Times Change For Sister Joan – Episode 27

WHO could that be at this time?” Clare said.

“Only one jolly way to find out,” Imelda said. “I’ll go and see.”

It was unlike Imelda to raise her voice but they could hear her as she made her way along the passage to the sitting-room.

“Oh, Mr Murray, how nice to see you, I’m sure Reverend Mother will be delighted.” She continued to speak loudly as she advanced towards the door.

“Quick!” Madeline grabbed Ben by the arm. “Get into the cupboard beside the fireplace.”

“I won’t fit!” he exclaimed.

“You’ll have to fit!” Madeline hissed, and opened the door of the cupboard and shoved Ben inside. The door wouldn’t close properly so she stood in front of it, concealing Ben’s hiding place, just as the door to the sitting-room opened and Imelda entered, followed by Farmer Murray bearing a bottle of wine.

“Good evening, Sisters.” He took his cap off and put it into the pocket of his jacket. “The wife and me thought it would be nice for Father to have a glass of wine or two with his special supper.” He smiled as he handed the bottle to Joan.

“Oh! Mr Murray, that’s very kind of you. I’m sure it will be much appreciated.” Joan smiled.

“You all look very cosy in here.” He grinned. “It’s a bit chilly outside. It’s nice to see a spark in the hearth.” He went over to the fireplace and warmed his hands. “And how is poor Mrs Marshall, then, Sister?” he addressed Madeline.

Madeline shifted her position so that the cupboard door couldn’t be seen.

“She’s had to go into hospital for a few days, just for some tests.”

“Oh, good, they’ll get it all sorted then. Hospital knows what they’re doing, I always say.” He smiled at Jan. “And your new sister. Settling in, are you?”

“Yes, thank you,” she replied.

Joan felt the combined nervousness of her sisters. The conversation was awkward, for everyone was looking towards Madeline, who was showing signs of feeling the heat from the fire.

“Well.” Farmer Murray rubbed his hands together and reached for the cap in his pocket. “I must be on my way, but before I go I’d like to ask if you’ve seen that ginger stray around. Skinny old fleabitten cat, he is. I don’t know where he’s come from but he’s been causing havoc among my hens and he chased my poor old Tabby right up into the hay barn. I haven’t seen him for a few days so if you notice him, give me a call and we’ll try to catch him. He may be chipped so we’ll be able to find his owners.

“Well! You’ll all be anxious to get on with whatever you want to get on with. Give my regards to Father Anderson on Sunday and wish him all the best from me and the wife.”

Imelda went to the door in order to show him out. Joan noticed a look of relief on Madeline’s rather pink face.

“Thank you so much,” she said. “And please give our regards to Mrs Murray.”

“I certainly shall.” He grinned and replaced his cap on the back of his head, where it was accustomed to sit comfortably, bade them a good night and followed Imelda to the front door. She came back into the room with a look of relief on her face.

“Well done, Madeline.” Joan patted her sister’s shoulder. There was a loud sneeze from the interior of the cupboard. “I think we should let Ben out now.”

Ben emerged and stood upright at last. He looked hot.

“Good job you didn’t sneeze earlier!” Sister Louise exclaimed. “You would have blown your cover for certain!”

“I shall, with your permission, Mother, clean the dust from that cupboard with great care tomorrow,” Sister Jan said. “You never know when we might need a hiding place again.”

Even Ben laughed at that.

“I also shall look out for the ginger cat.”

“Oh!” Clare wrung her hands “I do hope he is a stray and needs a home.”

“I think we can do without a scrawny old ragamuffin of a cat,” Madeline said.

Joan smiled at her.

“Madeline, we must remember our vocation. That is to care for all those in need of us.”

“If he’s tucking into Mr Murray’s chickens,” Madeline observed, “I think he’s doing very well for himself with no help required.”


Alison Cook