The next morning’s Bible studies with Darlene went well enough; Darlene had had a nice day with her mother the day before. Getting into the chartering paperwork, however, was another matter; Terry was listless and distracted, not much help at all. Darlene became a little irritated with her until she grasped what was going on.
“You’re in love, aren’t you, Terry?” she asked, almost out of the blue. Terry first nodded no, then changed and nodded yes. “How long as it been?”
“Too long,” Terry replied, almost inaudible.
“The baby needs some exercise. Let’s go for a walk,” Darlene declared.
It turned out that the baby needed more than exercise; as they prepared to leave, the door knocked and Darlene’s lady in waiting came in.
“Your Highness, have you forgotten your doctor’s appointment today?”
“Yes, she has,” Terry answered, coming back to the present reality.
Darlene sighed. “Would you care to go with us, Terry?”
“I’ll stay here—I’ll try to pull myself together and get something done,” Terry answered. Darlene and her lady in waiting left. Terry found the pieces hard to put back together, though, so she went out on the palace grounds herself. Just outside the living quarters she met the Queen, also out for the morning.
“Your Majesty,” Terry said, bowing.
“I thought you’d be working with Darlene this morning.”
“Her Highness had a doctor’s appointment. In any case I wasn’t being very productive, so I thought I’d come out for a minute for fresh air.”
“It’s Julian, isn’t it?” the Queen asked.
“Yes it is.”
“Relationships are important,” the Queen observed. “We can undo a lot of the work we do with bad ones. It’s important to take time and make it right.”
“You are correct.”
“Would you like to come up and talk for a bit?”
Terry was somewhere between fear and exhilaration. “That would be wonderful.” They went up, not to the royal study, but to the royal bedchamber itself. It was at the north corner of the palace; the balcony and sliding glass doors faced the ocean. Between the balcony and the bedroom proper was a little alcove; Terry had learned that the Queen took her meals there frequently when the King wasn’t around.
As they entered the bedchamber, the Queen turned to Terry and said, “I know our Intelligence Service is a sensitive subject to you, but your dossier shows that you were a junior mah-jongg champion in Verecunda.”
“That’s correct—I was in junior high school. My father and grandmother taught me how to play. My mother never liked it—said that it was an ‘old biddies’’ game.”
“Well, this is one ‘old biddy’ that would love to play. I haven’t since my son Richard’s death. Now that the war is over, many of my old playing buddies—including my dear mother—are gone. Would you care to join me in a game or two?”
“I would be honoured.”
The Queen turned to her lady in waiting, who had shadowed them as they came, and said, “Find the mah-jongg set and bring it, along with some tea service.”
“It may take a little digging, but yes, Your Majesty.” She left and the Queen gave Terry a tour of the rest of the royal quarters. Once they figured out which rules they were playing by, they were hard at the game in the alcove.
“Is your work with Darlene going well? the Queen asked.
“We’re making progress, but it’s slow. I’m trying not to let things with Julian get in the way.”
“Julian is a fine man,” the Queen observed, “a victim, I’m afraid, of another Amherst grasp for glory.” Terry gave her a surprised look. “I know you’re very close to Darlene, and for that I’m grateful, but what I’m telling you is nothing I haven’t told her to her face. It’s just their family way—they’re always trying to bring themselves up at someone else’s expense. That’s why I opposed George marrying Darlene—I knew she’d try to dominate. It’s not her place to rule—it’s his, he’s going to be King. But they always keep trying—now that everybody knows their little secret instead of a few, we all know why too. And we all know the price we have all paid for their rebellious attitude. We’ve been paying that price here at court—our first year with Darlene here was not amusing.”
Terry gave a stunned look at her Queen. “I will say,” the Queen continued, “that Darlene is an easier person to live with since he has returned from the trip. Her impending maternity, and whatever you told her and the impact you had on her, has mellowed her. That’s why I supported bringing you to court, even though many people didn’t think it would work—the King thought so too, I should add.”
“Coming to know God in a personal way always makes a difference, Your Majesty,” Terry observed.
“Annette,” she replied.
Terry was stunned yet again. “I’ve never called a sovereign by her first name in my life.”
“And I’ve never socialised with a Gerland, either,” Annette came back. “That’s one reason Darlene respects you. She’s one of these people that comes into a room and sizes up everyone’s rank—it’s the old Beran way, I suppose. She sized you up and figured out she was on the short end in every way.” They both laughed about that.
