March 6, 1742
ROSALIE WELLINGTONS lady-in-waiting sat at the edge of the long bed frame. Curtains were hung around the head, foot, and side of the cherry-stained birch posts. A small silver bell rested on a mahogany pedestal. That seemingly small trinket was the last remaining artifact&emdash;a Sanctus bell&emdash;of the great Glendalough monastery, burnt down almost five centuries ago. The bell was no longer used to announce the holy celebration of the Eucharist, but rather served to ensure that Rosalies every desire would be fulfilled and every concern addressed. With the resonance of its toll came her maid; all of Rosalies maids were hired merely to uphold Rosalies comfort. In a moment, Rosalie rang the bell and announced that she wanted to write a letter to her long-lost sister Marilyn. They had not seen each other for over half a century; Rosalie resided in the rural, non-English farming county of Cork, while Marilyn had decided to marry an English solicitor, moving to Dublin.
Rosalie turned her face into her pillow, wondering if she should even get up. Rosalie was a very depressed person. Her life behind her offered almost no happiness, and the journey ahead of her could not possibly offer any new experience. Her entire family had resented Rosalie from the first of the incident. She, being of English descent, had been a member of the Church of Ireland. One night she had been riding home from a late social, when one of the horses fell ill right in front of what is now today called St. Marys Pro-Cathedral. It was the night before Easter Sunday, and the solemn mass of the Easter Vigil could be heard. Since this was Dublin, she assumed that there would be some wealthy peer in the massive church and decided to go inside. She immediately saw a priest suffocated in vestments. His right hand contained a glowing ember held in a brass scepter, its deep color wavering with each gust of brisk wind. He was lighting a large thurible located in his left hand. It contained the incense used to bless the various altars of the church. Each parishioner held a candle enclosed in a wax box decorated with pictures of the Passion of the Lord. Large candles adorned the altar, and the churchgoers knelt and then stood during the various intercessions for different members of the community. Stunned by the mysticism and solemnity of the service, Rosalie sat in the back on a hard pew. Expecting to see "The Book of Common Prayer," her eyes instead bore witness to "St. Josephs Continuous Missal." She was surprised to hear the Latin, which she had only heard her governess speak. The combination of whitewashed walls, incensed altars, burning candles, Latin hymns, and pious kneeling seemed to her to a macrocosm consisting only of her and with God.
After the Mass, she asked the low celebrant if she could convert to Catholicism. "Father," Rosalie said, "perhaps, when you are not too busy, we could speak of the Rite of Initiation?"
The priest responded, "You, my lady? And why must you suddenly convert? And convert from what?"
"From the Church of England! And why shant I?"
The padre said, "Hah!" and attempted to walk away.
Yet the dean of the church&emdash;Archbishop McGuillery&emdash;overheard this plea and immediately chastised the young cleric. McGuillery asked Rosalie to pause, and in a frightful tone, McGuillery said to the priest, "Why have you snubbed this woman? She has clearly come in earnest patronage to the Roman Church. I should rip the roman collar from your very neck!"
The priest had not known that Archbishop McGuillery was standing nearby, so he politely asked, "His Eminence will please excuse me and give me pardon?" McGuillery dismissed the boy.
With satisfaction, Rosalie said, "I thank you My Lord Bishop."
The Archbishop replied, "It was no trouble at all. We have little tolerance for the unworthy, but his father had made several large donations to the church in order for that young man to become a priest. It is not as easy as you think&emdash;to become a priest, I mean."
"I thank My Lord Bishop for trusting me with such information."
"Dont. Everyone&emdash;including that meek little monster&emdash;knows why his Holy Orders have yet to be drawn. What is your name, my child?"
"Ah, a Wellington! Well now, you dont need to address me as My Lord Bishop. You are not of the faith, and Your Eminence will suffice."
"Yes, Your Eminence." Not really knowing why&emdash;or caring why for that matter, since it was a mere formality&emdash;she was to call him by such a title, she asked, "About my faith..."
"Ah, yes my child? I had almost forgotten the cause of this little parody."
"I am stunned by your Church. The foreign tongue, the intricate vestments, incense, water, bells; it has given me something more than my familys church reveals."
"And so you want to convert?"
"Yes, Your Eminence."
"Yet you choose to convert not because we hold the keys to heaven, or because our Eucharist is the true Agnus Dei, nor because His Holiness is infallible. Your present faith is caused by the accident of your birth into an Anglo-Irish family. You did nothing to even remotely deserve the treasures of the Wellingtons, yet you also had no control over your induction into that English church of yours. What does one do when one wishes riches? One works studiously with rigor and earnest. He faces the adverse conditions ahead and strives to earn riches. Now you, my child, are not interested in money&emdash;for you have it in plenty&emdash;but it seems that you are in search of the Catholic faith. So it must be the same with you! Fancy bells and thuribles are not reasons for converting. You must seek and find a spiritual reason to prove a conversion."
Rosalie was surely enraged, saying, "And does Christ not say in the Gospel, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and fo the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
The Archbishop then replied, "Yes, He certainly says that. And in your King James rendition of the Bible, you have certainly proved that you are of God and His flock. You are already Christian! Do you not see what trouble will arise from your conversion? Everything is different in the Roman Church, even the passage that you have just read aloud!"
"And how so, Your Eminence?"
"I shall not waste your time quoting passages from the Vulgate!"
"And what is the Vulgate?"
The Archbishop explained, "You see, Rosalie, there is so much that you must learn! The Vulgate is the Biblia Sacra, the exact words of the Bible in Latin as passed down from our apostolic see. The Catholic Church and your Anglicanism are so vastly different! Even the most innate Christian object, our Bible, is governed by totally different canonical and linguistic influences!"
Knowing that this was a fight in which she was doomed to lose, Rosalie said, "Yes, Your Eminence, perhaps you are right. But there will be a day in which I shall learn the catechism and the faith, and then I shall be one in Christ."
She suddenly remembered why she was stranded at this great cathedral and asked of McGuillery, "Would Your Eminence happen to have an extra carriage? My horse, and it seems
that my cart as well, are both beyond repair."
The Archbishop responded, "Yes, of course by dear Rosalie. But I cannot let our horses and carriage go with no security."
"Then take this ring of my finger, and have a porter come to our Wellington estate, and my debt will not be questioned."
Pleased, the Archbishop said, "Go to the stable behind the rectory, and give the porter your ring, and tell him of what you have just told me. Peace in Christ, Rosalie!" The Archbishop made the sign of the cross and departed.
ROSALIE KNEW THAT CHRIST must have been calling her to the Mother Church. After awaking the next day in her large stateroom, her lady-in-waiting prepared her for the day. Her hair was combed a hundred times over and her skin rubbed with limestone. Although hair lustrous and skin smooth, Rosalie still remembered that empty feeling. Not wanting to face the logical and sophisticated thinking of Archbishop McGuillery, Rosalie went over the nearby Dublin parish of St. Cronan. Being a young lass of wealth and fortune, she met the parish priest, tucked a thousand quid into the young mans cassock and was immediately enrolled for the days Easter baptisms. It took almost three hours for the entire rite to complete, but Rosalie was now a Catholic. She was the first in her family to do so since the reformations of King Henry.
After the Mass and Celebration of the Eucharist, Rosalie returned to the Wellington estate both ecstatic about her conversion, and scared of the trouble that she had caused for her family.
Rosalie first decided to tell her mother, since she was drawn to her empathetic and calm nature. She approached the large oak doors of her mothers large stateroom and knocked lightly. She called out, "Mother, mother, are you there?"
Her mother said, "Yes, Rosalie. Come in."
Rosalie opened the door and said to her mother, "Lie down mother, there is something that I need to tell you."
"What is it, Rosalie? Have you finally found a suitable boy?"
"No, mother, it is something else. Relax a while." Then, she soothed her mother by combing her hair and rubbing her arms with scented water. Finally, Rosalie said, "Mother, you will not be pleased with my decision, but I have converted to Catholicism."
Rosalies mothers face turned pale. The usual rich red color of her mothers lips turned a shallow purple. All of a sudden, the blood rushed back to her face, causing her cheeks to turn a bright red. It was as if the very sanguine fluid of her mother was in protestation of Rosalies conversion. "Why, Rosalie, why? Do you know what your father will say about this? He will beat you! Your grandfather shall cut you from his will!"
And Rosalie just said, "Let them do what they want. Christ is calling me, just as He calls each one of us to the faith."
Her mother cried, "We are the faith! We are living proof of Gods superiority! Go to the Cathedral and renounce this horrible plan at once!"
Rosalie was shocked by her mothers attitude, and simply said, "No, mother, I wont!" With that, her mother slapped her across the cheek, saying, "Oh, just wait until your father finds out about this! Youll be lucky if your body is still trembling when he has the guards throw you into the horses heap!"
Knowing that her mother was correct, the lids of Rosalies eyes were engulfed in salty tears. The liquid formed rivers in her face, until tiny drops formed at her chin and finally dropped unto her lap. She would not risk her life, and she knew that God would punish her family by sending to eternal damnation with Lucifer. Rosalie ran off to her bedroom and then ran out, stuffing the small sum of money she had acquired over the years into her palm.
She met her porter&emdash;whom she knew from various fits of flirting was in love with her&emdash;and said him, "Aengus Connaught, take me to Cork, and you shall have me as your wife. We shall live as our Irish ancestors did, and we shall love it, just as I shall one day love you as your love me."
Aengus was too stricken to object, and merely said, "Let us go!" With that, they left with the few riches that Rosalie was wearing, and fled to Cork with her soon to be husband.
IN THE FLOWER GARDEN, her lady-in-waiting wiped a tear from Rosalies eye. She no longer wished to reminisce about the old days, and about how things used to be. Her husband Aengus Connaught grew wealthy as a young captain in James IIs army against the English. Yet after the Treaty of Limerick, he was captured by English soldiers and was never to be heard of again. She looked at money not as a necessity but as a mere comfort; she was more happy as a destitute young wife than as a rich and powerful widow.
However, she didnt believe in thinking about the past&emdash;for it is impossible to change what has already happened&emdash;and so she began to write to her long lost sister Marilyn Wellington in hopes of reconciling. She was supplied with a pen, parchment paper, and a writing board, but she did not know where to start. After her abandonment, she tried writing letters to her dear sister yet never was given a response.
She began by writing as if reconciliation had already been reached between the estranged sisters. Rosalie wrote of her marriage, estate, and children, and wrote about the various political uprisings and movements in the province. She never mentioned her husbands capture by the English, for such a disgrace would prevent any contact with her sister. Finally, she began to speak in reference to the religious conversion that had isolated her in this small county. Rosalie begged Marilyn to visit her in South Ireland.
Even though she had expected no reply from her long-lost sister, Rosalie called her porter. Fortnightly, a messenger came to Cork to deliver and send letters, and so he would deliver Rosalies plea for peace.
ABOUT ONE MONTH LATER, Marilyn finally received the letter. Rosalie had gone through much emotional distress in writing that letter, yet Marilyn felt nothing&emdash;not even sorrow or pity. She simply threw it into the burning logs enclosed in the gigantic fireplace. She had ceased to care about her sister in that abject county of Cork. Her husband had provided her with a wonderful life. Marilyn was merely thirty years old, and barely remembered her "dear" sister. Going back to see her sister would certainly create an onslaught of gossip and remarks. Marilyns only concern was upholding the Wellington name, fame, and fortune. No, she would not go to visit her sister.
Rather, she had to deal with another annoying disturbance. Her lady-in-waiting was bearing an illegitimate child, and its father was certainly Marilyns husband. She really did not mind the fact that her husband was playing loosy-goosey with servants; she had married for money, not love. Marilyn was more concerned with the whispers and odd looks that would be cast upon her. For months, she had been trying to decide whether to give the child away, or simply kill it. She did not want to commit to the latter; her husband would not allow such a monstrous occurrence within his house. Thus she would have to choose the former. She had already decided to whom she would give it to and what it would be called.
Although Marilyn seemed like a woman true to her heritage&emdash;cold and unsympathetic to others concerns&emdash;she did care much about other peoples welfare. She did not care about everyone, only certain people. Because her husband had fathered this child, she felt this surge of sympathy and went to great lengths to finding an ideal location. After much searching, she had located a padre called Father Kolbe of Bishop Darrsatos staff. Although this priest was of the Catholic faith, she could not risk placing the child within an English church. Her social life rotated around her English Church. Giving a child away to it would serve as a catalyst to social ostracization. Thus she decided to give the babe to Father Kolbe, since he was a mere Catholic in a town called Avoca, located miles away from Dublin. The child would not have a grand life, but he would at least be fed, and perhaps join the "royal race" of clergy.
FINALLY IN DECEMBER, during the Advent Season, Father Kolbe received the child in a small straw basket. Because he was chief staff member of Bishop Darrsato, he had episcopal permission (unlike other clergy) to travel anywhere within the Diocese of Avoca. Thus, he was able to meet the Wellington servant at the gates to the small city.
Father Kolbe had been waiting earnestly for this moment. Father Kolbe would never forget the day when Wellington's butler had approached him. He spoken nervously and hastily, as if the request presented to Kolbe was crucial and of the utmost importance. Initially, Kolbe declined. Although he had always hoped to experience the joys of fathership, Kolbe was convinced that any hope of raising a family was beneath Gods call. Yet, the Church only permitted the clergy from marrying, and so he continued to consider the matter. It would be impossible for Father Kolbe to raise the child without the Bishops consent, and so he asked the Bishop to make the decision.
Bishop Darrsato owed much to the priest, even his episcopal assignment. It was Father Kolbe who was to have been installed as Bishop, but he had refused out of an excess of humility. Father Kolbe had written to the Pontiff, supporting Darrsato as a better candidate. The Royal Pontiff had not known if this was an act of humility of the padre or an act sparked by a threat of Darrsato. So, the Pontiff decreed that Bishop Darrsato could be replaced at any time at Kolbes leisure. Bishop Darrsato never failed to remember his allegiance to the priest, knowing that Father Kolbe could appoint himself Bishop at any time.
Thus, they both decided that the arrangement would be kept secret; Kolbe would raise the young child until he matured, and Father Kolbe would never try to place himself as leader of the Avoca See. Further, when the child reached a mature age, he would become the Bishop's servant. Father Kolbe had not wanted to commit the child to such a life, but he had no choice; these were hard times, especially in Ireland, and the child's safety could not be totally guaranteed elsewhere.
Father Kolbe and his episcopal superior had the perfect method of hiding the young child. Kolbe would be moved out of his small cloistered room into a larger suite&emdash;an annex of the Bishop's stateroom. Thus, during the day, Father Kolbe would be able to fulfill his daily duties while tending the babe.
A WEEK AFTER THE BABY CAME, Father Kolbe still had no name for the child. After much deliberation, he had decided to name the child Ambrose. As for his last name, it would be Augustine, in honor of the famous Augustine of Hippo. Although he could never admit this publicly, Ambrose had become the sole source of joy in Kolbe's life. After completing his priestly duties for the day, Kolbe would read to the young child in both Latin and English. He read Ambrose passages from the Bible and even short stories from a commonplace book based on the life of the late King Henry. As for instruction in the mother tongue, Latin, Father Kolbe read aloud the Vatican's texts on Sts. Augustine and Jude, which he admired most.
However, there were also the moments Father Kolbe experienced which made him realize why parenthood and the priesthood were two different vocations. His small stipends earned by being a priest could sometimes not support the two, nor was he finding enough time to be a parish priest, servant, and father. On one day, he was scheduled to give celebrate a Mass at the Cathedral as well as oversee the installation of the Mansions new heating system. Yet Ambrose had also succumbed to a violent fever, and was even having hallucinations. Of course, Kolbe had to tend to Ambrose in his chambers, and the Mass was cancelled for that day while the heating new chimneys installation was postponed for two weeks. The Bishop was not happy!
March 6, 1749
ROSALIE WELLINGTON sat in her drawing room, staring at the scores of paintings hung on her wall. Her particular favorite painter was Antoine Watteau. His French style was unmatched by any other artist of the period, and her collection of his works caused much jealously to erupt from Rosalies friends. She was now around sixty years old, and had already produced her Will of Last Testament, giving almost all her belongings to her servants. She had experienced a most peculiar life; she was born into a family of class, wealth, and social bearing, yet lost it all over religion, only to find it again through marriage. The accident of birth had caused to her realize her fortunate standing and to sympathize with the abject standing of her servants. Their birth and low class was not their fault; she could have easily been born into a such a standing.
She had spent almost her entire life pondering about her life and its meaning. She cherished the works of Francis Bacon, although it was not considered proper for such an aristocratic lady to read such material. She particularly enjoyed "On Adversity," which described the human desire to experience the fruit of prosperity yet the respect we have for those whom endure adversity in order to grasp such fruit. Although she had experienced both prosperity&emdash;through her birth&emdash;and adversity&emdash;through her religious identity&emdash;she could not decide which of the two were more beneficial. She was now a woman who was growing old: grey hair, deep wrinkles, and the like covered her aging body.
Through prosperity, Rosalie had experienced so much as a mere child. Yet those born into the lower classes would probably never undergo such delight. For example, at the age of ten Rosalie had already refined her equestrian skills. Each day, she would ride through the meadows located in the outskirts of Dublin. After riding, her stablemen would take care of the horses upkeep and feeding. Yet she would rest under a trees shade, snacking on the delicacies prepared by her chef. Of course, almost no female of the low castes would ever have the opportunity to ride a horse in their entire lifetime, namely because of their families lack of wealth. Yet Marilyn was already a master after only ten years of existence on earth.
