Fr. Barnard stepped into the cool air of the evening, looking a bit more relaxed. He smiled at the new sister and then turned to discover the farmer had gone and, in his place, stood Gregor Young. Memories of the prior night’s scene, where the father, drunk and raging with jealousy, had made a scene in front of the brothel and which had ended with the father giving Gregor a black eye, raced through the priest’s mind. He stood there embarrassed before his life-long friend.
Gregor crossed his hands behind his back, looked quietly at the priest, and merely said in a monotone voice, “Father.”
“How is your patient?” the sister asked.
Fr. Barnard didn’t hear her, but removed his outer vestment, tossed it over one arm and turned to face Gregor. He lowered his eyes for a moment and then looked back up. “I owe you an apology for last night, Gregor. I want to thank you for, well, for not taking advantage of my inappropriate behavior.”
Gregor looked the priest up and down and turned his head so Fr. Barnard could see the bruise on Gregor’s face. “Tae Laird states to turn the other cheek, Father,” he said. “Perchance I may take the vestments after all.”
As Gregor responded, the sound of horse hooves could be heard and the three turned to watch Bryantt Sands approaching on his steed. The priest’s heart went to his throat and his body stiffened. He scowled briefly and then forced his face into a polite smile as he bowed. “Good day, Warden,” he said.
Sands looked at the three people and smiled. “I was looking for Karissa, Father. Have you seen her?” he asked. “She is not at the brothel.”
“She is in the infirmary,” Fr. Barnard told him. “She took ill earlier and fainted. The sisters have been caring for her.” Bryantt Sands got off his horse and let the reigns fall. The horse started to graze.
“This is sister Caoilainn,” said Fr. Barnard. “She has just arrived. She is in the medical practice.”
“Greetings, sister. I am Bryantt Sands. I am the Warden of Roxeter. The Countess and I are to be married here soon.” Sands glanced at Gregor, wondering who he was.
“A blessed event indeed,” said the sister with a smile.
“This is Gregor Young of the Clan Young,” Fr. Barnard said to Sands. “A defender of the church and sometimes of me.” He said the last with a weak smile.
“Ahh. Well met, sir,” said Sands. “As you heard me say to the good sister, I am the warden of this town and the surrounding area, all the way through the debatable lands to South March.”
Gregor slowly bowed out of deference to the warden. “The pleasure is mine, my laird,” he said.
“Lady Karissa is resting, sir,” the priest said. “I can have Gregor escort her home when she is awake.”
“Resting? What happened?”
“As I just said, she had fainted,” the priest answered.
“Fainted! Where is she? Please, I would like to see her.”
“I thought you were talking about someone else being sick,” Bryantt explained. “Do you know where Karissa is, sister?”
The priest hurried into the church to change as the sister led Bryantt into the infirmary. That was when the priest saw Baylee, hiding off in the corner, watching and listening. He nodded to her and gave a brief greeting, but didn’t stop to chat. When the priest returned, he found Gregor still standing in the courtyard. “I trust you have put my sword in a safe place, my friend. And I do apologize. I was, I am, deeply sorry.”
“It is under mae bedding,” Gregor responded. “Ye are lucky I dinna bury it into ye heart. Ya know what I do fer a livin’, don’ ya?”
“Yes, I do.” said the priest. “Thank you.”
“I dinna care what ye do, Barnard, but get ye shite together,” Gregor scolded him. “These people are ye flock. Dunna turn in tae mad Ramper impression of The Mad Tudor King.”
The priest turned red at his friend’s words, knowing they were true and resenting them nonetheless. “I will be more careful,” he said as he turned and headed to the infirmary. Then he stopped and looked back at Gregor. “I’m glad you came, my old friend. I have need of someone like you, someone with their wits still about them.”
“Aye, Father, Mae wits are all that I still call mae own, these days.”
“I should see to what is happening in the infirmary in case Karissa, that is, in case the sister needs my help.” the priest smiled at Gregor. “When you feel I am more myself, I would appreciate having my sword back.”
“Aye, I will do just that,” said Gregor.
“Perhaps the sister can treat that bruise.” The father smiled.
“Bahh. It adds character,” Gregor joked.