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Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

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Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Guest on Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:13 am

Father O'Dwyer had trotted back along the road to Coimbra, grateful that they had not gone very far. There were still soldiers leaving, some of whom saluted him, formally or informally depending on their mood. Others took no notice of another blackclad priest riding towards a city renowned for its monasteries, churches and convents, as well as the University. He knew exactly who to ask - but whether he found the answer quickly would depend on why the young woman had stayed in Coimbra. If she had gone with another man, or even stayed with one, then it would take a long time for news of her to work its way through to the people he would talk to - another immoral English woman would cause little talk, especially as she was not even a Catholic. But if she had sought help of any kind, then someone, probably, would know about it already, and with luck ... He entered the city, passing through the gate in the space between two red-coated battalions and made his way to the Cathedral.

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  sans nom on Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:37 am

People nodded or smiled at him as they came and went from the cathedral - men and women going to prayers or confession, choir boys who immediately ceased their rowdy behaviour when they noticed him, beggars hoping for some pious charity.

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Guest on Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:54 am

After a short stay in the cathedral, where he spoke to one of the canons, he came out, remounted Patience and went to the University, where Father Moro made him welcome with fruit and coffee, a welcome breakfast for Father O'Dwyer. Moro nodded thoughtfully as the Irish priest put his problem before him. "We shall see, Dominic. If you are right, there will be news - not gossip, of course, because of the confessional...."

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Guest on Sun Mar 29, 2009 2:17 am

It was a couple of hours after noon before one of Father Moro's students came hesitantly into the room. The students had been sent out around the city, to ask about English women - enquiries which would give a couple of them reputations they would find difficult to live down. But only one met the conditions set down - a young woman who appeared for the first time this morning.

"She arrived at the hospital run by the sisters from Santa Clara," the young man said. "She was seeking treatment and protection, I think. They took her in, because they were so distressed. I could find out no more. Not even her name."

Father O'Dwyer stood up. "Even if she is not the one I seek.... I must go. If I am to be back with my own flock before nightfall there is little time to lose, and ... If she is hurt, the poor Clares will care for her, until she is better. Thank you for your time and trouble taken for this poor woman."

The hospital was in Coimbra, not in the convent itself, a mile south of the city, and Father O'Dwyer claiming with complete truth to have come on behalf of the woman's friends with the army, gained access to her, although a determined sister of the order insisted on accompanying him to the girl's room.

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Maggie Cotton on Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:01 am

[Continued from here]

Maggie had finally fallen asleep, deep asleep by the time he arrived. Jenny too was asleep in the corner, having abandoned the chair in favor of the floor.


Last edited by Maggie Evans on Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:54 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added link)

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:19 am

"That is the woman who calls herself 'Eaven " the sister said. She had a rudimentary grasp of English, and had spoken to the women when they came in. She leaned forward and touched the English woman on the arm. "Miss 'Eaven, 'ere is priest for thee."

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Maggie Cotton on Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:26 am

Maggie jumped awake at the touch and looked around confused, startled. Jenny had awakened too, and they both blinked at the newcomer. A priest. They sent priests to the dying, didn't they? But Maggie knew she wasn't dying, even though she might wish that she was. Maybe they wanted her to make a confession. That's what they did, wasn't it? Tell the priest about your sins? She clutched the blankets to herself and looked up at him guiltily. "Hello," she said, unable remember any of her small Portuguese vocabulary. Jenny stood up and folded her hands primly.

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:39 am

"Miss Evans," Father O'Dwyer said in his gentle Irish voice. "I am Dominic O'Dwyer - I travel with the 5th of Foot, usually... So you will not know me, but your friends are concerned about you."

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Maggie Cotton on Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:57 am

She gave a faint smile of relief when she heard his pleasant accent. One of her own people, then, or close enough. The mention of her friends, however, caused her to sink uneasily. She looked at the blanket, studying its weave while she tried to think of something to say.

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Jenny Ross on Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:57 am

Jenny spoke up for her. "She was hurt. Attacked. Last night." She looked at Maggie to make sure her explanation was satisfactory.

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:06 am

"That is terrible, of course, and Miss Evans will receive excellent treatment from the sisters. But ..." Father O'Dwyer kept his eyes fixed on the woman in the bed. "Would it not have been kinder to have explained that in your letter. The young man is much distressed, I understand, because he does not know why you have decided to leave him."

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Maggie Cotton on Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:12 am

Maggie's eyes were filled with tears. "I couldn't. I just couldn't," she whispered. "I can't go back with everyone knowing. I never meant to be out on my own. I never go out on my own at dark late hours, never, not like that. I never go out to... walk the streets. Never, I swear. I don't!" She began crying, and Jenny wrapped her arms around her. "I love Gabe! I'm not - I never did it on purpose, sir, never! I'm sorry! I'm sorry."

