“You are an interesting man, Brother Bede,” said Tavish, sipping at his wine, and watching its undulant ripples break up the reflections of brands set in sconces on the walls, “and I believe an educated one, what brought you to Melrose?” and Bede smiled, “the ways of Our Lord can seem mysterious to us poor mortals, but I trust in his wisdom and love and am assured that He knows best; but I have not always been a monk, Master Tavish, I was indeed a Scholar – educated first in Oxford and then Bologna – my interest was perhaps esoteric, certainly not very useful, as my wife was oft heard saying, being in the strange things which can be found in the rocks and surfaces of this place we walk on, things which seem at first to have been sculpted by a John Morow of an earlier age, but which I believe were once living things, creatures which were here before us, perhaps they were the beasts which God created before the first Man, I do not claim to know the answers but I like to ask the questions; but to continue with my reply to yours, we were happy, I had my students, my wife had our children, two girls and a boy, and then they were gone! died of a pox, a pestilence which lay low more than three quarters of the population in a few short weeks; I had to bury them myself, and then I left Bologna, I did not want to remain behind, I travelled and walked most of the way, trying to get as far as I could; on the way I met a Disciple of St Bernard and I became a Bernardine, a Carthusian, and asked to be sent here, as far as I could go, and here I stopped walking and set about working: doing useful things, like digging trenches and planting vegetables, or cutting blocks of stone for the masons, and as I grew older and less able, I came in here, where I have kept the records and taught the novices and worked hard but in a way which The Lord has decided in his goodness to use me; and for the last five years I have been Almoner and I have enjoyed meeting the many and varied folk who come seeking shelter, or food, or clothing and who can do a day's work for a night's bed, giving of themselves in return for what we can offer them; to me it seems a simple way of life, not unlike that of Adam and Eve, or the family of Mary and Joseph in which Our Lord Jesus grew up – from each according to his ability and to each according to his need – is that not a simple statement of what He expects of us; though not all men see it like that – there is cruelty and greed and lust everywhere men congregate, even in the House of God; our Abbot - if I am any judge of men I know you to be good and true - is weak and is manipulated by his Sponsor, Sir Parlane MacFarlane – a man steeped in all manner of vice, though never has any charge been brought against him, perhaps because of his wealth or his knowledge of the secrets of others – who arrived just before you, with his man, Doubleday, both dusty and stained from hard riding, and no sooner than our Abbot, more like a procurer than a man of God, came himself and fetched away your daughters for the duties which it is my responsibility to issue, but I believe their duties will not be what I would have given them, I trust that He will not let them come to any harm,” and Tavish told them what had transpired, and Brother Bede laughed heartily at the descriptions of the Abbot and MacFarlane being controlled by the two girls, but then Tavish asked him if the prevention of an evil act before it is committed would be viewed as a Sin: “Thou Shalt Not Kill is a Commandment which is unqualified, but then so are others, concerning Adultery and Envy, and we also permit Soldiers to kill in times of war; and I suppose if your conscience is clear and you do not commit the sin for pleasure or gain, but out of necessity for the protection of others, I am sure that He in his Wisdom would take that into account, there is no paries enclosing a man's actions and separating them from his thoughts or words, The Lord knows them all” and Tavish then asked, “what if an action today alters what would have been in a hundred or a thousand years time? would He judge that?” and Bede replied solemnly: “nothing that you do can affect what the Lord wills, if you slay another before he can kill an innocent, you will have done what is right, and how the Future plays out is neither in your power nor in your responsibility, only The Lord knows what his Plan is, but His Plan will unfold for generations still to come – did He not give His only Son as a sacrifice for Man? and mark this: no single man can alter The Lord's Plan, for He has put Man on Earth to walk in His footsteps and do what He has intended for Man to do,” Tavish nodded sagely, his mind made up; and he rose from his seat, thanked Brother Bede for his wisdom and, remarking that “it is all Sir Garnet, as we used to say in The Service, the time for planning is over and it is now the moment to Act! wouldn't like to miss the vernissage,” and taking up a heavy cudgel, he left the Monk's Office!