Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Feel (emotions) (08/26/10)
TITLE: Money, Monks, and Mischief
By Caitlyn Meissner
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Startled, I jerked my horse to a stop. Even with his brown robes and tonsured hair, the young man looked familiar to me.
“Richard?” I gasped, staring into my cousin’s laughing eyes. “Is that really you?”
“None other, Edmond,” he said. Then his hand flew to his mouth and he grimaced. “Cats! I broke it again!”
“My vow of silence. This is the third time I’ve broken it this week.”
Grinning, I dismounted. “Hold my horse, Giles,” I called, tossing the reins to my page boy.
“Now,” I said, taking Richard by the arm, “what’s going on? Just a couple weeks ago you wanted to be a chef.”
“Oh, that?” Richard laughed. “A passing whim, nothing more.”
“But now you’re a monk? What did Uncle Roderick say?”
“Well, I’m not actually a monk. Just a novice. I had Brother Bart shave my head anyway, for fun. As for father, we discussed it, rather loudly. He claims it’s another of my ‘follies,’ and that I’ll soon lose interest.”
“Will you?” I asked.
“I may not have a chance to find out.”
“Why? What’s happened?”
“Everything! Remember Peggy?”
“From the mill?”
“Friar Benedict caught me hanging around her. He warned me to stop ‘flirting’ with girls.”
“And you should have heard him yell when I put a frog in Brother John’s cowl.”
“I did. I meant it as a joke, but the old fellow nearly died of heart failure. Now Friar Benedict thinks I’m not ‘serious’ enough to become a monk. He says if he catches me ‘backsliding’ one more time, he’ll send me home.”
“Why make him go to all that trouble?” I asked. “Why not come home now?”
“You don’t understand,” Richard said, kicking meditatively at a shrub. “I’ve been having these … feelings. I want my life to count for something.”
“And it can, at home,” I protested. “Dick, you’re the son of Count Roderick. You have money, influence!”
“Maybe,” Richard said, considering my words, “but I want to HELP others. And I’ll be able to do that here if--”
“Richard!” bellowed an authoritative voice.
Richard jumped. “Cats! That’s Friar Benedict! Come on, I’ll introduce you.”
Hurrying up the path to the monastery, we met Friar Benedict at the door. His look of frustration deepened as he saw Richard.
“Where have you been?” the friar barked. “Hurry, and fetch your basket of food for the poor. Brother Bartholomew is waiting.”
Richard nodded and scurried away, leaving me alone with the friar.
“Do you know that young man?” he asked me.
“Then couldn’t you persuade him to leave?” the friar pleaded. “You can see for yourself the boy doesn’t belong here.”
Before I could reply, the sound of scuffling broke out from inside the monastery.
Friar Benedict quivered, then plunged inside, while I followed close behind.
We ran down the corridor, the commotion growing louder until, turning a corner, we almost fell over two monks scuffling on the tiled floor.
Friar Benedict waded in and separated the two men.
I moaned when I realized one was Richard.
“Brawling? Here?” the friar bellowed.
The other young man, obviously Brother Bartholomew, pointed an accusing finger at Richard.
“Insufferable!” the friar huffed. “Richard, consider yourself dismissed.”
And, turning, Friar Benedict stalked down the hall, accompanied by Brother Bartholomew.
I took Richard’s arm and helped him outside.
“Dick, I’m so sorry,” I said.
But my cousin only grinned at me.
“You’re sorry I took your advice? Why? It worked splendidly!”
I blinked. “MY advice?”
“Didn’t you mention how much I could do with the money father gives me?”
“Then you were right! Brother Bartholomew told me this morning about not being able to afford a physician for his sick mother, so--”
“No!” I cried, clutching my head. “You didn’t!”
“After much thought,” Richard continued, “I realized the monastic life wasn’t quite to my taste, so I promised Bart three gold pieces if he’d let me start a brawl. It worked, too,” Richard added, as a rumble of thunder shook the air.
Then, as the rain began to fall, he turned his face up into it. “Ah! Doesn’t it feel good to help others?”
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