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Jenny Ross on Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:14 am

While Jenny held her friend, she looked up at Father O'Dwyer and explained simply. "If she goes back, they will call her a whore. It was never her fault, but that's what they will say."

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:27 am

Father O'Dwyer looked from one woman to the other. "Well now, and does not your young man deserve to know the truth about what happened? Do you think that this - desertion, for it is nothing less - will make the parting easier for him? Do you trust him so little? As I see it, he is hurting now, and will go on hurting until he knows why you left him."

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Maggie Cotton on Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:40 am

Maggie looked up at him tearfully and then back down at her lap. "This would hurt him more. He would never... He wouldn't... He might forgive me, but he would never..." She closed her eyes and sighed heavily for the weight on her heart. She would never be able to bear it. Never. Surely it was better for herself and for Gabriel if she just disappeared, forever. Her brow was sore from frowning and weeping, and as she rubbed at it she forgot about the bruise on her cheek until she scraped against the bloody scratch. What must she look like? Thank God that Cotton could not see her now.

He had mentioned the letter. She looked up suddenly with a new thought. "Did he send you? How did he know I was here? What did he say to you?"

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:54 am

"Is that not for him to choose? I do not know - unless you tell me - what it is that troubles you..." Though he could guess... "I did not speak to him, but to a friend of his and the Captain of his company - Captain Vickery. Both were concerned for him, and for you. I said I would make enquiries in Coimbra - and it was not hard for me to find the Englishwoman who turned up seeking sanctuary in the middle of the night."

Father O'Dwyer leaned forward. "The truth might hurt your young man, but it cannot hurt more than his own imaginings. Is he to blame for what happened?"

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Maggie Cotton on Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:05 am

"No," she cried, shaking her head. "No. Poor Gabe." She felt wretched. Truly heartsick, as if her heart might vomit its contents out onto the floor, if only it could. "Please don't ask me."

Jenny looked at her sympathetically but could not give her an answer. "You decide, Maggie. I'll stay with you and help you, whatever you want to do."

Maggie looked back at the priest, full of sadness. "Please tell him that... I'm so sorry. For what happened. You can tell him what happened, and tell him that I'm so, so sorry," she finished, holding back a sob and trying to regain some composure, imagining how this holy man must view her, the lowest of "unfortunates."

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:24 am

"I shall tell him whatever you want me to tell him - provided it's the truth, of course. Or you may tell me, and I will not tell him. But if it is not his fault, why do you punish him?"

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Jenny Ross on Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:38 am

Maggie's face crumpled and she turned her head towards the wall.

"She's not punishing him," Jenny said in a low and defensive growl which earned her a sharp look from Sister Teresa. "She's preserving herself from his... disapproval." She said the last in a whisper and looked down with a sigh, regretting her outburst. The man was a priest, after all. But he was still a man, and men were all much the same. They sided together.

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:01 am

"Do you think he will think better of her, for walking out in the middle of the night, leaving her things behind, without explanation?" Father O'Dwyer turned back to Maggie. "Miss Evans. What do you want me to tell Rifleman Cotton?"

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Maggie Cotton on Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:09 am

Maggie hung her head. "Tell him whatever you think is the best. Tell him the truth, if you have to. Only - " She looked up at him earnestly. "Be sure to please tell him I'm sorry, I'm really truly so sorry."

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:12 am

"What is the truth, Miss Evans?"

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Maggie Cotton on Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:16 am

Maggie looked at him with dismayed horror. Was she going to have to explain it step by terrifying step? Again? To a man this time? She looked at Sister Teresa entreatingly.

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Jenny Ross on Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:20 am

"She was attacked," Jenny repeated in a vehement whisper. "By a man, in the night. In an alley. It was a soldier, an English soldier. What else do you have to know?"

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Re: Coimbra - Looking for Maggie Evans

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:46 am

Father O'Dwyer looked at the woman's face - it was bruised. Almost certainly 'attacked' was a euphemism, and the other woman's statement and Evans' earlier remarks did raise the question of what she had been doing. "That is a terrible thing to happen to you, of course, and the man responsible should be brought to account. But it is foolish of you to think that hiding away like this will make things better - neither for you nor for Rifleman Cotton."

He paused for a moment, then said: "But you do not know me, and I do not know you or your man, so why should you trust me? I should have given you this earlier." He produced the letter from Captain Vickery.

[OOC - yes, I forgot I had the letters, and I don't know what they say....]

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