The Encounter




Oliver Brand was seated at his desk, on the evening of the next day,

reading the leading article of the New People, evening edition.

* * * * *

"We have had time," he read, "to recover ourselves a little from the

intoxication of last night. Before embarking on prophecy, it will be as

well to recall the facts. Up to yesterday evening our anx
ety with

regard to the Eastern crisis continued; and when twenty-one o'clock

struck there were not more than forty persons in London--the English

delegates, that is to say--who knew positively that the danger was over.

Between that moment and half-an-hour later the Government took a few

discreet steps: a select number of persons were informed; the police

were called out, with half-a-dozen regiments, to preserve order; Paul's

House was cleared; the railroad companies were warned; and at the half

hour precisely the announcement was made by means of the electric

placards in every quarter of London, as well as in all large provincial

towns. We have not space now to adequately describe the admirable manner

in which the public authorities did their duty; it is enough to say that

not more than seventy fatalities took place in the whole of London; nor

is it our business to criticise the action of the Government, in

choosing this mode of making the announcement.

"By twenty-two o'clock Paul's House was filled in every corner, the Old

Choir was reserved for members of Parliament and public officials, the

quarter-dome galleries were filled with ladies, and to the rest of the

floor the public was freely admitted. The volor-police also inform us

now that for about the distance of one mile in every direction round

this centre every thoroughfare was blocked with pedestrians, and, two

hours later, as we all know, practically all the main streets of the

whole of London were in the same condition.

"It was an excellent choice by which Mr. OLIVER BRAND was selected as

the first speaker. His arm was still in bandages; and the appeal of his

figure as well as his passionate words struck the first explicit note of

the evening. A report of his words will be found in another column. In



spoke a few words, corroborating the extraordinary news. At a quarter

before twenty-three, the noise of cheering outside announced the arrival

of the American delegates from Paris, and one by one these ascended the

platform by the south gates of the Old Choir. Each spoke in turn. It is

impossible to appreciate words spoken at such a moment as this; but

perhaps it is not invidious to name Mr. MARKHAM as the orator who above

all others appealed to those who were privileged to hear him. It was he,

too, who told us explicitly what others had merely mentioned, to the

effect that the success of the American efforts was entirely due to Mr.

JULIAN FELSENBURGH. As yet Mr. FELSENBURGH had not arrived; but in

answer to a roar of inquiry, Mr. MARKHAM announced that this gentleman

would be amongst them in a few minutes. He then proceeded to describe to

us, so far as was possible in a few sentences, the methods by which Mr.

FELSENBURGH had accomplished what is probably the most astonishing task

known to history. It seems from his words that Mr. FELSENBURGH (whose

biography, so far as it is known, we give in another column) is probably

the greatest orator that the world has ever known--we use these words

deliberately. All languages seem the same to him; he delivered speeches

during the eight months through which the Eastern Convention lasted, in

no less than fifteen tongues. Of his manner in speaking we shall have a

few remarks to make presently. He showed also, Mr. MARKHAM told us, the

most astonishing knowledge, not only of human nature, but of every trait

under which that divine thing manifests itself. He appeared acquainted

with the history, the prejudices, the fears, the hopes, the expectations

of all the innumerable sects and castes of the East to whom it was his

business to speak. In fact, as Mr. MARKHAM said, he is probably the

first perfect product of that new cosmopolitan creation to which the

world has laboured throughout its history. In no less than nine

places--Damascus, Irkutsk, Constantinople, Calcutta, Benares, Nanking,

among them--he was hailed as Messiah by a Mohammedan mob. Finally, in

America, where this extraordinary figure has arisen, all speak well of

him. He has been guilty of none of those crimes--there is not one that

convicts him of sin--those crimes of the Yellow Press, of corruption, of

commercial or political bullying which have so stained the past of all

those old politicians who made the sister continent what she has become.

Mr. FELSENBURGH has not even formed a party. He, and not his underlings,

have conquered. Those who were present in Paul's House on this occasion

will understand us when we say that the effect of those words was


"When Mr. MARKHAM sat down, there was a silence; then, in order to quiet

the rising excitement, the organist struck the first chords of the

Masonic Hymn; the words were taken up, and presently not only the whole

interior of the building rang with it, but outside, too, the people

responded, and the city of London for a few moments became indeed a

temple of the Lord.

"Now indeed we come to the most difficult part of our task, and it is

better to confess at once that anything resembling journalistic

descriptiveness must be resolutely laid aside. The greatest things are

best told in the simplest words.

"Towards the close of the fourth verse, a figure in a plain dark suit

was observed ascending the steps of the platform. For a moment this

attracted no attention, but when it was seen that a sudden movement had

broken out among the delegates, the singing began to falter; and it

ceased altogether as the figure, after a slight inclination to right and

left, passed up the further steps that led to the rostrum. Then occurred

a curious incident. The organist aloft at first did not seem to

understand, and continued playing, but a sound broke out from the crowd

resembling a kind of groan, and instantly he ceased. But no cheering

followed. Instead a profound silence dominated in an instant the huge

throng; this, by some strange magnetism, communicated itself to those

without the building, and when Mr. FELSENBURGH uttered his first words,

it was in a stillness that was like a living thing. We leave the

explanation of this phenomenon to the expert in psychology.

"Of his actual words we have nothing to say. So far as we are aware no

reporter made notes at the moment; but the speech, delivered in

Esperanto, was a very simple one, and very short. It consisted of a

brief announcement of the great fact of Universal Brotherhood, a

congratulation to all who were yet alive to witness this consummation of

history; and, at the end, an ascription of praise to that Spirit of the

World whose incarnation was now accomplished.

"So much we can say; but we can say nothing as to the impression of the

personality who stood there. In appearance the man seemed to be about

thirty-three years of age, clean-shaven, upright, with white hair and

dark eyes and brows; he stood motionless with his hands on the rail, he

made but one gesture that drew a kind of sob from the crowd, he spoke

these words slowly, distinctly, and in a clear voice; then he stood


"There was no response but a sigh which sounded in the ears of at least

one who heard it as if the whole world drew breath for the first time;

and then that strange heart-shaking silence fell again. Many were

weeping silently, the lips of thousands moved without a sound, and all

faces were turned to that simple figure, as if the hope of every soul

were centred there. So, if we may believe it, the eyes of many,

centuries ago, were turned on one known now to history as JESUS OF


"Mr. FELSENBURGH stood so a moment longer, then he turned down the

steps, passed across the platform and disappeared.

"Of what took place outside we have received the following account from

an eye-witness. The white volor, so well known now to all who were in

London that night, had remained stationary outside the little south door

of the Old Choir aisle, poised about twenty feet above the ground.