However, Rosalie had easily made up for any inequalities by the adverse conditions she faced after the disassociation with her family. She was faced to watch her husband farm each day in the county of Cork, with almost no friends to accompany her; the Anglo-Irish accent she beared allowed no social life. After her husband Aengus Connaught was captured by the English, she was forced to raise his farm and family. There was no free moment in which she could savor life. Perhaps one of the few things which made her proud was her resistance to society; instead of bending to her mothers command to renounce Catholicism, she had the courage to run off, knowing that life would be much harder without the Wellington wealth.
IN DUBLIN, Marilyn Wellington was busying herself with various household duties, including reading the European weeklies, engaging in fights with the domestics, and guzzling the contents of her husbands wine cellar. Her daughter, Karalyn, had already completed first seven years of life. She had witnessed Karalyns blunders and adventures. Karalyn had already outgrown three attendants; they could not handle her never-ceasing whining, crying, and fits of rage.
The first incident had occurred when Karalyn was only two years of age. Her first attendant, Eibhlin&emdash;which is the Gaelic equivalent of Evelyn&emdash;had quit after a mishap in the pantry. It was the day of food delivery at the mansion, and the "sweet babe" had crawled into the giant hall, urinating on three sacks of salt&emdash;the most valuable spice of the time. Eibhlin was of course blamed, since she "did not faithfully attend to your duties in watching Karalyn," as Mr. Wellington had said. She was forced to pay for the lost groceries in lieu of her wages. Rather than being bankrupted because of a pathetic child, she fled the city.
The second, Laoise&emdash;Louis in English&emdash;had also been ruined financially and emotionally by Karalyn. Laoise had a reputation for being "the" nanny in all of Ireland; unlike most care givers of the time, she made observations about her methods and refined and tuned them over time. She was determined to turn this little whining brat into a full-fledged cherub. However, the days she spent with the child turned into weeks, then months, then finally four years. No progress was made; Karalyn would torment Laoise, ruining tons of goods with her curious little hands. Karalyn even gave the course lady a few blue bruises by tripping her as Laoise would run through the corridors. Finally, Laoise quit. Like Eibhlin, she could not stand such a little creature, nor the fact that these acts of evil were left unnoticed by the parents. She left the estate, and in doing so she lost her confidence. Perhaps the most decisive factor was that Laoise was also forced to pay back all of the expenditures which had accrued from Karalyns misbehavior.
The last attendant was Roisin&emdash;Gaelic for Rose&emdash;who had heard the tales of Karalyns torment but easily brushed them aside in lieu of the large sum of money being offered. No one had wanted the job of raising the young girl, for they had witnessed the failures of the two before them. However, Roisin had a very discerning eye, and she could tell that this young girl would probably ruin her as well. She was paid fortnightly, and after the third payment she fled the estate, taking her payment&emdash;and a few priceless items from the estate&emdash;with her. Karalyns parents knew not that she had fled until one of the servants told them. Steamed with rage, the two aristocrats hunted Roisin with the aid of the Royal Guard, and once captured was shipped to a prison colony south of France.
Of course, Marilyn would never understand why these attendants kept resigning from their posts. She had never actively participated in the upbringing of her child; she in fact was rarely at home. Karalyn had already attained some type of common sense which told her that she could have anything whenever and wherever she wanted, providing that she not bother her father or mother.
Marilyn and her husband decided to rear the children on their own. However, this setup lasted only two weeks, and it was they themselves this time who were the victims of Karalyn. Once time, Marilyn Wellington had been burping Karalyn, but the mischievous girl decided to drool all over her mothers back. Thinking that all was calm, Marilyn set her daughter back into her crib and met her friends in the social room. Unaware of the surprise that her daughter left her, Marilyn never understood her friends laughter until they informed her of Karalyns misdoing. Not wanting to put up with the incessant rumors and tales of their parental demise, Karalyns parents shipped her to boarding school.
March 10, 1749
I STEPPED OFF from the stately carriage. I was a mere seven-year-old girl who was going to suffer from my parents decision to send me to boarding school. I felt abandoned; if I had only known this would be the consequence, I might have ceased my wild rampages. I was being sent to Ruthin School for Girls, established almost two centuries ago.
I thought that perhaps I could escape the wooden ship bringing me to the northern territories, but I had to think of a way first! I thought of jumping into the ocean and drowning myself. Hah! That would make my parents cringe! I could just imagine all of the horrible things that mums friends would say about her.
All of a sudden, the ships first mate announced that it was time to board, so I didnt have much time. I kicked Aidan, my butler, in the shin, and tried to escape. I ran so fast that the dirt of the road was dispersed into the air. I heard one lady shriek, as her beautiful pink dress was now covered in ugly brown spots. I had no sympathy for her; at least she had some control over her life. Yet my seven-year-old legs could not outrun Aidan. He lifted me by the ear and dragged me onto that monster-of-a-ship. I screamed for the entire fortnight, driving every passenger mad. I was alone&emdash;since my parents would not even pay for Aidan to accompany me&emdash;so they figured that I was an abandoned child who deserved sympathy rather than malice.
I finally arrived at Ruthin School. One could still see the ruin of the battle between James and the Orange Order. Parts of the walls were missing because of canon balls, and some windows were missing, as pupils tried to jump out, rather facing death than the horny English soldiers. And, I had to share my dorm room with four other girls! That was simply unimaginable! I had always been accustomed to my room consisting of my things only. Yet to my misfortune, this group of girls were much larger and older than me. I became like Eibhlin, Laoise, Roisin&emdash;my former domestics&emdash;and was transformed from a pompous brat into a humble servant of these young ladies. When I had tried to escape, tell the Dean of Discipline, or even refuse their orders, they would punch and beat me. The many red stains on my uniforms reminded me not to disobey.
IT HAD BEEN SEVEN YEARS since Father Kolbe had received Ambrose. Since then, the boy had grown into a model student. Ambrose was moved into the convent of the Sisters of the Benedictine Order. Ambrose spent his entire day with Father Kolbe from 7:00 to 7:00 daily, until it was time for Father Kolbe to retire in the Seminary and for Ambrose to eat with the nuns and sleep in their convent. Yet when they were together, it was as if nothing else mattered. Father Kolbe spent the days teaching and reviewing academics with Ambrose until it was fine-tuned and perfect. He had begun to read him stories in tongues other than English, even the Latin Book of Hours. Since it was his hope that Ambrose might one day be christened Father Ambrose, he also educated the young lad in Roman politics and culture.
Father Kolbe admired this young boy not only because he was his adopted son, but also because he failed to question anything. Ambrose dutifully accepted each new piece of information supplied by his mentor, Father Kolbe, and also practiced these lessons in religion through his action.
The priest and Ambrose would sometimes take trips to other parts of Avoca. When Father Kolbe sensed that his son was getting bored from the usual method of rote memorization, he would take him on trips while educating him. In one instance, he took Ambrose to the Glendalough Monastery, which was then a centuries-old ruin. Still, the padre could tell that he was thoroughly enjoying the story of St. Kevin, the monk who founded the monastery; St. Kevin killed a woman, thinking she would prevent him from going to heaven.
On another trip, they visited Dun Laoghaire, where they went to the many chapels and massive buildings. Father Kolbe could not forget the look on Ambroses face after seeing the gardens at St. Helens, a private residence. The Father could still recall the hours spent running through the hectares of grass and flowers. Such moments made Father Kolbe feel truly sorry for all the members of the royal race not privy to such experiences.
FATHER KOLBE has been teaching me much about myself and my religion. I find it odd that I am learning so much when other children of my age are playing in the cobblestone streets. I cannot wait until it is time for me to graduate from this level of instruction! Sometimes I honestly do not see the point in all of this. From now on, I can already see that Father Kolbe will instruct me in whatever he pleases for years to come. I do not understand why I am with him during the day and the sisters at night&emdash;they tell me that my parents abandoned me, but Im sure that there is more to the story than that. I dont understand why I have to learn about the English alphabet, the Roman humanists and philosophers, and history of royal pontiffs. It seems like an endless cycle! The potato growers who rent land from the sisters seem happy doing work which takes almost no education at all. The chimney sweep, who fortnightly climbs up and down the chimney of the Mansion&emdash;where Fr. Kolbe serves under the Bishop&emdash;seems more happy than the most- educated Father Kolbe!
In fact, Father Kolbe always looks sad. He looks at me as if I am his son! Yet he also seems to be obviously hiding something very important from me. When I ask, "Where did I come from?" hell answer, "From God!" He knows that I had not wanted that sort of an answer. He looks as if something horrendous is about to happen, yet he is trying to conceal it. He sometimes will shut himself away, not wanting to speak to anyone but me.
I yearn to be free like the potato grower and the chimney sweep, who earn little money but have happiness greater than King George himself! Other children play in the street, while I perform rote memorization for the sake of some priest.
7:00 PM, March 6, 1757
ROSALIE WELLINGTON still was writing letters to her sister Karalyn though never expecting any response. She wished that her old body would simply rot away&emdash;she was now more than seventy years old. Her children were entering the golden age of senility; she herself was probably in better condition than her very children. Life for her was an endless routine of waking, eating, dressing, strolling through the large gardens of her estate, and chatting among her few still-living friends. She found no purpose in it; she had lost her family and husband over the years. The only remaining relatives were her children&emdash;who were now as well quite old&emdash;and her sister Marilyn. She had not known of Karalyn since she had lost contact with her distant sister.
Finally on one day, she had her cabby take her to the Parish of St. Michael the Archangel and slipped into the confessional. She had known it was vacant, since the candle at the side of the penitents section was not lit. She lit the candle, and knelt on the satin kneeler. She uttered the words "Forgive me Father, for I have sinned." The priest made the sign of the cross and slid across the divider between priest and woman, and said, "Lord, we have sinned against you. Lord have mercy."
And Rosalie said, "Lord have mercy."
The priest then uttered, "Lord, show us your mercy and love. What is your sin?"
"Father, I am about to commit a horrible, mortal sin."
"You have not yet committed the sin?"
"No, but I know I shall."
"Then do not confess a sin that you know you will commit; instead, choose not to commit the sin at all, and live in Christ always."
"But I know that it shall happen, and I will have no chance for absolution afterwards."
"And what is it that you are about to do?"
"I am about to commit suicide. No, do not interrupt me, for I have already begun. I have no purpose in life. My children are already frail and weak, and my friends are dying. Through my religious conversion I have been ostracized from my mother, father, brothers, and sister Karalyn. I am sure that most of them have already expired, but I do not know since my dear sister does not reply to my letter. There is no purpose in me being here. My solicitor has already drawn my will, and I am giving all my possessions to my domestics and to the servants of the church. Please, absolve me Father, so that I may live with Christ in heaven."
"My child, hold your tongue! Suicide is condemned by God and His very Church." Then quoting the catechism, the priest said, "Jesus died on the cross because it was his Fathers will to save us from the power of the devil and sin and lead us to heaven; because Jesus loved us so much that he was willing to give his life for us."
"But Father, God Himself will take me from this earth. And when my time comes, what will I have done? Nothing! It is just an extension of my daily cycle: eating, walking, sleeping. There is no point! No Father, attend to your priestly duties and serve me an absolution."
Infuriated, the Father simply said, "I will not, can not, go along with this!"
Rosalie responded, "Perhaps if I include Your Reverence in my will? I am quite a rich woman, you know!"
"How much money?"
"A thousand quid is beyond generous. Consider it penance for my indulgence, Father?" asked Rosalie.
Pleased, the corrupt priest continued, "Very well then. Say an Act of Contrition."
"Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin."
"I forgive you your sins, XXXIn nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen. Would you like to receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction?"
"I suppose that would be appropriate, wouldnt it?"
"It is. Meet me in the sacristy."
Five minutes later, Rosalie made her way to the sacristy. She saw the priest in the room, dimly lit by a few candles and the large Paschal Candle standing at the foot of the altar. The priest put his hands over the Sanctus Oil&emdash;which was really a type of blessed olive oil&emdash;and said, "Send, Oh Lord, the Holy Ghost on this olive oil, to restore the soul and body, in order that those who receive this unction have the help for the soul and the help for the body." Then he placed his finger in the Sanctus Oil and dabbed it on Rosalies eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, and feet, saying, "By this holy unction and His pious mercy, may God forgive thee whatever sins thou hast committed by the evil use of seeing, hearing, smelling, speech, touching, and walking." He once again blessed her, and she left. The priest felt sorry for the old lady, who seemed to be alone, and who destined herself to die alone.
ROSALIE WELLINGTON went back to her manor, and instructed her lady-in-waiting make her look especially beautiful this evening. After the transfiguration, Rosalie was wearing formal attire: a dress constructed of wool, a magnificent hoop enlarged the lower portion of her dress, a square cut bodice made of the most expensive silk in all of Europe, and a hat made of peacock feathers and lace. She looked exquisite! Her lady-in-waiting even said, "Ah my Mrs. Wellington, yare looking sah-parb!" Mrs. Wellington certainly agreed, although it was hard to understand the womans rough Cork accent. It had been ages since she had looked this wonderful. But, she thought, this would be her night. In only a few hours everyone would be gossiping about her death, what her family had done to her, and why she had done this.
But first, she told herself, she needed to at least see her sister again. Her chariot pulled up to the curb, and she gracefully stepped inside. Even the porter was amazed, for he had never seen Mrs. Wellington full of so much life!
I WAS STANDING IN MY ROOM, when the porter arrived with a letter for me. It was postmarked by the Dublin postmaster, so I figure it was from my mother Marilyn. Expecting my fortnightly stipend, I was shocked to see a letter. Gasp! My mother had actually written to me! She wrote:
It is the wish of your father and I that you return immediately for a grand celebration. You had thought that we forgot your fifteenth birthday, no? Of course not, dearest child! Your father and I have been planning frantically for this event in honor of your coming-of-age.
Everyone will be there, and they will be there for you! They will come as hordes with mountains of presents. Your friends from Dublin Priory will also be attending. Wont that be a treat?
Come home soon, my precious dove!
I was not fooled for the slightest moment by my mother, assuming that she had actually written the letter (and not her assistant). My mother did not think like that! She was just trying to soften me, so that I would attend this party of hers. She had planned this party earnestly and with much effort&emdash;yes, that at least must be true&emdash;but it was not my presence she looked forward to, but the presence of her peers and social equals. My being there was a formality; it would be her party, after all. I would be ostracized as the girl sent off to school because of those awful tantrums. Hah! I can do much worse now than I could do then, but I would rather leave this place peacefully and quickly. If I must attend, then I shall, but only to get out of this so-called "school."
The next day, I had the porter pack my belongings. A butler escorted me to the dock. I was reminded of that time years ago when I had just arrived. What a brat I was! What a brat I am now! At least I know how to control myself.
When I got back in Dublin, it was as if I had never left. It was beautiful. The stallions, Royal Guard, and that wonderful Hylit church which I had belonged to. I wasnt looking forward to seeing my mother, that horrid bitch! She was a menace to society, a leech sucking the blood out of her peers. I could not believe that my father had stayed with such a woman.
I then saw the cobblestone street on which I had kicked Aidan&emdash;my butler&emdash;forcing him to wrench me by the ear. That kick in the shin sure forced a yelp out of him! My carriage rode up, and it appeared to be the same one which had taken me to this dock when I was seven. It must have been a reminder from my mother, of all the things she could do to me.
BACK AT THE WELLINGTON ESTATE, Marilyn was preparing her daughter's fifteenth year's birthday party. She was in all honesty planning the party not for her daughter, but rather as an excuse to host yet another social event. This period of life was quite peaceful for her; her husband had decided to finally settle down, the infidel child had been given away to a worthy priest, and their wealth (and thus social standing) had doubled in the past year.
A string quartet had arrived from the mainland. This particular quartet was the highest requested in all of royal England. It was said that even the dullest event could be resurrected with the harmonious tunes produced by this group. Chefs from Germany had been preparing appetizers for days, while masters from France prepared culinary delights for the night's main courses. At the request of her husband, the very Bishop of Canterbury was on his way to the celebration. It was an honor to be invited to this gathering, and an extreme insult not to be. Even the local newspaper ran a special on the event with an address included for items bequeathed to the young daughter. This was an event that Marilyn had been planning for at least a month, and everything had to go perfectly.
ON THE NIGHT OF THE PARTY, everything went along wondrously and exactly to plan. Marilyn served as the Master of Ceremonies; the nod of her head served as a signal for the help.
At first, each guest was assembled in the main corridor. At five minute intervals, a guest would present his invitation to the butler, who would then announce their arrival. Each guestss invitation was hand printed by skilled calligraphists, and the "i" in Wellington was dotted by a diamond. As planned, each guests was situated in the main dining hall an hour after they arrived.
When each guest arrived at his setting on the table&emdash;after being escorted by one of the many servants attending to the guests needs&emdash;they chatted with each other over wine and beluga caviar from France and light hors doeuvres. After mingling with each other, each of Karalyns one-hundred guests proceeded to the dancing hall, where the quartet played waltzes. The dancers could not possibly miss seeing the exquisite design of the floor, as Karalyn had a new one installed only a month before. Scenes from the Bible as well as other English icons were drawn from hand- cut marble in Italy.
