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The Fault Of The Almanac








By Poncelet.

_Of a cure who forgot, either by negligence or ignorance, to inform his
parishioners that Lent had come until Palm Sunday arrived, as you
will hear--and of the manner in which he excused himself to his
parishioners._


In a certain little hamlet or village in this country, far from any good
town, there happened an incident, which is worth hearing, my good sirs.

This village or hamlet was inhabited by a handful of rough and simple
peasants, who knew nothing except how to gain their livelihood. Rough
and ignorant as they were, their cure was not less so, for he did not
know things of common knowledge, as I will show you by relating an
incident that happened to him.

You must know that this cure was so simple and ignorant that he could
not announce the feasts of the saints, which come every year on a fixed
day, as every one knows; and when his parishioners asked when such and
such a feast would fall, he could not, right off, answer them correctly.

Amongst other such mistakes, which often occurred, he made one which
was by no means slight, for he allowed the five weeks of Lent to slip by
without informing his parishioners.

But hear how he discovered his error. On the Saturday which was the eve
before Palm Sunday, he had need to go to the nearest town for something
that he required. When he had entered the town, and was riding along
the streets, he saw that the priests were purchasing palms and other
greenstuff, which were being sold at the market for the procession the
next day.

If anyone was astonished it was our good cure, though he pretended not
to be. He went to the woman who sold the palms and boughs, and bought
some--pretending that he had come to town specially for that purpose.
Then he hastily mounted his horse, which was loaded with his purchases,
galloped to the village, and arrived there as quickly as possible.

As soon as he had dismounted, he met several of his parishioners, whom
he commanded to go and ring the bells for every one to come to church
at once, for he had certain things necessary for the salvation of their
souls to tell them.

A meeting was soon called, and all were assembled in the church, where
the cure, booted and spurred, came, much flustered, God knows. He
mounted into the pupil, and said the following words,

"Good sirs, I have to signify and inform you that to-day was the eve of
the solemn feast of Palm Sunday, and this day next week will be the eve
of Easter Sunday, the day of Our Lord's Resurrection."

When these good people heard this news they began to murmur, and were so
astonished they did not know what to do.

"Silence!" said the cure, "I will soon satisfy you, and will tell
you the true reasons why you have only eight days of Lent in which to
perform your penitences this year, and marvel not at what I am about
to tell you, as to why Lent came so late. I suppose there is not one
amongst you who does not know and remember that the frosts were very
long and sharp this year--much worse than ever they were--and that for
many weeks it was dangerous to ride, on account of the frost and the
snow, which lasted a long time."

"Every one here knows that is as true as the Gospel, therefore be not
astonished that Lent has been so long coming, but rather wonder that it
was able to come at all, seeing how long the road is from here to his
house. I would ask, and even beg of you, to excuse him, for I dined with
him to day" (and he named the place--that is to say the town to which he
had been).

"However," he added, "manage to come and confess this week, and appear
to morrow in the procession, as is customary. And have patience this
time; the coming year will be milder, please God, and then Lent will
come quicker, as it usually does."

Thus did the cure find means to excuse his simple ignorance. Then he
pronounced the benediction saying,

"Pray to God for me, and I will pray to God for you."

After that he came down out of the pulpit, and went to his house to
prepare the boughs and palms which were to be used in the procession the
next day.

And that is all.


*****





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