As he sat here now at his window, Father Jervis’ words began to come back with new force. Was it indeed true that the only reason why he found these things strange was that he could not yet quite bring home to his imagination the fact that the world now was convincedly Christian as a whole? It began to appear so.
For somewhere in the back of his mind (why, he knew not) there lurked a sort of only half-perceived assumption that the Catholic religion was but one aspect of truth—one point of view from which, with sufficient though not absolute truth, facts could be discerned. He could not understand this; yet there it was. And he understood, at any rate intellectually, that if he could once realize that the dogmas of the Church were the dogmas of the universe; and not only that, but that the world convincedly realized it too;—why then, the fact that the civilization of to-day was actually moulded upon it would no longer bewilder him.
It was on the following morning that he spoke with the King.
The two priests had said Mass in their oratory, and an hour later were walking in the park beneath the palace windows.
It was one more of that string of golden days, of which they had already enjoyed so many, and the splendour of that amazing landscape was complete.
They had passed below the enclosure known as the “King’s Garden,” and were going in the direction of the Trianon, which Monsignor had expressed a desire to see, and had just emerged into the immense central avenue which runs straight from the palace to the lake. Above them rose the forest trees, enormous now, yet tamed by Lenotre’s marvellous art, resembling a regiment of giants perfectly drilled; the grass was like carpets on all sides; the sky blazed like a blue jewel overhead; the noise of singing birds and falling water was in the air. But above all there towered on their right, beyond the almost endless terraces, the splendid palace of the kings of France, royal at last once more. And there, as symbol of the Restoration, there hung round the flagstaff as he had seen it yesterday the blue folds and the lilies of the monarchy.
It was no good trying to frame words as to what he felt. He had said all he could, and it was useless. Father Jervis seemed unable to understand the fierce enthusiasm of a man who now experienced all this, as it appeared, for the first time. He walked silently—exulting.
There seemed not many people abroad this morning. The two had presented an order, obtained through Monsignor Allet, at the gates below the Orange Gardens, and had learned from the sentry that until the afternoon this part of the park was closed to the public. Here and there, however, in the distance a single figure made its appearance, walking in the shade or hurrying on some errand.
The priests had just come out from the line of trees and had set foot in the avenue itself, when, twenty yards farther up, from the entrance to some other path parallel to their own, a group came out, and an instant later they heard themselves hailed and saw Monsignor Allet himself, in all his purple, hurrying towards them.