This time, when Martha awoke, Scrapper was licking her face.
A nurse was trying to shoo him away. “You’ll wake up my patient!” she whispered to the dog.
“Blur…rit’s okay, I want to pet him,” said Martha, blinking.
“Well bless my soul!” said the woman. “You ladies seem to have a remarkable ability to recover!”
Mercy was peering at Martha over a scroll: “I knew you’d come around,” she said.
“Have I *yawn* blurr…missed anything important?” asked Martha.
“Well…we’re in the cloisters,” said Mercy. “Miriam is behind that curtain over there–I think she’s wounded.”
“She got kicked pretty hard. Stone leg? *yawn* Whaddya figure? 600pounds? That haz to hurt.”
“Yeah. Major bruiser. Martha?”
“We’re still in Highpattern. I mean, this is either a dream or it’s not.”
“Yeah, your hands feel like your hands,” (she was holding Mercy’s hand as the two sisters looked at each other), “and your face feels like your face.”
“Burr…really? I have to, ahh…pee,” said Martha.
The nurse helped Martha to her feet. She could hear the sound of singing coming from the Cathedral. “Are we going to go listen to the sing…? Martha tailed off as she began to fall over in a dizzy spell.
“Whoa– a little woozy are you missy?” asked the nursemaid. It took several attempts to get Martha to the point where she could get to the chamber pot. “Go back to sleep now. That singing is just the early-morning vespers.”
Later that morning, to their great satisfaction, they found Labesh gently waking them up. The room smelled of lavender. She was brushing their forheads with a warm washcloth. “You can go back to sleep if you like,” she said. “But the worship service begins in a little while.” Both girls were looking attentively at her. “Perhaps we can see if you feel well enough.”
As they moved they felt sore and stiff, but excitement about going to church in a different world quickly took over. They loved going to church—the singing, the dresses, the chance to catch up with your friends. They sat on the edge of the bed and Mercy put her arm around Martha, supporting her.
“I think we’re okay, ma’am,” said Mercy.
“Sore?” said Labesh, reading their thoughts. She gave them each a cup of delicious tea which smelled of raspberries and honey. “Drink it down,” she said; “does away with the stiffness.”
After they had sat a few minutes sipping tea, the nurse looked them over sternly. “Time to see if you can stand,” she said to Martha. With Mercy, she gently stood Martha up.
“I’m not dizzy.” said Martha. The swooning nausea had completely gone.
Labesh led the girls on to a bathing chamber in the cloisters. They were given hot baths—Oh! The bliss! The water was hot and green from herbs. The tub was not white, but rather made of stone. It was like getting into a hot cup of herbal tea.
The stiffness in the muscles began to go away. Mercy began to sing one of mom’s bath songs from home. Then they looked at each other and cried.
“Yes (sob) Martha?”
“We’ve got to see it through.”
Mercy nodded and washed the tears away with soap. “We’ve got to keep taking this seriously. I mean… what happened to the kids in other books we’ve read?”
“They usually went back to earth when they had completed some kind of mission,” Martha said as she looked at Mercy. “I wonder who we should talk to? I mean, if we’re going to find out what to do next…” She drifted off…
Mercy raised her eyebrows. As if on cue, Martha’s eyes widened and she knew what mercy was thinking. “Queen Tizrah!” they said Together with gusto. The paintings depicting Queen Tizrah with the necklace came flooding back to their minds.
“Maybe she left some kind of instruction on what is to be done with the Patternstone,” said Mercy. “And Miriam may know much more about it, and Queen Lydia,” she continued, thinking aloud.
“And a good Queen she is too,” said the nurse who had just come in again. “She and the King personally came and watched over you while you were sleeping.”
The woman put towels and garments on racks for them. “My name is Phoebe. Ring that bell if you need anything else,” said the nurse.
They returned back to their room and their undergarments and found that Labesh had laid out dresses for Sunday worship. They were pretty, yet not so richly adorned. Linen blouses with light brown skirts. The color was in the shawls. The girls got to pick a shawl that fit a color scheme they wanted. Some were tans and browns and others were blues and greens, but nothing too day glo.
Before she got dressed, Martha had to ring the Bell. She wanted to understand why she had not laid out the sky blue dress. “Begging your pardon Ma’am, they…” Martha was embarrassed to continue. It was one of those moments when you wish you hadn’t started saying something. “Well they—they’re not as ornate as the dresses in the Palace.”
