All Will be Well is a YA vignette that is set during the time of the People’s Crusade. It is a story/series that I’m weaving into the fabric of my Crusades and Crusaders blog.
15 February 1096
The moment Adele saw Peter approaching, sitting on top of his mule, her eyes filled with tears. Adele had heard all about Peter’s teachings; of all the kindness and generosity he bestowed upon the people of this land. Many of the villagers likened him to Saint Peter–even though they had not yet met him. Father Marc even said that Christ had sent Peter to preach unity, good will, humanity and…Holy War. That was why Father Marc had wrote to Peter; He wanted him to preach here in the town of Rochefort. Adele suspected he wanted to hear more about this Holy War; she wanted to learn more about it herself. But she had other pressing concerns, and she needed to Peter. Desperately.
She could already tell that Peter was not alone. He was accompanied by several travelers. Few of them were knights, clad in a full suite of armor. They all chanted, “God wills it,” over and over again.
Adele hiked up her skirts and ran towards the procession, her vision nearly blinded by tears.
When Peter saw her, he brought his mule and the entire procession to an immediate halt. “My dear child. What is the matter?”
Adele fell to her knees. The rain soaked ground seeped quickly through her skirts, sending deep chills throughout her body. “Father…I am so glad you have come to Rochefort. I have…I have…”
“Come, child, take my hand and tell me of your troubles. The good Lord knows everything, and he has a grand plan for you; for us all,” Peter said, looking up towards Heaven.
Adele slipped her hand in his. It was cold, rough and caked in dirt, but she did not care. She was holding the hand of the great Peter the Hermit. That was all that mattered. She dabbed at her eyes and nose with her space hand. “Oh, dear Father. My mother is all I have left, but she is very ill. She wishes to see you.”
Peter gave her hand a squeeze. “Of course. I shall see her right away.”
Hand in hand, Adele and Peter led the procession of travelers into the village. A feeling of calm washed over Adele as she guided Peter to the tiny cottage where she lived with her mother and sisters. Children, who had been playing in the street, stopped what they were doing and ran towards Peter, their arms outstretched and smiles plastered on their pale little faces. Everywhere, curious villagers left their homes and coalesced upon her cottage. Caring not for the audience they have gathered, Adele pushed open the wooden door and guided Peter inside.
Father Marc was kneeling beside the cot where Mother lay. Elle was stoking the fire while little Josie played with her rag doll, Celeste nearby.
The moment Father Marc saw Peter, he bowed reverently and said; “Father Peter, you have come at last.”
Adele watched as Peter embraced Father Marc. “Yes, dear brother. My heart is rejoicing, for I have wanted to meet you ever since I received your letter. And now I finally have.”
Adele rushed to her mother’s side, took her hand and kissed it. Despite the fact that Mother’s cot was beside the fire pit, her hand was ice cold. Fresh tears stung Adele’s eyes. “He is here, Mother. All will be well.”
A weak smile spread across Mother’s face. “Adele…My girls…”
At the mention of ‘girls’, Elle and Josie rushed to Mother’s bedside.
“I don’t…have much time. Christ is calling me home,” Mother whispered.
Tears poured down Adele’s face. “What are we going to do? Where will we go? We have very little money.”
“Adele. Take my rosary and…listen to what Father Peter and Father Marc tell you. Do as they say. They will take good care of you girls.” Mother tried to lift the rosary over her head, but she couldn’t move her arms, so Adele took it from her.
“I will, Mother,” was all she could say.
“Mama! Please don’t go. Don’t go. Please,” Josie wailed.
“Come on, children. Let Father Peter pray over your mother,” Father Marc intervened.
Without another word, the three girls shuffled over to the door where Father Marc stood.
Adele watched her dear mother slip away right after she confessed her sins to Father Peter. Her face was white and marked with years of suffering, yet her expression was of content. She was glad to be in heaven, far away from here. Adele felt strangely happy for Mother and relieved to know that she would suffer no more.
