The Cardinal was seated, -- he rose as Moretti appeared.
|I beg your Eminence to spare yourself!| said Moretti suavely, with a deep salutation, |And to pardon me for thus coming unannounced into the presence of one so highly esteemed by the Holy Father as Cardinal Bonpre!|
The Cardinal gave a gesture of courteous deprecation; and Monsignor Moretti, lifting his, till then, partially lowered eyelids, flashed an angry regard upon the Abbe Vergniaud, who resting his back against the book-case behind him, met his glance with the most perfect composure. Close to him stood his son and would-be murderer Cyrillon, -- his dark handsome face rendered even handsomer by the wistful and softened expression of his eyes, which ever and anon rested upon his father with a look of mingled wonder and respect. There was a brief silence -- of a few seconds at most, -- and then Moretti spoke again in a voice which thrilled with pent-up indignation, but which he endeavoured to render calm and clear as he addressed the Cardinal.
|Your Eminence is without doubt aware of the cause of my visit to you. If, as I understand, your Eminence was present at Notre Dame de Lorette this morning, and witnessed the regrettable conduct of the faithless son of the Church here present -- |
|Pardon! This is my affair.| interposed Vergniaud, stepping forward, |His Eminence, Cardinal Bonpre, is not at all concerned in the matter of the difficult dispute which has arisen between me and my own conscience. You call me faithless, Monsignor, -- will you explain what you mean by 'faithless' under these present conditions of argument?|
|It shows the extent and hopelessness of your retrogression from all good that you should presume to ask such a question,| answered Moretti, growing white under the natural darkness of his skin with an impotency of rage he could scarcely suppress, |Your sermon this morning was an open attack on the Church, and the amazing scene at its conclusion is a scandal to Christianity!|
|The attack on the Church I admit,| said the Abbe quietly, |I am not the only preacher in the world who has so attacked it. Christ Himself would attack it if He were to visit this earth again!|
Moretti turned angrily towards the Cardinal.
|Your Eminence permits this blasphemy to be uttered in your presence?| he demanded.
|Nay, wherever and whenever I perceive blasphemy, my son, I shall reprove it,| said the Cardinal, fixing his mild eyes steadily on Moretti's livid countenance, |I cannot at present admit that our unhappy and repentant brother here has blasphemed. In his address to his congregation to-day he denounced social hypocrisy, and also pointed out certain failings in the Church which may possibly need consideration and reform; but against the Gospel of Christ, or against the Founder of our Faith I heard no word that could be judged ill-fitting. As for the conclusion which so very nearly ended in disaster and crime, there is nothing to be said beyond the fact that both the persons concerned are profoundly sorry for their sins.|
|No sorrow can wipe out such infamy -- | began Moretti hotly.
|Patience! Patience, my son!| and the Cardinal raised his hand with a slight gesture of authority, |Surely we must believe the words of our Blessed Lord, 'There is more joy in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety and nine just persons which have no need of repentance'!|
|And on this old and well-worn phrase you excuse a confessed heretic?| said Moretti, with a sneer.
|This old and well-worn phrase is the saying of our Master,| answered the Cardinal firmly, |And it is as true as the truth of the sunshine which, in its old and well-worn way, lights up this world gloriously every morning! I would stake my very life on the depth and the truth of Vergniaud's penitence! Who, seeing and knowing the brand of disgrace he has voluntarily burnt into his own social name and honour, could doubt his sincerity, or refuse to raise him up, even as our Lord would have done, saying, 'Thy sins be forgiven thee! Go, and sin no more!'?|
Moretti's furtive eyes disappeared for a moment under his discoloured eyelids, which quivered rapidly like the throbbings in the throat of an angry snake. Before he could speak again however, Vergniaud interposed.
|Why trouble His Eminence with my crimes or heresies?| he said quietly, |I am grateful to him from my soul for his gentleness and charity of judgment -- but I need no defence -- not even from him. I am answerable to God alone! -- neither to Church nor Creed! It was needful that I should speak as I spoke to-day -- |
|Needful to scandalize the Church?| demanded Moretti sharply.
