Vivienne was looking at the goods displayed in the bakery window, admiring a wedding cake on display. She caught movement from the corner of her eye, turned and saw that Karissa had approached her. Vivienne stiffened at the woman’s approach and she tilted her head back slightly so she could look down her nose at the woman.
Karissa did not seem any happier to be needing to deliver a message to the Countess. She kept her distance from the Countess, just close enough to speak without shouting. “The warden asked me to tell you to meet him at the abbey.” With those few words, Karissa spun on her heel and walked away.
Vivienne did not like to be summoned in such an abrupt way, and she especially did not like to have the summons delivered by the brothel madame, rumoured lover of her betrothed. She considered ignoring the summons to make her displeasure known. Her inner voice of reason reminded her that she needed to win Bryantt’s affection if her life were to be bearable, so she decided to go to him.
At the abbey, she forced herself to smile at him and asked what he needed. Father Barnard answered for him. “We are going to the church, to baptize your intended.”
Vivienne looked from him back to Bryantt. Bryantt did not seem overly eager, and neither did the priest. She wondered what had happened between the two men as she followed them into the church. She and Bryantt stood before the baptismal font and the priest joined them after taking a moment to change into his vestments. Various towns folk were gathered, sitting in the pews. Vivienne noted that Karissa was not present.
Bryantt removed his cloak and sword, handing them to the Countess to hold.
Father Barnard started the rite of baptism. “To become baptized, you must agree to accept our Lord as your Lord and God. I will read these things to you and will tell you what your answer shall be. Do you understand?”
Bryantt nodded. “Yes Father.”
The priest made the sign of the cross. “Hear the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.’ Obeying his will, we baptize those who are called to be his own.”
Bryantt restlessly shifted back and forth, moving his weight to one foot and then the other.
“Bryantt Sands, in presenting yourself for baptism, you renounce the devil and all his works and embrace the Lord as your one true God, vowing to follow His holy will in all that you do. Do you accept this?”
“I do, Father,” Bryantt responded.
“And do you trust in the Lord?”
“I do, Father.”
“Will you be a faithful disciple of his teachings, obeying his law and living his love? And do you promise to seek the fellowship of the church, to serve her, and to one with her family?
“I do, Father.”
As he listened and watched from the piews, Dom moved his hand to rest on Baylee’s knee. She gave him a look and pushed his hand away. “We are in church,” she whispered.
Father Barnard turned to face the congretation. “This is Bryantt Sands, who has petitioned the church for baptism. Do you accept him into your community and promise to aid and assist him in becoming a true disciple of the church and a member of our congregation?”
Vivienne and the congregation dutifully replied, “We do.”
Father Barnard bent his head and led the congregation in the Apostles Creed, setting out the teachings of the church. He then turned to Bryantt and dipped a small cup into the baptismal font.
“If you would be so kind, Bryantt, bend a little, so that I may pour this water over your head.” He indicated the font. Bryantt bent forward, leaning over the font.
The priest scooped up some holy water from the font and poured it over Bryantt’s head as he said, “I hereby baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, Amen. You may stand.”
Father Barnard turned to the congregation once again, finishing his prayer. “Holy God, remind us of the promises given in our own baptism, and renew our trust in you. By your grace, let it be with us according to your word, that we might serve you with joy, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The congregation in turn said “Amen,” in unison.
Father Barnard turned to Bryantt, with something between a smile and a sneer and asked him, “There, was that so terribly painful?”
Following the baptism, Bryantt invited everyone to join him at the tavern for a couple of drinks to take the shine off of his newly cleansed soul. As usual, he drank too much.
Vivienne chose a table and sat down. Bryantt joined her, and then motioned for Karissa to sit across from her. Vivienne felt thoroughly offended. It was one thing to expect her to turn a blind eye to Bryantt’s dalliances, but to actually seat his Mistress across the table from her was just too much to bear. At that moment, the new healer, Sister Caoillainn entered. Vivienne gladly seized the excuse to stand from the table, take the nun’s arm and guide her to another table, inviting her to sit down and tell her more about herself.
At the end of the evening, Bryantt was sitting on the floor, unable to hold himself on a chair. Vivienne felt very put upon that everyone seemed to expect her to somehow take care of her drunken fiance and get him home. She felt that would not at all be appropriate, given her rank, for her to play nursemaid to a drunk. Surely there were servants or other underlings to tend to such things. Who would undress him and put him into bed? Surely not her, not before the wedding!
With all eyes upon her, she reached down awkwardly and patted Bryantt on the head. “Shall I send someone from the castle with a pillow for you, or do you think you can make it home?”
No longer able to speak clearly, Bryantt muttered something slurred in reply that the Couness could not understand.
“Good night,” she muttered, turned and left.