Historical setting: 589 C.E. near Poitiers
Ana is telling me of her fears of the earl’s guardsmen.
“I rode as fast as I could ride in the dim moonlight by the river, but I knew that right behind me were the earl’s guardsmen. They had seen me in the earl’s stable readying my horse. So I only took time to tell her mother where Elise was, but not to tell all the details. I took the city road into Poitiers so I wouldn’t pass the guards on the river road. When I got to the monastery of the Holy Cross Colleen was waiting and said Lady Elise had become conscious, and the nuns were only concerned for the cutting and stitching we had done. That was good. I know we both did our work well. So we left without that worry, then both of us came down to this monastery sure that no one will look for us here.”
“You are right about that. Only men can stay here.”
We brush down Ana’s horse, and now I meet Colleen.
Colleen is dark haired, a simple and serious Irish girl with a mere ribbon of a form as one with a lifetime of fasting. Her brogue echoed the monks of our home in the Vosges. I asked her if she ever knew of these terrors of Gaul when she left her homeland.
She looked away to smile at my question.
“I knew nothing of anything then, except babies. The father of our family died, and a widow needs no midwife so I sold myself for a purse to care for my mother and the others. Here the lady’s mum sent a servant to find one like me, and now here I am hiding like a thief in another man’s hay.”
I smile straight at the girl, “You’re very brave.”
The abbot is standing in the man-door with a stern scowl, and folded arms.
“These women are seeking sanctuary here, Good Father. They have had a harrowing night saving a woman and her infant and escaping the guards of a murdering husband.”
I can well understand what he is seeing here as the abbot of a monastery. A wayward guest is found to be chatting with two young women in the hay of the stable, and now this fellow is asking for shelter for them?
His answer is simple. Provide them with a cell and give them monk’s robes that they may join with less notice for prayers and the meal.