But his inspection was disappointing. Not only was there not one article in the room which he knew, but he did not even understand the use of some of the things which he saw. There was a row of what looked like small black boxes fastened to the right-hand wall, about the height of a man’s head; and there was some kind of a machine, all wheels and handles, in the corner by the nearer window, which was completely mysterious to him.
He glanced through into the bedroom, and this was not much better. Certainly there was a bed; there was no mistake about that; and there seemed to be wardrobes sunk to the level of the walls on all sides; but although in this room he thought he recognized the use of everything which he saw, there was no single thing that wore a familiar aspect.
He came back to his writing-table and sat down before it in despair. But that did not reassure him. He took out one or two of the books that stood there in a row—directories and address-books they appeared chiefly to be—and found his name written in each, with here and there a note or a correction, all in his own handwriting. He took up the half-written letter again and glanced through it once more, but it brought no relief. He could not even conjecture how the interrupted sentence on the third page ought to end.
Again and again he tried to tear up from his inner consciousness something which he could remember, closing his eyes and sinking his head upon his hands, but nothing except fragments and glimpses of vision rose before him. It was now a face or a scene to which he could give no name; now a sentence or a thought that owned no context. There was no frame at all—no unified scheme in which these fragments found cohesion. It was like regarding the pieces of a shattered jar whose shape even could not be conjectured. . . .
Then a sudden thought struck him; he sprang up quickly and ran into his bedroom. A tall mirror, he remembered, hung between the windows. He ran straight up to this and stood staring at his own reflection. It was himself that he saw there—there was no doubt of that—every line and feature of that keen, pale, professorial-looking face was familiar, though it seemed to him that his hair was a little greyer than it ought to be.
“I shall be delighted, Monsignor,” said the thin, clever-faced statesman, in his high, dry voice; “I shall be delighted to sketch out what seem to me the principal points in the century’s development.”
A profound silence fell upon all the table.
Really, Monsignor Masterman thought to himself, as he settled down to listen, he had done very well so far. He had noticed the old priest opposite smiling more than once, contentedly, as their eyes met.