“But it’s finished—it’s finished, isn’t it, your Eminence?”
“Yes, yes, it’s finished. Or had we better say it’s begun. Now the last conflict begins. . . . Now, Monsignor, I’m afraid I must begin to dictate. Would you mind setting the phonographs?”
* * * * *
From the hall beneath rose a sudden confusion of cheering and stamping of feet.
“Monsignor,” said the Cardinal, “I am afraid I shall have to ask you to go, after all. It is extremely important that the Catholic authorities in England should be represented in this scheme. And I think, you will have to travel with the first batch. They leave Queenstown on the first of April.”
“Certainly. And when shall I be back, your Eminence?”
“You must judge for yourself. It will not be more than a month or six weeks at the outside, and I dare say a good deal less. It will depend on the temper of the settlers. The American civil authorities will have the final arrangements. But it is exceedingly important that the emigrants should have some one to speak for them; and as, of course, the Church will be believed to be really responsible, it will be as well that an ecclesiastic should be their friend. Identify yourself with them as far as possible. The civil authorities are sure to be inclined to be hard.”
“Very good, your Eminence.”
* * * * *
The scheme had come to birth very rapidly.
After the second reading of the Establishment Bill, it had been taken for granted, and rightly, that the rest was but a matter of time, and it was calculated that, considering the Government’s attitude, the Bill would receive the royal assent before the end of the summer. Immediately, therefore, the more peaceable Socialists had taken fright, and in every European country had made representations that now that their last refuges in Germany and England had been closed to them, some arrangement ought to be made by which they could enjoy complete civil and religious liberty elsewhere. The idea had been in the air, of course, for a considerable time. There had been complaints on all sides that public opinion was too strong, that Socialists, in spite of the protection given to them, suffered a good deal in informal ways owing to their opinions, and that some expedient would have to be found for their relief. Then America had come to the rescue, openly and formally, and had offered Massachusetts, which already had a large proportion of Socialists in its population, as a colony which would be tolerated as definitely socialistic. Christians would be warned that the new system would, if the Powers agreed, be on definitely non-Catholic lines, and that the immigration laws would be in future suspended with regard to Massachusetts. There were, of course, innumerable details still to be worked out, but by the end of February the understanding was established, and from every European country emigrant parties were arranged.