The early morning sky danced with radiant hues of pinks and purples as the sun rose
The early morning sky danced with radiant hues of pinks and purples as the sun rose over the cathedral in Canterbury England. The cold days of winter were looming in the icicles that hung from the leafless trees near the cloisters. A pilgrimage of people were making their way up the dirt road that lead to the cathedral. Some had traveled hundreds of miles to pay tribute to the Saint that had payed the ultimate price for his beliefs hundreds of years before. A young child around the age of three clung to his mother’s back. His blonde hair curled in the front over his hazel eyes which caught the attention of a monk standing near the entrance to the naive. The monk smiled at the young boy and touched his curls as he passed by. The youngster, being shy, buried his face in the safety of his mothers shoulder. The monk blessed the mother and child with some holy water and then asked what the child’s name was. The boy’s mother looked up at the monk through weather beaten eyes and said in a soft voice,
“Edward, after his father.”
The monk marked a cross on the boy’s forehead, this time Edward smiled at the monk and told him that one day he would like to be a knight. The monk smiled back and whispered in to his ear. Edward’s mother thanked the monk and continued on down the long aisle of the naive.
Edward sat, transfixed, on his mother’s shoulders looking at the light streaming through the stained glass. As if touched by God, the picture of Adam digging in the ground under the tree of knowledge seemed to come alive as the light from the sun filtered through it.
Edward’s mother sat at a bench and told him the story of Archbishop Thomas Becket, and they shared a loaf of heavy rye bread and water. His mother laid her head down on the bench and Edward snuggled up against her warm body.
In the morning Edward awoke, shivering, his mothers body was no longer warm. He sat up and put his little hand on her face; it was ice cold. Edward began to cry, and then scream, for his mother to wake up but she didn’t. The monk from the day before noticed Edward crying over his mother and went over to his side. The monk checked his mother and called another over to help. The monk picked Edward up in to his arms, the rough brown material made Edward cry even harder though. The monk whispered into Edwards ear again,
“Remember what I said to you yesterday Edward, that’s all you need to know. Your mother is safe now in God’s hands and I am here to take care of you.”
The monk’s warm voice seemed to calm Edward and he drifted off to sleep.
The next five years went by quickly, and Edward had grown tall and strong. The monks had taken him in after his mothers death, and had clothed and fed him, even allowing him to sleep in the dorm with them. The monk that helped him that first day at the cathedral went by the name of Brother Philip. Brother Philip acted both as a teacher and a mentor to Edward. Over the years their bond had grown in to one of father and son, and Edward was given every right to the cathedral as Philip had. One morning Edward was playing with the other children near the river, when a young girl about his age tripped over the root of an old oak tree and fell into the deep water. Without thinking, Edward dove into the river, and felt along it’s bottom for the girl. The river didn’t seem to want to give up it’s hold on the girl, when on the third dive under he felt a hand reach out and grab his. Edward pulled her to the top, her skin pale and lips blue. He swam her over to the shore, and by this time the other children had gotten some of the townspeople to help. Edward laid her on the bank of the river and she began coughing. One of the men took his cloak off and gave it to the girl to warm her up, another man made a fire for Edward to get warm by. After a while the girl spoke to Edward.
“Thank you for saving my life. My name is Katherine.”
Katherine had grown up in an affluential family from town. Her father had been made sheriff, and her mother sold wool at the fairs that took place in and around town. It wasn’t ordinary for a young girl of Katherine’s wealth to be found playing with the orphaned children of the cathedral. However, Katherine broke all the rules when it came to being told what and when to do things. She believed the children from the cathedral had more fun playing, anyway. Katherine pulled her fingers through her tangled blonde hair, trying to straighten it out. Edward looked in to her eyes, and they seemed to remind him of the day he first saw the stained glass of the cathedral, her blue eyes alive and bursting with light. As he smiled at Katherine, her pale face turned red and the color rushed back into her lips. Katherine turned to see her father walking towards them.
