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And All Before Breakfast.
What a pity
The early morning sunrise was a stunning mix of red and pale yellow, which gently hovered over the trees on the horizon. Brother James shivered as he stood in the courtyard of the monastery, the chill in the air didn’t reflect the promise of the glorious day ahead. Putting on his coarse robe, glad to feel the comforting warmth against his body after the cold shower, he admired the panorama before him, appreciating every hill and hollow in sight.
Brother James was always assumed to be a simple character, but in fact he had a devious mind; a mind which would allow nothing or no one to interrupt his desires and dreams. He had often been referred to as deceitful, but only in his endeavours to keep the manuscripts safe, a hard and astounding testament to his faith.
Brother James’s robe swung from side to side as he walked through the stone faced passage ways of the monastery. The dust caused by his open toe sandals, sweeping ahead of his footsteps only to disappear as he approached the chapel door. He stood for a moment listening to the lament of the prayers being spoken inside; he could hear the familiar chants from his fellow brothers and whispered to himself, “If only they knew.”
As he turned away from the chapel door, in favour of entering the library this morning, he could smell the familiar aroma of the parchments resting in rolls on the nearby tables. His outstretched his hand and traced the parchment paper with his fingertips. As he stood in mesmerised silence, listening, waiting, he knew the time was approaching. He marvelled at the scripts that had been written and translated. A whole world full of knowledge was laid open before him. It was priceless.
Brother James knew that his fellow brothers would be attending breakfast now, fresh fruit picked from the garden and oven baked bread, still warm and soft. During the past year he had planned his attack down to the very last tiny detail. He recalled the hours he had spent re-writing the scripts and carefully storing them under the font in the chapel. Many months of squinting by candle light until his eyes became red and swollen. The tiredness had made him abandon his fellow brothers, as he often found time to sleep during the day, frequently missing prayers and his nominated tasks in the garden.
Only Brother John, Brother James biological twin brother, understood that this task had to be done. Together they were united, adamant in the knowledge that only they shared; two brothers’ in arms, defiant to the bitter end.
Brother James was greatly saddened by his decision. The monastery was a majestic place. Soft cream coloured bricks complemented by the dark grey of the mud and grass that kept them together. The Brothers had lived in the monastery for generations. Many brothers came in search of solitude, whilst others, scholars of their time, came to teach and write. There was secrecy within the walls of this historic building, a secret society of scribes, editors and readers, who shared their knowledge freely, hoping beyond hope to keep the scripts alive forever.
Brother John approached the desk in the centre of the library, stopping only momentarily to nod in the direction of Brother James; Brother John carefully placed his armful of dry branches and grass under the table, whist Brother James struck the two pieces of flint together to ignite a spark onto the brash.
The fire was slow to start initially, but once the brash was fully alight, it was no time at all before the dancing deep red flames began to glow hot. Both brothers hastily fuelled the fire with the library’s contents of books and parchments taking care that their robes didn’t ignite from the flames. Brother John signalled, with a satisfied nod of his head to Brother James that the task in hand was a success, and that they had best escape to chapel before they were caught. But it was too late, as the rising flames shot out of the window and alerted their fellow Brothers to the tragedy taking place.
Covered in soot, Brother John ran to the well beyond the vegetable garden and praying that he had not been seen leaving the library, he started to run with wooden buckets of water to put out the fire. He was soon followed by other Brothers anxious to stem damage to the scripts. The roof timbers cracked and split as the fire consumed the life out of them, leaving them black and chard until they fell into the courtyard below. The air was tainted with acrid fumes which made the Brothers choke, and gasp for breath. Slowly the fire roared through the monastery, except for the chapel which remained untouched, as it stood alone at the far end of the monastery.
The fire had got completely out of hand and the damage to the beautiful historic building was devastating; only Brother James and Brother John looked on with calm spirit as they knew that they had thwarted Brother Roman’s plans, and with the grace of God, the scripts would live on.
Brother John had observed Brother Roman, the longest living member of the scribes during the past year. He had accidentally stumbled on Brother Roman sitting alone in the chapel head bowed in prayer. It was obvious from Brother Roman’s ramblings that he intended to steal the scripts, claiming them to be all his own work, thus falsifying the knowledge within them.
Brother James reflected in the crisp night air, what had really been spared? Not the monastery, but many of its priceless documents, and a group of brothers prepared to start again, but more so Brother Roman’s aspirations of fame lay in the smouldering remains of the bricks and timber, and his insanity would never be discovered.