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c h a p t e r t w e n t y - o n e Continuation of the Pilgrim’s Narrative “Another motive I had for returning to Paris upon the sad news of my recent loss, beside my concerns about inheriting the succession, was to ensure the appropriate masses, vespers, paternosters, Ave Marias, and other minor prayers to get my father’s soul out of purgatory, should it happen not to have gone straight to Paradise.1 The preceding on the explicit condition that the aforesaid masses, vespers, and other prayers of lesser value would be applicable to the soul of my grandmother; and should her soul be unavailable, to the nearest-related soul in direct line on my father’s side, taking precedence over an equal degree of relationship on the mother’s side, present in purgatory during the ite missa est of the last of these masses, with no purgatorian being able to take or claim any portion of it unless in the absence of the dead previously mentioned; all this to be properly stipulated and explained so as to prevent any proceedings, outcries, clamors, or lawsuits for costs and expenses among the aforesaid souls. For the payment of which masses, vespers, and prayers of lesser value, I would assign the first deniers found after breaking the seal on the door of my said father’s house, up to the value of 366 masses (given the bissextile year), 52 vespers, and other money for ten great masses, prayers, verses, and various minor offerings.2 “However, good sirs, my aforesaid father’s second marriage having left a daughter with a gift for taking things, my inheritance was despoiled, as was eloquently explained to me by Antoine l’Arrivant, bourgeois of Paris.3 In order not to fail in my filial duties, I found myself obliged to empty my purse into the hands of the reverend Capuchin fathers and return to London on foot; 132 chapter twenty-one and so I certainly would have traveled, like some nameless Jew from days of yore or perhaps Neptune’s horses—making no comparison—if I had only known the secret of walking on water.4 “Having thus got myself as far as Boulogne on Christmas Eve in our year of grace 1783, my finances reduced to the minimum, I became deeply and painfully aware of how hard it is to cross the English Channel. In this extremity , I thought my best option would be pious attendance at every mass sung in church by our most reverend Capuchin fathers. Since heaven had graced these good fathers with the ability to live without work or expense, I felt they might easily fund my return trip back to England. “And so there I was, gentlemen, at a beautiful ceremony held by the Boulogne Capuchins to celebrate midnight mass: novices dressed as angels and saints singing Christmas carols; Father Anne-Marie as the Holy Virgin, with an honest village cuckold marvelous in the role of Saint Joseph. An infant who had been miraculously found at the convent door the preceding night, was now laid in a crèche. Around the infant: a fat Roman Catholic Irishman, living in Boulogne for easy access to wine and the holy mass, enacted the bull’s part to perfection; a philosophy professor played the ass to general satisfaction. After making my ceremonial devotions, I retreated to pray in an alcove; the congregation and Capuchins went off for Christmas feast; and I found that the only other person in the church was an ancient beggar who was praying with the best grace in the world. “But here, gentlemen—now this is the most ticklish part of my narrative, and if you are worldly sorts whose faith would not have sufficed to move even a little hill in the olden days when mountains moved around like baby goats, then you may think me an impostor . . .” “Pray continue, sir, we are Catholic, apostolic, and Roman, thank God,” cried Tifarès; “and you can tell us nothing as miraculous as what just happened to us only twenty-four hours ago! Although I must also say how glad I am to find you a good Christian, since the first part of your story made me think you might be some sort of agnostic geometrician, or heretic, or deist, or atheist, or other kind of modern miscreant so common nowadays. The gentlemen here before you are Lungiet, who has been crucified and...


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