Early one fine morning, as Terence O'Fleary was hard at work in his potato garden, he was accosted by his gossip, Mick Casey, who he perceived had his Sunday clothes on.
"God's 'bud! Terry, man, what would you be afther doing there wid them praties, and Phelim O'Loughlin's berrin' goin' to take place? Come along, ma bochel! Sure the praties will wait."
"Och! No," sis Terry, "I must dig on this ridge for the childer's breakfast, an' thin I'm goin' to confession to Father O'Higgins, who holds a stashin beyont there at his own house."
"Bother take the stashin!" sis Mick, "sure that 'ud wait too." But Terence was not to be persuaded.
Away went Mick to the "berrin';" and Terence, having finished "wid the praties," as he said, went down to Father O'Higgins, where he was shown into the kitchen, to wait his turn for confession. He had not been long standing there, before the kitchen fire, when his attention was attracted by a nice piece of bacon, which hung in the chimney-corner. Terry looked at it again and again, and wished the childer "had it at home wid the praties."
"Murther alive!" says he, "will I take it? Sure the priests can spare it; an' it would be a rare thrate to Judy an' the gossoons at home, to say nothin' iv myself, who hasn't tasted the likes this many's the day." Terry looked at it again, and then turned away, saying, "I won't take itwhy would I, an' it not mine, but the priest's? An' I'd have the sin iv it, sure! I won't take it," replied he, "an' it's nothin' but the Ould Boy himself that's temptin' me! But sure it's no harm to feel it, any way," said he, taking it into his hand, and looking earnestly at it. "Och! It's a beauty; and why wouldn't I carry it home to Judy and the childer? An' sure it won't be a sin afther I confesses it!"
Well, into his greatcoast pocket he thrust it; and he had scarcely done so, when the maid came in and told him that it was his turn for confession.
"Murther alive! I'm kilt and ruin'd, horse and foot, now, boy, Terry; what'll I do in this quandry, at all, at all? By gannies! I must thry an' make the best of it, any how," says he to himself, and in he went.
He knelt to the priest, told his sins, and was about to receive absolution, when all at once he seemed to recollect himself, and cried out:
"Oh! Stopstop, Father O'Higgins, dear! For goodness sake, stop! I have one great big sin to tell yit; only, sir, I'm frightened to tell id, in the regard of never having done the like afore, sur, niver!"
"Come," said Father O'Higgins. "You must tell it to me."
"Why, then, your Riverince, I will tell id; but, sire, I'm ashamed like."
"Oh, never mind! Tell it," said the priest.
"Why, then, your Riverince, I went out one day to a gintleman's house, upon a little bit of business, an' he bein' ingaged, I was showed into the kitchen to wait. Well, sur, there I saw a beautiful bit iv bacon hanging in the chimbly-corner. I looked at id, your Riverince, an' my teeth began to wather. I don't know how it was, sur, but I suppose the Divil timpted me, for I put it into my pocket; but, if you plaize, sur, I'll give it to you," and he put his hand into his pocket.
"Give it to me!" said Father O'Higgins; "no, certainly not; give it back to the owner of it."
"Why, then, your Riverince, sur, I offered id to him, and he wouldn't take id."
"Oh! He wouldn't, would he?" said the priest; then take it home, and eat it yourself, with your family."
"Thank your Riverince kindly!" says Terence, "an' I'll do that same immediately, plaize God; but first and foremost, I'll have the absolution, if you plaize, sur."
Terence received absolution, and went home rejoicing that he had been able to save his soul and his bacon at the same time.
Selections from Dick's Irish Dialect Recitations, edited by Wm. B. Dick, New York, Dick & Fitzgerald, Publishers 1879
Graphics copyright 1997 Kathleen A. O'Connell