Part 1 out of 9
This etext was produced by Judy Boss.
by E. L. VOYNICH
"What have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth?"
MY most cordial thanks are due to the many
persons who helped me to collect, in Italy, the
materials for this story. I am especially indebted
to the officials of the Marucelliana Library of
Florence, and of the State Archives and Civic
Museum of Bologna, for their courtesy and
Arthur sat in the library of the theological
seminary at Pisa, looking through a pile of manuscript
sermons. It was a hot evening in June, and
the windows stood wide open, with the shutters
half closed for coolness. The Father Director,
Canon Montanelli, paused a moment in his writing
to glance lovingly at the black head bent over
"Can't you find it, carino? Never mind; I
must rewrite the passage. Possibly it has got
torn up, and I have kept you all this time for
Montanelli's voice was rather low, but full and
resonant, with a silvery purity of tone that gave to
his speech a peculiar charm. It was the voice of a
born orator, rich in possible modulations. When
he spoke to Arthur its note was always that of a
"No, Padre, I must find it; I'm sure you put
it here. You will never make it the same by
Montanelli went on with his work. A sleepy
cockchafer hummed drowsily outside the window,
and the long, melancholy call of a fruitseller echoed
down the street: "Fragola! fragola!"
"'On the Healing of the Leper'; here it is."
Arthur came across the room with the velvet tread
that always exasperated the good folk at home.
He was a slender little creature, more like an Italian
in a sixteenth-century portrait than a middle-class
English lad of the thirties. From the long
eyebrows and sensitive mouth to the small hands
and feet, everything about him was too much
chiseled, overdelicate. Sitting still, he might
have been taken for a very pretty girl masquerading
in male attire; but when he moved, his lithe
agility suggested a tame panther without the
"Is that really it? What should I do
without you, Arthur? I should always be losing
my things. No, I am not going to write any
more now. Come out into the garden, and I will
help you with your work. What is the bit you
They went out into the still, shadowy cloister
garden. The seminary occupied the buildings of
an old Dominican monastery, and two hundred
years ago the square courtyard had been stiff and
trim, and the rosemary and lavender had grown in
close-cut bushes between the straight box edgings.
Now the white-robed monks who had tended
them were laid away and forgotten; but the
scented herbs flowered still in the gracious mid-summer
evening, though no man gathered their
blossoms for simples any more. Tufts of wild
parsley and columbine filled the cracks between
the flagged footways, and the well in the middle
of the courtyard was given up to ferns and matted
stone-crop. The roses had run wild, and their
straggling suckers trailed across the paths; in the
box borders flared great red poppies; tall foxgloves
drooped above the tangled grasses; and the
old vine, untrained and barren of fruit, swayed
from the branches of the neglected medlar-tree,
shaking a leafy head with slow and sad persistence.
In one corner stood a huge summer-flowering
magnolia, a tower of dark foliage, splashed
here and there with milk-white blossoms. A
rough wooden bench had been placed against the
trunk; and on this Montanelli sat down. Arthur
was studying philosophy at the university; and,
coming to a difficulty with a book, had applied to
"the Padre" for an explanation of the point.
Montanelli was a universal encyclopaedia to him,
though he had never been a pupil of the seminary.
"I had better go now," he said when the passage
had been cleared up; "unless you want me for
"I don't want to work any more, but I should
like you to stay a bit if you have time."
"Oh, yes!" He leaned back against the tree-trunk
and looked up through the dusky branches
at the first faint stars glimmering in a quiet sky.
The dreamy, mystical eyes, deep blue under black
lashes, were an inheritance from his Cornish
mother, and Montanelli turned his head away, that
he might not see them.
"You are looking tired, carino," he said.
"I can't help it." There was a weary sound
in Arthur's voice, and the Padre noticed it at
"You should not have gone up to college so
soon; you were tired out with sick-nursing and
being up at night. I ought to have insisted on
your taking a thorough rest before you left
"Oh, Padre, what's the use of that? I couldn't
stop in that miserable house after mother died.
Julia would have driven me mad!"
Julia was his eldest step-brother's wife, and a
thorn in his side.
"I should not have wished you to stay with your
relatives," Montanelli answered gently. "I am
sure it would have been the worst possible thing
for you. But I wish you could have accepted the
invitation of your English doctor friend; if you had
spent a month in his house you would have been
more fit to study."
"No, Padre, I shouldn't indeed! The Warrens
are very good and kind, but they don't understand;
and then they are sorry for me,--I can see it in
all their faces,--and they would try to console me,
and talk about mother. Gemma wouldn't, of
course; she always knew what not to say, even
when we were babies; but the others would.
And it isn't only that----"
"What is it then, my son?"
Arthur pulled off some blossoms from a drooping
foxglove stem and crushed them nervously in
"I can't bear the town," he began after a moment's
pause. "There are the shops where she
used to buy me toys when I was a little thing, and
the walk along the shore where I used to take her
until she got too ill. Wherever I go it's the same
thing; every market-girl comes up to me with
bunches of flowers--as if I wanted them now!
And there's the church-yard--I had to get away;
it made me sick to see the place----"
He broke off and sat tearing the foxglove bells
to pieces. The silence was so long and deep that
he looked up, wondering why the Padre did not
speak. It was growing dark under the branches
of the magnolia, and everything seemed dim and
indistinct; but there was light enough to show the
ghastly paleness of Montanelli's face. He was
bending his head down, his right hand tightly
clenched upon the edge of the bench. Arthur
looked away with a sense of awe-struck wonder.
It was as though he had stepped unwittingly on to
"My God!" he thought; "how small and selfish
I am beside him! If my trouble were his own he
couldn't feel it more."
Presently Montanelli raised his head and looked
round. "I won't press you to go back there; at
all events, just now," he said in his most caressing
tone; "but you must promise me to take a
thorough rest when your vacation begins this
summer. I think you had better get a holiday
right away from the neighborhood of Leghorn. I
can't have you breaking down in health."
"Where shall you go when the seminary closes,
"I shall have to take the pupils into the hills,
as usual, and see them settled there. But by the
middle of August the subdirector will be back
from his holiday. I shall try to get up into the
Alps for a little change. Will you come with me?
I could take you for some long mountain rambles,
and you would like to study the Alpine mosses and
lichens. But perhaps it would be rather dull for
you alone with me?"
"Padre!" Arthur clasped his hands in what
Julia called his "demonstrative foreign way." "I
would give anything on earth to go away with
you. Only--I am not sure----" He stopped.
"You don't think Mr. Burton would allow
"He wouldn't like it, of course, but he could
hardly interfere. I am eighteen now and can do
what I choose. After all, he's only my step-brother;
I don't see that I owe him obedience.
He was always unkind to mother."
"But if he seriously objects, I think you had
better not defy his wishes; you may find your
position at home made much harder if----"
"Not a bit harder!" Arthur broke in passionately.
"They always did hate me and always
will--it doesn't matter what I do. Besides, how
can James seriously object to my going away with
you--with my father confessor?"
"He is a Protestant, remember. However, you
had better write to him, and we will wait to hear
what he thinks. But you must not be impatient,
my son; it matters just as much what you do,
whether people hate you or love you."