“The rich and the poor worship together, Miss,” Labesh answered with a smile. “On Sundays, we don’t dress to flaunt wealth or position. With the King’s blessing, nobles in the city give Sunday clothes to anyone who needs them. This way, no one stays away from worship because they feel inferior about clothing.”
“What a great idea,” said Mercy.
“Does away with lots of gossip, too, I can tell you!” It takes a fine King to see these kinds of things, but what a difference it makes! Why, Queen Lydia herself comes to worship without her royal attire. She and the King actually remove their crowns at the door of the Cathedral every Sunday morning. By this they are showing us citizens that our wealth or position is laid aside in the house of God.”
“Do they sit up front?” asked Mercy.
“They sit in different places, Missy,” Labesh answered, holding up a shawl meaningfully. “He does keep a retinue of guards wherever he goes, but he’s always shaking hands with everyone.”
“But when does the Queen put her crown back on? I mean…”
“…puts it back on when she heads for the feast at the Palace. You’ll see. King Titus is always thinking of ways to help the church. Of course, some of the rich still flaunt a bit too much, and occasionally some of the poor are overlooked for a few weeks.”
“So the clothing reflects your station except on Sundays?”
“Yes,” said Labesh as she tucked in Martha’s blouse. “The King said to keep the necklace hidden. We don’t want to call attention to you during the service. Just try your best to sing and listen. May I have a peep?”
As they looked at the necklace, the six smaller gems reminded Martha that the Adelphia stone was now in the floor of the Cathedral. The Patternstone was not humming, or blinding or showing movies. It was as if it was sleeping completely.
“And to think that was in the dressing chambers all that time…” Labesh mused.
Martha put the necklace carefully in the black bag pouch to be worn on the inside. Sunday dresses in place, the three went out to the foyer. Phoebe had laid out some kind of delicious croissant’s which they heartily devoured. Martha noticed that she too was dressed with the simple skirt and shawl combination. Malachi had been given simple britches with suspenders over a linen tunic.
He was accompanied by Duman.
“I will act as your guard today, by your leave ladies,” said Duman. “I’m sorry, but Scrapper is not allowed in the Cathedral during worship service,” he said, anticipating their question. “If everyone bought brought their dogs, soon they would bring their geese and sheep as well,” he laughed.
“Shall we go to church?” he said.
As they walked back through the Open Door, the sound of singing was robust. It resounded with a warmth–kind of like chocolate cake coming out of the oven only, for your ears. Duman escorted them to the back of the crowd. They were glad not to attract attention. The people were happily focused on singing.
When they got to the balcony, Duman whispered to Martha, “you see! You did it, young missy! All the gargoyles are back on the gutter spouts where they belong!”
“Do we just leave the Adelphia stone in the floor?” she asked.
“Yes,” said Duman. “I’ll explain later.”
He handed Martha the book of Psalms. The warmth of the hundreds of voices joining together was a wonderful sensation. Mercy had caught on to many of the words by now. Soon the girls were entering in with gusto. Martha looked over at Malachi who couldn’t read very well yet. He smiled at her and sang the refrains.
When the singing stopped, Martha looked up from her Psalter. She couldn’t believe the beauty of what she saw at the center of the floor. The Adelphia stone picked up so many hues and colors in the center of the floor that it looked like a tiny rainbow. A table had been placed near the center of the floor mosaic now. It’s satin tablecloth reflected the rainbow colors of the Adelphia stone which in turn reflected sunlight streaming in through the stained-glass. Small particles in the air seemed to dance with color.
Shepherd Amos led them in robust scripture responses. He would call out, and the congregation would respond warmly.
Martha noticed the benches along the side of the center mosaic where mothers and the elderly parked themselves. She noticed that children tended to stand in front where they could see. During many parts of the service, there was a very low murmur as little children were being carefully led back and forth to the restrooms. The little ones had curly hair and piggy tails
The floor of this Cathedral was not completely flat like the ones she remembered from earth. Rather, it stepped up slightly around the columns so that more people could see. Shepherd Amos’s voice resounded.
Eventually, Martha did find the King and Queen among the crowd. She noticed a few extra guards near them. But they were trying to be unnoticed. The message they were sending was clear: this was God’s special time.
The children looked for allusions to the Patternstone and what it meant. During the prayer, Shepherd Amos thanked God for bringing deliverance to Adelphia and beautifying the Cathedral by setting the gargoyles free. As Shepherd Amos said the prayer, they realized that their normal Christian prayer also worked in Highpattern. They realized that God was still God no matter what other world you found yourself in.