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Chapter Twenty 


 

Concerning the Dutch Padre and what he knows about the hidden map

טּ

"You know Dane Hellmantle?"

        "I'm his grandson. Roland Hellmantle is my name." Eyes widened, reached for his hand. Lines from nowhere when his face crumpled into a warm smile.

        "I am Father Leo Vande Winkle," voice grave. "And I have been waiting a very long time to hear from a Hellmantle." On the stone bench he put his hands on his thighs shaking his head, perspiration from the sermon on his forehead. He looked at D'Aqs with eyes that held a question.

        "I'm his cousin."

        "And he's an Anglican minister who was a missionary in Burma," added Hellmantle. A nod that was perhaps an international wink between all missionaries, acknowledging pain and chronic obstacles to overcome in foreign lands teaching the Good News to those thirsting for the hearth of wisdom.

        "You preached in Sayangan?" Surprise crossed his face. "We stopped off there for a night and saw your name on the board listing missionaries who preached there at the church."

        "You took your motorcycles up the Halseema Trail?" He spoke as a man, not as an out-of-reach priest. "That must have been something!"

        "He's an experienced rider," said D'Aqs.

        "You knew my grandfather?" Discomfort from compliments, eyes darting to the ground.

"I sure did. I met him when I was in Hanoi in the early fifties," reaching into his memory bank. "There was an important center for the church there in Hanoi when the French were still in power then. While I was there I found time to unwind from the heat, and that was when I met your grandfather in the Café D'Artistes. Your grandfather was a real live wire." He chuckled. "He loved to sing his war songs from the Legion when he drank too much." His brow darkened. "He died August 24th, 1954, I can remember: the second last day of fighting." Father Leo Vande Winkle was quiet for a moment. "Everything changed after that. Everything. That was the end of colonial rule in Vietnam."

"Did he ever say anything to you about a map?" Hellmantle glanced at D'Aqs, and licked his cracked lips.

"Yes, the map. It was like a Holy Quest for him. I think that's why he confided in me as a newly ordained priest back then coming from Holland. He told me about a map he buried, in case he was ever killed." Standing up he faced them both squarely. "I always wondered about what he told me because I never heard from anyone after that. I half assumed that someone else had found the map, a fellow Legionnaire for example, and that my responsibility for keeping his secret was forgone. I do know one thing though: he cared about what he told me because he believed in it." He studied the mud-covered dirt bikes by the curb. "You've come looking for me, haven't you?"

"Yes."

        "How far?" Expression of guilt.

"About a thousand kilometers or so," Hellmantle replied, dust dried on his face, chest puffed proudly, chin jutting outwards. Hellmantle wanted to tell the Dutchman how great the trail biking had been, but he refrained.

"I am grateful you have come to unburden my shoulders with this message, which I hope is some source of religious significance. I recall from the Great Dane, as he immodestly referred to himself, that the map had something to do with finding an original scroll from Jesus' ministry. Of course as a Catholic priest I could never entertain these ideas, but we were the same age and we both had a passion for religion and history." They both nodded, and D'Aqs was surprised to see the same brief blink in his left eye that Hellmantle had given him when he became a Blonde Acquitaine. Without thinking, both Hellmantle and D'Aqs winked back. He was only looking at Hellmantle so D'Aqs' wink went unnoticed. The Padre's head bowed, and then he sighed.

"One night your grandfather said that he planned to bury a map that he had found from a fellow soldier. I thought it was all exaggeration, especially since he was so fond of French grape juice. Personally, I always thought he could have done with a little more understatement."

"All Hellmantles love red wine!" He outburst made him regard Hellmantle with more caution. Realized his grandson didn't look at him in the eyes.

"Yes, well, he said a French prison was the most secure place for the map. I think he suspected that the French days were numbered and that the prisons would remain regardless of who won the war."

"What did he say?" asked Hellmantle, now sounding impatient.

"The Great Dane said the map was a route to a document relating to the New Testament. He suspected agents of Catholic Rome would find out and catch him, so to hedge against this possibility he told a stranger. His choice was an open-minded man of the cloth, which happened to be me. So he told me his secret as a back up in case he should fall." Suddenly Leo Vande Winkle looked around suspiciously, as if by reflex, and then directed Hellmantle and D'Aqs back to where he kept his vestments and religious regalia, a table and chairs near a basin beside a closet. A portrait of Jesus hung prominently on the wall.

