Times Change For Sister Joan – Episode 11

WHERE is Gianna now?” she asked.

“She’s still in the kitchen. I have to say that she’s very good at the washing up and no-one could be more fastidious with the cleanliness, but as for the rest . . .”

Joan got up from her chair.

“Wait here, please, Clare. I shall return with Sister Gianna Rosella and all three of us shall have a little talk about all this.”

“Oh! I don’t want to get her into any trouble!” Clare exclaimed. “I just didn’t want to keep my feelings from you.”

“I know that, Clare, but things are not going smoothly, and I don’t want the situation to escalate.”

As Joan opened the kitchen door she could hear Sister Gianna singing in Italian.

She was standing on a chair, cleaning the top shelf of the dresser. The plates that had been displayed were piled up on the kitchen table and there was a bowl of steaming soap suds in the sink.

“Sister, what are you doing?” Joan started forward fearing that Gianna would fall.

“I clean the shelf and plates.” Gianna smiled down at Joan. “They are very greasy. Kitchens make a lot of grease.” She climbed down from the chair and placed it tidily at the table again.

“Sister, we all take a hand in the cleaning when the time is right. Many hands make light work, you know. One person should not have to manage alone.”

Gianna sighed.

“I just wanted to show that I’m not afraid of hard work, Mother.”

“I am aware of that, Sister. It must have taken a great deal of hard work to produce a cookery book such as the one I looked through this morning.” Joan smiled.

Gianna’s cheeks glowed.

“Mother Catherine was afraid I would become too boastful about it. It was a very exciting time for me.”

“So I understand.” Joan smiled. “But at this moment you and I must go to my study. Sister Clare is there and she is a little upset about certain things to do with the running of the kitchen.”

Joan didn’t like to say that Clare was very upset. She hoped that a little conversation with the two nuns would pour oil on troubled waters.

“I noticed that Sister was a little quiet,” Gianna remarked as they walked down the corridor to the study. “I’m sorry I burned the – pottage?”

“It was porridge,” Joan corrected her. “But you were not to know the secrets of Sister Clare’s way with that particular breakfast food.”

“I can do croissants,” Gianna offered hopefully.

Sister Clare was still sitting patiently on the chair by Joan’s desk. She rose as the two nuns entered the room and pulled up another chair for Gianna.

“Thank you, Clare. Please sit down, Gianna.” Joan sat at her desk and looked at her two sisters. “Now, then. Let’s sort out these little problems.”

“What problems?” Gianna asked.

There was a short silence.

“Polenta – that’s one.” Sister Clare said loudly. “And cipolle and sardine marinate.”

“What is wrong with onions and sardines?” Gianna replied hotly.

“Onions are onions and sardines are in tins!” Clare retorted.

“Dear sisters!” Joan held up her hands “This can surely be sorted out amicably?”

The two nuns sat side by side quietly awaiting the next move. Joan leaned her elbows on her desk.

“I think I have an idea.” She smiled. “This evening at recreation time, when we are all gathered in the sitting-room I shall bring Sister Gianna’s book for all to see. Its contents will explain many things and will prove to be interesting to all of us. Clare, have you any idea what Sister Gianna’s book is about?”

“No, Mother, I haven’t,” Clare replied. “Sister hasn’t mentioned it.”

Gianna lowered her eyes respectfully.

“Mother Catherine said I was not to talk about it until you saw fit, Reverend Mother.”

“Well, then.” Joan smiled. “We will all have a treat this evening when we see the book and discuss its contents with Sister Gianna.”

“What about the other thing?” Clare whispered.

“What other thing?” Joan whispered back.

“I just can never remember how to say Sister’s name.” Clare blushed.

“That, too,” Joan assured her. “The others will help you.” She put her hand on Gianna’s arm as the nuns left the room.

“And I think, Sister, that the shopping list should be left as it is for this week.”


Alison Cook