“Ecclesiastics generally do. And so do the laity a good deal. Europe is practically bi-lingual. Each country keeps up its own tongue, and learns Latin as well. You must rub up your Latin, Monsignor.”
“Wait a moment. What are you going to say to the Cardinal?”
“Well, hadn’t I better tell him the whole thing, just as it happened? Then you needn’t explain.”
The other pondered a moment.
“Thanks very much, father. . . . Stop. Do I talk English all right?”
“But——Oh well. . . . And I . . . did I do all right at lunch? Did any one suspect anything?”
“You did perfectly. You seemed a little absent-minded once or twice; but that was quite in keeping.”
The two smiled at one another pleasantly.
“Then I’ll be going,” said the priest. “Will you wait here till I come for you?”
“Just be natural,” whispered Father Jervis a quarter of an hour later, as they passed through the big ante-room. “You needn’t explain a word. I’ve told him everything.”
He tapped; and a voice answered.
Sitting in a big arm-chair drawn up to the writing-table, the man who had lost his memory saw a tall, thin figure, in black with scarlet buttons, and a small scarlet skull-cap crowning his iron-grey hair. It was a little hard to make out the face at first, as the window was immediately beyond it; but he saw almost immediately that, although the face smiled at him reassuringly and welcomingly, it was entirely unfamiliar.
The Cardinal stood up as the two approached, pushing back his chair, and held out both his hands.
“My dear Monsignor,” he said, and grasped the other’s hands firmly and kindly.
“I . . . your Eminence . . .” stammered the man.
“Now, now; not one word till I’ve done. I’ve heard everything. Come and sit down.”
He led him to a chair on the hearth-rug, placed him in it, and himself sat down in his own, facing him. The priest remained standing.
“Now, I’m going to begin with an order, on holy obedience,” smiled the Cardinal. “You and Father Jervis—if the doctor approves—are to start for a little European tour by the midnight volor.”
“The . . . ?”
“The volor,” said the Cardinal. “It’ll do you good. Father Jervis will undertake all responsibility, and you needn’t worry yourself at all. I shall telegraph to Versailles in my own name, and make one or two arrangements, and a couple of my servants will attend you. You will have nothing to do but get better. You can’t be spared. It’ll all come perfectly right, I have no manner of doubt. Father Jervis, just ask the doctor to step here.”
The Cardinal talked a minute or two longer, still with that soothing, peaceful air; and Monsignor, as he listened, watched the priest go up to a row of black boxes, resembling those in his own room, and take down a shutter from one of them. He then said a rapid sentence or two in a whisper, reclosed the shutter, and came back.