“Here we are,” said Father Jervis cheerfully. “Now, Monsignor, do you know where you are?”
The other shook his head dolorously.
“Come, come; this is your own room. Look at your writing-table, Monsignor; where you sit every day.”
The other looked at it eagerly and yet vaguely. A half-written letter, certainly in his own handwriting, lay there on the blotting-pad, but the name of his correspondent meant nothing to him; nor did the few words which he read. He looked round the room—at the bookcases, the curtains, the prie-Dieu . . . And again terror seized him.
“I know nothing, father . . . nothing at all. It’s all new! For God’s sake! . . .”
“Quietly then, Monsignor. It’s all perfectly right. . . . Now I’m going to leave you for ten minutes, to arrange about the places at lunch. You’d better lock your door and admit no one. Just look round the rooms when I’m gone——Ah!”
Father Jervis broke off suddenly and darted at an arm-chair, where a book lay face downwards on the seat. He snatched up the book, glanced at the pages, looked at the title, and laughed aloud.
“I knew it,” he said; “I was certain of it. You’ve got hold of Manners’ History, Look! you’re at the very page.”
He held it up for the other to see. Monsignor looked at it, still only half comprehending, and just noticing that the paper had a peculiar look, and saw that the running dates at the top of the pages contained the years 1904-1912. The priest shook the book in gentle triumph. A sheet of paper fell out of it, which he picked up and glanced at. Then he laughed again.
“See,” he said, “you’ve been making notes of the very period—no doubt in order to be able to talk to Manners. That’s the time he knows more about than any living soul. He calls it the ’crest of the wave,’ you know. Everything dated from then, in his opinion.”
“I don’t understand a word——”
“See here, Monsignor,” interrupted the priest in mild glee, “here’s a subject to talk about at lunch. Just get Manners on to it, and you’ll have no trouble. He loves lecturing; and he talks just like a history-book. Tell him you’ve been reading his History and want a bird’s-eye view.”
“Why, yes,” he said, “and that’ll tell me the facts, too.”
“Excellent. Now, Monsignor, I must go. Just look round the rooms well, and get to know where things are kept. I’ll be back in ten minutes, and we’ll have a good talk before lunch as to all who’ll be there. It’ll all go perfectly smoothly, I promise you.”
When the door closed Monsignor Masterman looked round him slowly and carefully. He had an idea that the mist must break sooner or later and that all would become familiar once again. It was perfectly plain, by now, to his mind, what had happened to him; and the fact that there were certain things which he recognized, such as the Cathedral, and Hyde Park, and a friar’s habit, and Archbishop’s House—all this helped him to keep his head. If he remembered so much, there seemed no intrinsic reason why he should not remember more.