"A confession. You hear confessions, don't you?"
"Well, I thought you were . . ." Alphonsus felt a twinge of anger.
"Of course I hear confessions. But generally don't find children on my doorstep at odd hours. Now, get inside here. We'll do it in the study, and it had better be good."
"It's not I who needs to," the boy said. "The person is waiting inside the church."
The rest of the story unfolds of a man who has just murdered a policeman belonging to the Royal Irish Constabulary. (RIC) Tensions had risen between the RIC and the Irish Republican Army. With each killing of a policeman the Black and Tans (a group) would burn the village nearest the killing.
The murderer is asking for penance from Alphonsus. And here lies the crux of the story. What should Alphonsus do? As a priest he is bound to perform his duties. As a member of the village nearest the killing he wants to cover up the killing so as to not evoke the wrath of the Black and Tans...