“You must remember, Brother,” he said, “that you’ll probably remain a postulant for a very long time.”
“But not for ever,” replied poor Brother Walter in a depressed tone of voice.
“There may not be time to attend to you,” said Brother Lawrence spitefully. “You may have to wait until the Bishop has gone.”
“Oh dear, oh dear,” sighed Brother Walter looking woeful. “Brother Mark, do you hear what they say?”
“Never mind,” said Mark, “we’ll take our final vows together when Brother Lawrence is still a doddering old novice.”
Brother Lawrence clicked his tongue and bit his under lip in disgust at such a flippant remark.
“What a thing to say,” he muttered, and burying his hands in his sleeves he walked off disdainfully, his jaw thrust before him.
“Like a cow-catcher,” Mark thought with a smile.
The Bishop of Alberta was a dear old gentleman with silvery hair and a complexion as fresh and pink as a boy’s. With his laced rochet and purple biretta he lent the little matchboarded chapel an exotic splendour when he sat in a Glastonbury chair beside the altar during the Office. The more ritualistic of the brethren greatly enjoyed giving him reverent genuflexions and kissing his episcopal ring. Brother Raymond’s behaviour towards him was like that of a child who has been presented with a large doll to play with, a large doll that can be dressed and undressed at the pleasure of its owner with nothing to deter him except a faint squeak of protest such as the Bishop himself occasionally emitted.
SUSCIPE ME, DOMINE
Brother Anselm was to arrive on the vigil of St. Lawrence. Normally Brother Walter would have been sent to meet him with the Abbey cart at the station three miles away. But Brother Walter was in a state of such excitement over his near promotion to postulant that it was not considered safe to entrust him with the pony. So Mark was sent in his place. It was a hot August evening with thunder clouds lying heavy on the Malford woods when Mark drove down the deep lanes to the junction, wondering what Brother Anselm would be like and awed by the imagination of Brother Anselm’s thoughts in the train that was bringing him from Aldershot to this momentous date of his life’s history. Almost before he knew what he was saying Mark was quoting from Romeo and Juliet: