Times Change For Sister Joan – Episode 25

OH, how terrible!” Emma exclaimed.

The young man gave a wry smile.

“I managed to pull the door shut and lock it before they could get to me. I heard them running past up the alley to get into the glass doors at the front of the building. They would smash them, of course, in order to get in.”

Joan, sitting beside him, put a hand on his arm as he went on

“I quietly opened the side door again and let myself out into the alley. The first building on the next block is a church and the side door of the priest’s house was a short way down the alley. I pounded on it with my good arm and when it opened, I passed out into the priest’s arms.”

Amy and Louise gasped in unison.

“Just like a film!” Sister Amy said.

Their guest continued.

“He called the police, who took me to hospital under armed guard, and I stayed there until I could tell them what had happened. It transpires that I’m the only witness who could recognise those men again. I even know their names. It’s amazing what a mere pianist in a club can overhear. Nobody takes any notice of the entertainment.”

“Well!” Clare said. “That’ll be enough to be going on with, I’m sure.”

“You’ll be safe as houses with us,” Imelda declared. “We’ll all strive to keep you out of harm’s way.”

All the nuns agreed and it warmed Joan’s heart to hear them.

“May I ask you one question?” Sister Jan enquired. “What is your real name?”

“Oh.” He grinned. “Why, it’s Benedict, of course, but you may call me Ben.”

There was a sense of relief in the laughter that filled the room. Joan knew that her sisters would not fail this responsibility and would do all in their power to keep the secret.

“Now, then, Brother Ben.” Sister Clare smiled. “Would you be in need of a cup of tea?”

“You bet I would,” Ben replied.

It was a joy for Joan to see Ben with them in chapel the next morning and to enjoy his company at breakfast with them in the kitchen afterwards. Sister Madeline arrived soon after they began and joined them at the table. She was shocked to see him in jeans and shirt.

“Oh, my word!” she said. “What’s happened?”

Joan explained everything with the help of the rest of the nuns, who obviously couldn’t resist joining in the conversation.

“He was shaving!” Emma giggled. “I got the shock of my life.”

“I’ll fill you in later when we have a moment, Madeline,” Joan said. “There’s a lot more to it than you know.”

Madeline frowned.

“Is it wise for him to wear normal clothes?” she asked. “Suppose someone calls? How would we explain? He’s not like our usual guests – they’re mainly women. After all, he’s supposed to be in hiding, isn’t he?”

“I am aware of that, Sister.” Joan spoke quietly. “It would be easy for him to dash upstairs if anyone comes to the door.”

“Then he should wear the habit when he’s out of doors,” Madeline said firmly.

“No-one’s likely to see him if he’s in the garden,” Sister Amy said. “He could always hide in the potting shed.”

“All the same,” Madeline said. “It’s not being very sensible, is it?”

“If we are all aware of the situation nothing untoward should happen while he is here,” Joan said.

“A young man in the convent is not a normal situation.” Madeline’s tone was truculent. “I’m sorry, Mother, but I cannot agree that this young man should be considered to be part of our community. It will be a distraction. I have been uneasy ever since he arrived.”


Alison Cook