Chapter 7: At the covenant

What ever you do write it and a what date you do it, but not before Monday the 4th of April.

Probably right after the council meeting, just before he starts to prepare for the journey to Kolberg, Petrulus walks down to the village and visits the church to say his prayers, and before returning he stops at Father Gerald's home. There he introduces himself to the priest and asks him to write down a more detailed report on the problematic teachings he has encountered. He assures him that he will look into this when he comes back. Probably Gerald won't trust this promise completely because of Petrulus' Gift, but at least he seems to react to the priest's complaints, so that it might seem reasonable for our parish priest to do as told.

When Petrulus visit the good father’s house his call on the door are answered by one of father Gerald’s two housekeepers. He is showed into the study of father Gerald where his sits and seem to be writing on a letter. Father Gerald rise to meet Petrulus and ask him to sit. He listens to what Petrulus has to say and replies swiftly.

I have noticed a few things that are strange, not that I can give a good list of complains. But there are strange things going on there. Some of the students have been asking him questions about the scripture and I have answered them. For questions from young men and women (teenagers with a modern word) they have a great deal of theological insight. And worst they have made it into some sport of trying to question and question and I think that they are trying to make a fool out of me. It seems like they are holding some sort of almost like a disputatio. They present some really strange arguments but don’t seem believe in them self. And if they fool me to contradict myself they point it out. I have to say that I have not been the most diligent of student’s when I studied to become a priest so… I fear that their childish game both could make me look like fool and spread some strange ideas…

But I have yet to tell you about the worst. Father Gerald pause for a moment. Erich the guard captain is behaving strange and his daughter still stranger. After he lost his wife he have not take on a new one, despite his age. It can’t be healthy but also he seems to raise his daughter in the most strange ways. She is also attending the Latin school, education can’t really be good for a young girl. But more than that I have seen him with her on the training grounds, with the militia. As if he is raising her to follow in his footsteps. A woman guard can you imagine… Who would want to marry her? You know I have seen her best some of the lads of her age in this mock fights they arrange to train the militia. Well now I have spoken. I fear for the village, so many strange things going on here.

I take the seat offered to me, put on a friendly smile and start to reply.

"Well, a man confessing his shortcomings is a man who shows humility, which is pleasing to God, and if he even strives to better himself, this will do him great honour in the eyes of the Lord, isn't this true, father? In spite of having spent various years of my youth in a monastery of the Benedictine Order, I fear that my theological as well as philosophical education is also incomplete, and I plan to do something about this, for I fear that my magical Gift is a special challenge put into my live, and in order to prove my worthiness and gain a place in Paradise, I have to find a way to use it in accordance with His will, and therefore I need more understanding. If I have got these writings I will gladly borrow them to you, so that you might redeem yourself by compensating for the failures of your youth. But this, of course, is a long-term solution. We have to find a way, to ensure your authority among the villagers and thereby the authority of the church. Therefore I wonder, why our teacher is putting dangerous ideas into the youngsters' heads. Perhaps - and that is what I hope for - my sodales just enlisted some brilliant guy fresh from his university studies, who just has no understanding of the fact that he has to be careful when teaching beginners. University students often engage in theoretical disputationes just for the fun of it, and for them it might be a good exercise to build up arguments for any case, whether they believe in it or not. Being able to do so helps in recognizing purely rhetorical attacks, and every now and then such arguments - may it be by chance or be Divine intervention - further our understanding of God's will and creation. But these young people here, they are not yet secure in their faith. Presenting them with this kind of teaching is dangerous and breeds the vice of pride in them. So, if it really is just a teacher who misinterpreted his duties, a long conversation might already bring a solution."

At this point, Petrulus gets up and, obviously agitated, starts to wander through the room, thereby talking about the more threatening possibilities (see below). While doing this he tries to get a look on father Gerald's half finished letter and to find out, what it is basically about - without anybody else realizing this.

"Of course, there might be something more sinister behind all this. Perhaps my sodales - in good faith - hired a man, who is a condamned heretic or - worse - a servant of the adversary, who hides among us and spreads his dangerous teachings consciously among our young people. To make sure what is the case, we need to learn more about the stuff he actually teaches. Well, one of my sodales has volunteered to have at least a look into the lessons. She might have the wrong priorities, as she is mainly concerned with any direct threat to the covenant's stability, but her reports still can be useful. I will surely start my research, after I am back. But in the meantime, you could perhaps do your own part. You should visit the teacher privately, just as one learned man of the cloth visits another one. You might point out the problems caused by his teachings just as you have spotted them. Then you ask him for the curriculum he uses. By all this you should at least get one of two effects. Either, he reacts shocked and promises to revise his teaching methods, which would just indicate that our problem is not all that serious and might already be the solution to it, or he is tempted to present you with his teachings. If his students are already able to challenge you, we can safely assume that the teachers' learning surpasses your own, and no heretic or servant of hell will pass the chance to lead a parish priest onto his path. So he will at least drop hints of his true agenda, and if you seem interested, he might even go a bit further. The problem is that you have to go close to that temptation without succumbing to it. So you have to be steadfast and ask for Gods help in this, and you mustn't go further than you feel save to. I council not to mention that you have already reported to us, because tat would just put the man on guard. When we are back, we will see, what can be done. This covenant's council has changed. At least Mariella and Riccardo seem to be good Christians, and we feel responsible for our subjects' spititual wellbeing. This might even result in rethinking about some earlier decisions."

