One of the Masters of this Convivium seemed to him to be a particularly enlightened person, and also one "able to love", to use the expression of the Regent. Could he possibly bring up the question? Jarvis decided to try a talk with him.
"Master Kente, may I steal some of your time?"
"You can steal nothing; time, in fact, doesn't belong to me," the man answered with a smile, "but if you want to talk with me, I am at your disposal."
Jarvis smiled, "You are one of the most serene and luminous people in this Convivium."
"You are wrong - it is this Convivium that is luminous and serene. I am just a reflection of it."
"A very agreeable one, none-the-less. You seem to be a person able to love - what is your secret?"
"I have no secrets - I love, love. I think that love is the greatest force in the universe."
"Love... of any kind?" then Jarvis asked.
"There is but one kind of love, Professed, not many kinds."
"But it manifests itself in many ways... "
"I agree on this."
"And are all its manifestations good?"
"Do you have any doubt about this?"
"If not I, many do doubt this."
"Tell me a love manifestation that is not reputed to be good, then."
"Love that wants to possess."
"If one wants to possess, it is not love. Love is giving oneself, it is not to possess."
"The love towards a person we ought not to love, then?"
"If it remains inside his heart, there is no evil. If it manifests itself... well... it depends."
"On what, pray, Sir?"
"For instance, loving physically a person already bound to another. This would be lacking of love towards the other person. Therefore, it is evil. Such is the case in adultery."
"And in the case of incest?"
"It is a deformed love - love between parents and their children cannot masquerade as a love between lovers. But above all, it is a limit that nature decided - almost all of children born from such love, are born with heavy taints. Thus, love between blood relations would be lacking love for the infant."
"And what about love between two people of the same gender?"
"If it is a 'given' love, it is real love, therefore it is good."
"And yet, it is considered a crime. Is the law then wrong?"
"Law has its limits, as it is a human product."
"Doesn't law come from God?"
"Yes, certainly, like the light comes from the sun, there is no doubt about that. But it's enough that a cloud passes, or fog rises, or an eclipse, or just night. But the beautiful light of the sun, still continues to shine and, though it is no longer visible, is no less pure."
"Therefore, if a man loves a man, he doesn't commit a crime?"
"Your question is not correctly phrased - what goes against the law is always a crime. Therefore love between two people of the same gender is in fact a crime. But it is not said that all that we consider crime, is evil. Then... just love your man serenely, Professed."
"Do you love a man, Master?"
"I love all men."
"One above all?"
"We all have somebody particularly dear to our heart."
Jarvis understood that it was useless to persist. After all he was a stranger to the Master. He couldn't expect to gain his confidence. But he decided to play a last card.
"Forgive me, but if I dared to ask you such personal questions, it is because I have a problem and I would like your advice, that's why I asked you if you too had experiences like mine."
"If the doctor could heal only the illness with which he had been stricken, the ideal doctor should be dead!" the man said with a smile.
Then Jarvis said, "It is so hard for me being away from my man. I miss him. And I miss also the physical aspect of our relationship. Here, there is a Novice who really attracts me, and I don't know what I should do."
"If the boy was also attracted to you, if it was a mutual desire, why not? Fidelity is a quality belonging to the heart and to the mind, not to the body."
"The problem is that... I cannot ask the Novice what he feels towards me, if he wants to make love with me."
"You can make him aware, with gentleness and respect."
"Then, even if he were to accept... where, how, when? I wouldn't know how to go about it."
"Certainly, as you are a stranger here, but not the Novice. Confide in him."
"Are there safe places and moments?"
"Do you doubt it? The same as you found them with your man, so do all the lover couples. I wish you a good encounter, Professed." Master Kente said, with a smile, a short bow, and left.
On the following day Jarvis was in his cell writing down his notes, when he heard a light knocking at his window. It was the Novice Fresth. He went to open it.
The boy handed him a small basket, "Grapes from our vineyard. I hope you like them."
"They're for me? Thank you, you are really kind. I thought of you often in these past days."
"I have been thinking of you, as well. I wanted to meet and talk with you."
"I am happy seeing you. Why don't you come inside, so we can talk?"
"Novices cannot enter the cell of their superiors. We have to talk from here."
"But from here... we can only talk." Jarvis said looking into his eyes with a smile.
