The Twenty-ninth Leaf

Yesterday the Queen was brought to the Abbey for her final resting. The past few days included ceremony and visitations and were meant to provide some comfort for the people. The King was strong and his mere presence was a comfort to me, for I too am moved by endings. But what happened that night, just last night, I could never have imagined, and for that I am thankful.

The day's events were completed, the sun starting to fall and I desired no more than to find a fire and to think of nothing. But then the King approached and told me that I was required, and that I should follow him.

It was just he and I, trudging through the woods, and with the darkness coming fast I was quickly lost. While I now understand the reason for my presence, in that moment I was in great fear, as I had been in my dream as I was called to the wolve's lair. The King was carrying a small satchel and my thoughts could not escape the wonder of its contents.

And then we came to a clearing, a place which was still very dark but for a small opening in the trees overhead which allowed a thread of moonlight to enter. The King turned to me and for the first time since we had left, he spoke to me,

"Sorren, thank you for accompanying me. I know that you have no understanding of why I have asked you here, but I must do something and I need another, a friend, to witness. The Queen .... is now gone from me. I can never recover her, and so I must begin anew. My love for her cannot be replaced and my love was for her alone. And so, just as she has been lowered into the ground, so too my heart's labour."

And then he reached into his satchel and removed a small book. He crouched low and placed the book into a hole which I had not seen before. And then he lay completely on the ground, his arms outstretched and he kissed the earth, covering the book with the dirt from the hole. He lay there for several moments before rising. I could not look into his eyes. And before we headed back to the castle, once again in complete silence, he took my shoulders and made me to raise my face to his eyes. My eyes were wet but again it gave me a great comfort just to be near him. He said,

"Thank you Sorren. It is only you, and your book, which will know this."


I was not on the island when Queen Kathryn was buried, for my duties in England were not yet finished. There is growing unrest and I was entrusted to seek out its causes and manifestations as it related to the authority vested in Rome. In one village a church was razed and its ikons destroyed, and in another village a priest was driven away by men with torches, and escaped with little more than his life. Reports have come in outlining a growing and progressively demonstrative element within the Church that has raised calls of alarm throughout the body. Discontent rises. The people question the right of the Church to administer indulgences, the authority of the Pope is questioned . . .even the divinity of Christ is questioned. This heresy must be stamped out. But with each new heretic found, countless heretics escape to spread the raging firestorm. The people wait for a leader, a new leader that can unite them. I fear the outcome. When I read the words of John Wyclif and Jan Hus, I fear for my Church, even as I fear for myself. These men would have laymen and peasants read the bible for themselves. What then? Are the people to interpret the word of God in their own, limited, parochial language? This fire shall become a conflagration if ignored. It’s quiet, as another leaf falls from the tree . . .things are falling down all around me.

The last part of this leaf has me concerned. I should like to know the contents of the book buried with such ceremony, for I should learn much about the life of the King which is shrouded in mystery. No ceremony should be practiced from without the body of Christ. The King’s suffering is an indulgence better left to the Church.
— M

I find the reaction of the King to the death of his young wife to be normal, if just a little bit eccentric. But this is a King, and the grief of a King should be proportionally stronger and more expressive than the grief of a bricklayer, or a stonemason, or a fisherman. These days are different, but during the Middle Ages under the system of feudalism, the rank of a man was his most dear possession, and the respect that comes with rank is a protocol that is refined and carefully protected. The rank of a King puts him above all other men, therefor his grief can be thought to be more profound than that of all men.

We all of us belong to a similar hierarchy in these days though we do not understand it by using such terms. We talk about equality, but there is no form of natural equality, it is a system which is put in place by those that see themselves as a higher, more refined class, which is no different than the ditch digger or the stonemason. Sorren is able to transcend this marginal cast, and he has become an important friend to the King, who has honored this man with a secret that bind them together like brothers. This would be the equivalent of a CEO of a large company going out for a bite of lunch with a custodian for his company . . .possible, but come on, think about it. And when the King tells Sorren that only themselves, and Sorren’s book shall ever bear witness to what just happened, he is putting much trust in his servant, but I do not think there is an equivalence in todays world because the heart of a man is a hard thing to change. In the days of Sorren, money did not buy your way into a higher class; in our day, money defines our class.

And the book which the King has buried? The importance of this book would be proportional to the significance of the person who buried it. In other words, this is an important book and Sorren knows it.