« PoprzedniaDalej »
dim lamps burning before the altar, and knelt down in the chancel stalls. Some of the servants came in and then the chaplain began the confession.
The stately monotone went on, echoing through the damp breath of the morning.
Father Ripon and Sir Michael turned to the east. The sun was pouring through the great window of stained glass, where Christ was painted ascending to heaven.
The two elderly men said the creed after the priest in firm, almost triumphant voices : “I believe in God the Father
and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord.
The third day he arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven.
And those two, as they came gravely out of church and walked to the library, knew that a great and awful lie was resounding through the world, for the Risen Christ had spoken with them, bidding them be of good courage for what was to come.
The voice of Peter called down the ages :
“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses."
THE DOMESTIC CHAPLAIN'S TESTIMONY
HEN Mrs. Armstrong came down to breakfast
her hostess told her, with many apologies, that Sir Michael had left for London with Father Ripon. They had gone by an early train. Matters of great moment were afoot.
As this was being explained Mr. Wilson, the private chaplain, Schuabe, and Canon Walke entered the room. The Duke of Suffolk did not appear.
A long, low room panelled in white, over which a huge fire of logs cast occasional cheery reflections, was used as a breakfast-room. Here and there the quiet simplicity of the place was violently disturbed by great gouts of colour, startling notes which, so cunningly had they been arranged in alternate opulence and denial, were harmonised with their background.
A curtain of Tyrian purple, a sea picture full of gloom and glory, red light and wind; a bronze head, with brilliant, lifelike enamel eyes, the features swollen and brutal, from Sabacio—these were the means used by the young artist employed by Sir Michael to decorate the room,
The long windows, hewn out of a six-foot wall, presented a sombre vista of great leafless trees standing in the trackless snow, touched here and there with the ruddiness of the winter sun, The glowing fire, the luxurious domesticity of the round table, with its shining silver and gleaming china, the great quiet of the park outside, gave a singular peace and remoteness to the breakfast-room. Here one seemed far away from strife and disturbance.
This was the usual aspect and atmosphere of all Fencastle, but as the members of the house-party came together for the meal the air became suddenly electrified. Invisible waves of excitement, of surmise, doubt, and fear radiated from these humans. All had seen the paper, and though at first not one of them referred to it, the currents of tumult and alarm were knocking loudly at heart and brain, varied and widely diverse as were the emotions of each one.
Mrs. Hubert Armstrong at length broke the silence. Her speech was deliberate, her words were chosen with extreme care, her tone was hushed and almost reverential.
“To-day," she said, “what I perceive we have all heard, may mean the sudden dawning of a New Light in the world. If this stupendous statement is true--and it bears every hall-mark of the truth even at this early stage-a new image of Jesus of Nazareth will be for ever indelibly graven on the hearts of mankind. That image which thought, study, and research have already made so vivid to some of us will be common to the world. The old, weary superstitions will vanish for all time. The real significance of the anthropomorphic view will be clear at last. The world will be able to realise the Real Figure as It went in and out among Its brother men.'
She spoke with extreme earnestness. No doubt she saw in this marvellous historical confirmation of her attitude a triumph for the school of which she had become the vocal chieftainess, that would ring and glitter through the world of thought. The mental arrogance which had already led this woman so far was already busy, opening a vista that had suddenly become extremely dazzling, imminently near.
At her words there was a sudden movement of relief among the others. The ice had been broken; formless and terrifying things assumed a shape that could be handled, discussed. Her words acted as a precipitate, which made analysis possible.
The lady's calm, intellectual face, with its clear eyes and smooth bands of hair, waited with interest, but without impatience, for other views.
Canon Walke took up her challenge. His words were assured enough, but Schuabe, listening with keen and sinister attention, detected a faint tremble, an alarmed lack of conviction. The courtier-Churchman, with his commanding presence, his grand manner, spoke without pedantry, but also without real force. His language was beautifully chosen, but it had not the ring of utter conviction, of passionate rejection of all that warred with Faith.
A chaplain of the Court, the husband of an earl's daughter, a friend of royal folk, a future bishop, there were those who called him time-serving, exclusively ambitious. Schuabe realised that not here, indeed, was the great champion of Christianity. For a brief moment the Jew's mind flashed to a memory of the young curate at Manchester, then, with a little shudder of dislike, he bent his attention to Canon Walke's words.
"No, Mrs. Armstrong," he was saying, an article such as this in a newspaper will be dangerous; it will unsettle weak brains for a time until it is proved, as it will be proved, either a blasphemous fabrication or an ignor. ant mistake. It cannot be. Whatever the upshot of such rumours, they can only have a temporary effect. It inay be that those at the head of the Church will have to sit close, to lay firm hold of principles, or anything that will steady the vessel as the storm sweeps up.
This may be an even greater tempest than that which broke upon the Church in the days of the first George, when Christianity was believed to be fictitious. What did Bishop Butler say to his chaplain ? He asked: 'What security is there against the insanity of individuals ? The doctors know of none. Why, therefore, may not whole communities be seized with fits of insanity as well as individuals ?' It is just that which will account for so much history tells us of wild revolt against Truth. It may be-God grant that it will not—that we are once more upon the eve of one of these storms. But, despite your anticipations, Mrs. Armstrong, you will see that the Church, as she has ever done, will weather the storm. I myself shall leave for town at mid-day, and follow the example of our host. My place is there. The Archbishop will, doubtless, hold a conference, if this story from Palestine seems to receive further confirmation. Such dangerous heresies must not be allowed to spread."
Then Schuabe took up the discussion. “I fear for you, Canon Walke," he said, " and for the Church you represent. This news, it seems to me, is merely the evidence for the confirmation of what all thoughtful men believe to-day, though the majority of them do not speak out. There is a natural dislike to active propaganda, a timidity in combination to upset a system which is accepted, and which provides society as an ethical programme, though founded on initial error. But now—and I agree with Mrs. Armstrong in the extreme probability of this news being absolute fact, for Hands and Schmöulder are names of weight-everything must be reconstructed and changed. The churches will go. Surely the times are ripe, the signs unmistakable? We are face to face with what is called an anti-clerical wave—a dislike to the clergy as the representatives of the Church, a