The Novice looked at him, without changing his expression, with the same smile as before, and said, "Why, what else would you like to do, Professed?"
The young man leaned his hand on the Novice hand still leaning on the windowsill, in a kind of light caress, "Spend some time with you."
The boy turned his hand, palm up and lightly squeezed Jarvis hand, "Even just talking could be pleasurable."
"I like your name."
"Does it remind you of your friend?"
"Did you like him?"
"Yes, we were fond of each other."
"Was he handsome?"
"I liked him so very much... "
"It is beautiful having such a friend, isn't it?"
"True. Don't you have such a friend?"
"Not real friends - there are two of my friends, novices like me, who..." the boy started to say but stopped, hesitant.
"With whom you feel nice?"
"Yes. At times with one of them, at times with the other."
"And you withdraw together..."
"As I would like to with you, Fresth."
"And I with you, Professed Jarvis."
Their hands leaning on the windowsill, held each other tighter. "Tell me how we can do this."
"It would not be easy..." Fresth said.
"How do you it do, with your friends?"
"As novices, in turns, we have to go in couples begging in the village. We come back in the evening. We withdraw into the thickets along the way back."
"I cannot come begging with you, unhappily. Why don't you come through the window? Nobody can see you, now."
"They could come to look for me, and so..."
"I desire you, Fresth."
"I too you, also."
"I want you."
"We have to find a way."
Jarvis brought the boy's hand to his lips and kissed it. The boy moved his hand to his cheek, then placed a kiss where the young man had kissed it, "I'll find a way, I swear!" he said and ran off.
Jarvis watched him going, nimble and light, and felt his desire increase.
Three days elapsed, and Jarvis saw the boy only in the moments of common gathering - in the refectory, in the Main Hall. They couldn't exchange even a word, but only long, furtive glances. On the fourth morning, the boy knocked at Jarvis' window.
"Can you swim?"
"Tomorrow all the novices go to the lake to fish. Each of us has to choose the place he thinks best and then try all day long to catch as many fish as he can. The rule is that we have to spread far apart. We decided on the places. I will be alone on the small island with the twin trees. I chose that place on purpose. An Acolyte will take me there with a boat, with my food and my fishing lines in the morning, and will come back to fetch me in the evening. You should go to the lake before we go, and come back after we leave. Unfortunately, you will have to spend all day there, however we will have many hours to spend together. You just have to take care not to be seen."
"I like your plan. But how can I reach the lake, and how can I recognize the island?"
"In our library there are maps. But I drew this sketch to show how to get there, by swimming. It is impossible to miss that island, as there are just six of them, but only one has two identical trees."
"How long do I have to swim? A long time?"
"If you are a good swimmer, just the time it takes to sing the 'Let me enter' hymn."
"But if for any reason at the last minute you couldn't come? If they changed your fishing place?"
"No, there is no such risk."
"Nobody can see us, when we are on the island?"
"Nobody. I know it very well. I've been going there since childhood."
"With your special friends?"
"With them as well, yes."
"You are a veteran, then."
"In making love."
"My first time... I was thirteen. Three boys around sixteen years old raped me."
"Raped? And you... did you like it all the same?"
"No, not then."
"How did it happen? Do you mind telling me?"
"No... I was aware that I liked males. I saw one of them while he was peeing and told him I would have liked to touch it. He smiled and said, 'here somebody can see us. Come this evening to the old mill'.
"So I went, thinking I would have a good evening with him. I waited for him. But when he came, there were two others. They jumped on me undressed me and tied me on an old crate. I thought they were going to kill me. Then they, each in turn, slipped their tool first inside my mouth, then in my backside. And they laughed. Laughed! Laughed!
"I felt enormous pain, and an even more tremendous anger. I felt dirtied. The last one, after he unloaded inside me, untied me and they went away. I swore I would take my revenge.
"But, to my good fortune, when I was fourteen I met the eighteen year old boy who later married my sister. He was a really handsome, sweet boy. We first became friends, and then one evening, we made love. It was really beautiful. He made me realize that revenge would injure me even more than how those three boys hurt me that evening of the year before, even destroy me. He was at that time coming once a month to make love with my sister. When in the evening he went back to his village I escorted him for a stretch of the road, so we stopped at a tool shed halfway and made love. However, even though he did it with me with real pleasure, as he always liked boys, he gradually fell in love with my sister. So, after a year, perhaps a little more, he told me that we had to stop. I then looked for another partner. One day at the lake I tried with a cousin, a year younger than me. It was he who took me to that tiny island, and there introduced me to some of his other friends. Sometimes we even did it in fives..." the boy said, slightly embarrassed, giggling.
