Chapter V

Mr. Umbertson

Quickly washed and changed, Trinity was ushered into the Abbess' private office, where the Abbess herself, along with a portly man with a stout beard and short, graying hair. "Mr. Umbertson," he introduced, shaking her hand excitedly until she felt her arm was Jell-O. "You must be Trinity. I bet you are very excited, young lady." When he smiled he reminded her of a very joyful pig. His pudgy nose and pink complexion did nothing to discourage this image.

Trinity blinked at him, not understanding the situation. She looked up at Mother Abbess, who shed some light for her. "Actually, Mr. Umbertson, we hadn't told Trinity yet."

He looked surprised and disconcerted. He wiped his hands nervously on his vest. Trinity liked the gold chain of the pocket watch he wore, so decided he must be a nice man. "I dare say I don't understand why not!"

"We weren't sure she would be awarded the scholarship," the Abbess explained. "We didn't want to get her hopes up, only to have to disappoint her."

"Oh, my, well, yes, I suppose that is a good point, then. Alright, well, now she has it, so shall we tell her?" Trinity stifled a giggle with her hand at Mr. Umbertson's humorous bumbling.

"Trinity," the Abbess spoke directly to her, a rare occurrence. "Trinity, God has answered the prayers of this abbey and blessed you with a chance at an education alongside other children your age. We've done our best to socialize you and give you the skills you need to survive, Trinity, but what Mr. Umbertson can offer is more than we ever dreamed. Take this opportunity, Trinity. Take it and be thankful to God and to Mr. Umbertson every day for this blessing." The Abbess' eyes welled with tears and Trinity could not help but cry with her. Mother Abbess kissed Trinity's forehead and sent her away, tears still staining her silent face to find Sister Constance, who wasn't far from earshot.

"I heard, Trinity!" Sister Constance was crying, too. "I heard," she said one more time and held the child in her arms until they were both tired from weeping. Their tears were joyful and mournful.

When they were both calming themselves, Sister Constance looked deeply into Trinity's dark blue eyes and told her, "you are always welcome here, Trinity. No matter what, you are always welcome." She thought a while, still smiling gently at her adopted child who was cracking open the door to womanhood. "This will be just like an adventure novel, Trinity. There will be danger and there will be villains and there will be a heroine, darling, and that heroine is you."

Trinity hugged her long and deeply. They exchanged more through this communication than hundreds of letters could have accomplished. Trinity told Sister Constance of her adoration, her love, her gratefulness and her unwillingness to forget her words, no matter what should come in her life. Sister Constance told Trinity of her own adoration and love, her own gratefulness and the completeness that Trinity had brought to her life.

They said no more before Trinity packed and climbed into Mr. Umbertson's car the next day. Mother Abbess handed her an envelope and tearfully sent her off, leaving her with a last sentiment: "The Lord will always provide. Always."

As Trinity sat pensively on the train, she pulled the envelope Mother Abbess had handed her out of her carry-on bag. She opened it carefully. Inside were a simple silver chain and a wad of paper money, folded neatly. She tucked the money back inside her bag and smiled at the thin snake of silver. Someone, it seemed, had noticed her new necklace.

The children at her new school were neither particularly gifted, nor particularly rich. She shared her dormitory with a girl who kept her cigarette stash hidden under Trinity's bed and her mint stash heaped in the candy bowl by her own bed. She respected Trinity for keeping out of her way and Trinity respected her for her religious rapture on intermittent nights when she would lock her roommate out, calling out the Lord's name passionately from the other side of the door.

Trinity did not do exceptionally well in school and learned slowly when it came to socializing. For the most part, she kept to herself, read a lot and prayed nightly. She made silent, convenient friends in her classes and in her religious studies class she was graciously rewarded for her plentiful knowledge of the Good Book.

The years of high school corruption passed her by easily. She was teased for being mute. In response, she would blink, boring her attackers into surrender. She learned by her senior year about cigarettes, beer, boys and girls and the reason behind rolled-up skirts and shirts buttoned just a hair too low.

On occasion during her four-year education at her Catholic high school, Trinity would smile. For the most part, she would ogle her surroundings, wide-eyed and slack-jawed. It wasn't a mystery why some were convinced of her mental handicap.

She was, regardless of her vacant expression, a picture of classic beauty. Her black hair cascaded in waves just past her shoulders and always appeared windswept. Her large doe-eyes were a deep sapphire blue, uncommon for her olive skin tone and dark hair. Her lips were a perfect rose-petal pink that just dreamed of being kissed. Contoured cheek bones showed more and more through the years as she took an express path through puberty. Her figure, now fully developed, was slight of waist and flared out at her bust and hips, hidden well beneath her oversized uniform and, finally, her loose graduation robes.

Mr. Umbertson personally honored her in a speech that made her blush and she was awarded honors in religious studies and physical education. She threw her arms around Sister Constance after the ceremony, touched that she could make it so far just to watch her receive her diploma.

"I am so proud of you, Trinity," she told her now-adult surrogate child. "Will you come back to the abbey now that you've had a taste of this world?"

Something inside of her told her that her adventure was not finished quite yet. She shook her had sadly.

"Where will you go?" She wasn't upset with her surrogate child—now a woman. She was concerned for her safety. A job fit for a mute was hard to come by and how else could she support herself? Surely she hadn't found a boy to marry so young!

Trinity sensed all of these fears from her and placed one of the sister's hands on the side of her own face. She smiled weakly. Everything would be okay. She'd figure it out. The Lord always provides.

Sister Constance left tearfully, welcoming her, once again, to the abbey should she need shelter. They embraced one last time before Mr. Umbertson took her to the train station.

Trinity went to pack her few belongings in her dorm room when she heard a knock on the door. She answered it to find Mr. Umbertson smiling nervously at her. "Sister Constance told me you did not plan on returning to the abbey." He paused. "Are you in need of a job?"

Trinity's face brightened. To tell the God honest truth, she had no idea where she was going to take her bags.

"It isn't much, but I have a friend who owns a book store. Given your propensity for reading, I think he might be able to use you as an assistant. Would you like that?" He searched her face for an answer.

Elated, Trinity hugged him abruptly. The Lord will always provide.