The rebuke was so gently given that Arthur
hardly coloured under it. "Yes, I know," he
answered, sighing; "but it is so difficult----"
"I was sorry you could not come to me on
Tuesday evening," Montanelli said, abruptly introducing
a new subject. "The Bishop of Arezzo
was here, and I should have liked you to meet
"I had promised one of the students to go to a
meeting at his lodgings, and they would have been
"What sort of meeting?"
Arthur seemed embarrassed by the question.
"It--it was n-not a r-regular meeting," he said
with a nervous little stammer. "A student had
come from Genoa, and he made a speech to us--
a-a sort of--lecture."
"What did he lecture about?"
Arthur hesitated. "You won't ask me his
name, Padre, will you? Because I promised----"
"I will ask you no questions at all, and if you
have promised secrecy of course you must not tell
me; but I think you can almost trust me by this
"Padre, of course I can. He spoke about--us
and our duty to the people--and to--our own
selves; and about--what we might do to
"To help whom?"
There was a long silence.
"Tell me, Arthur," said Montanelli, turning to
him and speaking very gravely, "how long have
you been thinking about this?"
"Before your mother's death? And did she
know of it?"
"N-no. I--I didn't care about it then."
"And now you--care about it?"
Arthur pulled another handful of bells off the
"It was this way, Padre," he began, with his
eyes on the ground. "When I was preparing for
the entrance examination last autumn, I got to
know a good many of the students; you remember?
Well, some of them began to talk to me
about--all these things, and lent me books. But
I didn't care much about it; I always wanted to
get home quick to mother. You see, she was quite
alone among them all in that dungeon of a house;
and Julia's tongue was enough to kill her. Then,
in the winter, when she got so ill, I forgot all about
the students and their books; and then, you know,
I left off coming to Pisa altogether. I should have
talked to mother if I had thought of it; but it went
right out of my head. Then I found out that she
was going to die----You know, I was almost
constantly with her towards the end; often I would
sit up the night, and Gemma Warren would come
in the day to let me get to sleep. Well, it was in
those long nights; I got thinking about the books
and about what the students had said--and wondering--
whether they were right and--what--
Our Lord would have said about it all."
"Did you ask Him?" Montanelli's voice was
not quite steady.
"Often, Padre. Sometimes I have prayed to
Him to tell me what I must do, or to let me die
with mother. But I couldn't find any answer."
"And you never said a word to me. Arthur, I
hoped you could have trusted me."
"Padre, you know I trust you! But there are
some things you can't talk about to anyone. I--it
seemed to me that no one could help me--not
even you or mother; I must have my own answer
straight from God. You see, it is for all my life
and all my soul."
Montanelli turned away and stared into the
dusky gloom of the magnolia branches. The
twilight was so dim that his figure had a shadowy
look, like a dark ghost among the darker boughs.
"And then?" he asked slowly.
"And then--she died. You know, I had been
up the last three nights with her----"
He broke off and paused a moment, but Montanelli
did not move.
"All those two days before they buried her,"
Arthur went on in a lower voice, "I couldn't think
about anything. Then, after the funeral, I was ill;
you remember, I couldn't come to confession."
"Yes; I remember."
"Well, in the night I got up and went into
mother's room. It was all empty; there was only
the great crucifix in the alcove. And I thought
perhaps God would help me. I knelt down
and waited--all night. And in the morning
when I came to my senses--Padre, it isn't any use;
I can't explain. I can't tell you what I saw--I
hardly know myself. But I know that God has
answered me, and that I dare not disobey Him."
For a moment they sat quite silent in the darkness.
Then Montanelli turned and laid his hand
on Arthur's shoulder.
"My son," he said, "God forbid that I should
say He has not spoken to your soul. But remember
your condition when this thing happened, and
do not take the fancies of grief or illness for His
solemn call. And if, indeed, it has been His will
to answer you out of the shadow of death, be sure
that you put no false construction on His word.
What is this thing you have it in your heart
Arthur stood up and answered slowly, as though
repeating a catechism:
"To give up my life to Italy, to help in freeing
her from all this slavery and wretchedness, and in
driving out the Austrians, that she may be a
free republic, with no king but Christ."
"Arthur, think a moment what you are saying!
You are not even an Italian."
"That makes no difference; I am myself. I
have seen this thing, and I belong to it."
There was silence again.
"You spoke just now of what Christ would have
said----" Montanelli began slowly; but Arthur
"Christ said: 'He that loseth his life for my
sake shall find it.'"
Montanelli leaned his arm against a branch, and
shaded his eyes with one hand.
"Sit down a moment, my son," he said at
Arthur sat down, and the Padre took both his
hands in a strong and steady clasp.
"I cannot argue with you to-night," he said;
"this has come upon me so suddenly--I had not
thought--I must have time to think it over.
Later on we will talk more definitely. But, for
just now, I want you to remember one thing. If
you get into trouble over this, if you--die, you
will break my heart."
"No; let me finish what I have to say. I told
you once that I have no one in the world but you.
I think you do not fully understand what that
means. It is difficult when one is so young; at
your age I should not have understood. Arthur,
you are as my--as my--own son to me. Do you
see? You are the light of my eyes and the desire
of my heart. I would die to keep you from making
a false step and ruining your life. But there
is nothing I can do. I don't ask you to make any
promises to me; I only ask you to remember this,
and to be careful. Think well before you take an
irrevocable step, for my sake, if not for the sake
of your mother in heaven."
"I will think--and--Padre, pray for me, and for
He knelt down in silence, and in silence Montanelli
laid his hand on the bent head. A moment
later Arthur rose, kissed the hand, and went
softly away across the dewy grass. Montanelli
sat alone under the magnolia tree, looking straight
before him into the blackness.
"It is the vengeance of God that has fallen upon
me," he thought, "as it fell upon David. I, that
have defiled His sanctuary, and taken the Body of
the Lord into polluted hands,--He has been very
patient with me, and now it is come. 'For thou
didst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all
Israel, and before the sun; THE CHILD THAT IS BORN
UNTO THEE SHALL SURELY DIE.'"
MR. JAMES BURTON did not at all like the idea
of his young step-brother "careering about Switzerland"
with Montanelli. But positively to forbid
a harmless botanizing tour with an elderly professor
of theology would seem to Arthur, who knew
nothing of the reason for the prohibition, absurdly
tyrannical. He would immediately attribute it to
religious or racial prejudice; and the Burtons
prided themselves on their enlightened tolerance.
The whole family had been staunch Protestants
and Conservatives ever since Burton & Sons, ship-owners,
of London and Leghorn, had first set up
in business, more than a century back. But they
held that English gentlemen must deal fairly, even
with Papists; and when the head of the house,
finding it dull to remain a widower, had married
the pretty Catholic governess of his younger children,
the two elder sons, James and Thomas, much
as they resented the presence of a step-mother
hardly older than themselves, had submitted with
sulky resignation to the will of Providence. Since
the father's death the eldest brother's marriage
had further complicated an already difficult position;
but both brothers had honestly tried to
protect Gladys, as long as she lived, from Julia's
merciless tongue, and to do their duty, as they
understood it, by Arthur. They did not even pretend
to like the lad, and their generosity towards
him showed itself chiefly in providing him with
lavish supplies of pocket money and allowing him
to go his own way.