Gradually it became known to the crowd, in those few minutes, who it was

who had arrived in it, and upon Mr. FELSENBURGH'S reappearance that same

strange groan sounded through the whole length of Paul's Churchyard,

followed by the same silence. The volor descended; the master stepped on

board, and once more the vessel rose to a height of twenty feet. It was

thought at first that some speech would be made, but none was necessary;

and after a moment's pause, the volor began that wonderful parade which

London will never forget. Four times during the night Mr. FELSENBURGH

went round the enormous metropolis, speaking no word; and everywhere the

groan preceded and followed him, while silence accompanied his actual

passage. Two hours after sunrise the white ship rose over Hampstead and

disappeared towards the North; and since then he, whom we call, in

truth, the Saviour of the world, has not been seen.

"And now what remains to be said?

"Comment is useless. It is enough to say in one short sentence that the

new era has begun, to which prophets and kings, and the suffering, the

dying, all who labour and are heavy-laden, have aspired in vain. Not

only has intercontinental rivalry ceased to exist, but the strife of

home dissensions has ceased also. Of him who has been the herald of its

inauguration we have nothing more to say. Time alone can show what is

yet left for him to do.

"But what has been done is as follows. The Eastern peril has been for

ever dissipated. It is understood now, by fanatic barbarians as well as

by civilised nations, that the reign of War is ended. 'Not peace but a

sword,' said CHRIST; and bitterly true have those words proved to be.

'Not a sword but peace' is the retort, articulate at last, from those

who have renounced CHRIST'S claims or have never accepted them. The

principle of love and union learned however falteringly in the West

during the last century, has been taken up in the East as well. There

shall be no more an appeal to arms, but to justice; no longer a crying

after a God Who hides Himself, but to Man who has learned his own

Divinity. The Supernatural is dead; rather, we know now that it never

yet has been alive. What remains is to work out this new lesson, to

bring every action, word and thought to the bar of Love and Justice; and

this will be, no doubt, the task of years. Every code must be reversed;

every barrier thrown down; party must unite with party, country with

country, and continent with continent. There is no longer the fear of

fear, the dread of the hereafter, or the paralysis of strife. Man has

groaned long enough in the travails of birth; his blood has been poured

out like water through his own foolishness; but at length he understands

himself and is at peace.

"Let it be seen at least that England is not behind the nations in this

work of reformation; let no national isolation, pride of race, or

drunkenness of wealth hold her hands back from this enormous work. The

responsibility is incalculable, but the victory certain. Let us go

softly, humbled by the knowledge of our crimes in the past, confident in

the hope of our achievements in the future, towards that reward which is

in sight at last--the reward hidden so long by the selfishness of men,

the darkness of religion, and the strife of tongues--the reward promised

by one who knew not what he said and denied what he asserted--Blessed

are the meek, the peacemakers, the merciful, for they shall inherit the

earth, be named the children of God, and find mercy."

* * * * *

Oliver, white to the lips, with his wife kneeling now beside him, turned

the page and read one more short paragraph, marked as being the latest


"It is understood that the Government is in communication with Mr.



"Ah! it is journalese," said Oliver, at last, leaning back. "Tawdry

stuff! But--but the thing!"

Mabel got up, passed across to the window-seat, and sat down. Her lips

opened once or twice, but she said nothing.

"My darling," cried the man, "have you nothing to say?"

She looked at him tremulously a moment.

"Say!" she said. "As you said, What is the use of words?"

"Tell me again," said Oliver. "How do I know it is not a dream?"

"A dream," she said. "Was there ever a dream like this?"

Again she got up restlessly, came across the floor, and knelt down by

her husband once more, taking his hands in hers.

"My dear," she said, "I tell you it is not a dream. It is reality at

last. I was there too--do you not remember? You waited for me when all

was over--when He was gone out--we saw Him together, you and I. We heard

Him--you on the platform and I in the gallery. We saw Him again pass up

the Embankment as we stood in the crowd. Then we came home and we found

the priest."

Her face was transfigured as she spoke. It was as of one who saw a

Divine Vision. She spoke very quietly, without excitement or hysteria.

Oliver stared at her a moment; then he bent forward and kissed her


"Yes, my darling; it is true. But I want to hear it again and again.

Tell me again what you saw."

"I saw the Son of Man," she said. "Oh! there is no other phrase. The

Saviour of the world, as that paper says. I knew Him in my heart as soon

as I saw Him--as we all did--as soon as He stood there holding the rail.

It was like a glory round his head. I understand it all now. It was He

for whom we have waited so long; and He has come, bringing Peace and

Goodwill in His hands. When He spoke, I knew it again. His voice was

as--as the sound of the sea--as simple as that--as--as lamentable--as

strong as that.--Did you not hear it?"

Oliver bowed his head.

"I can trust Him for all the rest," went on the girl softly. "I do not

know where He is, nor when He will come back, nor what He will do. I

suppose there is a great deal for Him to do, before He is fully

known--laws, reforms--that will be your business, my dear. And the rest

of us must wait, and love, and be content."

Oliver again lifted his face and looked at her.

"Mabel, my dear---"

"Oh! I knew it even last night," she said, "but I did not know that I

knew it till I awoke to-day and remembered. I dreamed of Him all

night.... Oliver, where is He?"

He shook his head.

"Yes, I know where He is, but I am under oath---"

She nodded quickly, and stood up.

"Yes. I should not have asked that. Well, we are content to wait."

There was silence for a moment or two. Oliver broke it.

"My dear, what do you mean when you say that He is not yet known?"

"I mean just that," she said. "The rest only know what He has done--not

what He is; but that, too, will come in time."

"And meanwhile---"

"Meanwhile, you must work; the rest will come by and bye. Oh! Oliver, be

strong and faithful."

She kissed him quickly, and went out.

* * * * *

Oliver sat on without moving, staring, as his habit was, out at the wide

view beyond his windows. This time yesterday he was leaving Paris,

knowing the fact indeed--for the delegates had arrived an hour

before--but ignorant of the Man. Now he knew the Man as well--at least

he had seen Him, heard Him, and stood enchanted under the glow of His

personality. He could explain it to himself no more than could any one

else--unless, perhaps, it were Mabel. The others had been as he had

been: awed and overcome, yet at the same time kindled in the very depths

of their souls. They had come out--Snowford, Cartwright, Pemberton, and

the rest--on to the steps of Paul's House, following that strange

figure. They had intended to say something, but they were dumb as they

saw the sea of white faces, heard the groan and the silence, and

experienced that compelling wave of magnetism that surged up like

something physical, as the volor rose and started on that indescribable


Once more he had seen Him, as he and Mabel stood together on the deck of

the electric boat that carried them south. The white ship had passed

along overhead, smooth and steady, above the heads of that vast

multitude, bearing Him who, if any had the right to that title, was

indeed the Saviour of the world. Then they had come home, and found the


That, too, had been a shock to him; for, at first sight, it seemed that

this priest was the very man he had seen ascend the rostrum two hours

before. It was an extraordinary likeness--the same young face and white

hair. Mabel, of course, had not noticed it; for she had only seen

Felsenburgh at a great distance; and he himself had soon been reassured.