|The Church is not scandalized by a man who confesses himself an unworthy member of it!| returned Vergniaud, |It is better to tell the truth and go out of the Church than to remain in it as a liar and a hypocrite.|
|According to your own admission you have been a liar and a hypocrite for twenty-five years!| said Moretti bitterly, |You should have made your confession before, and have made it privately. There is something unnatural and reprehensible in the sudden blazon you have made to the public of your gross immorality.|
|'A sudden blazon' you call it, -- | said the Abbe, |Well, perhaps it is! But murder will out, no matter how long it is kept in. You are not entirely aware of my position, Monseigneur. Have you the patience to hear a full explanation?|
|I have the patience to hear because it is my duty to hear,| replied Moretti frigidly, |I am bound to convey the whole of this matter to His Holiness.|
|True! That is your duty, and who shall say it is not also your pleasure!| and Vergniaud smiled a little. |Well! -- Convey to His Holiness the news that I, Denis Vergniaud, am a dying man, and that knowing myself to be in that condition, and that two years at the utmost, is my extent of life on this planet, I have taken it seriously into my head to consider as to whether I am fit to meet death with a clean conscience. Death, Monsignor, admits of no lying, no politeness, no elegant sophistries! Now, the more I have considered, the more I am aware of my total unfitness to confront whatever may be waiting for me in the Afterwards of death -- (for without doubt there is an afterwards,) -- and being conscious of having done at least one grave injury to an innocent person, I have taken the best and quickest way to make full amends. I wronged a woman -- this boy's mother -- | and he indicated with a slight gesture Cyrillon, who had remained a silent witness of the scene, -- |and the boy himself from early years set his mind and his will to avenge his mother's dishonour. I -- the chief actor in the drama, -- am thus responsible for a woman's misery and shame; and am equally responsible for the murderous spirit which has animated one, who without this feeling, would have been a promising fellow enough. The woman I wronged, alas! -- is dead, and I cannot reinstate her name, save in an open acknowledgment of her child, my son. I do acknowledge him, -- I acknowledge him in your presence, and therefore virtually in the presence of His Holiness. I thus help to remove the stigma I myself set on his name. Plainly speaking, Monsignor, we men have no right whatever to launch human beings into the world with the 'bar sinister' branded upon them. We have no right, if we follow Christ, to do anything that may injure or cause trouble to any other creature. We have no right to be hasty in our judgment, even of sin.|
|Sin is sin, -- and demands punishment -- | interrupted Moretti.
|You quote the law of Moses, Monsignor! I speak with the premise 'if'. IF we follow Christ; -- if we do not, the matter is of course different. We can then twist Scripture to suit our own purpose. We can organise systems which are agreeable to our own convenience or profit, but which have nothing whatever of Christ's Divine Spirit of universal love and compassion in them. My action this morning was unusual and quixotic no doubt. Yet, it seemed to me the only way to comport myself under those particular circumstances. I did a wrong -- I seek to make amends. I believe this is what God would have me do. I believe that the Supernal Forces judge our sins against each other to be of a far worse nature than sins against Church or Creed. I also believe that if we try to amend our injustices and set crooked things straight, death will be an easier business, and Heaven will come a little nearer to our souls. As for my attack on the Church -- |
|Ah truly! What of your attack on the Church?| said Moretti, his small eyes glistening, and his breath going and coming quickly.
|I would say every word of it again with absolute conviction,| declared Vergniaud, |for I have said nothing but the truth! There is a movement in the world, Monsignor, that all the powers of Rome are unable to cope with! -- the movement of an advancing resistless force called Truth, -- the Voice of God, -- the Voice of Christ! Truth cannot be choked, murdered and killed nowadays as in the early Inquisition! Rather than that the Voice of Truth should be silenced or murdered now at this period of time, God will shake down Rome!|
|Not so!| exclaimed Moretti hotly -- |Every nation in the world shall perish before Rome shall lose her sacred power! She is the 'headstone of the corner' -- and 'upon whomsoever that stone shall fall, it shall grind him to powder!'|
|You think so?| and Verginaud shrugged his shoulders ever so slightly -- |Well! For me, I believe that material as well as spiritual forces combine to fight against long-concealed sin and practised old hypocrisies. It would not surprise me if the volcanic agencies which are for ever at work beneath the blood-stained soil of Italy, were to meet under the Eternal City, and in one fell burst of flame and thunder prove its temporary and ephemeral worth! The other day an earthquake shook the walls of Rome and sent a warning shock through St. Peter's. St. Peter's, with its vast treasures, its gilded shrines, its locked-up wealth, its magnificence, -- a strange contrast to Italy itself! -- Italy with its people ground down under the heel of a frightful taxation, starving, and in the iron bonds of poverty! 'The Pope is a prisoner and can do nothing'? Monsignor, the Pope is a prisoner by his own choice! If he elected to walk abroad among the people and scatter Peter's Pence among the sick and needy, he would then perhaps be BEGINNING to do the duties our Lord enjoined on all His disciples!|
Moretti had stood immovable during this speech, his dark face rigid, his eyes downcast, listening to every word, but now he raised his hand with an authoritative gesture.