Then he continued, "I then decided to become a United. When I was a Candidate, I started doing it with one of the two friends I told you about. When we became novices, he found another novice and arranged for us to meet. This is all the experience I have..." the boy concluded serenely, and then added, "You will be my first man, therefore." And a smile full of expectation crossed his face that made Jarvis shudder.
"And the sixteenth of your list." Jarvis smiled.
"Did you count them?" the boy asked, surprised and amused.
"Yes. And I'm longing for tomorrow."
"That makes two of us!" the boy answered.
Fresth, saying good bye, went on his way.
The next day, Jarvis went out and swam to the island. After a while he heard the splashing of oars and stayed well hidden. Then again the splashing and after a while the boy's voice, "Where are you?"
With the noise of parting branches the boy appeared in front of him, wearing only his violet loincloth. Jarvis was wearing only his black loincloth as he had spread his robes to dry.
"Gosh, you're so beautiful!" the boy exclaimed, nearing him.
The boy was not bad at all. Jarvis, still sitting on the grass, reached up and untied Fresth's loincloth. He smiled, pleased at seeing the beginnings of an erection. The boy blushed lightly, but sat in front of the man and caressed his wide, muscled chest. Then slowly lowered his hands until he could caress Jarvis' erection through the tented fabric between his legs.
"You are also aroused." The boy said in a low voice, with emotion and pleasure.
"Of course, as I desire you. Pull it off, go on."
"May I?" the boy asked and opened it at once, freeing Jarvis' majestic erection. "You really are beautiful." He sighed caressing his member. Then uncovered his glans and lowered to lick it with the tip of his tongue.
Jarvis caressed his back, his sides, and his chest. Fresth was now licking the young man's testicles, then his rod all along its length, and again the tense, swollen glans.
"You will put all of it inside me, won't you?" the boy asked after a while.
"Do you want it?"
"Oh yes! But I first want enjoy it for a while with my mouth. It is beautiful, big and hard!" the boy murmured and plunged again on the flesh pole, making it slip into his throat. Then started to bob up and down in a steady rhythm, while caressing the young man's chest.
After a while Jarvis made him sit up again, "Now it's my turn to taste yours..."
"We have all the time we want, don't we? I want to suck it." Jarvis said and bent to the boy's lap.
After fingering and licking it for a while, Jarvis took it all in his mouth.
The boy vibrated, "Oh, you are skilled! That's good, wonderful!" the boy moaned planting his hands behind him on the grass, and tilting back his head, in an instinctive gesture of offering.
Jarvis lightly squeezed his nipples and the boy jolted again, "Oooh, but like this you'll make me cum too soon! Ooh... oooh... It's so good!"
No, Jarvis didn't want the boy to cum too soon, so when he felt that Fresth was tense and dangerously near his orgasm, he stopped and offered himself again to the boy's cares, "Your turn, now. Suck mine again."
Fresth didn't need to be asked twice. He bent to the young man's groin again with greed. Jarvis felt the tight lips, the hot, sweet mouth, the tireless tongue of the novice on his turgid member and felt an intense pleasure. They alternated in this way, almost in competition to give each other the maximum of pleasure, avoiding bringing him to the point of no return. But at a certain point Jarvis made the boy lie down and he too lay down at his side, but head to toe.
"Now we will do it together, to each other. But this time, without stopping."
"But I wanted you inside me... "
"Later, don't worry. I'll take you later, and you'll take me."
"Oh, good!" the boy gleefully said and started to suck him with a will.
Jarvis cupped the boys small ass with his hands and pulled him to himself, taking the youth's smooth, beautiful rod in his mouth. Then, while sucking with determination, started to tease and titillate the little hole with his fingers. The boy moaned and readily followed suit.
