There were so many of which the nun had proven guilty, did she dare to ask for favors of
the Lord? But the proximity of Julian's motherso close and yet so very farhad
inspired Sister Dana to prostrate herself and feverishly pray.
"Please let her come and take him away. Please let her come and
She had been lying on the cold, hard stone before the altar in the
chapel for three-quarters of an hour, maybe more. She checked her watch. Melanie's Bible
class was at seven. It was now 6:55. She would have to hurry. She got to her feet, rubbed
her arms and the fronts of her thighs, then humbly genuflected.
With a last impassioned plea in her eyes, she gazed up at the Saviour.
Then she turned to brave the bitter-cold outside.
The wind was stiff. It blew her habit into billowing pitch-black wings
that flapped and beat along her ribs as if enraged at flightlessness. The expression on
her facea grimacegrew fixed. Tears streamed from her eyes. Her gloveless hands
curled into fists against the chill. She broke toward shelter.
At Melanie's door Sister Dana paused to blow her nose. Her face felt
frozen. She worked her jaw to restore some circulation. Then she knocked.
Dinner hour was over; the girl should be back from the cafeteria.
She knocked again, then opened the door to look inside.
The room was dark. She made her way to the lamp. Something snapped
underfoot and she started. She groped for the light, and in its flash beheld the scene.
The girl lay just as Julian had left hereyes closed, limbs
arranged in a sleeplike pose. Blood still smeared her mouth. On seeing it the nun went
She rushed to check for vital signs. Thank God; the girl was breathing.
She dabbed at the blood. No cuts? No scratches? She could find no wounds of any kind.
Julian! She must have bitten him in self-defense
when he attacked
her. There had been a struggle, that was clear; the room was a shambles. All the
bedclothes were rumpled. And Melanie's clothes? Fearfully the nun explored for
evidencezippers, buttons. All were fastened; the clothes were simply disarranged.
Relieved, she gently stroked the victim's scalp.
"Poor baby. Poor baby. What did he do to you? Did he hurt you? Are
you Marcy again, my love?"
The nun was crying. It was so unfair. How could God be cruel those not
guilty? She nearly cursed a faith that taught, "God's Will is perfect." But she
resisted. And, instead, she knelt to pray.
"Dear Lord, oh Father, help me understand. Help my Marcy. Whatever
she has done to deserve such punishment, please forgive. Or punish me in her place. And
certainly punish himJulian Papp. Make him suffer, Lord, eternally for what
he has done!"
She gasped, abhorred by what she had just invoked.
"I'm sorry, Lord. It's hard. I'm trying. Forgive me? Forgive him,
too? Oh God in Heaven, please forgive us all!"
She wrapped the covers around the girl, leaned forward, kissed her
lightly on the cheek, and left to carry the urgent word to Sister Zoe.