Petrulus calms down, as he approaches the final subject.

"Anyway, you were also talking about Captain Erich and his daughter. Hm, I will look into this, too, sure, but I can't promise you anything beyond that before I have done so. Some men have strong desires, others don't have problems with a celibate and chaste life at all. If Erich loved his wife so strongly that his love to her still fills his heart, it would be unfair of him to marry a woman, who can't hold a real place in his heart. And the girl's education - well, basically I think that learning her letters can't hurt anybody and - given that the right writings are provided - might further a person's piety and counter any superstitions. Of course, there are Paulus' admonishings, and so that girl will also have to learn her place, but with the right guidance, I doubt that any harm will come from her visiting the school, at least not, after we have taken care of the curriculum. And as for her learning, how to fight. Sure, that wouldn't be appropriate for a young woman in a civilized area, but here? It is a rough country, heathens and monsters in close vicinity. Perhaps a girl should be able to guard her honour and a mother to protect her children. - I am really not sure, but I will ponder this for a while. Perhaps, again, you should directly talk with the Captain, he might be in need of spiritual support. But I promise, after having solved our more urgent problems, I will at least have a look into this, too.

Ah, father, just one thing, before I leave: It would probably be wise, to delay any reports to your superiors within the church, until we have finished our own attempts to solve this. Reporting the situation as it is now would just shed a unpleasant light on you, who would be considered as incompetent in solving a simple problem, and it would attract attention on this settling, probably unwanted by some of my sodales. This in turn would make it more difficult for me to convince them to vote for the necessary measures.

Well, then. I wish you good luck for those impending discussions, and hope to see you again in about two weeks. Oh, and please include my sodales, our men at arms and me in your prayers. We are about to undertake a dagerous mission to help our neightbours, and God's blessing would be most welcome. Good Night, father."

If that letter contains anything I consider as really threatening (e.g. a plea for help to the bishop or the Knights of the Sword), I might have to do something more direct than that final general warning.

edit: Writing stuff in the middle of the night leads to more than strange spelling. I corrected the most blatant errors and hope that now I am more comprehensible.

Don’t worry about blatant spelling errors. I am both Swedish and a teacher. The first one make make English a second language to me, thus I suspect that my own grammar and spelling leaves a bit to be desired about and the second make me used to both misspelled words and half-baked sentence as well as some really interesting versions about something regarding (a lot different than those I try to teach) either history or civics (think that is the term for my other subject that I teach in).

The letter at his desk seems to be a draft for a sermon. It seem like the man has been frustrated and not been able to get a preaching put down on a paper.

Before Petrulus leaves the father promise to speak with them both to see what he can do about the state of things.

Hm, seems we have some similarities here, English not as first language (mine is German), and the occupation (teacher for history and philosophy in my case). Don't worry, I won't go through every single one of my words a hundred times until I am completely sure that they are free of mistakes. But when I reread something I wrote and happen to spot things I prefer to correct them (personality flaw 'perfectionism', but only a minor version). If we start to become incomprehensible, I hope the native English speakers inform us, but up to now I got the impression that we understood each other quite well.

So, Petrulus feels relieved for the time being, hopes that Tatiana will look into the school's affairs while he is absent and goes back to his preparations. The situation seems serious enough to need further involvment from his side, but there doesn't seem to be a reason to hurry. If things have come this far, the problem can't be solved just by a few days' work anyway. Something has to be done about the school, and perhaps the silversmith needs closer srutiny, too, but most certainly we will have to do something about father Gerald's qualifications! If all turns out well, the good father might become another useful connection and hopefully a better priest. Anyway, all that is not in the immediate future; I'll leave this thread until we are back from Kolberg.

They are all related languages, with similar vocbulary roots and syntax. The grammar structure is different, and I often catch Max using some strange word combitnations or slightly wrong words (he tends to use "where" when he actually means "when"). But it is always close enough so that it is easy to "decode" the meaning. The beauty of English is that a sentence can be totally mangled and still convey its meaning effectively. Native speakers mangle the language all the time :smiley:. I am not pedantic, so I never bother correcting people. If I can understand what they are saying, it is good enough for gaming.