The Virgin

10 Dec 2013 10:40 #127932 by Br. John
The Virgin was created by Br. John
The Virgin

by Khalil Gibran

His forces were outnumbered and the general had no choice but to issue the following order:
"To avoid loss of life and ammunition we must retreat in an orderly manner to a town unknown to the enemy and there plan a new strategy. We shall march through the desert, for it is better to follow such a route than fall into the hands of the enemy. We will pass monasteries and convents which we shall occupy solely to obtain food and provisions.''
The troops did not demur, for they saw no alternative in this critical situation.
They marched for days in the desert suffering fatigue, heat, hunger, and thirst. One day they saw an imposing structure that looked like an ancient fortress. Its gate was like that of a walled city. The sight of it brought cheer to their hearts. They thought it a convent where they could rest and find food.
When they opened the gate no one came to meet them, for a while. Then a lady dressed in black, her face the only visible part of her body, appeared at the door.
To the commanding officer she explained that the place was a nunnery and should be treated as such and no harm should be done to the nuns. The general promised full protection of the nuns and requested food for his troops. The men were served in the spacious garden of the convent.
The commander was a man of about forty years of age, vile, and incontinent. Tense with worry, he desired a woman to bring him relief and decided to force a nun. Thus, treacherous lust led him to pollute that sacred place where nuns had settled to commune with God and send Him unceasing prayers, far from the clamor of this false and corrupted world.
Having reassured the Mother Superior, the treacherous commander climbed a ladder that led into one of the rooms occupied occupied by a nun he saw through the window. The years of continuous prayer and solitary self-denial had not effaced all marks of feminine beauty in her innocent face. She had come here as a refuge from the sinful world and as a place to worship God undistracted by the world.
On entering her room, the criminal drew his sword and threatened to kill her if she cried for help.
She smiled and was silent, acting as if willing to grant his wish. Then she looked at him and said, "Sit down and rest, you look very tired.''
He sat near her, confident of his prey. And she said to him, "I wonder at you men of war for not fearing when you fling yourselves in death's lap."
To which the stupid coward replied, "Circumstances oblige us to go to war. If people would not call me coward, I would run away before I consented to lead a damned army.''
She smiled at him and said, "But don't you know that in this sacred place we have a salve which you can rub over your body to protect you from the blow of the sharpest sword?''
"Amazing! Where is this salve? I can surely use it.''
"Good, I shall give you some of it."
Born in a time when people still believed in such superstitions, the general did not doubt the holy sister.
She opened a jar and showed him a white salve. On seeing it, he suddenly began to have doubts. She took a little of it and rubbed it on her neck and said to him, "If you do not believe me, I will prove it to you. Take your sword and strike my neck with all your might."
He hesitated but she kept urging him to strike hard, and at last he did.
He came close to swooning when he saw the nun's head roll from her body, which fell motionless to the floor. Then he understood the ruse by which she had saved herself from defilement.
The nun was dead . . . and the commander could see nothing but two things in front of him: the virgin's corpse and the jar of salve. He began to stare now at the salve and then at the headless body. Then he lost his mind, pushed the door open and ran out, holding the bloody sword before him, crying aloud to his troops, "Hurry, hurry, let us leave this place!"
He did not stop running until some of his men reached him and found him crying like a senseless child, "I killed her! I killed her!"

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