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Holy Panthers

Holy Panthers

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Holy Panthers

429 pagine
6 ore
Jul 4, 2016


Sequel to Holy Tigers. The world believes that Adolf Hitler is dead. Vengeful Nazis have resumed development of wartime super weapons. They've also struck a cruel blow against the holy women of Santa Jalisse. Big, big mistake.

Jul 4, 2016

Informazioni sull'autore

Retired from the IT profession, this author now rakes up thirty years of fiction ideas into original sub-genres. The works will vary: theatrical plays, children's adventure, space opera, suspense, and comedy.

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Holy Panthers - P.S. Finley


Doragon Shima


One year had passed since the battle at the Savonne River Bridge. The world war had finally come to a close. Guns fell silent and bombs stopped falling. Amidst their legacy of grief and devastation, victorious world powers now wielded political machinations as the weapon of choice. They didn't realize, though, that their defeated foes were not quite done. The serpents coiled for one last deadly bite at the planet.

In the Asian Pacific seas, tall waves pounded hard against a remote island. The rocky terrain was classified as uninhabitable by most navigation maps. From the air, it certainly looked barren. It wasn't easy to tell that a small city had been carved into it centuries ago. An ancient earthquake had split the center of the island, resulting in a sheltered sea passage and lagoon.

At the height of the day, Japanese fleet submarine I-407 surfaced inside the lagoon. Displacing 6,500 tons, it had been no small feat navigating this boat through the treacherous approach. The queen of the island, as it were, waited patiently with her servants as the vessel docked. She was a woman of striking appearance. A paradox between youthful glow and elderly demeanor, it was difficult to discern her true age.

The captain emerged alone and presented himself. He announced as they exchanged bows, Doragon Goke. I bring your daughter.

Captain Nishimura. As usual, the Dragon Widow's voice was soft and quiet. She easily read the torment in the man's eyes. His beloved country had just fallen. May I offer you resupply?

He returned a nod of respect, We are in need of food. After that, it will be my duty to return His Imperial Majesty's submarine to Tokyo.

Her tone was tranquil, "I know the words that he spoke. He did not fully acknowledge defeat, and neither do I. Do you wish to acknowledge defeat?"

Torn between passion and pragmatism, he stood trembling. He managed a tense shake of the head.

She offered a kindly smile, I think that you would better serve His Imperial Majesty by helping me, not by giving your ship of war to the enemy. At receiving tense nods, she issued her gentle order without looking over, My servants will help you and your crew get settled. We can discuss options after you have gotten some well earned rest.

Fighting back tears of anguish, he offered a polite bow and briskly returned to his submarine. The crew was required to wait as a small party emerged. A slender girl appearing to be in her middle teen years reverently approached. Wearing traditional garb, she knelt before the matron and bowed, Mother. She arose and met her eyes.

The Dragon Widow gently took hold and kissed her forehead. Welcome home.

As the daughter took her proper entourage position, servants approached bearing two stretchers. They stopped short of their mistress. She stepped in between them and turned around, whereupon another servant placed a seat for her in timely manner.

The Dragon Widow smiled at the crippled woman at her left, You should have stayed with me and allowed me to train you.

Frau Schreckgespenst struggled through her pain, Duty… called. I wish I could have. But, I guess it is… too late.

The radiant matron smiled brightly, No, my young prodigy, it is not.

The SS woman's eyes widened, You… can restore me?

I can. Upon the closing of her eyes, servants carried their patient into the island cave city. The Dragon Widow turned to look at the withered, tremor-gripped man at her right, So, this is the glorious Adolf Hitler. She attempted to feel his pulse, but the man shook too violently. With dizzying quickness, she made a flurry of pats to his neck, head, and chest. Each place where she touched now had a nerve-needle stuck into it. Hitler fell back unconscious.

Never having seen anything like this before, the Führer's bodyguard went for his pistol, "You Hündin!"

Without looking back at her target, the Dragon Widow flung her hand out at him. Small blades pierced his neck and buried into his spine.

The daughter quietly explained with a bit of sympathy, Disrespect is unacceptable.

Staring in wide-eyed shock, the bodyguard tipped over backwards dead.

The Dragon Widow took hold of Hitler's wrist and closed her eyes. After a few moments, she observed, There are many severe imbalances in his body. She laid his hands comfortably at his side.

As servants carried the stretcher away, the daughter explained, His barbaric doctors had made his condition far worse. Now that they are gone, he endures withdrawal symptoms.

