Times Change For Sister Joan – Episode 26

JOAN was surprised. Madeline had tended Ben’s wounded shoulder with loving care, as befitted her vocation. It shocked her to find that she had been opposed to the decision of the Mother House all along.

“A distraction for whom?” she asked quietly.

“For us all – including him,” Madeline replied.

The room was hushed. The noise of Ben’s chair scraping across the tiles as he rose from his seat broke the silence.

“I’ll go back to my room,” he said, looking Madeline in the eye. “I don’t want to be a burden but I don’t have any choice.”

“Sit down, Ben.” Joan spoke quietly. “You’re not a burden and you haven’t finished your toast.”

Ben hesitated.

“I’m sure Madeline can find it in her heart to let you finish your breakfast.”

Madeline blushed.

“I’m sorry, Mother, I don’t mean to be unkind. I’ve had a bad night with Mrs Marshall. She’s being taken to hospital this morning. I’m tired. I didn’t mean to undermine your authority. Please, Ben – finish your toast.”

“Also the porridge,” Sister Jan put in. “I cook it this morning and it is perfect.”

“It is just right.” Joan smiled at Jan.

“Of course it is right.” Jan raised her chin. “Sister Clare has taught me well.”

Sister Clare grinned.

Madeline joined in the laughter. Joan was glad to see her return to her normal self, but in her heart she knew her sister had a point. It would be difficult to explain if even their dear Farmer Murray were to see Ben. Word could get around and questions might be asked that could be overheard. The young man could be put into danger before he could appear as a witness in the trial that would bring the criminals to justice. Yes, Madeline was right. Ben would have to put up with being a nun whether he liked it or not.

Although it was early summer it was chilly enough to light the fire in the sitting-room. Ben had joined them for recreation time and the curtains had been drawn. Joan realised that when Ben was not wearing the habit, care had to be taken that he was not seen from the driveway. There was so much of which she had become aware now that they all knew his story.

“This evening we must discuss the celebration for Father Anderson,” Joan said. “Sunday evening is the special supper and I would like to know that everything has been organised properly. It’s only two days away.”

“We have all the ingredients for the most wonderful Irish stew he’s ever tasted,” Sister Clare assured her.

“And all I need for the crostata di limone is the lemons,” Sister Jan put in. “Twelve are coming from the supermarket tomorrow with the rest of the food. I shall need only seven but it is useful to have a lemon when you need one so I ordered a dozen.”

“So everything is under control?” Joan smiled.

“Everything will be ready, Sister,” Clare agreed.

“Have you made a copy of that piece of music you’ve written for Father?” Joan asked Emma.

“Yes,” she replied. “It’s ready and I’m all practised.”

“Well!” Joan said. “It should be a wonderful evening.”

“Ben, of course, will have to wear the habit,” Madeline put in. “The Fathers will be unaware of our situation.”

Ben grimaced.

“Can’t I just stay in my room?” he asked.

“I’m afraid not,” Joan replied. “They would think it strange that you were not there to wish Father Anderson bon voyage.”

“OK.” Ben grinned. “But it’s coming off as soon as they’re gone.”

The conversation continued and they were not prepared for the doorbell to ring.


Alison Cook