“So tell me about your family,” Terry said, after a little more tile shuffling.
“I am a Cavitt,” Annette replied.
“We had quite a few of them in the Drahlan military during the war,” Terry said. “They’re from Fort Albert—some of them own groves.”
“That’s a cadet branch of the family,” Annette replied. “Mine was a founding family of Serelia. We owned most of the land around what is now Serelia Beach and southwest of there.”
“So what happened?”
“You never heard?”
“Some of the Cavitts referred to something terrible—that’s why they were such strong partisans of ours—but I never learned the whole story.”
“My father and three teenage brothers were executed by King Albert,” Annette said.
“They tried to reinstitute the Lodge. They had it in secret, then Albert found out. He was enraged—he had them hanged just outside of the palace gate, in front of my mother, my sister Cecile, and me. The Bishop then begged him not to—so did most of the other founding families. The only exception was Darlene’s grandfather Elton—he never missed an opportunity to curry favour with Albert. Then he seized all of our land for the Crown. Three weeks later I was married in the Cathedral to Adam. My mother went into exile in Vidamera until I became Queen and begged Adam to let her return. Cecile—who was the youngest, only twelve—was married off to Rudolph Ballman, whose father was one of Albert’s drinking buddies. They live in Drago now.”
“That’s Princess Andrea’s father and mother,” Terry said, astonished. “She told me a few things, but said her mother wouldn’t discuss a lot of the past. Now I know why.”
“She’s my niece. I saw her for the first time in many years after the hunt,” Annette said. “She’s a sweet girl—she thinks the world of you. So is Julia—I feel for her, being forced to the altar of marriage. That’s an interesting situation—I hope it works out. It’s good they’ve given her responsibility—it shows they respect her. More than I got. But I understand the respect started before that.”
“It did. King Leslie is a great man, a visionary. He is, in some ways, the real heir of old Beran.”
“Beran, Beran…that’s all anybody talks about. Gone seventy years and still dominates the minds of men. This Island eats its children, and Beran is the main reason why. Just think of all the bones of men lying in the muck and everglades whose lives have been snuffed out untimely in the name of the ‘Master Builder for the Great Architect of the Universe.’ Now my own grandson will be one of his descendants. Will yet another generation have to shed its blood for this insane dream? Personally I always had hope in Verecunda until…”
“Until what?” Terry asked, intrigued.
“Perhaps I shouldn’t tell you this.”
“Go ahead—my brother told me everything else.”
“It concerns your brother. Right after George and Darlene left for their honeymoon, your brother showed up for another one of his visits with the king. In tow was the Reverend James Woolsey, Rector at Christ Church in Point Collina. Did you grow up there?”
“I was Catholic—I grew up at St. Sebastian’s. I had a lot of friends who went there—the Princess Catherine grew up there.”
“Oh, yes. Woolsey came to help Richard discuss religious matters with the Bishop. We were a little mystified at the connection between the Verecundan government and religious matters—now we know. We were having lunch at the Bishop’s Palace after Morning Prayer and the subject of you came up. Woolsey had evidently heard about the so-called ‘intelligence’ that they had gathered on you, and he started to go on and on about all of the people from here to Point Collina that you had gone to bed with to gain advantage for yourself. It was disgusting—we were tiring of it, although we had heard similar rumours, as you were our enemy at the time. Finally, Richard himself had enough of this, so he cut Woolsey off with, ‘Oh, please, James, don’t be silly, if my sister did that sort of thing, she’d be one of us and not one of them.’ That finally shut Woolsey up, but after that I decided that a society as crude and pornographic as that didn’t deserve my support.”
“My brother certainly didn’t hate me because I was promiscuous,” Terry observed. “For both Verecunda and Beran, the same problem: ‘For no man can lay any other foundation than the one already laid-Jesus Christ.’”
“But I was touched when I heard Darlene tell of your reaction to his death. Many on this Island shed tears for those they love, but only you cry when your mortal enemy dies.” Terry began to do just that when the thought of the event came back; after some solace time with Annette, Terry felt better and they resumed their game.
They played for a bit more and Annette just stopped and looked at Terry. “Is there something wrong,” Terry asked.