The matron sensed something troubled in her daughter's tone. She waited patiently, staring ahead into the distance. Duly prompted, the remaining servants departed in order to give them privacy. "Kiku, what is your burden?

Mother, I can understand helping Frau Schreckgespenst, but why Hitler? He is a failure.

She turned to face her, In a physical condition like that, it is easy to understand why.

Is not his condition product of his own failure?

The matron gave a smile of approval, Probably. Her tone became serious, This is no longer the world that you and I once knew. Men can now incinerate entire cities with a single blow. She received her daughter’s nod of understanding. We can no longer live in the isolation of our choosing. We must have awareness and presence in all sectors. The Dragon Widow stepped closer, It might become necessary to return the world to a more primitive age. Adolf Hitler might be able to accomplish that.

And if not?

She shrugged, Then I shall kill him. But until then, we shall condition into him a deep, subconscious loyalty to me.

Yes, Mother. The two gracefully departed the dock, after which the submarine crew emerged.

David and Solomon

Autumn of 1945 brought a new normality to the Convent of Santa Jalisse. The Hands of Mercy Children's Refuge had been constructed and staffed. War refugees who still had families and homes returned to them. All of Mother Superior Lynde's deep supplications had been answered, yet she sensed that something was not right.

Sisters Halima and Anukampa happily put their whole hearts into stabilizing the local situation. After things began to go well, it was time to confront their matron. Mother Lynde listened and prayed with them for several weeks. Then came the time for all to assemble. It was rare for everyone to meet at the same time. That usually meant something serious.

After a time of quiet and spoken prayers, Sister Halima stood to address the group. Neither in our hearts nor our minds do we judge or accuse anyone here. We cannot say that the violence carried out during wartime by this convent was wrong. There is no need for me to explain how some of us could not have made those choices. You already know this. She hesitated for a moment. I should speak only for myself. Halima sighed with aching heart, I have replayed the situations in my mind many a time. She looked to Sister Fiona, I cannot honestly say that I would have done differently in extremis. But… I cannot find peace.

Tears began welling up in many eyes. Sister Sophia pronounced the obvious, You don't feel like you can remain here.

Sister Halima made a pleading grimace and shook her head. I must be known as a woman who clung to vows of peace.

Sister Anukampa stepped forward, I feel the same way in all the things she has said.

Mother Lynde's tone was one of calm pain, We have spoken and prayed much about this. As much as it grieves me to see anyone feel the need to break away, my belief is that they are obeying the Lord's stirrings in their hearts. She stood to approach the pair, I can only accept this. She struggled to remain calm. We are presenting this to everyone now so that all may clearly understand. Although, my guess is that this doesn't come as a surprise to many.

An alarmed Sister Pippina sat clinging to the subdued Sister Maisie.

Sister Valentina dropped her head back with closed eyes for a few moments. She then pressed her hands together in an appeal, Cannot forgiveness cover the past?

Sister Anukampa's hushed voice echoed in the sanctuary, It is a matter of identity, not forgiveness.

Mother Lynde sat down again, King David deeply wanted to build a temple for God, but the Lord forbade him because he had blood on his hands. The temple was to be built by a man of peace, by Solomon. Peace began to prevail over her heart, David was called to be a warrior king. He slew Goliath. Even with his many sins, God still loved him as a man after his own heart. We are David, and you feel led to be Solomon.

The nuns' eyes lit up. Sister Halima nodded with racing heart, "That is it! That is exactly how I feel!"

Mother Lynde folded her hands and managed a smile, Even though David was forbidden to build, he could still carry out all preparations. He gathered all of the building materials. In that same manner, we must help you become established where ever your hearts feel led to go.

Overwhelmed, Sister Halima sank to her knees. Tears streamed, I came here to split away from you, and you now return a blessing!

Sister Sophia asked, Where will you go?

I don't know. We don't know. My desires to serve have not changed.

Mother Lynde asked, Is there anyone else who feels the same stirring to go?

Sister Danielle stood.

Sister Aimee pleaded, "Not you too?"

Alarmed, Sister Maisie also stood.

Joyful hope shined through Danielle's aching smile, Not for the same reason. Mother Lynde, I want to remain a Sister of Santa Jalisse, but I must leave. She looked around at everyone, I have found love and happiness and contentment here. But that's the problem. I've lost my first love, my passion to go out and serve those in desperate need. Mother Lynde, I'd like to go with them, not to split away but to let Solomon proceed from David in fellowship!