The sun, not strong but agreeable, now at its zenith, was shining high on the two bodies tied in a circle of growing pleasure. Only the light lapping of waves and the high chirping of the birds were counterpoint to the moaning of the two who were about to finally reach the peak of their pleasure. Jarvis felt the boy shuddering intensely, more and more, and prepared himself to receive the sweet tribute, that wasn't long in coming, and gushed out. He tasted it with real pleasure. At the boy's first jet, Jarvis let himself go and he too poured in the Novice's mouth his full load of seed. Fresth swallowed it in great sips, careful not to let leak out even just a drop of it.
They continued to suck at each other until their orgasms had subsided. Then the Novice nimbly turned upside down and kissed the young man on his lips.
"Are you happy being here with me, Professed?"
"I am too. I like you a great deal."
"But now, it would be better if we go fishing for a while, or else you will go back empty handed."
"I placed my fishing lines carefully. Don't move from here, or else the others might see you. I'll go to check and cast them again, then we can eat something."
"Yes. And then?"
"And then... I still want you. You promised ... "
"Yes, certainly. But how long was it since you made love?"
"Well, today you will recover."
"Yes, with you. But now I go. Meanwhile take a rest." the boy said gently caressing the young man's genitals and depositing a kiss on them.
He rapidly girded his loincloth and disappeared amongst the bushes toward the shore.
Jarvis watched him moving away, and told himself that this boy had the charm of a person with a clean heart, who makes love without complexities. The boy wasn't beautiful, he was just sweet, but he had another kind of beauty. Fresth came back quite soon, with the fish in his basket, and a radiant smile.
"I'm incredibly lucky, they all took the bait, but one. And they are also big. I'll not cut a bad figure. Look here!" he said putting the basket near Jarvis, and with an elegant and sensual gesture he removed his loincloth again.
Jarvis threw a glance to the fish still jumping in the basket, and then looked at the naked body of the boy.
"I'd rather look at you!"
"And I you. Look at the effect you have on me!" he said pointing at the new erection that was again awakening between his legs.
"Do you want to make love now?"
"Yes, I would like to, sure. But first we have to eat something." the boy said going to get the food basket.
"But you only have your ration. You eat it, don't worry."
"No, they weren't watching, I took much more. You can eat as much as you please."
"You are a dear boy." Jarvis said pulling him to himself and caressing him.
"But doing this, you'll make me forget about food." the boy pretended to protest, visibly enjoying the caresses.
Jarvis stopped caressing him, "Let's eat, then, without wasting time."
They ate the food, simple but tasty. Then Jarvis said to the boy, "Lie down, lean your head on my lap. We can have some minutes of rest, can't we?"
The boy complied, sat between the young man's legs and leaned his head on his belly. Jarvis started to lightly caress him. "Ah, if one could stay like this without worries!" the Novice sighed.
"Would you like living in a Convivium where you could make love in this way, without problems?"
"You need to ask me?"
"Yes... How would you like life in a Convivium to be?"
"Like it is... but with this added. We have wonderful gardens, in our Convivium. Just think if one could sit there this way, like we are now!"
"In front of all the others?"
"Well, no, not really. Alone."
"And the others? A garden would be needed for each couple!"
"No... It would be fine if the gardens had several cloisters where one could withdraw."
"But the buildings must not have windows looking into the garden, or else it would be like doing it in front of everybody."
"It is just a matter of laying out a good plan. Tall bushes, or walls, to accord privacy. And then, also the use of the bathroom in pairs only. It would be perfect. Being able to spend the night in the cell of the one you love, or just like and want to make love to."
"But what if two want to make love with the same person?"
"Well, then he must decide with whom he wants to make love."
"But the one excluded would be upset, don't you think?"
"Amongst sensible people... with me today, with you tomorrow. That's life. Ha, but such a Convivium is just impossible. Absolutely impossible."
"But if it existed?"
"I would apply at once to be moved there! Ant once!"
"Who knows but that one day it could really exist..."
"Ha, you are more of a dreamer than I. Such a Convivium, if it existed, would be destroyed at once. And all its inhabitants beheaded."
"It would be all right if nobody knew outside..."
"But if outside its walls nobody knew... how could I ask to be moved there?" the boy laughed.
Jarvis shook his head amused, and started to caress the chest of the sweet Novice. They talked some more about the "ideal Convivium" while the boy started to caress the young man, until he felt his quivering erection pushing against his back. He then slipped aside so that he could lick the newly erected member. They stopped talking to devote themselves to each other.