“No, nothing,” Annette replied. “It’s you. You go with these tiles.”
Terry gave Annette a puzzled look, but then realised what she was talking about. “My Chinese ancestry seems to be an obsession around here,” Terry observed.
“Do you see that side of your family?”
“My father had one sister,” Terry explained. “She married a Chinese man. They came a few times while my grandmother lived on the Point. After my grandmother moved back to the mainland—not China—I haven’t seen her.”
They took their lunch through all this and played for most of the afternoon also, talking all the while about everything and everyone that came to mind. Annette shed some light on some of their charter applications also. About 1600, when her lady in waiting came in to check on them, Annette asked Terry, “Would you like for Julian to join the King and the two of us for dinner?” Terry was so floored by that request that she couldn’t get the words out; Annette told her lady, “Ask the Reverend Julian Lewis if he would care to join us at around 1830. Also, tell His and Her Highnesses that they can have the evening off.” The lady in waiting left; Terry followed her shortly to get ready for this event.
By the time Terry came back to meet Julian, the King and Queen, she was almost beside herself with excitement. They dined in the Royal Dining Room, and afterwards withdrew to the study. Both Adam and Annette could see the glow of love on the both of them; they had a splendid evening after which they retired.
Darlene and Terry were able to make some progress on their backlog the next day and the Monday and Tuesday after that. That didn’t crowd out Terry and Julian’s time together; they normally met at Evensong, then dined at the Cathedral and spent time together after that. By mutual agreement they did not visit each other’s apartment, nor did they meet out of sight; they were hoping this would diminish the rumour mill.
Although the One whose opinion really counted in this matter was honoured by the arrangement, everyone else had his or her opinion and was not shy about expressing it. Rumours abounded about their activities, even secret rendezvous everywhere from Serelia to Alemara. This was amazing since all of their contact was either on the palace grounds or in the Cathedral close, mostly the latter. For Terry, this was like being in a high school cafeteria; every time she would enter with a new boyfriend, everyone would push the relationship far further than it went. For Julian, it brought back painful memories of his relationship with Darlene’s sister, which was accompanied by the same kind of thing. They spent so much time discussing the rumour mill—of which Julian got the most, since Terry was somewhat isolated with Darlene—that they didn’t have a lot of time getting to know each other better.
This time saw some marked improvements in Julian, though. The food down his front disappeared. Clothes saw an iron as they had never done so before. His hair looked more kempt and styled that it had in years, although it still wasn’t up to his brother’s well coiffed do. He even walked straighter than he had. Rumours abounded that he was actually cleaning up his apartment in anticipation of Terry coming sometime, but this rumour was, like the others, unconfirmed.
Tuesday evening, as Darlene and Terry wound down yet another day of bureaucracy, the Bishop’s lackey stopped by with a summons for Terry to appear before the Bishop the following morning. The girls looked at each other in astonishment, wondering what he might want. Terry quizzed Julian intensely and repetitively on the subject over dinner. Julian was as much in the dark as Terry was, other than that he and Desmond were supposed to attend the same meeting.
The next morning Terry went to the Bishop’s Palace. At the front of the palace was his office; the living quarters were in the back. As she entered, she saw the well-polished brass plaque next to the front door:
Diocese and Province of Serelia
The Most Reverend H. Weston Collingswood
Bishop and Ecclesiastical Chancellor
She entered his outer office; his secretary was at her desk.
“May I help you,” the secretary asked.
“I’m here to see the Bishop,” Terry replied. “I have an appointment. I’m Terry Marlowe.”
“Oh, yes, just a minute,” the secretary said, and informed the Bishop of her arrival. “Have a seat—the Canons Lewis have not arrived as of yet.” Terry stayed standing and surveyed the office. It was well panelled and appointed; it was, in some ways, the most luxurious office she had seen in Serelia and perhaps the entire Island. On the wall were all kinds of photographs of the Bishop at all kinds of events, including his trips to Lambeth, his photograph with a “Who’s Who” of the Anglican Communion, and the commendations. She had just gotten into absorbing the information before her when Desmond and Julian walked in. With that the secretary ushered them all in. They stood in front of the Bishop’s substantial desk, Desmond and Julian flanking Terry. The Bishop himself was sitting behind it, resplendent in his purple.
“Was your trip to Point Collina good?” Desmond asked.
