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out of darkness, light

Jacey "Digger" Brown had several A4 prints spread out in the bar, and the landlord came over to look at them. Mike had found a story in an old issue of the county magazine about naughty goings-on at the priory, which mentioned Aubrey's history of the area. Jacey had traced the book and found the original reference, then driven out to photograph the ruins, with the intention of helping Mike make another story-board for public bar of The Bell. A very expensive enlargement of an engraving from the book was next to three shots Jacey had taken earlier that day, from the same angle.

"You know the apparition in the chapel those foreign weavers use?"

"The Virgin, aye, it's all around town, She appeared to Lady Hall."

"Well it wasn't really the Virgin. I had the details from Genet, from the big house, and Parson can think what he wants, but it's just what Great Aunt Mary told me. The Bright One has come back."

"Well, why to Lady Hall and why in the foreign chapel?"

"I think It's a sign that it's safe to come into the open, a little, at least. I'm going to go along to their next service, if they'll let me."

It didn't really matter to Mike whether the goings-on were true or not. Tales of tunnels giving clandestine access to monasteries and nunneries abounded, but this one was local and would make a partner-piece to the board about Templar Knights having survived in hiding in the area. It was Paul, Jacey's husband, who found another reference, an apparition of the Virgin Mary and a miraculous chalice. The chalice rang a bell and Paul, never one to give up on something like this, spent two weekends in the county archive and the museum. Jacey's anger was, for the most part, feigned.

"It was a beautiful service, even if I didn't understand a word of it."

"We don't understand what our Parson is saying either. But you're right. And I think it's time for another miracle. Your man's handy with a spade, isn't he?"

"You mean, to get the box?"

"I'm taking Her return as a sign that it's right. We'll keep the rest hidden, but I think young Rose, out pannaging the pigs, might find the chalice tomorrow. She'll have no trouble believing it's to with the Virgin's appearance."

Paul managed to connect the chantry at the priory with some Flemish weavers who'd fled the religious wars and been allowed to worship in their own language. Once the Virgin had appeared, the services became oddly popular with the local workers as well. This didn't seem logical, but he figured that apparitions do funny things to people. He'd found the town the weavers had come from and discovered a juicy morsel that they'd fled after a woman had been buried alive in the main square - for reading the Bible in Flemish.

"I met the foreign parson in the ale-house after the service, and he translated one of the readings for me. It'd from what he calls the Song of Songs. I can only remember a bit, but listen... 'My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. I rose up to open to my beloved...' He says it's about Christ's love for the church."

"He can say what he likes, that's the Bright One. Isn't it good to have the wine from Her chalice every week rather than sneaking out into the woods once a year. My man enjoyed the service today, and maybe next week, if it's fine, we could go for a walk in the woods afterwards. Now that we're fine, upstanding members of the church, no-one can complain if we go out afterwards"

"They'll not complain about the walk. Though they might have something to say about what follows."

In researching the chalice, Paul found a little leather-bound book catalogued as a "Paternoster", dating from the same period, in the museum's reserve collection. It had taken several attempts to arrange to see it, but when he did, he sat there and copied the entire thing out in pencil. A conventional Paternoster would have pictures and prayers that you could concentrate on during the long boring Latin bits that you didn't understand, gaining time off from purgatory by doing so. This one wasn't like that. When he got to 'Then, full to the brim with love, if She is suddenly stirred up, She will overflow and flood immediately, losing Herself completely.' he realised that it wasn't remorely conventional. Jacey commented that if this was the weavers' prayer-book then the 'goings-on' must have been great fun. Paul pointed out that the Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes were also pretty close to the knuckle but stood for love of the church. Jacey just laughed.

"I told the foreign parson one of our stories of the Bright One and he was fascinated. Said it fits in with a lot of the stuff they use. I told him there was more and he's going to make them into rhymes, like the ones they use in service."

"Was that wise? People have been hanged for that kind of thing."

"He says that where they come from, people get burned instead. But I told the story about Our Lady of Miracles, where she appears to her Lord at the Church and..."

"The Bright One meets her consort and they walk together to the woods and they pass through the gate of ecstasy into the secret realm?"

"Aye, the same, only as I told it they stay in the little chapel together receiving wonderful blessings. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with it."

"So, are you coming up to the woods to enter the secret realm, then?"

"Can't miss the best part of the worship, can we?"

Mike loved the 'Paternoster' text and selected a couple of erotic, but not totally pornographic, paragraphs, and some woodcuts of naked couples from the period to use as lead-ins for them. The story-board looked rather fine and was attracting a lot of interest. Jacey was of the opinion that these things weren't metaphor, and was trying to persuade Paul to come out to the ruins and make love one fine moonlit night. Paul was at least considering the idea.

"Listen to this... 'Come to me fully as a man and embrace me, for your love plunges into my deep abyss and raises me up into eternity'"

"He's certainly got a way with words, has the foreign parson. The Bright One and Her consort..."

"No, it's Our Lady of Miracles. Or so he thinks."

"Do you think they know the Bright One where he comes from?"

"I shouldn't be at all surprised."

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