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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : X. The next day, and the next after that, were passed by the Cardinal in gratifyingà

The Master-christian by Marie Corelli

X. The next day, and the next after that, were passed by the Cardinal in gratifyingà

The next day, and the next after that, were passed by the Cardinal in gratifying a certain eagerness shown by his young foundling, Manuel, to see the churches and great public buildings of Paris. The boy had a quiet, straightforward way of expressing his wishes and opinions, and a certain marked individuality in his manner -- in fact, so simple and straight were his words, and so much to the point, that they sometimes caused confusion to his hearers. Once or twice he gave offence, as for example, on visiting a great church where there were numerous jewelled relics and priceless treasures of old lace and embroidery, when he said suddenly:

|There is a woman just outside the door, very ill and poor, with two little starving children; -- would it not be well to sell some of the jewels here and give her the money?|

The custodian looked amazed, and the attendant priest who was escorting Cardinal Bonpre through the building, frowned.

|The treasures of the Church are not to be sold,| he said curtly. |The beggar outside is no doubt a trained hypocrite.|

|Christ would not say so,| answered Manuel softly, -- |He would not, even if He knew her to be a hypocrite, retain anything of value for Himself, if by giving it to her, He could ease her pain and poverty. I cannot understand why the Church should keep jewels.|

|That is because you are ignorant,| said the priest roughly.

Manuel raised his grave blue eyes and fixed them steadily upon him.

|That may be,| he said, |Yet I think it is nowhere written in the Gospel that Christ cared for the world's wealth or the world's possessions. When they are offered to Him did he not say, 'Get thee behind me, Satan'! The only gem he prized was the 'pearl of great price,' -- the pure and perfect human soul.|

|The Church is the manufactory of those pearls,| said the priest, with something between a grin and a sneer.

|Then the Church needs no other jewels| returned Manuel quietly, with a little gesture of his hand, |These glittering baubles you show, are out of place.|

The priest glanced him over with angry contempt. Then he said to the Cardinal,

|Your Eminence will have trouble with that boy,| he said. |His opinions are heretic.|

The Cardinal smiled a little.

|You think so? Nay, there is something of truth in what he says, notwithstanding his simplicity of utterance, which is not perhaps in accordance with convention. I confess that I share his opinions somewhat. Certainly I esteem myself happy that in my far-off diocese there are none of the world's precious things, but only the unprized prayers of the faithful.|

The priest said nothing in reply, -- but he was conscious of discomfort and uneasiness, and hurried through the rest of his duties with an ill-grace, annoyed, though he knew not why, by the very presence of Manuel. The boy, however, paid no heed to his angry glances, and noted everything in his own quiet meditative way, -- a way which was a singularly winning one, graced as it was by an almost scholarly thoughtfulness united to the charm of youth. Once, before a magnificent priest's garment of lace, he paused, and touched the substance lightly.

|See,| he said softly, looking wistfully up in the Cardinal's face, |See all the leaves and rosebuds worked in, this by the needle, -- and think how many human eyes have strained at it, and grown dull and blind over it! If one could only believe that the poor eyes were comforted at all in the following of the difficult thread! -- but no,- -the sunshine must have lessened and the days grown darker and darker, till death came and gently shut up the lids of the tired orbs of earthy vision, and opened those of the soul to Light indeed! This work speaks with a thousand tongues! I can hear them! Torture,- -poverty, -- pain, -- pitilessness, -- long hours, -- scant reward, -- tired fingers, -- weary hearts! -- and a priest of Christ wears this to perform Christ's service! Clad in a garment of human suffering, to preach mercy! Is it not strange?|

|You think too deeply, my child,| said the Cardinal, moved by the tender pity in Manual's voice, |Nothing is accomplished without pain in this world, -- our dear Lord Himself suffered pain.|

|True,| said Manuel, |But His pain was endured that there might be less of it for others! He asked His children in this world to love one another for His sake -- not to grind each other down! Not to make unnecessary hardships for each other! But it seems as if He had asked in vain!|

He was silent after this, and refrained from remark even when, during their visit to Notre Dame, the treasury was unlocked for the Cardinal's inspection, and the relics formerly contained in the now disused |Sainte Chapelle,| were shown, -- including the fragments of the |crown of thorns,| and a nail from the |true cross.| The Cardinal was silent too. He had no remark to offer on these obvious |imaginations| of the priesthood. Then they went up together to the platform on the summit of the Cathedral, and looked at the great bell known as the |Bourdon de Notre Dame|; -- and here they found a little wizened old man sitting carelessly on the edge of a balustrade, in a seemingly very dangerous position, who nodded and smiled familiarly as they appeared. He acted as cicerone of the summit of the North Tower, and was soon at their side explaining volubly all that was of interest.

