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laid bare in all its meanness. The loving work and prayer of generations had been put into the foreign cathedral which had furnished the model. The copy had been done in a hurry. The architect had made money. The contractor had made a good deal of money. The work had been scamped.
In came the procession. It was the lot of Irvine Dale that morning to walk by a greasy man of sensual aspect, swelling in his crumpled white gown, an amateur who valued himself in the choir
-possessor of a loose bass voice. Irvine had a horror of this yoke-fellow. Before them walked the curate, Ambrose Hart, who went as far as he was allowed in decoration, and seemed to lie in wait for filching further concessions, slipping out his foot and peering, as one who loves to get the better of his bishop. A strip of some green stuff was about his neck. Things did not go very well that day. The first lesson was a chronicle of slaughter, and the great deeds of the warriors of Israel were read by the Rev. Ambrose Hart in a soft, careful voice, which was not his own, but the echo of a greater man. The singing was pretentious, but uncertain. Romney was overworked, and took little part in the service. Perhaps it was fatigue which prevented him from seeing that the choir boys had invented a new game. Dale touched the small singer who sat before him, accused himself of finding a vent for his irritation, and blamed himself for his self-accusation. To what end was this perpetual thinking through and through every thought ? Should he never do the smallest action without solemnly arraigning himself? Were his motives so vastly important? Thinking in this dull accustomed round, he sat and looked so dreary, that kindly women thought that he worked too hard, and one gentle sister allowed her thoughts to wander to a pattern of consoling slippers. She wondered if she might extend these female ministrations to one who was not a curate. She turned up her meek eyes, and met a scowl, which was not intended for her. The current of Irvine's thoughts was interrupted by Mr Hart's quick ascent of the pulpit-stairs. This rising ecclesiastic had long practised an eager rush into the pulpit. A neck thrust out, a whisk of robes, and there he was, and the impromptu sermon had begun. Before old ladies had rubbed their eyes, he was at them. He had just been ordained priest, and was full of enthusiasm for the priestly office. This youth, who looked younger than he was, with high, smooth forehead and carefully-arranged hair, a tonsure or premature baldness, a costume studiously legal, a flavour of foreign churches visited with guide-book in the long vacations—this good youth, with long lean neck, vanishing chin, and bright eyes so close to the long thin nose—this blameless youth was commanding those "weary and heavy laden” to confess to him their doubts, their fears, their crimes. He would advise them, he would console them, he would absolve them, for power had been given to him as priest. There was small sign of power in his speech. "Poor little wretch !” said Irvine, under his breath, pitying a vanity more childlike than his own—"poor little wretch! He would totter under the weight of a lost lamb.” Dale was haunted by a rhythm, caught he knew not where, beating a dull accompaniment to the poor little sermon. “Pale echo of the Church of Rome,” it beat in his hot brain. A long limp curate in black stole in at one door, picked up a book, and stole out by another. It was the sort of thing they do abroad. The impromptu sermon, which had been learned by heart, ran smooth and neat, and was not long. The procession trooped out, and Irvine Dale, as he plucked off his white singingrobes, wondered if he should ever put them on again.
room, thinking of Katharine Adare, and thinking that he would think of her no more, he heard a sharp but not loud tap at the door. “Come in,” he cried, and there entered, civil but precise, in a long black garment and a very neat collar, the Rev. Ambrose Hart. Irvine stared at this unexpected visitor. As he offered him a chair, he fancied that there was the expectation of rebuff in his guests brown eyes, but obstinacy in the long thin nose.
“You have not been among us for a whole week,” said Mr Hart, “until yesterday.”
“No,” said Irvine; and a pause ensued.
“I have thought it my duty," said the young ecclesiastic, with his most precise manner, “to pay you this visit.”
“Oh, do not thank me. I even fear that you may, for the moment, resent what I am about to say. I hope not, but--"
Irvine laughed. “I don't think,” said he, “ that I shall be made very fierce by anything which you can say.”
“I am so glad," said the visitor, with an expression of disappointment; “but I hope that I am prepared for misunderstanding and misinterpretation.”
“ What is it? You make me curious.”
The Rev. Ambrose Hart fixed his short-sighted brown eyes on his auditor, and began to speak more quickly, but with no less care and smoothness. “I have observed, my dear Dale, that you are disquieted. Pardon me, but it is so. Why do you not unburden yourself? Oh, why do you not make use of those means which the Church- "
“Did Romney send you ?" interrupted Dale, sharply; “I shall be glad to talk to Romney."
This interruption was painful to the young priest. A slight flush appeared about his temples. “Our dear Romney is busy, perhaps too busy—but who am I, that I should judge ?—with matters purely secular. I do not ask you to talk with any one. Rather I entreat-I enjoin you to lay your burden on the Church. O my dear brother, do not neglect the supreme blessing of the confessional. We invite all, we extend our arms to all. Come to me or to some other discreet and learned minister of God's word.”
Irvine stared at him in dumb amazement. The expressionless brown eyes were aglow with enthusiasm; the slender fingers of the right hand were raised in admonition.