Sister Pippina squeaked through her tears, That's so beautiful!

Even Sister Maisie felt a confirming peace in her spirit. She couldn't be at ease, though. She looked sharply to Sisters Halima and Anukampa, You'll go with our blessings and support, but you'll no' be taking her away from here until her back is healed as much as it can be. And you'll no' be taking her away until she's fully free from her morphine addiction. Do you hear me?

The overwhelmed Sisters returned nods and a bow of adamant agreement.

Tears finally welled up in Mother Lynde's eyes, If only the divisions among men could resolve in this way. Everyone grows. Nobody is diminished.

The nuns could have hugged, sang, and praised for hours but for the pressing duties that called them away.

Operation: Eisen Phönix

By the dark of a cold night, a man drove his car up to the reconstructed Savonne River Bridge. He parked on the east side and got out to spend time with war ghosts. In the silence and rising mists, memories of men, machines and combat vividly poured through his mind. Somehow, it all refused to go into the past. Legends of bizarre events that happened here brought a smile to his face. Remembrance of those who never made it home faded that smile away. With more battles ahead, he bid the place an inner adieu and set out in his car again.

At the convent, Sister Wilhelmina caught up with Mother Lynde shortly before she retired for the evening. Reverend Mother, please come to your office.

The matron studied her for a moment. This levelheaded daughter seemed to suppress sense of alarm. Of course. As they walked through the convent, she wanted to ask questions. Sister Wilhelmina preempted her with a subtle shake of the head.

The convent office was darkened. Only an evening lamp beside visitor chairs was turned on. Wilhelmina didn't go in with her. She closed the doors that they might speak privately.

Mother Lynde smiled warmly, Sergeant Fritz!

He approached to offer a gentle handshake, Yes, Mother Lynde.

She gestured for him to join her in adjacent chairs, Please.

After taking his seat, Fritz spoke quietly, I apologize for the late hour, but on this occasion I must avoid being seen.

Are you in some kind of trouble?

He sighed, We all might be in trouble, very serious trouble.

Duly forewarned, Mother Lynde braced herself and folded her hands, Very well.

My employer works in the heart of international banks. He received her acknowledging nod. Rules and protocols might exist concerning privacy, but the simple reality is timeless. Any time huge amounts of money move, those up in hierarchy take notice.

Mother Lynde brushed away worrisome guesses from her mind. You needn't convince me that people in supreme authority live by their own separate rules.

He nodded, Staggering quantities of Nazi gold have been deposited and then paid out through our banks. He shook his head with raised brows, The flow is… unbelievable. Some entire countries don't own such wealth.

Have you reported this to the Allies?

Bank executives are not going to risk admitting that they've knowingly accepted Nazi gold, let alone breached account privacy. The investor reaction would be disastrous.

Mother Lynde appealed with a light grasp of his wrist, Good Sergeant, these people must be caught. They can only be planning harm. Their plot must be exposed.

My employer has, along with others in the banking industry, dispatched investigators. They have returned very little information. They have either been bribed, threatened or killed.

She nodded in a sigh, That seems par for Nazis.

Sgt. Fritz opened his document satchel, We captured a photograph of one of the key players. He handed it to her. Can you confirm his identity?

"Herr Hochziegle! But… the man died!"

Grief seemed to well up in the former Wehrmacht sergeant, Apparently not. He met eye contact, He is the reason we have not alerted the Allies. Everyone is confident that he is long dead. Since he managed to again disappear, we can prove nothing. Nobody would believe us. More than that, rumors would only serve to warn the Nazis. Fritz stared off, shaking his head, If someone that high up in Hitler's hierarchy is funding large-scale operations, it can only mean that they plan a comeback. Either that or they plan a vengeance of unimaginable proportions. He looked to her, I come here because few people in the Nazi regime were as vengeful as Herr Hochziegle.

She nodded, We at this convent would be his target.

I'm sorry, but I don't see how you couldn't be.

Mother Lynde sat back with a weary sigh, Enemies ever about. She willed a smile to him, Such is the believer's life. We have and always will depend upon the Lord to defend us.

Able to calm a bit, he returned slight nods. It is difficult… no, it is impossible to know whom can be trusted at this time. Many people are disillusioned and bitter, but there are also many Nazi loyalists who would rise up again, given the chance. We will do what we can on our end to set up great vigilance. I must confess, though. It will be a daunting task.

How soon do you think Herr Hochziegle will strike?

Not soon. Whatever plans he has, he would not jeopardize them by exposing himself in a personal attack. It could be years from now.