In answer to his letter, accordingly, Arthur received
a cheque to cover his expenses and a cold
permission to do as he pleased about his holidays.
He expended half his spare cash on botanical books
and pressing-cases, and started off with the Padre
for his first Alpine ramble.
Montanelli was in lighter spirits than Arthur
had seen him in for a long while. After the first
shock of the conversation in the garden he had
gradually recovered his mental balance, and now
looked upon the case more calmly. Arthur was
very young and inexperienced; his decision could
hardly be, as yet, irrevocable. Surely there was
still time to win him back by gentle persuasion and
reasoning from the dangerous path upon which
he had barely entered.
They had intended to stay a few days at Geneva;
but at the first sight of the glaring white streets
and dusty, tourist-crammed promenades, a little
frown appeared on Arthur's face. Montanelli
watched him with quiet amusement.
"You don't like it, carino?"
"I hardly know. It's so different from what I
expected. Yes, the lake is beautiful, and I like the
shape of those hills." They were standing on
Rousseau's Island, and he pointed to the long,
severe outlines of the Savoy side. "But the town
looks so stiff and tidy, somehow--so Protestant;
it has a self-satisfied air. No, I don't like it; it
reminds me of Julia."
Montanelli laughed. "Poor boy, what a misfortune!
Well, we are here for our own amusement, so there
is no reason why we should stop. Suppose we take a
sail on the lake to-day, and go up into the mountains
"But, Padre, you wanted to stay here?"
"My dear boy, I have seen all these places a
dozen times. My holiday is to see your pleasure.
Where would you like to go?"
"If it is really the same to you, I should like to
follow the river back to its source."
"No, the Arve; it runs so fast."
"Then we will go to Chamonix."
They spent the afternoon drifting about in a
little sailing boat. The beautiful lake produced
far less impression upon Arthur than the gray and
muddy Arve. He had grown up beside the Mediterranean,
and was accustomed to blue ripples;
but he had a positive passion for swiftly moving
water, and the hurried rushing of the glacier
stream delighted him beyond measure. "It is so
much in earnest," he said.
Early on the following morning they started for
Chamonix. Arthur was in very high spirits while
driving through the fertile valley country; but
when they entered upon the winding road near
Cluses, and the great, jagged hills closed in around
them, he became serious and silent. From St. Martin
they walked slowly up the valley, stopping to
sleep at wayside chalets or tiny mountain villages,
and wandering on again as their fancy directed.
Arthur was peculiarly sensitive to the influence of
scenery, and the first waterfall that they passed
threw him into an ecstacy which was delightful to
see; but as they drew nearer to the snow-peaks
he passed out of this rapturous mood into one of
dreamy exaltation that Montanelli had not seen
before. There seemed to be a kind of mystical relationship
between him and the mountains. He
would lie for hours motionless in the dark, secret,
echoing pine-forests, looking out between the
straight, tall trunks into the sunlit outer world of
flashing peaks and barren cliffs. Montanelli
watched him with a kind of sad envy.
"I wish you could show me what you see,
carino," he said one day as he looked up from his
book, and saw Arthur stretched beside him on the
moss in the same attitude as an hour before, gazing
out with wide, dilated eyes into the glittering
expanse of blue and white. They had turned aside
from the high-road to sleep at a quiet village near
the falls of the Diosaz, and, the sun being already
low in a cloudless sky, had mounted a point of pine-clad
rock to wait for the Alpine glow over the
dome and needles of the Mont Blanc chain. Arthur
raised his head with eyes full of wonder and
"What I see, Padre? I see a great, white being
in a blue void that has no beginning and no end.
I see it waiting, age after age, for the coming of the
Spirit of God. I see it through a glass darkly."
"I used to see those things once."
"Do you never see them now?"
"Never. I shall not see them any more. They
are there, I know; but I have not the eyes to see
them. I see quite other things."
"What do you see?"
"I, carino? I see a blue sky and a snow-mountain
--that is all when I look up into the heights.
But down there it is different."
He pointed to the valley below them. Arthur
knelt down and bent over the sheer edge of the
precipice. The great pine trees, dusky in the gathering
shades of evening, stood like sentinels along
the narrow banks confining the river. Presently
the sun, red as a glowing coal, dipped behind a
jagged mountain peak, and all the life and light
deserted the face of nature. Straightway there
came upon the valley something dark and threatening
--sullen, terrible, full of spectral weapons.
The perpendicular cliffs of the barren western
mountains seemed like the teeth of a monster
lurking to snatch a victim and drag him down into
the maw of the deep valley, black with its moaning
forests. The pine trees were rows of knife-blades
whispering: "Fall upon us!" and in the
gathering darkness the torrent roared and howled,
beating against its rocky prison walls with the
frenzy of an everlasting despair.
"Padre!" Arthur rose, shuddering, and drew
back from the precipice. "It is like hell."
"No, my son," Montanelli answered softly, "it
is only like a human soul."
"The souls of them that sit in darkness and in
the shadow of death?"
"The souls of them that pass you day by day
in the street."
Arthur shivered, looking down into the shadows.
A dim white mist was hovering among the
pine trees, clinging faintly about the desperate
agony of the torrent, like a miserable ghost that
had no consolation to give.
"Look!" Arthur said suddenly. "The people
that walked in darkness have seen a great
Eastwards the snow-peaks burned in the afterglow.
When the red light had faded from the
summits Montanelli turned and roused Arthur
with a touch on the shoulder.
"Come in, carino; all the light is gone. We
shall lose our way in the dark if we stay any
"It is like a corpse," Arthur said as he turned
away from the spectral face of the great snow-peak
glimmering through the twilight.
They descended cautiously among the black
trees to the chalet where they were to sleep.
As Montanelli entered the room where Arthur
was waiting for him at the supper table, he saw
that the lad seemed to have shaken off the ghostly
fancies of the dark, and to have changed into quite
"Oh, Padre, do come and look at this absurd
dog! It can dance on its hind legs."
He was as much absorbed in the dog and its
accomplishments as he had been in the after-glow.
The woman of the chalet, red-faced and white-aproned,
with sturdy arms akimbo, stood by smiling,
while he put the animal through its tricks.
"One can see there's not much on his mind if he
can carry on that way," she said in patois to her
daughter. "And what a handsome lad!"
Arthur coloured like a schoolgirl, and the
woman, seeing that he had understood, went away
laughing at his confusion. At supper he talked of
nothing but plans for excursions, mountain
ascents, and botanizing expeditions. Evidently
his dreamy fancies had not interfered with either
his spirits or his appetite.
When Montanelli awoke the next morning Arthur
had disappeared. He had started before daybreak
for the higher pastures "to help Gaspard
drive up the goats."
Breakfast had not long been on the table, however,
when he came tearing into the room, hatless,
with a tiny peasant girl of three years old
perched on his shoulder, and a great bunch of wild
flowers in his hand.