|Enough!| he said, |I will hear no more! You know the consequences of this at the Vatican?|
|You are prepared to accept them?|
|As prepared as any of the truth-tellers who were burned for the love of Christ by the Inquisition,| replied Vergniaud deliberately. |The world is wide, -- there is room for me in it outside the Church.|
|One would imagine you were bitten by the new 'Christian Democratic' craze,| said Moretti with a cold smile, |And that you were a reader and follower of the Socialist, Gys Grandit!|
At this name, Vergniaud's son Cyrillon stirred, and lifting his dark handsome head turned his flashing eyes full on the speaker.
|Did you address me, Monsignor?| he queried, in a voice rich with the musical inflexions of Southern France, |I am Gys Grandit!|
Had he fired another pistol shot in the quiet room as he had fired it in the church, it could hardly have created a more profound sensation.
|You -- you -- | stammered Moretti, retreating from him as from some loathsome abomination, |You -- Gys Grandit!|
|You, Cyrillon! -- you! -- you, my son!| -- and the Abbe almost lost breath in the extremity of his amazement, while Cardinal Bonpre half rose from his chair doubting whether he had heard aright. Gys Grandit! -- the writer of fierce political polemics and powerful essays that were the life and soul, meat and drink of all the members of the Christian Democratic party!
|Gys Grandit is my nom-de-plume,| pursued the young man, composedly, |I never had any hope of being acknowledged as Cyrillon Vergniaud, son of my father, -- I had truly no name and resolved to create one. That is the sole explanation. My history has made me -- not myself.|
There was a dead pause. At last Moretti spoke.
|I have no place here!| he said, biting his lips hard to keep them from trembling with rage, |This house which I thought was the abode of a true daughter of the Church, Donna Sovrani, is apparently for the moment a refuge for heretics. And I find these heretics kept in countenance by Cardinal Felix Bonpre, whose reputation for justice and holiness should surely move him to denounce them were he not held in check by some malignant spirit of evil, which seems to possess this atmosphere -- |
|Monsignor Moretti,| interposed the Cardinal with dignity, |it is no part of justice or holiness to denounce anything or anybody till the full rights of the case have been heard. I was as unaware as yourself that this young man, Cyrillon Vergniaud, was the daring writer who has sent his assumed name of 'Gys Grandit' like a flame through Europe. I have read his books, and cannot justly denounce them, because they are expressed in the language of one who is ardently and passionately seeking for Truth. Equally, I cannot denounce the Abbe, because he has confessed his sin, declared himself as he is, to the public, saved his son from being a parricide, and has to some extent we trust, made his peace with God. If you can find any point on which, as a servant of Christ, I can denounce these two human beings who share with me the strange and awful privileges of life and death, and the promise of an immortal hereafter, I give you leave to do so. The works of Gys Grandit do not blaspheme Christ, -- they call, they clamour, they appeal for Christ through all and in all -- |
|And with all this clamour and appeal their writer is willing to become a murderer!| said Moretti satirically.
Young Vergniaud sprang forward.
|Monsignor, in the name of the Master you profess to serve I would advise you to set a watch upon your tongue!| he said, |Granted that I was willing to murder the man who had made my mother's life a misery, I was also willing to answer to God for it! I saw my mother die -- | here he gave a quick glance towards the Abbe who instinctively shrank at his words, |I shall pain you, my father, by what I say, but the pain is perhaps good for us both! I repeat -- I saw my mother die. She passed away uncomforted after a long life of patient loneliness and sorrow -- for she was faithful to the last, ever faithful! I have seen her weep in the silence of the night! -- I have heard her ever since I was able to understand the sound of weeping! Oh, those tears! -- Do you not think God has seen them! She worked and toiled, and starved herself to educate me, -- she had no friends, for she had 'fallen', they said, and sometimes she could get no employment, and often we starved together; and when I thought of the man who had done this thing, even as a young boy I said to myself, 'I will kill him!' She did not mean, poor mother, to curse her lover to me -- but unconsciously she did, -- her sorrow was so great -- her loneliness so bitter!|
Moretti gave a gesture of impatience and contempt. Cyrillon noted it, and his dark eyes flashed, but he went on steadily, --
|And then I saw her die -- she stretched her poor thin hard-working hands out to God, and over and over again she muttered and moaned in her fever the refrain of an old peasant song we have in Touraine, 'Oh, la tristesse d'avoir aime!' If you had heard her -- if you had seen her -- if you had, or have a heart to feel, nerves to wrench, a brain to rack, blood to be stung to frenzy, you would, -- seeing your mother perish thus, -- have thought, that to kill the man who had made such a wreck of a sweet pure life, would be a just, aye even a virtuous deed! I thought so. But my intended vengeance was frustrated -- whether by the act of God, who can say? But the conduct of the man whom I am now proud to call my father -- |
|You have great cause for pride!| said Moretti sarcastically.
