Saturday, April 11, 2009


Chapter 4

Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation, Hampton Heritage, Grace Park Rd, Dublin. I read for the 50th time the scribbled address on the paper in my hand. The Carmelite Sisters had been gracious to give me directions from the airport, gracious enough to enthuse over my being their oldest foreign visitor yet. I was deeply touched. I had been promised a warm reception and any help they could give me in finding my friend. As I rang the doorbell at the ivy covered gate I was gripped with a strong inclination to hoist my suspenders and run. Before I could fully comprehend the impossibility of that action, the gate was eased open by a small round nun with sensible glasses. I asked to see Sister Carroll and was escorted through a well-kept garden to a stone building that presumably housed the visitor's center.

"So pleased to meet you, Mr. Bender." Sister Carroll extended her hand to me as soon as I entered her office. "You will excuse my appearance, we have had such a racket today with Sister Tabitha. I'm afraid she insists that every one of our patients be promenaded around the grounds before Divine Office and I've only just finished escorting Sr Eloise. How may I assist you, Sir?"
I was pleased with her warmth, with the simplicity of her appraisal of me, with the strength of her handshake.
"Sister Carroll, I believe I spoke with you on the telephone about a Sister Ashton? Would you be able to help me find her?" The words came out more quickly than I wanted them to, I feared I sounded too eager. "She is an old friend of mine." I added.
"Sister Ashton? Yes, I remember the conversation. I'm afraid we don't have anyone here by that name. Of course, you couldn't be looking for THE Nancy Ashton could you?"
I gulped. My head began to sweat. "ur, actually . . . I am." I studied my shoes earnestly.
There was a pause, during which I assume she was deliberating.
"Well, Mr. Bender, I'm afraid the only person I can think of is Sister Rebekah. She arrived here in a great deal of distress, calling herself Ashton. Its just, Mr. Bender, I will need to warn you about her,

a) She has claimed to be THE Nancy Ashton for years. She doesn't cause any trouble, she's just, well, loony that's all.

b) Sister Rebekah is very very ill.

c.) She left the Order last month. She said she wanted to marry again.