All sins whatever, quoth the abbess, turning casuist in the distress they were under, are held by the confessor of our convent to be either mortal or venial: there is no further division. Now a venial sin being the slightest and least of all sins—being halved—by taking either only the half of it, and leaving the rest—or, by taking it all, and amicably halving it betwixt yourself and another person—in course becomes diluted into no sin at all.
Now I see no sin in saying, bou, bou, bou, bou, bou, a hundred times together; nor is there any turpitude in pronouncing the syllable ger, ger, ger, ger, ger, were it from our matins to our vespers: Therefore, my dear daughter, continued the abbess of Andouillets—I will say bou, and thou shalt say ger; and then alternately, as there is no more sin in fou than in bou—Thou shalt say fou—and I will come in (like fa, sol, la, re, mi, ut, at our complines) with ter. And accordingly the abbess, giving the pitch note, set off thus:
The two mules acknowledged the notes by a mutual lash of their tails; but it went no further—'Twill answer by an' by, said the novice.
Abbess,.....) Bou. bou. bou. bou. bou. bou.
Margarita,..) —-ger, ger, ger, ger, ger, ger.
Quicker still, cried Margarita. Fou, fou, fou, fou, fou, fou, fou, fou, fou.
Quicker still, cried Margarita. Bou, bou, bou, bou, bou, bou, bou, bou, bou.
Quicker still—God preserve me; said the abbess—They do not understand us, cried Margarita—But the Devil does, said the abbess of Andouillets.