|Tired, -- oh yes, one gets tired!| he admitted, in response to a query from the Cardinal as to whether he did not find his duties fatiguing at his age, |But after all, I like the griffins and dragons and devils' faces up here, better than the griffins and dragons and devils down there, -- below on the Boulevards! I call this Heaven, and down there in the streets, Hell. Yes, truly! It is wholesome up here, -- the sky seems very near, and the sculptured beasts do no harm. But down in the streets one feels and smells the dirt and danger directly. I sit here all by myself for hours thinking, when no one comes to visit the tower, -- for sometimes a whole day passes and no one wishes to ascend. And there is a moral in that, Monseigneur, if one has eyes to see it; -- days pass, years, in the world, -- and no one wishes to ascend! -- to Heaven, I mean! -- to go down to Hell is delightful, and everyone is ready for it! It is at night that the platform here is most beautiful, -- oh yes, at night it is very fine, Monseigneur! -- but it is only madmen and dreamers who call me up in the night hours, yet when they do I never refuse to go with them, for look you, I am a light sleeper and have no wife to bid me keep my bed. Yes, -- if the authorities knew that I took anybody up to the tower at night they would probably dismiss me,| and he chuckled like an old schoolboy with a sense of his own innate mischief and disobedience, |But you see they do not know! And I learn a great deal from the strange persons who come at night, -- much more than from the strange persons who come by day. Now, the last so strange person that came here by night -- you would not perhaps believe it, Monseigneur, but it was a priest! Yes,| and the old fellow laughed, |a priest who had suddenly found out that the Church was not following its Master! Yes, yes! . . . just fancy killing himself for that!|

|Killing himself!| cried the Cardinal, |What do you mean?|

|You would like to hear the story? -- ah, take care, mon ange!| he cried, as he perceived Manuel standing lightly near the brink of the platform, and stretching out his arms towards the city, |Thou art not a bird to fly from that edge in the air! What dost thou see?|

|Paris!| replied the boy in strangely sorrowful accents, turning his young, wistful face towards the Cardinal, his hair blown back in the light wind, |All Paris!|

