Table of Contents and Overview for At the Inlet | Information and ordering instructions for all of our fiction
The following week, Terry and Darlene were getting towards the end of their stack when the door knocked. Annette entered; they both stood and said, “Your Majesty.”
“Don’t be so formal, ladies,” Annette said. We’ve got something important to discuss.”
“Oh,” Darlene said, a little worried.
“My lady-in-waiting was down at the fish market, and saw Reverend James Woolsey and a younger man disembarking off of the ship from Alemara. She made inquiry and discovered that the other man was his son Thor. She also found out that he was here to see the Canon—they’re staying with him—and the Bishop. I found this highly distressing, after the way he carried on during his last visit.”
“It’s more than distressing,” Terry said.
“What do you mean by that?” Annette asked.
“The only reason why Woolsey has the position he does is because the Verecundan government let him,” Terry observed. “To get that, he had to agree with the Six Statements.”
“You mean the ones George talked about on the trip?” Darlene asked.
“The same,” Terry responded. “He can’t really be any kind of Christian and agree with them. Moreover, the last time he was here, he came with my brother—which meant that he was an agent of their government. And, as we all know, elements of that government are still very active in Verecunda.”
“Then why has the Canon invited them here?” Darlene asked.
“Perhaps Terry has already answered that question,” Annette said gravely. They looked at each other. “I think we have a serious problem here,” the Queen resumed. “I know my son is much enamoured with the Canon, but”—
“You think that Desmond is into something serious?” Darlene asked.
“The only way to find out,” Terry said, “is to have him investigated. I learned the hard way that this place is good at doing that.”
There was another pause in the conversation. “I think Terry’s right,” Annette broke the silence with, “but let’s do a little research first. I’ll ask Norman Cameron to check our current files. I wonder if there’s anything else we can do…”
“Isn’t the Princess Catherine in town?” Darlene asked.
“Yes, but why?” Annette asked.
“She’s fresh from Verecunda,” Darlene observed. “Maybe she would know some things we don’t have. And maybe she might know something about Thor too.”
“Then you, Terry, need to spend some time with her,” Annette directed.
“What’s she in town for, anyway?” Terry queried.
“The common currency agreement with ourselves, the Drahlans and the Alemarans,” Darlene answered. “We finally worked it out to everyone’s—and most importantly the Alemarans, since it’s their currency—satisfaction.”
“The finance ministers and bank heads are having a state dinner tonight—the King and I are attending. I’ll just ask her to come to the Sea Garden afterwards and meet with you,” Annette said.
“Then it’s done,” Terry said. “I’ll be there.”
Annette faced Darlene directly. “Darlene, I know we’ve had our differences, and you love my son more than life itself, but don’t tell him anything about this until I’ve sorted it out with his father. Let him take care of it.” Darlene looked at Terry, who nodded yes in support.
“As you wish,” Darlene replied to her mother-in-law.
“And, of course,” Annette continued, looking at Terry, “don’t say anything to Julian about it. If he’s involved in anything—and I doubt it seriously—the reason is obvious. If he isn’t, it’s for his own protection.”
“I understand. Why don’t we have prayer over this matter?” Terry asked. They did so and then departed.
Terry for her part had time to freshen up a bit before joining Julian at the organ for Evening Prayer. Desmond let James Woolsey deliver the homily; Terry remarked to Julian that it was dead on arrival. Afterwards they wandered towards the narthex to see Desmond and to greet his guests.
“So this is the little woman that brought down the greatest nation the Island ever knew,” James Woolsey said, looking up at Terry.”
“I couldn’t have done it all by myself,” Terry observed.
“No, that’s part of the problem,” Thor responded. “There are too many people like you on this Island.”
“Let’s not spoil this fine evening,” Desmond interrupted. “There’s an excellent feast waiting for us.” He turned to Julian and said, “The Cathedral kitchen is closed—I wanted the cook’s undivided attention on this matter.” With that the three walked off towards the deanery, leaving Julian and Terry in the narthex.
“That was rather rude of them to say,” Julian said, turning to his love.
“Par for the course,” Terry sighed. Their distaste of Desmond’s guests faded into the oblivion of their love for each other. They joined their hands, lefts to rights, and just stood and stared at each other in silence. The sun was going down, shining through the main entrance to the Cathedral, nicely framing their tall and slender figures, both clothed in black as if to match. They were experiencing a moment that words could not do justice to; only a kiss could communicate what they felt.
Coming back down to earth, Terry said, “Let’s go to my aunt and uncle’s, since Desmond has commandeered the cook.”
“That’s a splendid idea,” Julian agreed, and with that they left the Cathedral hand in hand.