|I think I have| -- said the young man, |In the close extremity of death at my hands, he won my respect. He shall keep it. It will be my glory now to show him what a son's love and pardon may be. If it be true as I understand, that he is attacked by a disease which needs must be fatal, his last hours will not be desolate! It may be that I shall give him more comfort than Churches, -- more confidence than Creeds! It may be that the clasp of my hand in his may be a better preparation for his meeting with God, -- and my mother, -- than the touch of the Holy Oils in Extreme Unction!|
|Like all your accursed sect, you blaspheme the Sacraments| -- interrupted Moretti indignantly -- |And in the very presence of one of her chiefest Cardinals, you scorn the Church!|
Cyrillon gave a quick gesture of emphatic denial.
|Monsignor, I do not scorn the Church, -- but I think that honesty and fair dealing with one another is better than any Church! Christ had no Church. He built no temples, He amassed no wealth, -- He preached simply to those who would hear Him under the arching sky, -- in the open air! He prophesied the fall of temples; 'In this place,' He said, 'is One greater than the temple.' [Footnote: Matt. xii. v.6.] He sought to destroy long built-up hypocrisies. 'My house is called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.' Thieves, not only of gold, but of honour! -- thieves of the very Gospel, which has been tampered with and twisted to suit the times, the conditions and opinions of varying phases of priestcraft. Who that has read, and thought, and travelled and studied the manuscripts hidden away in the old monasteries of Armenia and Syria, believes that the Saviour of the world ever condescended to 'pun' on the word Petrus, and say, 'On this Rock (or stone) I will build my Church,' when He already knew that He had to deal with a coward who would soon deny Him?|
|Enough! I will hear no further!| cried Moretti, turning livid with fury -- |Cardinal Bonpre, I appeal to you . . .|
But Cyrillon went on unheedingly, --
|Beware of that symbol of your Church, Monsignor! It is a very strange one! It seems about to be expanded into a reality of dreadful earnest! 'I know not the man,' said Peter. Does not the glittering of the world's wealth piled into the Vatican, -- useless wealth lying idle in the midst of hideous beggary and starvation, -- proclaim with no uncertain voice, 'I KNOW NOT THE MAN'? The Man of sorrows, -- the Man of tender and pitying heart, -- the Man who could not send the multitude away without bread, and compassed a miracle to give it to them, -- the Man who wept for a friend's death, -- who took little children in His arms and blessed them, -- who pardoned the unhappy outcast and said, 'Sin no more,' -- who was so selfless, so pure, so strong, so great, that even sceptics, while denying His Divinity, are compelled to own that His life and His actions were more Divine than those of any other creature in human shape that has ever walked the earth! Monsignor, there is no true representative of Christ in this world!|
|Not for heretics possibly,| said Moretti disdainfully.
|For no one!| said Cyrillon passionately -- |For no poor sinking, seeking soul is there any such visible comforter! But there is a grand tendency in Mankind to absorb His Spirit and His teaching; -- to turn from forms and shadows of faith to the Faith itself, -- from descriptions of a possible heaven to the REAL Heaven, which is being disclosed to us in transcendent glimpses through the jewel-gates of science! There were twelve gates in the visioned heaven of St. John, -- and each gate was composed of one pearl! Truly do the scoffers say that never did any planetary sea provide such pearls as these! No, -- for they were but prophetic emblems of the then undiscovered Sciences. Ah, Monsignor! -- and what of the psychic senses and forces? -- forces which we are just beginning to discover and to use, -- forces which enable me to read your mind at this present moment and to see how willingly you would send me to the burning, Christian as you call yourself, for my thoughts and opinions! -- as your long-ago predecessors did with all men who dared to reason for themselves! But that time has passed, Monsignor; the Spirit of Christ in the world has conquered the Church THERE!|
The words rushed from his lips with a fervid eloquence that was absolutely startling, -- his eyes were aglow with feeling -- his face so animated and inspired, that it seemed as though a flame behind it illumined every feature. Abbe Vergniaud, astonished and overcome, laid a trembling hand on the arm of the passionate speaker with a gesture more of appeal than restraint, and the young man caught that hand within his own and held it fast. Moretti for a moment fixed his eyes upon father and son with an expression of intense hatred that darkened his face with a deep shadow as of a black mask, -- and then without a word deliberately turned his back upon both.
