“Listen to that one, how beautifully that bird sings!” And the three women stood listening to a heaven full of larks till the Angelus bell called their thoughts away from the birds.
“We have been a long time away. Mother Hilda will be looking for us.” And they returned slowly to the Novice Mistress, Evelyn thinking of Cecilia. “So it was for a counterpart she was praying all that time in the corner of the chapel; and it was a dream of a counterpart that caused her to forget to fill the sacred lamp.”
It was the day of the month when the nuns watched by day and night before the Sacrament. Cecilia’s watch came at dawn, at half-past two, and the last watcher knocked at her cell in the dusk, telling her she must get up at once. But Cecilia answered:
“I cannot get up, Sister, I cannot watch before the Sacrament this morning.”
“And why, Sister? Are you ill?”
“Yes, I am very ill.”
“And what has made you ill?”
“A dream, Sister.”
And seeing it was Angela who had come to awaken her, Cecilia rose from her pillow, saying, “A horrible dream, not a counterpart like yours, Angela; oh! I can’t think of it! It would be impossible for me to take my watch.”
And walking down the passage, not knowing what to make of Cecilia’s answers, Angela stopped at Barbara’s cell to tell her Cecilia was ill and could not take her watch that morning.
“And you must watch for her.”
“Why... what is it?”
“I can tell you no more, Cecilia’s ill.”
And she hurried away to avoid further questions, wondering what reason stupid Cecilia would give Mother Hilda for her absence from chapel and the row there would be if she were to tell that a counterpart had visited her! If she could only get a chance to tell Cecilia that she must say she was ill! If she didn’t—Angela’s thoughts turned to her little counterpart, from whom she might be separated for ever. No chance of speaking happened as the procession moved towards the refectory; and after breakfast the novices bent their heads over their work, when Mother Hilda said:
“I hear, Cecilia, that you were so ill this morning that you couldn’t take your watch.”
“It wasn’t illness—not exactly.”
“A bad dream, Mother.”
“It must have been a very bad dream to prevent you from getting up to take your watch. I’m afraid I don’t believe in dreams.” The novices breathed more freely, and their spirits rose when Mother Hilda said, “The cake was heavy; you must have eaten too much of it. Barbara, you must take notice of this indigestion, for you are fond of cake.” The novices laughed again, and thought themselves safe. But after breakfast the Prioress sent for Cecilia, and they saw her leave the novitiate angry with them all—she had caught sight of their smiles and dreaded their mockery, and went to the Prioress wondering what plausible contradiction she could give to Angela’s story of the ugly counterpart, so she was taken aback by the first question.