Dana had been resting her eyes when she looked up and saw a priest approaching the bench. The Jesuit, a tall man in his early fifties, walked with a confident gait, and the smile on his face was evident when he was still several feet away.
“Good morning,” he said. “Lovely day.” He could tell the young woman was upset and, in point of fact, she wasn’t the only one he’d encountered on the grounds who needed consolation or, at the very least, a friendly smile.
“Yes, Father, it is,” Dana replied. “A splendid day.”
“Are you on holiday, or are we blessed to have you as a new parishioner?” he asked.
Dana examined the priest’s face more carefully. He wore rimless glasses, and pale blue eyes regarded her kindly beneath close-cut salt and pepper hair. He was dressed in a black clerical suit and looked to be strong and vigorous despite his gentle manner.
“On holiday, Father,” Dana replied. “I come here whenever I’m in London and wanted to stop in and … visit. I was taught by the Sacred Heart sisters back in New York.”
“A New Yorker!” Father Macaulay said. “And a member of the family, so to speak. May I sit?” he asked, motioning to the bench.
A member of the family, Dana thought, again fighting back tears. Not anymore.
“I’m sorry, Father,” Dana mumbled, rising to leave. “I’m meeting someone and I’m late.”
Father Macaulay nodded. “I hope you’ll visit again. I’m here in the church or the gardens every morning from nine until I say mass. If you can’t find me, just tell the sacristan that you’re looking for Father Charles Macaulay.”
“Thank you, Father. Have a good day.”
Biting her lip to fight back fresh tears, Dana and Macaulay shook hands. The priest watched Dana walk out of the gardens, sensing that she was in distress. He was a good judge of people, and he thought that Dana would surely return to the church before she boarded a plane for New York City. Somewhere in her soul, he thought, there was unfinished business.
• • •
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