When it was time for dinner, the Oriental chefs brought out the carts and trays holding the night's dessert. It was a wonderful medley of coconut and chocolate shavings upon a French creme brulee. As was the custom, the dessert was served first to young Karalyn, then her father, and then her mother. Naturally, Marilyn had wanted to produce an exotic and unfamiliar experience, and thus the coconut and chocolate shavings were sprinkled on top of the brulee. None of the guests (or the hosts) had tasted or even heard of the "coconut." Marilyn's male superior was first to taste the concoction. At first, he looked as if he were in a state of heavenly bliss. Yet all of a sudden the purple veins of his face started to enlarge and his hair started to friz and stand at its ends. His eyes started to puff up and water poured from his eyes. In a matter of seconds, blood oozed from his nose and ears. Finally, he dropped to the floor.
FATHER KOLBE had decided that it was time for Ambrose to enter the seminary. However, Bishop Darrsato had other plans. He had not forgotten the scores of pounds which Ambrose had costed the diocese. No, he would not become a priest; Ambrose would become a servant of the great Bishop who now thought the world of himself. Gone were the days of the Bishop's humility towards his inferior priest.
Deciding that it was time to deliver this news to the boy, Father Kolbe said, "Ambrose, it has been fifteen years since you came to the Mansion of His Lordship the Bishop Darrsato of Avoca, and he has decided it time for you to serve under him."
"Why, Father Kolbe?" asked Ambrose.
After a short pause, the priest finally said, "Because you have been incurring a great debt to the Bishop, and he has decided that it is time for you to work. Count yourself lucky, my son, for many of your stature have already begun working."
Ambrose suddenly realized the fortune of being taken in by the diocese for he was not blind to the scores of young men on the street, placed there by abandonment by either their parents or orphanage. Ambrose immediately said, "I owe you, your Bishop, and the Church my very life. I shall do whatever you bid."
With that, Father Kolbe felt his heart shatter into a million pieces. He had never wanted his dear son to go off as a servant, but it was a much better life than that on the street. He was touched by his son's humility and nobility. After that moment of sentimental recollection, Father Kolbe instructed Ambrose of his daily duties. In fact, his only duty was to wake the Bishop and ensure that his stateroom be kept spotless and miraculously clean. He didn't hesitate to mention that his servitude would last only another six years, provided that he fulfilled his duties adequately and satisfactorily.
I HONESTLY DIDNT CARE about being a servant. Yes, it is true that Father Kolbe had always wanted me to become a foot soldier of God, but that would have required years of work. Its just too unrealistic&emdash;me, becoming a priest. Time spent in the seminary, and then at the colleges in Rome, would have taken away much from my life. And who was to pay the tuition of such institutions? I certainly could not, and Father Kolbe didnt have enough money for even the ship ride to Rome. Bishop Darrsato could send me, but "a generous man" isnt what his parishioners call him. That man certainly is vain! My mentor, Father Kolbe, certainly has mental scars in place because of that vile man. One day, for example, Father and I were going over the Latin missal, when the Bishop stormed into the room. There was no fire in hell that could match the rage of the Bishop! His face looked like putrid yellow vomit, and his eyes were bloodshot and teary. The tips of his ears and nose were a bright red. I silently laughed, for either the Bishops whisky had traveled down his throat like torches, or he was terribly sick! Evidently, it was the latter, and Father Kolbe had forgotten, once again, to fetch the doctor in Dublin. The Bishop used words such as "buffoon" and "vile heathen." What a look was on Father Kolbes face when he heard that! He didnt wait to hear the other oratorical monstrosities, deciding to ride the carriage&emdash;with a team of six horses&emdash;all the way to Dublin. He took me with him, probably for my own safety! When Bishop Darrsato gets angry, Ive learned that I usually feel the result of his anger through impossible-to-complete commands and other abuses. Its similar to a large cat preying on mice. This is a truly violent household! Not very Christian, either.
9:00 PM, March 6, 1757
AFTER TWO LONG HOURS, Rosalie Wellington finally set eyes on the Wellington Estate after almost half a century after being disinherited by her religion. It seems that there was a party, she thought, for there were scores of carriages parked at the side of the cobblestone road. Yet, no one was strolling in the Wellington gardens with champagne in hand, nor could she hear any music playing. It seemed that all action was occurring inside the house, in a room lighted by what appeared to be almost a thousand candles!
There wasnt even a porter at the entrance, so she helped herself down from the carriage and saw her own way into the house. Indeed, there was almost no one in the great hall or the kitchen! Yet it looked so much different from what she remembered. The polished stone floors had been replaced by slates of marble, and the ornate depiction of the Calvary was instead collections of contemporary works. At least the elephant chandelier was still present! Small baby elephant tusks each held one candle, and a hundred of them were placed on brass circular disks. What a beauty it was!
She heard some commotion in the dining hall, so she made her way over there. Hundreds of people were present, and they were all gathered around some man.
It took almost five minutes for her to reach the other end of the hall&emdash;it truly was quite large, and Rosalie had very slow and tired legs. She saw her sister, making her go even faster! Tears came to her face, as Marilyn also was crying. Yet Marilyn was not crying for their reunion, but the death of some man&emdash;her husband?&emdash;who was lying on the floor. Rosalie cried, "Marilyn!" and her sister walked forward to her. She asked, "Rosalie?"
Within a seconds notice, Rosalie dropped to the ground. She was grateful, for she did not have to go through with her original plan of suicide; God was deciding to call her at this very instant. She was happy also because she was with her sister, and her home her deathbed. It was her time to go, and God had given her what no one else could offer: peace.
MARILYN COULD NOT BELIEVE what had happened. Obviously, that was her sister Rosalie, someone she had not seen for an eternity. She was not sure how to feel. Their blood notwithstanding, the two were complete strangers. She didnt have time for herself, for the Royal Guard came and brought the two deceased persons to the infirmary.
At the infirmary, the doctors could do nothing to save Mr. Wellington. They explained it as an "act of God," while it was actually a lethal reaction to the exotic coconut fruit. An Anglican priest gave him his last rites, and his body was being treated by specialists at the Christ Church Cathedral. Even after his death, Mr. Wellington's eyes would not deflate. Specialists had to remove the eyes and insert synethic porcelain replacements. His blood had to be drawn, as the purple pigment would not leave his face. Mrs. Wellington would not spare any expense, and had already purchased a large plot in the crypt of the Cathedral. His coffin was being made in France. It cost a lifetime in wages of a common peasant a thousand times over. Its interior was made of immaculate silk, and its exterior was of solid mahogany dipped in pure gold. A cross was etched into the gold, and then covered with diamonds mined in the English colonies of Africa. A large white pall was at the very moment was being sewn by members of the reformed monastery of St. Augustine back in England.
After no more than one week, Marilyn and Karalyn were finally able to stop moaning. At that time, an elaborate funeral was held at Christ Church Cathedral by the presbyters of the Church of Ireland. Even the high ranking members of the Catholic hierarchy attended the funeral, as Mr. Wellington had power and wealth not usually obtained by such a young English national.
As for Rosalie, it was obviously old age which had caused the death. Yet the expired Rosalie still had a look of tranquility and happiness upon her face. Mrs. Wellington did not know what to do with her sister. People were already talking! "Who is this?" or "I remember her! That must have been Rosalie!" To them, she had the duty of burying her sister as well. She decided to purchase an ornate&emdash;but not exceedingly expensive&emdash;coffin, and sent her body in a black hearse back to Cork. Her family there would know what to do.
A WEEK AFTER THE RECEPTION, several solicitors on behalf of the English government appeared at the estate of the Wellington women. The apparent leader of the pack introduced himself as Jacque Smith. After Marilyn offered him a seat in the large study, he stated, "Mrs. Wellington, I would first like to express my sorrow at the loss of your husband. It makes me regret my task of coming to you this day."
Not knowing what he could possibly be referring to, Mrs. Wellington responded with, "What task?"
At the nod of his head, Smith's assistant produced a leather portfolio. From it, he produced a multitude of bonds. Each one was signed by her husband, and each one promised various creditors tens of thousands of pounds. "What does this all mean?" Marilyn asked.
After giving his assistant a glimpse of disbelief, Mr. Smith said, "Your husband dealt in various investments, yes?"
"Yes, I believe so."
"Do you know what specific investments he dealt in?"
Marilyn responded, "No, not really. I am a woman, and I know not of affairs only associated with men."
"Yes, forgive me, how honorable. Your husband was involved with overseas imports and exports. His entire business was based entirely on the large-scale transfer of high-priced items. However, there was of course no way for him to supply the necessary principal to purchase his goods. Thus, he received many loans from many creditors. The clause within the bond stated that upon his death, the company would be able to foreclose enough property, merchandise, or the like in order to 'repay' the loan. The problem which you now face is that you, of course, must somehow make up these bonds."
Mrs. Wellington's skin turned an extremely bright white, more pure than of talcum powder. Her usually red lips turned to a pale pink and the veins on the top of her hands bulged and throbbed. Goose bumps arose on her arms. She knew nothing of business or of her husbands finances. There was no way in which Marilyn could repay the loans.
FATHER KOLBE was feeling extraordinarily good today. He had just received a correspondence from dear old Mrs. Wellington in the mail today speaking of her husbands and sisters death. He was not happy because of the deaths, of course, but rather because they would be coming here. Father Kolbe had been living in solitude in the Mansion with the staff and Ambrose for too long! He longed to meet someone new, to have a fresh conversation with someone that didnt include Latin lessons or harsh orders to clean out rooms.
He even knew exactly where the meeting would take place: the main tea room. It would probably be one of the last good meals that Marilyn and her daughter would eat for a very long time. He felt bad for the two, but he knew that they would arise again to become the famous aristocrats that they were known to be. Perhaps their extended family would somehow help them.
To Father Kolbe, the entire system of accidental birth&emdash;being born into a rich or poor family with no merit&emdash;and prosperous wealth was nonsensical. He could not understand how a person could honestly live with so much money while knowing of the abject conditions of those around his fellow neighbor.
THE TOWN OF AVOCA was suddenly awakened by the massive tower bells which hung from St. Kolbe Cathedral. His Grace Maximilian Darrsato of the Eastern Vicarate of Ireland of the Holy Catholic Church awoke. At that instant I his steward came kneeling in. On a silver tray I held the Bishops pectoral cross, crimson cassock, chimere, cincture, and biretta. After adorning himself with these robes, His Grace left the Holy Cross Rectory attached to the Bishops Mansion and made preparations for the days Low Mass.
Meanwhile, I was left to the chores. I meticulously attended to the Bishops bed; I pulled at every crease of the sheets and dusted every speck of dust off each piece of furniture. After two hours of labor, his oak bed was oiled and sparkled as bright as the mornings sun. The sheets smelled of morning dew, as I had left fresh roses from the Redemptorist Monks garden atop his bedspread. The white powder which had accumulated on the windows overnight from the storm was wisped away. Pleased with my work, I headed down to the domestics station on the main floor.
As I descended down the staircase, I saw Father Kolbe. "Good Morrow, Father," I said.
"Good Morning, Ambrose. Another day like this and Ill freeze over." With that, I continued my descent down to the main floor to the tea room. Each day, I was in charge of attending to the Bishop in the morning. Usually, Father Kolbe had me to chores after such time just to keep me busy and out of trouble. Yet today Father was looking happier than usual, so it appeared that I would not be receiving any extra chores today!
10:30 A.M., March 10, 1757
MARILYN WELLINGTON and her daughter travelled through the Irish country into the county of Avoca. They had nowhere else to go. Even if they wanted to go somewhere, they could not afford it; their last shillings had been spent on the carriage ride to Avoca. The only reason why she had decided to come here with her daughter was to escape the odd looks and harsh rumors coming from her peers and former equals.
She stepped off the shabby cab and helped her daughter down. A porter from the Mansion stepped out and helped them with their luggage. She was shown into the tea room by the young man, who hurriedly left in order to fulfill other duties.
The only reason why she was hear was to perhaps gain some form of charity from the Church, but Marilyn had wrote in a letter to Father Kolbe with such excuses as, "I only wish to see my husbands son and his adoptive father, for I have not seen the two of you for so long!" No, Marilyn knew what type of situation that they were in. When the solicitor had first told her of their newfound bankruptcy, she thought that they could live comfortably by auctioning some antique goods, but that was made impossible. The solicitor had already ordered the Royal Guard to take all valuable items from the house, and Marilyn and her daughter were shown out that very day.
She first tried to approach her one brother and sister for help, but none of the two would offer their help (although the brother certainly was able to). And thus she found herself in the town of Avoca, hoping that a foreign church would at least keep her alive.
I SAVORED THE SMELL of the hot tea and cold sandwiches. I had been treated like any other servant, eating cold scraps left over from the Bishop and the many people who dined in the Mansion. The chef had prepared some exquisite bite-sized sandwiches, such as pate and smoked salmon. I had always wanted to taste one of these delicious-looking things...Why not? I grabbed one and gobbled it down as fast as one could say "ciborium."
I walked into the room, and put the soup bowls in front of Mrs. Wellington, Father Kolbe, and...that girl! She was beautiful! My eyes darted around her voluptuous body, until my eyes met hers. In shame, I looked away, but I could not help looking back once more. When I brought the sandwiches out, I looked her entire body over. I could not take my eyes of her immaculate body. Her nose was as cute as a young fawns; it was small and petite, with a slight luster. I moved my eyes downward and saw her mouth. In a fit of embarrassment, she tried to hide her lips, though I could still see a hint of an awkward smile. Her hands were both white and looked as soft as talcum powder, with each finger as symmetrical as a candle. They were folded in anticipation of the meal I brought, as I set her tray before her. Because of her modest dress, I could barely make out the smoothness of her unsullied legs. I knew that I shouldnt have been looking at her, but it was as if I was within some metaphysical trance. My eyes moved upwards some more, and once more our eyes met.
THAT YOUNG MAN couldnt take his eyes off of me! But I was just as guilty; as he looked at my features, I took notice of his as well. His muscles bludged, as if he hauled carts all day with those huge hands. His stomach was flatter than any sheet of paper, and his eyes were beautiful! I felt almost ashamed at having such a perfect creature looking at me. Once again our eyes met! I couldnt help but blush, for everyone&emdash;including the priest and my mother&emdash;took notice at our attraction for one another.
Our luncheon was quite boring. Once that wonderful young man had left the room, there was really nothing to do but listen to the horrid speech of my mother: "Were destitute! What will happen to us? There is nothing for a woman but prostitution and manual labor!" and the like.
While we were about to leave, I told my mother to meet me outside while I "washed my hands." I asked Father Kolbe, "Father, I have a question for you."
"Oh? Hrm, I wonder what ever about?" asked the padre
"Oh father, dont play games! His name, his name! What was it? Please tell me!"
"Ah, the steward? Ambrose. Love at first sight, eh?" My cheeks turned red at the proposition of such a thing. Love? For me? I had never experienced love at home in Dublin&emdash;well my former home; I have no home now. But that man! I must see him again.
"You mean, see Ambrose again?" Oh, had Father Kolbe heard my thoughts?
"Yes Father, I must see him again! How may I?"
"Heres a hint: he is the servant of the Bishop, and after His Grace has left the Mansion, I usually assign Ambrose to duty in the tea room as a steward. Perhaps you would be interested in dining here for your lunch?"
"I would love to, if only it were not for my lack of money."
"Consider your meals here to be the courtesy of the Bishop. Just do not tell anyone, and make sure to come after 11:30 each day, for that is when the Bishop usually leaves."
"Oh, thank you Father!" I was so delighted! I bent down to kiss his ring and left. I must have been blushing, for my face felt warm. Perhaps St. Cupid struck me with his arrow?
RIGHT AFTER THE TWO HAD LEFT, I noticed the presence of Father Kolbe behind me. In a torrent of questions, I said, "Holy Father! Who was she? Do you know? How old is she? She was so beautiful! Please, where can I find her?"
After a pause, Father Kolbe finally said, "Calm down boy, patience! Her name is Karalyn Wellington, daughter of the late Lord Wellington. After the Lords death, Karalyn and her mother have been trying to live off whats left of their fortune. As you can see, theyre getting desperate."
Father Kolbe finally said, "Anglican."
"Oh why! I dont care what you Fathers tell us! Shes immaculate, beautiful, heavenly! I dont care about her creed. All I know is that I love her! Help me, wise Father! Help me! How do I meet her?" In my opinion, life was too short to worry about the difference of religion! We were both Christian, and that was all which mattered.
"Ill take care of everything, lad. Just be sure to be done with your episcopal chores by 11:30 each day, and meet me in the tea room at that time of each day. Now hurry! The Bishop is coming!"
"Thank you Padre!" Father Kolbe was an extraordinary man!
Seeing that the Episcopal Carriage was in the driveway, I knew that the Bishop was here somewhere. No one really was very fond of the Bishop or his thoughts about the Church. Like many so-called "Princes," he believed himself to be part of a holy race of Bishops, Cardinals, and Popes full of honorific titles.
As the Bishop stepped in through the main door, I was already scurrying to the whims of the Bishop. "Ambrose? Why is my bath not ready? Prepare it as soon as possible; Ive had a long day." With that, the Bishop retired to the tea room and waited.
"Yes, Your Eminence. Please excuse me, Your Grace," was all that I could say. I had strong opinions, that is true, but I would rather hold my tongue than be thrown into the streets!
No matter what the chastising of the Bishop had put me through, the broad smile which came over my face was as bright as the very sun which lighted the Emerald Isles. I could not wait to see that beautiful girl again!
10:00 PM, March 10, 1757
MARILYN WELLINGTON had not been blind to the apparent love between her son and that steward. She had mixed feelings about the situation. Obviously, this young boy would never be able to support her sweet Karalyn; he was without money and was probably working for mere room and board. However, she was glad that Karalyn had experienced some happiness in this wretched locale.
