8. What does penitent mean in this story?
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The word penitent can be found in Chapter Seven.
When my ablutions were completed, I was put into clean linen of the stiffest character, like a young penitent into sackcloth, and was trussed up in my tightest and fearfullest suit.
In this context, a penitent would be someone under censure by the church, who is seeking forgiveness.