And as for his mother--it was terrible enough; if it had not been for

Mabel there would have been violence done last night. How collected and

reasonable she had been! And, as for his mother--he must leave her alone

for the present. By and bye, perhaps, something might be done. The

future! It was that which engrossed him--the future, and the absorbing

power of the personality under whose dominion he had fallen last night.

All else seemed insignificant now--even his mother's defection, her

illness--all paled before this new dawn of an unknown sun. And in an

hour he would know more; he was summoned to Westminster to a meeting of

the whole House; their proposals to Felsenburgh were to be formulated;

it was intended to offer him a great position.

Yes, as Mabel had said; this was now their work--to carry into effect

the new principle that had suddenly become incarnate in this grey-haired

young American--the principle of Universal Brotherhood. It would mean

enormous labour; all foreign relations would have to be

readjusted--trade, policy, methods of government--all demanded

re-statement. Europe was already organised internally on a basis of

mutual protection: that basis was now gone. There was no more any

protection, because there was no more any menace. Enormous labour, too,

awaited the Government in other directions. A Blue-book must be

prepared, containing a complete report of the proceedings in the East,

together with the text of the Treaty which had been laid before them in

Paris, signed by the Eastern Emperor, the feudal kings, the Turkish

Republic, and countersigned by the American plenipotentiaries....

Finally, even home politics required reform: the friction of old strife

between centre and extremes must cease forthwith--there must be but one

party now, and that at the Prophet's disposal.... He grew bewildered as

he regarded the prospect, and saw how the whole plane of the world was

shifted, how the entire foundation of western life required

readjustment. It was a Revolution indeed, a cataclysm more stupendous

than even invasion itself; but it was the conversion of darkness into

light, and chaos into order.

He drew a deep breath, and so sat pondering.

* * * * *

Mabel came down to him half-an-hour later, as he dined early before

starting for Whitehall.

"Mother is quieter," she said. "We must be very patient, Oliver. Have

you decided yet as to whether the priest is to come again?"

He shook his head.

"I can think of nothing," he said, "but of what I have to do. You

decide, my dear; I leave it in your hands."

She nodded.

"I will talk to her again presently. Just now she can understand very

little of what has happened.... What time shall you be home?"

"Probably not to-night. We shall sit all night."

"Yes, dear. And what shall I tell Mr. Phillips?"

"I will telephone in the morning.... Mabel, do you remember what I told

you about the priest?"

"His likeness to the other?"

"Yes. What do you make of that?"

She smiled.

"I make nothing at all of it. Why should they not be alike?"

He took a fig from the dish, and swallowed it, and stood up.

"It is only very curious," he said. "Now, good-night, my dear."


"Oh, mother," said Mabel, kneeling by the bed; "cannot you understand

what has happened?"

She had tried desperately to tell the old lady of the extraordinary

change that had taken place in the world--and without success. It seemed

to her that some great issue depended on it; that it would be piteous if

the old woman went out into the dark unconscious of what had come. It

was as if a Christian knelt by the death-bed of a Jew on the first

Easter Monday. But the old lady lay in her bed, terrified but obdurate.

"Mother," said the girl, "let me tell you again. Do you not understand

that all which Jesus Christ promised has come true, though in another

way? The reign of God has really begun; but we know now who God is. You

said just now you wanted the Forgiveness of Sins; well, you have that;

we all have it, because there is no such thing as sin. There is only

Crime. And then Communion. You used to believe that that made you a

partaker of God; well, we are all partakers of God, because we are human

beings. Don't you see that Christianity is only one way of saying all

that? I dare say it was the only way, for a time; but that is all over

now. Oh! and how much better this is! It is true--true. You can see it

to be true!"

She paused a moment, forcing herself to look at that piteous old face,

the flushed wrinkled cheeks, the writhing knotted hands on the coverlet.

"Look how Christianity has failed--how it has divided people; think of

all the cruelties--the Inquisition, the Religious Wars; the separations

between husband and wife and parents and children--the disobedience to

the State, the treasons. Oh! you cannot believe that these were right.

What kind of a God would that be! And then Hell; how could you ever have

believed in that?... Oh! mother, don't believe anything so frightful....

Don't you understand that that God has gone--that He never existed at

all--that it was all a hideous nightmare; and that now we all know at

last what the truth is.... Mother! think of what happened last

night--how He came--the Man of whom you were so frightened. I told you

what He was like--so quiet and strong--how every one was silent--of

the--the extraordinary atmosphere, and how six millions of people saw

Him. And think what He has done--how He has healed all the old

wounds--how the whole world is at peace at last--and of what is going to

happen. Oh! mother, give up those horrible old lies; give them up; be


"The priest, the priest!" moaned the old woman at last.

"Oh! no, no, no--not the priest; he can do nothing. He knows it's all

lies, too!"

"The priest! the priest!" moaned the other again. "He can tell you; he

knows the answer."

Her face was convulsed with effort, and her old fingers fumbled and

twisted with the rosary. Mabel grew suddenly frightened, and stood up.

"Oh! mother!" She stooped and kissed her. "There! I won't say any more

now. But just think about it quietly. Don't be in the least afraid; it

is all perfectly right."

She stood a moment, still looking compassionately down; torn by sympathy

and desire. No! it was no use now; she must wait till the next day.

"I'll look in again presently," she said, "when you have had dinner.

Mother! don't look like that! Kiss me!"

It was astonishing, she told herself that evening, how any one could be

so blind. And what a confession of weakness, too, to call only for the

priest! It was ludicrous, absurd! She herself was filled with an

extraordinary peace. Even death itself seemed now no longer terrible,

for was not death swallowed up in victory? She contrasted the selfish

individualism of the Christian, who sobbed and shrank from death, or, at

the best, thought of it only as the gate to his own eternal life, with

the free altruism of the New Believer who asked no more than that Man

should live and grow, that the Spirit of the World should triumph and

reveal Himself, while he, the unit, was content to sink back into that

reservoir of energy from which he drew his life. At this moment she

would have suffered anything, faced death cheerfully--she contemplated

even the old woman upstairs with pity--for was it not piteous that death

should not bring her to herself and reality?