In the few hours since Marilyn and her daughter had moved to Avoca, she was finding that life was becoming increasingly positive. She was finally beginning to understand why her poor servants were always so happy. Since losing her money, she lost all the tangible things that used to make her happy, such as French chocolate, Asian silk, and American cotton. Now happiness came from seeing her daughter with that poor ragamuffin, or talking to Father Kolbe who considered at her personality rather than her lack of money.
This realization was interesting, for this spiritual journey was not enjoyed only by Marilyn, but it was something that Rosalie had experienced before she had died. Rosalie began rich, become destitute and poor, but had a peaceful ending. Like Rosalie, Marilyn began to see not the clothes of people, but the love which they had for one another. She looked at her friends&emdash;who had loads of jewels and gold&emdash;who had not helped her at all, and she noticed people like Father Kolbe&emdash;who probably did not own anything but his cassock&emdash;who helped her even though she could offer nothing in return.
She realized that her entire life up to this point had been almost fake. Her maids had no respect for her, but rather for her money. They had no sympathy for the woman who had tormented them for so long. Her entire life had been based on a system of giving in exchange for receiving; nothing came without a price.
Marilyn also knew of her debt to the Catholic Church, which was paying for the room in which they resided. Although it was a mere hostel, they at least had some privacy, and though the other people there were dirty, they were friendly and loving. Marilyn and her daughter were experiencing a long-due revelation of truth within their hearts.
THIS PLACE IS FILTHY! How could my father do this to us? The floorboards creek, and we have to walk outside and pump the well for water. This is pathetic! Im a fifteen year old girl in a hostel full of grown men, most drunk and some drugged. How can my mother be so happy in this place? One things true: at least weve gotten close.
Another good thing has come from my fathers death: Ambrose! You could call it a silver lining. I am also becoming closer to my mother, if thats even possible. Were starting to talk more, and although were both going mad over our tipsy-turvy newfound lifestyle, were both becoming happier&emdash;or more amicable at least.
Tonight, I will dream of my former home in Dublin. I will dream of the garden, the tables of food from which we used to whimsically pick our meals, and the large lake in which I would row with my friends. I will dream of my friends back at Ruthin, and of all those who teased me and of all those I ridiculed. I hated that place, but now I wish I could be there, with people who cared about me, and food from which I would not have to fear poisoning, and mattresses stuffed with fresh down. But if I went back there, I would miss Ambrose, and if my father had not died, I would never had set eyes on him!
9:00 A.M., March 11, 1747
FATHER KOLBE HAD DECIDED to let me take a break from my cleaning duties. After all, he said that I would be doing a particularly large chore today.
"Good Morning, Ambrose! My, my, wasnt His Grace the Bishop in a bad mood yesterday? I remember, long ago&emdash;when I could see over my stomach&emdash;we would go down to the stream, catch cats, and stick lighted candles up their anuses. Their anger couldnt have matched the Bishops!" said Father Kolbe.
Chuckling, I said, "Father, sometimes you say the most interesting things. He wasnt that angry! He actually seemed calmer than usual. Im just thankful that our Lord Bishop doesnt flog his servants; I heard that happened to Cardinal Sharons boy some time ago. Bless me, the boy steals a meager sandwich and he gets beaten!" I answered.
"Yes, well, weve got some work for you. Go take a look at the pantry; its been a while since weve paid a visit to the market," he said.
THE GREAT PANTRY stored the food for the Bishop, servants of the diocese, and all surrounding schools and orphanages. It was also a warehouse for the goods of incoming merchants. It was so big that it had be expanded three times, each involving the addition of another floor dug further into the ground. Each floor housed at least a thousand jars of wheat, honey, sugar, floor, and grain. One floor was dedicated entirely to dried meats and fish. The entrances to the pantry were guarded by the Royal Army at all times, and thus people paid high premiums to store their goods there. Of course, all proceeds went to no other person than the Bishop.
Although any property in the pantry was under the protection of the Bishop, he could only use goods actually owned by him. Being the egotistic and overly pompous person that he was, this not only angered the Bishop but pressured him to amass even more commodities.
After finally gaining access to the pantry, I met with the clerks in order to realize what needed to be acquired. The eldest clerk, Conail Hylit, spoke for them all, saying, "It has time for the holy pantry to be restocked immediately. We are in short supply of carrots and lettuce. Furthermore, we will need four bags of table salt, ten bags of sugar, and twenty bags of flour. Pursuant to King Georges new taxes, we will need to surrender one-fourth of the profits made from the pantry in the form of goods. The other clerks and I have decided that the pantry shall pay in the form of ten bushels of hay, two oxen, and three reams of silk. We have drafted two copies of this list. One is yours, and one is for the Bishops staff. When you go to the market, present them with this letter, which has been signed by the Bishop, and they shall grant you credit."
I kept silent for a long time. Usually, I would act as the middleman, giving scrolls to someone whom the clerks felt to be better suited for the job. After all, the letter from the Bishop would provide anyone with anything they desired. (Think of it as a blank check of our modern- day period) The Church controlled much money and property, and thus merchants were sure that accounts were paid for. The fact that I was being honored with such a job was a symbol of the clerks trust in me.
Finally, I was able to say, "I will do my duty."
"Then may God keep you and hold you."
Depending on who you spoke to, the market could either be a splendid or a horrid place. To the lower classes, the market was a place full of exotic foods, spices, and herbs. Paintings from distant lands gave them a glimpse of places which they knew theyd never see. Expensive herbs seduced their olfactory perception, leaving them to only dream of what such things might taste like; even a minute sample of such exquisite merchandise would cost them their monthly wages. However, to the noblemen and women, the market was a disastrous place in which to be caught. Their eyes and noses skipped the art and scents, and instead focused on the sight of the poor beggars and the smell of the dung heaps and masses of unwashed persons.
Because of the value of the Bishops letter, Clerk Hylit assigned six guards to accompany me. There was one leader named Gearoid whom controlled five subordinates. Their torn clothes made them appear as war-beaten soldiers, and their exposed feet made them look to be below commoners. Such an appearance made my stomach churn immediately when I set my eyes on them.
After producing the letter and orders, Gearoid, the men, and I set off to the market. When we were halfway there, Gearoid with his English accent said, "I know of a shorter way. If we head straight through these woods, we should be able to reduce our time by more than an hour! Come, let us go!"
I knew that this had to mean trouble, but I was in no way going to stand up against six other husky men. One of them could kill me a thousand times over! "All right," I said, "but Im not sure if this is wise."
For half an hour they had walked in silence. The only sound was of the crunch made by the twigs and sticks on the ground as they trekked on. Finally, Gearoid said, "Here, heres the place." They had arrived at a small clearing in the forest, but the market was no where to be seen. The usual hubbub of the market couldnt be heard, and there was a lashing whip on the ground. Sensing danger, I spun around and ran, only to find himself on the ground after tripping over a rhizome.
Gearoid, through his laughter, uttered, "Eh boys, this was easier than I thought it would be!" I could feel the Bishops letter being pried from my hands as his blood trickled down my nose. I felt myself drifting from the world as all sight in my eyes darkened. The last thing I felt was one of the soldiers kicking me in the groin.
AT precisely twelve oclock, I arrived at the Bishops mansion just as Fr. Kolbe had instructed the day before. However, the steward who answered the door meekly said that Ambrose had left hours before to go to the market. My stomach felt as if it had dropped to my knees. There was pain erupting from my entire body. Almost losing consciousness, I leaned against a brass cherub and asked the steward to fetch Father Kolbe.
Upon seeing him, I asked, "Father! Where is he? Was he not instructed to be here?"
"Be patient, my child. He is out at the market," he replied.
"Who sent him there? He should be here, with me. How I long to look into his eyes once more! Padre, I spent the entire night thinking of him and only him! When shall he return?"
"I sent him! He needed to restock the pantry, though I would have expected him to be back by now."
"Do you think that he got into trouble?"
"He couldnt have! I sent six guards with him! And not just ordinary guards, theyre huge! Trust me, my dove, hes fine."
"Guards? Why would he need guards?" But before he could answer my question, a messenger rushed into the room, and I was shooed away for fear of hearing the message. What type of mission requiring guards would be entrusted to my Ambrose! Although I thought the world of him, Im quite realistic and am fully aware of his social class.
I walked back to my hostel. The red dirt crunched under my heels, just as my heart had been crushed by this enigma. Where was he and what had happened?
JUST THEN, the Bishops messenger came in with news for Father Kolbe. "Excuse me, Father," he said, "but this requires your most immediate and private attention."
After waiving off Kara and stepping into a private annex, the messenger said, "Early this morning there was a man found half dead in the Forest. It appeared that he had tripped and was left unconscious. A group of traveling Benedictine monks saw him and took him to their abbey."
Father Kolbe asked, "What? Why would they do that? They didnt even know who he was, did they?"
"The man was said to have had the Bishops crest sewn onto his shirt, and thus it was thought wise to grant him sanctuary."
"Did the monks find him carrying anything with him?"
The messenger replied, "No, they did not."
"Then it couldnt have been Ambrose, unless they took it from him! Tell me, did they describe his characteristics?"
"Yes, he had blue eyes, a medium sized build, was fair skinned, with brown hair."
"Then it was Ambrose!!! Were there any men to be found with him?" asked the padre.
"No, the place was entirely deserted when the monks arrived. Shall we send him here?"
"Of course not! Hes safer there!"
With that, the messenger left. Since the Bishops letter had been stolen, those men would have access to anything they desired. They had the power to bankrupt the diocese and thus destroy the Bishop and his flock. Certain complications would certainly arise for himself, the Bishop, and Ambrose. If Ambrose were sent back to the mansion, the Bishop would certainly have him killed for stupidity. Blame would be passed on to the clerks and Fr. Kolbe for entrusting Ambrose with the mission, and they themselves might face more severe punishment.
9:00 P.M., March 11, 1747
I LAY IN A STRAW BED provided by the Benedictine brothers. Although my eyes were still blurred, I could hear the chanting of the hourly Vespers in the distance. A surgeon was drawing blood from my arm, with the sanguine fluid leaking into a wooden bucket. The Sacrament of Extreme Unction had already been administered, as I could feel a cross outlined atop my head with holy oils. A sick call set had arranged at the head of my bed; a small crucifix was standing horizontally with two white candles burning at its sides. Others were also in the room, including a few amputees. Nuns and brothers patrolled the corridors making sure that the needy were taken care of. At the end of the hall, a rosary was being led by a priest. He would utter the words "Hail Mary, full of Grace! The Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus," and the participants, while kneeling on the stone floor, would utter, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen." The priest would announce every decade of Hail Marys, saying the first part of the doxology, "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit," and the laity would mumble, "as it was in the beginning, is now, and every shall be, Amen." Then, they would say an Our Father. This continued throughout the day, as relatives and friends of the ill would say the Rosary and then leave. It was, for the most part, the only sound I heard in the grim monastery besides the patients moaning and screaming.
The Benedictine brothers fed me merely with cold soup, bread, and water. Only three days after my arrival, I began to sit up and walk with the assistance of one of the brothers, Brother OKeefe. He was the one of the most respected members of the Benedictine monastery. Although he held no important office, he was one of the few monks who was truly devoted to the way of St. Benedict. Brother OKeefe had grown up in a rich family; his father was a nobleman who controlled over a hundred servants and reaped the most profit from agriculture in the entire Irish province. Like many Irish nobleman, he had been raised an Anglican, but discovered the true meaning of the Church. When he decided to take the vows of the Order of St. Benedict, he gave up his entire inheritance and all worldly possessions to the Church.
"Good morning, my son. How are you?" asked Brother OKeefe.
I answered, "Im fine. Im able to walk, and I can eat and live without the assistance of the brothers. When do you think I will be able to leave?"
"As you probably dont know, the leader of this monastery is Father Provincial Joseph. He normally doesnt really care if people leave or go; his main concerns are of the survival of the community. However, he has instructed me that you shall stay here."
"Im not so sure, my son. Ill have him come to you later this evening, perhaps when hes not busy. This time of political turmoil has placed its toll upon the endurance of our Order, you know." With that, the brother made of the sign of the cross upon my head and said a prayer of benediction.
I was left to think about the horrible things that Bishop Darrsato was doing. Although I was a mere servant, my absence would not go unnoticed. He would punish Father Kolbe for my absence&emdash;for that was a loss of labor and thus a loss to the Bishops account. Perhaps Father would be flogged! If only I could get back to my beloved town. I desperately wanted to get back to Avoca. I was sure that Father Kolbe was waiting anxiously for my return, and I longed to see that girl Karalyn again.
Father Provincial Joseph
THE FATHER PROVINCIAL was a short and extremely plump man. Unlike Brother OKeefe, the Father Provincial had been accustomed to an extremely humble life as a child. At first, his ordination came through a desire to live a more comfortable life. When he took his vows at St. Kolbe Cathedral, his mind was focused exclusively on the luxuries which came with Holy Orders. Benedictine monks took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and thus the Father had stayed away from the Benedictine order and became a diocesan priest. One day, when he had been resting, his clerk awoke him and explained that the Benedictine monks Father Provincial had been delayed, and needed a priest to act as the celebrant for the Vespers. After spending a day at the monastery, he was awed by their lifestyle. He admired the monks for their love of nature, life, and God. Overcome by this contact, he immediately requested for a priestly dispensation and took the vows of St. Benedict. After six years, the former Father Provincial died and instructed that Joseph be named as his replacement.
However, that had been almost twenty years ago. During such time, he had witnessed many and tragedies and joys. When Father Kolbe from the Bishops mansion explained the predicament which they had with Ambrose, he knew that there would be tough times to brace for. The problem which now faced him would be a troubling one; he knew the implications of harboring Ambrose at the monastery. If the Bishop were to find out, Ambrose would be ordered back&emdash;probably to be executed. Yet if they refused the Bishops orders, they would be violating their vows of obedience to the Church. Nonetheless, this complication would arise if and only if the Bishop found out about Ambroses location. Not wanting to take any chances, he had already moved the young man to private quarters deep within the Orders walls.
Father Provincial Joseph entered the quarters and said, "My name is Father Provincial Joseph Macinnes, but you may address me as Reverend Father. How are you feeling?"
Ambrose answered, "Fine, Reverend Father. May I leave?"
"Well, your absence would be in the best interest of the Order, but I must say youd be in more danger than youre in now. You see, my lad, after you fell unconscious, your guards stole something extremely important. Can you remember what?"
"The Bishops letter."
"I was hoping they wouldnt take it," uttered Ambrose.
"And why wouldnt they? It might as well been a bag of gold, because that letter was worth far more than that."
"I hadnt thought it that way."
"Do you know someone named Father Kolbe?"
"Yes, hes a close friend. Why?" asked Ambrose.
"Well, he has been thinking of that letter and your safety ever since you arrived here. I informed him of when you first came that you were here, and we both think it wise for you to remain at the monastery."
"And why is that?"
"That letter has the power to bankrupt the diocese. Those men can now buy whatever they want, and at the end of the month, the tabs will come rolling in to the Bishop. The Bishop will of course blame you for losing the letter, and will immediately have you arrested and killed. We have granted you sanctuary here, so I would advise you to count your blessings. As long as the Bishop doesnt find you here, we will all be kept safe. However, Father Kolbe is in perilous danger because he will most likely get blamed for entrusting you with the Bishops letter. Are you beginning to understand the seriousness of the situation?" asked the Father Provincial.
Ambrose suddenly because very aware of the full situation in which he was now entangled in. He fainted at the thought of the wrath of the Bishop which would certainly be applied to the staff of the Mansion. All this, because of him and that stupid root which he had tripped on, thought Ambrose.
June 6, 1757
ACROSS THE STREET at the open-air concert grounds, I could hear one of Bachs famous Brandenburg Concertos. The man had been dead for over a decade, but his music still remained popular! The streets were lined with peasants as they tried to listen to the pieces. From the street way, all they could hear were the harsh rolls produced by the giant tympani drums with a faint hint of the brass section. However, the rich noblemen and aristocrats were privy to the brassy sharps and flats of the trumpet whose tone was as pure the Emerald Islands spring water. They felt the ground of the open-air auditorium pounding from the resonance produced by the flutes and clarinets drawn-out vibrato style, like water rippling from impact. They heard the wind instruments being countered by the calm playing of the orchestra. A frosty glass pane supported by brass cherubs separated the wind instruments from the orchestra players.
The market had been cleared the week before to make way for the performance. The conductor had been ordered to come to Western Europe by King George II. However, because of the various political struggles&emdash;including the two-century year old debacle of the Catholic Church caused by King Henry, which was still causing problems&emdash;the conductor would only perform in Ireland, leagues away from the Kings army. Due to the rarity of such a performance, admittance to the concert costed as much as two years earnings of the common peasant. As usual, an additional cost was charged for seating, depending on the proximity to the stage. The seats were arranged in a semi circle. Regardless of location, the same luscious seats were used for every person. A traditional four-legged chair was carved of wood, then dipped into gold. King Georges coat-of-arms were etched into the gold, and silk was used as the exterior material for the cushion with goose feather as the stuffing.
The chairs themselves were worth so much gold that after the concert, merchants from Venice and Barcelona immediately bought them in hopes of making money retailing them. Bishop Darrsato himself bought ten for his receiving room.
The concert made me remember the past: lavish parties, concerts, galas with fellow nobility, and high tea luncheons. I used to live an a rich estate on the outskirts of Dublin, with large green grounds for horse riding.