They arrived at the restaurant; it was moderately busy. As they walked in, they saw none other than the Bishop and his wife Leona waiting for their meal.
“Good evening, sir,” Julian said, walking up to the table with Terry.
“Dear Julian,” the Bishop addressed him. “And Miss Marlowe. “The Cathedral’s fare not good enough?”
“The Canon closed the kitchen,” Terry replied. “We had to do something.”
“His guests,” Julian added.
“Oh, them,” the Bishop said in disgust.
“Why don’t you join us?” Leona broke in. The Bishop didn’t look very happy with the invitation, but Leona was only one of two people in this world who could bring the Bishop to heel, so Julian and Terry were able to sit down.
“That’s very kind of you, Mrs. Collingswood,” Julian said. They engaged in light talk about the weather and other things.
“You didn’t seem very pleased at the Canon’s guests,” Terry observed.
“Why should I be?” the Bishop responded. “I have no idea why Desmond is putting me through this again. I gave my firm answer when Canon Woolsey was here the last time, with your obnoxious brother, I believe.”
“That’s him,” Terry quipped.
“Talking with Woolsey is almost as bad as going to Lambeth,” the Bishop continued. “Every trip I get the same questions—why don’t you change your prayer book? Why don’t you ordain women? Why don’t you get involved in social justice? Why are you so tightly integrated with an absolute monarchy? Why do you have an ecclesiastical constabulary? I dread the next one, because I’ll probably have to take Desmond with me, and he wants to do all this and more. But, he’s His Highness’ favourite, so there isn’t much to be done about it.”
“I’m not sure, since she is new to our Communion, whether she is familiar with the specific problem of the Anglican Church of Verecunda,” Julian came in.
“Oh, yes,” the Bishop replied. “The problem is both simple and complicated. The current Bishop of Verecunda is a man named Farnsworth—splendid fellow, too liberal in my opinion, but certainly an improvement over Woolsey. The government in Verecunda put tremendous pressure on our church—and the others, as you well know from your Roman Catholic friends—to conform to their whole idea of life and politics. About ten years ago, the government gave an ultimatum to our church to make changes in their doctrine and liturgy—this in the wake of the changes already made along the lines of those of, say, the Episcopal Church in the States. Those changes would have put them in conformity with what we now call the Six Statements. Bishop Farnsworth refused, so they started vandalising churches and arresting ministers and vestrymen that agreed with him. Farnsworth and his wife got on an airplane and fled to the mainland. Since he was the senior cleric, Woolsey became the leader of the church, at least in the government’s eyes. That didn’t stop them from closing all but one of our churches subsequent to that, although by then many of our parishioners were busy with other religious activities.
“With the end of the regime in Verecunda, in principle Bishop Farnsworth should return and re-establish the church as it was before. Unfortunately, Woolsey has tried for the last decade to force Farnsworth into retirement and have himself consecrated Bishop of Verecunda. In this he has been assisted by Farnsworth’s health; he is quite frail, and lives in a retirement home. My counterparts in Alemara and I have refused to consecrate Woolsey for any reason, but he has supporters on the mainland. They have threatened to consecrate him, but even they do not have the face to intervene in the affairs of another province; the three provinces on the Island have an agreement regarding consecration, and we have enough bishops to consecrate a new one. So this is our stalemate.”
“And I would suppose that things are complicated,” Terry added, “by the fact that Verecundan territory is now split amongst three jurisdictions, all of which regard the remnants of the Anglican Church of Verecunda as agents of the previous government. I can’t believe any of them would regard Woolsey’s consecration in a positive light.”
The Bishop gave Terry an astonished look as their food came to the table. The Bishop gave a standard Anglican blessing and they started to eat.
“You know quite a lot about these things,” Leona said to Terry.
“His and Her Highnesses and I were involved in bringing things to their present state,” Terry answered. “The Collinans and Aloxans are my friends—without them, we wouldn’t be here. If I can help with them, I would be glad to.”
“I hope that won’t be necessary,” the Bishop said.
“Evidently, you’ve got quite a special person in your life,” Leona told Julian.
“I certainly think so,” Julian answered nervously.
“Dear Julian is a fine man,” observed the Bishop. “He has good judgment. If I had doubts, I would have stopped the relationship.” That remark raised everyone’s eyebrows. “In any case, I find it hard to see what Julian finds in common with a person such as Miss Marlowe, given the vast differences in their background and religious temperaments.”
“Maybe they like what they see,” Leona cheerily chimed in. “I saw them in the narthex coming to dinner—they were just staring at each other most of the time. They make such a handsome couple.” The Bishop was feeling quite outnumbered at this point.
