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When Sister James reaches for her rosary beads and realizes they’re missing, she knows immediately where they are. She does not suspect a student of theft in retaliation for a bad grade nor does she question her own memory of dressing herself this morning. She hides a smile as she makes her way to Sister Aloysius’s office. She knocks gently and waits until her superior bids her admittance.

Sister James finds Sister Aloysius standing at the window, twirling her rosary beads around her finger.

“You must be less careless,” Aloysius says, not taking her eyes from the courtyard below.

James smiles and advances upon the older nun. “It wasn’t on my part that my beads left my possession.”

Aloysius turns then, her face closed as ever, though the corner of her mouth tips upwards in the barest hint of a smile. “Oh?”

The young nun shakes her head and steps in front of her superior. “They were stolen.”

“That is a very serious accusation, Sister James. Have you any proof?”

James blushes slightly. “I watched you take them when you left my room this morning.”

Aloysius smiles now, peering warmly through the lenses of her austere glasses. “So you did. I suppose you’d like them back?”

James nods. “For prayer.”

“I’ll let you have them—for a price.”

James ought to show more concern about these crimes—theft, bribery—but she can do nothing but smile as she leans forward and presses a kiss on Aloysius’s lips. She reaches for her beads, but the older woman holds them firmly.


Payment has never tasted so sweet.