However, since the death of my father, it had been months since I had enjoyed such luxuries. Since the day of his murder, my mother and I have been living on the small stipend provided by the Church, who only decided to give us a small pension after hearing the pleas of Father Kolbe. With the small amount of money, we are able to rent a small room above a local tavern in Avoca and eat modest meals. Sometimes we would dine at the Bishops palace. Usually, the staff will forgive us the meals price since they were all aware of our dismal situation.
Our nights are full of the late night brawls; the sight of the parish priest giving Extreme Unction to a victim of the all-too-often fights is non uncommon. Blood flows down the street like the great Liffey river. My fathers death has essentially turned my life into a living hell. Yet since I met Ambrose, it is full of new meaning. I long to see him again! But of course, neither Father Kolbe nor the staff of the Bishop will reveal information about Ambroses whereabouts to me. I have even inquired about the matter to the Bishops clerks, who also refuse to reveal any information. Any bribe which I offered to the messenger is not enough to coerce him into divulging information about my lost Ambrose.
At that moment, I heard a hard knock upon the door. Not fully aware of who it was, I hesitated.
SINCE THEIR ARRIVAL IN AVOCA over three months ago, certain tensions had arisen between Marilyn and her daughter. They pertained in particular to the matter of money. Karalyn was extremely realistic about the situation; they had no money, and would probably remain in such a condition for the remaining time of their lives. Although Marilyn had mastered the ability to love people for their inside value, she still could not accept their destitute condition. This next announcement surprised and shocked the both of them; Karalyn was beginning to appreciate the life of poverty, while Marilyn avidly rejected it. Yet Marilyn was not hasty in telling her daughter the news of a large inheritance recently allotted to them.
Marilyn ran all the way from the town hall to the inn and banged on their rooms door.
"Who is it?" Karalyn asked.
"Dont be foolish, girl! Its your mother! Hurry, open the door!" answered Marilyn.
As soon as Karalyn twisted the doorknob, her mother Marilyn flung the door aside. "The postmaster just gave me this letter! Its from your uncles solicitor in England! Guess what it says?"
"I havent the slightest idea, mother," replied Karalyn.
Marilyn said, "You frugal Uncle Windsor has finally passed away! This day could not possibly be better!"
"Mother, how dare you say such words! Why do you say this?"
"Foolish girl, he has no living relatives but us! His entire fortune was left to us!" replied Maralyn.
"Corpus Christi, this is wonderful news! It must be some sign of God!"
"Oh Karalyn, after five long years of oppression weve been freed! Think, we can finally move to the Wellington Estate back in dear Dublin! Karalyn, Im going to go over to the creditors and buy back our land and manor! In the meanwhile, start packing, were going home! In fact, dont even bother packing, who wants this junk!? Were free!"
Marilyns eyes filled with water with the realization that she would finally return to her high-class and high-profile lifestyle. Water ran down from her eyes over every piece of white flesh on her face. She fell to her knees and started saying a prayer of thanks. Everyone downstairs could hear her saying:
"Jesus, Lamb of God, you have freed me! I am but a wretched sinner not worthy of Your grace! I shall forever love and adore you!"
BACK AT THE BISHOPS MANSION, Father Kolbe was trying to decide on what course of action to take. He had been thinking of sending Ambrose to England under the protection of other Benedictine monasteries. However, this would be impossible since any Catholic order in England had been practically destroyed out of reverence to the Church of England. All of his colleagues had been either killed, imprisoned, converted, or exiled to other countries. The thought of those past occurrences brought anger to his dark eyes, but he had no time to dwell on the mistakes of England and its hierarchy. He thought of sending Ambrose to nearby Scotland, but similar tensions between Catholic and Protestants also existed there. His could send Ambrose to France, Spain, or even Italy, but it would be impossible to pay for the expenditures. If Father Kolbe sold all his belongings and pooled the entirety of his resources together, he would have at best enough money to send him to southern Ireland&emdash;perhaps to the Redemptorist fathers in Cork.
Father Kolbe had not really wanted to do this, but there were no other options. Ambrose could not be kept at the Benedictine monastery forever; they had limited financial means and his presence endangered the lives of both the patients and members of the Order.
Bishop Darrsato had yet to discover the absence of Ambrose and the thousands of pounds missing from the diocesess treasury only because he had been called to Rome and had been absent for the past month.
Father Kolbe suddenly heard the loud creaking of the ancient doors to the Mansion. The Bishop suddenly came storming in. Apparently, Father Kolbe thought, the bishop not only was back from Rome but had found about Ambrose and the missing funds.
After swooping down to his right knee and kissing the Bishops episcopal ring, he muttered, "Yes, My Lord Bishop?"
"Father Kolbe, there was a young boy named Ambrose who worked here. My servant, upon my arrival, told me that Ambrose has not been spotted for the past month. Why is this?"
Lying, Father Kolbe responded, "Well, Your Eminence, Im not sure. The clerks in the Great Pantry had just dispensed of him a while ago to restock items in deficit. Perhaps there was an item on their list which was especially hard to find? Please do not fret, Your Grace, Im sure that the young lad will be returning soon."
"Father, do you see the episcopal ring on my finger? The pectoral cross hanging on my cassock? The purple fascia around my waist? The biretta atop my head? The cappa magna around my neck? Why do I wear these things, and you a black cassock?"
At that moment, Father Kolbe rested in a prostrate position, saying, "You Grace, I meant not to..."
"Father, I wear these symbols because I am Bishop, and you are priest, thus making me your superior and you my inferior. Where is Ambrose, and my letter which the clerks tell me that was sent with him?"
"Im sure that the boys doing all right..."
"Im sure that you know that its the money I worry about! Im sure that you are very well aware of what the punishment for theft is"
Although the Bishop was sometimes a ruthless man, he had realized that he was being too severe Kolbe, a man who could instantly elect himself Bishop. Yet he also felt the need to uphold his ego. He left by coldly saying, "Father Kolbe, deliver the letter to me by the eve of ."
Father Kolbe climbed the large oak steps and returned to his room. He looked around and thought of all that had occurred in this Mansion over the centuries. Its walls must have seen the proud Bishops come and go, the commanders of Christs so-called army ordering the royal race of clergy and priests. Kolbe imagined the shadows of the laity produced by the candle lights, some being slaughtered by the shadows of knives or being strangled by the shadows of men gone bad. Much had gone wrong with the Church years before, and much was wrong of the Church of the Bishop.
MEANWHILE at the municipals building, Mrs. Wellington was paying the rest of the debt on her former estate. She reminisced upon the glamorous life she once held and thought about what she had endured in the past years. After the death of Lord Wellington, she had fully expected her relatives to take care of her. However, she overlooked the fact that her last then-living relatives was her brother Windsor and sister-in-law Sharona. She was a single woman, and thus had no way of helping the situation&emdash;even if she could have alleviated the problem, Mrs. Wellington doubted that Sharona would have anyway. Her brother Windsor had no excuse not to support the Wellingtons; he was a rich merchant who supplied goods to King George and other members of the elite English royal family. However, her brother was not what one would call a generous man, and had not even allotted the Wellingtons an extremely small monthly stipend.
However, she tried to put these facts past her as she signed the deed to the Wellington estate. With the inheritance from the now-deceased Windsor, she and her daughter would be able to rejuvenate their lives. She didnt even mourn the mans passing.
Her first action would be to purchase the inn and tavern in which she and her daughter had been residing. Knowing that the Catholic Church had always come to the Wellingtons aid whenever they were in crisis, she planned to donate the property to the Church. With her financial upgrade, she would erect a new chapel in honor of St. Jude, the saint of impossible causes. She suddenly realized that her childhood church, the English Church, had done virtually nothing to help her. In fact, she never recalled a time in which they helped any of the disadvantaged in Ireland. Perhaps she would come into full communion with the Church! Knowing that her daughter would not object&emdash;in fact, Karalyn had always wanted to convert&emdash;she raced back to the inn.
Her footsteps pounded atop the cobblestone streets of Avoca. She raced into the inn, and ignored the cheers of taunt and wanting from the customers. Once again, she flew aside the door, and said, "Karalyn, I have something to tell you!"
"Yes, mother?" responded Karalyn.
"Karalyn, when your father died, I felt like killing myself. Not only had I lost my husband, but I had also lost my life&emdash;his death meant the loss of everything: his fortune, parties, social status, food, everything! The only reason why Im alive is because I knew that I had to live on for you!"
"Mother, what are you talking about?"
"Karalyn, dont fret about my qualms and thoughts about what did happen. Since my horrible brother Marilyn died, its been as if my spirit has been rejuvenated! You were right, it was a sign from God!"
"Yes, so it was mother!"
"And so, Ive decided to buy this inn, this horrible stink hole which has served as our prison. Ive wanted nothing more than to destroy this place, and now that were rich, I shall do just that."
"And what will you do with the land?" asked Karalyn.
"Thats what I need to talk to you about. I shall give it to the Church."
"Im sure that the very Bishop of Canterbury will be extremely pleased."
"No, not them! The Catholic Church has served as our refuge since your father died. Its because of them that we were able to survive&emdash;Im sure that you remember all the times of when they gave us food when we had none. Weve had this room only through their generosity. Im going to dedicate the church to Saint Jude, in honor of his help."
"And I was thinking of doing more than just donate a church..."
"What else were you going to do?"
"Karalyn, Im going to become Catholic. All of our ancestors were! The Church of England has no domain in Ireland, unlike in our familys native England. Karalyn, I know that youve gained some sort of predilection of the Church&emdash;you go to Bishop Darrsatos mansion almost every day!"
At that thought, Karalyns face started to blush. She had noticed no real difference between the Anglican church and the Catholic Church. It would also please her mother. After coming to such resolution, she said, "Fine, mother. But when shall we...do they call it baptism too?"
"Yes, dear, baptism."
THE NEXT DAY, mother and I went to the nearby church, St. Lukes Parish. For the first time in months, my white skin was touching silk from Italy and wool from France. We arrived at the church in our new carriage, furnished with a driver and two stately horses. After meeting with the vicar, who was dressed in a simple black cassock, we convinced him to baptize us. Normally, we would have to wait until the Easter season, but our large donation to the church sped up the date to the next Sundays Mass.
When we arrived at St. Lukes the next Sunday, we attended the first Mass of our lives. I was acting as mothers godparent, and mother as mine. After the consecration and dispersion of the Holy Eucharist, the padre called us to the back of the church, where the baptismal font stood bubbling, with Holy Water pouring out of its spouts.
The padre first asked each us if we were ready to accept Christ through the Church, with each of us responding yes. He placed salt into our mouths, meant to make us learn the virtues of goodness. Using his thumb, he traced the sign of the cross upon our foreheads, making us promise to never to deviate from the path of the Trinity. He then led us through the gates to the baptismal font. The brass railing looked as if insects were eating away at the golden finish, as it was dotted with tick marks. We all then said the Nicene creed, affirming our belief in the Trinity, the Virgin Mary, the supremacy of the Church, its teachings, and the life and ways of Christ:
Credo in unum Deum. Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium. Et in unum Dominum lesum Christum. Filium Dei unigenitum. Et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero. Genitum, non factum, consubstantialem Patri: per quen omnia facta sung. Qui propter nos homines, et propter nostram salutem descendit de caelis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine: ET HOMO FACTUS EST. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis; sub Pontio Pilato passus, et sepultus est. Et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas. Et ascendit in caelum: sedet ad dexteram Patris. Et iterum venturus est cum gloria indicare vivos et mortuos: cuius regni non erit finis. Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem: qui ex Patre Filioque procedit. Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur, et conglorificatur, qui locutus est per Prophetas. Et unam, sactam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam. Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et expecto ressurctionem mortuorum. Et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.
After that, he licked his thumb, touched our ears, and asked us if they rejected Satan. We affirmed our rejection of Satan and his powers. He then anointed each of us with holy oil, meant exclusively for the baptism of catechumens. He led us to the font, asking "vis baptizari?" We said yes, and then the priest uttered the sacred blessing:
Ego te baptizo in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.
After doing such, he placed his hands into the Chrism containing blessed olive oil and anointed us again. However, he was anointing us now not just as people but as Catholics. He wiped his fingers and touched our white gowns, whispering:
Accipe vestem candidam, quam perferas immaculatam ante tribunalem Domini nostri Iesu Christi, ut habeas vitam ternam.
He gave each of us a candle, since we were the godparents of the other. The priest told us that this candle represented their vows to the holy life within the Catholic Church. He ended the ceremony by saying:
Vade in pace, et Dominus sit tecum!
With that, they we were given the last host and cup of wine from the Communion rail. We were now Catholic in full communion with the Mother Church. Mother was full of joy, as she was finally a member of the church that she loved. However, I was beginning to think of the various ways in which I could benefit from this experience. As soon as this Mass was over, I went to the rectory and inquired about Ambroses whereabouts. Yet even the parish clerk would not tell me, despite the rubies I threw at him!
7:00 P.M., June 6, 1757
SENSING THAT HE WAS NOW UNDER GREAT SUSPICION by the Bishop, Father Kolbe decided that it was time to move Ambrose out of the monastery and to another region of Ireland. As he wrote a letter to the Father Provincial of the monastery, his lettering was illuminated by jumping flashes from the wax candle. Occasionally, the flame would give way to the howling breeze of the brisk night, forcing Kolbe to pause and relight the flame. Yet every time he had to reach for his sulfur matches, he thought of the Reformation.
As a boy, Kolbe had grown up in England. Like many families of the Birmingham region of England, the Kolbe family had secretly remained Catholic as their predecessors had done since the Reformation. He could remember the Franciscan brothers secretly giving Mass and dispensing the Eucharist in the "Masshouse," as it was called by the secret Catholics. The flame made him think of this because, even though all the Kings of England had tried to extinguish the Catholic faith, it had always been re-lit by some faithful priest who could not let the mother religion become lost. Even after studying and re-studying the manuscripts of the Anglican church and the arguments made by the reformers (and the counter points from St. Thomas More), Kolbe could still not understand why the Church had been so easily defeated.
The faith of Father Kolbe was almost like a mystery to everyone he knew. Even the Bishop himself could not understand why or how Kolbe was so faithful to the mother church. Father Kolbe could be described as not just "religious," but was much of a devout Catholic. He accepted everything that the Pope said, for it was his core belief that the Church and its leaders were infallible. Even when certain beliefs of the Church conflicted with the teachings or messages of the Holy Scriptures, Kolbe countered such contradictions with the concept of oral tradition. He attended the Rite of the Perpetual Adoration each day and bowed before the monstrance as it passed during the processional. He was a priest who kept to his vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Although there were matters in which Father Kolbe disagreed with the Holy Church, he decided to dismiss them as faults of his own ignorance.
After Father Kolbe was done reminiscing of the days in England and his misgivings of the "The Kings church," he still had to decide on whether to tell Karalyn of Ambroses predicament. He in fact wondered why Karalyn had thus far made no attempt to seek the cause of Ambroses absence within the community. He finally decided to send a letter asking her to pay the Mansion a visit. Taking out a piece of yellow parchment paper, he penned a note to the love of Ambroses life: Karalyn.
AT THE WELLINGTON ESTATE, mother and I were finally getting settled in to our new mansion. In a matter of days, we had hired an entourage of servants&emdash;ten maids, five chefs, and five butlers. In addition to them, we each possessed one personal maid who attended to our daily wants. They were in charge of delegating work among the other servants.
Each room of the house had been quickly furnished by foreign and local merchants. As news spread through the bustling city of Dublin that the we, the Wellingtons, were reclaiming our once-lost estate, a multitude of tradesmen offered their services for a high premium. Farmers, herdsman, and fishermen already were signing contracts with the chefs, for they knew that the two women of the Estate would be in need of fresh produce. In fact, (at the wish of my mother) we were already planning a reception for all of our friends. It was interesting to see that she quickly seemed to forget that none of these so-called "friends" associated with us once we had lost our money.
On the night of the party, the chefs had prepared racks of lamb and steak garnished with Asian spices served atop exotic vegetables from Eastern Europe. The appetizers consisted of escargot, fried pork liver, pastries, and finely-chopped bacon wrapped about ham. Desert consisted of cakes and pies. All of the food was positioned around giant sculptures of the various saints of the time. Food was dispersed by servants wearing rich uniforms made of silk. This was a moment that mother was wholeheartedly enjoying. She had dreamt of when she would be invited back into the community of the aristocrats and once again be able to spite those lower than her. While I was watching mother enjoy the party to its fullest extent, I remembered a letter given to me just before I had left the inn. A pauper had delivered it and it bore the seal of the Mansion. In it, Father Kolbe wrote:
Please come at once to the Mansion. There is something of which we must speak of immediately.
May Christ be with you!
Father Kolbe, O.F.M.
Since the Bishop was probably at the Mansion right now&emdash;and I truly did not want to set eyes on that horrible man&emdash;I decided to let the matter rest until morning. Right now, I was concentrating on how I could seek revenge upon those who had spited me as a pauper. Thoughts of the injustices of the world and the injustices done to me and my mother were erased from my spirit when hundreds of people poured into the grounds of the Wellington Estate. The top noblemen from the city and their ladies&emdash;including the constable of the Royal Guard and the Irish representative of the King&emdash;were present. Each guest brought presents with them and offered them up to us as they spoke of the jovial times that lay ahead.
By morning, I myself had to call upon the Royal Guard to escort out guests who had overstayed their visit. At least forty guests had been found lying drunk around the Estate; they were secretly returned to their abodes. It was time to call upon Father Kolbe.
