Times Change For Sister Joan – Episode 20

FATHER George zipped up his leather jacket and picked up his helmet from the dresser.

“I must be off,” he said. “I’m managing the youth club tonight so that Father can put his feet up for a while. There’s a big important football match on the television, I believe.”

Clare showed him out and soon they heard the two-stroke motor start up and die away as the Vespa disappeared down the lane.

“What a nice young man that Father George is,” Clare said. “I think he’ll do very well in the parish.”

Quietly and unobtrusively Sister Benedict joined them for supper. She held her eyes down as Joan said grace and ate silently. Joan sighed contentedly. Maybe the cold swim wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

“I need a quick word, Reverend Mother.” Sister Benedict approached Joan after supper and spoke quietly.

“Of course,” she replied as the nuns went off to the sitting-room for recreation. It was quiet in the hallway, with the portraits of Reverend Mothers long past gazing down at them, and the late sun filtering gently through the windows and on to the tiled floor.

“Did you enjoy your swim?” she asked.

“Yes, I did – it calmed me down a lot and I’m sorry for what I said earlier.” The apology was genuine.

“We won’t speak of it again.” Joan smiled. “I quite understand. What was it you wanted to say to me?”

“When I was down on the beach, I saw a yacht anchored just outside the bay.”

Joan noticed the anxious tone.

“Don’t worry about that.” She tried to sound reassuring. “A lot of sailors moor there for a night or two. It’s such a quiet, pleasant spot. They never come ashore. All the charts for these waters are marked Stella Maris Convent. Everyone so far has respected our privacy.”

“I noticed a small dinghy hanging on the side of the yacht,” Sister Benedict persisted. “They could easily come ashore.”

Joan smiled and shook her head.

“No-one ever has in my memory. Don’t lose any sleep over it – they’ll be gone by morning.”

“I can see it from my window, too. It’ll be the first thing I’ll look for when I get up.”

“Come to the sitting-room with us,” she invited. “Sister Emma is going to play her composition for Father Anderson to see if we approve. You’ll enjoy that.”

“I shall go to my room, if you don’t mind,” Sister Benedict replied quietly. “I’m tired. I shall read for a while and then go to bed.”

“We will see you at prayers in the morning, then?” Joan asked.

“Yes, Reverend Mother, you will.”

A blushing Sister Emma got a hearty round of applause for her composition “Farewell, Father”.

“That will be jolly perfect!” Imelda exclaimed. “He’ll love it!”

“Well done, Emma,” Joan praised. “We will be delighted to hear it again on Sunday evening.”

What a rare talent Emma has, she thought. She could have gone far in the world. It’s humbling to think that she has made her world with us.

“Now we’re in a jolly mood maybe Emma could give us a little sing-along,” Imelda suggested.

Emma obliged, and it was a happy band of sisters who said their evening prayers in the chapel that night. Madeline stood back as the nuns went upstairs to bed.

“As I looked out of the upstairs hallway window I could see that there was a large yacht moored just outside our little cove. I thought I’d better tell you.”

“I’ve been told already,” Joan replied. “Sister Benedict reported it to me when she came back from the beach.”

“Do you think it means anything?” Madeline asked. “Taking into consideration that we have a special duty to this guest. Are things as secure as we believe?”

“I’ve told Sister Benedict not to worry,” Joan said.

“And should we worry?” Madeline asked.

“To tell you the truth I feel a little uneasy under the circumstances,” Joan admitted.

“Maybe it would be a good idea to phone the coastguard to see if they’ve picked it up on their radar.”

“I’ll do it right now, before I go to bed,” Joan agreed. “I suppose the number will be in the book?”

“Sure to be.” Madeline followed Joan into the little study. “Here it is.” Madeline kept her finger on the number while Joan pressed the buttons on the phone. She pressed the speaker button so that Madeline could hear the conversation.

Alison Cook