From out of the luminous gulf beneath, beyond the tiers of roofs that lay, step-like, between this hostel and the river, rose up that undying song of Lourdes—that strange, haunting old melody of the story of Bernadette, that for a hundred and fifty years had been sung in this place—a ballad-like song, without grace of music or art, which yet has so wonderful an affinity with the old carols of Christendom, which yet is so unforgettable and so affecting. As the three stood side by side looking out of the window they saw the serpent of fire, that rope-coil of tapers that, stretching round the entire Place, humped over the flights of steps and the platforms set amongst the churches, writhes incessantly on itself. But, even as they watched, the serpent grew dim and patchy, and the lights began to go out, as group after group broke away homewards. They had wished their Mother good night, there in that great French town which has so wonderful an aroma of little Nazareth; they had sung their thanksgivings; they had offered their prayers. Now it was time to sleep under Her protection, who was the Mother both of God and man. . . .
“Well, good night,” said Monsignor. “We shall meet in London.”
“I hope so,” said the young monk gravely.
“I am afraid that young man will be in trouble,” said Father Jervis softly, as they came down the steps. “His book, you know.”
“Well, it’s best not to talk of it. We shall soon know. He’s as brave as a lion.”
Monsignor Masterman sat in his room at Westminster, busy at his correspondence.
A week had passed since his return, and he had made extraordinary progress. Even his face showed it. The piteous, bewildered look that he had worn, as he first realized little by little how completely out of touch he was with the world in which he had found himself after his lapse of memory, had wholly disappeared; and in its place was the keen, bright-eyed intelligence of a typical ecclesiastic. It was not that his memory had returned. Still, behind his sudden awakening in Hyde Park, all was a misty blank, from which faces and places and even phrases started out, for the most part unverifiable. Yet it seemed both to him and to those about him that he had an amazing facility in gathering up the broken threads. He had spent three or four days, after his return from Lourdes, closeted in private with Father Jervis or the Cardinal, and had found himself at last capable of readmitting his secretaries and of taking up his work again. The world in general had been informed of his nervous breakdown, so that on the few occasions when he seemed to suffer small lapses of memory no great surprise was felt.