Fr. Barnard felt the strength returning to his limbs and Sr. Agatha seemed please with his color and apparent recovery. She still insisted he drink the special teas she prepared with diligence, but he really wanted to get out of the stifling infirmary and back into the world.
His chance encounter with Karissa had left him slightly unsettled. Thoughts of his past had invaded his mind. He rose from the breakfast table, washed his hands, nodded at the good sister and slipped quietly back to his room. When he reached the bed, he knelt down and quickly crossed himself. The blood was surging in his veins and his heartbeat increased as he bent low and pulled the old trunk out from under the bed.
The straps were secured and appeared untouched. The padlock was also secure. His hands went to his neck and he removed the long chain that dangled under his cassock, the key hanging from the chain. He had hid it before, and the sister hadn’t found it, but upon his recovery he had put it back on. Now, as he unlocked the battered trunk, he wondered why he had done that.
The lid creaked open. The smell of dust and the faint aroma of perfume rose to his nostrils. He pulled out a few dresses, holding each lovingly before setting it aside. Then he pulled out the journal. Opening the pages, he read a few lines, written in his mother’s hand in her native German. Tears welled in his eyes as he closed the book and set that aside too.
From the depths of the trunk he pulled out the sword. He removed the sheath carefully, stood up, and hefted it in his right hand, and then his left, almost juggling back and forth as the old training surfaced.
He frowned and considered finding a quiet place to practice his skills. The catacombs, he thought. The dead wouldn’t care.
From downstairs he heard the sister call his name, announcing a visitor. He quickly repacked the items and secured the trunk, then slide it back under the bed and returned to his priestly duties.