Mother Lynde sighed again, deeply. Thank you for alerting me. I shall… pray and seek the Lord's guidance on how to handle this.

He rested his hand upon hers, I am so sorry.

She smiled, You have been and still are one of our guardian angels.

* * *

That very night, tempests raged over the North Sea. A group of men walked by light of kerosene lantern through an abandoned submarine base. This one had not yet become active before the end of the war. The Allies never found out about it. None of Reichsstatthalter Sauckel's conscripted work force lived to tell about it. The infrastructure was huge, far greater than other pens that serviced U-boats of the Kriegsmarine. Carved beneath massive fiord cliffs and having a submerged entrance, it was largely immune to both detection and huge pen-busting bombs. Little equipment had been installed before war's end.

As they explored the chasm, one of the men addressed Herr Hochziegle in a consoling tone, I am so sorry to hear that Frau Schreckgespenst was crippled. I know that she would want to be part of this.

No one is more sorry than I. He turned to his faithful adjutant, Has there been any improvement in her condition?

I do not know, Herr Hochziegle. I heard news that loyal friends came to take her home.

She was too good for such a fate.

With lamps set at the center of the blackness, Herr Hochziegle addressed the group. The air was dank and cold. Meine herren, I would like to begin with a question. He surveyed them with raised brows and folded his hands behind his back. Why have all of you come here?

Oberführer Grubermann stood to attention, I am here to fight to the end!

Hochziegle shrugged, Not bad. He looked to another man, And you?

A dejected but determined heart replied, I would far rather end my days in an obscure hole in the ground than bargain for my life by selling my talents to the Americans or Russians.

The SS man nodded weakly, Admirable. He sighed, shaking his head, All of you men, it is unworthy of you to hold such low goals! He received looks of puzzlement. "It is time that you remember history! Our Führer, Adolf Hitler, started out with no money, few supporters and many enemies. Communists… decadent imperialists… nothing has changed. He began pacing slowly, I must correct myself. We actually have much more than the Führer did. We have loyal Nazis across the country who have clearly proven themselves! We have tons of gold with which to build anything we want. He gestured around, We have scientists and designers who are a full generation ahead of those fool Allies! Staring off, he tipped his head with a smile, If our Führer had even a small fraction of such resources when he began, think of what he could have accomplished!"

One man shook his head, Our enemies now have the atomic bomb.

Hochziegle smiled fiercely, "And that will be the seed of their own destruction! We are going to provoke a war between the United States and Russia! And out of those ashes, our glorious Reich will rise again!"

Awe and hope began permeating the group. Grubermann smiled in realization, Even now, they are pushing and shoving for geographical dominance!

The SS leader nodded, It is only a matter of time before the Ruskies acquire the atomic bomb. Herr Hochziegle loudly announced, Until then! We implement Operation: Eisen Phönix! He took up stance before the group, "I now ask you my same question! Why are you here?"

They stood to attention. The first man announced, I have the complete project data for the intercontinental missile prototypes! But… how will we test them without being detected?

Hochziegle smiled, "We want the Russians and Americans to see our tests. Each will accuse the other of being responsible. He gave an affirming nod and looked to the next, And you?"

I have the formula for creating poison Z-gas. Its effects will enrage both sides more than an atomic bomb would!

We will only be using it against the Russians, my friend. They are the easiest to provoke. He pointed, You. I would hear your answer to my question.

The designer grinned, I have the complete specifications for the Panzerkampfwagen VIII, the P. 1000, and also the P. 1500!

Hochziegle chuckled, I think that the Maus will be sufficient. Having made his point, he didn't press more of them for answers, "The Führer has gone before us and shown us the way! We have fantastic power at our disposal, and we are going to use it. If the hordes of the world are too many to be conquered, then we shall provoke them into annihilating each other! Then we will claim our rightful destiny! He paused, clenching his teeth in hatred of wearing civilian clothes. Oberführer!"

Grubermann retrieved an art crate. From it, he pulled a portrait of Adolf Hitler and ceremoniously set it up on a light art easel.

Hochziegle confidently declared, "As long as we carry forward our Führer's vision, he will never die. He will never be defeated! Meine herren?" With renewed courage and galvanized determination, the group stood to attention.

All saluted as Grubermann led them, Sieg!






