Previously, a conspiracy is discovered.
Something woke her. The former Mary-Mary Smith, now the Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott, lay in her bed in the convent and looked out through her window. It was a dark, moonless night. She heard voices mumbling below in the courtyard between the convent and the church. Pulling herself out of bed, she stumbled over to close the curtains to the window. Maybe that would help keep out the mumbles.
She looked down and saw shadows, splotches of darkness against the lighter darkness of the courtyard. There seemed to be an argument going on.
“Shhhhh,” one of the shadows said. “You’ll wake everybody in the convent. If that’s your intention, you’re going to accomplish it.” It was Father Jerome’s voice. What was Father Jerome doing up at this hour? He usually was early to bed, early to rise. He had a seven o’clock morning mass.
Her ladyship was fully awake now. She felt like going down and telling the damned voices to shut up. Oops, she used the word “damned.” She shouldn’t-oughtn’t-a do that. She was in a convent and nuns didn’t curse.
Below Mother Sarah said, “Will you two shut your damned mouths.” Did the Abbess say “damned”? She did. How dare her? God was going to get her for that? “It’s late. Let’s go up to my office. And be quiet doing it.”
“Yes, ma’am,” both the priest and a woman agreed.
Her ladyship, our heroine, stepped back from the window. That woman’s voice was familiar. Who was she? She listened and heard the back door of the convent open and close. Then a soft padding on the steps of the old wooden stairs as they passed the second floor and went onto the third. She heard the door of the Mother Superior’s office close.
Mary-Mary lay back down on the bed and slid the covers over her body. A little while later, she realized that she could not sleep. Why were the three meeting this late? It seemed so mysterious, so unlike the abbess and the priest she had gotten to know over the past week or so. She threw the covers off her body, rose out of bed and slipped a robe over her nightdress.
She opened the door quietly. Although the doors could be noisy opening and closing, this night hers was unusually quiet. It was as if the door was cooperating with her finding out what was going on upstairs. She laid her feet down softly one in front of the other as she moved slowly down the hall. She did not want to disturb the nuns from their sleep, although there was only a slight chance of that. The clapper would wake the nuns at five in the morning for their prayers.
So, the nuns usually slept soundly. Mary-Mary could hear the loud snoring of Sister Bethany as she passed her door.
Soon she was at the stairs and she started up them. All of a sudden, she stopped. She felt faint, and sat down. Was there something wrong with her? Sitting on the stairwell for the next few minutes, she recovered her energy.
A noise came from below. It was the opening and closing of the convent door. She hurried back downstairs to the second floor. She stepped inside the hallway and put her body against one of the nun’s closed doors. Her back hugged it closely. A dark figure stopped on the stairwell. She hugged the door closer. The figure looked down the hallway, then began its climb up to the third floor. The footsteps of the figure padded down the third-floor hallway to the Mother Superior’s office at the end. The office door opened, then closed.
Mary-Mary hurried up the stairs, her curiosity overwhelming her. She came to the third floor and stepped into the hallway. Quietly, very quietly, she tiptoed toward the Mother Superior’s Office. She came to its door. She stopped and put her head to the wooden door to listen. She heard voices on the inside.
At first, she couldn’t tell what they were saying. But soon she began to make out words.
“No,” Mother Superior said.
“We … to,” Father Jerome’s voice came to her.
“Look … no choice,” a man’s voice came through the door.
“That’s right,” another voice, a woman’s, came through the door. Why did that voice and its accent sound so familiar?
“But this is what the Reverend Henry wanted,” Mother Superior said.
“It’s exactly what he wanted,” the woman’s muffled voice said. “So, tell me about this woman you have here. You say she came from ze shipwreck. How fortunate for us.”
“It’s true,” Father Jerome’s voice came through the door clearly.
“I believe,” Mother Superior said, “that it is the Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypot of Haggismarshe.”
“But ze papers say that she is all dead,” the familiar woman’s voice said. ‘And ze papers are seldom wrong.”
“At first we couldn’t believe our good fortune,” Father Jerome said. “Then we looked at her picture, and yes, it is her. She is not dead. We have her here.”
“Doesn’t she know who she is?” the familiar woman’s voice wanted to know.
“No,” the man’s voice said. “She has amnesia and I have been keeping her in that state. I’ve been given her a drug.” It was her doctor’s voice, Doctor Qwackers.
Are they talking about me? Yes, they are talking about me. But why are they drugging me? What did I do, and why are they keeping me here? Am I this Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott person? The questions moved around and around in her head. Suddenly she was feeling faint again. She had better get back to her bed to figure all this out. Then she would know what to do.
It was obvious she couldn’t continue to take the doctor’s medicine. She had to get out of the convent and soon. But how? She did not know anyone in the city. Perhaps one of the nuns would help her out. But none of the nuns would go against their Mother Superior. Oh, what was she going to do?
She tippy toed back toward the stairs, passing the office doors that occupied the third floor. She came to the stairwell. From behind her stepped a dark figure of a man.
“Where would you believe you are going, your ladyship,” the dark shadow of a man said.
Next Week: To highwayman or not to highwayman