Monsignor heard him sigh with the effort, and with the consciousness too, perhaps, of who it was that lay here; he lifted the monstrance; the eyes of the girl opened. As he signed to left and right she smiled. As he brought the monstrance back she unclasped her hands and sat up.
The three priests stood together that evening on the high roof of a Carmelite priory, on the other side of the river, half a mile away, yet opposite the grotto, as the German girl came down to make her thanksgiving.
From where they stood it was impossible to make out a single detail of that at which they looked. The priory stood on high ground, itself towering above the crowded roofs that lay between them and the river; and opposite rose up the masses of the hill at the foot of which was the sacred place itself.
It resembled to-night a picture all of fire. The churches on the left were outlined in light, up to the last high line of roof against the dark starlit sky; and upon the spaces in between lay the soft glow from the tens of thousands of torches that the crowds carried beneath. Above the grotto the precipitous face of the cliff showed black and sombre, except where the zigzag paths shone out in liquid wandering lines, where the folks stood packed together, unseeing, yet content to be present. In front, at the foot, over the lake of fire where the main body of worshippers stood, glowed softly the cavern where Mary’s feet had once rested, and where her power had lived now far beyond the memory of the oldest man present.
From this distance few sounds could be heard except the steady murmur of voices of those countless thousands. It was as the steady roll of far-off wheels or of the tide coming in over a rocky beach; and even the sudden roar of welcome and triumph that announced that the little procession had left the Place was soft and harmonious. There followed a long pause.
Then, on a sudden, trumpets rang out, clear as silver, sharpened and reverberated by the rocks from which they sounded, and like the voice of a dreaming giant, came the great words, articulate and distinct:—
“Magnificat anima mea Dominum.”
* * * * * * * *
“And you, Monsignor,” asked Dom Adrian, as they stood half an hour later, still watching the lines of light writhe this way and that as the crowds went home, “you have asked Our Lady to give you back your memory?”
“I was at the grotto this afternoon,” he said. “It is not for me.”
“Then there will be something better instead,” smiled the young monk.
“So you go back to England to-morrow?” said Father Adrian, as they sat a night or two later in the guest-room of the French Benedictines, where the monk was staying.
“We start to-morrow night,” said the old priest. “Monsignor is infinitely better, and we must both get back to work. And you?”