|Your Eminence has heard all this,| he said coldly, addressing the Cardinal who sat rigidly in his chair, silent and very pale.
|I have,| replied Bonpre in a low strained tone.
|And I presume your Eminence permits -- ?|
|Why talk of permission?| interrupted the Cardinal, raising his eyes with a sorrowful look, |Who is to permit or deny freedom of speech in these days? Have I -- have you -- the right to declare that a man shall not express his thoughts? In what way are we to act? Deny a hearing? We cannot -- we dare not -- not if we obey our Lord, who says, 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.' If we ask for ourselves to be heard, we must also hear.|
|We may hear -- but in such a case as the present one must we not also condemn?| demanded Moretti, watching the venerable prelate narrowly.
|We can only condemn in the case of a great sin,| replied Bonpre gently, |and even then our condemnation must be passed with fear and trembling, and with full knowledge of all the facts pertaining to the error. 'Judge not that ye be not judged.' We are told plainly that our brother may sin against us not only seven times but seventy times seven, and still we are bound to forgive, to sustain, to help, and not to trample down the already fallen.|
|These are your Eminence's opinions?| said Moretti.
|Most assuredly! Are they not yours?|
Moretti smiled coldly.
|No. I confess they are not! I am a faithful servant of the Church; and the Church is a system of moral government in which, if the slightest laxity be permitted, the whole fabric is in danger -- |
|A house of cards then, which a breath may blow down!| interposed |Gys Grandit,| otherwise Cyrillon Vergniaud, |Surely an unstable foundation for the everlasting ethics of Christ!|
|I did not speak to you, sir,| said Moretti, turning upon him angrily.
|I know you did not. I spoke to you,| answered the young man coolly, |I have as much right to speak to you, as you have to speak to me, or to be silent -- if you choose. You say the Church is a system of moral government. Well, look back on the past, and see what it has done in the way of governing. In the very earliest days of Christianity, when men were simple and sincere, when their faith in the power of the Divine things was strong and pure, the Church was indeed a safeguard, and a powerful restraint on man's uneducated licentiousness and inherent love of strife. But when the lust of gain began to creep like a fever into the blood of those with whom worldly riches should be as nothing compared to the riches of the mind, the heart, and the spirit, then the dryrot of hypocrisy set in -- then came craftiness, cruelty, injustice, and pitilessness, and such grossness of personal conduct as revolts even the soul of an admitted sinner. Moral government? Where is it to day? Look at France -- Italy -- Spain! Count up the lies told by the priests in these countries to feed the follies of the ignorant! Did Christ ever tell lies? No. Then why, if you are His follower, do you tell them?|
|I repeat, I did not speak to you,| said Moretti, his eyes sparkling with fury, -- |To me you are a heretic, accursed, and excommunicate! -- thrust out of salvation, and beyond my province to deal with!|
|Oh, that a man should be thrust out of salvation in these Christian days!| exclaimed Cyrillon with a flashing look of scorn, |And that he should find a servant of Christ to tell him so! Accursed and excommunicate! Then I am a kind of leper in the social community! And you, as a disciple of your Master, should heal me of my infirmity -- and cleanse me of my Leprosy! Loathsome as leprosy is whether of mind or body, Christ never thrust it out of salvation!|
|The leper must wish to be cleansed!| said Moretti fiercely, |If he does not himself seek to be healed of his evil, no miracle can help him.|
|Oh but I do seek!| And young Vergniaud threw back his handsome head with a splendid gesture of appeal, |With all my soul, if I am diseased, I wish to be cleansed! Will YOU cleanse me? CAN you? I wish to stand up whole and pure, face to face with the Divine in this world, and praise Him for His goodness to me. But surely if He is to be found anywhere it is in the Spirit of Truth! Not in any sort of a lie! Now, according to His own words the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Truth. 'When the Spirit of Truth is come He will guide you into all Truth.' And what then? Monsignor, it is somewhat dangerous to oppose the Spirit of Truth, whether that Force speak through the innocent lips of a child or the diseased ones of a leper! 'For whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man it shall be forgiven him, BUT WHOSOEVER SPEAKETH AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST' -- or the Spirit of Truth, known sometimes as Inspiration . . . |IT SHALL NOT BE FORGIVEN HIM in this world, neither in the world to come.' That is a terrible curse, which an ocean of Holy Water could scarcely wash away!|