When they were fully aroused, Fresth whispered, filled with desire, "Take me, Professed."
Jarvis seized the boy at his waist and made him get on all fours, then sank his face between the boy's fresh, firm buttocks and started to lick him in the furrow, that he parted with both his hands, to lap and wet his little bud for a long time. His tongue darted into the tender, sweet hole with skill, and Fresth shuddered intensely each time and moaned, seized by a growing pleasure. When the Novice was all a quiver, Jarvis again took him and pulled him to himself, making him sit on his lap, his back leaning against his chest.
Fresth understood how the young man wanted to take him. And with his hand guided the beautiful, strong, hard stake, already wet with saliva, then let himself go down on it, so that the weight of his body facilitated penetration.
"Aaaah!" the Novice yelled, overcome by the intense pleasure of being impaled, "It's too good!"
"Do you like it?"
"So very much! And do you like taking me?"
"Of course I do." Jarvis answered continuing to penetrate deeper and deeper inside the hot channel of the boy, who was welcoming him with a radiant smile.
When the boy was well affixed to him, he made him lay with his back askew so that his shoulders leaned on the grass, then bent to him to suck his nipples and started to pump inside the boy from upwards with gentle thrusts. Fresth moaned softly, tossing his head, seized with growing pleasure. Instinctively the boy grasped his turgid member and started to masturbate,
Jarvis stopped him, "Later you have to take me, you mustn't cum, now."
"But I'll do so all the same..." the boy moaned.
"No, please, resist." The young man insisted and continued to vigorously piston in him and to caress all over his body, tense with pleasure.
Then, without slipping out of him, he little by little changed their position so that he was now kneeling between the widespread thighs of the boy. Keeping his pelvis slightly raised, he leaned the boy's legs on his shoulders and so took him from the front. He could now apply more energy to his thrusts and the boy seemed to appreciate this change.
"You are a splendid man, strong. I never dreamed it could be so beautiful, doing this with you. I want to belong you. Take me with you, forever..."
Jarvis didn't answer but kissed him deeply, continuing to piston inside him with pleasure. The novice was almost delirious. He held the arms of the strong Professed tight, tossed under him, greedily sucked the young man's tongue and moaned aloud. The intense pleasure of the boy inflamed that of Jarvis who was taking him, with increasing joy. The two bodies were shining with myriad of tiny sweat droplets. Fresth made his anus palpitate passionately around the glorious stake driving inside him, and Jarvis felt intense pleasure, thus he increased the energy of his thrusts, panting, seized by a growing frenzy.
Suddenly the boy came with strong spasms that at once triggered Jarvis' orgasm who unloaded inside Fresth emitting a long, hoarse moan of enjoyment. They lay down, panting, worn out.
Then Fresth murmured, "I love you. I love you!"
"No... " Jarvis lowly moaned.
"Yes, I love you. Take me away with you, please."
"That's not possible."
"Why not? Please tell me!"
"I am in love with another man, who is waiting for me at our Convivium."
"It doesn't matter. Love who you will, but let me belong to you. Take me away with you."
"When I'm with him, I cannot make love with you, don't you understand?"
"I don't care. I want to be yours, I want to live near you."
"You cannot be mine, because I belong to my man."
"I want to come with you."
"You'll just suffer being near me and not being able to have me."
"I'll suffer a lot more being far away from you."
"Be reasonable, Fresth, please."
"I can't, I can't." the boy answered bursting in tears.
Jarvis was troubled. He caressed the boy, tried to calm him down. The Novice wriggled away and prostrated himself on the ground in front of him.
"Please, take me away with you! Please! PLEEEASE!"
"Fresth, please, listen to me. You feel now you can't live without me, but this is only a momentary impression, due to the intensity of the pleasure you felt..."
"No! No no no! I AM in love with you!"
"But I can't love you!"
"It doesn't matter."
"Fresth, stand up. Stop this."
"Please! Please, please, please!"
"STOP IT!" Jarvis shouted feeling upset by the intensity of the Novice's sentiment.
The boy became silent, but remained prostrated, his body shaken with sobs.
Jarvis felt pity for him, instinctively crouched near him and took him in his arms. The boy clung to him, without a word.