Montanelli looked up, smiling. This was a curious
contrast to the grave and silent Arthur of Pisa
"Where have you been, you madcap? Scampering
all over the mountains without any breakfast?"
"Oh, Padre, it was so jolly! The mountains
look perfectly glorious at sunrise; and the dew is
so thick! Just look!"
He lifted for inspection a wet and muddy boot.
"We took some bread and cheese with us, and
got some goat's milk up there on the pasture; oh, it
was nasty! But I'm hungry again, now; and I
want something for this little person, too.
Annette, won't you have some honey?"
He had sat down with the child on his knee, and
was helping her to put the flowers in order.
"No, no!" Montanelli interposed. "I can't
have you catching cold. Run and change your wet
things. Come to me, Annette. Where did you
pick her up?"
"At the top of the village. She belongs to the
man we saw yesterday--the man that cobbles the
commune's boots. Hasn't she lovely eyes? She's
got a tortoise in her pocket, and she calls it
When Arthur had changed his wet socks and
came down to breakfast he found the child seated
on the Padre's knee, chattering volubly to him
about her tortoise, which she was holding upside
down in a chubby hand, that "monsieur" might
admire the wriggling legs.
"Look, monsieur!" she was saying gravely in
her half-intelligible patois: "Look at Caroline's
Montanelli sat playing with the child, stroking
her hair, admiring her darling tortoise, and telling
her wonderful stories. The woman of the
chalet, coming in to clear the table, stared in
amazement at the sight of Annette turning out
the pockets of the grave gentleman in clerical
"God teaches the little ones to know a good
man," she said. "Annette is always afraid of
strangers; and see, she is not shy with his reverence
at all. The wonderful thing! Kneel down,
Annette, and ask the good monsieur's blessing
before he goes; it will bring thee luck."
"I didn't know you could play with children
that way, Padre," Arthur said an hour later, as
they walked through the sunlit pasture-land.
"That child never took her eyes off you all the
time. Do you know, I think----"
"I was only going to say--it seems to me
almost a pity that the Church should forbid priests
to marry. I cannot quite understand why. You
see, the training of children is such a serious thing,
and it means so much to them to be surrounded
from the very beginning with good influences, that
I should have thought the holier a man's vocation
and the purer his life, the more fit he is to be a
father. I am sure, Padre, if you had not been
under a vow,--if you had married,--your children
would have been the very----"
The word was uttered in a hasty whisper that
seemed to deepen the ensuing silence.
"Padre," Arthur began again, distressed by the
other's sombre look, "do you think there is anything
wrong in what I said? Of course I may be
mistaken; but I must think as it comes natural to
me to think."
"Perhaps," Montanelli answered gently, "you
do not quite realize the meaning of what you just
said. You will see differently in a few years.
Meanwhile we had better talk about something
It was the first break in the perfect ease and harmony
that reigned between them on this ideal holiday.
From Chamonix they went on by the Tete-Noire
to Martigny, where they stopped to rest,
as the weather was stiflingly hot. After dinner
they sat on the terrace of the hotel, which was
sheltered from the sun and commanded a good
view of the mountains. Arthur brought out his
specimen box and plunged into an earnest botanical
discussion in Italian.
Two English artists were sitting on the terrace;
one sketching, the other lazily chatting. It did
not seem to have occurred to him that the strangers
might understand English.
"Leave off daubing at the landscape, Willie,"
he said; "and draw that glorious Italian boy going
into ecstasies over those bits of ferns. Just look
at the line of his eyebrows! You only need to put
a crucifix for the magnifying-glass and a Roman
toga for the jacket and knickerbockers, and there's
your Early Christian complete, expression and
"Early Christian be hanged! I sat beside that
youth at dinner; he was just as ecstatic over the
roast fowl as over those grubby little weeds. He's
pretty enough; that olive colouring is beautiful;
but he's not half so picturesque as his father."
"His father, sitting there straight in front of
you. Do you mean to say you've passed him over?
It's a perfectly magnificent face."
"Why, you dunder-headed, go-to-meeting
Methodist! Don't you know a Catholic priest
when you see one?"
"A priest? By Jove, so he is! Yes, I forgot;
vow of chastity, and all that sort of thing. Well
then, we'll be charitable and suppose the boy's his
"What idiotic people!" Arthur whispered,
looking up with dancing eyes. "Still, it is kind of
them to think me like you; I wish I were really
your nephew----Padre, what is the matter?
How white you are!"
Montanelli was standing up, pressing one hand
to his forehead. "I am a little giddy," he said in
a curiously faint, dull tone. "Perhaps I was too
much in the sun this morning. I will go and lie
down, carino; it's nothing but the heat."
. . . . .
After a fortnight beside the Lake of Lucerne
Arthur and Montanelli returned to Italy by the
St. Gothard Pass. They had been fortunate as
to weather and had made several very pleasant excursions;
but the first charm was gone out of their
enjoyment. Montanelli was continually haunted
by an uneasy thought of the "more definite talk"
for which this holiday was to have been the opportunity.
In the Arve valley he had purposely
put off all reference to the subject of which they
had spoken under the magnolia tree; it would be
cruel, he thought, to spoil the first delights of
Alpine scenery for a nature so artistic as Arthur's
by associating them with a conversation which
must necessarily be painful. Ever since the day
at Martigny he had said to himself each morning;
"I will speak to-day," and each evening: "I will
speak to-morrow;" and now the holiday was over,
and he still repeated again and again: "To-morrow,
to-morrow." A chill, indefinable sense of
something not quite the same as it had been, of
an invisible veil falling between himself and
Arthur, kept him silent, until, on the last evening
of their holiday, he realized suddenly that
he must speak now if he would speak at all.
They were stopping for the night at Lugano,
and were to start for Pisa next morning. He
would at least find out how far his darling had
been drawn into the fatal quicksand of Italian
"The rain has stopped, carino," he said after
sunset; "and this is the only chance we shall have
to see the lake. Come out; I want to have a talk
They walked along the water's edge to a quiet
spot and sat down on a low stone wall. Close
beside them grew a rose-bush, covered with scarlet
hips; one or two belated clusters of creamy
blossom still hung from an upper branch, swaying
mournfully and heavy with raindrops. On the
green surface of the lake a little boat, with white
wings faintly fluttering, rocked in the dewy breeze.
It looked as light and frail as a tuft of silvery
dandelion seed flung upon the water. High up
on Monte Salvatore the window of some shepherd's
hut opened a golden eye. The roses hung
their heads and dreamed under the still September
clouds, and the water plashed and murmured
softly among the pebbles of the shore.
"This will be my only chance of a quiet talk
with you for a long time," Montanelli began.
"You will go back to your college work and
friends; and I, too, shall be very busy this winter.
I want to understand quite clearly what our position
as regards each other is to be; and so, if
you----" He stopped for a moment and then
continued more slowly: "If you feel that you can
still trust me as you used to do, I want you to tell
me more definitely than that night in the seminary
garden, how far you have gone."
Arthur looked out across the water, listened
quietly, and said nothing.
