The next morning, Mother’s fever had broken, but Brother Amos did not come back.
With Mother resting quietly for the first time in days, Lyssa felt the worry slowly leave her, but in its place came a dread at what she had done to her precious diary.
Lyssa opened the back page and took out the crushed potato sprout. She flicked it into the fire, but a stain remained on the pages, one she couldn’t sponge out with all her careful work. Poision! But how could she have known that what would poison a living person would have any effect on a ghost.
She hoped he wasn’t still suffering somewhere, babbling strange Latin words or seeing his abbey burn down over and over. The pain of what she’d done to her friend bore into her, softened only a little by seeing her mother gradually recovering. Sometimes Lyssa thought that Brother Amos would surely forgive her. Other times she thought he must have gone away and not come back because he was angry that Lyssa had been so selfish.
It was a week before Mother was strong enough to get out of bed. In that time, caring for the household kept Lyssa so busy she hardly had time to sit down and rest. But then the time came at last that Mother was her old self, singing over the morning kettle and scolding children who would rather play than do their chores. Then Lyssa had some time to herself to sit by the fire in the evening and look through the diary again.
Last fall, Brother Amos had promised to teach Lyssa to read when winter came. Of course he hadn’t known what would happen. Lyssa missed her friend, but it was a comfort to her to look through his book. She could almost remember the sound of his voice, reading her the words on the pages.
Sage. Snapdragon. Lyssa paused and looked again. Those two words began with the same sound, and she could see on the page that their words began with the same symbol. Eager now, she found another pair, Yew and Yarrow. Another symbol, another sound.
Maybe Brother Amos could still teach her to read after all.
In the spring, Lyssa would take the first leaf of green sage and place it between the pages, and maybe Brother Amos would speak to her again. She would beg his forgiveness, and ask him if he could please continue to be her teacher. But even if he didn’t come, she still had the diary, and maybe, just maybe, she knew enough already that she could come to understand the rest of it on her own.