In the fifth book of the Assassin Chronicles, this particular scene concerns a new character introduced a while back. His name is Paddy Puffingtowne and he seems to know a great deal about the Order and its members.
Merry ran into Konrad von Hetz coming out of the library. He caught up with her in the kitchen.
“Sister,” he caught her arm and stopped. “Do you know who this Paddy creature is?”
“Mark’s friend from Rome… I mean from Kilkenny. He’s Irish, not a creature!” she said as they walked toward the door.
“I did not mean to offend. We are, after all, God’s creatures, are we not? But tell me, do you know anything else of him?” von Hetz asked her.
“No. Except that he’s a character. He really made Lucio mad about the wine. He says Mark hired him to guard the cellar,” she laughed. “Can you believe it?”
“No. I don’t believe it at all,” von Hetz told her in truth. He did not understand Puffingtowne’s presence, nor did he understand Meredith Sinclair Dambretti. She was also a creature of a different sort. If he didn’t know better, he would have classified both she and the so-called clurichaun as cut from the same cloth. Her mannerisms were a mystery to him, but he attributed them to her nationality. He called her American, but she referred to herself as a Texan which made no sense to him either. The only other American he knew or had known personally was the late Christopher Stewart and even he had been very much like his master, Sir Ramsay. Privately, von Hetz had often speculated that Sir Ramsay might have had a hand in bringing Stewart into the world, but there was no sense in opening old wounds. The Chevalier du Morte had been totally devastated by the apprentice’s death. It mattered very little whether Christopher had been his son, the love between them could have been no less than a father for a son. “I believe there’s more to him than meets the eye.”
Merry stopped and turned to frown up at the dark Knight.
“What is it, Brother?” she asked him. “You don’t like Paddy, do you? Why?”
“He knows too much about Sir Ramsay’s work in the laboratory and did you know that he knows about the Golden Key?” von Hetz asked her in a low voice.
“No! Really? Do you think Mark Andrew told him?” she asked incredulously. That didn’t sound like Mark at all.
“I don’t know,” von Hetz shook his head slightly. “You know that such would be treasonous.”
Merry nodded. Her spirits sank. She wished that von Hetz had not told her such a thing. It gave her an instant headache and the baby squirmed in his blanket, whimpering. He was hungry.
“He would bear watching. I haven’t decided what recourse to take, but we can’t have strangers delving into our business. The risks are too great.”
“I know, but you shouldn’t tell the Master just yet,” she said quietly. “I think he is here to help Mark. Perhaps it’s like Lucio says, the will of God. He seems harmless enough.”
She turned away from him and searched the refrigerator for a bottle for the baby. He watched as she deftly put it in the microwave and zapped it for several seconds before placing a sterilized nipple on the bottle.
“And so seem the dandelions, but they choke out the grass and the cattle die from hunger,” von Hetz pointed out. “Even Hitler was an innocent babe in the beginning.”
Merry smiled at his strange analogies. “Yes, but he had a hard childhood I heard. You don’t think that babies grow up to be tyrants if they have loving homes and decent upbringings, do you?”
“That is certainly debatable, Sister,” he said as they headed for the back door. “I had one of the worst childhoods one could imagine, but I hardly consider myself a tyrant. And your husband’s upbringing left a great deal to be desired. If what you say is true, then it should be true for the reverse. Since it is not, I cannot say whether it is so.”
Merry was totally confused by the time they reached the patio. She wanted no more of dark thoughts just now, but von Hetz always made her think of dark things it seemed. The unlikely trio was just finishing up a song when they reached the patio. Louis had a good fire going in the brass fire pit in front of the wrought iron lawn chairs.
“Ah, Konnie,” Paddy addressed von Hetz by his new nickname. “Who’s this ye’ve brung with’e?”
“Meredith!” Mark Andrew blurted her name and looked up at her in surprise. He held up an empty wine bottle as if in a toast. “We didn’t disturb the babes, did we?”
“No. I just thought I’d come down for some fresh air,” she said as she sat in the chair next to him.
The clurichaun left his perch on the table and came to take a peek at Marco.
“Nicky, my boy. Wot seems t’ be th’ problem?” he asked and reached for the child.
Merry let go of him reluctantly and the small man climbed from a chair to the tabletop with the baby clutched in both arms. She held the bottle ready in her hand, expecting the baby to start wailing immediately.
“Ah, Nicky. Ye’ll be as lovely as yur mum, I’ll wager. Have ye seen yur namesake, Andy? He’s a beaut.”
Mark Andrew pulled the cork on his second bottle and got up to look at the baby. Paddy held out the little bundle and Mark took him awkwardly in the crook of his arm. Marco’s blonde hair gleamed like silver threads and he opened his eyes, looking up at them as if he knew these were strangers looking at him for the first time.
“He smiled!” Mark was surprised again. “Did ye see thot, Brother?” he asked von Hetz and the German nodded.
Merry winced. Mark was drunk. Marco was too new to smile. He’d only just learned to cry.
“Weeel, now. Wot d’ ye think o’ thot?” Paddy asked him after a moment. “He’s getting’ a gud look at ye now. Ye won’t be a stranger t’ ’im nae more.”
“Hmm,” Mark commented as he squinted at the baby. “He looks nothing loike ’is father. More loike an angel, if ye ask me. Aye, tis a gud namesake, he is. A foine pretty boy. He’ll make ye a gud apprentice someday, Louie, when Baldemar is ready t’ be Pope.”
Louis smiled broadly at Meredith. Baldemar de Jesus was a strongly religious fellow, destined to be a major player in the Roman Catholic church someday. He was one of the strangest members of the Order that Merry knew personally. It seemed that he had been picked especially because he was such a devout Catholic and she wondered how he had become involved with a bunch of ‘heretics’ like the Templars. But there were many things about the Order that she did not understand. Would probably never understand.
Merry let out the breath she didn’t know she was holding.
“I think Nicky is a good name for him, don’t you?” Paddy leaned slightly and caught Merry’s attention. “He reminds me of Simon.”
“You knew Simon when he was a baby?” Merry asked quickly. Her curiosity about her Brothers’ beginnings had been piqued and renewed by Lucio’s story of his adventure in Jerusalem with Mark Andrew and von Hetz’ curious remarks about his own childhood just moments before in the kitchen.
“Ahhh, yes,” Mark answered instead. “Simon was an orphan of the church. Everyone knew Simon.” Merry narrowed her eyes at this vague answer. Everyone knew Simon? Did this imply that Paddy was as old as the rest of them?
“He was a special child,” Champlain added quietly. “The Brothers made over him like a murder of croaking crows. Always arguing and bickering about who was going to take him out for a walk and who was going to give him his bath and who was going to feed him. It was a sight for sore eyes to see Father Sebastiano bouncing him on his knee… and in the confessional no less!”
“It was indeed, Brother,” von Hetz agreed. He had not gone to France often in those days, but Edgard d’Brouchart had insisted that he come to the church and the monastery to see the baby Simon. A gift from God he had called the child. Now he understood why the Grand Master had been interested in the boy’s welfare.
“He threw up on me uniform once,” Mark nodded and looked down at the baby suspiciously, no doubt expecting a repeat performance. “It took furever to get it oll out o’ th’ chain.”
“I took him riding on my horse once,” Champlain mused and leaned back in his chair, turning up his second bottle. “The Master was beside himself when he found out. I thought I was going to get a beating sure.”