War in Heaven, by Charles Williams

Chapter Seven

Adrian

The Archdeacon, as he considered matters, found himself confronted by several dilemmas As, for example: (1) Was the stolen chalice the Holy Graal or not? (2) Had it or had it not been taken from him on the supposition that it was? (3) Had Mr. Persimmons anything to do with the supposition or with the removal? (4) Ought he or ought he not to take an active interest in retrieving it? (5) If so, what steps ought he to take?

He felt that, so far as the property itself was concerned, he was very willing to let it slip — Graal or no Graal. But he admitted that, if by any ridiculous chance Mr. Persimmons had had to do with its removal, he should have liked the suspicions he already entertained to be clear. On the other hand, it was impossible to call in the police; he had a strong objection to using the forces of the State to recover property. Besides, the whole thing would then be likely to become public.

He was revolving these things in his mind as he strolled down the village one evening in the week after the Rackstraws had occupied the cottage on the other side of Cully. Except that Barbara, in a rush of grateful devotion, had come to the early Eucharist on the Sunday morning, and he had noticed her as a stranger, the Archdeacon knew nothing of their arrival. He had been diplomatically manoeuvred by Mr. Batesby into inviting him to stop another week or two. Mr. Batesby thought the Archdeacon ought to go for a holiday; the Archdeacon thought that he would not trouble at present. For he felt curiously reluctant to leave the neighbourhood of Cully and perhaps of the Graal.

As he came to the village he heard a voice calling him and looked up. Coming towards him was Gregory Persimmons, with a stranger. Gregory waved his hand again as they came up.

“My dear Archdeacon,” he said, shaking hands warmly, “I’m delighted to see you about again. Quite recovered, I hope? You ought to go away for a few weeks.”

“I owe you many thanks,” the Archdeacon answered politely, “not only for rescuing me from the road and taking me to the Rectory, but for so kindly and so often inquiring after me. It has really been very thoughtful of you.” He substituted “thoughtful” for “kind” at the last minute with an eye on truth.

“Not a bit, not a bit,” Persimmons said. “So glad you’re better. Have you met Sir Giles Tumulty by any chance? Sir Giles, ‘meet’ the Archdeacon of Fardles, as they say elsewhere.”

“I hear you have been set on by tramps,” Sir Giles said, as they shook hands. “Many about here?”

As the Archdeacon began to reply, Barbara Rackstraw came along the road with Adrian on their way home, and Persimmons, with a word of apology, skipped aside to meet them. The Archdeacon slurred over the subject of tramps, and proceeded casually: “I have just been reading your last book, Sir Giles. Most interesting.” He became indefinitely more pompous, a slight clericalism seemed to increase in him, “But, you know, that article on the Graal — most interesting, most interesting. And you think, er — m’m, you think true?”

“True?” Sir Giles said, “true? What do you mean — true? It’s an historical study. You might as well ask whether a book on the Casket Letters was true.”

“Umph, yes,” the Archdeacon answered, exuding ecclesiasticism. “To be sure, yes. Quite, quite. But, Sir Giles, as we happen to have met so pleasantly, I have a confession — yes, a confession to make, and a question to ask. You’ll forgive me both, I’m sure.”

Sir Giles in unconcealed and intense boredom stared at the road. Persimmons, Adrian’s hand in his, was walking slowly from them, chatting to Barbara. The Archdeacon went on talking, but the next thing that Sir Giles really heard was —“and it seemed most interesting. But it was my fault entirely, only, as I’ve kept it quite secret, I hope you won’t mind. And, if you could tell me — in strict confidence, affecting me as it does — why you cut that last paragraph out, it would of course be a very generous act on your part, though I quite realize I have no right to ask it.”

His voice ceased, but by this time Sir Giles was alert. The last paragraph cut out? There was only one last paragraph he had cut out lately. And how did this country clergyman know? His fault entirely, was it? He shook a reluctant head at the Archdeacon. “I’m rather sorry you’ve seen it,” he said. “But there’s no harm done, of course. After all, being your church, you have a kind of claim! But, as far as cutting it out —” He raised his voice. “Persimmons! Persimmons!”

The Archdeacon threw a hand out. “Sir Giles, Sir Giles, he is talking to a lady.”

“Lady be damned,” said Sir Giles. “A country wench, I suppose, or a county wench — it doesn’t signify, anyhow. Persimmons!”

