It’s so very kind of you to come around with a bag of oranges my dear! Good heavens, what will you think with me still in my housecoat and slippers at this time of the morning? I suppose Jeanette told you I was under the weather, and there’s nothing like fresh oranges to make a nice hot toddy. I always add a spoonful of honey. It makes the whiskey taste better.

Will you come it? I don’t think it’s the flu. You needn’t worry about that–just a bit of a sniffle really. Yes, that would be nice. You put the kettle on while I get these cookies out. I think I’ll make myself a hot toddy right now! You won’t? That’s fine. Make some tea dear, and do you know I heard some of the men at the church supper the other evening grumbling about how things are run. My goodness, they didn’t stop. I felt so sorry for poor Father Gibbons who, Lord knows, does his best. When they were finished with him they went on to the bishop and the dean. My how they grumbled! It made my head spin!

You agree with them? Oh my dear, if you don’t mind my saying so, you really ought to rise above it. Yes, I know there are so many things wrong with the church, but to tell you the truth, when I look in the mirror I can’t help seeing all the things that are wrong with me! I don’t know about you dear, but when I consider how much work I’ve got to do to get my own life in order I haven’t really got the time to think about much else.

Oh, these oranges are delicious! Do you know this bottle of whiskey is a gift from old Father O’Driscoll. Every Christmas I give him one of my fruitcakes and he gives me a bottle of Scotch. I think it’s rather nice–brewed in Ireland in the middle of a peat bog whatever that is! Well, you know Fr.O’Driscoll and I go way back. He is the one who gave me instruction and received me into the church. This was before the time when everyone expected their priest to be the angel Gabriel. Do you know when he went to Saint Rocco’s he lived in such a bad part of town he used to carry a pistol in a holster strapped around his middle. There it was–a very nice leather holster he wore on top of his cassock! The pistol had a mother of pearl handle.

I think sometimes we ought to call Fr O’Driscoll out of retirement. He’d get these complainers into line! Oh my, you needn’t look so shocked dear, I’m only teasing. To go back what I was saying, I remember reading in Thomas A-Kempis once–he’s the one who wrote The Imitation of Christ–he said, “Why do you want to change the world when you cannot change yourself?” That’s about right isn’t it dear? I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that all these fellows who are always complaining about Father O’Driscoll and the Bishop are rather sad don’t you agree? Instead of looking in the mirror and minding their own business they try to blame all their unhappiness on poor Father.

Well, well, chin up! I’ve just thought of something rather funny my dear, do you know I’d better stop complaining about the complainers or I’m no better than they are! Isn’t it all a rather grand joke? Do you see what a hypocrite I’ve become talking about the hypocrites? So now, let’s change the subject. Did you see the new flower garden we’ve created at the church? It’s where they’re going to bury people’s ashes one day. Father Gibbons has this project to build a columbarium and I’m all for it! Would you like to help out on the committee? There’s lots to do and we could work together. I’d like that very much. You would?

Oh splendid. That’s made my day–that and the hot toddy of course.

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