Then Jarvis gently said him, "I have still many months of journey ahead, then I will go back for about one month to my Convivium, to my man. Then I leave for another journey. My horse cannot hold two people, so even if I wanted to, I could not take you with me. And throughout my journey I have to be alone, free to do my research, neither could I take care of you. Don't you see that it is impossible?"
"No." the boy moaned.
"Perhaps not now, but if you consider it again with a more composed mind, you'll become aware it is so."
"Fresth, I should not have made love with you."
"But we did."
"I didn't think... I didn't imagine that..."
"Neither did I..."
"Forgive me, Fresth."
"For what? I wanted to make love with you at least as much as you desired it. And even if you don't want me, I'll follow you. You can only stop me by killing me."
"Fresth! Don't talk nonsense."
"I'm not talking nonsense. I'm just saying what I feel."
"Fresth, you are a dear boy, you really are. But unhappily there is no place for you in my life. Try to understand that."
The boy didn't answer,
"I didn't want to do you harm, Fresth..."
"You didn't do me harm, but only good."
"But now, being forced to refuse your love, I'm hurting you."
"No. You do what you think right. And I'll do the same. Don't worry about me." the boy said forcing a smile. Then he stood up, "I'll go to check the fishing lines." He picked up his loincloth and went away, wearing it.
Jarvis was deeply troubled. What did he trigger inside that boy? Something; something bigger than the both of them. He had been foolhardy and could not forgive himself. How could he make up for it? What should he do? He reached a decision - at the price of its consequences, he had to confess everything to the Regent. For the good of the boy. Taking all the guilt on himself. Yes, there was nothing else to do.
Fresth came back with more fish, "The Acolyte will not be late, fetching me. But we do not have to worry, he'll not come looking for me, he'll just call out to me while approaching the shore, and I'll be there on the shore waiting for him. You should wait here for about one hour, before you swim back to the other shore."
"How do you feel, boy?"
"I feel guilty about you."
"You should not. It is not your fault, but mine. It is I who fell in love with you, not so?"
Fresth smiled, this time with his usual fresh, sweet smile, "The problem is mine alone, and I will solve it."
"You... you aren't planning on doing something silly. Are you? I wouldn't want that."
"Like killing myself? No, absolutely not. I love life too much, have no doubt of that."
"In our ideal Convivium such things could also happen, right?" the boy jested lightly.
Jarvis looked at him, taken aback for that sudden mood change. He asked, "And how can such a problem be solved, in our ideal Convivium?"
"In our ideal Convivium the two men continue to love each other, and the boy withdraws without dramatics, for love."
"Are you serious?"
Jarvis drew a silent sigh of relief. And yet, an inner voice told him that he had to talk with the Regent all the same, as soon as he was back.
They heard the call. The boy stood up and went close to Jarvis, "Won't you give me a last kiss?" he asked almost shyly.
Jarvis held him in his arms and kissed him. Then the Novice picked up his baskets.
"See you at the Convivium, Professed Jarvis," he said with a smile, and went toward the shore quickly.
As soon as he returned, Jarvis asked to be received by the Regent. He was received immediately.
"Well, Professed Jarvis, did you have a good trip?" the old man asked with a serene smile.
"Yes. I wanted to talk you about it..."
"Please. Be at your ease."
"What I have to tell you is a serious matter. But I must... I must tell you, and am ready to accept all the consequences."
"I felt strongly attracted to one of the novices of this Convivium."
"And felt a strong desire to have a physical intercourse with him."
"Today I met him at the lake and, not seen by the others, I convinced him to have sex with me."
"But not by force, right?"
"No, certainly not. But the problem is that now... now the boy has lost his head for me. He wants at all costs come with me, follow me."
"And you, what did you tell him?"
"That it is not possible. Absolutely not."
"Because I am in love with another man, thus I cannot give him my love, even if we were allowed to, even if I did care for him. I'm somewhat fond of him."
"Is this a pretext to discourage him?"
"No, this is just the truth."
"Now, if you think fair to punish me, I will accept your decision, but I beseech you to be magnanimous towards the boy, who has no guilt, and to help him to regain his balance and his serenity. Please. Don't punish the boy."
"What is the boy's name?"
"Do I have your word of honor that the boy will not be punished?"
