Père Sebastién was grave as he listened to the young novitiate unburden himself. The boy seemed on the verge of tears, but it was all Sebastién could do to repress a smile. Such old stuff. Still, it was his duty to hear him out.
When at last the boy’s torrent of guilt and remonstrance seemed to ebb, Père Sebastién held up his hand, the palm turned outward in the manner of a painted saint. The young man quieted at once.
“Do you wish to confess these sins, my son?” asked Sebastién.
“I already have, Father. And conducted my ablutions. Twice.”
“Yet you feel no solace?”
“No, Father. This is why I came to you. I wish to do penance. I was told you are an expert.”
Sebastién again avoided smiling. “We have many examples. Mortification of the body. Various degradations. Which of these?”
“I am interested in all of it.”