|Your argument is wide of the mark,| said Moretti, impatiently, yet forced in spite of himself to defend his position, |the Church is not opposed to Truth but to Atheism.|
|Atheism! There is no such thing as a real atheist in the world!| declared Cyrillon passionately, |No reasoning human being alive, that has not felt the impress of the Divine Image in himself and in all the universe around him! He may, through apathy and the falsehoods of priestcraft, have descended into callousness, indifference and egotism, but he knows well that that impress cannot be stamped out -- that he will have to account for his part, however small it be, in the magnificent pageant of life and work, for he has not been sent into it 'on chance.' Inasmuch as if there is chance in one thing there must be chance in another, and the solar system is too mathematically designed to be a haphazard arrangement. With all our cleverness, our logic, our geometrical skill, we can do nothing so exact! As part of the solar system, you and I have our trifling business to enact, Monsignor, -- and to enact it properly, and with satisfaction to our Supreme Employer, it seems to me that if we are honest with the world and with each other, we shall be on the right road.|
|For my part, I am perfectly honest with you,| said Moretti smiling darkly, |I told you, and I tell you again, that to me you are a heretic, accursed and excommunicate. You will, as the democrat 'Gys Grandit,' no doubt feel a peculiar pleasure when your father is also declared accursed and excommunicate. I have said, and I say again, that the Church is a system of moral government, and that no laxity can be permitted. It is a system founded on the Gospel of our Lord, but to obey the commands of our Lord to the letter we should have to find another world to live in -- |
|Pardon me -- I ask for information,| interposed Cyrillon, |You of course maintain that Christ was God in Man?|
|And yet you say that to obey His commands to the letter we should have to find another world to live in! Strange! Since He made the world and knows all our capabilities of progress! But have you never fancied it possible that we may be forced to obey His commands to the letter, or perish for refusing to do so?|
Moretti made as though he would have sprung forward, -- his face was drawn and rigid, his lips tightly compressed, but he had no answer to this unanswerable logic. He therefore took refuge in turning brusquely away as before and was about to address himself to Bonpre, but stopped short, as he perceived Manuel, who had entered while the conversation was going on, and who now stood quietly by the Cardinal's chair in an attitude of composed attention. Moretti glanced at him with a vexed sense of irritation and reluctant wonder; -- then moistening his dry lips he began,
|I am bound to regret deeply that your Eminence has allowed this painful discussion to take place in your presence without reproof. But I presume you are aware of the responsibility incurred?|
The Cardinal slowly inclined his head in grave assent.
|In relating the scene of to-day to His Holiness, I shall be compelled to mention the attitude you have maintained throughout the conversation.|
|You are at perfect liberty to do so, my son,| said Bonpre with unruffled gentleness.
Moretti hesitated. His eyes again rested on Manuel.
|Pardon me,| he said suddenly and irrelevantly, |This boy . . .|
|Is a foundling,| said the Cardinal, |He stays with me till I can place him well in the world. He has no friends.|
|He took some part in the affair of this morning, I believe?| queried Moretti, with a doubtful air.
|He saved my life,| said Abbe Vergniaud advancing, |It was not particularly worth saving -- but he did it. And I owe him much -- for in saving me, he also saved Cyrillon from something worse than death.|
|Naturally you must be very gratefu,| retorted Moretti satirically, |The affection of a son you have denied for twenty-five years must be exceedingly gratifying to you!| He paused -- then said, |Does this boy belong to the Church?|
|No,| said Manuel, answering for himself, |I have no Church.|
|No Church!| exclaimed Moretti, |His Eminence must educate you, boy. You must be received.|
|Yes,| said Manuel, raising his eyes, and fixing them full on Moretti, |I must be received! I need education to understand the Church. And so, -- for me to be received might be difficult!|