“Certainly,” said the monk.
He shrugged his shoulders.
“I suppose they will put us out.”
There was absolutely nothing to be done. It was absurd to dream of more than formal resistance. Up in the North in more than one abbey the inmates had armed themselves, and faced the spoilers grimly on the village green; but that was where the whole country side was with them, and here it was otherwise.
They talked a few minutes longer, and decided that they would neither open nor resist. The monks two were determined to remain there until they were actually cast out; and then the responsibility would rest on other shoulders than theirs.
It was certain of course that by this time to-morrow at the latest they would have been expelled; and it was arranged that the two monks should ride back to Overfield, if they were personally unmolested, and remain there until further plans were decided upon.
The four knew of course that there was a grave risk in provoking the authorities any further, but it was a risk that the two Religious were determined to run.
They broke up presently; Mr. Morris came upstairs to tell them that food was ready in one of the parlours off the cloister; and the two laymen went off with him, while the monks went to sing vespers for the last time.
* * * * *
An hour or two later the two were in the refectory at supper. The evening was drawing in, and the light in the tall windows was fading. Opposite where Chris sat (for Dom Anthony was reading aloud from the pulpit), a row of coats burned in the glass, and he ran his eyes over them. They had been set there, he remembered, soon after his own coming to the place; the records had been searched, and the arms of every prior copied and emblazoned in the panes. There they all were; from Lanzo of five centuries ago, whose arms were conjectural, down to Robert Crowham, who had forsaken his trust; telling the long tale of prelates and monastic life, from the beginning to the close. He looked round beyond the circle of light cast by his own candle, and the place seemed full of ghosts and presences to his fancy. The pale oak panelling glimmered along the walls above the empty seats, from the Prior’s to the left, over which the dusky fresco of the Majesty of Christ grew darker still as the light faded, down to the pulpit opposite where Dom Anthony’s grave ruddy face with downcast eyes stood out vivid in the candlelight. Ah! surely there was a cloud of witnesses now, a host of faces looking down from the black rafters overhead, and through the glimmering panes,—the faces of those who had eaten here with the same sacramental dignity and graciousness that these two survivors used. It was impossible to feel lonely in this stately house, saturated with holy life; and with a thrill at his heart he remembered how Dom Anthony had once whispered to him at the beginning of the troubles, that if others held their peace the very stones should cry out; and that God was able of those stones to raise up children to His praise....