She was in a quiet whirl of intoxication; it was as if the heavy veil of

sense had rolled back at last and shown a sweet, eternal landscape

behind--a shadowless land of peace where the lion lay down with the

lamb, and the leopard with the kid. There should be war no more: that

bloody spectre was dead, and with him the brood of evil that lived in

his shadow--superstition, conflict, terror, and unreality. The idols

were smashed, and rats had run out; Jehovah was fallen; the wild-eyed

dreamer of Galilee was in his grave; the reign of priests was ended. And

in their place stood a strange, quiet figure of indomitable power and

unruffled tenderness.... He whom she had seen--the Son of Man, the

Saviour of the world, as she had called Him just now--He who bore these

titles was no longer a monstrous figure, half God and half man, claiming

both natures and possessing neither; one who was tempted without

temptation, and who conquered without merit, as his followers said. Here

was one instead whom she could follow, a god indeed and a man as well--a

god because human, and a man because so divine.

She said no more that night. She looked into the bedroom for a few

minutes, and saw the old woman asleep. Her old hand lay out on the

coverlet, and still between the fingers was twisted the silly string of

beads. Mabel went softly across in the shaded light, and tried to detach

it; but the wrinkled fingers writhed and closed, and a murmur came from

the half-open lips. Ah! how piteous it was, thought the girl, how

hopeless that a soul should flow out into such darkness, unwilling to

make the supreme, generous surrender, and lay down its life because life

itself demanded it!

Then she went to her own room.

* * * * *

The clocks were chiming three, and the grey dawn lay on the walls, when

she awoke to find by her bed the woman who had sat with the old lady.

"Come at once, madam; Mrs. Brand is dying."


Oliver was with them by six o'clock; he came straight up into his

mother's room to find that all was over.

The room was full of the morning light and the clean air, and a bubble

of bird-music poured in from the lawn. But his wife knelt by the bed,

still holding the wrinkled hands of the old woman, her face buried in

her arms. The face of his mother was quieter than he had ever seen it,

the lines showed only like the faintest shadows on an alabaster mask;

her lips were set in a smile. He looked for a moment, waiting until the

spasm that caught his throat had died again. Then he put his hand on his

wife's shoulder.

"When?" he said.

Mabel lifted her face.

"Oh! Oliver," she murmured. "It was an hour ago. ... Look at this."

She released the dead hands and showed the rosary still twisted there;

it had snapped in the last struggle, and a brown bead lay beneath the


"I did what I could," sobbed Mabel. "I was not hard with her. But she

would not listen. She kept on crying out for the priest as long as she

could speak."

"My dear ... " began the man. Then he, too, went down on his knees by

his wife, leaned forward and kissed the rosary, while tears blinded him.

"Yes, yes," he said. "Leave her in peace. I would not move it for the

world: it was her toy, was it not?"

The girl stared at him, astonished.

"We can be generous, too," he said. "We have all the world at last. And

she--she has lost nothing: it was too late."

"I did what I could."

"Yes, my darling, and you were right. But she was too old; she could not


He paused.

"Euthanasia?" he whispered with something very like tenderness.

She nodded.

"Yes," she said; "just as the last agony began. She resisted, but I knew

you would wish it."

They talked together for an hour in the garden before Oliver went to his

room; and he began to tell her presently of all that had passed.

"He has refused," he said. "We offered to create an office for Him; He

was to have been called Consultor, and he refused it two hours ago. But

He has promised to be at our service.... No, I must not tell you where

He is.... He will return to America soon, we think; but He will not

leave us. We have drawn up a programme, and it is to be sent to Him

presently.... Yes, we were unanimous."

"And the programme?"

"It concerns the Franchise, the Poor Laws and Trade. I can tell you no

more than that. It was He who suggested the points. But we are not sure

if we understand Him yet."

"But, my dear---"

"Yes; it is quite extraordinary. I have never seen such things. There

was practically no argument."

"Do the people understand?"

"I think so. We shall have to guard against a reaction. They say that

the Catholics will be in danger. There is an article this morning in the

Era. The proofs were sent to us for sanction. It suggests that means

must be taken to protect the Catholics."

Mabel smiled.

"It is a strange irony," he said. "But they have a right to exist. How

far they have a right to share in the government is another matter. That

will come before us, I think, in a week or two."

"Tell me more about Him."

"There is really nothing to tell; we know nothing, except that He is the

supreme force in the world. France is in a ferment, and has offered him

Dictatorship. That, too, He has refused. Germany has made the same

proposal as ourselves; Italy, the same as France, with the title of

Perpetual Tribune. America has done nothing yet, and Spain is divided."

"And the East?"

"The Emperor thanked Him; no more than that."

Mabel drew a long breath, and stood looking out across the heat haze

that was beginning to rise from the town beneath. These were matters so

vast that she could not take them in. But to her imagination Europe lay

like a busy hive, moving to and fro in the sunshine. She saw the blue

distance of France, the towns of Germany, the Alps, and beyond them the

Pyrenees and sun-baked Spain; and all were intent on the same business,

to capture if they could this astonishing figure that had risen over the

world. Sober England, too, was alight with zeal. Each country desired

nothing better than that this man should rule over them; and He had

refused them all.

"He has refused them all!" she repeated breathlessly.

"Yes, all. We think He may be waiting to hear from America. He still

holds office there, you know."

"How old is He?"

"Not more than thirty-two or three. He has only been in office a few

months. Before that He lived alone in Vermont. Then He stood for the

Senate; then He made a speech or two; then He was appointed delegate,

though no one seems to have realised His power. And the rest we know."

Mabel shook her head meditatively.

"We know nothing," she said. "Nothing; nothing! Where did He learn His


"It is supposed that He travelled for many years. But no one knows. He

has said nothing."

She turned swiftly to her husband.

"But what does it all mean? What is His power? Tell me, Oliver?"

He smiled back, shaking his head.

"Well, Markham said that it was his incorruption--that and his oratory;

but that explains nothing."

"No, it explains nothing," said the girl.

"It is just personality," went on Oliver, "at least, that's the label to

use. But that, too, is only a label."

"Yes, just a label. But it is that. They all felt it in Paul's House,

and in the streets afterwards. Did you not feel it?"

"Feel it!" cried the man, with shining eyes. "Why, I would die for Him!"

* * * * *

They went back to the house presently, and it was not till they reached

the door that either said a word about the dead old woman who lay


"They are with her now," said Mabel softly. "I will communicate with the


He nodded gravely.

"It had better be this afternoon," he said. "I have a spare hour at

fourteen o'clock. Oh! by the way, Mabel, do you know who took the

message to the priest?"

