Cover image for The leper : based on the painting by Ron DiCianni
The leper : based on the painting by Ron DiCianni
Brouwer, Sigmund, 1959-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiv, 182 pages ; 19 cm
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Set in nineteenth-century England, this is a touching story of how one small child exposed to leprosy changes the hearts and lives of a community. This gift novella will touch readers with the enormity of Christ's love for each of us, just as we are.

Author Notes

Sigmund Brouwer, Sigmund Brouwer was born in Central Alberta to Dutch immigrant parents. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Commerce from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and an Honours Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Carleton University. He published many articles in American and Canadian magazines before he got his big break as a novelist.

The first book he published was entitled, "Accidental Detectives," aimed at youth fiction. He is best known for his adult fiction novel, "Double Helix," published in 1995. Brouwer teaches writing courses at Red Deer College and is on the Board of Directors of the Red Deer College Press. Brouwer also played semi-pro hockey as well as a stint as the editor for National Raquetball Magazine. He has taught mystery writing seminars and in 1993, co-founded The Young Writer's Institute to encourage today's youth to follow their dreams of a career in writing. Brouwer has won the Alberta Film and Literary Arts Writing Grant twice.

(Bowker Author Biography)



Charing Cross, London June 1853 A loud continuous scream from the courtyard pierced the curtains and woke the Reverend Edward Terwillegar. He was a middle-aged man and very unaccustomed to any excitement. This was by design. As a boy, Edward Terwillegar had loved listening to the stories about his brave ancestors and had for many years hoped he, too, might be equally brave. But through the sporting challenges inflicted upon him by a stern father, he discovered early-and with varying degrees of pain-that he did not have the quickness, constitution, or heart for challenges. Where some-like his younger brother-grew from testing, like steel forged in the face of fire, he, Edward, slunk away from his various defeats. Until as a man, he found refuge far, far away from the manly pursuits of his generation. It was something he freely admitted to himself, to the point that he actually believed it did not matter to him that he had never grown into the man of his father's vision. Thus, when the screams woke him, he floundered upright in his bed and fought panic. Dear Lord , he thought from his bedroom on the second floor of the manor, it's happened. The archbishop was right in his pessimistic prediction. Someone from the Irish tenements has snuck onto the grounds and attacked one of the women of the monastery. The scream rose and fell and rose again. In near total darkness, Reverend Terwillegar swung his legs out from his covers in haste and jumped forward, directly into his chamber pot. His feet skidded, spilling its contents. He fell backward and banged his hips into the side of his bed, then tumbled onto the floor. The impact drove his breath from his lungs. It took him several moments to recover. The screaming from the courtyard did not abate in the slightest. It gave him the motivation to roll over and push himself to his knees. How he hated the cloudiness that seemed to overcome him in any crisis. That was one of the reasons he cherished being part of the clergy. Most of the problems he dealt with could be handled by leaning on clichés of comfort and by reading Scripture verses in a soothing voice. The lamp , he told himself. What is needed first is some light. In the dark, he fumbled for a match. It took him a panicky half minute to finally strike the head. With his free hand, he groped for his lamp and opened the glass cage. The screaming in the background was a terrible distraction, and in his haste, Reverend Terwillegar pulled too hard on the cage door. It snapped off and fell from his fingers. Glass shattered on the floor. Calm, calm, calm, he instructed himself. Finally he managed to flame the wick. The lamp gave a satisfying glow, showing the plush furniture that had come with the estate. Reverend Terwillegar's cassock hung neatly from a hook on the inside of the door. He studied the robe. Stay in his nightclothes? Or change from his long gown? If any of the novices saw him straight from bed, it would be a tremendous breach of ... No, no. Some things were more important than propriety. As a compromise, he reached for his nightcap and tugged it down to his ears. Once again, he stepped forward. Pain pierced his big toe as he crunched the shattered glass. He bit back a howl and nearly dropped his lamp as he hopped on his good foot. Not only had he forgotten the broken glass of the lamp, but the spilled contents of his chamber pot. He slipped on the unexpected wetness and again crashed backward, this