Sunday, February 15, 2009

From the Green Man's Private Files: Six

The church was in a slightly down-at-heel part of town, a grand gothic edifice dating from the Victorian era. A large vicarage occupied part of the site, together with what had once been schools, but were now part of an outreach project. Ms. Madison paid her taxi fare, and hurried to the open door of the schoolroom. Acending the steps, she passed through a vestibule, into a room filled with teenagers, who were talking to a number of youth workers and a couple of men in clerical collars.

"Father Matthews?" Ms. Madison spoke nervously, voice high, tembling a little.

"Yes, child?" a man in late middle age looked around, taking in the stylish clothes of Ms. Madison.

"Amy Charles," the blonde produced a business card bearing that name. "I'm a freelance journalist."

"Oh!" The priest beamed. "Are you here to let the country know what splendid work we are doing with the young people of this district?" He leaned towards her.

"I'm afraid not," Ms. Madison smiled becomingly. "The world's a terrible place, Father, and people want to know that, rather than the good work you do. It's Mr. Stannard and the extension..."
"While I am loathe to speak ill of anyone," Father Matthews shook his head, "Mr. Stannard surprised even I, well-versed as I am in the ways of sinners as I am."
"Mr. Stannard claims that the money ran out before building could start," Ms. Madison lowered her voice confidentially.
"And under the law, he committed no crime." The Priest looked into her eyes. "But sin and crime are not the same. Not every sin can be a crime. Sometimes innocent men can be caught by such laws. God, who knows the heart, can judge where men remain silent."
"I understand." Ms. Madison nodded. "The estimates were probably deliberately falsified, to show the money running out before building work could begin. But there's no evidence to support that. Still, why didn't you go public?"
"It is not our place as the church of God to carry out that sort of campaign." The Priest smiled graciously. "We must trust in God for our ultimate vindication. Maybe we sound strange to you..."
"It's all right, Father," Ms. Madison took his arm. "I understand. Just tell me the background, and I'll keep my source to myself."

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