"I think so."

"Yes, it was Phillips. I saw him last night. He will not come here


"Did he confess it?"

"He did. He was most offensive."

But Oliver's face softened again as he nodded to his wife at the foot of

the stairs, and turned to go up once more to his mother's room.



It seemed to Percy Franklin as he drew near Rome, sliding five hundred

feet high through the summer dawn, that he was approaching the very

gates of heaven, or, still better, he was as a child coming home. For

what he had left behind him ten hours before in London was not a bad

specimen, he thought, of the superior mansions of hell. It was a world

whence God seemed to have withdrawn Himself, leaving it indeed in a

state of profound complacency--a state without hope or faith, but a

condition in which, although life continued, there was absent the one

essential to well-being. It was not that there was not expectation--for

London was on tip-toe with excitement. There were rumours of all kinds:

Felsenburgh was coming back; he was back; he had never gone. He was to

be President of the Council, Prime Minister, Tribune, with full

capacities of democratic government and personal sacro-sanctity, even

King--if not Emperor of the West. The entire constitution was to be

remodelled, there was to be a complete rearrangement of the pieces;

crime was to be abolished by the mysterious power that had killed war;

there was to be free food--the secret of life was discovered, there was

to be no more death--so the rumours ran.... Yet that was lacking, to the

priest's mind, which made life worth living....

In Paris, while the volor waited at the great station at Montmartre,

once known as the Church of the Sacred Heart, he had heard the roaring

of the mob in love with life at last, and seen the banners go past. As

it rose again over the suburbs he had seen the long lines of trains

streaming in, visible as bright serpents in the brilliant glory of the

electric globes, bringing the country folk up to the Council of the

Nation which the legislators, mad with drama, had summoned to decide the

great question. At Lyons it had been the same. The night was as clear as

the day, and as full of sound. Mid France was arriving to register its


He had fallen asleep as the cold air of the Alps began to envelop the

car, and had caught but glimpses of the solemn moonlit peaks below him,

the black profundities of the gulfs, the silver glint of the shield-like

lakes, and the soft glow of Interlaken and the towns in the Rhone

valley. Once he had been moved in spite of himself, as one of the huge

German volors had passed in the night, a blaze of ghostly lights and

gilding, resembling a huge moth with antennae of electric light, and the

two ships had saluted one another through half a league of silent air,

with a pathetic cry as of two strange night-birds who have no leisure to

pause. Milan and Turin had been quiet, for Italy was organised on other

principles than France, and Florence was not yet half awake. And now the

Campagna was slipping past like a grey-green rug, wrinkled and tumbled,

five hundred feet beneath, and Rome was all but in sight. The indicator

above his seat moved its finger from one hundred to ninety miles.

He shook off the doze at last, and drew out his office book; but as he

pronounced the words his attention was elsewhere, and, when Prime was

said, he closed the book once more, propped himself more comfortably,

drawing the furs round him, and stretching his feet on the empty seat

opposite. He was alone in his compartment; the three men who had come in

at Paris had descended at Turin.

* * * * *

He had been remarkably relieved when the message had come three days

before from the Cardinal-Protector, bidding him make arrangements for a

long absence from England, and, as soon as that was done, to come to

Rome. He understood that the ecclesiastical authorities were really

disturbed at last.

He reviewed the last day or two, considering the report he would have to

present. Since his last letter, three days before, seven notable

apostasies had taken place in Westminster diocese alone, two priests and

five important laymen. There was talk of revolt on all sides; he had

seen a threatening document, called a "petition," demanding the right to

dispense with all ecclesiastical vestments, signed by one hundred and

twenty priests from England and Wales. The "petitioners" pointed out

that persecution was coming swiftly at the hands of the mob; that the

Government was not sincere in the promises of protection; they hinted

that religious loyalty was already strained to breaking-point even in

the case of the most faithful, and that with all but those it had

already broken.

And as to his comments Percy was clear. He would tell the authorities,

as he had already told them fifty times, that it was not persecution

that mattered; it was this new outburst of enthusiasm for Humanity--an

enthusiasm which had waxed a hundredfold more hot since the coming of

Felsenburgh and the publication of the Eastern news--which was melting

the hearts of all but the very few. Man had suddenly fallen in love with

man. The conventional were rubbing their eyes and wondering why they had

ever believed, or even dreamed, that there was a God to love, asking one

another what was the secret of the spell that had held them so long.

Christianity and Theism were passing together from the world's mind as a

morning mist passes when the sun comes up. His recommendations--? Yes,

he had those clear, and ran them over in his mind with a sense of


For himself, he scarcely knew if he believed what he professed. His

emotions seemed to have been finally extinguished in the vision of the

white car and the silence of the crowd that evening three weeks before.

It had been so horribly real and positive; the delicate aspirations and

hopes of the soul appeared so shadowy when compared with that burning,

heart-shaking passion of the people. He had never seen anything like it;

no congregation under the spell of the most kindling preacher alive had

ever responded with one-tenth of the fervour with which that irreligious

crowd, standing in the cold dawn of the London streets, had greeted the

coming of their saviour. And as for the man himself--Percy could not

analyse what it was that possessed him as he had stared, muttering the

name of Jesus, on that quiet figure in black with features and hair so

like his own. He only knew that a hand had gripped his heart--a hand

warm, not cold--and had quenched, it seemed, all sense of religious

conviction. It had only been with an effort that sickened him to

remember, that he had refrained from that interior act of capitulation

that is so familiar to all who have cultivated an inner life and

understand what failure means. There had been one citadel that had not

flung wide its gates--all else had yielded. His emotions had been

stormed, his intellect silenced, his memory of grace obscured, a

spiritual nausea had sickened his soul, yet the secret fortress of the

will had, in an agony, held fast the doors and refused to cry out and

call Felsenburgh king.

Ah! how he had prayed during those three weeks! It appeared to him that

he had done little else; there had been no peace. Lances of doubt thrust

again and again through door and window; masses of argument had crashed

from above; he had been on the alert day and night, repelling this,

blindly, and denying that, endeavouring to keep his foothold on the

slippery plane of the supernatural, sending up cry after cry to the Lord

Who hid Himself. He had slept with his crucifix in his hand, he had

awakened himself by kissing it; while he wrote, talked, ate, walked, and

sat in cars, the inner life had been busy-making frantic speechless acts

of faith in a religion which his intellect denied and from which his

emotions shrank. There had been moments of ecstasy--now in a crowded

street, when he recognised that God was all, that the Creator was the

key to the creature's life, that a humble act of adoration was

transcendently greater than the most noble natural act, that the

Supernatural was the origin and end of existence there had come to him

such moments in the night, in the silence of the Cathedral, when the

lamp flickered, and a soundless air had breathed from the iron door of

the tabernacle. Then again passion ebbed, and left him stranded on

misery, but set with a determination (which might equally be that of

pride or faith) that no power in earth or hell should hinder him from

professing Christianity even if he could not realise it. It was

Christianity alone that made life tolerable.