Gregory made his farewells to Barbara and Adrian near a turn in the road and returned. “Yes?” he said. “Why such particular excitement?”

Sir Giles grinned. “What do you think?” he said. “The Archdeacon saw that paragraph you made me cut out. So he knew it was his church the Graal was in. And it was Persimmons,” he added to the priest, “who wanted it taken out. He pretended the evidence wasn’t good enough, but that was all nonsense. Evidence good enough for anybody.”

From the turn in the road Adrian shouted a final goodbye, and Gregory, remembering his work, turned and waved before he answered. Then he smiled at the Archdeacon, who was looking at him also with a smile. Sir Giles grinned happily, and a bicyclist who passed at the moment reflected bitterly on the easy and joyous time which such people had in the world.

“Dear me,” the Archdeacon said. “And was that the cause of the needy mission church, Mr. Persimmons?”

“Well,” Persimmons said, “I’m afraid it was. I have been something of a collector in my time, and — once I understood from Sir Giles what your old chalice might be-I couldn’t resist it.”

“It must be a wonderful thing to be a collector,” the Archdeacon answered gravely. “Apparently you may be seized any time with a passion for anything. Have you a large collection of chalices, Mr. Persimmons?”

“None at all, since I didn’t get that,” Gregory answered. “To think it’s in the hands of some thief now, or a pawnbroker perhaps. Have you put the police on the track yet, Archdeacon?”

“No,” the Archdeacon answered. “I don’t think the police would find it. The police sergeant here believes in letting his children run more or less wild, and I feel sure he wouldn’t understand my clues. Well, good-day, Sir Giles. Good-day, Mr. Persimmons.”

“Oh, but look here,” Gregory said, “don’t go yet. Come up to Cully and have a look at some of my things. You don’t bear malice, I’m sure, since I didn’t succeed in cheating you.”

“I will come with pleasure,” the Archdeacon said. “Collections are always so delightful, don’t you think? All things from all men, so to speak.” And, half under his breath, as they turned towards Cully, he sang to himself, “Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is gracious; for His mercy endureth for ever.”

“I beg your pardon?” Gregory asked at the same moment that Sir Giles said, “Eh?”

“Nothing, nothing,” the Archdeacon said hastily. “Merely an improvisation. The fine weather, I suppose.” He almost smirked at the others, with gaiety in his heart and curving his usually sedate lips. Gregory remembered the way in which the priest’s monologue had carried him half over the county, and began almost seriously to consider whether he were not half-witted. Sir Giles, on the other hand, began to feel more interest than hitherto. He glanced aside at Gregory, caught his slight air of bewilderment, and grinned to himself. It appeared that his country visit might be of even more interest than he supposed. He always sought out — at home and abroad — these unusual extremists in religion; they wandered in a borderland, whatever their creed, of metaphysics, mysticism, and insanity which was a peculiarly fascinating spectacle. He had himself an utter disbelief in God and devil, but he found these anthropomorphic conceptions interesting, and to push or delay any devotee upon the path was entertainment to a mind too swiftly bored. The existence and transmission of the magical ointment had become gradually known to him during his wanderings. Of its elements and concoction he knew little; they seemed to be a professional mystery reserved to some remoter circle than he had yet touched. But the semi-delirium which it induced in expectant minds was undoubted, and whenever chance made him acquainted with suitable subjects and he could, without too much trouble to himself, introduce the method, he made haste to do so. Subjects were infrequent; it required a particularly urgent and sadistic nature; he was not at all sure that Persimmons was strong enough. However, it was done now, and he must gain what satisfaction he could from the result.

Of the Graal he thought similarly. That the chalice of Fardles was the Graal he had little doubt; the evidence was circumstantial, but good. He regretted only that the process of time had prevented him from studying its origin, its first user, and his circle, at close quarters. “All martyrs are masochists,” he thought, “but crucifixion is a violent form.” Yet, given in the Jew’s mind the delusion that he loved the world, what else was the Passion but masochism? And the passion of the communicant was, of course, a corresponding sadism. Religion was bound to be one of the two; in extreme cases both. The question was, which was the Archdeacon?

The Archdeacon, ignorant that this question was being asked, strolled happily on between his two acquaintances, and with them turned up the drive to Cully. He promised himself opportunities of making clear to Persimmons that he guessed very clearly who had the Graal. He wished that in the early stages of his recovery he had not let out to Mr. Batesby that he had been robbed of the chalice. Mr. Batesby had, of course, passed the information on. If only it were still a secret! But why should anyone want it so much, he wondered. Collecting — well, collecting perhaps.

