Journal of the Plague Years 2021: Morality in Fiction

Writing about Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers got me to thinking about morality in fiction again. On the whole, I’m in favor of it. Trollope is a great example: Barchester Towers brings life to the Tractarian Movement. To me, it’s a miracle that he’s located the beating heart of a theological debate, and created characters who struggle […]

91. The Magnificent Five: Conclusion

Inglorion’s recovery is slow and uneven. A few days after he’s consistently awake and conscious, he’s able to sit up and read, spend an hour or two a day in the library or Sieia’s sitting room. After another week, he’s permitted to read the newspaper, though he suspects that they’re withholding certain sections. Neither Valentine […]

90. Kneeling by the Altar

He lies there day after day in the little room that Sieia made for him years ago: The massive four-poster bed with its rich silk hangings and down comforter. It’s warm and snug and private, and the shrine is beautiful. Sieia has kept it stocked with candles. Sieia and Virginia feed and care for him, […]

89. A Close-Run Thing

Consciousness returns unsteadily. Later it seems as if he was awake and lucid for long stretches, explaining complicated matters to people who wouldn’t listen. He feels that perhaps he was interrogated at some point, and that he may have had visions, none of them memorable, thank God. When he’s first truly conscious, it’s evening, and […]

87. The Patron Saint of Bastards

“Thank you, Father.” says Inglorion. There’s an awkward pause. Inglorion is waiting for Father Nate to go, and wonders if it will be necessary to dismiss him explicitly. Finally Father Nate says, “Look, Inglorion. Much of my ministry has been of a practical nature. You’re in a tough position, maybe worse than you know. I’ve […]

86. Doing God’s Work by Digging Privies

Inglorion’s kneeling there, hands clasped, when Father Nate pokes his head in the tent flap. The priest says, “I can come back later, or I can join you in prayer. Whichever you prefer.” His expression isn’t what you’d call gentle, but he seems kinder and more human than he has before. “I’m done praying, but […]

85. A Plea for Guidance

Just before daybreak, the temperature drops and a chill breeze kicks up, waking Virginia from trance. She’s shivering. Inglorion has somehow stolen both cloaks in his sleep. He’s curled up tightly, deep in trance, and she’s huddled next to him for warmth. She disentangles herself gently. He’s limp, breathing deep and slow. When he’s awake […]

84. With My Body, I Thee Worship

Once dinner has ended and they’re heading back to Inglorion’s tent, he whispers to Virginia, “Is Lucius well enough to spend the night alone? I want us to have a little honeymoon.” “Of course. What did you have in mind?” “Go fetch your cloak and I’ll show you.” She gathers her cloak, kisses Lucius goodnight, […]