“I don’t think it’s as difficult as it looks,” Julian came back. “The event that really moved things along—for me, at least—was the Bishop’s directive for Terry’s catechisation.”
“That was supposed to be a joint effort of both you and your brother,” the Bishop replied.
“Desmond dumped it on Julian,” Terry said brusquely.
“He hasn’t done a confirmation class since the cease-fire,” Julian followed up. “I had the full responsibility of Terry’s instruction in the doctrines of our church.”
“So tell me, dear Julian, how did you manage to turn a catechisation into a mutual discovery adventure?” the Bishop asked.
“The first thing he did was to give me a Prayer Book as his first gift to me,” Terry said glowingly.
“That was sweet,” Leona agreed.
“After that,” Terry resumed, “in the course of discussing all the doctrines of this Church and so many related matters, I discovered something about very special about Julian.”
“And what might that be?” the Bishop asked.
“Evangelicals—and Pentecostals are in their number—usually hold a high opinion of themselves and their relationship with God, sometimes at the expense of others. When you directed that Julian catechise me, he dropped everything else and set himself to it. He spent time with me on every point. He never wanted to leave anything unresolved on the one hand or browbeat me on the other. I’ve been in the ministry a long time, and many ministers really don’t do well in explaining doctrine. He did, and the reason he does is that the deep things of God are really important to him. This is where his heart is. I then understood that Julian really does love God with everything he is, and in living out that love has made many sacrifices. That melted my heart about him—that made it easier for me to be received into the Church of Serelia.”
Both the Bishop and Leona were left speechless at this. “I must say I came to the same conclusion about her as well,” Julian added. “We’re always taught—Desmond spends a lot of time on this—that people such as her are very unloving and fanatical, but honestly she has so much love for God—and for me—that I don’t know sometimes how to respond to it. Moreover her ministry experience—so different from ours yet so alike—is fascinating.”
“Fascinating, dear Julian?” the Bishop asked.
“Oh yes. First, she was the youth pastor to the man who is now Drahla’s prime minister. Then, she started the large Pentecostal church in Barlin from scratch.” The women couldn’t help but laugh at the way he put that. “She’s baptised people, counselled them, taught them at her Bible school, married them and buried them.”
“Too many of them during the war,” Terry added dolefully. “That doesn’t include my own husband and son.”
“We lost our son too during the war,” Leona added.
“Well, that’s quite interesting,” the Bishop said. But he then changed the subject and they spoke of other things. Terry was getting nervous about the time, but their meal ended long before the state dinner and the four of them returned to the palace gate to depart, Terry returning to the palace in plenty of time for her next appointment.
Cathy came to the Sea Garden about 2200, dressed for her state dinner. Terry was waiting for her there; the Queen’s lady-in-waiting served them coffee and then Kyle and the palace guard secured the entrances very subtly.
“You’ve got a lot of pull around here,” Cathy said, after hugging Terry. “The Queen herself asked me to come here. Next thing I knew, I was being escorted across the palace grounds.” She looked at her surroundings. “This is gorgeous, Terry—that’s one thing I miss in Barlin, the ocean.”
“This is where your husband and I met with the King, Queen and Prince back in March, and decided to make the trip,” Terry observed. “He had no idea I was going to bring him back a wife. Seriously, I do like being close to the ocean myself—it had been a long time.”
“So how do you like Serelia?” Cathy asked, sipping her coffee.
Terry had to think for a minute. “Cathy, this has been one of the most manic-depressive things I have ever done in my whole life.”
“Manic-depressive? What you do mean?”
“Let’s start with the depressive. They took away my country, which I know was unavoidable. They took away my privacy—just about all of it. I still haven’t gotten over my first day with their Intelligence Service, even though I know that was necessary for them. They told me where to live—in some ways, not even the Avalon Retreat was this communal. Last but not least, they took my church away, although they had help with that. They took just about everything.
“Now for the positive side—they brought my grandmother and Chinese relatives here and with them threw a surprise birthday party for the big one. Darlene is probably the most eager and intense new convert I have ever discipled. The Queen has, for want of a better term, ‘rededicated’ her life to the Lord. George is thinking about things now. Last but not least is Julian, who has to be the sweetest man I have ever met, my late husband included. I feel like this is one of those times in a Christian’s life where they have to abandon everything for what God has called them to do, and He has used these people to give it back to me and more. So what about you?”
Cathy sighed and began. “It’s been a long six months for me, too. I first have had to grow as a Christian and adjusting to church, most of the time without you there.”
“I’m sorry that came out that way.”
