(image borrowed from Biblical Truth)
"Shrift is the act of hearing a confession and giving absolution. A condemned prisoner's final confession was often brief to ensure an on-time execution. Thus, condemned prisoners got short shrift."
(image borrowed from NOVA Online)
"In ancient Rome, trained walkers stepped along roads 1,000 paces at a time (approximately 4,800 feet, or just short of our current mile), marking the distance with stone obelisks. The markers were called milestones."