THE SINNER SAVED

From Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts by Patrick Kennedy

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On a Christmas-eve the barque reached an island, and brought comfort and joy to the heart of its only inhabitant; for he had seen seven Christmas-days in this solitude without having been present at a mass or heard the human voice. He feasted his guests on roots and dried fish, in a comfortable cavern. The devotions of the festival were duly performed, and the solitary then gave an outline of his history. He had been one of the monks of Inis-na-Gloire, on the coast of Erris, and, like their lost comrade, had been guilty of hidden sins of gluttony and incontinence. Stung at last with remorse, and urged on by despair, he flung himself into the sea; but touched by a feeling of true penitence, he exerted himself, and gained a boat moored near the spot. Fearing to return, he loosed the chain and let himself drift out to sea. The boat was driven west, and for some days he endured hunger and loss of sleep. A violent gale of wind upset the boat at last, and he hoped his last hour had come. He fell into a sweet sleep, and found himself, when he awoke, lying on the strand of an unknown island, being unable to tell whether his lethargy had lasted for hours or days. He returned heartfelt thanks, and then explored his new territory It appeared to him that death by hunger and cold awaited him; but while he was humbly resigning himself to God's will, an otter appeared before him with a fish in its mouth, and laid it at his feet. By means of flints and dry leaves, seaweed and sticks, he soon kindled a fire and broiled the fish. So soon as he was enabled by natural means to procure necessaries, he was deserted by his dumb servant.

This penitent was carried away by the monks, and filled a vacancy that had occurred in a terrible fashion.

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