“Do you collect anything in particular, Mr. Persimmons?” he asked. “Or merely any unconsidered trifles?”

“I have a few interesting old books,” Gregory said. “And a few old vestments and so on. I once took an interest in ecclesiology. But of late I have rather concentrated on old Chinese work-masks, for instance.”

“Masks are always interesting,” the Archdeacon said. “The Chinese mask, I think, has no beard?”

“None of mine have — long mustachios, but no beard,” answered Gregory.

“False beards,” the Archdeacon went on, “are never really satisfactory. A few weeks ago a man called to see me in what I suspect to have been a false beard, I can’t imagine why. It seems such a curious thing to wear.”

“I believe that many priesthoods make it a part of their convention not to wear beards,” Gregory said conversationally. “Now what is the reason of that?”

“Obvious enough,” Sir Giles put in. “They have dedicated their manhood to the god — they no longer possess virility. They are feminine to the god and dead to the world. Every priest is a kind of a corpse-woman . . . if you’ll excuse me,” he added after a pause to the Archdeacon, who said handsomely: “I wish it were more largely true.”

“Not every priest,” Persimmons said. “There are virile religions, adorations of power and strength.”

“To adore strength is to confess weakness,” Sir Giles said. “To be power is not to adore it. The very weakest only dream of being powerful. Look at the mystics.”

“Don’t, this evening,” Gregory said to the Archdeacon, laughing. “Come in and look at some of my treasures.”

Cully was a large, rambling house, with “the latest modern improvements”. Gregory took his companions up a very fine staircase into a gallery from which his own rooms opened out. In the hall itself were a few noticeable things — a suit of armour, a Greek head, a curious box or two from the Minoan excavations, a cabinet of old china. The gallery was hung with the Chinese masks of which Gregory had spoken, and, having examined them on their way, the visitors were brought at last into their host’s sitting-room. It was lined with books, and contained several cabinets and cases; a few prints hung on the walls.

“I suppose,” Sir Giles said, glancing round him, “if you had succeeded in cheating the Archdeacon out of the Graal, you’d have kept it in here.”

“Here or hereabouts,” Gregory said. “The trouble is that in the alterations which earlier inhabitants of the house made the old chapel was converted, at least the upper part of it, into these rooms — my sitting-room, my bedroom, my bathroom, and so on. So far as I can understand, the bathroom — or what is almost the bathroom — is just over where the altar stood; so that to restore the chalice to its most suitable position would be almost impossible.”

“As a matter of manners,” the Archdeacon admitted, “perhaps. But surely not more so than achieving it — if I may say so — by throwing dust in the eyes of its keeper. No, I don’t speak personally, Mr. Persimmons; I allude only to an example of comparative morals.”

“What upsets the comparison,” Sir Giles said, “is that in the one case you have a strong personal lust and action deflected in consequence. But in the second action is? comparatively — free.”

“I shouldn’t have thought that any action was freer than any other,” the Archdeacon said as he followed Gregory across the room. “Man is free to know his destiny, but not free to evade his destiny.”

“But he can choose his destiny,” Gregory answered, taking a book from the shelves. “He may decide what star or what god he will follow.”

“If you spell destiny and god with capital letters — no,” the Archdeacon said. “All destinies and all gods bring him to One, but he chooses how to know Him.”

“He may defy and deny him for ever,” Gregory said, with a gesture.

“You can defy and deny the air you breathe or the water you drink,” the Archdeacon answered comfortably. “But if you do you die. The difference in the parallels is that in the other case, though you come nearer and nearer to it, you never quite die. Almost — you are in the death-agony — but never quite.”

Sir Giles interrupted the discussion. “I’m going to revise my last Monday’s lecture,” he said. “I know the orthodox creed and the orthodox revolt by heart. I don’t quite know how the Archdeacon would put it, but I know your apologia inside out, Persimmons. I heard it put very well by a wealthy Persian once. I’ve got a note of it somewhere. What time do you dine in this bloody hole of yours?” he threw over his shoulder as he went towards the door.