|Ah! -- 'tis a fine sight, all Paris!| said the old guide -- |one of the finest in the world, to judge by the outside of it. But the inside is a very different matter; and if Paris is not a doomed city, then there is no God, and I know nothing of the Bible. It has got all the old sins in a new shape, and revels in them. And of the story of the priest, if you would hear it; -- ah! -- that is well!| he said, as Manuel left the giddy verge of the platform where he had been standing, and drew near. |It is safer to be away from that edge, my child! And for the poor priest, it happened in this way, -- it was a fair night, and the moon was high -- I was dozing off in a chair in my room below, when the bell rang quickly, yet softly. I got up with pleasure, for I said to myself, 'here is an artist or a poet, -- one of those persons who are unlike anyone else' -- just as I am myself unlike anyone else -- 'and so we two shall have a pleasant evening.' But when I opened the door there was no one but a priest, and poor- looking even at that; and he was young and pale, and very uneasy in his manner, and he said to me, 'Jean Lapui' -- (that is my name) -- 'let me pass up to the platform.' 'Willingly,' said I, 'if I may go with you.' 'Nay, I would rather be alone,' he answered. 'That may not be,' I told him, 'I am as pleased to see the moonbeams shining on the beasts and devils as any man, -- and I shall do you no harm by my company.' Well, he agreed to have me then, and up we went the three hundred and seventy-eight steps, -- (it is a long way, Monseigneur; -- )and he mounted quickly, I slowly, -- but always keeping my eye upon him. At last we reached this platform, and the moonlight was beautiful, and clear as day. Then my little priest sat down and began to laugh. 'Ha, my Lapui!' he said, 'Is it not droll that this should be all a lie! All this fine building, and all the other fine buildings of the kind in Paris! Strange, my Lapui, is it not, that this Cathedral should be raised to the worship of a God whom no one obeys, or even thinks of obeying! All show, my good Lapui! All to feed priests like me, and keep them going -- but God has nothing to do with it -- nothing at all, I swear to you!' -- 'You may be right, mon reverend,' I said, (for I saw he was not in a mood to be argued with) -- |Yet truly the Cathedral has not always been a place of holiness. In seventeen ninety-three there was not much of our Lord or the blessed Saints in it.' 'No, you are right, Lapui!' he cried, 'Down came the statue of the Virgin, and up went the statue of Liberty! There was the crimson flare of the Torch of Truth! -- and the effigies of the ape Voltaire and the sensualist Rousseau, took the places of St. Peter and St. Paul! Ha! -- And they worshipped the goddess of Reason -- Reason, impersonated by Maillard the ballet- dancer! True to the life, my Lapui! -- that kind of worship has lasted in Paris until now! -- it goes on still -- Reason, -- man's idea of Reason, -- impersonated by a ballet dancer! Yes, -- the shops are full of that goddess and her portraits, Jean Lapui! And the jewellers can hardly turn out sufficient baubles to adorn her shrine!' He laughed again, and I took hold of him by the arm. 'See here, petit pere,' I said, 'I fancy all is not well with you.' 'You are right,' he answered, 'all is very ill!' 'Then will you not go home and to bed?' I asked him. 'Presently -- presently;' he said, 'if I may tell you something first!' 'Do so by all means, reverend pere,' said I, and I sat down near him. 'It is just this, Lapui,' and he drew out a crucifix from his breast and looked at it very earnestly, 'I am a priest, as you see; and this symbol represents my faith. My mother told me that to be a priest and to serve God was the highest happiness that could befall a man. I believed it, -- and when I look at the stars up there crowding around us in such vast circles, -- when I look at all this moonlight and the majesty of creation around me, I believe it still! Up here, it seems there MAY be a God; down there,' and he pointed towards the streets, 'I know there is a devil! But I have discovered that it is no use telling the people about God, because they do not believe in Him. They think I am telling them a lie because it is my metier to tell lies. And also because they think I have neither the sense nor the ability to do anything else. They know they are telling lies themselves all day and every day. Some of them pretend to believe, because they think it best to be on the safe side even by feigning, -- and they are the worst hypocrites. It drives me mad, Lapui, to perform Mass for liars! If it were only unbelievers! but liars! -- liars! Liars who lie on their death-beds, telling me with mock sighs of penitence that they believe in God when they do not! I had a dream last night -- you shall tell me if I was mistaken in it, -- it was a dream of this very tower of Notre Dame. I was up here as I am now -- and the moonlight was around me as it is now -- and I thought that just behind the wing of that third angel's head carved yonder -- do you see?' and he got up and made me get up too, and turned me round with his hand on my shoulder -- 'a white dove had made its resting-place. Is there a white dove there, Lapui? If there is I shall be a happy man and all my griefs will be at an end! Will you go and look -- and tell me if there is a white dove nestling there? Then I will say good-night to you and go home.' God forgive me! -- I thought to humor him in his fancy, and so I left him to walk those five steps -- only five at the utmost- -and see if perhaps among the many doves that fly about the towers, it might not be that a white one, as he said, should have chosen to settle in the place he pointed out to me, 'for,' thought I, 'he will be quiet then and satisfied.' And like a blind fool I went -- and when I came back the platform was empty! -- Ah, Monseigneur! -- he had said good-night indeed, and gone home!|

|You mean that he flung himself from this parapet?| said Bonpre, in a low, horrified tone.

|That was the way of it, Monseigneur,| said Lapui commiseratingly, -- |His body was found next day crushed to bits on the pavement below; but somehow no one troubled much about it, or thought he had thrown himself from the tower of Notre Dame. It was said that he had been murdered and thrown out of a window, but nobody knew how or when. Of course I could have spoken, but then I should have got into trouble. And I avoid trouble whenever I can. A very strange thing it is that no one has ever been suspected of leaping from Notre Dame into the next world since Victor Hugo's great story was written. 'It is against the rules,' say the authorities, 'to mount the towers at night.' True, but rules are not always kept. Victor Hugo's 'Quasimodo,' who never lived, is the only person the wiseacres associate with such a deed. And I, -- I could tell many a strange story; only it is better to be silent! Life is hard living, -- and when a priest of the Church feels there is no God in this world, why what is there left for him except to try and find out if there is in the next?|

|Suicide is not the way to find Heaven,| said the Cardinal gravely.

|Maybe not, -- maybe not,| and the old custodian turned to lead the way down the steps of the tower, |But when the brain is gone all through grief at losing God, it may chance that God sees the conditions of things, and has mercy. Events happen in this world of such a kind as to make anyone who is not a saint, doubt the sense as well as the goodness of the Creator, -- of course that is a wicked thing to say, for we make our own evils, no doubt -- |

|That is very certain,| said the Cardinal, |The unhappy man you have told me of should have trusted God to the end, whether those whom he preached to, believed his message or not. Their conduct was not his business, -- his task was to declare, and not to judge.|

|Now that is very well put!| and the old man paused on the stairway and looked round approvingly. |Of course that is said as only a wise man could say it, for after all, Christ Himself did not judge any one in any case. He came to save us all, not to punish us.|

|Then why does not everyone remember that, and try to save one another rather than to condemn?| asked Manuel suddenly.