Colonel Wheaton's Revenge

Americans might call this autumn day 'Indian summer'. Unseasonable warmth awakened playful hearts. It was Sister Aimee's day to supervise children during playtime. Although she herself enjoyed youthful vigor, she employed an assistant in the form of Sister Danielle's rescued Puppy. Puppy was no longer little. Still not fully grown, he had just surpassed a lean 100 lbs. in weight. He was recruited to ensure that the kids got good, healthy running time in.

Puppy stood at the ready, eyes fixed upon the ball in Sister Aimee's hand. She wound up and gestured a hard throw, Go get it!

The big puppy-hound barreled off in the direction, unaware that she hadn't actually released his ball. As the little people laughed, she presented it to them. Children, this is a good lesson about paying attention, isn't it?

The excited Puppy stopped and looked around. Upon seeing Sister Aimee hold up the ball, he ran back and vocalized a complaining moan.

Sister Aimee cautioned, This is probably also a good lesson that we should not tease too much. More smiles and giggles ensued. She looked to the hound and knelt down, Let us pray.

Puppy dutifully sank down as he had been taught. When the human raised her hand again, he stood to the ready.

She explained with raised brows, Puppy, we are not done praying, yet. He sank back down. After a few seconds of marveling at the dog's intense focus upon the ball, she threw it as far as she could, Amen! Puppy bounded off after it. Who would like to throw the ball for Puppy? The crowd of little people noisily took off after the dog. Remember to share! Take turns throwing! Sister Aimee wasn't at all worried about him. He was fiercely protective of children, and he never nipped at toddlers who tugged at tail or ears.

* * *

Besides the magically warm weather, the day was special for another reason. The convent's light, horse-drawn carriages brought two new student nuns from the train station.

It was easy to tell which one came from America. "Mercy sakes alive! Would ya look at the size of this place?" Upon arrival at the courtyard gate, she promptly hopped out and grabbed her heavy bags.

Two nuns had been assigned to this newcomer. Good morning, Sister! Blessings be to you. I am Sister Valentina, and this is Sister Pippina.

The girl with yellow-blonde curls beamed brightly. She took hold of each one's hand for a vigorous handshake, Why, thank ye, Sisters! I am surely proud and honored to be here! The name's Sadie Mae, but Sadie'll be just fine, if'n you prefer.

Having difficulty understanding her speech, the two exchanged a glance. Sister Valentina asked, You are from America?

Pea Ridge, Arkansas! Well, that's home now. Daddy is Yankee and Mamma is Southern, so Pea Ridge was their compromise. She teased, It's right next to the old battlefield. Y'ain't never been there?

Pippina found the courage to admit, I've never heard of a country called Arkansas.

Sister Sadie broke into a bright smile, Aw no, honey, it's just a state, thereabouts in the middle. Her eyes widened, "Say! I have to ask." She went to Aimee's horse drawing the cart, "Where did you get this big beauty?"

Sister Aimee found him.

"Found him? You're joshin! What a catch! She felt over him, Your Sister Aimee does a right fine curry job. Tell me you're gonna breed him!"

Pippina looked pensive, Breed?

You know. Is he stallion or gelding? She received a blank expression. Oh for heaven's sake. Not the bashful type, she looked. "Woohoo! You are packin', ya' big stud!" She stepped away, admiring the animal, Looks like I'm gonna need to find me a saddle! Sadie then noticed their alarmed expressions, You two all right?

Oh! Yes. We are fine, Sister.

Sister Maisie came out to greet the newcomers. Having observed the social prologue, she braced herself, Sister Sadie, I be Sister Maisie. Welcome. She gave the formal kiss to each cheek.

Why, thank ye! I appreciate that. Y'all are right friendly around here!

Moving right along, Sister Pippina attempted to lift one of her bags, but it was exceedingly heavy for her.

Here, sweetie. Why don't you let me take that? With a hard tug, the hardy farm girl easily lifted her bags. Shall we?

Pippina delayed as Valentina took the newcomer into the convent. Sister!

Maisie sighed, God loves all children… even barbarians. She proceeded to greet the other newcomer, one who by appearances seemed to be more traditional.

Before leading the horse to the stables, Sister Pippina's curiosity got the better of her. Attempting to be discrete, she stepped back to the cart, facing outward. Then, leaning and turning eyes roundly to peek, she examined the horse. She gasped at seeing the stalliondom and scurried forward to lead the horse.

Sister Maisie presented herself to the second neophyte. Bestowing formal kisses and embrace, she smiled, I be Sister Maisie. Welcome to your new home, Sister Tabitha.