“Very,” the Bishop answered. “And also to Alemara. My colleague there and I had some very good discussion, but I don’t know how long it will take to sort things out in Verecunda. As for Bishop des Cieux, he is a fine man—we should get along splendidly. They have made a very wise choice.”
“They certainly did,” Terry agreed.
“Oh, you do know him, don’t you?” the Bishop asked.
“For a long time—I saw him again in Vidamera during the trip. I also saw his father as well.”
The Bishop cleared his throat and began. “I did not call this meeting to discuss my trip. I called it to discuss a serious irregularity concerning Miss Marlowe.”
“Irregularity?” Desmond asked, puzzled.
“Yes, a very serious one.”
“I believe that the palace took special care in screening Terry—Miss Marlowe—before her arrival,” Julian observed.
“Their objectives and mine are not always the same,” the Bishop noted emphatically. “That’s why we have both church and state. But to get to the point, as you gentlemen should know, it is necessary for anyone who accepts any position from the King must be a communicant with the Church of Serelia.” He looked intently at Terry. “I believe that this is not the case with you.”
“Such was impossible before,” Desmond said.
“Furthermore, I believe that you are a member of—and have some kind of ministerial standing in—a non-Apostolic sect. I am not even sure about your baptism—many churches of your kind are not even Trinitarian,” the Bishop continued, still staring at Terry.”
“Ours certainly was,” Terry replied. “Most of the Pentecostal churches on the Island are—that would also include the Sangler River fellowship and the Aloxans.”
“I don’t need a lesson in variant Island religions,” the Bishop retorted. “I think it unworthy that any member of such a group should expect her baptism to be accepted without question by those of us who are the successors of the Apostles.”
The room fell silent for a moment. Terry almost felt like her brother Richard was pointing his bony finger in her face, as he had done across the way at the palace reception.
“Is there any question about the validity of the sacraments of the Roman church?” Julian asked.
“There’s never a question there—it’s ours that seem to always be in doubt,” Desmond answered. The Bishop glared sourly at Desmond.
“No, dear Julian, there isn’t,” the Bishop admitted. “Why is that germane to this discussion?”
“Because she was raised as a Roman Catholic—she was both baptised and confirmed there, and I believe in the same church that you were in just now to witness Bishop des Cieux’ consecration.”
“Is this true?” the Bishop asked, turning to Terry.
She pulled a dog-eared photograph out of her purse and laid it on his desk. “Yes, it is—this is my first communion picture,” she said. “It’s one of the very few family photographs I still have. Desmond and Julian leaned over as she gave a verbal caption. “That’s me in my pretty white dress. That’s Richard, my younger brother—he was killed before my eyes back in March. That’s my father, he died of a heart attack. That’s my mother, she’s in a care facility in the Point, unable to speak or care for herself any more. That’s Father Santini, our priest, who later became bishop and died in prison like so many others.” Julian literally fought back the tears as he looked at his love and her family, so long ago and so young. The Bishop even had a hard time being unmoved.
“I will need more evidence than this,” the Bishop said, handing back her photograph.
“That may be difficult, given Verecunda’s recent history,” Desmond observed. “The Catholics have only recently had St. Sebastian returned to them—it’s only a temporary cathedral, pending resolution of their difficulties in Verecunda and Uranus.”
“I’m perfectly aware of that—I was just there,” the Bishop answered, a little irritated.
“Are you looking for her baptismal and confirmation certificates?” Julian asked the Bishop.
“That would be ideal, if they could be found.”
“Copies of those are in her dossier at the Intelligence Service.”
“And since when, dear Julian, did you become so familiar with her intelligence file?” the Bishop queried.
“Since he realised that Miss Marlowe was more than just another pretty face,” Desmond quipped.
“You’re very kind, Canon,” Terry added.
The Bishop was obviously not enjoying this banter. “Julian, since you seem to be so chummy with our Intelligence Service, I will leave it to you to obtain these certificates for me. However, both of you worthy Canons should be aware that she has need of catechisation. I am leaving it up to you to insure that she fully reviews the Catechism and the Thirty-Nine Articles in our Prayer Book in your presence and is in concord with them. Once I’ve received a letter from you, Desmond, that this is done, it will be my pleasure to receive her into our Church during our worship on Sunday—I want to make sure her friends back home know what she’s doing. And”—he turned to Julian—“I would suggest that you keep your romantic contact with Miss Marlowe to a minimum during this period. That is all.”
