1 nun cThe bell for matins shook Sister Mercy from her slumber and she yawned. That old hag Sister Mary was leading prayers today and she was half blind. Mercy doubted she would be missed and for a long moment pondered staying bed.

Mercy scratched her rough-hewn cropped red hair and yawned again. When not in use, cell doors were to be left ajar, so not getting up wasn’t an option, she supposed. Perhaps a swim, she mused, scratching the red crop of hair at the opposite end to her head.

A morning swim was innocent enough, after all cleanliness was next to godliness, as she was often told. But if she had for once been honest she would tell herself that it was not the solace of water she sought, but the queer fish who swam in it of a morning. For only a week before she had stolen away from matins only to find she had been beaten to it.

In the river were five naked monks from the neighbouring abbey and all had been young and well formed. Mercy licked her lips. Where was the harm in appreciating God’s nature?

The young nun was not disappointed for after clambering the convent wall she quickly gained the stream below the lower meadow and hid amid the hanging strands of a willow tree.

Today there were only three of them. Again, all young, and one of them was particularly tall and well-used to blacksmithing if she was a judge.

“Forgive me father for I have sinned,” she remembered her last confession. “I dwelt too long at my ablutions this week and touched myself where I ought not to,” she began.

The innocent father waved a dismissive hand and barely considered what the young woman wasn’t quite saying.

“Also father I stole a candle from the chapel for my own use,” she continued, it was true, she couldn’t lie. Surely this wise man guessed the use to which she referred.

There were several other such confessions, none of which greatly shocked the man. One would think he had not grasped what he had been told.

Well so be it, Mercy grinned; no one could say she had not confessed. And so she would again, after a fashion, once she had finished enjoying the comely theatre she had chanced upon. The well-formed limbs and hair-touched chests thrilled her and she could scarce allow her gaze to be cast lower to their thighs and just above. Where was the true sin?

Then she spied the men’s habits and grinned. It was a cold morning and the show might quickly end. But if clothes were gathered for washing… where was the harm? She was only trying to help.

“You there boy,” said a gnarled old voice and Mercy fairly jumped.

She had been bundled to her chin with stolen monk’s robes and the scattered drape of it had obscured her true nature.

“Ooh… eh, yes Sir,” she squeaked, now ducking down low to hide behind her illicit pile of robes.

“Is that laundry?” the old monk stepping from the path snapped at her, “Be quick about it.”

Mercy did the only thing she could think of and stepping back into a stand of young oaks quickly scrabbled into the smallest habit.

She had often been curious about the Abbey and now she saw a chance. After all where was the harm?


The Abbey was dull. For all Mercy cared it might have been a convent. Only instead of dusty old women there were dusty old men. Even the young ones looked dusty in their robes. Time to go, she mused, realising that breakfast would be soon served.

“You there,” said a clipped voice and Mercy wheeled to face a tall heavy set man glaring at her suspiciously.

He had piercing grey eyes and despite closed-cropped hair he was distinguished and carved with features she would have admired at the bathing pool had he been five or 10 years younger.

“Me,” she whispered to disguise her voice and pointed to her own chest.

“I haven’t seen you before,” the man said evenly, his very visage a vision of God and Mercy felt exposed.

“Nooo I…” Mercy prided herself on not lying but this was an emergency.

“Don’t tell me you have just arrived, I am Father Finisterre, which you would know if you belonged here, and I happened to know we have had no new novices for nearly a year and certainly no new brothers.” The man said this as firmly and calmly as if he was in chapel.

“No well… I came today, from another house,” Mercy said averting her eyes.

“Who knows you are here?” the man asked insistently.

“No one,” Mercy said quickly, “Before God.”

The man nodded. “So you just slipped in like a curious cat did you?”

Mercy bit her lip; she was sure now he had seen through her.

“You are not the first to come here ‘from another house,’” he said more or less amused now, “But I see you are not a brother, despite your robes.”

“No I… mine need washing,” which was true.

“So if you are not a brother one might assume you were a novice,” the man continued enigmatically. “Can I assume you missed matins?”

Mercy executed a cute nod and then waited for the axe to fall. If she was not discovered, and he might not know truly for few men here knew a woman well by sight, she soon would be.

“If I ask more I risk knowing more, do I not?” the man sighed, “And I suspect that such answers given might lead to the bishop, if not the Pope himself, so come with me.”

The man grabbed at Mercy’s ear as if she were an errant boy and led her to antechamber away from the chapel.