It took my almost two hours to reach Avoca from Dublin. I arrived at the Mansion by noontime. I was glad to arrive after the Bishops exit, as I was not fond of that pompous man. The butler had me wait in the tea room. Ah, it looked so much different! Yes the moment was burned into my mind; the images of Ambrose came to me in whirlwind of memories. I remembered every detail of his body, every characteristic of his voice. My thoughts of Ambrose were interrupted as Father Kolbe entered the room, saying, "Thank you for coming Karalyn."
I responded, "Your letter sounded quite urgent, but nonetheless was quite brief!"
"You will excuse me, milady, but what we must talk about must be kept confident."
With a gasp, I asked, "What has happened?"
"Do you remember when we were talking of Ambrose?" inquired Father Kolbe.
"Yes, are you referring to our unfinished conversation which took place over three months ago? Oh, please tell me that you will satisfy my minds thoughts of Ambroses whereabouts?"
"That is exactly what I had called you for!" exclaimed the cleric.
"Then why, dear padre, must this conversation be kept in confidence? He is just a Bishops servant, and although I do love him with all my heart, I do wish he would advance his prospects."
Father Kolbe said, "Milady, may you never forget that you love God with all your heart! Ambrose is in the deepest of troubles. I could never anticipated such a predicament." Father quickly but empathetically told me of Ambroses problem. He then told me, "But I plan to send him off to Cork, where he shall flourish within the hands of the Redemptorist Fathers. They have a wonderful monastery down there. Do not worry, he shall be kept safe. Work hard, and when he has rejuvenated and when the Bishop forgets the error he made, you shall go down to tend to him."
"But why can he not stay with me?" I asked.
"My child, you must be joking! I mean not to offend you or your mother, but the place you call home above the inn is not a suitable living quarters for even the most mildly sick members of the community! If we send Ambrose there, he shall surely die of infection or betrayal by some other resident. Do not forget, he has a thousand-pound reward upon his head!"
"Foolish Father, have you not heard the news?"
"What news?" asked Father Kolbe.
"Our wretched uncle in England has died, and there was no one for the money to go to but my mother and myself. Just last night we held a party in our newly-acclaimed Wellington Estate! He could just go there and live with me! No one would find out!"
"Thats impossible! The Bishop has assured the Cardinal himself that Ambrose will be caught, and the Constable has all of his men on guard. Have you not seen the posters upon the church walls or the signs by City Hall? Merchants are complaining that these men purchased over thirty-thousand pounds worth of products by now! The Bishop doesnt know what to do because he knows that many of these merchants are just lying, and yet he knows that if he does break the bond of the letter, none shall trust the financial capabilities of the Church. I must say that Ambrose really did complicate matters! No, he cannot go with you to Dublin. However, Im glad that you have finally reclaimed your position within the social structure."
"I dont care about that anymore! Life is worthless and empty without Ambrose at my side!"
"But there is nothing we can do, Karalyn!"
"Wait! There is another surprise that I have for you. After we received the inheritance, we&emdash;my mother and I, that is&emdash;converted to Catholicism in thanks to the Lord."
"Thats wonderful! May God bless you forever!"
"Thank you, Padre. We have also decided to destroy the inn in which we resided and turn it into a Chapel in honor of St. Jude."
"How ironic, the patron saint of impossible causes!"
"Yes, and he can intercede for Ambrose," I said.
"All the praying and fasting in the world would not right this solution!" Being of an academic background, and with ample critical thinking skills, Father Kolbe immediately thought of a plan. He said, "Who is gong to build the church?"
"Its a Chapel! And we do not know who yet. I was actually going to seek your counsel."
Father said, "I have a plan! The interior of the Chapel will contain the usual characteristics of a great edifice. It shall contain a High Altar, tabernacle, and a chapel for St. Jude, a chapel containing a Monstrance for the Perpetual Adoration, a chapel for the Virgin Mary whos constant intercession we really upon, a chapel for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a sacristy, confessional, and of course a baptismal font and a rack of holy oils. However, what the faithful will not see is a special compartment within the priests section of the confessional. Under the priests bench we shall conceal a stairway leading to a secret room. We shall use the room as a safe haven for Ambrose until I find some way of erasing Ambrose from the memory of Bishop Darrsato."
"And how shall we get the body from the monastery to the Chapel without causing suspicion?"
"Ill tell you! Once the Chapel is finished, I shall bring Ambrose to the church in a coffin and have a mock funeral."
"You are a genius, Padre!"
AT THE WELLINGTON ESTATE, I explained to mother about my wanting of Ambrose and how Father Kolbe and I planned to save him from the hands of the evil Bishop Darrsato.
As soon as I told mother, I set off to the market. After almost five hours of bargain haggling and purchasing, I was able to buy almost five-score servants from various brokers. I then hired a leader named Lincoln to head the men.
Addressing my new right-hand man, I said, "I need you to evacuate the inn the inn located across from the Cathedral St. Kolbe. Here is my deed to the land. If your men are able to complete the task in a weeks time, I shall give them each ten quid. If they complete it in a days time, however, I shall give them each one hundred quid. After you have finished your task, come to the Bishops Mansion where I shall be waiting with goods to replace the furnishments of the inn."
After no longer than a day, Lincoln and his men had taken out all of the furnishings of the inn, scraped off the ill-colored lead paint, and made the place look like a newly-constructed church. They had erected a bell tower and altered the architecture of the building to match that of a gothic church. They even elevated a semicircular area within the building to serve as the area for the high altar. After going to the Bishops Mansion, I had new orders for the men.
I said quite aristocratically, "Lincoln, you have done well. Give your men rest and let them feast at my expense and invoice them for their hard work. However, do this only after you move the furnishings for the church from the market. Take this scroll, present it to the head creditor, and he shall dispense of the new goods."
Once again the men trekked off, this time in the direction of the market, and collected the items for the new church. Father Kolbe was waiting at the site of the new church. On the previous day he had bought pews that were constructed in Italy and a cross made of pewter. The stone floor of the inn would be used for the church as well, but the walls were covered with paintings depicting the Fourteen Stations of the Cross. A new altar was purchased containing a bone and a relic from Father Kolbes patron saint, St. Franciscus, and was carried by two-score men all the way to the St. Judes Chapel. A wooden confessional containing the secret compartment was attached to the ground. Father Kolbe had hired a poor woodworker to take out the section under the priests bench.
FATHER KOLBE HAD ALREADY PLEADED with the Bishop to become the new churchs pastor. Bishop Darrsato finally had given him episcopal authority to act as vicar general of the church provided that he remain under servitude of the Mansion.
As the sun began to sink into the ocean, the hundred workers and Lincoln celebrated in an upscale pub with Karalyn and Father Kolbe. All together, Father Kolbe had estimated that Karalyn had spent over fifteen-thousand pounds on the project. One hundred poor peasants would be lucky if their compounded lifelong pay amounted to that sum.
Late that night, the woodworker met Father Kolbe at the church. He said to the woodworker, named Malachy. Father Kolbe addressed the man, saying, "Malachy, Ive surveyed the area and Ive discovered a basement under the confessional."
Malachy answered, "I see. Parhaps we could put a room under tha confessional?"
It took a while for Father Kolbe to decipher Malachys thick Irish accent. After figuring out Malachys wonderful idea, the padre said, "Yes, Malachy! Thats an ingenious plan! Let us start now."
They proceeded to where the basement was, and placed the confessional box on top of the entryway to the basement. Malachy then made some adjustments to the priests side of the confessional.
Confused, Father Kolbe asked, "Malachy, what is that youre doing?"
Malachy replied, "Well now, Father, Im makin it so that all ya have to do it pull this lever here, and WOOP! Thar she goes! You av a one of a kind doorway!"
Father Kolbe said, "Thats wonderful! Now you must promise me to never tell anyone about this entryway, Malachy."
He responded, "Father, my name is Malachy, servant of St. Patrick and all s predecessors. To a priest, of course I shant tell a soul!"
Kolbe replied, "Good, good. Now how much shall this job cost us?"
"Hows a hundred quid?"
"But Malachy, the men who built this church were only given ten quid for the entire job!"
"Tis true, Father, but the trap door make it all good, eh?"
"Yes," the padre uttered. "Hows twenty quid?"
"Father! Its the middle of the night! An I could get my family an wife killed for this, ya know!"
"Im sorry. Ten quid was all that the mistress was planning to give you, and Im offering twice as much!"
Sensing that he wasnt going to get anymore money, Malachy took the money and grumbled off. "Imagine, calling himself a servant of St. Patrick?" thought Kolbe.
7:00 A.M., June 12, 1757
BACK AT THE MONASTERY, Father Provincial Joseph awakened me in the secret quarters. The monks had already started the morning vespers as had begun to chant the Ubi Caritas in front of a luna being suspended in a golden monstrance.
With a slight shake, I awoke easily. My thoughts were always full of fear, for I knew not of my future. My mind was a pit full of qualms over Karalyn, Father Kolbe, the parish, the Bishop, and my very life. I had lost much weight since my admittance into the monastery, and I had grown much facial hair.
As soon as my eyes opened to the new day, the Father Provincial said, "Ambrose, it is time for you to leave. Much has happened in the past months! A certain Miss Karalyn Wellington&emdash;no, dont bother to explain to me of what she means to you; Father Kolbe has told me&emdash;has inherited much money, and they have constructed a secret safe haven within a church that they have erected, named Chapel St. Jude."
I interrupted by saying, "Yes, this is a desperate cause..."
"Yes, it is. We shall have a funeral for you at the Chapel, but no one shall see your face since it will be hidden by the coffin. Before the Requiem Mass begins, we shall keep you in an underground compartment located under the confessional."
"Well, I cant stay there forever!"
"No, you cant, but be patient! Karalyn now lives in Dublin, but she will wait in Avoca until you are able to go to Dublin."
"And why cant I go now?"
"Do you not know of the reward on your head? The wanted posters and ads lying around the churches? Or the Royal Guards constant search for you? You will stay at the Chapel until the Bishop and His Excellency the Cardinal forget the error which you have committed! It would be mad to let you out now."
"It wasnt my fault!" I protested.
"Well, nonetheless, this has cost the diocese much money! You should be lucky if you are able to walk around the streets freely within a year! I would rather you stay here. I must admit, you have created much excitement for our sometimes drab lifestyle."
"Father, I shall always remember what you have given and done for me!"
LATER THAT NIGHT, the Father Provincial and two other monks came to my cell. They loaned me a brown cassock to quell any suspicion. We walked to the edge of the monastery until the green grass encountered Avocas brown dirt roads. I embraced the Father Provincial, thanked him, and stepped into the carriage that was waiting for me.
After almost three hours of riding, the driver and I met the horse and hearse waiting for me. I was surprised at the hearse and coffin which Karalyn had paid for! The heavy wooden coffin was placed inside a glass-and-mahogany hearse. The glass made it so that all peasants along the street could see the coffin as it arrived at the church; such an extravagance was usually reserved for nobility, namely because of their wealth and what they could afford. Even a simple coffin well beyond good enough for any peasants death!
Because I was loaded into the coffin at a distance only ten minutes from the church, the ride was not suffocating. When we arrived at the Chapel of St. Jude, my body&emdash;coffin and all&emdash;was placed in front of the main altar. I was going to have a mock funeral, and the Bishop would finally forget me.
3:00 P.M., June 16, 1757
AT THE Chapel ST. JUDE, the pews were full of mourners, and a casket laid horizontally in front of the altar. Actually, the casket contained no body, for that morning Ambrose had already been transferred to room below the confessional, and the parishioners were the construction workers who had been paid to come with their wives. Father Kolbe was adorned in purple vestments, and two altar boys were at his side. The paschal candle was burning brightly, and Father Kolbe rang the bell outside, signaling the start of the Mass.
A processional hymn was sung, and the celebrant came to the foot of the altar and bowed to it, then blessing the people with holy water saying, "Gloria Patri, et Felilii, et Spiritus Sancti, secut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen." Then the "mourners" responded by completing the blessing by saying, "Aspereges me, Domine, hyssopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor."
Father Kolbe then read from the gospel and gave a homily, speaking of the wonders of God and the joy of returning to him. For, as he said, "We are from ashes and to ashes we shall return; ashes to ashes, dust to dust." Then, after the homily, Father Kolbe came to the altar and the casket and blessed them with incense. He then sung the Kyrie eleison:
After each phrase, the congregation answered the priests call for mercy. Not only were they praying for Gods favor, but they were praying for the "dead man" whose Requiem Mass was being said.
After they had once again prayed for mercy, Father Kolbe prepared the Eucharist. The Eucharist was the true Body and Blood of Christ. It was through a process of transubstantiation in which the presence of Christ was within the Holy Eucharist in the form of bread and wine.
After bringing the thin wafers and strong wine to the high altar, the altar boys genuflected to the old priest and sat by the sacristy. Father Kolbe then placed the hosts on the altar, and incensed them while asking that God accept them as His host for the Sacrament. The congregation then prayer asking for Gods acceptance of the Sacrifice, "Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostram, totiusque Ecclesiae suae sanctae."
After the communion prayers and the holy consecration, Father Kolbe raised the bread and wine which had now become the Body and Blood of Christ, singing, "Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti, in unitat e Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen." The Wellingtons received the Eucharist first, followed by everyone else. Then, the Mass was ended by Father Kolbe. As the two altar boys led the procession with the processional cross and thurible, the congregation arose. Behind them, two "close friends" of the "deceased" carried the casket down to the cemetery, and the rest of the congregation followed.
7:00 P.M., June 16, 1757
BISHOP DARRSATO SAT IN HIS STATEROOM thoroughly angered by the sudden demise of his servant Ambrose. There was no way by which his anger could be quelled without Ambroses demise, and he was sure that this funeral had been staged.
The Bishop sat in a large leather chair situated behind an enormous rectangular table. The lion's head nailed to the wall behind him made any visitor (or victim, rather) of the Bishop cringe with fear and insecurity. The Bishop's favorite animal was indeed the lion, as they were so similar. Cunning, ferocious, and sly were adjectives given to both Bishop and lion. He was thinking about Ambrose, who had served each morning. He wasn't particularly dismayed at his death, but rather was feeling a bit annoyed. He felt that he had missed some detail. He had pondered for months now on ways in which he could force out the identity of the robbers from Ambrose. Was Ambrose in fact a part of some intricate and sophisticated scheme? Why would Father Kolbe lie to him about the death of Ambrose? Was Ambrose even dead?
He had the keen sense of being able to detect lies. He could smell a lie through a person's sweat or see it in the twitching eyes of his victim. His rage about the letter and lost pounds outweighed the loss of Ambrose, and he had to find out for sure the reason behind the stolen letter and the death&emdash;no, false death, the Bishop reasoned&emdash;of Ambrose. The Bishop decided to hire Aengus Connaught, a fighter during the war against England, which ended with a defeat by the English and the inception of The Limerick Treaty. Although the war had occurred almost seventy years ago, Aengus was only six years of age at the time, making him only 12 years the Bishop's senior.
At a sound of a knock on the Bishop's hardwood stateroom, a smile grew over his face. This was certainly to announce the arrival of Mr. Connaught! His butler opened the door, bowed, and exited. Aengus entered the room. Just by his appearance, the Bishop knew that this was the man he was looking for. His face was tattered with scars from the war and wrinkles from seventy years' existence. Purple veins formed roadways on the man's arms, pulsating a steady rhythm. His fearsome persona was exaggerated by his tattered clothes&emdash;blood marks spotted his shirt and pants. His shoes were of the style popular during King James period, with the leather being worn and torn by years of use. Bishop Darrsato knew that this man was in an extremely destitute condition.
"Ah, Mr. Connaught, I presume?"
"Ay. And what is it to yer anyway? These guards here come knockin at my dar, and look, its late enough to see the blasted blue moon!"
"Yes, I must apologize for that, Mr. Connaught. Please, let me introduce myself. My name is Bishop Darrsato, as installed by Pope Gregory over the vicarate of Avoca. There is something which bothers me, something which requires slick sleuthing and explosive handwork. There was a funeral today at the Chapel of St. Jude; it was for a man named Ambrose who had died while staying at the Benedictine monastery. Do you know of that man Ambrose?"
"No. Have one of them croonies fetch me a drenk."
Turning to his butler, the Bishop said, "Bring Mr. Connaught here a nice cup of whiskey. Now, back to business. I need to you to investigate this matter, sir. Something is not right; indeed, something is quite wrong and you must be the man to discover what."
"So, ya just want me to hang around this Jude place, eh?"
"Yes, and find out what that parish priest&emdash;Father Kolbe&emdash;and his friend&emdash;the young Karalyn&emdash;are up to. Youll be rewarded handsomely just for taking up the job. And with each juicy piece of information that you retrieve, you shall receive even more riches."
"Beeshop, Im just a wee old man. Ive seen war after war with them bloody English, and Ive seen treaty after treaty, all bound to failure. I was taken from my wife an family fifty years ago! Oh, my Rosalie, bless her soul. I was a great commander of the Irish Army, mind ya! No, I want to die quietly! Not in some brawl with some brute."
The "Beeshop" was simmering in rage. He had never met a person unwilling to bend under his whims. This "wee old man" was heralded by every footman in even the Royal Guard; everyone knew of Mr. Connaughts great strides against his oppressors even when taken captive in Cork after the Limerick Treaty. The Bishop knew that this man was the key to unlocking the door hiding Ambroses secrets. After giving his guard the signal, the Bishop meekly said, "Please, Mr. Connaught, stay a night here in the Mansion. We have lovely staterooms, and Im sure that you shall enjoy yourself. Its late; dont let the time of day affect your decision. Let us speak of the matter again tomorrow."
