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One or two letters were in the box. One envelope bore the Manchester post-mark. It was from Basil Gortre. A curious pang, half wonder and anticipation, half fear, passed through his mind as he saw the familiar handwriting of his friend. But it was a pang for Gortre, not for himself. He himself was wholly detached now that the time for action had arrived. Personal consideration would come later. At present he was starting out on the old trail-" The old trail, the long trail, the trail that is always new."
He felt a man again, with a fierce joy and exultation throbbing in all his veins after the torpor of the last few weeks.
He sat down at the table, first getting some bread and cheese from a cupboard, for he was hungry, and opening a bottle of beer. The beer tasted wonderfully good. He laughed exultingly in the flow of his high spirits.
He wrote a note to Mrs. Buscall, long since inured to these sudden midnight departures, and another to Gortre. To him he said that some great and momentous discoveries were made at Jerusalem by Hands, and that he himself was starting at once for the Holy City as special correspondent for the Wire. He would write en route, he explained, there was no time for any details now.
“Poor chap,” he said to himself, “he 'll know soon enough now. I hope he won't take it very badly."
Then he went into his bedroom and hauled down the great pig-skin kit-bag, covered with foreign labels, which had accompanied him half over the world.
He packed quickly and completely, the result of long practice. The pads of paper, the stylographic pens, with the special ink for hot countries which would not dry up or corrode, his revolvers, riding-breeches, boots and spurs, the kodak, with spare films and light-tight zinc cases, the old sun helmet-he forgot nothing.
When he had finished, and the big bag, with a small Gladstone also, was strapped and locked, he changed joyously from the black coat of cities into his travelling tweeds of tough cloth. At length everything seemed prepared. He sat on the bed and looked round him, willing to be gone.
His eye fell on the opposite wall. A crucifix hung there, carved in ebony and ivory. During his short holiday at Dieppe, nearly nine months ago now, he had gone into the famous little shop there where carved work of all kinds is sold. Basil and Helena were with him and they had all bought mementoes. Helena had given him that.
And as he looked at it now he wondered what his journey would bring forth. Was he, indeed, chosen out of men to go to this far country to tear Christ from that awful and holy eminence of the Cross? Was it to be his mission to extinguish the Lux Mundi ?
As he gazed at the sacred emblem he felt that this could not be.
No, no! a thousand times no. Jesus had risen to save him and all other sinners. It was so, must be so, should
The Holy Name was in itself enough. He whispered it to himself. No, that was eternally, gloriously true.
Humbly, faithfully, gladly he knelt among the litter of the room and said the Lord's Prayer, said it in Latin as he had said it at school
Pater noster !
AVOIDING THE FLOWER PATTERN ON THE CARPET
IR MICHAEL MANICHOE, the stay and pillar of
Anglicanism" in the English Church, was a man of great natural gifts. The owner of one of those colossal Jewish fortunes which, few as they are, have such far-reaching influence upon English life, he employed it in a way which, for a man in his position, was unique.
He presented the curious spectacle, to sociologists and the world at large, of a Jew by origin who had become a Christian by conviction and one of the sincerest sons of the English Church as he understood it. In political life Sir Michael was a steady, rather than a brilliant, force. He had been Home Secretary under a former Conservative administration, but had retired from office. At the present moment he was a private member for the division in which his country house, Fencastle, stood, and he enjoyed the confidence of the chiefs of his party.
His great talent was for organisation, and all his powers in that direction were devoted towards the preservation and unification of the Church to which he was a convert.
Sir Michael's convictions were perfectly clear and straightforward. He believed, with all his heart, in the Catholicity of the Anglican persuasion. Roman priests he spoke of as members of the Italian mission”; Nonconformists as " adherents to the lawless bands of Dissent.” He allowed the validity of Roman orders and spoke of the Pope as the “ Bishop of Rome," an Italian ecclesiastic with whom the English communion had little or nothing to do.
In his intimate and private life Sir Michael lived according to rubric. His splendid private chapel at Fencastle enjoyed the services of a chaplain, reinforced by priests from a community of Anglican monks which Sir Michael had established in an adjacent village. In London, St. Mary's was, in some sense, his particular property. He spent fabulous sums on the big Bloomsbury Parish and the needs of its great, cathedral-like church. There was no vicar in London who enjoyed the command of money that Father Ripon enjoyed. Certainly there was no other priest in the ranks of the High Churchmen who was the confidential friend and spiritual director of so powerful a political and social personality.
Yet in his public life Sir Michael was diplomatic enough. He worked steadily for one thing, it is true, but he was far too able to allow people to call him narrowminded. The Oriental strain of cunning in his blood had sweetened to a wise diplomacy. While he always remembered he was a Churchman, he did not forget that to be an effective and helpful one he must keep his political and social eminence. And so, whatever might take place behind the scenes in the library with Father Ripon, or in the Bloomsbury clergy house, the baronet showed the world the face of a man of the world, and neither obtruded his private views nor allowed them to disturb his colleagues.
The day after the news arrived in Fleet Street from Palestine—while nothing was yet known and Harold Spence was rushing through Amiens en route for Paris and the Eastma house party began to collect at Fencastle, the great place in Lincolnshire.
For a day or two a few rather important people were to meet under Sir Michael's roof. Now and then the palace in the fen lands was the scene of notable gatherings, much talked of in certain circles and commented on by people who would truthfully have described themselves as being "in the know.”
These parties were, indeed, congresses of the eminent, the “ big" people who quietly control an England which the ignorant and the vulgar love to imagine is in the hands of a corrupt society of well-born, “smart," and pleasure-seeking people.
The folk who gathered at Fencastle were as remote from the gambling, lecherous, rabbit-brained set which glitters so brightly before the eyes of the uninformed as any staid, middle-class reader of the popular journals.
In this stronghold of English Catholicism—"hot-bed of ritualists" as the brawling "Protestant” journals called it, one met a diversity of people, widely divided in views and only alike in one thing the dominant quality of their brains and position.
Sir Michael thought it well that even his professed opponents should meet at his table, for it gave both him and his lieutenants new data and fresh impressions for use in the campaign. Sir Michael's convictions were perfectly unalterable, but to find out how others and those hostile-really regarded them only added to the weapons
in his armoury. And, as one London priest once remarked to another, the combination of a Jewish brain and a Christian heart was one which had already revolutionised Society nearly two thousand years ago in the persons of eleven distinguished instances.
As Father Ripon drove to Liverpool Street Station after lunch, to catch the afternoon train to the eastern counties, he was reading a letter as his cab turned into Cheapside and crawled slowly through the heavy afternoon traffic of the city,