"You have my oath."
"He is the novice Fresth, Regent."
The man smiled, "I knew."
Jarvis looked at him, stupefied, "You knew? How could you?"
"As soon as he returned from the lake the novice Fresth came to tell me what happened between you. Just... his version is somewhat different from yours."
"Different? How different?"
"The boy takes all the guilt on himself and entreats me to be expelled from our Order."
"I don't understand."
"So that he can follow you. And he could not leave the Convivium in any other way. In fact, if he ran away from the Convivium, I would be forced to report him and to have him brought back."
"As I feared... but the fault is entirely mine, not of the boy. Believe me, please."
"But what did you do that boy to reduce him to such a state?"
"I made love to him."
"That much is certain. But so much to fall so crazily in love with you?"
"I have been really unforgivable, I know. Therefore I will accept any punishment you decide to inflict on me."
"If you think I deserve it... I put myself completely in your hands. But help the boy, I beg you."
"You are an incredible man, professed Jarvis. You undoubtedly are honest and valiant. It is not everyone who would assume so totally his own responsibilities, as you are doing."
"I should have had more sense of responsibility before..."
"History cannot be written with conditional verbs. What you did is done, at this point. For the moment I ordered the boy to remain in his room in the novitiate until my next order. I confined him to the cell for ill people, so that he can be alone. We have to find a solution.
"Surely it is not by punishing you that we can help him. Putting together your two versions of the facts, I got the impression that he wanted your encounter at least as much as you did."
"But I am a Professed, he is just a Novice."
"A Professed just a few years older than my Novice. Here there are even Acolytes older than you, and to tell the truth, old men also less mature than you. The boy seems ready to do anything just to follow you. He told me that you don't want him to. But he said he would live as a beggar, lying at the door of your Convivium, just to be able to at least see you."
"Oh, my God!"
"And I fear that if I don't accept his request to dismiss him from our Order, he will run away. He has really lost his head for you. Therefore we should find, together, a better solution."
"But I cannot love him. I cannot even just make love with him, once I am back in my Convivium." Jarvis said with a sorrowful voice.
"It seems that the boy clearly understood this point. And I don't think he expects it at all."
"You said you assume all responsibility for what you provoked in the boy, even if unwillingly, didn't you?"
"And that you rely upon me?"
"Good. You also asked me to think of the boy's good, right?"
"Fine. Therefore I'll tell you what punishment I will give you, and at the same time how I mean to help the boy. I will not expel the boy from our Order, for the moment. Instead I will give him a horse, and a presentation letter. And on the day after tomorrow, you two, together, will leave this Convivium. You will take the boy with you on your journey, then to your Convivium. Here the boy will ask to be admitted as a Mystic. You will support his request. From here the needed authorization will come readily."
"But I cannot give the boy what he desires."
"I am not asking you to give anything to him. Only take him with you. Possibly the boy, in getting to know you better, will sooner or later change his mind, and ask to come back here, where he will be most welcome. Sincerely though, I don't think it will happen, if I truly know men. But this is the only hope we have."
"But if he doesn't change his mind?"
"He will become a Mystic. It is much better if he becomes a Mystic than a drifter, is it not? And who knows that he could find in the mystical dances the appeasement of what he is feeling for you. This is my decision."
"I cannot but comply - I promised it. Even if I am not certain that this is the right solution. Anyway I would not be able to suggest a better one to you - I couldn't find one, thus I relied on you."
"I am not saying that this is the best solution, I just say that I could not find a better one. You made my task easier with your attitude, honestly. I really thank you."
"You thank me?"
"I certainly do, as you are honest concerning our Novice."
"I should only have not made love with him..."
"But you did. You two were very attracted to each other."
"But mine was just a little more than a simple physical attraction. I was not able to understand that for him it was something different."
"From what the boy told me, it was the same also for him, at first. It is on the island that things changed. I have no experience with physical love, but is it not true that mystical and sexual ecstasy have a strong resemblance?"
"Yes, this is so."
"You made him experience ecstasy, that's evident."
"I am afraid that also is true."
"Don't feel so dejected, now. You will see that things will settle."
"Do you really think so?"
"Man is, in the absolute, the most adaptable animal existing in this world, as our brothers the Wises say. Will you do what I am requesting of you?"