time landing solidly on his hind end. The lamp crashed beside him, and as the oil spread, so did the flame that rode the top of it. This new crisis sharpened him considerably. He rolled over onto his stomach, beating frantically at the flames. In seconds, he was in darkness again. He exhaled relief. But his next indrawn breath reminded him that he had completely spread himself prone in the very wetness that had sent him tumbling. And the screaming from outside did not relent. Above that horrible noise, he heard loud rapping at his door. "Reverend Terwillegar! Reverend Terwillegar!" "Yes," he answered to the sharp voice of Miss Hogg. "Can't you hear that hideous screaming?" "I hear it! I hear it!" She rapped on the door again, as if he had not yet replied to her. "I'm waiting here. Must you dally like this?" Dear Lord , he thought, why this cross to bear? Any other woman but her as the one picked by the archbishop to ... Instantly, he felt guilt. The screaming was indication enough of another person's dire problem, and here he was, dithering to complain about a vexation that a better man would be able to handle easily. "Reverend Terwillegar!" The banging on the door grew fiercer. It would be no surprise, he thought, if a woman of her girth burst through the door itself. "Reverend Terwillegar!" He found the strength to open the door to the large middle-aged woman he knew was on the other side. Miss Ima Hogg stood with a lamp held high, throwing light across her broad shoulders. She was an awkward and unfashionable woman, with dark hair pinned into a severe bun. She wore a brown dress that hung from her in such a way that it gave her the appearance of a solid rectangular block with dull black shoes peeking from the bottom. She also wore a deep frown. How had she managed to pull herself together so quickly? Reverend Terwillegar wondered. More than likely, she'd been sitting by lamplight, studying Scripture so she could catch his mistakes during Sunday's sermon. Ima sniffed the air, then lowered the light and raised it again, making no effort to hide the fact that she was inspecting the length of his tall body. Reverend Terwillegar looked down. He saw blood leaking from the big toe of his right foot. His entire gown was darkened in a wide stain from the contents of the chamber pot. It was then he became aware of the sour odor that clung to him because of it. Their eyes met and he saw her disapproval. A tangle of gray hair fell from his forehead and in front of his vision. He pushed it back under his nightcap. "Thank you for providing the light," he said with as much dignity as he could muster. "If you would be kind enough to hand me the lamp, I shall proceed. You may return to the women." "Humph," she said. Without relinquishing the lamp, she marched toward the sound of the screaming. He opened his mouth to remind her that he was the authority in all matters. But she was moving too quickly, and he felt ridiculous attempting to yell at her wide back. Reverend Terwillegar followed. Until his next steps reminded him that his feet were still bare. He limped back into his room and found his slippers. Then he chased after Miss Ima Hogg. * * * Ima Hogg. Since childhood, all who heard it had laughed at hearing Ima's name, with sniggers that always seemed to reach her ears. As a tiny girl, she had not understood this laughter. As she grew older, however, no matter how nicely the maids dressed her for the parties at the mansions of her father's friends, she would endure those same sniggers at the endless parties where daintier and prettier girls danced with the partners she always lacked. Ima Hogg. The play on words in her name had been no accident. Bertrand Hogg, her father, was a determined shrewd brute who began as a laborer on the wharves near the Thames and fought and clawed hard enough and long enough to own a company with ten ships that ran coal from Newcastle down the North Sea and up the Thames to the city. With wealth, he did what all the newly wealthy of London did. Moved away from the slums and the filth and found a beautiful wife to serve all his needs. Including the urge for progeny. Bertrand Hogg had hoped his firstborn would be a son, but after years of waiting, the baby that finally arrived killed his wife in childbirth, and as further insult was no son but a squalling and ugly girl equipped with a harsh scream. In a drunken rage, Bertrand Hogg decided to punish her with the name that seemed so apt. As a young woman, Ima stopped dreaming the dreams that other women her age held as tight as the bodices that helped them form pretty figures while hers remained uncurved. In the age of Victoria, women mattered only for their looks and interesting conversation and ability to deliver healthy boys. Ima realized early there was no point in bruising her heart by slamming it against the unyielding reality of what nature had not given her. As she grew older, she refused to become the sort of spinster who set lonely tables for two and ate by candlelight immersed in warm