Mercy felt sick, but she sensed that this priest was well-intentioned enough and whatever he knew he would forget when he chose to. Then she saw the padded stool and the long heavy bundle of rods upon it.

“You are familiar no doubt?” Finisterre growled.

Mercy swallowed and nodded.

“But not since I was…” she was about to say novice, but novice was the fiction they had agreed upon wasn’t it? So instead she whispered a hoarse, “Yes.”

“Then hand me the rod and bend over the stool,” the man said wearily.

“But…” Mercy gaped.

“Now,” the man ordered at a bark, “I want to see the moon all shiny and white.

Mercy blushed as only a ginger could and remembered that her white was pale indeed; especially her bottom. Although not for long, she thought ruefully. With no choice she imagined herself a boy and adopted a tight-thigh posture that would serve that tale.

“As white as snow at Christ’s Mass,” the priest chuckled, “Well both tight rounds will be Holly Berry red by the time I am satisfied.”

“Please Sir I…” Mercy whimpered, her girlishness now betrayed.

The priest chose not to notice as he slashed his wands of justice down with a will.

“Yeeeeeiii, oh my lord,” Mercy shrieked.

“Enjoying your visit?” the man snarled as he swept a graceful arm to encompass Mercy’s bare bottom thrice more.

Her answer was lost in a high-pitched wail.

“Soprano, a rare thing here,” he chuckled as he added another round of six.

Mercy choked a blub and big fat tears splattered the stone flags. Her behind was fire hot and she sensed no imminent respite.

“I am quite content to give a gross,” Finisterre said seriously, “But instead perhaps you will humbly ask for two score with true contrition?”

“Yes Sir, truly,” Mercy hissed through jagged breaths and a soul-searing grazed bottom.

“That way we can save the gross for your next visit?” The birch rods lashed down again with vigour so that Mercy lost their counting.

“Well then?” he bellowed.

“Oh, aaah, yes… please sir,” she hiccoughed a sob, “Please thrash me… thrash me…  oooh, as you think Sir.”

“As I think, as you say,” Finisterre barked.

The thrashing took another few minutes and then Mercy got painfully to her feet as she sobbed heartedly.

“Tell me have you enjoyed your visit?” Finisterre chuckled.

“No Sir,” Mercy said miserably.

“So I trust we won’t see you again?” the priest said in a low firm voice.

“Oh no Sir,” Mercy gushed.

“Then be off with you,” Finisterre said waving her to go.

Mercy obeyed with genuine enthusiasm.


Three days later Mercy was only just getting the hang of sitting down again when Mother called her over.

“I have news for you,” Mother Superior beamed.

Mercy adopted a suitable expression and tried to be hopeful. The best outcome she could think of was something mindlessly banal like the bishop had given the convent another inane blessing. Real news was generally always bad.

“The bishop as assigned our sisters a new confessor,” Mother said excitedly.

“Oh how lovely,” Mercy said brightly, almost as if she was glad.

It had taken months to train the old one, so this was hardly good news, but since most priests assigned to convents were old and beyond use, Mercy doubted it much more than an inconvenience.

“Yes from now on Father Finisterre will be hearing our confessions, isn’t that lovely?” Mother smiled even more warmly.

Mercy openly gaped and suddenly the room spun around her.

“But surely we can confess to our old priest one more time?” she asked in a frantic tone. Mercy would consider how to obfuscate her future sins later. Her latest crimes had already been discovered and prevarication would make it worse.

“No, no, don’t be foolish, think how honoured we are,” Mother said dismissively and moved off to tell more of her sisters.

“Oh Poo,” Mercy cursed when Mother had gone.

“I think saying such things might be classed as a sin,” a voice said from the shadows, “But Somehow I suspect you have done worse things my child. Not discounting our last meeting of course.”

Mercy winced. She didn’t need to turn to know it was Father Finisterre standing there.

“Yes Father,” she replied meekly, and turned anyway. “How many hail Marys do you suppose?” she added.

“I think you will find my methods rather different to my predecessor,” Finisterre chuckled, “I mean I find for special cases hail Marys are best said with a nose pressed to the corner and a well welted bare bottom displayed in contrition.”

“Yes Father,” Mercy sighed.


5 Responses to “Absolution”

  1. I like the story and the picture.

  2. 2 Svetlana

    Convents are always good settings. I love the part about the candle.

  3. The candle is a nice touch indeed. I certainly hope she didn’t burn that candle on both ends. Ouch!

  1. 1 chross.blogt.ch

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