quite right my friend. I . . . I have the habit of command from when I was Abbott you know. And now, perhaps for pride, I’ve imagined some work that the Lord has for me through you. I apologize.”
Iamerge imagined he must have looked like a stranded fish, gaping and gasping, but before he could even be gracious enough to apologize himself or even to accept the one offered, the older man plunged on, “Might I sit with you Iamerge?”
“Certainly, oh please do. I only meant. . . I didn’t mean rather. . . This morning did not go as I’d planned.”
Gospels plopped down beside him with a little groan, “Indeed, I was just surprised that you had business in the town. And too, very happy that you’d returned seeing that you did.”
“I’m sorry for snapping at you Gospels, you’ve been so kind to me.”
“Yes, and brought you here and abandoned you. It was about that which I wanted to talk to you. As it happens, though I return as one of the brothers here. . . Well, I’m not.”
“No, I was the Abbott. Then I abandoned my post on my personal quest and left many problems. And no doubt the Lord would have sorted out all that in time, but my return has done nothing to further healing and much to hurt it.”
“I see. . .”
“In part perhaps, but the rest of it is that I am convinced that God led me to this seeming madness that I might be the instrument of your salvation. In this I may be engaging in pridefulness. . .”
“But you did save me.”
“No. No Iamerge. In truth I was there to see it, but it was the hand of God that plucked you from the flood. I see that.”
“How can you say that? I would have died, if not drowned then starved, or of the cold.”
Gospels smiled, “No, I believe that the God who created the world and upholds that creation by his will could uphold you. Out of the sea, out of hunger, it matters not.” The old man laughed and leaned back against the tree with his eyes closed, “And so here I am and again I do not know why. I pray thee God, please show me what to do.”
Gospels seemed to fall into reverie or sleep. All this was strange to Iamerge though it reminded him of time he had spent with the old Jewish book-keeper who had taught him letters and opened to him the world of books.
“Look, Gospels, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, but I expected to be able to get a small amount of money, some seed money to begin again. I would never have left without saying good-bye. Or left at all, I really don’t know what I’m going to do. In fact I thought I might be able to repay your kindness to me.” Iamerge glanced over at Gospels to see if they had had any effect, he doesn’t believe a word I am saying and why should he? I’m not sure what I would have done then and I don’t really know now.
“Before it seemed so easy. I thought I would sail into the port, get my money, and begin a new life, but all that has changed as you know. I’ve no boat, the money is in doubt, and the man I went to meet is dead and his son nearly ran me down riding out of town to some emergency.”
Gospels seemed to come back, he looked hard at Iamerge, “What sort of emergency was this?”
“I’m not really sure, I think it was an attack on a trade caravan, at least that’s what Jim Cooper thought. It was he who pulled me out of the path of the riders returning to town and the one who told me that Rhaury Ui Birlinn rode back out with a small army of guards to see to it.” Gospels clamoured to his feet, obviously agitated. “Gospels what is it?”
Gospels put his fingers in his mouth and shrilled a whistle that made Iamerge’s ears ring. A young monk working in a field nearby rushed toward them.