Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 33: The mystery gets even more mysterious.

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

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 28: A bit of sightseeing for Lady P. P. Not.

Previously the ghosts of Haggismarche received some good news.

When you’ve escaped a shipwreck and made land, it is a good thing to sit on a beach and cry. Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott, the former Mary-Mary Smith, sat on a beach and cried. She cried harder than she had ever cried before. Even harder than the night before she was sent off to marry an English lord. She cried, but did not know why she was crying. She was sitting on the beach and crying until finally she had cried herself out.

“Now that I’ve had my little cry, I’ll cry no more.” She looked out at the rising yellow sun. She had never seen anything so beautiful. Its beauty ran through her like first love. It was wonderful to be alive. There was only one itsy-bitsy little problem. She did not know where she was or how she had gotten on that empty beach early that morning. She sat in her white underdress and her corset, her dress and her hoop skirt torn off by the sea. She sat there in that sand and gazed at the sun and tried to remember. Her memory was not returning to her.

Mary-Mary was hungry. But she had no money. She had nothing but herself.

Mary-Mary picked herself up off the sand. In the distance, there were mountains. Little did she know that they were the Serra de Collserola. From up the beach and toward the north came the hum of ships as they sailed in and out of a nearby port. The sounds confused our heroine. Should she go in their direction?

After some hesitation, she decided against it. She picked herself up off the beach, saw a cobblestone street and took it. The street winded its way toward a broad shallow hill overlooking the sea. Perhaps on her way up that hill she could find a kind face or someone who could guide her to help. She passed a milkman, his cart delivering milk to the houses she passed. He gave her a look as did several women she spotted on the other side of the street. Perhaps they were upset that she had no shoes on. Where were her shoes anyway?

She came to a church, the Church of St. Teresa de Avila and walked past it, then turned around. Don’t churches help lost souls such as myself? She went through the large cedar doors and into the sanctuary. In the church, several women had their heads covered. One was lighting a votive candle. The rest knelt before the altar, praying. Behind the white marble altar, there were statues of the Mother of Jesus, Jesus, and St. Teresa de Avila.

Mary-Mary felt that she should not be in that place. She opened the entrance door to go back out into the sunlight. Then she fainted.

Several hours later she woke up in a bed. She found herself covered with a white sheet, lying on white sheets, her head against a white pillow. The room was white. There was nothing on the walls but a cross above the door.

In a chair sat a woman reading. Her black dress and black habit matched her black hair. She looked up from her prayer book, her face filled with peace. She smiled at Mary-Mary, then said several words in a language the survivor of the S. S. Twit did not understand.

“I don’t understand,” Mary-Mary heard herself say. “I don’t understand what you’re saying.”

The woman rose from her chair, said another thing, then left the room. Several minutes later she returned with a gray-haired man with a gray beard. He wore a cassock. He looked like a priest. Yes, he must be a priest.

“Señora? Señorita?” he stood by her bed and said. “You’re awake.” Then he noticed the wedding ring. “You had us worried, Señora. Would you like something to eat?”

“Yes please,” Mary-Mary said.

The priest turned to the woman she realized was a nun and said some words in the language Mary-Mary did not understand. The nun left.

“I am Father Jerome. You came into our church, and you fainted. We have been waiting for you to wake. Would you like to tell me something of yourself? How did God bring you to us?”

She shook her head. “I don’t know, Father. I woke up on the beach and walked up the streets until I came to your church. Something told me that I should come into the church. But I found it all very strange.”

The priest smiled. “That was God. He led you to us.”

The nun returned with a large bowl of soup and two slices of bread and a cup of hot tea.

“Have some nourishment. I have some duties to take care of. I will return late this afternoon, and we will see if we can sort this out, you and I with God’s help.”

Late that afternoon the priest returned. The nun had found Mary-Mary a long dress. It was white and she was sitting at the small table in the room.

“So, Señora,” the priest said. “I see the nuns have gotten you something more appropriate to wear, and you look like you’ve had some nourishment. You think you can talk now so that we may discover what brought you to us?”

Mary-Mary shook her head.

Father Jerome joined her at the table where she was sipping a cup of tea. He sat down and faced her from across the table. He folded his arms on the table and struck a pose that made her feel that he was totally listening to her.

“Where am I, Father?”

“You are on the outskirts of Barcelona in the convent attached to the Church of St. Teresa de Avila. You sound American but you have a little British accent to your English. From the ring on your finger, you must be a married woman.”



Mary-Mary gave him a look as if he were talking about the moon.

“España. Spain.”

“The nun that was here when I woke,” she said slowly, struggling to see through the haze of her disorientation, “that has brought me soup and tea, she must be Spanish. Yes, she must. What am I doing in Barcelona?”

“That is what we need to find out. How did you come to be here?”

“All I know is that I woke up on the beach this morning. I saw a street and I started walking. I was starved. Other than that. I don’t remember anything else.”

“I have heard cases of such as yours. It is called amnesia. Something traumatic must have occurred. You can’t remember anything else?”

“No, Father. What am I going to do?” she asked, then resignedly, “What am I going to do?”

“Let us not worry about that right now. The important thing is that you recuperate. Please accept our hospitality until we, you and I, can figure out what you next move will be.”

“Thank you, Father. I am sorry I am such a bother. I wish I could be more help.”

“You are no bother. It is our mission to provide hospitality to the stranger, the outcast and the pilgrim. We, the nuns and I, are here to help in any way we can. When you are feeling better I would like for you to have a visit with the Abbess. She is the mother of this congregation. Her name is Mother Sarah, and she will be overjoyed that you are feeling better.”

“How come you speak my language so well when the others do not?”

“I spent ten years in a mission in Texas. I cared for both the Mexicans and the Anglos. My health became poor. Since Barcelona is my home, I was assigned to this church.”

“You are ill?”

“I am better,” Father Jerome said. “Now you must have your rest. I will see you in the morning after I celebrate mass. Are you Catholic?”

“I don’t know, Father. I don’t know.”

“Ah, I forgot. Even if you are not, let me give you this.” The priest handed her a rosary. He blessed it as it sat in her hand. “Perhaps you would like to pray the prayer.”

“Yes, Father, I would.”

“Then tomorrow I will teach you. I know the Madonna, the Mother of Our Lord, is watching over you. Listen for her voice. She will speak to you.”

Over the next few days, Mary-Mary recuperated as she opened herself up to the hospitality of the priest and the nuns. She found a place to sit outside in the sun. She would spend hours, sitting in her chair, praying the rosary and trying to remember. After about a week of this, she asked to speak to the Abbess.

It was a bright spring morning when she went to see the Abbess whose office was on the third floor of the Convent. Behind a small desk stacked with papers sat an older woman in a nun’s dress and habit. On the wall behind her was a picture of St. Teresa de Avila, smiling down upon her disciple with kindness. Mary-Mary looked at the woman. Mary-Mary looked at the picture. She looked back at the woman. The two could have been twins.

The woman rose from behind her desk. She embraced Mary-Mary like a mother embraces a daughter, then she guided Mary-Mary over to a sofa. The two sat down. The nun studied the young woman’s face for several minutes.

Finally, she asked, her voice very soft, “Are you doing well, my child?”

Mary-Mary shook her head yes.

“Are you starting to remember?”

Mary-Mary started to cry. She cried for several minutes. The nun waited. The nun reached into a pocket and pulled out a handkerchief. She handed it to Mary-Mary. Mary-Mary wiped the tears from her face, then continued to sob.

“I can’t remember anything before that morning I came here. I am sorry, Mother. I am so sorry.”

Next Week: Wah Wah