Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
June 20, 2024
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How to save one’s bacon

Published in the Hallowell Free Press, 12 April 1834

[Editor’s note: This story first circulates in English newspapers in January 1834. North American papers pick it up in April. It circulated in many forms over the nineteenth century. For example, it appears in a rhyming verse version as “How to save one’s bacon; or, an old tale with a new face” in J. C. Cox’s Miscellaneous Poems, 1863.]

Early one fine morning, as Terence O’Fleary was hard at work in his potatoe garden, he was accosted by his gossip, Mick Casey, who he perceived had his Sunday clothes on.

“God’s bud! Terry, man, what would you be afther doing there wid them praties, an’ Phelim O’Loghlan’s berrin? goin take place? Come along, ma bochel! sure the praties will wait.

“Och! no,” sis Terry! “I must dig this ridge for the childer’s breakfast, an, thin I’m goin’ to confesshin to Father O’Higgins, who holds a stashin beyont there at his own house.”

“Brother take the stashin!” sis Mick, “sure that ’ud wait, too.” But Terence was not to be persuaded.

Away went Mick to the berrin’; and Terence, having finished “wid the praties,” as he said, went over to Father O’Higgins, where he was shown into the kitchen, to wait his turn for confession. He had not been long standing there before the kitchen-fire, when his attention was attracted by a nice piece of bacon, which hung in the chimney corner. Terry looked at it again and again, and wished the childer “had it at home wid the praties.”

“Murther alive!” says he, “will I take it? Sure the priest can spar it, an, it wou’d be a rare to Judy an’ the gorsoons at home, to say nothin iv meself, who hasn’t tasted the likes this many’s the day.” Terry looked at it again, and then turned away, saying—“I won’t take it—why wou’d l an’ it not mine, but the priest’s? an’ I’d have the sin iv it sure? I won’t take it,” repeated he, “an’ it’s nothin, but the Ould Boy himself that’s timptin me! But sure it’s no harm to feel it, any way,” said he taking it into his hand, and looking earnestly at it. “Och! it’s a beauty; and why wouldn’t I carry it home to Judy and the childer? an’ sure it won’t be a sin afther I confesses it!”

Well, into his great coat pocket he thrust it; and he had scarcely done so when the maid came in and told him it was his turn for confession.

“Murther alive! I’m kil’t an’ ruin’d, horse an’ foot, now, joy, Terry; what’ll I do in this quandary at all, at all? By gaunies! I must thry an’ make the best et it, any how,” sis he to himself, and in he went.

He knelt to the priest, told his sins, and was about to receive absolution, when all at once he seemed to recollect himself, and cried out—

“Och! Stop—stop, Father O’Higgins, dear! for goodness sake, stop! I have one great big sin to tell yit; only, sit I’m frighted to tell id, in the regard of never having done the like’s afore, sur, niver!”

“Come,” said Father O’Higgins, “you must tell it to me.”

“Why, then, your Riverence, I will tell id; but, sir, I’m ashamed, like!”

“Oh, never mind! tell it,” said the priest.

“Why, thin your Riverence, I wint one day to a gintleman’s house, upon a little bit of business, an’ he bein’ ingaged, I was shown into the kitchen to wait. Well, sur, there I saw a beantiful bit iv bacon hangin’ in the chimbly corner. I looked at it, you Riverence, an’ my teeth begin to wather. I don’t know now it was, sur, but suppose the Divil timpted me, for I put it into my pocket; but if you plaze, sur, I’ll give it to you,” and he put his hand into his pocket.

“Give it to me!” said Father O’Higgins; “no, certainly not; give it back to the owner of it.”

“Why, then, your Riverence, sur, I offered id to him and he wouldn’t take id.”

“On! he wouldn’t, wouldn’t he?” said the priest; “then take it home, and eat it yourself, with your family.”

“Thank your Riverence kindly!”, says Terence, “an, I’ll do that same immadiately, plaize God; but first an’ foremist, I’ll have the absolution, if you plaze sur.

Terence received absolution, and went home rejoicing, that he had been able to save his soul and his bacon at the same time.

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 16 edition of The Picton Gazette
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