Saturday, February 03, 2007
New Beginning 207
April 1810—Thorn Thicket Abbey, Ireland
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.” Reciting the familiar words of the sacrament left Jillian dry-mouthed and shaky.
“Yes, my child, go on—” The priest’s Irish lilt was reassuringly unfamiliar to Jillian, sweetened with something tropical.
She didn’t know this priest—had never seen him at Thorn Thicket Abbey—which made him the perfect confessor.
“I . . . ” She paused to rub her throbbing temples, her eyelids slowly closing. How to word her sin for the priest? She’d as soon forget it, except that she needed absolved before she exchanged vows with Baron Thorn. She drew a deep breath, opened her eyes, and began again. “I . . . ”
The priest exhibited patience with his steady, rhythmic breathing. When she delayed overlong he said, “Some sins require fortification to confess, my child. I’ve poured a liberal cup of unsanctified wine. ‘Tis there in the corner.”
Within a veil of hazy dust flecked light from a votive, a crystal goblet of red wine stood on a corner shelf.
Jillian's cold fingers curled around the stem. Flinging back her head she tossed it down. The wine burned a warm furrow all the way to her stomach. She could feel her tense muscles relaxing, her tongue loosening.
"Now, are you ready to confess?"
Jillian took a deep breath.
"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. Since my last confession I have had prideful thoughts about my own appearance, and evil thoughts about my mother, my father, my sister, my brother, my grandmother and my dog." She could sense the priest totting up Hail Marys on his fingers. "I have also committed the sin of fornication with Oswald Meacher, Sir John of Greenlow, John of Staines, and Bartholomew Meacher . . . "
" . . . Lord Blackwell, the gardener, Lord Blackwell's oldest son, Simon Meacher, the gardener's lad, the butler, and the chef . . .
" . . . Timon Meacher, the milk delivery lad, Lord Blackwell's middle son, Thomas Drayton, Joseph Penn, Daniel Meacher, the stablehand, the butler's son, Frank Meacher, Philip Johnston, Lord Blackwell's other middle son, the lad from the ostler's, Martin Pinner, the Fitzpatrick twins, Isobel Meacher . . . "
Father O'Malley wished he'd poured himself a liberal cup of wine. "Excuse me, my child," he interrupted. "Might I ask, when was your last confession?"
"Yes, Father. It was . . . Thursday."
Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: McKoala