They had reached the bottom of the tower stairway, and old Jean Lapui, shading his eyes from the glare of the daylight with one wrinkled hand, looked at the boy with a smile of compassionate interest.

|Why does not everyone remember? Why does not everyone do as He did? Ah, that is a question! You are young, and you will find out many answers to it before you are much older. One fact is sure, -- that if everybody did remember Him and lived exactly as He wished, we should have a new Heaven and a new Earth; and I will tell you something else,| and the old fellow looked sly and mischievous, |No offence meant -- no offence! -- but there would be no churches and no priests! Believe me, I speak the truth! But this would be a great happiness; and is not to be our portion yet! Good-day, Monseigneur! -- A thousand pardons for my wicked speech! Good-day!|

|Good-day!| responded the Cardinal gently, |Be careful of your night visitors, my friend! Do not for the future leave them alone to plunge into the Infinite without a warning!|

The old man smiled deprecatingly.

|Truly, Monseigneur, I am generally careful. I do not know when I have spoken so freely to anyone as I have to you; for I am generally in a bad humour with all Church dignitaries, -- and of course I know you for a Cardinal by your dress, while you might truly be a saint from your manner; -- so I should have held my tongue about the flight into the air of the little priest. But you will say nothing, for you are discreet; and even if you did, and I were asked about it, I should know nothing. Oh, yes, I can tell lies as fast as anybody else! -- Yes, truly! I do not suppose anyone, not even an Archbishop himself, could surpass me in lying!|

|And are you not ashamed to lie?| asked Bonpre, with an intense vibration of pain in his voice as he put the question.

|Heaven bless you, no, Monseigneur!| replied Lapui cheerfully, |For is not the whole world kept going by lies? Dear me, if we all told the truth there would be an end of everything! I am a philosopher in my way, Monseigneur, -- and I assure you that a real serious truth told in Paris without any gloss upon it, would be like an earthquake in the city, -- great houses would come down and numbers of people would be killed by it! Good-day, Monseigneur! -- Good-day.|

And still smiling and chuckling, the custodian of the North tower retired into his den there to await fresh visitors. The Cardinal walked slowly to the corner of the street where his carriage awaited him, -- his head bent and his eyes downcast; Manuel stepped lightly along beside him, glancing at his pale face from time to time with a grave and tender compassion. When they were seated in the vehicle and driving homewards the boy spoke gently --

|You grieve too much for others, dear friend! You are now distressed because you have heard the story of one unhappy man who sought to find God by self-destruction, and you are pained also lest another man should lose God altogether by the deliberate telling of lies. All such mistakes and follies of the world weigh heavily on your heart, but they should not do so, -- for did not Christ suffer all this for you when He was crucified?|

The Cardinal sighed deeply.

|Yes, my child, but He told us plainly WHY He suffered. It was that we might learn to follow Him, and that there should be less suffering for the future. And surely we have not obeyed Him, or there could not be so much pain and difficulty in the world as there is now.|

|If He come again, you think He would be grieved and disappointed in His followers?| queried Manuel softly.

|If He came again, I fear He would not find much of His teaching in any of the creeds founded on His name! If He came again, then indeed might the churches tremble, totter and fall!|

|If He came again,| pursued Manuel, still in the same soft, even voice, |how do you think He would come?|

|'Watch ye therefore for ye know not when He cometh,'| murmured the Cardinal, -- | My dear child, I think if He came again it would be perhaps in the disguise of one who is poor and friendless 'despised and rejected of men,' as when He first glorified the earth by His presence; and I fear that in such plight He would find Himself, as before, unwelcome.|

Manuel made no reply just then, as they had arrived at home. The servant who admitted them told them that Donna Sovrani had a visitor in her studio, -- so that the Cardinal and his young attendant went straight to their own apartments.

