Chris too was silent a moment; he knew he must not speak evil of dignities.
“It may be so. I know that my Lord Prior—”
“Well, my son?”
“My Lord Prior has been very anxious—”
Sir James patted his son on the knee, and reassured him.
“Prior Crowham is a very holy man, I think; but—but somewhat delicate. However their designs have come to nothing. The bishop is in glory; and the other more courageous than he was.”
Chris also had a few words with Mr. Carleton before he went to bed, sitting where he had sat in the moonlight two years before.
“If they have done so much,” said the priest, “they will do more. When a man has slipped over a precipice he cannot save his fall. Master More will be the next to go; I make no doubt of that. You are to be a priest soon, Chris?”
“They have applied for leave,” said the monk shortly. “In two years I shall be a priest, no doubt, if God wills.”
“You are happy?” asked the other.
Chris made a little gesture.
“I do not know what that means,” he said, “but I know I have done right. I feel nothing. God’s ways and His world are too strange.”
The priest looked at him oddly, without speaking.
“Well, father?” asked Chris, smiling.
“You are right,” said the chaplain brusquely. “You have done well. You have crossed the border.”
Chris felt the blood surge in his temples.
“The border?” he asked.
“The border of dreams. They surround the Religious Life; and you have passed through them.”
Chris still looked at him with parted lips. This praise was sweet, after the bitterness of his failure with Ralph. The priest seemed to know what was passing in his mind.
“Oh! you will fail sometimes,” he said, “but not finally. You are a monk, my son, and a man.”
* * * * *
Lady Torridon retired into her impregnable silence again after her sallies of speech on the previous evening; but as the few days went on that Chris had been allowed to spend with his parents he was none the less aware that her attitude towards him was one of contempt. She showed it in a hundred ways—by not appearing to see him, by refusing to modify her habits in the smallest particular for his convenience, by a rigid silence on the subject that was in the hearts of both him and his father. She performed her duties as punctually and efficiently as ever, dealt dispassionately and justly with an old servant who had been troublesome, and with regard to whom her husband was both afraid and tender; but never asked for confidences or manifested the minutest detail of her own accord.
* * * * *
On the fourth day after Chris’s arrival news came that Sir Thomas More had been condemned, but it roused no more excitement than the fall of a threatening rod. It had been known to be inevitable. And then on Chris’s last evening at home came the last details.