The wisp of a girl radiated timidity and frailty. She wore glasses that seemed to be too bulky in frame for her. One had to listen carefully to hear her voice, Thank you. She wore what looked like a flat holster on her hip.

What be that?

Oh… She produced a device heavily imprinted with symbols and numbers, This is a slide rule. She worked the moving middle section. It is used for mathematical calculations.

Really now? Maisie admired the craftsmanship, I would no' know where to begin using this thing. You learned this in school?

No, ma'am. It was a puzzle I had to figure out on my own.

Ah! Please, no calling me ma'am, just Sister if you please. At receiving a bow of the head, her next question surfaced, A puzzle, you say?

Mhm. My papa gave it to me with equations to solve, just like his papa gave to him. Tabitha reached to touch, But Grandpapa didn't need one.

Maisie's eyes closed and her brows raised in disbelief. Ookay. I've… never heard of a contraption like this. She shook it off and escorted the girl inside to the receiving atrium where she would await Mother Lynde.

Sister Tabitha sat down in one of the guest chairs before a large, round coffee table. On it was a half-completed thousand-piece puzzle with loose pieces strewn all around.

Sister Maisie watched the neophyte lean over the table to examine pieces closely. You're very task focused, aren't you? The girl nodded. Maisie smiled, That be a fine gift, but we're no' gonna let it distract you from important relationships with others.

Not breaking her multitasked focus, Sister Tabitha replied weakly, Yes, Sister.

They heard Sister Sophia cry out from outside, Somebody help me! The Scotswoman caught sight of young children pushing Sophia's wheelchair rather quickly down the sidewalk.

She chuckled, Oh dear. Might I leave you alone to await Mother Lynde? She received another nod from the girl who continued examining puzzle pieces.

It wasn't a long wait for the neophyte, but by the time Mother Lynde arrived to greet her, the puzzle had been completed.

* * *

As part of a mentoring program, neophytes roomed with veterans. As Sisters Valentina and Sadie settled in together, the newcomer noticed the violin. "Well lookie at what we have here! Do you play?"

Valentina smiled modestly, I played in symphony. You know how to play the violin?

"I sure do, honey. May I?"

Of course, but please be very careful with it.

Sister Sadie put the instrument to chin and plucked the strings to check tuning. She then drew the bow across them. "Whoah… Su-weet sound! Where'd you get this thing?"

Valentina was a bit amazed at the skill she heard, It belongs to a conservatory professor. I haven't yet found him to return it. She smiled, That kind of music, I've never heard it before!

Sadie smiled, returning the instrument, Well, if'n you want, you teach me symphony and I'll teach you bluegrass. Deal?

Making a personal connection, Sister Valentina smiled brightly at this strange personality, Deal.

Sister Olga poked her head into the doorway and spoke with improved English, Val, if anyone is looking for me, I have new parts. I am going to work on the BFT.

Sadie shook her head, BFT?

Olga explained with happy expression, It stands for Big Farm Tractor. She added, Very big.

Oh, hey! If'n you need any help, you call me, now! Ya hear?

You know tractors?

Sadie chuckled, Honey, I was born on a farm. I ain't seen an engine yet that I can't fix, given the parts.

Sister Olga squinted pensively and shook a finger, I think I might like you.

* * *

The extroverted American eagerly sought to meet and learn about everyone. Many of the nuns didn't know how to cope with her complete lack of reverent tranquility. Sister Maisie in particular didn't respond well. Whatever reactions were boiling on the inside, she put up a wall of pleasant and polite demeanor. Unfortunately, a worrisome cycle ensued. The more that Sister Maisie defiantly kept her at a personal distance, the harder Sister Sadie tried to befriend her. Soon enough, the bell of confrontation began to toll.

On the morning of winter's first frost, Maisie fine-tuned work assignments. She caught up with the neophyte, Sister Sadie? If you'd be so kind, Sister Danielle requested tha' you take a turn keeping Puppy occupied.

"Oh, heck yes. I grew up with hounds back home. She snickered, Puppy is so funny. He dances around the horses, tryin' to get 'em to play. He doesn't realize that all he's doing is giving 'em the willies!"

Thank you, Sister.

Sadie challenged, Did I do something to offend you? Because if I did, I'm sorry.

Maisie folded her hands, Offend? What ever would make you think that?

Well, mainly because of how b- She caught herself, folding her hands and settling into higher Southern demeanor, By how contrary and unsociable you have been toward me.

Maisie politely responded with hint of an angered smile, "Let's just say

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