'There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment about the nature of sin, for example.'
'And what do they think? Against it, are they?'
'It's not as simple as that. It's not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of grey.'
'There's no greys, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That's what sin is.'
'It's a lot more complicated than that -'
'No. It ain't. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they're getting worried that they won't like the truth. People as things, that's where it starts.'
'Oh, I'm sure there are worse crimes -'
'But they starts with thinking about people as things...'
'You're not a believer yourself, then, Mistress Weatherwax?'
'Oh, I reckon I believes in tea, sunrises, that sort of thing,' said Granny.
'I was referring to religion.'
'I know a few gods in these parts, if that's what you mean.'
Oats sighed. 'Many people find faith a great solace,' he said. He wished he was one of them.
'Really? Somehow I thought you'd argue.'
'It's not my place to tell 'em what to believe, if they act decent.'
'But it's not something that you feel drawn to, perhaps, in the darker hours?'
'No. I've already got a hot water bottle.'
'This Om... anyone seen him?'
'It is said three thousand people witnessed his manifestation at the Great Temple when he made the Covenant with the prophet Brutha and saved him from death by torture on the iron turtle -'
'But I bet that now they're arguing about what they actually saw, eh?'
'Well, indeed, yes, there are many opinions -'
'Right. Right. That's people for you. Now if I'd seen him, really there, really alive, it'd be in me like a fever. If I thought there was some god who really did care two hoots about people, who watched 'em like a father and cared for 'em like a mother... well, you wouldn't catch me sayin' things like "There are two sides to every question," and "We must respect other people's beliefs." You wouldn't find me just being gen'rally nice in the hope that it'd all turn out right in the end, not if that flame was burning in me like an unforgivin' sword. And I did say burnin', Mister Oats, 'cos that's what it'd be. You say that you people don't burn folk and sacrifice people any more, but that's what true faith would mean, y'see? Sacrificin' your own life, one day at a time, to the flame, declarin' the truth of it, workin' for it, breathin' the soul of it. That's religion. Anything else is just... is just bein' nice. And a way of keepin' in touch with the neighbours.'
She relaxed slightly, and went on in a quieter voice: 'Anyway, that's what I'd be, if I really believed. And I don't think that's fashionable right now, 'cos it seems that if you sees evil now you have to wring your hands and say, "Oh deary me, we must debate this." That's my two penn'orth, Mister Oats. You be happy to let things lie. Don't chase faith, 'cos you'll never catch it.' She added, almost as an aside, 'But, perhaps, you can live faithfully.'
Her teeth chattered as a gust of icy wind flapped her wet dress around her legs.
'You got another book of holy words on you?' she added.
'No,' said Oats, still shocked. He thought: my god, if she ever finds a religion, what would come out of these mountains and sweep across the plains? My god... I just said, 'My god'...