Zoe, reviewing the salient points of name, address, and phone number, put aside her notes
to marvel humbly at the human minds resilience. It seemed her patient had, indeed,
recovered. Wounds still were present (which only time and love would heal), but the
spiritual essence of Melanie Chamberlain had survived. Sister Zoe gave thanks
added an impassioned prayer that her next decision would not rescind this blessing.
Sister Dana knocked and entered, her features still distorted by her
"I see you found him."
"I found him all right, skulking in a corner of the library like a
"And he refused to come."
"He certainly did!
How did you know?"
"Come over here to me."
She obeyed. Sister Zoe took the upturned face and cradled it in
sympathetic palms, smoothing the furrowed brow, coaxing out the tension, stroking,
soothing, coddling, until the ugly signs of hatred all but vanished.
"There now, isn't that better? You must try to keep your beauty
free from such unsightly masks."
The wrinkled hands still held her. They felt a blush flood through the
younger nun's cheeks. The elder placed a kiss on each and smiled.
"Before we talk of Mr. Papp I want to say how pleased I am about
your work with the young Miss Chamberlain."
Having been obsessed with the emotions raised by Julian, Sister Dana
failed to notice that Melanie was gone. Now she didwith great concern.
"I sent her off to get some lunch. She doesnt remember
"Oh no! She isnt better, then? Totally, I mean?"
"Dont fret; her memory is quite restored. Just little things
still give her trouble. Normal things, though. Im sure the worst is past. And in
large part, she has you to thank."
"I did very little, Sister. Nothing, really."
"Nothing? Dont be silly. You gave the most therapeutic gift
of all, Sister Dana. You gave your love. Thats what sees us through such times. I
have watched you very closely, Sister. This has all been quite a trial for you. I even had
some doubts about your pulling through. But every time you weakened, I believe Our Lord
lent you strength. You have discovered from this what love is, and, maybe more
importantly, what it is not. You will learn much more. So, as far as Melanie is concerned,
Im very proud of you."
Were these things true? To her shame the younger nun could only
recognize her lapsesall those times her efforts to keep the Faith had failed. She
could scarcely believe that she merited anything but censure. And yet there was a
reassuring voice inside. She had changed. She had been touched by something good and right
"Julian, however, is another matter. Come, sit down." They
sat close to each other on the couch. "You have not done well with him thus
"Because I hate him, Sister. Oh, I know how awful that must sound,
but I cant help it. Julians evil."
"He is ill. And you can help it. And you will. The root of
what you found to love in Melanie exists in everyoneeven in Julian, though I admit
it is better hidden. In fact, he has buried it so deeply he makes one doubt its
really there. But I assure you, Sister, it is. And reaching him is every bit as crucial as
it was for Melanie. Do you understand that?"
So, with that in mind, tell me what he said."
"I cant repeat it."
"His words wont reflect on you, Sister Dana. Go ahead; you
have my permission."
"He said to tell you that, hell come when hes
"Oh dear. He did?"
"Im sorry, Sister. I didnt want to say it, but
Sister Dana stopped abruptly, thoroughly bewildered. Sister Zoe was
laughing. Then, without knowing why, she was laughing, too.
"His words exactly, Sister. Im sorry."
They laughed some more. The old nun finally dried her eyes.
"Well, as I said, its buried deeply. Did he have the
"Not with him. Im positive he stole it, Sister. Though I
cant imagine why, except hes such a
"Such a sick person."
"Yes. He is that. He is also much, much more. And it might be wise
to keep in mind that Julianno less than wehas a genuine interest in
"In her, maybe. Not in her recovery."
"No, I think you are mistaken. I think, in some peculiar way, her
health has been the object of his game."
"The chess game based on who could cure the girls amnesia
firstJulian or I. His mother gave me insight into that. I knew, and yet I
didnt know. Does that make any sense?"
"I couldnt say, Sister. What are you going to do?"
"He has put me in a difficult position. With this latest bit of
impudence, he has challenged my authority. Did you tell him anything about Melanie?"
"So he doesnt know
though he might have guessed. Why
else would he force this confrontation?"
"Youre asking me?"
"No, I guess Im asking myself. He is going to have to see
"Oh, no, Sister! How could you even consider it? What if he
does something awful? What if he makes her forget again? Think about Melanie, Sister,
please! It isnt right to risk it, especially for the likes of him. Here, look."
She exposed the contents of her pockets, holding them up for Sister
"Where on earth
"You didnt! Sister, you know very well, staff do not
makes searches of patients rooms. This is quite a serious offense."
"But youre not seeing whats important. Hes
depraved, Sister Zoe. Just look. Do you want a person like this to undo all
"Sister Dana, enough! It is not up to us to judge. He has had the
decency, at least, to keep these private. Would that you had done the same."
"We are going to step aside and let them meet."
"You are not to interfere."
The young nun knew it was wasted breath to argue any further. Still,
she could not help from rendering her opinion.
"I pray Im wrong, but I think youre making a terrible
"Pray Im right, Sister Dana; its more positive. Pray
hard. And let us dearly hope our Good Lord hears."