“Will he submit?”
The abbot shook his head.
“I don’t think so. He’s extraordinarily determined. But I wanted to know if you could give me any hope on the other side. Could you do anything for him with the Cardinal, or at Rome?”
“I . . . I will speak to the Cardinal, certainly, if you wish. But——”
“Yes, I know. But you know a great deal depends on the temper of the court. Facts depend for their interpretation upon the point of view.”
“But I understand that it’s definite heresy—that he denies that there is any distinction between the miracles of the Church and——”
The abbot interrupted.
“Yes, yes, Monsignor. But for all that there’s a great deal in the way these things are approached. You see there’s so much neutral ground on which the Church has defined nothing.”
“I am afraid, from what I’ve seen of the papers, that Dom Adrian will insist on a clear issue.”
“I’m afraid so: I’m afraid so. We’ll do our best here to persuade him to be reasonable. And I thought that if you would perhaps do your best on the other side—would tell the Cardinal, as from yourself, what you think of Dom Adrian.”
“If we could but postpone the trial for a while,” went on the abbot almost distractedly. “That poor boy! His face has been with me all to-day.”
For an instant Monsignor almost gave way. He felt himself on the point of breaking out into a burst of protest against the whole affair—of denouncing the horror and loathing that during these last days had steadily grown within him—a horror that so far he had succeeded in keeping to himself. Then once more he crushed it down, and stood up for fear his resolution should give way.
“I will do what I can, my lord,” he said coldly.
A great restlessness seized upon the man who had lost his memory that night.
He had thought after his return from abroad that things were well with him again—that he had learned the principles of this world that was so strange to him; and his busy days—all that had to be done and recovered, and his success in doing it—these things at once distracted and soothed him. And now once more he was back in his bewilderment.
One great principle it was which confused his whole outlook—the employment of force upon the side of Christianity. Here, on the large scale, was the forcible repression of the Socialists; on a small scale, the punishment of a heretic. What kind of religion was this that preached gentleness and practised violence? . . .
Between eleven and twelve o’clock he could bear it no longer. The house was quiet, and the lights for the most part gone out. He took his hat and thin cloak, throwing this round him so as to hide the purple at his throat, went softly down the corridors and stairs, and let himself out noiselessly into Ambrosden Avenue. He felt he must have air and space: he was beginning almost to hate this silent, well-ordered ecclesiastical house, where wheels ran so smoothly, so inexorably, and so effectively.