Too tired to actually care about the matter, Mr. Connaught agreed and was escorted by the Bishops guards to one of the "rooms" available.
I THOUGHT A WHILE about that Beeshops plan. Those dirty son of bitches English stole me from my wife Rosalie and enslaved me at thirty years old, just because I was an Irish fighter. What about my other comrades, eh? No, they didnt go down with me. My wife&emdash;Rosalie was er name&emdash;died just one week before I finally broke free from them English, them dirty scoundrels.
And them Catholics didnt do nothing to help me, I tell you! "Kill them English!" James would say, and "Fight for Gods everlasting salvation!" And what did they do when the English abominated us like them against them Spanish? Nothing, nothing I tell you! No, them Beeshops and Cardinals fled to Rome or wherever, leaving us faithful to defend ourselves. Not even a parish to go to! Then when that blasted Limerick Treaty finally passes, they come back with them fancy white robes and special hats. And there was no special treatment for us, I tell you! No, we spent years in the fields and factories for the plight of the Church, and all in the name of God! ALL IN THE NAME OF GOD! There was no resurrection for us, no eternal salvation. But when them clergymen came back, we built them mansions and new churches, just like this one here! Heck, they even had tea rooms and whiskey cellars! But no, nothing for us!
Now a Beeshop needed my help, finally, after all that! Hah! Sure, let him offer me his rooms, whiskey, and treasure, but no sirree Im not going to do anymore of that dirty-work. But sure sure, Ill stay in one of these fancy-schmancy rooms. Why not?
We, the guards and I, I mean, were goin down a long stairway up from the Bishops room. Then they took me down further, and further...where are they takin me? I tapped one of them guards and asked, "Hey boyo, where are we goin? Were goin a bit far, dont ya think?" But the guard just smiled to himself, and kept on walkin. Damned youngins!
Oh hell, I know whats happenin! Shouldve caught on earlier; the hushed signal, the smiling faces, smart-aleck talk. Bastards are takin me to a dungeon! Hah, some stateroom! Not scared though, nope, not scared. Not the first time someones tried to pull a quick one on me.
I kept an eye on the torches around me. They didnt know that I knew where they were takin me. Why not pull a quick one on them? I looked around&emdash;nothing but torches in the stone hallway. Hah, they think Im old, an frail, an stupid. Hah! I stooped over, an started to cough. "Sir, all you alright, sir?" Hah, as if they cared!
THE GUARDS DIDNT KNOW what had just happened. Old Mr. Connaught&emdash;a seemingly senile old man&emdash;bent over, then slashed each soldier across the face with his bare hands. As his flesh met the steel of their armor, a loud "dong" could be heard throughout the hallway of the underground dungeon. Blasted Connaught! was the last thought of the two guards, as their bodies fell onto the cold stone floor. The surrounding guards immediately knew what happened, and chased after the old man.
THERE MUST HAVE BEEN TWENTY OF THEM, just running after an old man! And they couldnt even catch me, imagine that! I came to a dead end, but the perils of fear did not overtake me, no sirree! The two foremost guards carried nothing but their gauntlets. It was easy to defeat those two; all I had to do was quickly move to the side of the wall as their bodies became corpses smashed against the barren barricades. I could already tell that this wasnt going to be a hard fight, no sir!
I tried scarin them, saying, "Hey boyo! Youre fit to mind mice at the crossroads!" Hah! That got their tongues red and the faster they came a charging. The four were a tougher challenge&emdash;tougher, not tough&emdash;with their swords and shields. Im not stupid, I knew I couldnt beat four men with a sword, with nothing but my bare hands! So I turned around to run away, and BAM!
9:00 A.M., June 17, 1757
BISHOP DARRSATO said the asperges before the High Mass, in which some other celebrant would officiate at the Celebration which the Bishop enjoyed the luxuries of his Mansion.
The Bishop sprinkled holy water to signal the start of the High Mass, saying:
"Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo et mundabor: lavabis me et super nivem dealbabor. Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam. Glria Patria, Aspereges me."
He had forgotten the words of the rituals he knew so well as a child, and thus needed his sacristan to hold up his missal. As the sacristan struggled with the enormous leather-bound book, the Bishop and the congregation then rotated narration with each phrase, singing:
"Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tunam. Alleluia!"
"Et salutare tuum da nobis. Alleluia!"
"Domine, exaudi rationem meam."
"Et clamor meus ad te vaniat."
"Et cum spritu tuo."
The asperges were concluded with a prayer by the Bishop, "Graciously, hear us, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, Eternal God; and be pleased to send them down from heaven Your holy angel, that he may watch over, foster, safeguard, abide with and defend all who dwell in this house. Through Christ our Lord. Amen." For the theatrical effect, the Bishop sung an elongated "A&emdash;men!" at the end of his prayer.
The Bishop quickly handed over the Mass to the lowly celebrant, and dashed over to the Mansion. He was feeling moody, and wanted to start the rest of his day with a tasty malt. Yet, as soon as his porter bowed before the large brass doors and entered into the main hallway, his newly appointed servant-in-waiting&emdash;for Father Kolbe now presided at the Chaplet of St. Jude with Karalyn and secretly with Ambrose&emdash;Brother Jones awaited him. Brother Jones annoyed the Bishop much, especially because of his British descent and accent.
Brother Jones prostrated on the ground and said, "Excellency, the Captain wishes to speak to you. He says it is of Mr. Connaught."
Knowing, this was going to be an extremely long and boring morning, the Bishop said, "Please prepare a malt for me, and include some of that nice Irish whiskey&emdash;those asperges get harder to wake up for by each day. Please also inform the captain that I shall await him in my stateroom."
The Bishop trekked up the long stairway and nestled himself into his large chair. The Captain soon came in. He didnt bother to kneel, but simply bowed. This infuriated the Bishop, for he was accustomed to a strict order of chivalry. "Yes, Captain? You wished to see me?" The "sssssssss" in "yes" rang out like the slithering call of a snake.
"Excellency, we tried to detain him, Mr. Connaught, that is, but he just ran. He killed to men, wounded another two, and when he tried to evade the four armored guards he crashed into the wall behind him."
"He was imperilled by a wall?"
"Yes, Excellency." The Bishop could not stand this! He was almost going to hire a man who had nearly killed himself by running into a wall! It was ironic that this man was indeed "the best of the best". In fact, he burst out in a fit of laughter, causing the captain to emit some giggles himself. But the Bishop was not amused, and quickly silenced the inferior man.
"Captain, what is the present state of Mr. Connaught?"
"Excellency, he is being detained in the dungeon downstairs. A priest has already visited him and salved his wounds. The Father said that he should be up to speed by this noon."
"By this noon! Hah! Transport him to a stateroom immediately! I can either torture him into taking the job, or I can at least make his duties more amicable!"
The Bishop was not pleased by this mornings news.
I WOKE UP, ONLY TO SAY, "Blasted, the breath goes in and out, and the grass would not know my tread! Blasted wall! Ho! Tis only a stepmother would blame ya, Connaught!" My face turned hot as the laughing guards passed by, kicking scraps and the piss bucket into my cage&emdash;I mean cell.
That darned Captain was strolling to my cell. Were they going to beat me, torture me, flog me, kill me? Hah, probably all of the above! Anyhow, the bastard just said, "Good Morning, Mr. Connaught! How did you sleep? I hope these stones werent too cold to you sir."
Imagine that! Theyre going to kill an old man, and their captain comes strolling up all dandy like, without a mere care in the world. I spat on him, and he quickly signaled the guard to come. I started to pray:
"Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum..."
Wouldve continued, but the captain shut my mouth and said, "No youre not going to die, not just yet, that is. Were bringing you to a stateroom. Now that you know how the hard life can be&emdash;what am I saying, you were a rogue fighter werent ya&emdash;the Bishop will show you his gracious side. Think: will you take this job for money or for life? Dont be stupid!"
"Ay, you might as well be whistling jigs to a milestone."
"Hrmph," uttered the captian.
"Tis true, lad, tis true! Fine, boyo, take me to this stateroom. Lets see how rich your Beeshop really is!"
That damned captain just shoved me forward. I wouldve tried to escape, but that wee old man had his henchman tie me in rope. When we got to the room, I thought I was going to faint! Saints preserve me, the room was filled with the aroma so fresh that I hadnt spelled it ever; the streets and city is so dirty these days. No one to take out the dung, mind you! Anyway, the walls were strung with tapestry, so the warm air would stay within the room, and the room even had a bloomin veranda! Hoy, these beeshops really knew how to live, eh!
I was left to meeself and the room, filled with gold statues and paintings galore. The Bishop strutted in, saying, "Well now, Mr. Connaught. I see youve had your first taste of the good life, eh?"
"Yes, Bishop, Your Excellency My Lord Beeshop." I felt that I had to at least pretend to be "ardent," as the eeducated would say!
"Good, good. Now, you have your choice. You will find Ambrose, my little servant, and you will find out what scheme that Father is hiding. You must be thinking, Why not torture them, as I had placed you in a dungeon? Well, my response! That Father Kolbe would not dare endanger his precious Ambrose. I can either let you roam free upon your investigation, paying you with gold riches&emdash;and a great sum when you report your information to me! Or, I can find Mrs. Connaught, give her to my guards and subject her to their incessantly raging wanting. Then I will find your relatives, and have my guards kill them, and each day until you gather my information you shall suffer a loss so immeasurable that you would wish that you had just taken the money and found the boy. The choice is yours."
My wife Rosalie&emdash;her last name was Wellington, I believe&emdash;has already come to her passin. And my family? Hell, I don even know where they are! But thats none of is business! So I just said, "Your Excellency, My Lord Beeshop Darrsato of this wonderful Avoca, of course I choose the money!" Like a man buying every hair of a cows tail, eh?
10:00 P.M., June 17, 1757
I AWOKE TO THE SOUNDS of the morning vespers. It was hard to remember that I was no longer at the Benedictine monastery, but at the Chapel of St. Jude, hidden under the confessional. The loud "click" caused me to hide under my blanket, for it was the noise of the secret door being opened. With tales of the Bishops anger erupting from every housewifes mouth, the likelihood of one of the Bishops henchmen finding me in hiding was not far-fetched. It was being said that the Bishops men were secretly spying on every house, building, and church. I never thought that could have been true; why would they look through every building if they knew that Father Kolbe served at this chapel?
Suddenly the ladder unfolded, and Karalyn&emdash;disguised as a priest&emdash;made her way down the steps. "Ambrose, my love, how are you?"
"Wonderful, dearest Karalyn." She came over to my bed, bent over, and gave me a passionate kiss. My cheeks turned red, and my forehead felt as hot as a wildfire as my lips matched the movements of hers. Having being raised in an all-male household in the Bishops Mansion certainly had its effects; the appreciation of female contact was one of them.
We were alone in a room, locked away from all human contact. Karalyn had locked the door from the inside latch, as Father Kolbe could not have even gone in. I was by now almost seventeen years old, and my hormones were raging like flies going after a spoiled carcass. I would have loved to be carnal with her, but we were not even married! I also felt that this was wrong&emdash;not the act of sex but just the fact that we were together. So I stopped it at that. I could sense her disappointment&emdash;after all, we had been separated for months, and she wanted me just as badly as I longed for female companionship.
Thus, I said, "Karalyn, let us wait. Let us wait until we are not in hiding, when the Bishop will finally accept the loss of trivial money and the loss of me as his servant. Please!"
"Yes, all right. You always know what to do, dont you?" I could her sense of cynicism; was it my fault for wanting to wait? Something just didnt feel right! Celibacy is a gift, one that we should all cherish. I wasnt ready to part with that gift to God, even though I had made no vows as a steward. Yet would I later make vows as a priest? Perhaps we were just never meant to be.
I FINALLY REACHED THAT CHAPEL of the St. Jude. What a place, I tell ya! Hah, Im sure that Karalyn indeed paid for this "exquisite demonstration of Gods great hands" as those priests would tell us during the Mass. Believe me, I had to wait all day in this wonderful boxhole, waiting for something to happen, dont ya know. Finally, that lass&emdash;Karalyn&emdash;comes in here as quiet as a mouse. Its ten oclock, and only now does she come here for a confession? Surely, there are churches in Dublin for that kind of stuff. Ho, is she even Catholic? Hah, image a proddy comin into a papists church, looking for some poor priests soul to confide in. Almost ironic, eh?
Well, anyway, that rich little dog spent an hour in confession&emdash;one hour! And, that priest Father Kolbe wasnt even in the confessional; he locked up almost three hours ago. Hah, Im just in here because I hid out under the altars cloth! Father Kolbe didnt even check to see that this place was empty. Its a miracle that those freedom fighters dont break into these holy places and live in Gods house during the nights.
Could that young lass be in on the secret? I could stay here an find out. Surely, Ill come around eight-ish, stay around and wait for that Karalyn. Heck, my minds still as sharp as a glimmering silver needle briery enough to puncture the life out of a seamless white pinafore, mind you. Hah, hows that for "showin and not tellin" as those fancy governesses would say?
12:00 P.M., June 17, 1757
MY SLEEK BLACK CARRIAGE went "hop, hop" as it bounced over the crusty stones of Avocas poor streets. The deep cracks in the worn road sometimes shook me violently to one side of the carriage; the thing almost tipped over, once!
Honestly, I dont know what to do about dear Ambrose. The creatures so timid that he wont even touch me! Well, its not his fault. After all, he grew up in a church requiring its men to be celibate and its women to be slaves. Perhaps I shall talk to Father Kolbe, and then he can have a conversation with my inamorato, my sweetheart Ambrose. He needs to learn that he wont be sent to hell in a fit of rage from God if he touches a woman. Besides, isnt that the natural thing to do? Even the great His Holiness Alexander had children!
And what will Ambrose say? He will speak as Paul did in the letter to the Thessalonians, saying "For God did not call us to impurity but to holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not as a human being but God, who gives his holy Spirit to you." He is so pure and innocent, yet he was never guarded from the injustices of the world. I feel that Ambrose is torn between God and me.
PLOP! It appeared that our carriage had stumbled upon another hole in the road, sort of like Ambroses quest for holiness. Its interesting to note the damage that a pothole can do; the carriage can either slid on top of it, barely wavering from its path. Or the pothole can permanently wreck the carriage, forever deterring its course.
9:00 AM, July 17, 1757
BISHOP DARRSATO AWOKE, and said the asperges, as he did every morning. Yet unlike the days before&emdash;when his captain had to inform him of the temperamental attitude of Mr. Connaught&emdash;his steward instead told him that the old man was awaiting him peacefully in the Bishops quarters.
The Bishop was anxiously waiting to hear the outcome of Mr. Connaughts first month of investigation. The money that the men had stolen was of no consequence to His Excellency; the men had been apprehended by the Royal Guard in Cork as they tried to flee the Emerald Isle. However, Ambrose still bothered him. Bishop Darrsato did not like to be fooled so easily, and he saw to it that revenge was always served.
As soon as the double doors of the Bishops stateroom was opened, Mr. Connaught stood and bowed, as any proper Irishman would to his episcopal superior.
"Good day, Beeshop Darrsato. I am pleased to inform you that I am pretty sure of who stole yer money, and what is goin on in that Chapel of St. Jude."
"Oh, and what is "goin" on?"
"Well, yer dont have to be so pessimistic! I have spotted someone going in and out of a confessional, hours at times!"
"Ah, and that means what?" The Bishop was being enraged by the stupidity of this so- called Irish hero, Mr. Connaught. "So what if a pious member of the faithful was duteous in confessing to his Father?"
"That I will tell yer soon, Your Grace. I shall come back in one week, and then you shall have yer answer!"
Before the Bishop could lash out at the cocky little man, Mr. Connaught rose and fled through the double doors, like an early worm being chased by an early bird.
I WISH I COULD GET OUT OF HERE. Water is starting to leak down from the roof, traveling down the cracks of the stone and mortar, until finally reaching my room. The brown soil absorbs all moisture, making it look like over saturated chocolate frosting, like the ones we used to make at the Mansion for incoming guests.
The other day, Father Kolbe had a talk with me about human sexuality, and its beauty and it being a gift from God. Yes, I know that. I know how its a gift from God, and how humans use it as an institution of procreation. Yet all my life, they have been training me to be a priest! Never was I allowed to go to the dance halls. I can still remember when I reached the minimum age&emdash;fourteen&emdash;to attend such events, but the padre would not let me. Despite my priestly training as a child&emdash;and the expectation that I would always remain celibate and chaste&emdash;I still feel something for other women. Yes, it is true on that wonderful day when I met Karalyn that I didnt feel ashamed by my red face or watering lips. But now, now that I know her truly for what she is, I can tell that there is something wrong!
I cant even touch Karalyn, or even look at her passionately without feeling dirty, as if Im committing some grave crime. I used to think that it was because of my calling to the priesthood, but no, it cant be that. Ive long given up my quest for being a member of the royal race. Ive seen how parishioners are treated by their priests, how priests are treated by their bishops, how bishops are treated by their cardinals, and how their cardinals are treated by the pope. Its a horrible cycle, and what that I never want to be a part of. No, it is not my former calling that daunts my relationship with Karalyn; it is something that the both of us know is present, but just cannot say what "it" is.
