My parishioners will doubtless excuse the fecundity of a feverish imagination when I disclose to them the appurtenances of evil by which I have endeavored to reconcile a bleeding conscience with the fructuous involucrations of her sins. I ask your kind disposal of the relics I entrust to you this night, fellow heelers and swayers in the orlop deck of damnation: many things are arguable by the learned and I am conscious that many of you are indeed exquisitely learned, but one proposition is not among them and that is that your humble shepherd has ever displayed anything but a most befitting kindheartedness to his flock. Thus penitently I supplicate your momentary tolerance for this iniquitous Confiteor.
Last May, as you all know, our humble parish was buffeted by wrathful storms and the paddocks of Squire Usperborough, that model of civic magnanimity, were quite deluged with a dare I say Biblical stratum of rainwater. Few there were who did not keep to their bedrooms under that inclemency of the heavens; but I – and here begins the confession – I was, to my eternal shame, among those few. It was the night before St. Bartholomew’s mass and I (for I will sweep you rather headlong into the scene than set the stage wearisomely with disquisitions and minutiae) was trudging in my moccasins through the Squire’s sodden park. The moon was gibbous, as it always is on such nights; I mean, on nights when the lechers are out. Yes! do not gasp, goodwife Tucket, at the word, and spare your blushes, mistress Stewkes (for indeed they take in no one). It was for no chaste or vestal purpose that I stole abroad that night.
You all know, my gobsmacked parishioners, that innocent young maiden (so at any rate she would have it) name of Miss Smiffley, who until oddly recently served in the role of governess to the Squire’s clutch of brats. You may have wondered, some of the more astute among you, what betokened her oddly momentary departure on another weather-drenched night some three months after the events I relate. She was a flaxenhaired vixen with the sad eyes of an ox, and the thighs of (to choose a classical allusion that will be familiar to most of you) Aphrodite.