Father Murray called at the hotel two days later and inquired for Mr. Griffin. Mark was in his room and hastened down.
“I must apologize, Father,” he began, “that you had to come for me. I should not have let such a thing happen. But I thought it best not to break in upon you after—” Mark stopped, deeply chagrined at having almost touched what must be a painful subject to the priest. “I—I—”
But Father Murray smiled indulgently.
“Don’t, please, Mark. I am quite reconciled to that now. A few hours with my Imitation heals all such wounds. Why, I am beginning to know its comforts by heart, like that one I inflicted on you the other day. Here’s my latest pet: ’What can be more free than he who desires nothing on earth?’”
“Fine—but a certain pagan was before your monk with that,” said Mark. “Wasn’t it Diogenes who, asked by Alexander the Great to name a favor the emperor could bestow upon him, asked His Majesty to step out of the sunlight? Surely he had all the philosophy of your quotation?”
“He had,” smiled back the priest; “but, as Mrs. O’Leary has the religion which includes the best of philosophy, so our a Kempis had more than Diogenes. Philosophy is good to argue one into self-regulation; but religion is better, because it first secures the virtue and then makes you happy in it. ’Unless a man be at liberty from all things created, he cannot freely attend to the things divine.’ It is the attending to things divine that really makes true liberty.”
“Then,” said Mark, “I am forgiven for my failure to call, for I left you free for the more important things.”
Father Murray laughed. “You are quite a master in the art of making excuses, my dear Mark. You are forgiven, so far as I am concerned. But I am not the only one who has been neglected.”
“That is true, Father. Won’t you let me walk with you? I want to speak about a matter of importance.”
So the friends walked along the main street of Sihasset and out toward the Bluff Road. Mark was silent for a long time, wondering how he could approach the subject. When he spoke he went directly to the point:
“Father, you know that I love Miss Atheson?”
“But I am not of her faith.”
“You are. Lax you may be in practice, but you are too good to stay long satisfied with present conditions. I am frank, my dear Mark.”
“And you would trust me?”
“At first, I could not quite see why I fell in love with her so soon, after having escaped the pleasant infliction for so long a time. Now I think I know. Do you remember ever having met me before?”
“I have no such recollection.”