“Half-past seven,” Gregory called, and turned back to exhibit more of his possessions. These now were rare books, early editions, and bibliographical curiosities in which the Archdeacon took a definite and even specialized interest. The two bent over volume after volume, confirming and commenting, their earlier hostility quiescent, and a pleasant sense of intellectual intimacy established. After the examination had gone on for some time Gregory took from a drawer a morocco case in which was a thin square pamphlet. He drew it out and held it towards the priest. “Now this,” he said, “may interest you. Look at the initials.”

The Archdeacon took it carefully. It was a copy of the old preShakespearean King Leir, stained and frayed. But on the front was scrawled towards the top and just against the title the two letters “W.S.” and just under them in a precise, careful hand “J.M.”

“Good heavens!” the Archdeacon exclaimed. “Do you mean-?”

“Ah, that’s the point,” Gregory said. “Is it or isn’t it? There’s very little doubt of the J.M. I’ve compared it with the King’s College MS., and it’s exact. But the W.S. is another matter. One daren’t believe it! Alone — perhaps, but both together! And yet, why not? After all, it’s very likely Shakespeare didn’t take all his books back to Stratford, especially when he’d written a better play himself. And he may have known Milton the scrivener. We don’t know.”

There was a soft tap at the door. “Come in,” Gregory called, and the door opened to show a man standing on the threshold.

“Excuse me, sir,” he said, “but you’re wanted on the telephone. A Mr. Adrian, I understood, sir.”

“Damn!” Gregory said. “I forgot I told him to ring me up. It’s a child staying near here,” he went on, “who was frightfully interested in the telephone, so . . . And the telephone’s in the hall.”

“Please, please,” the Archdeacon said. “Don’t disappoint him, I shall be quite happy here.” His eyes were on the books on the table. But so were Gregory’s. He had heard and seen the interest the Archdeacon felt, and one or two of these treasures were small, compact things. Yet to disappoint Adrian might throw him back there. He moved to the door and caught the arm of the man who stood there.

“Ludding,” he whispered, “keep your eye on him. Don’t let him put anything in his pocket. Do something about the room till I get back.”

“He may recognize me, sir,” the man said doubtfully.

“Then look through the crack in the door, but watch him whatever you do. I shall only be two or three minutes.” He went swiftly along the gallery and down the stairs, and Ludding softly manipulated the door till he was able to take in the leaning figure at the table.

The Archdeacon’s eyes were on the books, but his attention was on the gallery. He heard Persimmons go, guessed the other was watching, and leaned still more awkwardly forward. Then suddenly he made a grotesque noise, dragged out his handkerchief, put it to his mouth, and rushed out of the room. Ludding, leaping back from the door as he came, received him with a stare.

“I’m going to be sick,” the Archdeacon gurgled, leaning forward. “Where’s the . . . Ouch!” He ended with a convulsive choke.

“Here, sir.” Ludding ran and threw open a door. The Archdeacon shot by him, banged it, looked round. In a corner behind the door the Graal lay on its side. He caught it up and considered, looking at the window. For him to carry it off, he recognized, was impossible; he would be knocked on the head again before he got home, if he ever did get home. There were only two possibilities, to leave it where it was or to throw it out of the window. He made a loud, hideous noise for Ludding’s benefit and peered out.

Terrace and lawns below, grounds and plantations beyond, but all the Cully domain. Could he by any chance recover it if he threw it out? But Persimmons would be bound to guess what had happened. He would search too, with the advantages all on his side. The Archdeacon preferred to keep the advantages and leave the Graal. After all, he would know and the other wouldn’t. Certainty and uncertainty — certainty for him.

“Ouch,” he said loudly, laid down the chalice where he had found it, and said in his heart: “Fair sweet Destiny, draw all men to the most happy knowledge of Thee.” He leant against the wall for a minute till he heard a soft whispering outside, then he pulled the chain loudly, opened the door, and came rather staggeringly out. As he did so, Ludding slipped past him into the little room.

“My dear Archdeacon!” Gregory cried sympathetically. “I’m so sorry.” But his eyes went hurrying past the other, after Ludding, and for the moment while the servant was absent he stood between his guest and the stairs. Ludding was out almost immediately, and behind the priest’s back nodded at his master. Gregory, with a little sigh, looked directly at the Archdeacon, who looked as sorry for himself as his inexperience could contrive.

“It’s the screwing myself up,” he said faintly. “It’s nothing; my stomach’s a weak thing, Mr. Persimmons. But I think perhaps I had better be getting home.”

“Bring the car round, Ludding,” Gregory said. “Yes, I insist. Are you sure you won’t stop here a little while?”