|Read to me, Manuel,| then said Bonpre, seating himself near the window, and looking out dreamily on the rich foliage of the woods and grassy slopes that stretched before him, |Find something in the Gospels that will fit what we have seen to-day. I am tired of all these temples and churches! -- these gorgeous tombs and reliquaries; they represent penances and thank-offerings no doubt, but to me they seem useless. A church should not be a shrine for worldly stuff, unless indeed such things are used again for the relief of poverty and suffering; but they are not used; they are simply kept under lock and key and allowed to accumulate, -- while human creatures dwelling perhaps quite close to these shrines, are allowed to die of starvation. Did you think this when you spoke to the priest who was offended with you to-day?|

|Yes, I thought it,| replied Manuel gently, |But then he said I was a heretic. When one loves God better than the Church is one called a heretic?|

Cardinal Bonpre looked earnestly at the boy's inspired face, -- the face of a dreaming angel in its deep earnestness.

|If so, then I am heretic,| he answered slowly, |I love the Creator as made manifest to me in His works, -- I love Him in every flower which I am privileged to look upon, -- I find Him in every art and science, -- I worship Him in a temple not made with hands, -- His own majestic Universe! Above all churches, -- above all formulated creeds and systems I love Him! And as declared in the divine humanity of Christ I believe in, and adore Him! If this makes me unworthy to be His priest and servant then I confess my unworthiness!|

He had spoken these words more to himself than Manuel, and in his fervour had closed his eyes and clasped his hands, -- and he almost fancied that a soft touch, light as a falling rose-leaf, had for a second rested on his brow. He looked up quickly, wondering whether it was Manuel who had so touched him, -- the boy was certainly near him, -- but was already seated with the Testament open ready to read as requested. The Cardinal raised himself in his chair, -- a sense of lightness, and freedom, and ease, possessed him, -- the hopeless and tired feeling which had a few minutes since weighed him down with an undefinable languor was gone, -- and his voice had gained new strength and energy when he once more spoke.

|You have found words of our Lord which will express what we have seen to-day?| he asked.

|Yes,| replied Manuel, and he read in a clear vibrating tone, |Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because ye build the tombs of the prophets and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous.| Here he paused and said, while the Cardinal gazed at him wonderingly, |Is not that true of Paris? There is their great Pantheon where most of their prophets lie, -- their poets and their teachers whom they wronged and slandered in their lifetime -- |

|My child,| interrupted Bonpre gently, |Poets and so-called teachers are not always good men. One named Voltaire, who scoffed at God, and enunciated the doctrine of materialism in France, is buried there.|

|Nevertheless he also was a prophet,| persisted Manuel, in his quiet, half-childlike, half-scholarly way, |A prophet of evil. He was the incarnation of the future spirit of Paris. He lived as a warning of what was to come, -- a warning of the wolves that were ready to descend upon the Master's fold. But Paris was then perhaps in the care of those 'hirelings' who are mentioned here as caring not for the sheep.|

He turned a few pages and continued reading.

|'Well hath Esais prophesied of you, hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, TEACHING FOR DOCTRINE THE COMMANDMENTS OF MAN.'|

He emphasised the last few words and looked up at the Cardinal, then he went on.

|'Whosoever will come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake the same shall save it.'|

|Yes,| said Cardinal Bonpre fervently, |It is all there! -- 'Whosoever will come after me let him deny himself,' LET HIM DENY HIMSELF! That is the secret of it. Self-denial! And this age is one of self- indulgence. We are on the wrong road, all of us, both Church and laity, -- and if the Master should come He will not find us watching, but sleeping.|

He broke off, as at that moment a knock came at the door and a servant entered the room bringing him a letter. It was from the Abbe Vergniaud, and ran as follows: --

|TRES CHER MONSIGNEUR! I preach the day after tomorrow at Notre Dame de Lorette, and if you wish to do a favour to a dying man you will come and hear me. I am moved to say things I have never said before, and it is possible I may astonish and perchance scandalise Paris. What inspires me I do not know, -- perhaps your well-deserved reproach of the other day -- perhaps the beautiful smile of the angel that dwells in Donna Sovrani's eyes, -- perhaps the chance meeting with your Rouen foundling on the stairs as I was flying away from your just wrath. He had been gathering roses in the garden, and gave me one with a grace in the giving which made the flower valuable. It still lives and blooms in a glass on my writing-table at which I have been jotting down the notes of what I mean to say. WHAT I MEAN TO SAY! There is more in those words than there seems, if you could but guess all! I shall trust to the day itself for the necessary eloquence. The congregation that assembles at the Lorette is a curious and a mixed one. 'Artistes' of the stage and the cafe chantant are among the worshippers; -- dames of rank and fashion who worship the male 'artistes,' and the golden youth of Paris who adore the very points of the shoes of the female ones, -- are generally there also. It is altogether what 'perfide Albion,' or Dame Grundee would call a 'fast' audience. And the fact that I have arranged to preach there will draw a still greater mixture and 'faster' quality, as I am, alas! -- a fashion in preachers. I pray you to come, or I shall think you have not forgiven me!

