The Small House at Allington ~ Chapters 31-45
Dr Sati McKenzie introduces chapters 31-45 of The Small House at Allington.
Roguery Taught by Confession
A pious ostler, who did much repent
Of all his sons – and they were not few –
Resolved one day to give his conscience vent,
And get his wicked soul whitewashed anew;
So rose betimes next morn, and quickly knelt
Before a goodly priest with shaven crown,
One who – although he in a village dwelt –
Had still a taste for all the tricks of town.
To him a free confession soon he made,
And boldly vowed he ne’er would sin again;
Hoping the holy sire would lend his aid,
From his polluted soul to wipe the stain.
“Son!”, cried the monk,” although thy crimes are great,
Enough to damn thy wretched, sinful soul,
Too much I fear there’s one you do not state,
And I, ere you’re absolved, must hear the whole.
“Say, by our Lady, did you ne’er, beneath
The manger, keep some tallow in a horn?
And did you never grease a horse’s teeth,
To hinder him from surfeiting on corn?”
“No, Father! No,” he cried; “I’m not involved
In such a crime; indeed, I’ve named the whole.” –
So, then the Priest his load of sin absolved,
And home the Ostler steered with whitewashed soul.
Just six months after this, the Ostler came
Again before the Friar to confess;
Acknowledging with penitential shame,
His greasing horses’ teeth with great success.
“Oh, wicked son!” the holy Father cried-
“Did you not tell me, when I saw you last,
That you had never in your life applied
Grease to a horse’s teeth, to make him fast?”-
“Yes, holy Sir, I did, and then spoke true!”
Replied the man of straw, with utterance quick;
“For, though it may seem rather strange to you,
I never then had heard of such a trick!”
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