“No, really, really,” the Archdeacon said, his reluctance sounding like weakness. “I’ll just get out into the air.”

“Do,” Gregory exclaimed. “Take my arm.” And with murmurs and distressed ejaculations and gentle protests the two dropped to the hall.

It was later in the evening, when dinner was over and the two were alone, that Gregory told Sir Giles of the incident.

“It may have been true,” he said doubtfully, “but I didn’t quite like it. But he hadn’t touched the Cup. I went back to see.”

“He’ll know it’s there,” Sir Giles explained.

“He may know it as much as he likes,” Gregory answered. “I’ll get a whole pedigree for that Cup. Stephen gave it to me, I think. It’s his word against half a dozen I can arrange for, if he makes a fuss. And a clergyman accusing his Good Samaritan of theft because he’s got a chalice which the clergyman, after a knock on the head, thinks he recognizes. Oh, no, Tumulty, it wouldn’t do.”

“What should you have done if he’d taken it?” Sir Giles asked.

“Taken it back. I saw that when I was coming upstairs after that beastly baby had been taken away from the telephone,” Gregory said spitefully. “Violence — real violence — wouldn’t have been necessary. Taken it back and written to the Chief Constable.”

“Who’d have wanted it traced, probably,” said Sir Giles. “And would have found out about that damned book. Who was the accursed imbecile who let him see it?”

“Some fool at my son’s,” Gregory said. “But I’ll have the pedigree all right. Don’t worry, Tumulty.”

“Don’t worry!” Sir Giles cried. “Who the hell are you talking to, Persimmons? Don’t worry! Me worry over your bastard murders, indeed. The thing that’ll keep you safe is that no-one with more brains than a gutter-bred snipe like that Archdeacon would think your collection of middle-class platitudes worth adding to. Chinese masks — you might be a Jew financier. And, anyhow, what do you want to do with the thing?”

“Ah, now that’s important,” Gregory said. “I didn’t quite know at first, but I do now. I’m going to talk to the child.”

“Ungh?” Sir Giles asked.

“Say it’s what we think it is, it’s been as near the other centre as anything in this world can get,” Gregory went on. “And it’s been kept pretty deep down in that world all the time. It’s close to the place where all things meet and all souls — anyhow, their souls. And I can get at that baby there — the real baby — and make the thing easy up here. Not at first altogether perhaps, but I shall do it. I shall make the offering there when he agrees — till we go to the Sabbath together.”

“You do talk pretty? Persimmons,” Sir Giles said. “You believe that this damn Graal is more use than that coffee cup?”

“I think it is the great chalice of their initiation,” Gregory answered. “And I think we can use it — I and my people. I can meet Adrian there and separate and draw and convert him. It’s got power in it; it’s a gate. But anyone can use the power, and a gate is for coming out as well as going in.”

“Pretty, pretty,” Sir Giles murmured, his head on one side. “And when does your blessed child bleat out through the gate of the fold? Don’t forget I want to see.”

“You won’t see anything; you’ll be horribly bored,” Gregory sneered.

“I shall see you,” Sir Giles said, with a sweet mildness. “And I shan’t be bored. I saw something like it in Brazil. But there they killed a slave. Are you going to kill Ludding, by any chance?”

“Don’t be a fool,” Gregory said. “Well, come, if you like. I don’t mind, all this cleverness of yours is such universes away that it won’t interfere. Only I warn you, absolutely nothing’ll happen.”

“Don’t die, that’s all I ask,” Sir Giles said. “In Brazil one of them did, and it might be more difficult to bribe the police here.”

They went from the dining-room to a small room next to Gregory’s bedroom, which he unlocked with a key he carried on his own chain. There appeared in it only a cabinet in one corner, two or three cushions dropped beside it, and a low pedestal of wood in the centre on which lay an oblong slab of stone. On this slab stood two candlesticks, around the pedestal, at a good distance, had been drawn a white circle, in which at one point was a small gap. Before he entered the room Gregory had fetched the Graal from its corner; he passed through the gap, set it upright on the slab between the candlesticks, and turned to Sir Giles.

“You’d better sit down at once,” he said, “and I should recommend you to keep within the circle. There are curious forces released sometimes on these occasions.”

