Times Change For Sister Joan – Episode 21

OH, hello – this is Sister Joan of the Stella Maris Convent. Sorry to phone at this time of the night, but I wonder if you could help me?”

“We’re here twenty-four hours, Reverend Mother. What can I do for you. Found an abandoned boat on your foreshore?”

“No, I’m enquiring about a yacht moored just outside our little cove. They’ve been there since this morning and I wondered who they are and what they’re doing there all day long – they’ve missed the tide now. Are you at liberty to give me that information?”

“Just one moment. I’ll zap it up for you,” the voice replied. There was a short silence. “Here we are. Yes, we went out to inspect them earlier. It’s a French yacht – a crew of young men having a stag weekend prior to one of them getting married soon. A merry lot, they are, and they have no intention of making a landing. They’ll be in no fit state to invade your beach, especially with that donkey of yours on guard. They should be gone by Sunday night. Don’t worry, Sister, they know you’re there and will respect your privacy. We told them quite firmly not to throw any rubbish into the waterbottles and such. They’re wild but harmless.”

“How do you know about old Jack?” Joan was surprised.

“Reverend Mother, we know everything that goes on along this stretch of coast. We’ve seen that donkey many times from the Air-Sea Rescue helicopter. We have satellite, too. Is your mind at rest now?”

“Yes, thank you so much,” Joan replied.

“Well, now,” Madeline said. “It was worth making the call. Now we have peace of mind.”

“That yacht’s still there,” Sister Benedict whispered to Joan after morning prayers.

“I know.” Joan told Benedict about the phone call to the coastguard. “So now your mind can be at rest and you can enjoy Sister Jan’s continental breakfast. I can smell the coffee from here.”

“I feel nervous about everything at the moment.” Sister Benedict sighed.

“That’s only to be expected,” Joan comforted her. “After breakfast I shall walk down to the beach with you and Sister Imelda and we shall see that everything is quiet.”

Joan noticed that the nun didn’t eat a hearty breakfast, delicious though it was. Even Sister Clare declared that Sister Jan’s croissants were perfect.

Someone knocked at the back door and Jan went to open it.

Joan could hear some conversation and Jan came back into the room with a puzzled look on her face.

“There is a gentleman outside with a tractor. He has a box and a basket and says that here is something surplus to his requirements.”

“Oh, it’s Mr Murray.” Joan got up from her chair. “Do come in,” she called.

Their neighbour came in, put down the box and basket, took off his cap politely and stuffed it into his pocket.

“There’s a couple of dozen eggs in the basket,” he said, “and some stewing lamb in the box. Thought you might be so kind as to take them, as I had them surplus. The hens are producing more than enough eggs at the moment.”

“That’s so kind of you,” Joan said. “How did you know that these things are exactly what we needed?”

The farmer grinned.

“Your two gardeners told me about the feast for Father Anderson. The missus and I wanted to contribute a little something. He’s a good man, is Father.”

“Would you like some coffee?” Jan asked.

“Thank you kindly but no, I must go and have a look at the shore meadow. Old Jack was kicking up such a rumpus last night. Something must have spooked him. Maybe it could have been a fox or something. I think I’d better go down there to see if all’s well. Have a nice evening on Sunday.”

He smiled and went to the door, replacing his hat as he did so.

“I didn’t hear anything,” Sister Benedict said nervously.

“Wind direction,” Imelda told her. “Sometimes you can’t hear the waves if the jolly wind’s blowing the other way. The Murrays would hear it because they’re on the other side of the meadow.

“My goodness, Sisters.” She smiled at Clare and Jan. “That breakfast has set me up for the whole morning.”

“We’re glad to hear it, Sister, but we will be back to porridge and toast tomorrow,” Clare said firmly.

“And now I have learned not to burn the oats,” Jan declared.

Alison Cook