Percy drew a long vibrating breath, and changed his position; for far

away his unseeing eyes had descried a dome, like a blue bubble set on a

carpet of green; and his brain had interrupted itself to tell him that

this was Rome. He got up presently, passed out of his compartment, and

moved forward up the central gangway, seeing, as he went, through the

glass doors to right and left his fellow-passengers, some still asleep,

some staring out at the view, some reading. He put his eye to the glass

square in the door, and for a minute or two watched, fascinated, the

steady figure of the steerer at his post. There he stood motionless, his

hands on the steel circle that directed the vast wings, his eyes on the

wind-gauge that revealed to him as on the face of a clock both the force

and the direction of the high gusts; now and again his hands moved

slightly, and the huge fans responded, now lifting, now lowering.

Beneath him and in front, fixed on a circular table, were the glass

domes of various indicators--Percy did not know the meaning of half--one

seemed a kind of barometer, intended, he guessed, to declare the height

at which they were travelling, another a compass. And beyond, through

the curved windows, lay the enormous sky. Well, it was all very

wonderful, thought the priest, and it was with the force of which all

this was but one symptom that the supernatural had to compete.

He sighed, turned, and went back to his compartment.

It was an astonishing vision that began presently to open before

him--scarcely beautiful except for its strangeness, and as unreal as a

raised map. Far to his right, as he could see through the glass doors,

lay the grey line of the sea against the luminous sky, rising and

falling ever so slightly as the car, apparently motionless, tilted

imperceptibly against the western breeze; the only other movement was

the faint pulsation of the huge throbbing screw in the rear. To the left

stretched the limitless country, flitting beneath, in glimpses seen

between the motionless wings, with here and there the streak of a

village, flattened out of recognition, or the flash of water, and

bounded far away by the low masses of the Umbrian hills; while in front,

seen and gone again as the car veered, lay the confused line of Rome and

the huge new suburbs, all crowned by the great dome growing every

instant. Around, above and beneath, his eyes were conscious of wide

air-spaces, overhead deepening into lapis-lazuli down to horizons of

pale turquoise. The only sound, of which he had long ceased to be

directly conscious, was that of the steady rush of air, less shrill now

as the speed began to drop down--down--to forty miles an hour. There was

a clang of a bell, and immediately he was aware of a sense of faint

sickness as the car dropped in a glorious swoop, and he staggered a

little as he grasped his rugs together. When he looked again the motion

seemed to have ceased; he could see towers ahead, a line of house-roofs,

and beneath he caught a glimpse of a road and more roofs with patches of

green between. A bell clanged again, and a long sweet cry followed. On

all sides he could hear the movement of feet; a guard in uniform passed

swiftly along the glazed corridor; again came the faint nausea; and as

he looked up once more from his luggage for an instant he saw the dome,

grey now and lined, almost on a level with his own eyes, huge against

the vivid sky. The world span round for a moment; he shut his eyes, and

when he looked again walls seemed to heave up past him and stop,

swaying. There was the last bell, a faint vibration as the car grounded

in the steel-netted dock; a line of faces rocked and grew still outside

the windows, and Percy passed out towards the doors, carrying his bags.


He still felt a sense of insecure motion as he sat alone over coffee an

hour later in one of the remote rooms of the Vatican; but there was a

sense of exhilaration as well, as his tired brain realised where he was.

It had been strange to drive over the rattling stones in the weedy

little cab, such as he remembered ten years ago when he had left Rome,

newly ordained. While the world had moved on, Rome had stood still; she

had other affairs to think of than physical improvements, now that the

spiritual weight of the earth rested entirely upon her shoulders. All

had seemed unchanged--or rather it had reverted to the condition of

nearly one hundred and fifty years ago. Histories related how the

improvements of the Italian government had gradually dropped out of use

as soon as the city, eighty years before, had been given her

independence; the trains ceased to run; volors were not allowed to enter

the walls; the new buildings, permitted to remain, had been converted to

ecclesiastical use; the Quirinal became the offices of the "Red Pope";

the embassies, huge seminaries; even the Vatican itself, with the

exception of the upper floor, had become the abode of the Sacred

College, who surrounded the Supreme Pontiff as stars their sun.

It was an extraordinary city, said antiquarians--the one living example

of the old days. Here were to be seen the ancient inconveniences, the

insanitary horrors, the incarnation of a world given over to dreaming.

The old Church pomp was back, too; the cardinals drove again in gilt

coaches; the Pope rode on his white mule; the Blessed Sacrament went

through the ill-smelling streets with the sound of bells and the light

of lanterns. A brilliant description of it had interested the civilised

world immensely for about forty-eight hours; the appalling retrogression

was still used occasionally as the text for violent denunciations by the

poorly educated; the well-educated had ceased to do anything but take

for granted that superstition and progress were irreconcilable enemies.

Yet Percy, even in the glimpses he had had in the streets, as he drove

from the volor station outside the People's Gate, of the old peasant

dresses, the blue and red-fringed wine carts, the cabbage-strewn

gutters, the wet clothes flapping on strings, the mules and

horses--strange though these were, he had found them a refreshment. It

had seemed to remind him that man was human, and not divine as the rest

of the world proclaimed--human, and therefore careless and

individualistic; human, and therefore occupied with interests other than

those of speed, cleanliness, and precision.

The room in which he sat now by the window with shading blinds, for the

sun was already hot, seemed to revert back even further than to a

century-and-a-half. The old damask and gilding that he had expected was

gone, and its absence gave the impression of great severity. There was a

wide deal table running the length of the room, with upright wooden arm

chairs set against it; the floor was red-tiled, with strips of matting

for the feet, the white, distempered walls had only a couple of old

pictures hung upon them, and a large crucifix flanked by candles stood

on a little altar by the further door. There was no more furniture than

that, with the exception of a writing-desk between the windows, on which

stood a typewriter. That jarred somehow on his sense of fitness, and he

wondered at it.

He finished the last drop of coffee in the thick-rimmed white cup, and

sat back in his chair.

* * * * *

Already the burden was lighter, and he was astonished at the swiftness

with which it had become so. Life looked simpler here; the interior

world was taken more for granted; it was not even a matter of debate.

