Inching along with my latest work in progress – a medieval romance. Some chapters fly by in a flurry of letters, others are taking their time. The first chapter seems to have settled down and I’m sharing a little more after last week’s WipitUp. Nadia is a postulant, which is the first stage of becoming a nun. She’s not in the priory of her own choosing – more by the wishes of her father. Headstrong and independent, she’s not adapted to life in the convent. Now, having absconded and missed her chores, she up before the prioress.
“This wicked child has missed vespers again. She lied to me, Mother. I caught her creeping through the cloisters, intent on returning without anyone noticing.”
“Is this true, Nadia? Did you leave the confines of this priory, the safe haven of this convent?”
Nadia grimaced. She had decided several weeks ago that admitting to small lies was better than having one big one laid bare. She dreaded the Reverent Mother finding out the true reason for her absence. Her prioress would inform her father. It would be disastrous and likely to lead to her exile. Since her mother had died over two years ago, her father had decided he alone could not raise his only daughter. Sons, yes, but a girl, on the cusp of adulthood was beyond his parenting abilities. He’d send her to Kirkdale Priory and placed her under the care of the nuns in the hope they would complete her education and instill a pious attitude in the increasingly wayward Nadia.
Sadly, the hardworking sisters of Kirkdale had failed to improve Nadia’s behaviour.
“I regret to inform you, Reverend Mother, I left the walls of this priory to roam amongst the wild flowers. I intended to collect berries for Sister Mary, but I lost myself in quiet contemplation. I confess I missed vespers. I sincerely regret lying to Sister Agnes. I humbly await my penance.”
“You have such a practised contriteness, Nadia. Well practised. Yes, you shall be punished, but not by your own hand, since you can’t be trusted. Yet again, you force me to punish you. Sister Agnes, you may leave us. There is no need for you to witness this.”
“I shall offer prayers for Nadia in the hope she might still learn the error of her ways,” declared the nun. The door creaked as she shut it behind her.
Nadia continued to stare at the hem of the prioress’s habit. Unlike her own grey, unkempt tunic, the prioress’s woollen cloth remained white. Since the prioress preferred a life of prayer and meditation, she only left the convent to visit the local villages. Nadia hated the convent life. Unless she escaped the boundaries of the nunnery, she’d never marry and save herself from the inevitable fate of most postulants: vows and a life of chanting, prayer and measly food. Each trip she took outside of the convent was a worth taking, even if the consequences of being caught were unpleasant.
She peered up from under her wimple. There in the corner was the pail of water and stuffed inside it, the bundle of sticks.
All the postulants and novices had borne the penalty of a thrashing at some point in their time at Kirkdale Priory. None more so than Nadia, who’d received a substantial proportion of whippings.
Were the punishments worth it? She often asked herself that question while lying on her pallet in the dormitory listening to the gargantuan snores of Sister Phillipa. Yes, surely, it was, because she kept repeating her escapades.
More next week?