“Your mother has repented. She is with God now,” Father Peter said after he finished praying over her.
Adele made the sign of the Cross. So too did Father Marc and her sisters.
“My dear children; your home is no longer here. It is in Jerusalem. It is God’s will, as your mother’s, that you take up the Cross and fight the enemy,” Peter said.
Adele was not surprised to hear this, yet she could not stop her heart from racing. “But Father, I am only sixteen and I do not know how to fight.” She felt a strong hand on her shoulder; Father Marc’s hand.
“God will protect us. He is on our side. He will smite the very enemy who desecrated the Holy Sepulcher.” Father Marc’s voice was so loud, it rang in Adele’s ear.
Adele turned and cast him a blank look. “Pardon my ignorance, Father Marc, but I do not know who this enemy is.”
Peter’s face flushed a deep red. He looked at her as if she has just uttered a blasphemous word. So did Father Marc.
“They are Muslims; a race of barbarians,” Peter yelled. “These filthy heathens, who proclaim a lowly man, Muhammad, as God, base their religion on rape, murder and incest.” His lips began to tremble. “These infidels continue to desecrate the place where our Lord suffered; they persecute and torture the Christians living under their rule, and now they threaten to destroy Romania.* These Muslims are the Antichrist, I tell you.” He paused and took a deep breath. “But the good Lord has heard the cry of his people for deliverance. That is why he has called us to save his Holy City and defend our Eastern Brethren from the infidel.”
Adele exchanged looks with her younger sisters. She could easily tell, by the looks on their faces, they were just as horrified by this news as was she. So, this is what the Holy War is all about.
Adele suddenly felt Peter’s hand on her shoulder and she smelt his putrid breath. She fought the urge to grimace and back away. The last thing she wanted was to offend him and Father Marc, especially since she had promised her mother that she would do as they told her.
“Jesus does not care that you are a young peasant girl, and he does not care that you are poor. He is calling you to take up the Cross and defend His people. The Holy Land belongs to Him. I promise, you and your sisters will be safe. We will all travel together, and there will be many Christian warriors who will accompany us.”
Peter’s eyes filled with tears. “All your sins will be absolved. Every one of you.” His gaze danced from Adele to her sisters, to Father Marc, then back to Adele. “The road to Jerusalem is long and treacherous, but that does not compare to the Heavenly award Christ has for you; for us. If God spares your life, He will bless you, for the Holy Land is full of treasure. Even the lowliest of peasants shall live a comfortable life.”
Josie squealed. “Oooh, treasure! I cannot wait to find out what it is.”
Father Marc cupped a hand over her mouth. “That is not God’s intention, child.”
Adele’s gaze shifted from Peter to her mother. “You are right. This is no longer our home. We no longer belong here. God has a plan for us elsewhere and He has sent you to us. I…we…will take up the Cross and, with God’s help, we will fight the infidel.”
“Bless you, child,” Peter said, bowing reverently. “You will have eternal salvation, I promise.”
Tears gathered in the corners of Adele’s eyes. “I wish only to be with my mother in Heaven, and it makes my heart glad to know I will see her again one day.”
Father Marc pulled a knife out of his cloak, then carefully cut out four crosses from Mother’s blanket. He handed one to Adele, one to Elle, one to Josie and kept the last for himself.
“Take this cross,” he said, holding up the piece of cloth, “and sew it onto your clothes, over your right breast.” He then made the sign of the Cross with his spare hand. “God wills it!”
“God Wills it,” they all yelled in unison.
Adele felt a strange tingling sensation all over. She did not know what lie ahead, but she was more than happy and prepared to leave her dismal life behind forever.
*The Byzantine Empire was commonly referred to as Romania (Eastern Roman Empire) in the Middle Ages.
Crusades and Crusades is mostly a non-fiction blog that follows the crusades (1095-1291), hence the title. The fiction vignettes that I’m including on this blog are intended to take the E.E.I.I. module (Educate, Engage, Inform, Inspire) to a whole new level.