The Sanctity of Hate
the gate to seek help from…. Mistress Gytha!”
    As she started to fall, Thomas instinctively grasped her around the waist. It took only a moment for her to recover, then her eyes opened and she blinked at the man in whose arms she rested.
    “The sun, Brother,” she said. “It is only that. I fear the heat today has disturbed my humors.” She tapped his arm.
    He released her and stepped back.
     
    Gwydo began to shake as if he suffered an ague, and his teeth chattered. Fearing the pair could hear the sound, he jammed his fingers into his mouth.
    But the couple said little more. Gytha declined the monk’s offer of assistance back to the prioress’ chambers.
    Thomas’ brow was furrowed with worry, but he bowed silent acceptance of her refusal and walked on toward the gate leading to the village.
    The maid hurried off, stopping once to look over her shoulder before disappearing into the nuns’ quarters.
    Gwydo pulled himself out of his hiding place and stood up, stretching his stiff back. His heart was heavy. Although neither maid nor monk had committed a grave wrongdoing, the lay brother was deeply troubled. Thomas should never have embraced her as he did. Was the gesture an innocent error or had it signified something unchaste between them?
    Had he been wrong about the monk’s virtue? As for Gytha, she was a woman, a temptress like all of her sex. Just one touch, even one suffered in a compassionate act, and a man’s chastity was endangered. He knew how he weakened in his resolve. But perhaps Brother Thomas was as strong in his faith as Robert of Arbrissel, founder of this Order who went into bordels to preach? Once again, Gwydo doubted his ability to differentiate between virtue and sin.
    “Most certainly I erred in pointing out that this murder may have occurred here. It was wicked pride that made me do it. I wanted Brother Thomas to look with favor on me for discover- ing something no one else had.”
    Deep in thought, Gwydo walked back to where he had left his coils of woven straw and bent to pick them up. Suddenly, he turned pale, straightened, and shook his fists at the heavens. “Wherever you may be, Satan,” he roared, “I curse you for blind- ing me so I could not see the consequences of my heinous deed!” What was he to do? He struck his head and groaned. “I must,
    I shall make amends for my sins.” In frustration, he squeezed his eyes shut and moaned.
     
    He could do nothing now. The road outside the priory would be filled with men, wearied from many hours of labor and traveling back to their homes in the village. Taking a deep breath, he tried to calm himself. Later he could hunt for some- thing that would convince Crowner Ralf and Prioress Eleanor that the murder had actually happened outside the priory walls. He would apologize for his error in believing he had discovered evidence to prove otherwise, an arrogance for which he would welcome any penance.
    But he must find a way to leave the priory while it was still light enough to hunt for what he might use to do this. How to explain this new discovery to the prioress was a problem he would cope with later. After all, he had no right to leave these grounds without her permission. He must expect severe punish- ment for this act alone.
    Compared to the sins he had already committed, he decided that was the least of his transgressions.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Chapter Eleven
    The air was cool after the late night rain. Birds rejoiced as the moist soil yielded fat worms. Plants glistened, stretched forth their leaves and welcomed the morning sun.
    Chapter had ended, and the nuns left the chamber in an orderly fashion to attend their various tasks. They were silent, arms folded into their sleeves and heads bowed. For most, prayer was their primary duty in this life they had chosen, and they longed to return to it.
    Prioress Eleanor, however, was restless. Although the reports on wool profits and incoming rents needed attention, she

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