Marian glanced down at herself, ensuring her appearance was impeccable. The last time she'd visited her uncle a week previous, he'd told her off for looking like a hoyden instead of a lady. All because her overgown had been rumpled from sitting curled up on a windowseat in the library for several hours, fingerpleating the fabric while she pored over a particularly difficult document about mediation principles.
Satisfied that her appearance should be no cause for a cranky outburst from her aged uncle, she knocked on the door and opened it at the bellow that came from within for her to enter.
"Good evening, Uncle William." She bobbed a curtsy as she approached the massive chair he sat in, wrapped about with furlined rugs against the evening's chill, a goblet of steaming mulled wine on a table at his elbow. She stifled a sigh as she noted his gouty foot was again propped upon a pillowed stool; his mood was sure to be foul if he was in any pain.
"Here for your weekly duty visit, eh?" He peered at her beneath gray bushy eyebrows and pointed imperiously to the chair that faced him. "Sit. Tell me what Felicia and your cousins have been teaching you. You spend enough evenings in the library, I'm told."
"Yes, sir" Marian sat straight in the chair; as always, faintly uneasy with the Baron's quixotic moods. "Julia has been helping me to learn some new staring patterns for meditation." She decided it was more politic to not refer to the distinct attitude of her other cousins, and even her aunt, that further training for a half-blood Deryni was a waste of time.
How's your mindspeech?
Her eyes went wide as his voice sounded behind her eyes, strong and clear, unlike the age-quavered physical voice in which he spoke. Startled, she was wordless for a moment, then, despite being unnerved by the surprising experience, sent firmly, Not as good as I would wish, Uncle.
Baron William's shoulders shook with silent sudden mirth. Bold little thing, aren't you? He took a deep slow breath, raised both hands to shoulder level and turned his hands from facing palm down to palm up, and as he did so, Marian could feel the tingle of surrounding energies rising around them. The room's now warded. Don't worry about anyone listening in. Practice makes make for better skill, girl. I don't want another vocal word out of you until I say so. Go get that book on the bed and come and read me the first three pages, using mindspeech.
The book was a collection of prayers and psalms, in Latin, many used in the Mass. It was well fingered and the fine leather binding was worn with age, the gold leaf of the decoration thin from handling. She carried it carefully back to her seat and opened it to the first page.
Translate to the vernacular before you send to me, he ordered, settling back in the chair, closing his eyes and folding his arms across his chest.
It was difficult. Marian was literate in Latin, but having to keep her eyes open to read the words, concentrate on translation, and then project the words mentally without letting extraneous sensations and thoughts filter into them was a true challenge. It was also a prayer with which she was relatively unfamiliar, so she couldn't cheat and translate from memory.
Benedicite, omnia opera Domini, Domino; laudate et superexaltate eum in saecula.
Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
Benedicite, caeli, Domino, benedicite, angeli Domini, Domino.
Heavens, bless the Lord; angels of the Lord, bless the Lord.
Benedicite, aquae omnes, quae super caelos sunt, Domino, benedicat omnis virtutis Domino.
All you waters that are above the heavens, bless the Lord; let all powers bless the Lord.
Benedicite, sol et luna, Domino, benedicite, stellae caeli, Domino.
Sun and moon, bless the Lord; stars of heaven, bless the Lord.
Benedicite, omnis imber et ros, Domino, benedicite, omnes venti, Domino.
Every shower and dew, bless the Lord. All you winds, bless the Lord.
Benedicite, ignis et aestus, Domino, benedicite, frigus et aestus, Domino.
Fire and heat, bless the Lord; cold and chill, bless the Lord.
Benedicite, rores et pruina, Domino, benedicite, gelu et frigus, Domino.
Dews and hoar frosts, bless the Lord; frost and cold, bless the Lord.
Benedicite, glacies et nives, Domino, benedicite, noctes et dies, Domino.
Ice and snow, bless the Lord; nights and days, bless the Lord.
Benedicite, lux et tenebrae, Domino, benedicite, fulgura et nubes, Domino.
Light and darkness, bless the Lord; lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord.
Benedicat terra Dominum: laudet et superexaltet eum in saecula.
Let the earth bless the Lord; let it praise and exalt Him above all forever.
Benedicite, montes et colles, Domino, benedicite, universa germinantia in terra, Domino.
Mountains and hills, bless the Lord; everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord.
Benedicite, maria et flumina, Domino, benedicite, fontes, Domino.
Seas and rivers, bless the Lord; fountains, bless the Lord.
Benedicite, cete, et omnia, quae moventur in aquis, Domino, benedicite, omnes volucres caeli, Domino.
Whales and all that move in the waters, bless the Lord; all you fowls of the air, bless the Lord.
Benedicite, omnes bestiae et pecora, Domino, benedicite, filii hominum, Domino.
All you beasts and cattle, bless the Lord; sons of men, bless the Lord.
Benedicite, Israel, Domino, laudate et superexaltate eum in saecula.
Israel, bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him above all for ever.
Benedicite, sacerdotes Domini, Domino, benedicite, servi Domini, Domino.
Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord; servants of the Lord, bless the Lord.
Benedicite, spiritus et animae iustorum, Domino, benedicite, sancti et humiles corde, Domino.
Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord; holy men of humble heart, bless the Lord.
Benedicite, Anania, Azaria, Misael, Domino, laudate et superexaltate eum in saecula.
Ananias, Azaria, and Misael, bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him above all for ever.
Benedicamus Patrem et Filium cum Sancto Spiritu; laudemus et superexaltemus eum in saecula.
Let us bless the Father and the Son, with the Holy Spirit; let us praise and exalt Him above all for ever.
Benedictus es in firmamento caeli et laudabilis et gloriosus in saecula. Amen.
Blessed art Thou, Lord, in the firmament of heaven; and worthy of praise, and glorious above all for ever. Amen.
By the time she had finished the prayer, Marian was exhausted. Nothing in her experience or training had required the concentrated effort of this task. She sat limply in the chair and closed her eyes, stifling an insistent yawn.
The two words echoed in her head and she opened her eyes to gaze across at her uncle surprised.
"You're a credit to your mother's teaching," he gruffly said. "But you need to keep up the practice. Come to me after supper each evening and read to me. Now off to bed with you." A smooth gesture of his gnarled hands and a surge of thought and the wards dissolved around them.
Marian paused at the door, her hand on the latch and met his eyes. Suddenly moved by an emotion she couldn't really identify, she bowed in a profound curtsy to the Baron, before slipping from the room, closing the door behind her.
Manston conjured up a sphere of bluish
handlight and balanced it on his fingertips. A smile played about the corners
of his lips as he gazed into it. Then he let it flicker out as he bellowed
for his body servant to attend him.
Note: The prayer Marian translates is from the Latin Benedicite Dominum, or the Canticle of the Three Young Men, and is taken from the Old Testament book of Daniel (Dan. 3, 57-88; 56). It is used at Lauds in the Liturgy of the Hours for Sundays and feast days.
Copyright 1998 Bernadette Crumb