“What have I told you about playing with these little scoundrels? You’re better than this!” He said, then picked her up in one scoop and threw her over his shoulder, going just as quickly as he came.
Sitting deep in thought, Edward sat near the fire until the coals burnt out and the sun began setting over the hills. He walked back to the cathedral in darkness and into a heated argument between Philip and the Prior.
The Prior didn’t much like Edward, he took the attention of the monks from prayer. Edward was hyper as a youth and study was not one of his strong suits, especially being quiet during the many services the cathedral ran throughout the day. The Prior, on many occasions, tried to adopt Edward to families in town without success. Philip wanted Edward to stay in the cathedral, and to one day become a monk as he had.
“I have found a good family for Edward, they live on the outskirts of town and own land. They need a boy like Edward to help with the farming activities. The family is relation to the Earl, he will grow up well fed and taken care of.” Edward heard the Prior say to Philip.
“I don’t have any say in this matter?” Philip asked, crossing his arms under his robe.
“No, not this one.” The Prior said.
Philip saw Edward out of the corner of his eye, but it was too late. Edward turned and ran out of the cloisters while Philip shouted after him.
Katherine’s dress was still wet, and hung heavily over her body by the time her father had carried her through the front door of their house. He sat her down in front of the fire and instructed her to take off the wet garments, then wrapped Katherine in one of her mother’s wool blankets to keep her warm.
“I just don’t want to see you get hurt, you’re still my baby and that’s how I will always remember you.” Katherine’s father explained, he had always been overprotective of her. Before she was born there had been another baby. He was only two years of age when the sickness took him, and her father could still remember the anguish he had felt. The anguish no parent wants or can stand. Her brother had come down with a horrible sickness that sucked the water from his small body. His little mouth sucked at a wet cloth for moisture, but it had been too hard for his soul to bare. After that, Katherine’s father changed in a way that he could never come back from. He loved Katherine but was scared to ever love something as much as he did his first, for he thought his soul could not take another great loss. Katherine felt special being fussed over like she was by her father, but at times it did seem to get under her skin. Sometimes she even felt resentment toward her deceased brother, as it was because of his death her father would not let her out of his sight. Usually this was short lived, though the guilt that God’s wrath may bring for such thinking would scare her and she would repent. She smiled at her father, and he gave her a bowl of potage (a thick soup made up of grains and mutton), and rubbed her shoulders to warm her even more.
Katherine sat by the fire and thought of Edward. He had jumped in to the river to save her, while the others did nothing but stand there and gawk. She had never really noticed boys before, probably on the account that they always seemed to be dirty and getting into trouble. Edward changed that opinion, he wasn’t dirty looking and didn’t look like a troublemaker to her. His eyes told a story that she longed to know more about. He was mysterious and seemed to move like a fox when they played in the forest. Edward always made sure things were safe before letting the others play. Like the time the river had frozen over, he had first used a stick to check the thickness before stepping out onto it. Only after checking for thin spots would he call the other children over to play on the ice. He was always the first to climb a new tree or venture into a cave. Nothing seemed to scare Edward, and this made Katherine and the others feel safe.
Philip found Edward sitting under the cloister looking out at the grass courtyard.
“The intricate tracery of the vaulting is said to be the characteristic of the late English Gothic style.” Peter said, pointing to the ceiling of the cloister.
“This isn’t the time for a lesson. You let the Prior give me away.” Edward said, pulling the hood of his robe over his head.
Philip could see that Edward was angered by what he had over heard, “Come child you must understand that this is for the best. I have tried to believe with all my heart that the church would be your calling, but I now understand that you’re a free spirit with much more to give the world than being stuck behind the sheltered walls of this cathedral.” He reached his hand out and touched Edwards shoulder.
“I want to stay here with you.” Edward said, and began to cry.
“There there, we don’t always get what we want. This is God’s way of making you strong, even though at times his ways seem harsh. He still loves you. As do I.” Edward lifted his head the tears streamed down his face.