“It’s not your fault—I agree, Darlene needed you more than I did. Then I got married again, with a new husband and this time children. After that it was my new position at the Bank, which was difficult because the Drahlans know absolutely nothing about central banking. Then we’ve had all the political changes we’ve had. Finally I’ve just had to deal with being a girl from the Point who ended up in the sticks.”
“Change is never easy, is it?” Terry observed.
“If it weren’t for Dennis and Andrea, we wouldn’t have made it. You remember all the stuff about Dennis being the Kings ‘special envoy?’ Forget it. I’ve been on the road more than he has. They made a covenant with each other that they would put everything else aside to meet our needs and that of the King and Queen. They did. They’ve cried with us, they’ve prayed with us, they’ve studied the Word with us, they’ve lobbied for us in every part of the country, they’ve done everything. They even had their darling children help out. Without them William and I would not have made it.”
“How are the King and Queen doing? Has their spiritual life changed?”
“Henry is sick of the whole thing—Andrea thinks he’ll abdicate, I’m not sure just yet. These people are totally unprepared for real democratic processes—that’s something I do know something about. Janet cries just about every night, even though she does sometimes study the Bible with Andrea and me. As far as their spiritual walk, they’re starting to go back to attending the Anglican church in Barlin—I’m not sure where that’s going to go, after my experience I guess I’m gun-shy about it.”
“Then you’re not going to like what I’m about to tell you,” Terry informed her friend.
“I know you had to join here—but I understand, that just goes with the position. You’ve got Julian and Darlene and now the Queen, and that makes a big difference.”
“It’s not me, Cathy,” Terry replied. “James Woolsey is in town.”
Cathy made a face. “How awful. Why?”
“To see Canon Desmond and the Bishop about getting a new Anglican bishop in Verecunda. He’s got his son Thor with him.”
“That’s even worse.”
“You grew up at Christ Church, didn’t you? Don’t you know them?”
“Unfortunately,” Cathy began. “James Woolsey came as assistant rector just as we were starting Fourth Form. My father was Senior Warden on the vestry when he came. Within six months Woolsey managed to both get my dad kicked off of the vestry and ease out the rector—Paul Langley, your cousin Patty’s uncle”—
“He came up here after that—he’s now chaplain at St. Anne’s School,” Terry interrupted. “A very traditional Anglican.”
“—and have himself installed. He’s been there ever since. He helped to run Bishop Farnsworth out of town, too. I guess he wants to finish the job.”
“What about Thor? Is he a minister or what?”
“Thor is about six years younger than us. He’s a complete brat—PK all the way.”
“I remember that. Father Avalon used to say that PK’s were the strongest argument for celibacy there was.” They laughed at that.
“He certainly was,” Cathy resumed. “No, he’s not a minister. His father got him into seminary, but he wouldn’t stay. He ended up as a Special Investigator for the Inland Police. He’s one of the ones who used to come by and badger me about my brother.”
“An IP,” Terry noted.
“More than that, I think he’s a Druid too—I think he was in on that Golden Light ceremony where they burned your brother.”
“That is worse.”
“But it doesn’t end there, Terry. You remember Maeve Martin?”
“The herbalist from the Ministry of Health?”
“The same. About a month ago she showed up in Barlin, looking for Ann Gilbert. She stayed with Ann for about two weeks. They had a good time talking about herbs.”
“What about her and this?”
“She found out that Maeve is a Druid priestess. Maeve admitted to Ann and me that Seamus Gallen and some of his people—and I think that includes Thor—have gone to Vidamera and Claudia to join the Lodge and advance their own cause there since they lost Verecunda.”
“And why did she tell you that? She knows you’re Christians.”
“Oh, yes. Two reasons. First, she’s committed to non-violence, and she feels that sooner or later what they’re doing will end in war. Second, she says that she won’t have anything to do with the Lodge since all she can aspire to is being stuck in Eastern Star.”
“Darlene has expressed the same sentiment. And Maeve is probably right about the violence part, I’m afraid. Did you try to take her to church?”
“What did she think of it? Did you talk with her afterwards?”
“She thought it was okay, and yes, we talked with her at length. Maeve is a nice person, but she’s a committed feminist—a combination unusual with our peers but more common with younger women in Verecunda—and her family was mostly Roman Catholic. She flatly told us that she would never consider Christianity unless she saw a priestess celebrating Mass.”
“Don’t hold your breath,” Terry said. They weren’t going to waste an opportunity like this to catch up on the news; they even went to the beach and stuck their toes in the water. It wasn’t until midnight that Cathy left to return to the Inn. About five minutes later Terry left the Sea Garden. Kyle met her and debriefed her, then told her not to come and see Darlene in the morning.