There it was, imperious and objective, and through it glimmered to the

eyes of the soul the old Figures that had become shrouded behind the

rush of worldly circumstance. The very shadow of God appeared to rest

here; it was no longer impossible to realise that the saints watched and

interceded, that Mary sat on her throne, that the white disc on the

altar was Jesus Christ. Percy was not yet at peace after all, he had

been but an hour in Rome; and air, charged with never so much grace,

could scarcely do more than it had done. But he felt more at ease, less

desperately anxious, more childlike, more content to rest on the

authority that claimed without explanation, and asserted that the world,

as a matter of fact, proved by evidences without and within, was made

this way and not that, for this purpose and not the other. Yet he had

used the conveniences which he hated; he had left London a bare twelve

hours before, and now here he sat in a place which was either a stagnant

backwater of life, or else the very mid-current of it; he was not yet

sure which.

* * * * *

There was a step outside, a handle was turned; and the

Cardinal-Protector came through.

Percy had not seen him for four years, and for a moment scarcely

recognised him.

It was a very old man that he saw now, bent and feeble, his face covered

with wrinkles, crowned by very thin, white hair, and the little scarlet

cap on top; he was in his black Benedictine habit with a plain abbatial

cross on his breast, and walked hesitatingly, with a black stick. The

only sign of vigour was in the narrow bright slit of his eyes showing

beneath drooping lids. He held out his hand, smiling, and Percy,

remembering in time that he was in the Vatican, bowed low only as he

kissed the amethyst.

"Welcome to Rome, father," said the old man, speaking with an unexpected

briskness. "They told me you were here half-an-hour ago; I thought I

would leave you to wash and have your coffee."

Percy murmured something.

"Yes; you are tired, no doubt," said the Cardinal, pulling out a chair.

"Indeed not, your Eminence. I slept excellently."

The Cardinal made a little gesture to a chair.

"But I must have a word with you. The Holy Father wishes to see you at

eleven o'clock."

Percy started a little.

"We move quickly in these days, father.... There is no time to dawdle.

You understand that you are to remain in Rome for the present?"

"I have made all arrangements for that, your Eminence."

"That is very well.... We are pleased with you here, Father Franklin.

The Holy Father has been greatly impressed by your comments. You have

foreseen things in a very remarkable manner."

Percy flushed with pleasure. It was almost the first hint of

encouragement he had had. Cardinal Martin went on.

"I may say that you are considered our most valuable

correspondent--certainly in England. That is why you are summoned. You

are to help us here in future--a kind of consultor: any one can relate

facts; not every one can understand them.... You look very young,

father. How old are you?"

"I am thirty-three, your Eminence."

"Ah! your white hair helps you.... Now, father, will you come with me

into my room? It is now eight o'clock. I will keep you till nine--no

longer. Then you shall have some rest, and at eleven I shall take you up

to his Holiness."

Percy rose with a strange sense of elation, and ran to open the door for

the Cardinal to go through.


At a few minutes before eleven Percy came out of his little white-washed

room in his new ferraiuola, soutane and buckle shoes, and tapped at the

door of the Cardinal's room.

He felt a great deal more self-possessed now. He had talked to the

Cardinal freely and strongly, had described the effect that Felsenburgh

had had upon London, and even the paralysis that had seized upon

himself. He had stated his belief that they were on the edge of a

movement unparalleled in history: he related little scenes that he had

witnessed--a group kneeling before a picture of Felsenburgh, a dying man

calling him by name, the aspect of the crowd that had waited in

Westminster to hear the result of the offer made to the stranger. He

showed him half-a-dozen cuttings from newspapers, pointing out their

hysterical enthusiasm; he even went so far as to venture upon prophecy,

and to declare his belief that persecution was within reasonable


"The world seems very oddly alive," he said; "it is as if the whole

thing was flushed and nervous."

The Cardinal nodded.

"We, too," he said, "even we feel it."

For the rest the Cardinal had sat watching him out of his narrow eyes,

nodding from time to time, putting an occasional question, but listening

throughout with great attention.

"And your recommendations, father---" he had said, and then interrupted

himself. "No, that is too much to ask. The Holy Father will speak of


He had congratulated him upon his Latin then--for they had spoken in

that language throughout this second interview; and Percy had explained

how loyal Catholic England had been in obeying the order, given ten

years before, that Latin should become to the Church what Esperanto was

becoming to the world.

"That is very well," said the old man. "His Holiness will be pleased at


At his second tap the door opened and the Cardinal came out, taking him

by the arm without a word; and together they turned to the lift


Percy ventured to make a remark as they slid noiselessly up towards the

papal apartment.

"I am surprised at the lift, your Eminence, and the typewriter in the


"Why, father?"

"Why, all the rest of Rome is back in the old days."

The Cardinal looked at him, puzzled.

"Is it? I suppose it is. I never thought of that."

A Swiss guard flung back the door of the lift, saluted and went before

them along the plain flagged passage to where his comrade stood. Then he

saluted again and went back. A Pontifical chamberlain, in all the sombre

glory of purple, black, and a Spanish ruff, peeped from the door, and

made haste to open it. It really seemed almost incredible that such

things still existed.

"In a moment, your Eminence," he said in Latin. "Will your Eminence wait


It was a little square room, with half-a-dozen doors, plainly contrived

out of one of the huge old halls, for it was immensely high, and the

tarnished gilt cornice vanished directly in two places into the white

walls. The partitions, too, seemed thin; for as the two men sat down

there was a murmur of voices faintly audible, the shuffling of

footsteps, and the old eternal click of the typewriter from which Percy

hoped he had escaped. They were alone in the room, which was furnished

with the same simplicity as the Cardinal's--giving the impression of a

curious mingling of ascetic poverty and dignity by its red-tiled floor,

its white walls, its altar and two vast bronze candlesticks of

incalculable value that stood on the dais. The shutters here, too, were

drawn; and there was nothing to distract Percy from the excitement that

surged up now tenfold in heart and brain.

It was Papa Angelicus whom he was about to see; that amazing old man

who had been appointed Secretary of State just fifty years ago, at the

age of thirty, and Pope nine years previously. It was he who had carried

out the extraordinary policy of yielding the churches throughout the

whole of Italy to the Government, in exchange for the temporal lordship

of Rome, and who had since set himself to make it a city of saints. He

had cared, it appeared, nothing whatever for the world's opinion; his

policy, so far as it could be called one, consisted in a very simple

thing: he had declared in Epistle after Epistle that the object of the

Church was to do glory to God by producing supernatural virtues in man,

and that nothing at all was of any significance or importance except so

far as it effected this object. He had further maintained that since

Peter was the Rock, the City of Peter was the Capital of the world, and

should set an example to its dependency: this could not be done unless

Peter ruled his City, and therefore he had sacrificed every church and

ecclesiastical building in the country for that one end. Then he had set

about ruling his city: he had said that on the whole the latter-day

discoveries of man tended to distract immortal souls from a

contemplation of eternal verities--not that these discoveries could be

anything but good in themselves, since after all they gave insight into

the wonderful laws of God--but that at present they were too exciting to

the imagination. So he had removed the trams, the volors, the

laboratories, the manufactories--saying that there was plenty of room

for them outside Rome--and had allowed them to be planted in the

suburbs: in their place he had raised shrines, religious houses and

Calvaries. Then he had attended further to the souls of his subjects.

