Una takes Red Cross to the House of Holiness. The low door is Humility, Reverence is the hallway, and Celia is over the house. Fidelia (Faith) dressed in white, carries the New Testament scriptures and a cup of wine with a snake in it, symbolizing regeneration (the snake sheds its skin and becomes “newborn”) and holy communion with God. Speranza (Hope) dresses in blue, carries an anchor and prays constantly. Charissa (Love) dresses in yellow and carries babies to show God’s mother-like love and care. They teach Red Cross lessons that make him want to leave the world behind and stay there forever.
Penance, Remorse, and Repentance also teach him. Mercy helps him through the hard, thorny ways. She leads him to where Love runs a house of charity where six hosts perform services: The first shows everyone hospitality, the second feeds the hungry, the third gives clothing, the fourth saves prisoners, the fifth helps the sick and dying, the sixth cares for the dead, and the seventh cares for the children of the dead. (Seven deadly sins inhabit the palace of pride. Seven good men inhabit the house of love, showing the root of all sin is pride and the foundation of holiness is unselfish service.) Contemplation reminds him, as he shows him heaven, that he has to keep his promises to Una and the Faerie Queene and tells him his real name is St. George.
Red Cross and Una journey on to her father’s kingdom, laid waste by the dragon. The people are confined in a brass tower (Brass is used in the Bible as a symbol of judgment). The dragon is enormous. Una prays for the knight as he battles the monster. He first day he is almost defeated but is revived by the living waters from a nearby fountain. The second day the tree of life revives him, and on the third day he kills the dragon. (The Bible speaks of water as symbolic of salvation and cleansing, a reviving and renewing of life. The tree of life gives eternal life. On the third day Christ rose from the dead, victorious over sin and death.)
The king and queen and a procession consisting of Nobles, Soldiers carrying laurels, maidens, children and townspeople come out to meet them. A messenger arrives charging Red Cross with being unfaithful to a lady he promised to marry before. Una unmasks the messenger as Archimago and the lady as Duessa. The deceit is explained and Archimago and Duessa are driven away by Una’s people. The knight desires to wed Una but remembers that he has promised six years of service to the faerie queen.
Christmas originated in the Roman Empire when Christians gathered together to worship Jesus during the feast of Saturnalia. Since most Christians were poor or slaves, when the pagan majority celebrated Saturnalia, Christians were given the freedom, for that one day, to do whatever they wanted. They had “the day off.”
So when their masters, neighbors and friends went to drunken orgies to worship their gods, Christians gathered in purity to worship the true God. For almost two thousand years, very little has changed. As Christians attempt to exalt the God of Heaven and turn every heart to Him, unbelievers use every possible excuse to hearts away from Him.
“The Christmas season” has become an endless string of time consuming and expensive distractions. The purpose of Christmas has become making children happy or pleasing family members or helping poor people or anything else to divert our attention and energies from pleasing the God of Heaven.
That does not mean that we should not help the poor, or spend time with family members, or make children happy. It means, as Jesus said, “these things you should do and not leave the others undone.”
So what is a Christian’s responsibility to Christmas, since it is not even a Christian holiday? First, exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. Second do all to the glory of God. Do not allow others, events, traditions or even job responsibilities drive or distract you. Third, do not look down on the decisions other people make.
Let your moderation be made known to all.
Una and Sans Foy travel in the woods until forest people, hearing Una’s cries, come to her aid and chase Sans Foy away. They worship Una but she tries to teach them of the true God. In their ignorance they worship her donkey. Another knight arrives (a knight born in the forest), Satyrane (his name means born of a satyr, a half-man, half goat creature from mythology), and leads Una out of the forest when the wood creatures are busy elsewhere. A pilgrim (Archimago in disguise) meets them and tells them he saw a pagan and Christian knight fight and that the Christian was slain. Una believes Red Cross is dead. The pilgrim directs them to a place where he claims the pagan knight is tending his wounds. Satyrane goes alone, with Una and Archimago following secretly (separately) to watch. Satyrane battles Sans Loy but Una is so fearful of the Saracen that she flees. Archimago follows her.
Duessa finds that Red Cross has fled Castle Pride and goes after him, finding him wounded and without armor by a fountain. The fountain causes him to become even weaker. The giant Orgoglio arrives and Red Cross tries to fight him. Orgoglio is about to kill him when Duessa suggests he instead make him prisoner and take Duessa as his queen. (Duessa also represents the Scarlet whore of the book of Revelation, deceiving the nations and riding on a seven-headed beast given to her by Orgoglio). The Dwarf takes Red Cross’ armor and horse and leaves.
The dwarf finds Una. She fears the worst seeing the armor and horse and faints. The dwarf tells her of Red Cross’ captivity and they set out to search for him. They meet Arthur (the legendary English king, who symbolizes the spirit of England and mature virtue) and his squire. Arthur hears their story and agrees to help. Arthur’s squire blows a trumpet and the Giant’s doors burst open. The giant appears. Arthur fights the giant and kills him. Duessa flees but the squire brings her back. They take off her beautiful clothes and leave her in rags, deformed, bald and ugly. She runs away. Red Cross is in the dungeon of despair and remains sick and defeated even after they rescue him from Ignaro (Ignorance), the dungeon keeper who does not know where any of the prisoners are. Arthur leaves them and Una and Red Cross go on their way.
