Father Halyard was a true solitudinarian, though he preferred the term hermit. He was a man without pretention and preferred the solitary life of prayer and devotion. It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate the visits from the novices that were occasionally sent to bring supplies to the hermitage. He would receive not only food and reading materials but news from the mother house, though he would never allow conversations to descend into gossip. What he missed most however was fresh daily bread warm from the oven. Everyone has their weaknesses.
Ben could, and the operative word here is “could,” be quite affectionate and comforting to Grandmother. Granny Delia doted on him, but he was rather hit and miss in his reciprocation. Despite all of her best efforts, Ben would stay out late at night, and sometimes not come home at all, for days at a time, ignoring her frequent calls, only to return as if nothing had happened at all. I guess tomcats can be like that.
It shouldn’t have never come to this, but sadly it was so. The soldiers of the First Brigade were having to forage for food. Worse still it was in their own land. A series of tactical setbacks had forced them to fall back beyond their own borders erasing the gains of the previous spring. How could they in good conscience take the food crops of their own children and grandmothers? Surely an occupation by the Empire could be no worse than this.