"So what did he say?" Hellmantle nearly exasperated.

"He told me that if ever a Hellmantle found me I was to tell them that the map is buried in the east tower at the prison lying at the mouth of four rivers behind the inscribed stone and hidden by an oak."

D'Aqs was stunned but Hellmantle didn't miss a beat.

"Did he say where that is?"

"Sorry, My Son. I only remember the map to be at this prison, an old French colonial, in the east tower where four rivers meet. I think there's some inscription hidden by an oak tree."

"Vague," said Hellmantle, "but something."

"I am old now, and too old to look for such a place. Besides, the Great Dane said it was for his son to find the map, not I. I should be retired but I wanted to remain here just in case the Great Dane's son or grandson would sooner or later find me teaching here in Agoo. I had to be here to hand off this message. Now that that is done, I can carry out my days in peace knowing it has come full circle and the two dots have been connected. I know not what it means or what can come of it, but I am honored to have done this for a loyal friend. Compassion is the foundation of humanity." Hellmantle's eyes showed him to be engaged in rapid calculations and in thought, so it was D'Aqs who replied:

"Thank you Father," he said, bowing slightly. "Compassion is the foundation of humanity."

"Come, let's have some tea." He filled a kettle with water and lined up three clean mugs neatly in a row.

"His beard was just like yours, if I remember correctly," he said to Hellmantle.

"I never met him. What was he like?"

"Your granddad, Dane from Normandy as I always called him, was like an knight errant who spoke proudly of his family tree and his exploits around the world in search of justice and religious truth. But he spoke of Thomas the Disciple the most. He was fixated on the idea that Thomas was the identical twin of Jesus. It was his favorite topic. But I have a feeling that was because he had lost his identical twin when he was a young child."

"My grandfather had an identical twin?"

"He told me once over drinks in Hanoi his brother died only a few years into life but when he drank too much he used to tell me of these images and fragments of memory of his brother."

"Do you remember his name?" The Padre, solemn, shook his head.

"He never spoke his name out of respect." D'Aqs pointed at the portrait above the kettle.

"Doubting Thomas," he said. "Also named Jude Thomas. Some say it was the brother of our Savior."

"Yes. Have you heard of this theory of Thomas the Twin? That Jesus had a twin brother?" Hellmantle nodded like a connoisseur, but D'Aqs shook his head slowly, encouraging the Dutch priest to keep talking.

"The name ‘Thomas' actually means ‘twin.' The other instances in the four gospels where he is mentioned he is referred to as ‘Thomas Didymus.' The word Didymus actually means ‘twin' as well, so ‘Didymus Thomas' means ‘twin of twin.' I think ‘Thomas' is Hebrew for twin and ‘Didymus' is Greek for twin. We know that Jesus had brothers named James and Jude and perhaps more, but within the cannon of gospels known to scholars, Thomas is also referred to as ‘Jude Thomas,' particularly in the Gospel of Thomas discovered this century."

"You have The Gospel of Thomas?"

"Yes I do Rolland. Hard to find aren't they?"

"Indeed they are Padre."

"We know that Jesus had brothers: James and Jude, and with Thomas referred to as Jude Thomas in many of the gospels within the cannon known to scholars. But there is a line in the Acts of Thomas, from the Gospel of Thomas, that says: "Twin brother of Christ, apostle of the Most High and fellow initiate into the hidden word of Christ, who dost receive his secret sayings..."[i] Hellmantle stared at the portrait of Thomas and scratched his chin. The Padre handed them both a mug of tea.

"What was the Dane's interest in Thomas?" D'Aqs asked, intrigued.

"He thought that Jesus survived the crucifixion and went to India where Thomas, his identical twin brother, was living and preaching somewhere in Kashmir Valley." Hellmantle showed no surprise in his demeanor but D'Aqs' face was shock.

"The Son of God had a twin brother?"

"There is no dispute about the fact that Thomas went into Asia Minor and died in northern India," said Hellmantle. "It's been documented." The dust and dried debris on Hellmantle's face caused Father Vande Winkle to laugh.

"But I am a Catholic priest and I should not speak of Jesus surviving the crucifixion. It is only what we discussed when we were both in Hanoi. I only share my thoughts with you in honor of Dane from Normandy who unites us now nearly forty years after his untimely death." A great silence followed his words until the mosquitoes came out when darkness fell.