"I want to know, if you will tell me," Montanelli
went on; "whether you have bound yourself
by a vow, or--in any way."
"There is nothing to tell, dear Padre; I have
not bound myself, but I am bound."
"I don't understand------"
"What is the use of vows? They are not what
binds people. If you feel in a certain way about
a thing, that binds you to it; if you don't feel that
way, nothing else can bind you."
"Do you mean, then, that this thing--this--
feeling is quite irrevocable? Arthur, have you
thought what you are saying?"
Arthur turned round and looked straight into
"Padre, you asked me if I could trust you.
Can you not trust me, too? Indeed, if there were
anything to tell, I would tell it to you; but there
is no use in talking about these things. I have
not forgotten what you said to me that night; I
shall never forget it. But I must go my way and
follow the light that I see."
Montanelli picked a rose from the bush, pulled
off the petals one by one, and tossed them into
"You are right, carino. Yes, we will say no
more about these things; it seems there is indeed
no help in many words----Well, well, let us go
THE autumn and winter passed uneventfully.
Arthur was reading hard and had little spare time.
He contrived to get a glimpse of Montanelli once
or oftener in every week, if only for a few
minutes. From time to time he would come
in to ask for help with some difficult book; but
on these occasions the subject of study was
strictly adhered to. Montanelli, feeling, rather
than observing, the slight, impalpable barrier that
had come between them, shrank from everything
which might seem like an attempt to retain the
old close relationship. Arthur's visits now caused
him more distress than pleasure, so trying was the
constant effort to appear at ease and to behave as
if nothing were altered. Arthur, for his part,
noticed, hardly understanding it, the subtle
change in the Padre's manner; and, vaguely feeling
that it had some connection with the vexed
question of the "new ideas," avoided all mention
of the subject with which his thoughts were constantly
filled. Yet he had never loved Montanelli
so deeply as now. The dim, persistent sense of
dissatisfaction, of spiritual emptiness, which he
had tried so hard to stifle under a load of theology
and ritual, had vanished into nothing at the touch
of Young Italy. All the unhealthy fancies born of
loneliness and sick-room watching had passed
away, and the doubts against which he used to
pray had gone without the need of exorcism.
With the awakening of a new enthusiasm, a
clearer, fresher religious ideal (for it was more in
this light than in that of a political development
that the students' movement had appeared to
him), had come a sense of rest and completeness,
of peace on earth and good will towards men; and
in this mood of solemn and tender exaltation all
the world seemed to him full of light. He found
a new element of something lovable in the persons
whom he had most disliked; and Montanelli, who
for five years had been his ideal hero, was now in
his eyes surrounded with an additional halo, as a
potential prophet of the new faith. He listened
with passionate eagerness to the Padre's sermons,
trying to find in them some trace of inner kinship
with the republican ideal; and pored over the
Gospels, rejoicing in the democratic tendencies of
Christianity at its origin.
One day in January he called at the seminary to
return a book which he had borrowed. Hearing
that the Father Director was out, he went up to
Montanelli's private study, placed the volume on
its shelf, and was about to leave the room when
the title of a book lying on the table caught his
eyes. It was Dante's "De Monarchia." He
began to read it and soon became so absorbed that
when the door opened and shut he did not hear.
He was aroused from his preoccupation by Montanelli's
voice behind him.
"I did not expect you to-day," said the Padre,
glancing at the title of the book. "I was just
going to send and ask if you could come to me
"Is it anything important? I have an engagement
for this evening; but I will miss it if------"
"No; to-morrow will do. I want to see you
because I am going away on Tuesday. I have
been sent for to Rome."
"To Rome? For long?"
"The letter says, 'till after Easter.' It is from
the Vatican. I would have let you know at once,
but have been very busy settling up things about
the seminary and making arrangements for the new
"But, Padre, surely you are not giving up the
"It will have to be so; but I shall probably come
back to Pisa, for some time at least."
"But why are you giving it up?"
"Well, it is not yet officially announced;
but I am offered a bishopric."
"That is the point about which I have to go to
Rome. It is not yet decided whether I am to
take a see in the Apennines, or to remain here as
"And is the new Director chosen yet?"
"Father Cardi has been nominated and arrives
"Is not that rather sudden?"
"Yes; but----The decisions of the Vatican
are sometimes not communicated till the last
"Do you know the new Director?"
"Not personally; but he is very highly spoken
of. Monsignor Belloni, who writes, says that he
is a man of great erudition."
"The seminary will miss you terribly."
"I don't know about the seminary, but I am sure
you will miss me, carino; perhaps almost as much
as I shall miss you."
"I shall indeed; but I am very glad, for all
"Are you? I don't know that I am." He sat
down at the table with a weary look on his face;
not the look of a man who is expecting high
"Are you busy this afternoon, Arthur?" he said
after a moment. "If not, I wish you would stay
with me for a while, as you can't come to-night.
I am a little out of sorts, I think; and I want to
see as much of you as possible before leaving."
"Yes, I can stay a bit. I am due at six."
"One of your meetings?"
Arthur nodded; and Montanelli changed the
"I want to speak to you about yourself," he
said. "You will need another confessor in my
"When you come back I may go on confessing
to you, may I not?"
"My dear boy, how can you ask? Of course I
am speaking only of the three or four months that
I shall be away. Will you go to one of the
Fathers of Santa Caterina?"
They talked of other matters for a little while;
then Arthur rose.
"I must go, Padre; the students will be waiting
The haggard look came back to Montanelli's
"Already? You had almost charmed away
my black mood. Well, good-bye."
"Good-bye. I will be sure to come to-morrow."
"Try to come early, so that I may have time
to see you alone. Father Cardi will be here.
Arthur, my dear boy, be careful while I am gone;
don't be led into doing anything rash, at least before
I come back. You cannot think how anxious
I feel about leaving you."
"There is no need, Padre; everything is quite
quiet. It will be a long time yet."
"Good-bye," Montanelli said abruptly, and sat
down to his writing.
The first person upon whom Arthur's eyes fell,
as he entered the room where the students' little
gatherings were held, was his old playmate, Dr.
Warren's daughter. She was sitting in a corner
by the window, listening with an absorbed and
earnest face to what one of the "initiators," a tall
young Lombard in a threadbare coat, was saying
to her. During the last few months she had
changed and developed greatly, and now looked a
grown-up young woman, though the dense black
plaits still hung down her back in school-girl
fashion. She was dressed all in black, and had
thrown a black scarf over her head, as the room
was cold and draughty. At her breast was a spray
of cypress, the emblem of Young Italy. The
initiator was passionately describing to her the
misery of the Calabrian peasantry; and she sat
listening silently, her chin resting on one hand
and her eyes on the ground. To Arthur she
seemed a melancholy vision of Liberty mourning
for the lost Republic. (Julia would have seen in
her only an overgrown hoyden, with a sallow complexion,
an irregular nose, and an old stuff frock
that was too short for her.)
"You here, Jim!" he said, coming up to her
when the initiator had been called to the other end
of the room. "Jim" was a childish corruption of
her curious baptismal name: Jennifer. Her Italian
schoolmates called her "Gemma."
