The Cross was close to him now. With his new spiritual vision he saw that in form it was One like himself, but One with eyes that were soft and mild and full of tenderness, with arms outstretched and nail-prints like glittering gems upon them, with a wounded side and out from it a flood pouring which cooled the parched sands, so that from them the flowers sprang up, full panoplied in color, form and beauty, and sweetly smelling. Around The Flaming Cross fluttered countless wings, and childish voices made melody, soft and harmonious beyond all compare. All else that Orville ever knew vanished before the glance of the Beloved; faces and forms dearest and nearest, old haunts and older affections, all were melted into this One Great Love that is Eternal. The outstretched arms were wrapped around them. The blood from the wounded side washed all their pains from them. On their foreheads fell the Kiss of Peace, and Orville and Michael had come home.
The Vicar-General was dead. With his long, white hair smoothed back, he lay upon a silk pillow, his hands clasped over a chalice upon his breast. He was clad in priestly vestments; and he looked, as he lay in his coffin before the great altar with the candles burning on it, as if he were just ready to arise and begin a new "Introibo" in Heaven. The bells of the church wherein the Vicar-General lay asleep had called his people all the morning in a sad and solemn tolling. The people had come, as sad and solemn as the bells. They were gathered about the bier of their pastor. Priests from far and near had chanted the Office of the Dead; the Requiem Mass was over, and the venerable chief of the diocese, the Bishop himself, stood in cope and mitre, to give the last Absolution.
[Illustration: “The Bishop himself stood in cope and mitre to give the last absolution.”]
The Bishop had loved the Vicar-General—had loved him as a brother. For was it not the Vicar-General who had bidden His Lordship welcome, when he came from his distant parish to take up the cares of a diocese. With all the timidity of a stranger, the Bishop had feared; but the Vicar-General guided his steps safely and well. Now the Bishop, gazing at the white, venerable face, remembered—and wept. In the midst of the Absolution, his voice broke. Priests bit their lips, as their eyes filled with hot tears; but the Sisters who taught in the parochial school and their little charges, did not attempt to keep back their sobs. For others than the Bishop loved the Vicar-General.