“All further discussion,” the Bishop ruled, “is out of order. Julian Orden, do you accept this mission?”
Julian rose to his feet. He leaned heavily upon his stick. His expression was strangely disturbed.
“Bishop,” he said, “and you, my friends, this has all come very suddenly. I do not agree with Mr. Fenn. I consider that I am one with you. I think that for the last ten years I have seen the place which Labour should hold in the political conduct of the world. I have seen the danger of letting the voice of the people remain unheard too long. Russia to-day is a practical and terrible example of that danger. England is, in her way, a free country, and our Government a good one, but in the world’s history there arrive sometimes crises with which no stereotyped form of government can cope, when the one thing that is desired is the plain, honest mandate of those who count for most in the world, those who, in their simplicity and in their absence from all political ties and precedents and liaisons, see the truth. That is why I have appealed with my pen to Labour, to end this war. That is why I shall go willingly as your representative to the Prime Minister to-night.”
The Bishop held out his hand. There was a little reverent hush, for his words were in the nature of a benediction.
“And may God be with you, our messenger,” he said solemnly.
Julian, duly embarked upon his mission, was kept waiting an unexpectedly short time in the large but gloomy apartment into which Mr. Stenson’s butler had somewhat doubtfully ushered him. The Prime Minister entered with an air of slight hurry. He was also somewhat surprised.
“My dear Orden,” he exclaimed, holding out his hand, “what can I do for you?”
“A great deal,” Julian replied gravely. “First of all, though, I have an explanation to make.”
“I am afraid,” Mr. Stenson regretted, “that I am too much engaged this evening to enter into any personal matters. I am expecting a messenger here on very important official business.”
“I am that messenger,” Julian announced.
Mr. Stenson started. His visitor’s tone was serious and convincing.
“I fear that we are at loggerheads. It is an envoy from the Labour Party whom I am expecting.”
“I am that envoy.”
“You?” Mr. Stenson exclaimed, in blank bewilderment.
“I ought to explain a little further, perhaps. I have been writing on Labour questions for some time under the pseudonym of `Paul Fiske’.”
“Paul Fiske?” Mr. Stenson gasped. “You—Paul Fiske?”
Julian nodded assent.
“You are amazed, of course,” he proceeded, “but it is nevertheless the truth. The fact has just come to light, and I have been invited to join this new emergency Council, composed of one or two Socialists and writers, amongst them a very distinguished prelate; Labour Members of Parliament, and representatives of the various Trades Unions, a body of men which you doubtless know all about. I attended a meeting at Westminster an hour ago, and I was entrusted with this commission to you.”