“I know all about that,” Sir Giles said, as he brought two of the cushions into the circle, also taking care to pass through the gap. “I saw a man once in Ispahan who looked as if he’d been unable to breathe once he got outside. Atmospheric disturbances, but why? Why does your purely subjective industry disturb the air? Well, never mind. I won’t say a word more.” He settled himself comfortably on his cushions over against one of the shorter sides of the pedestal. Gregory went over to the cabinet, and there first changed from the clothes he was wearing into a white cassock, marked with esoteric signs. He then brought from it an antique vessel, from which he poured what was apparently wine into the Graal till it all but brimmed. He brought also a short rod and laid it on the slab in front of the Graal; he arranged and lit at what appeared to be the back of the altar a chafing-dish containing herbs and powders, scattered other powders upon it, and came back to the front of the altar. Lastly, with great care, he brought to it from the cabinet a parchment inscribed with names and writings, and a small paper from which he let fall on to the wine in the Graal what appeared to Sir Giles to be a few short hairs.

He considered the arrangements, went back and closed the cabinet, reentered the circle, took the rod from the altar, and, bending down, with a strong concentration of countenance, closed the gap, drawing the rod slowly as if with an effort against the path of the sun. He came to the front of the altar, and immersed himself in a profound silence.

Sir Giles, curled upon the cushions, watched him intently, noting every change in his face and the growing remoteness of his eyes. Almost an hour had passed before those eyes, seeming to stir of their own volition, lowered themselves from the darkness of the room to the Graal standing in the steady light of the two candles. Very slowly he stretched his hands over the chalice and began to speak. Sir Giles, straining his ears, caught only an occasional phrase. “Pater Noster, qui fuisti in caelis . . . per te omnipotentem in saecula saeculorum . . . hoc est calix, hoc est sanguis tuus infernorum . . . in te regnum mortis, in te delectatio corruptionis, in te via et vita scientiae maleficae . . . qui non es in initio, qui eris in sempiternum. Amen.” He took up the rod from the altar, still moving with extreme slowness and, resting it on the edge of the chalice, allowed it to touch the surface of the wine; his eyes followed its length and rested also there. “De corpore, de mente . . . mitte animum in simulacro . . . per potestatem tuam in omnibus . . . animum Adriani cujus nomen scripsi in sanguine meo dimitte in sanguine tuo . . . Adrianum oblationem pro me et pro seipsum . . . nomen tuum.” The rod moved in magical symbols upon the wine. “De Cujus corpore haec sunt . . . O Pastor, O Pater, O Nox et Lux infernorum et domus rejectionis.”

The vibrating voice ceased, and it seemed to Sir Giles that the faintest of mists hung for a moment over the chalice and was dissolved; then, more urgently and in a lower tone the voice began again, but the phrases the listener caught were now far between. “ . . . Adrianum filium tuum, ovem tuam . . . et omnia opera mea et sua . . . tu cujus sum et cujus erit . . . dimitte . . . dimitte.” It paused again, and then in a murmur through which the whole force of the celebrant seemed to pass, it came again. “Adrian, Adrian, Adrian . . . ”

Faint, but certain, the mist rose again from the wine; and Sir Giles, absorbedly drinking in the spectacle, saw Gregory’s eyes light up with recognition. He seemed without moving to draw near the altar and the chalice and the mist, his face was bent toward it; he spoke, carefully, quietly, and in English. “Adrian, it is I who speak, image to image, through this shadow of thee to thee. Adrian, well met. Know me again, O soul, and know me thy friend and master. In the world of flesh know me, in the world of shadows, and in the world of our lord. Many times I shall shape thine image thus, O child, my sacrifice and my oblation, and thou shalt come, more swiftly and more truly thou, when I desire thee. Image of Adrian, dissolve and return to Adrian, and may his soul and body, whence thou hast come, receive this message that thou bearest. I, dimissus es.”

The mist faded again; the priest of these mysteries sank upon his knees. He laid the rod on the altar; he stretched out both hands and took the chalice into them; he lifted it to his lips and drank the consecrated wine. “Hic in me et ego in hoc et Tu, Pastor et Dominus, in utrisque.” He remained absorbed.

The candles had burned half an inch more towards their sockets before, very wearily, he arose and extinguished them. Then he broke the circle, and slowly, in reverse order, laid away the magical implements. He took the Graal and set it inverted on the floor. He took off his cassock and put on — in a fantastic culmination — the dinner-jacket he had been wearing. Then he turned to Sir Giles. “Do what you will,” he said. “I am going to sleep.”

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 12:30