Father Palmer

 Lord Moorehouse rested quietly, a great weight lifted from his shoulders. The child was gone, the demon was expelled. He slept peacefully at night, excluding the frightening moments in which the clock struck three and he was lurched from his sleep, his limbs trembling and lathered with sweat. He discounted that for nightmares and returned to sleep as best as he could.

 His Lady returned from her visit, full of stories and chatter of her sister and the birth of the child. A son, how fortunate for a first child, she would declare.  Her own longing for a babe of her own was evident in her voice, though Lord Moorehouse would coldly change the subject to something else. The thought of another child disturbed him greatly. He would not wish to risk it.

That Sunday they rode to service, his wife silent as their carriage bumping down the road snaking it's way to the church. After gazing to Lady Moorehouse for a while, he turned his eyes out the window, watching the fantasic scenery roll by sunbeams descending from the clouds like the fingers of angels directly from heaven. His eyes caught something black aside the road, creeping slowly through the grass. He looked back once more before it disappeared behind them.

A black snake. He anxiously twiddled his fingers-no, it was nothing. There were plenty of snakes in the countryside, especially black ones. There must be thousands inhabiting the fields, the streams and woodlands. Taking a shaky breath, he discounted it as a foolish thought, grinning uneasily to himself.

The steeple of the church pierced the horizon as they neared it, the coach driver making his final turn. The carriage woobled on it's wheels as the turn was made, yet in a few moments the sickening swaying had stopped, and the driver opened the door. Never had Lord Moorehouse enjoyed riding in coaches; horseback riding was more to his favor.

The coachmen handed Lady Moorehouse down, Lord Moorehouse bowing his head gratefully to him as he climbed out. He put his arm in his wife's walking to the church's grand doors so that they may sit in the wooden pews.

~~~~

Chorus of song faded, the strong, ranting voice of the priest calmed. The attendants' chatter filled the room, murmurs blending together as they streamed from the aisle out of the church. Lord Moorehouse stood to follow, his body aching from sitting in the rigid pew for the endless service, though Father Palmer called out his name, making both he and his wife turn.

"Lord Moorehouse!" he cried. "Would you care to come here?"

"Of course, Father." nodded Lord Moorehouse in reply, his boots tapping on the wooden floor as he walked to the front of the church where the priest stood.

"Would you and your lovely Lady Moorehouse please join me in the back for some tea...there is...ahem...a matter of great importance I wish to speak with you of," Father Palmer said in the quietiest of undertones.

  Curious, Lord Moorehouse repeated briskly, "Of course, of course."

  A nervous smile flickering on his thick, pudgy face, the plump priest guided them to a back room, dimly lit by faded sunlight streaming through the window. A few flames cackled in the small fireplace, a few simple chairs set out. "Please, sit, sit." Father Palmer beckoned to the both of them.

 "I am aware you do not have much spare time, Lord Moorehouse, so I will be blunt of it," the priest paced about the room, capturing the eyes of his two listeners. He turned to the shadowy corner, his voice becoming softer and gentler. "Come, sweet Dear, here they are, just as I told you."

  Lord Moorehouse's heart stopped as a young girl stepped from the corner. She looked to be of six years of age, silky raven hair falling loosely so that it rippled at her back. Her face was pale as marble, black pools of wisdom contrasting starkly against it.  "This is your daughter, is it not, Lord Moorehouse?" came the priest's voice, small and inquisitive.

   He jumped from his chair, his eyes locked onto the girl. Lady Moorehouse cried out in suprise, demanding that he had told her that the child had died as a day old, declaring him a great liar. He avoided her rants, his lip trembling as he stammered, "How-how-how...?"

  "It is simple you see," smiled Father Palmer ever so slightly. "My theory is that when you tossed her in the river, it baptised her, it cleaned her soul, transformed her to what she truly is. The Lord must have released her soul from Satan, I find it to be a great miracle..."

  "How do you know this!" demanded Lord Moorehouse. "How did you find her?"

  "That is a seperate story," the priest raised his hands warily. "She told me of her swim in the river and your action, the rest is my theory of which I came upon after praying many hours last night. If this was not a divine action by the God Almighty, your action could have had you hanging from the gallows. But as it is of Divine importance, this shall stay between us, I would say.

  "Otherwise she has not spoken a word. I found her sitting at the church pews last night." Father Palmer smiled widely, patting Lilith on the head with his fat hand. "She has been doused in Holy Water and wears the Cross; her protection is secured by the Lord himself."

  

The End

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