“What's that you're doing, Sassenach?"
"Making out little Gizmo's birth certificate--so far as I can," I added.
"Gizmo?" he said doubtfully. "That will be a saint's name?"
"I shouldn't think so, though you never know, what with people named Pantaleon and Onuphrius. Or Ferreolus."
"Ferreolus? I dinna think I ken that one." He leaned back, hands linked over his knee.
"One of my favorites," I told him, carefully filling in the birthdate and time of birth--even that was an estimate, poor thing. There were precisely two bits of unequivocal information on this birth certificate--the date and the name of the doctor who's delivered him.
"Ferreolus," I went on with some new enjoyment, "is the patron saint of sick poultry. Christian martyr. He was a Roman tribune and a secret Christian. Having been found out, he was chained up in the prison cesspool to await trial--I suppose the cells must have been full. Sounds rather daredevil; he slipped his chains and escaped through the sewer. They caught up with him, though, dragged him back and beheaded him."
Jamie looked blank.
"What has that got to do wi' chickens?"
"I haven't the faintest idea. Take it up with the Vatican," I advised him.
"Mmphm. Aye, well, I've always been fond of Saint Guignole, myself." I could see the glint in his eye, but couldn't resist.
"And what's he the patron of?"
"He's involved against impotence." The glint got stronger. "I saw a statue of him in Brest once; they did say it had been there for a thousand years. 'Twas a miraculous statue--it had a cock like a gun muzzle, and--"
"Well, the size wasna the miraculous bit," he said, waving me to silence. "Or not quite. The townsfolk say that for a thousand years, folk have whittled away bits of it as holy relics, and yet the cock is still as big as ever." He grinned at me. "They do say that a man w' a bit of St. Guignole in his pocket can last a night and a day without tiring."
"Not with the same woman, I don't imagine," I said dryly. "It does rather make you wonder what he did to merit sainthood, though, doesn't it?"
"Any man who's had his prayer answered could tell yet that, Sassenach."
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