6:00 AM, July 18, 1757
FATHER KOLBE arose to the chiming of the Cathedral in Avoca. Each morning at six oclock, the bells awoke each person in the city, signaling a new day of hard work. His room in the Chapel of St. Jude was much like the one in the Mansion. It was a maids chamber, situated to the right of the church. The view out his window no longer gave him access to the green valley of the county, but rather allowed the view of the bustling streets of Avoca. It served him well, since it reminded him that he was no longer a servant of the Bishop but a servant of God and His people. Since he would have to say the morning Mass before the members of the community went to work, Father Kolbe washed, shaved, and vested up quickly.
His parish was attracting many members from the nearby Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrows Church, where the pastor continuously spoke of damnation and the perils of hell. Yet Father Kolbe stressed the importance of the connection with God and even tried to rejuvenate the Mass. For example, at the Mass today&emdash;one celebrating St. Camillus of Lellis&emdash;the choir was not made up of old serious monks but by members of the community. Father Kolbe made sure to include many altar boys in the service, for it made their mothers proud that they were officiating at the marveled Celebration of the Eucharist. Even the vestments were refreshing, with pictures of Christs happy face, rather than the usual heart being stabbed by a sword.
Father Kolbe entered the church to celebrate the Mass of St. Camillus, and already people were gathering for the ceremony. One could tell that the church was already well worn by the bending spines of the missals and deep impressions into the prayer desks. The morning mass was such a major event in the congregations day that there had to be a master of ceremony&emdash;someone who signaled each person when it was their turn to do something&emdash;to ensure that all went well. At his signal, Father Kolbe walked down the aisle carrying a Luna containing the Holy Eucharist, and preceding him were three altar boys in the front&emdash;carrying the crucifix and two holy candles. Six altar boys remained behind the priest, for they would operate the great Sanctus bells, dictating to the congregation when to kneel and when to stand.
Since it was the great feast day of St. Camillus, even the sick from the nearby infirmary came to attend the Mass (for St. Camillus de Lellis is the patron saint of the sick and of nurses). Before administering the sacrament, Father Kolbe read aloud a passage from the Letter of James concerning the Anointment of the Sick:
Infirmatur quis in vobis inducat presbyteros ecclesiae et orent super eum unguentes eum oleo in nomine Domini. Et oratio fidei salvabit infirmum et adlevabit eum Dominus et si in peccatis sit dimittentur ei. confitemini ergo alterutrum peccata vestra et orate pro invicem ut salvemini multum enim valet deprecatio iusti adsidua. Helias homo erat similis nobis passibilis et oratione oravit ut non plueret super terram et non pluit annos tres et menses sex, et rursum oravit et caelum dedit pluviam et terra dedit fructum suum.
Then Father Kolbe anointed each person with chrism&emdash;olive oil&emdash;so that St. Camillus would intercede on each persons behalf, and so that the Holy Ghost would cure each of the impaired.
After the Mass, Father Kolbe stationed himself at the double doors of the chapel, bidding each member a farewell. This was a particularly enjoyable moment for the padre, for it was his joy to watch his flock have their spirits rejuvenated by the rites. It saddened him, though, knowing that the children would be left at home while their parents worked in the fields or tills. Avoca was a community made up of poor peasants, who for them life on earth was the canonical purgatory, where each man proved his right to justice in heaven.
10:00 AM, July 18, 1757
MRS. WELLINGTON WAS AWAKENED by her lady-in-waiting. The servant opened the curtains, as to let the glimmering rays of sunshine penetrate the gloomy aura of her mistress. She spoke to the barely awaken woman, "Mistress, would you like breakfast sent up, or shall you receive it in the dining room?"
"I shall take it here. Bring it at once, for all I desire is fresh eggs and juice."
"Yes, Mistress." The lady-in-waiting offered her master a low curtsey, and left the room,
Mrs. Wellington felt rudely interrupted, as she was dreaming of her late husband who had died only a few years before. The recollection made her reflect upon the many affairs he had, and with one in particular in which a babe was incepted. But that child was given away long ago to that Father Kolbe.
Realizing that she had never seen Father Kolbe in almost a year now, she had decided to go back to Avoca for a short trip. It had been so long since she had stepped outside the Wellington Estate; since the reestablishment of their fortune, she was busy paying back debts incurred by her late husband (so many people were demanding money from the Wellingtons that she was finding it hard to decide whose request was earnest, and whose was false).
After deciding to visit her estranged friend Father Kolbe, her servant came back into the room. "Mistress, your breakfast is ready. Shall I place it in the veranda?"
"Yes, fine. Make arrangements for a trip to Avoca."
"Yes, mistress. Shall you be going by carriage?"
"And how else could I go?"
"Excuse me, mistress." The servants ego was shrunken by her stupidity, and left before she could further embarrass herself. "What a stupid woman," thought Mrs. Wellington. After eating her breakfast&emdash;one that was surely a stale remnant of yesterdays morning meal&emdash;she dressed and went to her daughters room.
MY GUARD INFORMED ME that my mother was here to see me. Honestly, why would I ever need guards? Anyway, he told me that I was to pack for Avoca! I would be able to see dear Ambrose again! I have not seen him in over three days now, and its unbearable!
"Karalyn dear, are you here?"
"Pack for Avoca, okay?"
With that, I called my lady-in-waiting and had her pack. If was going to go as Karalyn Wellington (and not someone sneaking into a confessional at ten oclock at night), then I was going to go in style!
About an hour later, we were finally ready to go. The porters had filled our carriage up to its maximum capacity with bags galore. We were going to stay at the Mansion of Bishop Darrsato as full-fledged guests of the Bishop, and we would each get our own stateroom. Imagine, the last time I was a resident of that tiny speck of a town, I was a mere pauper, and now Ill be coming back in a brass-toned carriage!
We were welcomed at the Bishops Mansion by His Excellencys porter. Because this young priest was new to the parish, he did not know of the grand donations we made to the church and thus did not treat us with the respect dictated by such stature. Once he had found out from the Bishop we were great patrons of the diocese, he actually genuflected and kissed our hands!
At that moment, the Bishop came down the oak staircase, wearing his grand cassock, sincture, and zuchetto. The oaf of a clergyman said, "Why ladies, how pleasant it is to see you!" Funny, he didnt posses such an attitude when we were poverty-stricken!
Mother replied, "We are here to see Father Kolbe. We were also hoping, with Your Graces permission, to stay in a stateroom in the Mansion for the time being. There simply is no good lodging for ladies such as ourselves in this town."
"Yes, it is a shame. Of course, for patrons of the Church, anything! But these are hard times, so you may not be accustomed to the usual caprice life in Dublin." Taking the hint, mother immediately made a donation to the diocese. After that the Bishop said, "But of course, you are patrons of the Church!" The fat oaf would do anything for money! Its interesting to see that they took a vow of poverty!
"Well now, Bishop, since weve got that settled, where can we find Father Kolbe?" Mother didnt know where to find the padre, but I did! Of course, I built the Chapel of St. Jude and appointed him to be the auxiliary priest. But mother did not know that we funded the chapel, nor did she know of my trips to see Ambrose. Sensing my mothers uninformed state, the Bishop replied, "Well, he is at the newly built Chapel of St. Jude. Quite un-coincidentally, it was built in the place of the tavern which you resided. Please, enjoy your visit with the Father! Hes a good man, a good man indeed." The Bishop said "a good man" as if he was really some vile creature; his artificial smile could have manipulated no one into thinking that Father Kolbe was in the good grace of his episcopal superior Bishop Darrsato.
TWO LADIES CAME INTO THE CHURCH TODAY. Hah! And what is that Karalyn doing in broad daylight? Heh, that tongue of hers can certainly rattle on. And that Beeshop! Its pretty obvious that hes beggin for money, just like they did when I was a wee boy. An it looks like theyre goin to the Chapel! Hah! I bet that the mother doesnt know her money built that building! Hah! She prolly doesnt even know that er own daughter comes here at night! Almost every single night that girl comes, but no priest in the confessional!
I think Ill follow em there. Yes, and thats what I did. Finally, the priest was away from his precious church, talkin to the two. As the Beeshop would say, "The Wellingtons are a prime example of how a piece of yarn can be sown into a silk purse through our wonderful European society." Fancy schmancy Beeshop!
Anyway, I went over to the confessional. Ive looked at this piece of work for a month now, an nothin found! Nothin at all! But I looked at it again; penitents side: nothin! Priests side: nothin! I sat down on the priests bench and slapped down my hands n rage! Just then, the benchs plank fell down. Saints preserve us, whats goin on! Ho! Whats this? Im in some room! And theres a boy, sleepin on a cot. Some secret trap door, eh? Ay, Ive found somethin odd all right, Beeshop Darrsato, yes sirree!
I SWEAR MY PULSE skipped a beat when Mr. Connaught discovered the trap door! I was sleeping, and was having a wonderful dream about horses, when he fell from the confessional.
Not knowing who it might be, I immediately hid under my black blanket&emdash;I thought that he perhaps would think that I was a corpse. But no, he pulled up the covers and said, "Who ar ya, boy?"
I didnt know what to do, so I just said, "My name is Ambrose, future custodian of the Wellington treasury." I hoped that if I had mentioned my connection to the Wellington family, he would at least let me go.
"Did ya say Wellington, boy?"
"Yes. And who are you?"
"Aengus Connaught, and I was married to a Wellington! Rosalie was her name."
"Wait, this cannot be. You were the Commander of the Irish Army against the English," I asked. I could not believe this!
"Yes! Which Wellington?"
"Uh, Karalyn Wellington, daughter of Marilyn Wellington."
The old man must be been surprised, for he almost exploded, saying, "Saints preserve us boyo! Marilyn Wellington? I was married to Rosalie Wellington, her sister! I was hired to capture you, dont ya know. But this make it interesting, eh?"
I could only respond, "Yes, perhaps. Did the Bishop hire you?"
"Aye, indeed. Beeshop Darrsato said that hed pay me to get you. But youre a Wellington now, my boy! I cant betray one of you!"
"So what are you going to do with me? Surely His Grace will punish you for not finding me?"
"Aye, he will. But Im just an old man, and I know what its like to be separated from your loved one."
"Well, you know I was a great commander. And what do you think they did with ole me when the Limerick Treaty passed? Why, they came into my house&emdash;when Rosalie and the family gathered around me&emdash;and they took me right then and there. Heck, she couldnt stop sobbing. Even when they threw me into the pokey she would come. I tell you, do you know why youve never heard of Rosalie? She converted to Catholicism&emdash;who cares?&emdash;an her mother slaps her and tells her to convert. What kind of mother does that? Aye, maybe as a babe, but she was almost twenty years old!"
I still didnt know what he was going to do with me. He was fifty years my senior! I could beat him if I wanted to. Well, perhaps not; he is a famous war hero. I asked him again, "What are you going to do with me?"
"Leave it to me, boyo, but dont fret!"
When I arrived at my stateroom, Mr. Connaught was already there waiting for me. Perhaps this would be when he would finally reveal what was going on with Ambrose.
As soon as I saw Mr. Connaught, I said, "Oh, Mr. Connaught. What a pleasant surprise. Have you found any new information?
"Yes, my Beeshop. I have found out that Ambrose is indeed alive."
Ah, the Bishop was so pleased to hear it! Even from the beginning of the investigation, the Bishop knew that Ambrose must have been alive. Why else was the casket closed during his funeral? Why was Father Kolbe so nonchalant about his sons death? Yes, the Bishop was pleased indeed. He said, "Mr. Connaught, what do you suggest we do?"
"Well, durin the Anglo-Irish battle, we hung our robbers an thieves! Hah, I can even catch the boyo&emdash;for a fee."
The Bishop chuckled and said, "But of course! Now, you shall make the arrangements, Mr. Connaught. There is a burial mound one mile from the chapel. The path leading to it can be found quite easily. All you must do is travel along the dirt road leading to the Benedictine monastery, and you shall see a narrow cobblestone path leading to it on the left side. Everyone believes that dear Ambrose has already passed away, so I shall have no trouble finding an executioner. Meet me at the mount with Ambrose and all will be taken care of. Ill torture him first, and then I shall have his body chopped into many thin pieces. An eye for an eye, Mr. Connaught. Just as the good Old Testament tells us!"
"Yes, my Beeshop. I shall arrive with the lad in a cart."
I TALKED TO THE LAD at the Chapel of St. Jude. I went to the chapel and talked to Father Kolbe. I said, "Good morrow, Father Kolbe. I am a man of the Beeshop Darrsato."
Stunned, the priest said, "Yes, what is your name?"
"My name is Aengus Connaught."
"And what can I do for you?"
I said, "Dont worry, Father. I know all about the boy. I have a plan to save him and free him from the evil conniptions of the Beeshop. Let me talk to him."
That tricky priest said, "Im sorry, Mr. Connaught, but Ambrose died a while ago. We were all saddened."
"Ah, and the boy under the confessional would be who?"
The priest suddenly smiled and said, "Ah, so you are a friend? You have not told the Beeshop yet, so you must be on our side. Come, Ill bring him up. Theres not sense in you having to go through any more trouble!"
Ah, so a member of the royal race was thinkin of its members for once, eh? So I just waited for Ambrose to come up. Finally, the lad came walkin in and sat down in the chair across from me. I said, "Ambrose, how goes you?"
He replied, "Fine. Now what is your plan?"
I explained to him, "The Beeshop plans to execute you, but do not worry. When we get to the burial mound&emdash;that wheres he gonna do it&emdash;Ill kill him. And you know what? Ill say, "My name is Aengus Connaught, great commander of the Irish Army." And whatll the Beeshops executioner&emdash;hah! Ex-beeshops&emdash;say? Hell beg for mercy, and well give it to im, cuz hes trying to live an honest life."
I could tell the boy was confused, but no matter. He was thankful for my help, and he just said, "Thank you, Mr. Connaught. Ill never forget this!"
And so I left, making my plans for the carriage. I knew that everything would work out perfectly.
Hah, he didnt even know what was going on! He was tricked by every word. Aye, now whos laughin? After years in the pokey, I break through. And you know what? The Church gets al of my money! My dear Rosalie left it all to them! She thought I was dead! Hah, and he thinks that Im on his side! And why should I be? After fifty years in the place, I get nothing, nothing at all! Imagine he was sitting in his Mansion with staterooms and guards, and I was fendin off rats the size of bread loaves! He was sitting in a cozy room wearing a nice black cassock and mitre, and what was I given to ward of the heat? Nothin! Nothin at all! I couldnt wait to see the look on his face when he would find out my treacherous ways...
THE BISHOP WENT ALONE to the mound to ensure that no suspicion be focused towards him when Ambroses body would finally be discovered. He carried with him a bag of gold. The Bishop knew that it was worth much more than the boys head, but Mr. Connaught had been able to solve the enigma in less than one week!
After six hours of walking, the Bishop arrived at the burial mound. His executioner was already waiting, and a torch was blazing at his aft. He addressed the imposing man, "My man, are you ready for the execution?"
The executioner, "That I am, my Lord." Eyeing the gold, the man said, "And when shall I receive my payment?"
The Bishop said, "After the boys head is severed. Just wait."
Finally, Mr. Connaught arrived with Ambrose. Indeed, the boy was pounding against the box he was being held captive in. The horse pulled up to the mound, and Mr. Connaught said, "There you are, my Lord Beeshop. May I have my gold?"
Just in case Mr. Connaught was up to something, the Bishop said, "After I have his head."
"In that case, I shant give you boy. Give me the gold, and you shall have what you desire most."
Just wanting to get it over with, the Bishop said, "Fine, take your money. Now leave!"
As soon as Mr. Connaught took the money, he whipped out a dagger and shoved it into the Bishops throat. "Aye, my Beeshop. Do you like that? Ah, isnt it excruciating? Like a dragon takin a big large bite out of your head, eh? Serves you Beeshops right! Leaving us to fend off for ourselves after we los the war! And where do you think this moneys going to, eh? Guess! To Ambrose! Hah, doesnt that hurt! Aye, this boys costed you a lot of pounds eh?"
And with that, the Bishop dropped to the ground. Blood spurted out of his neck. He tried to mouth words, but nothing came out.
AFTER THE FIGHT, Mr. Connaught let me out of the box. The executioner said hed surrender, just as old Mr. Connaught predicted. When we got back to the chapel, we discovered that Father Kolbe was about to die. I came to his bed, and saw that his face was turning red. He drew me close to him and said, "Ambrose, I have something to tell you."
Trying not to cry, I asked, "What is it, Father?"
And the last words he uttered were, "Ambrose, I am your father." And he died. All my life I had wanted to know my father, and by the time I had realized what Father Kolbe had said to me, it was too late. I looked into Father Kolbes eyes, and wished him peace in Christ.
After we buried Father Kolbe, Mr. Connaught soon died after. Karalyns mother, Mrs. Wellington, was impacted the most. He reminded her of Rosalie, and her lack of filial piety for her sister. And so she went back to Cork, had Rosalies grave unearthed, and build a great mausoleum for the two: Mr. and Mrs. Aengus Connaught.
Finally, Karalyn and I got married. It was a wonderful event! Although Father Kolbe and Mr. Connaught were there with us, we knew that they were looking down on us from heaven. When the ceremony was finished, one-hundred pigeons were let loose in our honor. She was the most beautiful woman in the world, and I felt like the luckiest man alive on that day. It was love at first sight&emdash;right from the very moment when I couldnt stop looking at her in the tea room. And I was no longer a Bishops servant.
Finally, as we celebrated our nuptial vows, I finally tasted her lips without fear or guilt. As our lips touched, I felt my sanguine fluid rushing through my body in a fervor of love, excitement, and nervousness. And that night, when we celebrated our nuptial union, we consecrated our love, so that it would be forever invested in those to come after us.