A New Priest in Town

Agafiia at Castle“Bored, bored, bored!” Vivienne stamped her foot. “I cannot wait for this confinement to be over.” With that she snapped her fingers and sent Ethel to get another bottle of wine from the cellars. Ethel returned with the wine, and also news of a visitor asking to see her. Vivienne brightened at the thought of a visitor to break the monotony. “Who?” she asked.

“A priest,” Ethel replied.

“Show him into the Warden’s office. I will meet him there.” With that she travelled the maze like halls of the castle to the Warden’s office and sat at the desk to await the arrival of the priest. After a short time, Ethel led the priest in to meet her, curtsied, and left.

“I take it you are the Countess Vivienne?” he asked.

“I am,” Vivienne replied.

“Oh, how delightful to finally meet you,” he said, extending his hand.

Stephanie PortraitShe took his hand and said, “And you are Father Francesco. I was told that you were coming. It is a pleasure to meet you as well.”

“Yes,” he said. “I have been sent from Rome to make an inquiry of the situation left behind by the former pastor, and to offer my services as needed.”

“That is wonderful,” Vivienne smiled.

“I would also like to speak with you about a young lady who has arrived with me. The Lady Stephanie Bertrand, of Belgium, has recently graduated from the convent school in Paris, Ecole du Notre Dame de L’espoir.  She is third cousin to the late husband of Queen Mary.”

Vivienne smiled, “We would be relatives in law of a sort, since both he and Queen Mary are cousins to me. What a pity about Darnley.  I wonder if there are still bits of him about in that garden after the explosion…” She shook her head to clear the unpleasant image from her mind.

Father Francesco nodded. “The Queen has sent an offer of the lady to you as a Lady in Waiting to assist you in preparing for your wedding. She is well educated and refined.”

Agafiia and VivVivienne smiled, thinking that what she needed was some new and interesting blood in her retinue of ladies. “I would be delighted to have her. I look forward to meeting her.”

“When she is ready, I shall present her to you.”

Vivienne had an idea, one that would get her out of the castle for a bit that would be beyond reproach. “Come Father, let me show you around our abbey. We are very proud of it. It will do me good to get out from under this house arrest for a bit.”

“That would be wonderful,” the priest replied. “May I ask why you are confined?”

“Oh it was an overblown matter of bad fish and haggling over the price of it. I may have intimidated the serving wench,” Vivienne explained, quickly waving the matter away.

“Are you sure you won’t get into trouble?” Father Francesco asked.

“Even prisoners have the right to confession,” Vivienne smiled. “I will consider myself in the custody of the church for the moment, the very hands of God himself.”

During the tour of the castle, Karissa joined them. Vivienne tossed a couple of snide remarks her way, but did not push the woman too far in front of the priest.

She took her time to show the good Father around, enjoying being out and and about, and then returned directly to the castle. She considered pausing at the tavern, but quickly discarded that idea as foolish. She would not push Bryantt too far, not yet anyway.




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