Liza Jane turned to Brother Julian. “I believe you, sir, are the only Frenchman here. And the only person who is likely to own a Bible written in French. What do you have to say for yourself?”
The monk felt his face burn with embarrassment. “Anyone could own a French Bible. Your accusations prove nothing.” He straightened his rounded shoulders and pushed out his chest.
“Now if everyone will be so kind as to move out of my way, I should like to return to the Sanctuary. I am a cook there, and the hour is late. I am needed in the kitchen.” The monk moved toward the door of the schoolroom.
“Not so fast, Brother whatever-your-name is.” Cutter grabbed one of the monk’s chubby arms and held it. “You have some explaining to do first.”
Jose grabbed the other arm.
“Unhand me!” the monk demanded. “You have no right to hold me here.”
“We do until you answer a few questions,” Cutter retorted.
The monk tried to jerk free. Then everybody joined in his capture.
Someone gripped the rope belt around his waist. Another pinched his right ear with sharp fingernails.
“This is outrageous!” the monk shouted. “I insist that you release me at once.”
“We’ll release you when you’ve answered our questions.” Cutter nodded toward the corner near the teacher’s desk. “Since the monk won’t fit in any of these chairs, I suggest we shove him over in that corner to question him.”
Julian felt his body being pushed forward. He wiggled and squirmed but was unable to break free with all those hands on him. If he expected to get home in time to help prepare a proper evening meal, he would have no choice but to confess.
The baroness dragged over a small desk and shoved it behind him. “Sit down, Brother Julian, and start talking.”
“Very well.” His heart pounding, the monk sat down and tried to collect his thoughts. “I was walking along the beach in front of the church. All at once, the world around me began to spin around and around. I tried to make it stop.” He shut his eyes and fisted both his hands. “I could not.”
“And then what happened?” Audrey asked.
Julian released a deep breath. “I found myself in front of this building during a thunderstorm.” He pulled free enough to press the palm of one hand against his chest to keep his heart from jumping out of his body. “You see I have—I have sinned much in my lifetime.” He swallowed. “Can you not see that being here is my punishment?”
“Confession is good for the soul, Brother,” Liza Jane said. “Maybe it would help if you told us what you did.”
“Tell?” He chuckled under his breath. “And why not? I have nothing to lose now.” He cleared his throat. “I have listened at the door when the priest heard confessions.” He hesitated. “And I have told what I heard for money.” He trembled, wondering what disaster might come to him now. “And I have done worse things. But I shall not speak of them here.” His thick lips firmed, and a frown crossed his forehead. “This is all the fault of that pretty little nun and the young monk who arrived at the Sanctuary only last night. None of this would have happened but for them.”
“But you still haven’t told us why you tried to destroy my schoolroom.” Liza Jane said.
“I never wished to destroy it,” the monk confessed. “I was looking for a way out. Everything is strange here. I was looking for a way home.”
“We all desire to return home,” Jose said.
Julian shook his head, unable to believe what he’d just heard. He’d thought he was the only one who didn’t belong here. To hear that he was wrong confused him.
“Jose is telling the truth,” Audrey put in. “We all want to go home.”
“Then what is to be done?” Brother Julian turned to Liza Jane as if he expected her to come up with an answer.
“I don’t need to find a way home,” Liza Jane said. “I am home. I belong here. But maybe if we all prayed together in the name of Jesus, the Lord would find a way to get the rest of you home, too.”
“Yes,” Brook said. “Let us all join hands and pray at once.”
Brother Julian nodded, agreeing to pray with the others. But he doubted God would hear his prayers after all the things he’d said and done.
Brother Julian is a minor character in SANCTUARY by Molly Noble Bull.
Sanctuary will be published in trade paperback on September 15, 2007 and is the first of three long historical novels about the Huguenots. To read the first part of Sanctuary today, go to Molly’s website, www.mollynoblebull.com, scroll down and click Molly’s Books. SANCTUARY can be preordered from her website and from Amazon.com. The Winter Pearl can be ordered from bookstores and from her website as well.