Thursday 21 July 2011

Fessing Up

It sounds as if the Abbess Hilda has been busy since I told her about the vile smell. On my morning rounds today, I visited the Abbey as I often do; I regularly catch mice around there, and the monks are grateful for my services, so I have the status of a welcome feline diplomat. With lots of fuss, attention and a goodly plate of fish! Result.

When I got there this morning, the place was a hive of activity; small side rooms off the nave were being cleared out and tidied up by the monks. I asked one of them what was happening, and he told me that they were under orders from the Abbess to prepare the place for an unprecedented number of confessions. That certainly puzzled me; only the regular, faithful Catholics would attend the confessional, and there aren't hordes of them by any means. When I asked the monk why this was anticipated, he couldn't give me an answer, so I went to ask one of the others. He didn't know either.

In such circumstances, one has no option but to go straight to the top, so I went to see the Abbess Hilda, who was reading through some Latin liturgy. I apologised for my intrusion into her meditations, and promptly asked her why there was so much activity, and she replied that she had been given a dream in which she saw a vision of legions of soothsayers, politicians and Costumed Thugs streaming into the Abbey to confess their sins and misdemeanours. In her dream, Beeby See and her pustule-pocked mate Guardy-Ann poured out their hearts in confession of their deceit, their mendacity, their hypocrisy and their devilish high-mindedness; they sought absolution with tears. Other soothsayers did likewise.

The politicians from the Witangemot joined the throng, and confessed their lies, their dissimulation and their superior attitude over the people they purported to represent. They also confessed to the monks that they were living in a fly agaric-fuelled fantasy land of their own making, and that they had treacherously betrayed their Kingdom into the hands of the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire) and to the evil grasp of the power-crazed, magic mushroom-chewing Emperor Jose Borracho and his half-witted sidekick Hermit Rumphole. They also confessed that they had deliberately led the people away from the ways of righteousness, and into godlessness.

In the Abbess' dream, the Costumed Thugs also streamed into the Abbey and owned up to their brutality, their openness to bribes and their love of money and power. After these confessions, the awful stench of sanctimony disappeared.

It was such a dramatic and a vivid dream, and remembering the visions that Joseph had while languishing in the Egyptian prison, she thought she ought to act on it. After all, it would be foolish to be caught out if such events actually happened.

I paused for a while and considered what she had told me. I then asked her what she had eaten in the evening before the blessed revelation. She told me that she had some of Brother Aelric's cheese. It's a particularly robust and full-bodied cheese from his herd of goats. I told her that I hated to take the shine away from the experience, but late night cheese stimulates dreams. It was a testament to her piety that the dream was one of penitence. These people certainly need repentance in oceanic quantities, but I can't see it happening anytime soon...

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