Full of providential zeal, Hellmantle, impatient, said goodbye to Father Vande Winkle and they throttled their way through the remaining towns along the west coast, aware that they were fulfilling a holy pilgrimage on the first day of the new year. Battling traffic on the outskirts of the metropolis of Manila, they reached the city by 2:00am. Hellmantle and D'Aqs had ridden for almost twenty-four hours on their final day. For the final few hours, D'Aqs began to sway from fatigue, saved only by the momentum of two-wheeled balance and perhaps by the will of God.

 


[i] Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, vol. ii, p.464. 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                             
          The Family of the Bible
FIRST PART
1.       Concerning the famous Hellmantle's position, character and way of life
2.       Concerning the ingenious man's visit with his uncle Jack Grosseteste
3.       Which relates to how Hellmantle is given his first adventure
4.       About what happened to our adventurer when he goes to the Philippines
5.       In which the story of our crusader's journey begins in earnest
6.       About Hellmantle's time in the city of sin on Christmas Eve
7.       About the brave Hellmantle's success on his adventure to Baguio City worthy of happy memory
 
SECOND PART
8.       In which the courageous Hellmantle of Normandy journeys north into the Cordillera Mountain Range
9.       About what happened to Hellmantle in the mission in the mountains and the crucifixion of Jesus
10.     Concerning Hellmantle of Normandy in the land of the headhunters
11.     About the required riding techniques to reach the destination of Sagada and the church organist
12.     In which the German artist is tracked to the Shamrock Café and dangers of the northeast of Luzon Island
13.     In which Catharine is tracked to the Shamrock Café and an eery coincidence of a reoccurring dream
14.     About Hellmantle reaching the rice terraces and finding a way to the northwest
15.     About what happened to our intrepid philosopher in the middle of the Sierra Madre Mountains
16.     In which a record is given about the brave Hellmantle through uncharted territory on his trusted dirt bike
17.     Which relates to Hellmantle of Normandy reaching the northern coast and the rubble of Aparri
18.     About the final day of the motorcycle journey and discussing the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel in Vigan
19.     About the sermon in Agoo Basilica and what they find at the church with the rouge bell tower
20.     Concerning the Dutch Padre and what he knows about the hidden map
21.     About the return to Manila and the coup that causes the Great Man from Normandy grief
 
THIRD PART
22.     Which brings Hellmantle of Normandy back to Hong Kong to re-evaluate the next step in his quest for truth
23.     In which their journey is related to Jack Grosseteste and a new task is set before the Man from Normandy
24.     Concerning the journey to northern Vietnam to track down the map hidden at a French prison
25.     About how Hellmantle and D'Aqs compare notes on their task at hand in Hanoi
26.     In which an account is given of the beginning of the journey of Hellmantle in Vietnam
27.     About how Hellmantle and his brave squire ride north to the place where the four rivers meet
28.     Concerning the French prison and what Hellmantle finds there
29.     Concerning the discovery of the bottle and what lies inside of it
30.     Concerning the journey to Dien Bien Phu in honor of their grandfather the Great Dane Hellmantle
31.     About what the motorcyclists see on the fields in Dien Bien Phu
32.     Concerning the motorcycling required to reach Hanoi via the other side of the Da River Valley
33.     Which tells of the final stage back to Hanoi and the discussion after their most beautiful ride
 
FOURTH PART
34.     Concerning the visit with the knowledgeable Jack Grosseteste and the sally to India
35.     Concerning the arrival and journey to Kashmir Valley
36.     In which the journey begins in earnest through the checkpoints to the foot of the Moghul Fort
37.     In which Srinagar is reached and how the houseboat was as it was hundred years ago
38.     In which Hellmantle reach their houseboat on the lake below the fort and beside the mosque
39.     In which Hellmantle sets out for the Tomb of Thome and his brother Joshua beside him
40.     Which relates to the agreeable history of the journey north to the monastery on horseback
41.     In which Hellmantle returns to Srinagar and finds the first translations of the black stones
42.     Which concerns the deciphering of the discovery at the monastery and the need to go to the Ganges River
43.     About Hellmantle of Normandy's meeting with the holy man after taking a dip in the Ganges River
44.     About Hellmantle's meeting at Jack Grossetests's place with D'Aqs and Catharine the artist from Sagada
 
o       Chronology of Historical Events
         
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