There were six of them besides the Prior and Abbot. The seventh was away in the village, collecting the gifts of charity.
“Benedicite,” began the Prior. “Here is a message from our most gracious patroness.” With that he laid upon the table a sealed letter in Latin, which the others passed from hand to hand. All understood it, but it was evident that not one of them liked the letter, for they turned up their noses, pursed their lips and knit their eyebrows.
“One of us is bidden to the court of our most munificent patroness to educate her only son.”
“He is a little devil!” exclaimed the Abbot.
“He talks and whistles in church,” cried another.
“He reviles the saints and the souls of the departed.”
“He torments animals.” Each one had something to say; especially the last.
“He is the accursed child of a mad mother.”
“She is the destruction of all men,” continued the Abbot. “She sins against all the commandments.”
“She tramples under foot all the sacraments.”
“She is a raging fury and a sacrilegious witch.”
“She sent her husband to his grave with a deadly drink.”