For those who haven't met Eva before, here is a short introduction:-
Eva was a little girl growing up in post-war Germany in a small village on the left bank of the Lower Rhine. Previous adventures can be found under the label 'Eva's Tale' in the side bar. Each story stands on its own. Sometimes Eva writes the story herself, at other times she asks me to do it.
This is one of those that I tell for her.
The area where Eva grew up was predominantly Catholic; an important lesson at the village school she attended was religious instruction; Eva, together with most of the school - there were very few Protestant children then - had to go to Mass on Sundays. Each year was allocated its own pew. Eva rather enjoyed the Latin services, she liked the plain chant and hearty communal singing; the sounds and sights and smells appealed to her nature. Eva was always one for a dramatic spectacle.
Religious observance played very little part in her family as a whole, in fact, to add to the confusion, there were those who saw it as 'the devil's work'; but that is another story.
It so happened that on one particular Sunday she was very late arriving at Church. The service had started and she didn't feel comfortable to make her way to the front where her class mates were piously kneeling in their pew; she slipped into an empty seat in the set behind, joining children several years older.
One of the initiation rites in the Catholic Church is the First Communion when the child has reached 'the age of reason'. It was the custom in those days that a whole year would be deemed to have reached this stage; with all children receiving the necessary preparation at the same time.
When all the children in the pews Eva had joined got up and shuffled to the communion rail, Eva dutifully followed, making sure she did exactly as they did. This had never happened before and she was worried that she might get it wrong; she noticed that the priest hesitated when her turn came, but he carried on and when the others got up she again followed them back to the pew.
Within minutes a murmuring and whispering like the first breath of a playful wind rustling a handful of leaves arose all around her, there was a faint disturbance in the air, a shifting on seats and
shuffling of feet. The murmurs and whispers grew louder, Eva instinctively knew that she had done wrong and was therefore not surprised when a black-clad arm grabbed hers and dragged her out of the pew and to the back of the church.
The woman hissed, "you are not ready to take communion, don't you know what you did is a sin!"
Eva knew that a sin was a terrible thing, although she had only a very vague idea what kind of deed might be involved; she was badly frightened and burst into tears, making for the big church doors to escape from the angry woman.
She ran home; even so, the news had reached her Dad before she got there. Other children had run even faster to be first with the grim tidings; no doubt anticipating dire retribution to befall the sinner.
Eva saw her father hurrying towards her in the middle of the road, in shirtsleeves and braces, without tie and coat, an unheard of state of affairs on a Sunday. She herself was hotly pursued by two of the village women who had been at the service, a tall, scrawny pair, both in black hats and long coats, flapping and cawing like crows about to fall on carrion.
Eva wailed, "Papa"; her Dad scooped her up, his arms lifting her high, turning on the women with a stream of furious invective. Eva's Dad was a strong man, tall and imposing physically, with a very hot temper to match. He was also one of the members of the family with no time for organised religion.
The women stopped shrieking. Eva's Dad threatened them with unspeakable acts of violence should he hear of any further persecution of his precious girl. The women were not to know that this was an empty threat, violence simply not being part of his nature. They fled.
At school on Monday morning, Eva was taken to one side and firmly but kindly told that she must never do this again. Two years later it was her turn to learn her catechism and in due course became officially eligible to take communion.