She raised her head with a start.
"Arthur! Oh, I didn't know you--belonged
"And I had no idea about you. Jim, since when
"You don't understand!" she interposed
quickly. "I am not a member. It is only that
I have done one or two little things. You see, I
met Bini--you know Carlo Bini?"
"Yes, of course." Bini was the organizer of the
Leghorn branch; and all Young Italy knew him.
"Well, he began talking to me about these
things; and I asked him to let me go to a students'
meeting. The other day he wrote to me to
Florence------Didn't you know I had been to
Florence for the Christmas holidays?"
"I don't often hear from home now."
"Ah, yes! Anyhow, I went to stay with the
Wrights." (The Wrights were old schoolfellows
of hers who had moved to Florence.) "Then Bini
wrote and told me to pass through Pisa to-day on
my way home, so that I could come here. Ah!
they're going to begin."
The lecture was upon the ideal Republic and
the duty of the young to fit themselves for it.
The lecturer's comprehension of his subject was
somewhat vague; but Arthur listened with devout
admiration. His mind at this period was curiously
uncritical; when he accepted a moral ideal
he swallowed it whole without stopping to think
whether it was quite digestible. When the lecture
and the long discussion which followed it were
finished and the students began to disperse, he
went up to Gemma, who was still sitting in the
corner of the room.
"Let me walk with you, Jim. Where are you
"Your father's old housekeeper?"
"Yes; she lives a good way from here."
They walked for some time in silence. Then
Arthur said suddenly:
"You are seventeen, now, aren't you?"
"I was seventeen in October."
"I always knew you would not grow up like
other girls and begin wanting to go to balls and
all that sort of thing. Jim, dear, I have so often
wondered whether you would ever come to be
one of us."
"So have I."
"You said you had done things for Bini; I
didn't know you even knew him."
"It wasn't for Bini; it was for the other one"
"Which other one?"
"The one that was talking to me to-night--
"Do you know him well?" Arthur put in with
a little touch of jealousy. Bolla was a sore subject
with him; there had been a rivalry between them
about some work which the committee of Young
Italy had finally intrusted to Bolla, declaring
Arthur too young and inexperienced.
"I know him pretty well; and I like him very
much. He has been staying in Leghorn."
"I know; he went there in November------"
"Because of the steamers. Arthur, don't you
think your house would be safer than ours for that
work? Nobody would suspect a rich shipping
family like yours; and you know everyone at the
"Hush! not so loud, dear! So it was in your
house the books from Marseilles were hidden?"
"Only for one day. Oh! perhaps I oughtn't to
have told you."
"Why not? You know I belong to the society.
Gemma, dear, there is nothing in all the world that
would make me so happy as for you to join us--
you and the Padre."
"Your Padre! Surely he----"
"No; he thinks differently. But I have sometimes
fancied--that is--hoped--I don't know----"
"But, Arthur! he's a priest."
"What of that? There are priests in the society
--two of them write in the paper. And why
not? It is the mission of the priesthood to lead
the world to higher ideals and aims, and what else
does the society try to do? It is, after all, more
a religious and moral question than a political one.
If people are fit to be free and responsible citizens,
no one can keep them enslaved."
Gemma knit her brows. "It seems to me,
Arthur," she said, "that there's a muddle somewhere
in your logic. A priest teaches religious
doctrine. I don't see what that has to do with
getting rid of the Austrians."
"A priest is a teacher of Christianity, and the
greatest of all revolutionists was Christ."
"Do you know, I was talking about priests to
father the other day, and he said----"
"Gemma, your father is a Protestant."
After a little pause she looked round at him
"Look here, we had better leave this subject
alone. You are always intolerant when you talk
"I didn't mean to be intolerant. But I think
Protestants are generally intolerant when they
talk about priests."
"I dare say. Anyhow, we have so often quarreled
over this subject that it is not worth while to
begin again. What did you think of the lecture?"
"I liked it very much--especially the last part.
I was glad he spoke so strongly about the
need of living the Republic, not dreaming of it.
It is as Christ said: 'The Kingdom of Heaven is
"It was just that part that I didn't like. He
talked so much of the wonderful things we ought
to think and feel and be, but he never told us practically
what we ought to do."
"When the time of crisis comes there will be
plenty for us to do; but we must be patient; these
great changes are not made in a day."
"The longer a thing is to take doing, the more
reason to begin at once. You talk about being
fit for freedom--did you ever know anyone so fit
for it as your mother? Wasn't she the most perfectly
angelic woman you ever saw? And what use
was all her goodness? She was a slave till the day
she died--bullied and worried and insulted by your
brother James and his wife. It would have been
much better for her if she had not been so sweet
and patient; they would never have treated her
so. That's just the way with Italy; it's not
patience that's wanted--it's for somebody to get
up and defend themselves------"
"Jim, dear, if anger and passion could have
saved Italy she would have been free long ago;
it is not hatred that she needs, it is love."
As he said the word a sudden flush went up
to his forehead and died out again. Gemma
did not see it; she was looking straight before
her with knitted brows and set mouth.
"You think I am wrong, Arthur," she said
after a pause; "but I am right, and you will grow
to see it some day. This is the house. Will you
"No; it's late. Good-night, dear!"
He was standing on the doorstep, clasping her
hand in both of his.
"For God and the people----"
Slowly and gravely she completed the unfinished
"Now and forever."
Then she pulled away her hand and ran into
the house. When the door had closed behind her
he stooped and picked up the spray of cypress
which had fallen from her breast.
ARTHUR went back to his lodgings feeling as
though he had wings. He was absolutely, cloudlessly
happy. At the meeting there had been
hints of preparations for armed insurrection; and
now Gemma was a comrade, and he loved her.
They could work together, possibly even die together,
for the Republic that was to be. The
blossoming time of their hope was come, and the
Padre would see it and believe.
The next morning, however, he awoke in a
soberer mood and remembered that Gemma was
going to Leghorn and the Padre to Rome. January,
February, March--three long months to
Easter! And if Gemma should fall under "Protestant"
influences at home (in Arthur's vocabulary
"Protestant" stood for "Philistine")------
No, Gemma would never learn to flirt and simper
and captivate tourists and bald-headed shipowners,
like the other English girls in Leghorn; she was
made of different stuff. But she might be very
miserable; she was so young, so friendless, so
utterly alone among all those wooden people. If
only mother had lived----
In the evening he went to the seminary, where
he found Montanelli entertaining the new Director
and looking both tired and bored. Instead
of lighting up, as usual, at the sight of Arthur, the
Padre's face grew darker.
"This is the student I spoke to you about," he
said, introducing Arthur stiffly. "I shall be much
obliged if you will allow him to continue using the
Father Cardi, a benevolent-looking elderly
priest, at once began talking to Arthur about the
Sapienza, with an ease and familiarity which
showed him to be well acquainted with college
life. The conversation soon drifted into a discussion
of university regulations, a burning question
of that day. To Arthur's great delight, the new
Director spoke strongly against the custom
adopted by the university authorities of constantly
worrying the students by senseless and vexatious
"I have had a good deal of experience in guiding
young people," he said; "and I make it a
rule never to prohibit anything without a good
reason. There are very few young men who will
give much trouble if proper consideration and respect
for their personality are shown to them.
