“It’s Cotswold,” she tells Pogge. “It’s Outen Green. As if no French never touched their tongues. I ne know myself sometimes what they mean. They say steven in place of voice, and shrift and housel for confession and absolution, and bead for prayer.”
Ness’s deaf eldmother, Gert, who when she was young had seen the king ride by at a hunt like a giant, on a white horse, with gold stars on the harness, sat and span by the backdoor.
He told me truelove things, and made me laugh, and I would kiss him; but to kiss him were wrong. And it was like to when I was a little girl. Mum made an apricot pie, and left me with it, and forbade me eat even one deal of it. But I ate one deal, because it needed me a sweet thing, and after I’d eaten one deal, I was already damned, and might as well eat the whole pie.
I said that in the circumstances I would confine myself to mortal sins. He need only confess to sacrilege, homicide, adultery, fornication, false testimony, rapine, theft, pride, envy and avarice.
There was silence. Hornstrake inquired if I had finished, as he had expected there to be at least one sin he had not committed.
I gestured to the furnace. . . I did not opt, I said, to compel a confession by reminding him of the alternative, but eternity was of a very long duration.