Saturday, 29 January 2011
Father Ignatius breaks a leg.
The letter had been on Father Ignatius’ desk for about a week now. A local firm of Solicitors had asked him to attend a meeting scheduled for this morning. He tried getting through to them on the phone, but was never able to contact the signatory to the letter. The person answering the phone could not help either. Reluctantly, he decided to attend the meeting.
There were about a dozen people or so at the reading of the will. Mr Simmons was not particularly wealthy but he left a few small sums of money mainly to local charities, which the people at the meeting represented. He had no relatives or friends to speak of.
Father Ignatius knew of him. He visited Mr Simmons at home a few times to see him when he wasn’t well, but usually Father Donald called on him since he never attended Mass. He lived alone on a farm on the outskirts of town.
The priest wondered why he had been named in the will instead of Father Donald. “Never mind,” he thought, “whatever money he has left us will come useful in meeting the church’s expenses.”
“ … and to Father Ignatius I bequeath the statue I valued so much. I request that he installs it in the front garden of the church for all to see and admire.”
“What?” thought Father Ignatius, “he left us a statue?”
He asked the solicitor after everyone had gone whether he knew anything about the statue, but he could shed no light on it either. He explained that there’s a life-size statue in a barn on the farm and that it will be sent to him in a week or so. He hadn’t seen it personally so he could not even say what it was a statue of.
Father Ignatius wondered about this strange bequest for a whole week. Father Donald teased him “Maybe he made a statue of you to honour your good works. It’ll look good in the middle of the car park. We can use it as a roundabout to control the traffic!”
At the breakfast table a few days later Father Ignatius was enjoying ginger marmalade on toast when Mrs Davenport, the housekeeper, came in and announced: “There’s a removal van in the car park. They seem to be unloading something!”
The two priests went out to investigate, followed by Mrs Davenport.
“Is either of you two gentlemen Father Ignatius?” asked a fat man walking towards them.
“I have a delivery for you guv’nor. Would you sign here please … and here … and one more time here … that’s loverly! This box here is yours. And you can keep a copy of these papers too. Tara!” And he drove off accompanied by his mate.
“It’s a big enough crate!” said Father Donald.
“We can’t keep it here. Let’s get some tools and open it”.
Minutes later, supervised by Mrs Davenport, they managed to remove the front panel of the upright wooden crate. It was full of straw which they gently removed revealing a shape taller than Father Donald; and he is over six feet tall. The shape was covered by cloth which was well held in place by heavy duty string.
The two men gingerly moved the shape out of the crate by sliding it to and fro until it was standing upright by itself in the car park. They then cut the string and removed the cloth wrapping the statue.
“Oh … it’s a naked wee cherub!” declared Mrs Davenport, "just look at him ... isn't he cute?"
“Nothing wee about him,” said Father Donald, “he’s an overfed cherub who should have gone on a diet a long time ago.”
“Isn't he wonderful ... and he’s all naked too … the little angel!” continued Mrs Davenport with a smile.
“Yes … we have noticed,” replied Father Ignatius impatiently.
“Will you be putting him in the middle of the car park? He’ll look grand there,” suggested Mrs Davenport, “the parishioners will like him, I’m sure!”.
“We’ll do no such thing with this monstrosity,” was Father Ignatius’ abrupt reply.
“I don’t know,” teased Father Donald, “by installing him there we’d be the talk of the town. We could add a plaque saying he was bequeathed to the church in your honour Ignatius!”
Father Ignatius’ silence spoke volumes. He put the straw and cloth back in the crate and said: “We’ll have to remove him from here. Let’s put him in the garage for now. I’ll fetch a trolley to put him on.”
Minutes later the two priests tried to lift the statue onto the trolley. It was a little heavy but they managed it. As they pushed the trolley towards the garage one of its wheels must have caught something because it stopped abruptly and the statue slid forwards and fell to the ground before the two priests could do anything about it.
They moved away swiftly to avoid the statue crushing their feet; and after the initial shock of the sudden accident they realized that one of the cherub’s legs had been broken by the fall.
“Mercy me …” cried Mrs Davenport, “the wee angel broke its leg!”
“We’re both all right, thank you …” retorted Father Ignatius trying to keep calm.
“Hey … what’s this Ignatius?” said Father Donald pointing at the ground, “it looks like a small leather bag. It must have been inside the hollow statue.”
Father Ignatius pocketed the bag and the two priests eventually managed to store the statue, and its severed leg, inside the garage.
Moments later, in Father Ignatius’ office, the two priests opened the bag which contained seven little jewels. Five crystal in colour, and two red.
They didn’t know what to do about them, so Father Ignatius contacted the solicitors the next day who assured him that they belonged to him.
“They were in the statue and the statue is now yours, including its contents,” said the solicitor. “Mr Simmons had no family or friends to inherit his belongings. He left the statue to you, and had you not broken it we would never have known it contained anything. I suggest you keep or sell the so called jewels and use the proceeds as you wish.”
Well, the jewels were valued and sold for just over £8000 which helped with the church’s maintenance costs, and quite a bit besides to feed the poor of the Parish.
“The wee cherub may well have been naked,” remarked Mrs Davenport, “but he hid a treasure all right!”