Since Rome was of limited area, and, still more because the world

corrupted without its proper salt, he allowed no man under the age of

fifty to live within its walls for more than one month in each year,

except those who received his permit. They might live, of course,

immediately outside the city (and they did, by tens of thousands), but

they were to understand that by doing so they sinned against the spirit,

though not the letter, of their Father's wishes. Then he had divided the

city into national quarters, saying that as each nation had its peculiar

virtues, each was to let its light shine steadily in its proper place.

Rents had instantly begun to rise, so he had legislated against that by

reserving in each quarter a number of streets at fixed prices, and had

issued an ipso facto excommunication against all who erred in this

respect. The rest were abandoned to the millionaires. He had retained

the Leonine City entirely at his own disposal. Then he had restored

Capital Punishment, with as much serene gravity as that with which he

had made himself the derision of the civilised world in other matters,

saying that though human life was holy, human virtue was more holy

still; and he had added to the crime of murder, the crimes of adultery,

idolatry and apostasy, for which this punishment was theoretically

sanctioned. There had not been, however, more than two such executions

in the eight years of his reign, since criminals, of course, with the

exception of devoted believers, instantly made their way to the suburbs,

where they were no longer under his jurisdiction.

But he had not stayed here. He had sent once more ambassadors to every

country in the world, informing the Government of each of their arrival.

No attention was paid to this, beyond that of laughter; but he had

continued, undisturbed, to claim his rights, and, meanwhile, used his

legates for the important work of disseminating his views. Epistles

appeared from time to time in every town, laying down the principles of

the papal claims with as much tranquillity as if they were everywhere

acknowledged. Freemasonry was steadily denounced, as well as democratic

ideas of every kind; men were urged to remember their immortal souls and

the Majesty of God, and to reflect upon the fact that in a few years all

would be called to give their account to Him Who was Creator and Ruler

of the world, Whose Vicar was John XXIV, P.P., whose name and seal were


That was a line of action that took the world completely by surprise.

People had expected hysteria, argument, and passionate exhortation;

disguised emissaries, plots, and protests. There were none of these. It

was as if progress had not yet begun, and volors were uninvented, as if

the entire universe had not come to disbelieve in God, and to discover

that itself was God. Here was this silly old man, talking in his sleep,

babbling of the Cross, and the inner life and the forgiveness of sins,

exactly as his predecessors had talked two thousand years before. Well,

it was only one sign more that Rome had lost not only its power, but its

common sense as well. It was really time that something should be done.

* * * * *

And this was the man, thought Percy, Papa Angelicus, whom he was to

see in a minute or two.

The Cardinal put his hand on the priest's knee as the door opened, and a

purple prelate appeared, bowing.

"Only this," he said. "Be absolutely frank."

Percy stood up, trembling. Then he followed his patron towards the inner



A white figure sat in the green gloom, beside a great writing-table,

three or four yards away, but with the chair wheeled round to face the

door by which the two entered. So much Percy saw as he performed the

first genuflection. Then he dropped his eyes, advanced, genuflected

again with the other, advanced once more, and for the third time

genuflected, lifting the thin white hand, stretched out, to his lips. He

heard the door close as he stood up.

"Father Franklin, Holiness," said the Cardinal's voice at his ear.

A white-sleeved arm waved to a couple of chairs set a yard away, and the

two sat down.

* * * * *

While the Cardinal, talking in slow Latin, said a few sentences,

explaining that this was the English priest whose correspondence had

been found so useful, Percy began to look with all his eyes.

He knew the Pope's face well, from a hundred photographs and moving

pictures; even his gestures were familiar to him, the slight bowing of

the head in assent, the tiny eloquent movement of the hands; but Percy,

with a sense of being platitudinal, told himself that the living

presence was very different.

It was a very upright old man that he saw in the chair before him, of

medium height and girth, with hands clasping the bosses of his

chair-arms, and an appearance of great and deliberate dignity. But it

was at the face chiefly that he looked, dropping his gaze three or four

times, as the Pope's blue eyes turned on him. They were extraordinary

eyes, reminding him of what historians said of Pius X.; the lids drew

straight lines across them, giving him the look of a hawk, but the rest

of the face contradicted them. There was no sharpness in that. It was

neither thin nor fat, but beautifully modelled in an oval outline: the

lips were clean-cut, with a look of passion in their curves; the nose

came down in an aquiline sweep, ending in chiselled nostrils; the chin

was firm and cloven, and the poise of the whole head was strangely

youthful. It was a face of great generosity and sweetness, set at an

angle between defiance and humility, but ecclesiastical from ear to ear

and brow to chin; the forehead was slightly compressed at the temples,

and beneath the white cap lay white hair. It had been the subject of

laughter at the music-halls nine years before, when the composite face

of well-known priests had been thrown on a screen, side by side with the

new Pope's, for the two were almost indistinguishable.

Percy found himself trying to sum it up, but nothing came to him except

the word "priest." It was that, and that was all. Ecce sacerdos

magnus! He was astonished at the look of youth, for the Pope was

eighty-eight this year; yet his figure was as upright as that of a man

of fifty, his shoulders unbowed, his head set on them like an athlete's,

and his wrinkles scarcely perceptible in the half light. Papa

Angelicus! reflected Percy.

The Cardinal ceased his explanations, and made a little gesture. Percy

drew up all his faculties tense and tight to answer the questions that

he knew were coming.

"I welcome you, my son," said a very soft, resonant voice.

Percy bowed, desperately, from the waist.

The Pope dropped his eyes again, lifted a paper-weight with his left

hand, and began to play with it gently as he talked.

"Now, my son, deliver a little discourse. I suggest to you three

heads--what has happened, what is happening, what will happen, with a

peroration as to what should happen."

Percy drew a long breath, settled himself back, clasped the fingers of

his left hand in the fingers of his right, fixed his eyes firmly upon

the cross-embroidered red shoe opposite, and began. (Had he not

rehearsed this a hundred times!)

* * * * *

He first stated his theme; to the effect that all the