“Wake up, Monsignor! Wake up! You are dreaming. Christ is the King of men again, now—not of just religiously minded devots. He rules, because He has a right to rule. . . . And the civil power stands for Him in secular matters, and the Church in spiritual. I am to be put to death! Well, I protest that I am innocent, but not that the crime charged against me does not deserve death. I protest, but I do not resent it. Do you think I fear death? . . Is that not in His hands too? . . . Christ reigns, and we all know it. And you must know it too!”
All sensation seemed to have ebbed from the man who listened. . . . He was conscious of a white ecstatic face with burning eyes looking at him. He could no longer actively resist or rebel. It was only by the utmost effort that he could still keep from yielding altogether. Some great pressure seemed to enfold and encircle him, threatening his very existence as an individual. So tremendous was the force with which the words were spoken, that for an instant it seemed as if he saw in mental vision that which they described—a Supreme Dominant Figure, wounded indeed, yet overmastering and compelling in His strength—no longer the Christ of gentleness and meekness, but a Christ who had taken His power at last and reigned, a Lamb that was a Lion, a Servant that was Lord of all; One that pleaded no longer, but commanded. . . .
And yet he clung still desperately and blindly to his old ideal. He pushed off from him this dominating Presence; his whole self and individuality would not yield to Him who demanded the sacrifice of both. He saw this Christ at last, and by a flash of intuition perceived that this was the key to this changed world he found so incomprehensible; and yet he would not have it—he would not have this Man to rule over him. . . .
He made one last effort; the vision passed and he stood up, feeling once more sensation come back, understanding that he had saved himself from an extinction more utter than that of death.
“Well,” he said quietly—so quietly that he almost deceived himself too,—“well, I will remember what you say, Dom Adrian, and I will do what I can with the Cardinal.”
“I’m afraid it’s been a great shock,” said Father Jervis soothingly. “And I’m not surprised, after your illness. . . . Yes I quite see your point. Of course it must seem very strange. . . . Now what about coming over to Ireland for a week? The Cardinal will be delighted, I’m sure.”
The blow had fallen this morning—a fortnight after the trial had ended.