'It is seldom enough I see thee here.'

“It is seldom enough I see thee here, young Alred,” Father Brandt rumbled.

“Church involves a lot of sitting still – something I’ve never been good at,” Alred admitted sheepishly.

“And keeping a straight face.”

“That too,” he laughed.

'That too.'

“Thy younger son is very much like thee.”

Alred smiled. Yware certainly was a scamp. “Dunstan isn’t, though, is he? I think the Lord made a mistake when he was born and put an old soul in his little body.”

“I see how He made the mistake: He put the boy’s in thine!”

“Have I been naughty?”

“Dunstan has been worried about thee.”

“Oh, I’m in trouble if my boy has been to the priest about me. What is it this time?”

'What is it this time?'


“Ohhhh… he must have overheard something he wasn’t meant to.”

“Dost think our Lord goes forth in kilts?”

Alred laughed. “That was a poor joke and went on too long. He will not hear me say such things again. But I am not come today to confess!”

“A pity!”

“Still, as long as I am here… do you have a few hours, Father?” he grinned.

'Do you have a few hours, Father?'

Brandt sighed.

“But first I should like to ask you about something else that’s been on my mind.”

“What is it, young Alred?”

“Has Matilda told you she is expecting another child?”

“No, she has not,” Brandt said, his face growing grim. “I shall pray for her.”

'I shall pray for her.'

“Thank you, Father. But that isn’t all. I’ve been thinking and… I believe I have been a naughty boy, as Dunstan has noticed. And now I am afraid.”

“Afraid of what?”

“That the Lord may be angry at me.”

“And so he would take away thy wife to punish thee?”

“I suppose that’s it… although it sounds foolish now that we have said it in words.”

'I suppose that's it.'

“He loves thee too much to punish thee thus, Alred. But I cannot promise He will not take thy wife all the same.”

“I know it. That is why I have been thinking… asking, I mean… or praying, I suppose,” he admitted sheepishly. “I was saying to the Lord, ‘If you allow her to live, I shall build a chapel on the hill next my castle,’ and I said to Saint Margaret, ‘If you pray for her, I shall dedicate the chapel to you.’”

Father Brandt nodded as he spoke.

Father Brandt nodded as he spoke.

“But then I thought – it is wrong to make a bargain with God, is it not? And so I said, ‘I shall build the chapel now, and you will decide.’ I want to know what you think, Father.”

“I think the women will call thee blessed if thou makest a chapel unto Saint Margaret. They all have need of her from time to time.”

“Do you think it’s a good idea?”

'I do.'

“I do. Thou blasphemer art an example of piety to thy King, who sends twice his tithes to the miserly abbot, leaves a cracked altar in his own church, and hunts on Sundays,” Brandt grumbled. “Yet thou knowest thou shalt have thy reward in heaven – thou must not look for it here on earth. The Lord does not make bargains, as thou sayest.”

“I know that, Father. But I think I should do this all the same.”

Father Brandt nodded. “I shall help thee all I can.”

'Father Brandt nodded.'