Gently she straightened Peregrine's fingers under the downy head. The baby looked up at him, and gurgled and smiled--the little, confiding noises of baby conversation, the endearing, dimpled, toothless smile of innocent happiness...
'Thus was Jesus,' he whispered, 'and thus all the little ones whom Herod butchered. Oh, God protect you in this world, dear one. God keep you safe from harm.'
Melissa watched the tiny, pink hand grip round Peregrine's scarred, twisted fingers, and sadness welled up in her for sorrow to come, for the inevitable harshness and pain.
'You can't ask that, Father, and you know it, of all people,' she said gently. 'But let him travel through life with his hand gripping Jesus' scarred hand as tight as it now grips yours, and the storms will not vanquish him.'