“Going to give me that kiss to make amends, or are you to owe me a grudge for the rest of your life, my lady?”
“My little Mary couldn’t owe a grudge to anybody,” said Father Dan. “She’ll kiss his lordship and make amends; I’m certain.”
And then I did to the young Lord Raa what I had done to Aunt Bridget—I held up my face and he kissed me.
It was a little, simple, trivial incident, but it led with other things to the most lamentable fact of my life, and when I think of it I sometimes wonder how it comes to pass that He who numbers the flowers of the field and counts the sparrows as they fall has no handwriting with which to warn His children that their footsteps may not fail.
Of our journey to Rome nothing remains to me but the memory of sleeping in different beds in different towns, of trains screaming through tunnels and slowing down in glass-roofed railway stations, of endless crowds of people moving here and there in a sort of maze, nothing but this, and the sense of being very little and very helpless and of having to be careful not to lose sight of Father Dan, for fear of being lost—until the afternoon of the fourth day after we left home.
We were then crossing a wide rolling plain that was almost destitute of trees, and looked, from the moving train, like green billows of the sea with grass growing over them. Father Dan was reading his breviary for the following day, not knowing what he would have to do in it, when the sun set in a great blaze of red beyond the horizon, and then suddenly a big round black ball, like a captive balloon, seemed to rise in the midst of the glory.
I called Father Dan’s attention to this, and in a moment he was fearfully excited.
“Don’t worry, my child,” he cried, while tears of joy sprang to his eyes. “Do you know what that is? That’s the dome of St. Peter’s! Rome, my child, Rome!”
It was nine o’clock when we arrived at our destination, and in the midst of a great confusion I walked by Father Dan’s side and held on to his vertical pocket, while he carried his own bag, and a basket of mine, down the crowded platform to an open cab outside the station.
Then Father Dan wiped his forehead with his print handkerchief and I sat close up to him, and the driver cracked his long whip and shouted at the pedestrians while we rattled on and on over stony streets, which seemed to be full of statues and fountains that were lit up by a great white light that was not moonlight and yet looked like it.
But at last we stopped at a little door of a big house which seemed to stand, with a church beside it, on a high shelf overlooking the city, for I could see many domes like that of St. Peter lying below us.
A grill in the little door was first opened and then a lady in a black habit, with a black band round her forehead and white bands down each side of her face, opened the door itself, and asked us to step in, and when we had done so, she took us down a long passage into a warm room, where another lady, dressed in the same way, only a little grander, sat in a big red arm-chair.