But, of course, the most docile horse will kick if
you are always jerking at the rein."
Arthur opened his eyes wide; he had not expected
to hear the students' cause pleaded by the
new Director. Montanelli took no part in the discussion;
its subject, apparently, did not interest
him. The expression of his face was so unutterably
hopeless and weary that Father Cardi broke
"I am afraid I have overtired you, Canon. You
must forgive my talkativeness; I am hot upon this
subject and forget that others may grow weary
"On the contrary, I was much interested."
Montanelli was not given to stereotyped politeness,
and his tone jarred uncomfortably upon
When Father Cardi went to his own room
Montanelli turned to Arthur with the intent and
brooding look that his face had worn all the
"Arthur, my dear boy," he began slowly; "I
have something to tell you."
"He must have had bad news," flashed through
Arthur's mind, as he looked anxiously at the haggard
face. There was a long pause.
"How do you like the new Director?" Montanelli
The question was so unexpected that, for a moment,
Arthur was at a loss how to reply to it.
"I--I like him very much, I think--at least--
no, I am not quite sure that I do. But it is difficult
to say, after seeing a person once."
Montanelli sat beating his hand gently on the
arm of his chair; a habit with him when anxious
"About this journey to Rome," he began again;
"if you think there is any--well--if you wish it,
Arthur, I will write and say I cannot go."
"Padre! But the Vatican------"
"The Vatican will find someone else. I can
"But why? I can't understand."
Montanelli drew one hand across his forehead.
"I am anxious about you. Things keep coming
into my head--and after all, there is no need
for me to go------"
"But the bishopric----"
"Oh, Arthur! what shall it profit me if I gain a
bishopric and lose----"
He broke off. Arthur had never seen him like
this before, and was greatly troubled.
"I can't understand," he said. "Padre, if you
could explain to me more--more definitely, what
it is you think------"
"I think nothing; I am haunted with a horrible
fear. Tell me, is there any special danger?"
"He has heard something," Arthur thought,
remembering the whispers of a projected revolt.
But the secret was not his to tell; and he merely
answered: "What special danger should there be?"
"Don't question me--answer me!" Montanelli's
voice was almost harsh in its eagerness.
"Are you in danger? I don't want to know your
secrets; only tell me that!"
"We are all in God's hands, Padre; anything
may always happen. But I know of no reason
why I should not be here alive and safe when you
"When I come back----Listen, carino; I will
leave it in your hands. You need give me no
reason; only say to me, 'Stay,' and I will give up
this journey. There will be no injury to anyone,
and I shall feel you are safer if I have you
This kind of morbid fancifulness was so foreign
to Montanelli's character that Arthur looked at
him with grave anxiety.
"Padre, I am sure you are not well. Of course
you must go to Rome, and try to have a thorough
rest and get rid of your sleeplessness and headaches."
"Very well," Montanelli interrupted, as if tired
of the subject; "I will start by the early coach
Arthur looked at him, wondering.
"You had something to tell me?" he said.
"No, no; nothing more--nothing of any consequence."
There was a startled, almost terrified
look in his face.
A few days after Montanelli's departure Arthur
went to fetch a book from the seminary library,
and met Father Cardi on the stairs.
"Ah, Mr. Burton!" exclaimed the Director;
"the very person I wanted. Please come in and
help me out of a difficulty."
He opened the study door, and Arthur followed
him into the room with a foolish, secret sense of
resentment. It seemed hard to see this dear
study, the Padre's own private sanctum, invaded
by a stranger.
"I am a terrible book-worm," said the Director;
"and my first act when I got here was to examine
the library. It seems very interesting, but I do
not understand the system by which it is catalogued."
"The catalogue is imperfect; many of the
best books have been added to the collection
"Can you spare half an hour to explain the arrangement
They went into the library, and Arthur carefully
explained the catalogue. When he rose to
take his hat, the Director interfered, laughing.
"No, no! I can't have you rushing off in that
way. It is Saturday, and quite time for you to
leave off work till Monday morning. Stop and
have supper with me, now I have kept you so
late. I am quite alone, and shall be glad of
His manner was so bright and pleasant that Arthur
felt at ease with him at once. After some
desultory conversation, the Director inquired how
long he had known Montanelli.
"For about seven years. He came back from
China when I was twelve years old."
"Ah, yes! It was there that he gained his reputation
as a missionary preacher. Have you been
his pupil ever since?"
"He began teaching me a year later, about the
time when I first confessed to him. Since I have
been at the Sapienza he has still gone on helping
me with anything I wanted to study that was not
in the regular course. He has been very kind to
me--you can hardly imagine how kind."
"I can well believe it; he is a man whom no one
can fail to admire--a most noble and beautiful
nature. I have met priests who were out in China
with him; and they had no words high enough to
praise his energy and courage under all hardships,
and his unfailing devotion. You are fortunate to
have had in your youth the help and guidance of
such a man. I understood from him that you have
lost both parents."
"Yes; my father died when I was a child, and
my mother a year ago."
"Have you brothers and sisters?"
"No; I have step-brothers; but they were business
men when I was in the nursery."
"You must have had a lonely childhood; perhaps
you value Canon Montanelli's kindness the
more for that. By the way, have you chosen a
confessor for the time of his absence?"
"I thought of going to one of the fathers of
Santa Caterina, if they have not too many
"Will you confess to me?"
Arthur opened his eyes in wonder.
"Reverend Father, of course I--should be glad;
"Only the Director of a theological seminary
does not usually receive lay penitents? That is
quite true. But I know Canon Montanelli takes
a great interest in you, and I fancy he is a little
anxious on your behalf--just as I should be if I
were leaving a favourite pupil--and would like to
know you were under the spiritual guidance of his
colleague. And, to be quite frank with you, my
son, I like you, and should be glad to give you
any help I can."
"If you put it that way, of course I shall be
very grateful for your guidance."
"Then you will come to me next month?
That's right. And run in to see me, my lad, when
you have time any evening."
. . . . .
Shortly before Easter Montanelli's appointment
to the little see of Brisighella, in the Etruscan
Apennines, was officially announced. He
wrote to Arthur from Rome in a cheerful and
tranquil spirit; evidently his depression was passing
over. "You must come to see me every vacation,"
he wrote; "and I shall often be coming to
Pisa; so I hope to see a good deal of you, if not
so much as I should wish."
Dr. Warren had invited Arthur to spend the
Easter holidays with him and his children, instead
of in the dreary, rat-ridden old place where Julia
now reigned supreme. Enclosed in the letter was
a short note, scrawled in Gemma's childish, irregular
handwriting, begging him to come if possible,
"as I want to talk to you about something."
Still more encouraging was the whispered communication
passing around from student to student in the university;
everyone was to be prepared for great things after Easter.
All this had put Arthur into a state of rapturous
anticipation, in which the wildest improbabilities
hinted at among the students seemed to
him natural and likely to be realized within the
next two months.
