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play of feature sank to rest for a moment, at the giving of a benediction or the saying of a solemn prayer in church, a nobility and asceticism transformed the face into something saintly. But in the ordinary business of life the large humanity of the man gave him a readier title to the hearts of his people than their knowledge of the underlying saintliness of his character.
“Whisky ?” he said, as Gortre asked him to take some. “No, thanks. Teetotaler for sake of example, always have been-and don't like the stuff either, never did. But I 'll have some coffee and some bread and butter, if you 've got it, and some of those oranges I see there. Forgot to lunch and had no time to dine!”
He began ravenously upon the oranges and with little further preamble plunged at once into the business of the parish. To emphasise a point, he flung a piece of orange peel savagely into the fire now and again.
Our congregation," he said, “is peculiar to the church. You 'll realise that when you get among them. I don't suppose in the whole of London there is a more difficult class of people to reach than our own. In the first place, it's a young congregation, speaking generally. Good,' you 'll say ; 'ductible material, plenty of enthusiasm to work on.' Not a bit of it. Most of the men are engaged in the City as clerks upon a small wage. They are mentally rather “small” men. Their lives are hard and monotonous, their outlook upon life petty and vulgar. The lowest and the highest classes are far easier to get at because they are temperamentally more alike. The anarchists have some right on their side when they condemn the bourgeoisie! It's difficult to show a small brain a big thing. Our difficulty is to explain the stupendous truths of Christianity to flabby and inert, machine-like fellows. When we do get hold of them, the very monotony of their lives makes religion a more valuable thing to them. But the temptations of this class are terribly strong, living alone in lodgings as they do. The cheap music-hall and bar attract them; dissipation forms their society. Their views of women are taken from their association with the girls of the streets and the theatres. As they have no settled place in society, they are horribly afraid of ridicule. They are a far more difficult lot than their colleagues who live in the suburbs and have chances for healthier recreations.
“Then much of our work lies among women who seem irretrievably lost, and, I fear, very often are so. The Bloomsbury district is honeycombed with well-conducted dens of impurity. The women of a certain class have fixed upon the parish as their home. I don't mean the starving prostitute that one meets in the East End, I mean the fairly prosperous, utterly vicious, lazy women. You will meet with horrors of vice, a marvellous and stony indifference, in the course of your work. To reach some of these well-dressed, well-fed, well-housed girls, to show them the spiritual and even the economic and material end of their lives, requires almost superhuman powers. If an angel came some of them would not believe. And in the great and luxurious buildings of flats which have sprung up in all the squares, the well-known London demi-mondaines—people who dance upon the stage and whose pictures glare upon one from every hoarding-have made their homes and constantly parade before the eyes of others the wealth which is the reward of lust.
“This is a wicked part of London, Gortre. And yet, day by day, in our beautiful church, where the Eucharist is celebrated and prayers go up unceasingly, we have evidences that our work is acceptable and that the Power is with us. Magdalen still comes with her jewels and her tears of repentance. I ask and beg of you to remember certain things-keep them always before your eyes-during your ministry among us. Whenever a man or woman comes to you, either at confession or otherwise, and tells of incredible sins, welcome the very slightest movement towards the light. Cultivate an all-embracing sympathy. I firmly believe that more souls have been lost by a repellent manner on the part of a priest, or an apparent lack of understanding, than any one has any idea of. Remember that when a thoroughly evil and warped nature has made a great effort and laid its spiritual case before a priest, it expects in its inner consciousness a pat on the back for its new efforts. It wants commendation. One must fight warily, with a thorough psychological knowledge, with a broad humanity. To take even the slightest signs of repentance as a matter of course, to throw any doubt upon its reality or permanence, is to accept an awful responsibility. Err rather on the side of sentiment. Who are we to judge ?”
Gortre had listened with deep attention to Father Ripon's earnest words. He began to realise more clearly the difficulties of his new life. And yet the obstacles did not daunt him. They seemed rather a trumpet note for battle. Ripon's enthusiasm was contagious; he felt the exhilaration of the tried soldier at a coming contest.
“One more thing,” said the vicar. “In all your teaching and preaching hammer away at the great central fact of the Incarnation. No system of morals will reach these people-however plausible, however pure-unless you constantly bring the supernatural side of religion before them. Preach the Incarnation day in, day out. Don't, like so many men, regard it as an accepted fact merely, using it as a postulate on which to found a scheme of conduct. Once get the central truth of all into the hearts of a congregation, and then all else will follow. Now, good-night. I've kept you late, but I wished to have a talk with you. A good deal will devolve upon you. I have especially arranged that you should not live in the Clergy House with Stokes, Carr, and myself. I would rather that your environment should be more secular. Stokes and Carr are perhaps a little too priestly, too “professional” in manner, if you understand what I am driving at. Keep yourself from that. If you go among the young men, see them at home, smoke with them, and take what they offer you in the way of refreshment. Well, good-bye. You are to preach at Sunday Evensongs you know. Sir Michael Manichoe, our patron, will be there, and there will be a large congregation."
He turned, said good-night with sudden abruptness, as if he had been lingering too long and was displeased with himself, and hurried away. It was his usual manner of farewell.
A few minutes afterwards Gortre went to bed. He found it difficult to believe that he had walked down the Faubourg de la Barre that morning. It had been a crowded day.
THE RESURRECTION SERMON
IR MICHAEL MANICHOE was the great help
and standby of St. Mary's. His father had been a weathly banker in Rome, and a Jew. The son, who had enormously increased his inherited wealth, was an early convert to Christianity during his Oxford days in England. He was the Conservative member for a divi. sion in Lincolnshire, where his great country house was situated, and had become a pillar of the Church and State in England. In the House of Commons he presented the somewhat curious spectacle of a Jew by birth leading the moderate “Catholic" party. He was the great antagonist of Constantine Schuabe, and with equal wealth and position, though Schuabe was by far the more brilliant of the two men, he devoted all his energies to the opposition of the secular and agnostic influences of his political rival.
Every Sunday during the session, when he was in London, Sir Michael drove to St. Mary's for both morning and evening service. He was church warden, and intimately concerned in all the parochial business, while his purse was always open at Father Ripon's request.
Gortre had been introduced to Sir Michael during the week, and he knew the great man purposed attending to hear his first sermon at St. Mary's on the Sunday evening.
He prepared his discourse with extreme care. natural wish to make a good first impression animated