Prayer Book

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“You should have gone in with Noah,” Kadogan said. “It’s not like you can’t go into a church.”

“I have often attended religious services,” Lady Freydis said. She leant against the churchyard wall and fixed her eyes on the church door.

“It is an extremely pleasant day,” Kadogan said. “You could walk among the graves and perhaps converse with any ghosts.”

“Ghosts are self-indulgent,” Lady Freydis said, keeping well outside the churchyard wall.

“So are you,” Kadogan brushed a dandelion seed off his shirt sleeve.

“So obviously I don’t want to talk to them,” Lady Freydis said. “Are you going to relocate the White Hart?”

“No,” Kadogan said. “Why did you send in Noah alone?”

“Because Mina is inexperienced and naïve and ministers are not always saints,” Lady Freydis said. “Are you going to close the White Hart?”

“No,” Kadogan said. “Some ministers are saints. Any woman would be safe with Darren.”

“Darren is not a saint,” Lady Freydis said. “And he is moving away. And you are talking about moving the White Hart away.”

Kadogan looked at her suspiciously. “What are you asking Noah to do?”

“I need a book,” Lady Freydis said. “And it is owned by that church.”

“Steve suggests opening a second shop away from York,” Kadogan said. “Because it’s hard to find space in York and once the candles are being made, with possible soap, there will be an even greater demand for space.”

“But I couldn’t make coffee away from York,” Lady Freydis said.

Kadogan looked at her with as much compassion as any elfen could manage. “The White Hart in York could never manage without you.” He brushed a stray blossom from her shoulder. “You would be here and the keeper of the coffee machine that you train will be there.” He watched as Lady Freydis relaxed an infinitesimal amount. “Why do you want the book and why can’t you get it.”

Lady Freydis couldn’t meet his eyes. “I feel uncomfortable for wanting the book,” she admitted. “It has writing in that is less than… Darren would not approve of the writing. I couldn’t make myself approach.”

“Darren approves of little,” Kadogan observed. “Here is Noah.” He watched as Noah chatted easily to the vicar before wandering over to them.

Noah knocked dust off his shirt and grinned. “That is a cute church. I’ve never seen anything so…” He looked back at the stone chapel. “I’m sure that there’s been problems, but it looks like a church where they really do religion – like faith, you know, not just words.”

Kadogan glanced over at Lady Freydis. “The diocese has always been encouraged to place good ministers here. Did you get the book?”

Noah knocked some more dust from his jeans. “It took a while to find. They don’t use this prayer book anymore so I had to dig through the old cupboards. In the end there were some packing cases under the dais in the church hall and I found this in the third one.” He handed over the nondescript book. “The vicar doesn’t mind if I go back and have another look if it isn’t the right one,” he added. “And I’m tempted to make him a deal. There’s a market for old prayer books.”

Kadogan looked interested. “Perhaps we should speak to Steve. He is the master of trading.”

“And Mina is knowledgeable about books,” Lady Freydis said. “Did you pay a fair price for the book?”

Noah nodded. “The vicar didn’t want to take money off me, so I bunged twenty quid into the donation box. I’ll check online when we get back to get a sense of the value and I can always send more.” He watched as Lady Freydis frantically flicked through the small book. “Some of the older ones would be in demand for the Instagram market. Some could be cut up for crafts. The market for that is growing as well.”

Lady Freydis pulled a face as she leafed through. “That sounds far too disrespectful,” she said, then sighed with relief. “This is the correct book.”

Kadogan leaned over her shoulder to read the strange writing. “So that’s what you’re up to,” he said. “It’s a risky endeavour. Darren would not approve at all. And the thought of it meant that you couldn’t approach a church.” He raised an eyebrow. “That should tell you something.”

Lady Freydis waved a dismissive hand. “It’s just a mental block. And I won’t be dissuaded.”

This story was inspired by Writing Prompt Number 19

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