Times Change For Sister Joan – Episode 50

FATHER George was delighted and ate three of the scones Sister Clare served, helped by the ladies of the WI. The whole affair was a success and the future of the hut was secure.

“It’s a pity that the photographers from the local paper didn’t stay to take more photos,” Joan said as she and Father George sat and had a welcome cup of tea.

“But they did,” Father George replied. “The book signing, the animals – everything. Even one of me with old Jack, just before he nipped me. They had to photograph Ben from a distance as the crowd was too dense to get close.”

“But the two that I saw seemed only to take photos of Ben playing requests,” Joan said. “They were quite close.”

“I noticed that,” Father George said. “But those two were not the reporters from the ‘Gazette’. And they now have a very clear close-up photograph of Ben.”

“Please remember, Sister, if anything unusual occurs at the convent, phone me immediately. I can be there in no time at all, and phone the police, too, if necessary. At this late stage we can’t be too careful,” Father George said earnestly.

“Mother Catherine tells me that the investigation is nearing a conclusion. Ben will soon be wanted in France to give evidence,” Joan replied.

“Then this will be the most dangerous time.” Father George regarded her gravely. “These criminals are not stupid, and they’ll be aware that things are coming to a head. They will have done their own research about Ben’s whereabouts. Please God it’s not so, but if these two men pretending to be reporters are in fact part of the gang, and are in search of Ben, it’s not going to be difficult for them to act fairly quickly. But maybe they’re genuine.”

“Oh, Father, I do hope you’re right, but even if they are reporters maybe Ben’s photograph will be published for all to see. Disguise or no disguise, the gang may see it and will recognise him.” Joan sighed.

“The important thing is to make sure that there’s no panic. If you and I remain alert at all times, we and the police can handle any situation.” Father George rubbed his chin. “We ought to have a code word – something that you and I know means ‘Trouble – come quick’. It’ll have to be something which won’t arouse suspicion if it’s overheard.”

Amid the clatter and conversation as the tables were put away in the church hall, Joan and Father George silently racked their brains. But no inspiration came.

Sister Clare approached them.

“Ah, Father, there you are. Mr Murray says are you coming to the farm on your Vestment to bless his bull because he has some eggs for you and wonders if you’ll be able to carry them.”

“Thank you, Sister. Tell him I certainly will, on both counts. I shall be there soon,” Father George replied.

“Right-oh, Father, I’ll tell him. He’s at the kitchen door with old Jack so he can’t come in to talk to you personally.”

“Thank you, Sister.” Father George smiled as Clare hurried away.

“I’ve got it!” Joan exclaimed.

“What?” Father George was puzzled.

“The codeword, or words,” Joan replied. “‘Your vestment is ready’. Nuns are known to be adept at embroidery, so it wouldn’t seem a strange thing for me to say on the telephone if the criminals should gain access to the convent.”

Father George roared with laughter.

“Oh, Sister, that’s so funny, but I hope we will never have to resort to it. Well done!”

Alison Cook