“Thank you,” the three said, and left the Bishop’s Palace. They walked back towards the Cathedral; when they crossed the main road into the palace and were almost to the narthex, Terry turned to the Lewis brothers and said, “So how exactly does this process work? Who does the teaching?”
Desmond turned to Julian and said, “I’ll let you handle this. I’m sure you’re a capable catechist. You’ve done it before. Just let me know when you’re done. Good day,” and with that he walked off towards his office.
Julian and Terry gave each other a stunned look. “I’ll have to devise some strategy here,” Julian mused. He paused and gazed into Terry’s eyes. “You were a beautiful child, Terry—my greatest regret in seeing that photograph is that we could not have gone after your First Communion and played on the beach together, like the Prince and Princess did when they were young.”
“Me, too,” Terry replied, as they embraced. “We’ll have to make up for that, too. I’ll see you this evening to start this process,” and with that she returned to the palace.
As promised, Terry returned for dinner. Julian was wearing his jacket, which Terry thought was odd considering it was July. After they were finished eating, Julian invited her out to sit with him in one of the benches in the colonnade and take in the evening.
They sat down, then Julian reached into his jacket and pulled out a small, flat box tied with a ribbon. “This is for you,” Julian said.
Terry took the ribbon off and opened the box, realising that wrapping paper was beyond this end of the Island. Out of the box emerged a white, leather bound book that looked like on first inspection a New Testament. When she opened it, she saw it was a Serelian Book of Common Prayer. Opposite of the title page Julian had written, “To Terry, the one I love, Julian.”
“I love you too—this is sweet, Julian,” she said, embracing and kissing him.
“You really think so?” Julian asked, taken aback at the response. “I’ve presented many Prayer Books in my day, but this is the most positive response I’ve ever received.”
“First, this means a lot to you—a lot of your spiritual life is wrapped up here. Second, I suppose after today I’m going to have to become familiar with its contents, since I am here now.” She looked out on the front lawn of the Cathedral; her face took a pensive look.
“Is something wrong?” Julian asked, never really prepared for the sudden mood changes.
“I didn’t think the issue of my church would come up this quickly.”
“Frankly, I think our Bishop is making too much out of this.”
“It had to happen sooner or later,” Terry observed. “I guess I didn’t want to think about it.”
“Surely you realise that many of those who attend your church here are also communicants here as well,” Julian observed. “Even your friend Tim Mallen is—he comes to evensong sometimes. The palace and Cathedral staff would be in serious trouble without them.”
“I’m aware of that, but I’m too well known in our Fellowship to ignore my joining here—especially if the Bishop makes a big deal out of my reception into the Church.” She paused again. “I came here to minister to the Princess Darlene.”
“That’s a noble intent,” Julian said.
“When I told King Henry and his family I would go, I included the quote about ‘the salvation of one soul was worth the conquest of an empire.’ What I didn’t count on was that it would involve the conquest of me—first by your country, then by your church, and lastly it seems by you. Now I’m starting to know how Julia felt—but I guess I must give it all away, knowing that God is faithful to give it back to me a hundredfold.”
“I don’t want to conquer you, Terry,” Julian responded. “I want to make this process of reception as easy as possible. I know I would find it difficult to change my religion.”
“I only have one religion, Julian,” Terry quickly came back. “I only serve one God. I only have one King in heaven. That was true when I left Roman Catholicism and joined the Pentecostal church, and that will never change. And, if I thought for a minute that you had a different religion than mine, and served a different God, I wouldn’t be sitting here with you being so much more to me than a catechist. But there are a lot of practical implications of what I am embarking on that could be potentially painful, and the only reason why I am willing to undergo this is my conviction that there some people around here whose eternity may depend upon it.”
They sat in silence, taking in the dying day. “We need you, Terry. I need you. I have always dreamed of meeting someone with your kind of conviction, but people kept telling me they didn’t exist. But here you are. I promise you I’ll do everything I can to make this process as painless as I know how.”
“I know you will.”
“Would it be possible for me to just outline what we are going to do now? We can start in earnest tomorrow night.” Terry shook her head yes, and with that Julian opened her Prayer Book and showed here how this personalised course would proceed.