Mark told him about himself.
“I see, you want to keep your hand in, eh? Well, I suppose you might have done worse for a couple of years. Now, I’ve never wanted to be a priest. The Reverend Father would like me to be ordained, but I don’t think I should make a good priest. I believe if I were to become a priest, I should lose my faith. That sounds a queer thing to say, and I’d rather you didn’t repeat it to any of those young men up there.”
The monastery bell sounded on the wind.
“Three o’clock already,” exclaimed the Prior. And crossing himself he said the short prayer offered to God instead of the formal attendance at the Office.
“Well, I mustn’t let the horses get chilled. You’d better get back to your casuals. By the way, I’m going to have Brother Nicholas to work out here awhile, and I want you to act as guest-master. Brother Raymond will be porter, and I’m going to send Brother Birinus off the farm to be sacristan. I shall miss him out here, of course.”
The Prior put his hand once more to the plough, and Mark went slowly back to the Abbey. On the brow of the hill before he plunged into the coppice he turned to look down at the distant figure moving with slow paces across the field below.
“He’s wrestling with himself,” Mark thought, “more than he’s wrestling with the soil.”
At Easter the Abbey Gatehouse was blessed by the Father Superior, who established himself in the rooms above and allowed himself to take a holiday from his labour of preaching. Mark expected to be made porter again, but the Reverend Father did not attempt to change the posts assigned to the brethren by the Prior, and Mark remained guest-master, a duty that was likely to give him plenty of occupation during the summer months now close at hand.
On Low Sunday the Father Superior convened a full Chapter of the Order, to which were summoned Brother Dominic, the head of the Sandgate house, and Brother Anselm. When the brethren, with the exception of Brother Simon, who was still a postulant, were gathered together, the Father Superior addressed them as follows:
“Brethren, I have called this Chapter of the Order of St. George to acquaint you with our financial position, and to ask you to make a grave decision. Before I say any more I ought to explain that our three professed brethren considered that a Chapter convened to make a decision such as I am going to ask you to make presently should not include the novices. I contended that in the present state of our Order where novices are called upon to fill the most responsible positions it would be unfair to exclude them; and our professed brethren, like true sons of St. Benedict, have accepted my ruling. You all know what great additions to our Mother House we have made during the past year, and you will all realize what a burden