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First Confession
by [?]

Is that the little girl that was beating you just now?” he asked.

Tis, father.”

“Someone will go for her with a bread-knife one day, and he won’t miss her,” he said rather cryptically.”You must have great courage. Between ourselves, there’s a lot of people I’d like to do the same to, but I’d never have the nerve. Hanging is an awful death.”

Is it, father? “I asked with the deepest interest-I was always very keen on hanging.”Did you ever see a fellow hanged?”

“Dozens of them,” he said solemnly.”And they all died roaring.”

“Jay ! ” I said.

Oh, a horrible death ! ” he said with great satisfaction.

“Lots of the fellows I saw killed their grandmothers too, but they all said ’twas never worth it.”

He had me there for a full ten minutes talking, and then walked out the chapel yard with me. I was genuinely sorry to part with him, because he was the most entertaining character I’d ever met in the religious line. Outside, after the shadow of the church, the sunlight was like the roaring of waves on a beach; it dazzled me; and when the frozen silence melted and I heard the screech of trams on the road, my heart soared. I knew now I wouldn’t die in the night and come back, leaving marks on my mother’s furniture. It would be a great worry to her, and the poor soul had enough.

Nora was sitting on the railing, waiting for me, and she put on a very sour puss when she saw the priest with me. She was mad jealous because a priest had never come out of the church with her.

“Well,” she asked coldly, after he left me, “what did he give you?”

“Three Hail Marys,” I said.

“Three Hail Marys,” she repeated incredulously.”You mustn’t have told him anything.”

“I told him everything,” I said confidently.

“About Gran and all?”

“About Gran and all.”

(All she wanted was to be able to go home and say I’d made a bad confession. )

“Did you tell him you went for me with the bread-knife?” she asked with a frown.

“I did to be sure.”

“And he only gave you three Hail Marys?”

“That’s all.”

She slowly got down from the railing with a baffled air. Clearly, this was beyond her. As we mounted the steps back to the main road, she looked at me suspiciously.

“What are you sucking?” she asked. Bullseyes.”

“Was it the priest gave them to you? ‘Twas.”

“Lord God,” she wailed bitterly, “some people have all the luck! ‘Tis no advantage to anybody trying to be good. I might just as well be a sinner like you.”