« God i’m so glad to see you ! »Father Jim Nastik told me , opening the rectory door and soon after a good bottle of his private wine mass ( Gigondas 2001 . Domaine Santa Duc.” Prestige des Hautes garrigues.”)

We have to say that Jim is an old adolescence friend, a wonderful adolescence that passed far too quickly in our beautiful village of Beaulieu in the Ardèche  ( 07460), where we acquired some fame because of our numerous mischiefs and expeditions to unveil feminine archeology in all the balls of the neighborhhod .

Raymond’s success with girls of the area were celebrated as far as the remotest places in Lozère. It must be admitted that he was as handsome as a gold coin , my friend, and that the chicks always looked back at him when they walked by (quite often he was generous enough to let me have his second class conquests as one might give a chicken bone to one’s dog for him to gnaw .)

After two big glasses of his delicious Gigondas , we sat comfortably and Raymond started telling me the following story , which has been haunting me since .

-“You must know , my dearest Flèche ,that for numerous years ,I served in the diocese of Collioure, a village where anchovy fishing is a flourishing industry , almost a religion in itself . Once I received in confession the visit of a guy (let’s call him Gaspard to keep his real name secret ) well-known in the area as one of the best fishermen of those delicious wee fishes.

The guy Gaspard , his voice hoarse with emotion , uttered the following words:

-“You certainly know for sure, my reverend , I’m a good christian, never missed a mass on Sunday ,  I consult the Bible more often than “People’s magazine”. Today I’m deep in trouble . Without boasting , I have huge successes as a fisherman to my credit (by the way I’ve just bought my wife a brand new Clio Diesel .)

Until the day before yesterday , when pulling my nets loaded with anchovy , my eye was attracted by one of my catch . A young , elegant , aritocratic female who was watching me with her eyes …………watering eyes, imploring for release , cause she said to me she was in charge of her bedridden invalid mother .

Now I have to tell you ,Reverend ,that I was moved to my deepest soul by her eloquent prayer and I delicately seized the little she-anchovy between my fingers and released her together with one ton and a half of her fellow anchovies.

In one split second, my decision was made . Never in a million years, I made the oath, I would never take the life of one of these unfortunate animals, even to pay for a good school to my children or bet on horseraces. My decision was irrevocable, i was to become vegetarian .

And today I only eat the vegetables and fruit that grow in my small garden . Is it a sin , my Reverend ? ”

“Go in peace ,my son !” were the only words I could answer to such an honest man.

But here is where things get worse ! Last week the guy Gaspard came back to tell me in confession ,with fever and shiver “God protect me , I’ve just murdered a lettuce in my garden!”