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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 384 pages of information about The Altar Steps.

“Well, that is not a bad answer, but don’t you remember we said that bishop meant ‘overseer,’ and you all know what an overseer is.  Any of your fathers who go out to work will tell you that.  So the Bishop like the nursemaid in my parable thought he knew better what clothes the baby ought to wear in the new perambulator, that is to say what services we ought to have in the new St. Wilfred’s.  And as God is far away and we can only speak to Him by prayer, I have asked Him what I ought to do, and He has told me that I ought to go away and that He will put a brother in charge of the baby in the new perambulator.  Who then is the brother?”

“Jesus Christ,” said the class, convinced that this time it must be He.

“No, no.  The brother is the priest who will come to take charge of the new St. Wilfred’s.  He will be called the Vicar, and St. Wilfred’s, instead of being called the Lima Street Mission, will become a parish.  And now, dear children, there is no time to say any more words to you.  My heart is sore at leaving you, but in my sorrow I shall be comforted if I can have the certainty that you are growing up to be good and loyal Catholics, loving Our Blessed Lord and His dear Mother, honouring the Holy Saints and Martyrs, hating the Evil One and all his Spirits and obeying God with whose voice the Church speaks.  Now, for the last time children, let me hear you sing We are but little children weak.”

They all sang more loudly than usual to express a vague and troubled sympathy: 

There’s not a child so small and weak But has his little cross to take, His little work of love and praise That he may do for Jesus’ sake.

And they bleated a most canorous Amen.

Mark noticed that his mother clutched his hand tightly while his father was speaking, and when once he looked up at her to show how loudly he too was singing, he saw that her eyes were full of tears.

The next morning was Monday.

“Good-bye, Mark, be a good boy and obedient to your mother,” said his father on the platform at Paddington.

“Who is that man?” Mark whispered when the guard locked them in.

His mother explained, and Mark looked at him with as much awe as if he were St. Peter with the keys of Heaven at his girdle.  He waved his handkerchief from the window while the train rushed on through tunnels and between gloomy banks until suddenly the world became green, and there was the sun in a great blue and white sky.  Mark looked at his mother and saw that again there were tears in her eyes, but that they sparkled like diamonds.

CHAPTER VI

NANCEPEAN

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