Again he waited for an answer, and again Chris was silent. His soul was so desolate that he could not trust himself to say all that he felt.
“You must wait a little,” went on the Prior, “recommend yourself to our Lady and our Patron, and then leave yourself in their hands. You will know better when you have had a few days. Will you do this, and then come to me again?”
“Yes, my Lord Prior,” said Chris, and he took up the letter, bowed, and went out.
* * * * *
Within the week relief and knowledge came to him. He had done what the monk had told him, and it had been followed by a curious sense of relief at the thought suggested to him that the responsibility of decision did not rest on him but on his heavenly helpers. And then as he served mass the answer came.
It was in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin, a little building entered from the north transept, with its windows opening directly on to the road leading up into the town; there was no one there but the two. It was about seven o’clock on the feast of the Seven Martyrs, and the chapel was full of a diffused tender morning light, for the chapel was sheltered from the direct sunshine by the tall church on its south.
As they went up to the altar the bell sounded for the Elevation at the high-altar of the church, at the missa familiaris, and the footstep of someone passing through the north transept ceased instantly at the sound. The priest ascended the steps, set down the vessels, spread the corporal, opened the book, and came down again for the preparation. There was no one else in the chapel, and the peace of the place in the summer light, only vitalized by the brisk chirping of a sparrow under the eaves, entered into Christopher’s soul.
As the mass went on it seemed as if a veil were lifting from his spirit, and leaving it free and sensible again. The things around him fell into their proper relationships, and there was no doubt in his mind that this newly restored significance of theirs was their true interpretation. They seemed penetrated and suffused by the light of the inner world; the red-brocaded chasuble moving on a level with his eyes, stirring with the shifting of the priest’s elbows, was more than a piece of rich stuff, the white alb beneath more than mere linen, the hood thrown back in the amice a sacramental thing. He looked up at the smoky yellow flames against the painted woodwork at the back of the altar, at the discoloured stones beside the grey window-mouldings still with the slanting marks of the chisel upon them, at the black rafters overhead, and last out through the shafted window at the heavy July foliage of the elm that stood by the road and the brilliant morning sky beyond; and once more he saw what these things meant and conveyed to an immortal soul. The words that he had said during these last weeks so mechanically were now rich and alive again, and as he answered the priest he perceived the spiritual vibration of them in the inner world of which his own soul was but a part. And then the climax was reached, and he lifted the skirt of the vestment with his left hand and shook the bell in his right; the last shreds of confusion were gone, and his spirit basked tranquil and content and certain again in the light that was newly risen on him.