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Follows the adventures of Pagan, squire to Lord Roland, through the years 1188 to 1189, as he accompanies his master, now determined to be a monk, to the French monastery of St. Martin ...
Follows the adventures of Pagan, squire to Lord Roland, through the years 1188 to 1189, as he accompanies his master, now determined to be a monk, to the French monastery of St. Martin and uncovers a dangerous blackmail plot.
"Well?" he says. "What is it?"
"Please, Father, it’s Father Aeldred."
"What about him?"
"I think he’s stealing money."
Montazin’s expression changes. It becomes very intent. He narrows his eyes.
"What do you mean?" he says.
"I was in the almonry, washing feet — twelve feet — when I heard Father Aeldred tell Father Bernard that there were eight paupers. So Father Bernard gave him eight coins. But there were only six paupers, which means that Father Aeldred must have kept the other two coins. He was lying, Father."
Montazin seems to be thinking. His face is unreadable.
"Brother Aeldred may have made a mistake," he says at last, very slowly. "Or you may have."
"No, Father, I don’t think so. You see, I think he’s visiting someone in town. A widow." (Forgive me, Roquefire, but I never made any promises.) "I think that’s where the money might be going. To the woman in town."
Montazin blinks. This time he really seems startled.
"How do you know about that?" he exclaims.
"Someone told me.
"Well . . . if you don’t mind, I can’t tell you who told me. But it’s true, I swear it is."
A long pause. Everything’s very quiet and peaceful out here, now that the bells have stopped ringing. Just the twitter of birds, the buzzing of bees, and the faraway sound of a horse’s whinny.
"Have you told anyone else about this?" Montazin suddenly inquires.
"Then don’t. It’s a very serious thing, to accuse a monk of breaking his vows. Of course I shall look into it immediately. If it’s true, Brother Aeldred will be punished. But if you’ve made a mistake . . ."
Another pause. Don’t tell me. If I’ve made a mistake, you’ll pour molten lead down my throat and hang me upside down from the bell tower.
PAGAN'S VOWS by Catherine Jinks. Copyright (c) 2004 by Catherine Jinks. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.