The bell tolled.
“Ah,” Clement said. “Run off, then. Tomorrow.”
And run off Iggy did. He saw Isabel standing outside the smokehouse near the kitchen and called out to her. She stopped, waited.
“Done with lessons, Iggy?” She asked.
“Yes,” Iggy replied. “Where are you going?”
“The kitchen garden. Cook wanted rosemary.”
“I’ll go with you.”
“All right,” Isabel replied, stepping toward the back wall enclosing the priory buildings. A postern door in the wall led to the kitchen garden. Herbs and vegetables were sprouting up now that it was summertime. With nimble steps, the little girl found the correct herbs and bent to pick some. Isabel had grown taller in the three years she had lived at the priory, her body beginning to mature into a young woman’s, and she was quite happy not being at the old house in Routh, away from Eleanor’s nagging voice. Iggy had also grown, sprouted really, Sister Benedicta lamented, as he outgrew his clothes quickly. A head taller than Isabel, Iggy had gangly arms and legs that he couldn’t maneuver gracefully as yet.
“You’re quiet,” Isabel said, tucking the green herbs into her apron. “Thinking about whatever axiom Brother Clement puzzled you with?”
“Of a sort,” Iggy replied distantly. “We were talking about St. Osana.”
“Oh, aye,” Isabel said. “Rose from her coffin to whip the woman, didn’t she?”
“Exactly so,” Iggy nodded. “Do you think she could rise again? To punish?”
Isabel frowned. “’Tis always possible, I suppose. But hasn’t she been dead for centuries now? She hasn’t risen since before the Conquest, right? And only the once?”
Isabel was always good for a logical talking-to.
“Right,” Iggy mumbled. “But you think she could punish? Brother Clement mentioned Limbo as well.”
Isabel sighed, rising, knotting her apron around the rosemary sprigs. “What’s all this theology? Are you going to study and become a monk?”
“What? No! At least, I hadn’t thought of it.” Iggy shook his head, then exhaling, said, “If I tell you a secret, Is, will ya keep it?”
“Course I will. It can’t be that terrible.”
“Pray tell, Iggy.”
Leaning toward her, so close he could feel the heat radiating from her body, Iggy whispered, “I know who my parents are.”
Isabel’s eyes widened. “Who?”
“Brother Clement and Sister Benedicta,” Iggy said. “I’ve known for a few years now. At least about Sister Benedicta.”
“Sister Agnes’ brother Hugh? You’ve seen him in the village.”
“I think so.”
“He told me two winters hence. He’s my first cousin. His mother told him, he said.”
“And his mother is Sister Benedicta’s sister,” Isabel answered. “Oh, Iggy,” she said, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. Iggy stood stiffly, unsure of what to do with the physical contact, for he’d not been embraced much in his as-yet short life.
“How do you know about Brother Clement?”
“Sister Benedicta has lived in this priory most of her life,” he said, beginning to like the feeling of Isabel’s small hands on his back. “And my surname is FitzClement. Plus, do I not resemble Brother Clement a little?”
Isabel pulled away and examined him. “I’ve not seen him much, I’ll confess. Or studied him well. But I suppose you have the general appearance of pale skin and blue eyes and light-colored hair.”
“It’s hard to be a fat monk,” Isabel said. They both laughed. “I’d best return to the kitchen. Cook will be wondering where the rosemary got off to.”
“Yes. Go on.”
“What will you do? Will you tell someone? Perhaps you should confess it Saturday next, if it’s troubling you.”
“Do you think I could be right?” Iggy said, biting his lower lip. “I don’t…I don’t want to bring it up with anyone else. It’s quite a serious…accusation.”
“You’re not accusing anyone, really,” Isabel said, picking her way through the garden. “Everybody has got a mam and a pa somewhere. You think they may be yours is all. Brother Clement is your tutor. Ask him during your lessons, if you must.”
They stepped back into the priory yard.