Continued from the previous chapter, here.
𝔄s the mail-clad man recalled his perfidy and the obligation to penance still upon him, he thought it would behoove him to offer prayers in a church once again. The time of day for his formal penitential act was not come again yet, but he found no small solace in quiet contemplation, and he had known churches to be places to offer such. So he went across the open space of the town center, where there were many people bustling about to conduct the business of the day and to work to make ready for the coming celebration, and he went into the church, crossing himself as he crossed the threshold and kneeling at the steps to the altar to pray.
When he rose, he found the local priest standing not far off, watching him. The knight nodded his head to the clergyman, saying “God’s peace, Father.”
The priest raised his hand in benediction, replying “And upon you, my son.” He lowered his hand and continued. “It is not often that this church has in it a man of the sword. What brings you hither, and whence do you come?”
The knight answered him, saying “I came today as all ought to do, Father, for I came to find a moment of peace and perhaps to hear the echoes of the still, small voice of which I have been told from the lectern. And I came because it is good and right that I offer up thanks to God, from whom I have much. But as to whence I come, I must say that I am but a guest in this town, although I am a happy one, for I have been treated well. And I am come from away west most recently, where I was healed despite being wounded to the death; the one who healed me heads for Anderitum, and so I go with him, being charged to that end.”
“It seems a good thing, my son, that you do so, for it is fitting that the kindnesses done be repaid in measure as they may be. But who is it who healed you? For I know of neither chirurgeon nor physician in this place, and all the care for wounds and illness is done by the midwives and me, and I, at least, am not so skilled as I would be to do such work as well as might be done.”
“It is as I said, Father, that the one I follow here and who is bound for Anderitum healed me. The Lord Deleiere also asked him if he might tarry, in large part to see if he might tend to Sir Falias who governs this place in the name of the king, but he said that he might not for overly long. And if he cannot stay to heal a man, I think he will not be able to stay to teach a man to heal another. I know that the dealing of wounds takes longer to learn than to do, and I cannot but think that the healing of them is similar in that regard.”
“That is unfortunate for us, then, but it is no doubt as God has made it to be, and so I shall work to accept it gladly.”
“You say it is unfortunate, Father. Why say you so? Is there aught amiss in this town?”
“Nothing of particular import, my son. But any place where people dwell in this fallen world will have its share of mischance and misadventure, of animals stepping where they ought not or kicking those who tend them, of children’s play that presses too vigorously, of falls and simple illness. There is always need of healing, and so there is always need of a healer.”
“It is as you say, Father, that such need is ever present, and I sorrow that I cannot help you meet it. But it may be that I learn somewhat of healing from him whom I follow, and when my obligations to him are discharged, I may perhaps then return hither, if I would be welcomed, and I could apply that craft or art here then. But if I do encounter a healer, whether chirurgeon or physician, upon the road and that one is looking for a place to settle, I will let that person know of this town and its need.”
“That would be to the good, my son, although I cannot think that there are so many healers who wander in the ways it seems knights are prone to do. Indeed, I had not thought ever to see one, for what lord could allow so great a boon to slip away as one skilled in mending the hurts the world inflicts upon the body? Yet seeing that one has come here, and in company that attests to the healing ability, gives the hope that there are others. And perhaps it will be the case that the Lord will steer the feet of such as wander to this town, that we may all be the better for it. But if not, then it will be as the Lord wills it, and that must be held to be to the good.”
The mail-clad man bowed his head to the wisdom of the priest and recalled his own burdens and the questions he had about them. As he did, his heart was strangely gladdened, for he heard in the words that were spoken to him a balm for his own soul. For he knew himself to have concerns about what he was doing, but if what the priest had said was true, then matters unfolded according to the plan devised on high by the God who loved the world. And that meant they could not help but lead to good, even if the road was rough and the path long that reaching it would take.
He smiled again as he went back out into the town.
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