Abbey of St. Brigid, Glastonbury Parish, 11 April, 1841.
“There, there, dear child,” The Reverend Mother Igraine said as she wrung out the cloth again. The water already stained the darkest crimson with the girl’s blood. They had found her at Laudes, when they came to perform their morning office and prayers; they found her huddled and whimpering at the foot of the statue of their Blessed Lady of the Veil.
“He will not find you here.”
“…always find me,” the girl whispered barely audible. It was the first thing Igraine had been able to discern of her mumblings.
“What’s that you say, child,” she said dabbing gently at the wounds and blood caked on the girls neck, her face now free of the dirt and blood that had obscured it; it was a pretty face, though the bruises were starting to ripen and swell and the cuts and gashes were deep enough to mar it permanently if care was not taken for them to knit well.
“He said he would always find me,” she murmured, the puffiness of her jaw keeping her words to the barest whisper, “he…he said that there is no place I can hide, no place, none….I can’t hide from Angel.”
“Was no angel that did this,” the older woman said, wiping the wounds on the girl’s slender neck: two punctures beneath the bruises from large and powerful hands. They mirrored the ones Igraine could see on her breasts between the remaining shreds of tattered cloth that had once been a respectable frock, “…far from it.”
“No but, it was ….Angel, a beautiful angel.”
Miriam came with a bucket of water to freshen the basin and a stack of clean cloths; she offered a dipper of the restorative liquid from the abbeys springs to the girl who took it with unsteady hands.
“Spit first, child, then drink,” said Igraine who presented the wash basin as a spittoon before she rose to dump it. Igraine was pleased that no teeth came out, only blood tinged spittle and pus …and Goddess only knows what else, from the looks of her the monster was truly a deviant; she could wait until after the child had recovered in some degree to check for loose and damaged teeth.
Miriam refilled the dipper again and offered it to the girl; she drank deep, lifting the dipper to help the cool water flow easier down her bruised and parched throat. Miriam saw the ripped puncture wounds on her delicate battered neck as well as those on the alabaster skin of her breasts, blood slowly trickled from the deep claw-like scratches that surrounded the lesions and extended across her breasts up to her neck and down onto her torso, the cleansing having dissolved the scabs that had knit the scrapes together. Miriam made the sign of the cross in deference to the Christian God of the Abbey and silently mouthed the healing blessing of the Mother; she kept her head bowed until Igraine returned with the empty washbasin lest either the girl or Igraine see her breaking her vows.
Igraine returned and knelt with the basin. “Suppose we will need another refill or two before tis all done,” Igraine said as Miriam poured the contents of the bucket in to the basin. Miriam gave the slight quick nod that was the allowed signal of acknowledgement from one avowed as she.
“But before,” the elder woman continued, “… fetch my sewing scissors and thread, the boiled silk not the wool, and some of the new cheesecloth from the stores, both course and fine, and Father Padric’s best bottle from the empty herring barrel behind the rectory, and see what is keeping Aubreigh with the salves.”
Miriam bowed in respect of the Reverend Mother Superior of her Order and obeyed in silence.
Igraine dipped the cloth in the fresh basin, wrung it slightly and turned her attentions once more to the girl still shivering and whimpering at the feet of the statue.
“What is your name child?” She asked, her gaze being drawn inexplicably from her charge to the face of the Lady.
“Dru…Drucilla,” the girl answered meekly.
Igraine imagined she saw tears from the eyes of the icon on its cheeks as the rays of the morning sun illuminated its carved wooden countenance.