Una travels alone in a forest, becomes weary, lies down to sleep. A lion approaches and at first roars but then becomes her guard. She spends the night in the hut of Corceca, an old blind woman, (representing the blindness of false faith) Abessa, her deaf daughter, (representing the error of the Romanist church) and a thief, Kirkrapine. (His name means he steals violently from churches). Together these three represent the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church.They are very reluctant to let her stay but fear the lion. The lion kills Kirkrapine and Una flees.
She meets Archimago dressed as the Red Cross Knight. He claims the holy man told him of a quest to free imprisoned knights, which he has completed. She forgives him and they go on together. Sans Loy meets them and Una urges the false Red Cross to fight. He is forced to do so but is defeated. Sans Loy unmasks him and Una has time to see Archimago before Sans Loy takes her prisoner. They leave Archimago unconscious. Sans Loy kills the lion and takes Una away.
Red Cross and Duessa approach Lucifera’s castle. The seven deady sins are in procession. Lucifera is pride. Idleness (laziness) rides an ass, Gluttony (overeating) rides a pig, Lechery (evil sexual appetite) rides a goat, Avarice (greed) rides a camel with gold ornaments Envy (jealousy) rides a wolf, Wrath (anger) rides a lion. Satan drives Lucifera’s carriage with a whip. They see all the splendor and evil and Red Cross is challenged by Sans Joy, another brother of the wicked Sans Foy. He sees that the dwarf carries his brother’ shield, calls the knight a murdering Christian and swears to have his blood. Lucifera tells them they may fight the next day. That night Duessa goes to Sans Joy and claims she is true to him. The two knights fight and Red Cross is victorious. He flees when the dwarf reveals to him how many people are imprisoned in Pride Castle and shows him the ruin and decay usnder the finery.
They leave the forest and meet up with the old holy man. Una urges the Red Cross knight to rest and the old man agrees. They are assigned sleeping places, and the old man shows his true form, Archimago, and summons sprites. Red Cross has troubling dreams. A sprite impersonates Una and begs Red Cross to be her lover. He sends her away. Next he sees what appears to be Una with another man but is another of Archimago’s tricks. Red Cross leaves in sorrow and rage, taking the dwarf, horse and armor with him. Una awakes, finds him gone, and leaves with her donkey and lamb to search for him. Archimago dresses himself as the Red Cross Knight and follows at a distance.Completely deceived by Archimago, the knight wonders if perhaps there is no quest, no terrible dragon. He wonders how he can prove himself to the Faerie Queene.
Red Cross rides across a field and meets Sans Foy and Duessa. Sans Foy says that he despises the cross the knight wears, and that he will fight him. The woman, who is a wicked sorceress, tries to warn Sans Foy, that the knight’s armor and shield have been well-tested in battle. Sans Foy sees that the knight is very young and challenges him anyway.Red Cross slays Sans Foy and Duessa flees, but Red Cross catches her and reassures her that he means her no harm. She claims she is Fidessa, that she is an emperor’s daughter and Sans Foy kept her prisoner. Red Cross hears her story and promises to help her. They travel on and rest beneath two trees at a stream. One of the trees (Fradubio) warns him about Duessa, who cursed him and his love and turned them into trees. Red Cross sees that Duessa has fainted and does not realize the tree is warning him about her. He rouses her and they go on.
As we finished our lunch, instead of Rose, the thin, sallow girl I had learned was called Dulcinea, the Campbells’ adopted daughter, entered, bearing a cunningly carved elephant cup of fragrant wood brimming with frothy milk.
“Thank you, Dulcy,” Kera said warmly. I started, noticing that the child’s left hand was only a withered claw. She did not speak, either, just bobbed and awkward curtsy to both of us and left.
“Rose told me Doctor Mac rescued Dulcy from a hospital after her indigent mother died,” Kera sighed. “And Rose adopted her before they were married. Dulcy was the beginning of Rose’s ministry to orphans. She is so blessed to have those two as parents. All of these children are so blessed, to be covered in prayers and taught to praise.”
She looked wistfully out the window as Rose darted by, having apparently challenged Oliver to a race. The two had comets’ trails of children screaming and running joyfully after them.
“Doctor Twist spent his childhood starving, cleaning hemp and making coffin-linings. He told me the coffin-maker made him march in the funeral processions because he had such a sweet face and looked so like a mourning angel, wearing a black top-hat and bearing ostrich plumes. He said the man thought to have him made into a mute — that it would make him more valuable as a mourner and people would pay more for funerals. I thought my upbringing was a horror story.”
She fell silent and I saw that she was nodding off over the last of her milk. “Are you strong enough to get yourself off to bed?” I asked.
“I can manage.” Kera rose slowly and approached my bed. “Now I can kiss you and you need not fear me.” She bent down and placed her lips on my forehead. “Rest well, my father in Christ.”
Free sampler of the first book
Book One, Narrated by Florizel of Bohemia Book Two, with Oliver Twist as Narrator