fantasy. In adulthood, as London grew and slums encroached upon the family mansion, Ima's consolation became the Church of England, with its strictly defined parameters of right and wrong that promised the justice she had not been given with birth. There, too, the sniggers were hidden better, for within the church, appearances of nicety mattered more than without. Yet often the refuge of the church felt like a prison. Just as Ima had been cursed with a close resemblance to her father, she had also been cursed with his fierce competitive drive. In 1853, women did not lead the Church of England; they were its servants. When Bertrand died of cholera a few years earlier, Ima had final revenge on her hateful father, for much as he had tried later for a son with different wives, she was his sole heir. Miss Hogg donated her father's estate grounds to the church, on the condition that the grounds were used solely to found a commune for women dedicated to serving the Christ. Since Henry VI-four centuries earlier-all monasteries had been banned in England. But two years before, Queen Victoria had finally permitted one to be formed for men. When Ima approached the archbishop of Canterbury, he could see no reason to refuse the pioneering effort of one for women, especially in light of the gift to the church offered by Ima. The suffrage movement was gaining momentum, and this would nicely give the Church of England a modern respectability, without costing it any power. More importantly, the archbishop had a good sense of real estate, and with London growing so quickly as an industrial and financial center, he knew the future worth of the estate once it passed into the church coffers on Ima's death. Most importantly, he was a man of compassion and felt it could help women who wanted to dedicate their lives to meaningful worship. For Ima, it seemed she had found a place of relative contentment for the rest of her life. Except for the necessity of dealing with Reverend Edward Terwillegar-the inept clergyman who oversaw the commune because even the archbishop could not allow it to appear that a woman was actually in power-Ima believed she was happy with the prospect of years of quiet, dedicated service to the Christ and her reward beyond. Screaming, however, was not civilized. Nor did it belong on her grounds, day or night. And she intended to do something about it. * * * AS THE ESTATE GROUNDS and its twenty-three women were near the Irish tenements with all the trouble promised by a combination of underpaid labor and cheap ale, an elderly watchman named John Cappe had been hired to walk the grounds during the night and keep the lamps supplied with oil. Ever conscious of his diminutive stature and timid nature mocked constantly by acquaintances at the Pig & Kettle, John Cappe had earlier armed himself-as he did for each of his nightly vigils of the parish grounds-with swigs of gin and his massive dog-dark, broad shouldered, and waist high to any man-usually at the end of a taut leash. Fear was the reason John Cappe had raised his massive dog as if it were his child. Fear. Bad enough walking the streets during the day, anticipating terror around every alley corner until he reached the sanctuary of the Pig & Kettle. He always dreaded nights, and sleeping with his dog gave him badly needed reassurance through the dark hours. It was the desperation for easy money that had led him to accept employment on the grounds, among the shadows of the trees on clear, moonlit nights, or worse, when fog descended and shrieks and wails from the tenements carried to the grounds like cries from the devil. Despite his fear of the dark, the lack of exertion was perfect employment for a man of John Cappe's age, and certainly a way to compensate for all the years he had sacrificed to find the food to sustain such a large dog. Each night, the cheap gin helped conquer some of his fears, and he limited his rounds of walking in the frightful night, choosing to sleep as much as possible in the doorway of the new church building in the center of the grounds. In that hour before dawn, the bullmastiff had began to growl, waking John Cappe in the doorway. Since his first night on the grounds, John Cappe had dreaded a moment such as this. "Easy, boy," he whispered. "Steady now. No reason to panic." He decided if he called out, the intruder-or more terrifying, the intruders-would flee and there would be no reason for confrontation. Yet as John Cappe had tried to croak out a shout, fear choked his throat, and he was able to expel only a feeble gasp instantly lost in the thick dark fog beyond the church entrance. Before he could make another attempt to shout warning, his dog had risen and rushed forward. The leash at the end of his wrist had pulled John Cappe upward and forward into the swirling fog of the courtyard. Five minutes later, the screaming had begun. His. (Continues...) Excerpted from The Leper by Sigmund Brouwer Copyright (c) 2002 by Sigmund Brouwer Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.