|VERGNIAUD.|

Cardinal Bonpre folded the letter and put it aside with a curious feeling of compassion for the writer.

|Yes, I will go,| he thought, |I have never heard him preach, though I know by report that he is popular. I was told once that he seems to be possessed by a very demon of mockery, and that it is this spirit which makes his attraction for the people; but I hope it is something more than that -- I hope -- | Here interrupting his meditations he turned to Manuel.

|So you gave the Abbe Vergniaud a rose the other day, my child?|

|Yes,| replied Manuel, |He looked sad when I met him, -- and sometimes a flower gives pleasure to a person in sorrow.|

The Cardinal thought of his own roses far away, and sighed with a sensation of longing and homesickness.

|Flowers are like visible messages from God,| he said, |Messages written in all the brightest and loveliest colours! I never gather one without finding out that it has something to say to me.|

|There is a legend,| said Manuel, |which tells how a poor girl who has lost every human creature she loved on earth, had a rose-tree she was fond of, and every day she found upon it just one bloom. And though she longed to gather the flower for herself she would not do so, but always placed it before the picture of the Christ. And God saw her do this, as He sees everything. At last, quite suddenly she died, and when she found herself in Heaven, there were such crowds and crowds of angels about her that she was bewildered, and could not find her way. All at once she saw a pathway edged with roses before her, and one of the angels said, 'These are all the roses you gave to our Lord on earth, and He has made them into a pathway for you which will lead you straight to those you love!' And so with great joy she followed the windings of the path, seeing her roses blossoming all the way, and she found all those whom she had loved and lost on earth waiting to welcome her at the end!|

|A pretty fancy,| said the Cardinal smiling, |And, as not even a thought is wasted, who knows if it might not prove true?|

|Surely the beautiful must be the true always!| said Manuel.

|Not so, my child, -- a fair face may hide an evil soul.|

|But only for a little while,| answered the boy, |The evil soul must leave its impress on the face in time, if life lasts long enough.|

|That is quite possible,| said Bonpre, |In fact, I think it often happens, -- only there are some people who simulate the outward show of goodness and purity perfectly, while inwardly 'they are as ravening wolves,' and they never seem to drop the mask. Others again -- | Here he paused and looked anxiously at his young companion, |I wonder what you will be like when you grow up, Manuel!|

|But if I never grow up, what then?| asked Manuel with a smile.

|Never grow up? You mean -- |

|I mean if I die,| said Manuel, |or pass through what is called dying before I grow up?|

|God forbid!| said the Cardinal gently, |I would have you live -- |

|But why,| persisted Manuel, |since death is a better life?|

Bonpre looked at him wistfully.

|But if you grow up and are good and great, you may be wanted in the world,| he said.

An expression of deep pain swept like a shadow across the boy's fair open brow.

|Oh no!| he said quietly, |the world does not want me! And yet I love the world -- not because it is a world, for there are millions upon millions of worlds, -- they are as numerous as flowers in a garden -- but because it is a sorrowful world, -- a mistaken world, -- and because all the creatures in it have something of God in them. Yes, I love the world! -- but the world does not love me.|

He spoke in a tone of gentle pathos, with the resigned and patient air of one who feels the burden of solitude and the sense of miscomprehension. And closing the Testament he held he rested his clasped hands upon it, and for a moment seemed lost in sorrowful reverie.

|I love you,| said the Cardinal tenderly, |And I will take care of you as well as I can.|

Manuel looked up at him.

|And that will be well indeed, my lord Cardinal!| he said softly, |And you serve a Master who will hereafter say to you, remembering your goodness, -- 'Verily, in asmuch as ye have done it unto the least of my brethren ye have done it unto Me.'|

He smiled; and the Cardinal meeting his glance wondered whether it was the strong level light of the sinking sun through the window- pane that made such a glory shine upon his face, and gave such a brilliancy to his deep and steadfast eyes.

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