He arranged to go home on Thursday in Passion
week, and to spend the first days of the
vacation there, that the pleasure of visiting the
Warrens and the delight of seeing Gemma might
not unfit him for the solemn religious meditation
demanded by the Church from all her children at
this season. He wrote to Gemma, promising to
come on Easter Monday; and went up to his bedroom
on Wednesday night with a soul at peace.
He knelt down before the crucifix. Father
Cardi had promised to receive him in the morning;
and for this, his last confession before the
Easter communion, he must prepare himself by
long and earnest prayer. Kneeling with clasped
hands and bent head, he looked back over the
month, and reckoned up the miniature sins of
impatience, carelessness, hastiness of temper,
which had left their faint, small spots upon the
whiteness of his soul. Beyond these he could find
nothing; in this month he had been too happy
to sin much. He crossed himself, and, rising, began
As he unfastened his shirt a scrap of paper
slipped from it and fluttered to the floor. It was
Gemma's letter, which he had worn all day upon
his neck. He picked it up, unfolded it, and kissed
the dear scribble; then began folding the paper
up again, with a dim consciousness of having done
something very ridiculous, when he noticed on
the back of the sheet a postscript which he had
not read before. "Be sure and come as soon as
possible," it ran, "for I want you to meet Bolla.
He has been staying here, and we have read together
The hot colour went up to Arthur's forehead as
Always Bolla! What was he doing in Leghorn
again? And why should Gemma want to read
with him? Had he bewitched her with his smuggling?
It had been quite easy to see at the meeting
in January that he was in love with her; that
was why he had been so earnest over his propaganda.
And now he was close to her--reading
with her every day.
Arthur suddenly threw the letter aside and knelt
down again before the crucifix. And this was the
soul that was preparing for absolution, for the
Easter sacrament--the soul at peace with God and
itself and all the world! A soul capable of sordid
jealousies and suspicions; of selfish animosities and
ungenerous hatred--and against a comrade! He covered
his face with both hands in bitter humiliation. Only
five minutes ago he had been dreaming of martyrdom; and
now he had been guilty of a mean and petty thought like this!
When he entered the seminary chapel on Thursday
morning he found Father Cardi alone. After
repeating the Confiteor, he plunged at once into
the subject of his last night's backsliding.
"My father, I accuse myself of the sins of jealousy
and anger, and of unworthy thoughts against
one who has done me no wrong."
Farther Cardi knew quite well with what kind of
penitent he had to deal. He only said softly:
"You have not told me all, my son."
"Father, the man against whom I have thought
an unchristian thought is one whom I am
especially bound to love and honour."
"One to whom you are bound by ties of
"By a still closer tie."
"By what tie, my son?"
"By that of comradeship."
"Comradeship in what?"
"In a great and holy work."
A little pause.
"And your anger against this--comrade, your
jealousy of him, was called forth by his success in
that work being greater than yours?"
"I--yes, partly. I envied him his experience--
his usefulness. And then--I thought--I feared--
that he would take from me the heart of the girl
"And this girl that you love, is she a daughter
of the Holy Church?"
"No; she is a Protestant."
Arthur clasped his hands in great distress.
"Yes, a heretic," he repeated. "We were brought
up together; our mothers were friends--and I
--envied him, because I saw that he loves her,
too, and because--because----"
"My son," said Father Cardi, speaking after a
moment's silence, slowly and gravely, "you have
still not told me all; there is more than this upon
"Father, I----" He faltered and broke off
The priest waited silently.
"I envied him because the society--the Young
Italy--that I belong to------"
"Intrusted him with a work that I had hoped
--would be given to me, that I had thought myself
--specially adapted for."
"The taking in of books--political books--from
the steamers that bring them--and finding a hiding
place for them--in the town------"
"And this work was given by the party to your
"To Bolla--and I envied him."
"And he gave you no cause for this feeling?
You do not accuse him of having neglected the
mission intrusted to him?"
"No, father; he has worked bravely and devotedly;
he is a true patriot and has deserved nothing
but love and respect from me."
Father Cardi pondered.
"My son, if there is within you a new light, a
dream of some great work to be accomplished for
your fellow-men, a hope that shall lighten the burdens
of the weary and oppressed, take heed how
you deal with the most precious blessing of God.
All good things are of His giving; and of His giving
is the new birth. If you have found the way
of sacrifice, the way that leads to peace; if you have
joined with loving comrades to bring deliverance
to them that weep and mourn in secret; then see
to it that your soul be free from envy and passion
and your heart as an altar where the sacred fire
burns eternally. Remember that this is a high and
holy thing, and that the heart which would receive
it must be purified from every selfish thought.
This vocation is as the vocation of a priest; it is
not for the love of a woman, nor for the moment
of a fleeting passion; it is FOR GOD AND THE PEOPLE;
it is NOW AND FOREVER."
"Ah!" Arthur started and clasped his hands;
he had almost burst out sobbing at the motto.
"Father, you give us the sanction of the Church!
Christ is on our side----"
"My son," the priest answered solemnly,
"Christ drove the moneychangers out of the
Temple, for His House shall be called a House
of Prayer, and they had made it a den of thieves."
After a long silence, Arthur whispered tremulously:
"And Italy shall be His Temple when they are
He stopped; and the soft answer came back:
"'The earth and the fulness thereof are mine,
saith the Lord.'"
THAT afternoon Arthur felt the need of a long
walk. He intrusted his luggage to a fellow-student
and went to Leghorn on foot.
The day was damp and cloudy, but not cold; and
the low, level country seemed to him fairer than he
had ever known it to look before. He had a sense
of delight in the soft elasticity of the wet grass
under his feet and in the shy, wondering eyes of
the wild spring flowers by the roadside. In a
thorn-acacia bush at the edge of a little strip of
wood a bird was building a nest, and flew up as he
passed with a startled cry and a quick fluttering of
He tried to keep his mind fixed upon the devout
meditations proper to the eve of Good Friday.
But thoughts of Montanelli and Gemma got so
much in the way of this devotional exercise that at
last he gave up the attempt and allowed his fancy
to drift away to the wonders and glories of the
coming insurrection, and to the part in it that he
had allotted to his two idols. The Padre was to
be the leader, the apostle, the prophet before
whose sacred wrath the powers of darkness were
to flee, and at whose feet the young defenders of
Liberty were to learn afresh the old doctrines,
the old truths in their new and unimagined
And Gemma? Oh, Gemma would fight at
the barricades. She was made of the clay from
which heroines are moulded; she would be the
perfect comrade, the maiden undefiled and unafraid,
of whom so many poets have dreamed. She
would stand beside him, shoulder to shoulder,
rejoicing under the winged death-storm; and they
would die together, perhaps in the moment of
victory--without doubt there would be a victory.
Of his love he would tell her nothing; he would say
no word that might disturb her peace or spoil her
tranquil sense of comradeship. She was to him a
holy thing, a spotless victim to be laid upon the
altar as a burnt-offering for the deliverance of the
people; and who was he that he should enter into
the white sanctuary of a soul that knew no other
love than God and Italy?
God and Italy----Then came a sudden drop