Chapter the first the dream chapter the second the wear and tear of episcopacy chapter the third insomnia



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the work begun'; the one I have now in mind comes from the

Epistle to the Ephesians; it is Epiphausei--or, to be fuller,

epiphausei soi ho Christos, which signifies that He will shine

upon us. And this is very much in my thoughts now because I do

believe that this world, which seemed so very far from God a

little while ago, draws near now to an unexampled dawn. God is at

hand.
"It is your privilege, it is your grave and terrible position,

that you have been born at the very end and collapse of a

negligent age, of an age of sham kingship, sham freedom,

relaxation, evasion, greed, waste, falsehood, and sinister

preparation. Your lives open out in the midst of the breakdown

for which that age prepared. To you negligence is no longer

possible. There is cold and darkness, there is the heat of the

furnace before you; you will live amidst extremes such as our

youth never knew; whatever betide, you of your generation will

have small chance of living untempered lives. Our country is at

war and half mankind is at war; death and destruction trample

through the world; men rot and die by the million, food

diminishes and fails, there is a wasting away of all the hoarded

resources, of all the accumulated well-being of mankind; and

there is no clear prospect yet of any end to this enormous and

frightful conflict. Why did it ever arise? What made it possible?

It arose because men had forgotten God. It was possible because

they worshipped simulacra, were loyal to phantoms of race and

empire, permitted themselves to be ruled and misled by idiot

princes and usurper kings. Their minds were turned from God, who

alone can rule and unite mankind, and so they have passed from

the glare and follies of those former years into the darkness and

anguish of the present day. And in darkness and anguish they will

remain until they turn to that King who comes to rule them, until

the sword and indignation of God have overthrown their misleaders

and oppressors, and the Justice of God, the Kingdom of God set

high over the republics of mankind, has brought peace for ever to

the world. It is to this militant and imminent God, to this

immortal Captain, this undying Law-giver, that you devote

yourselves to-day.
"For he is imminent now. He comes. I have seen in the east and

in the west, the hearts and the minds and the wills of men

turning to him as surely as when a needle is magnetized it turns

towards the north. Even now as I preach to you here, God stands

over us all, ready to receive us...."
And as he said these words, the long nave of the cathedral, the

shadows of its fretted roof, the brown choir with its golden

screen, the rows of seated figures, became like some picture cast

upon a flimsy and translucent curtain. Once more it seemed to the

bishop that he saw God plain. Once more the glorious effulgence

poured about him, and the beautiful and wonderful conquest of

men's hearts and lives was manifest to him.
He lifted up his hands and cried to God, and with an emotion so

profound, an earnestness so commanding, that very many of those

who were present turned their faces to see the figure to which he

looked and spoke. And some of the children had a strange

persuasion of a presence there, as of a divine figure militant,

armed, and serene....


"Oh God our Leader and our Master and our Friend," the bishop

prayed, "forgive our imperfection and our little motives, take us

and make us one with thy great purpose, use us and do not reject

us, make us all here servants of thy kingdom, weave our lives

into thy struggle to conquer and to bring peace and union to the

world. We are small and feeble creatures, we are feeble in

speech, feebler still in action, nevertheless let but thy light

shine upon us and there is not one of us who cannot be lit by thy

fire, and who cannot lose himself in thy salvation. Take us into

thy purpose, O God. Let thy kingdom come into our hearts and into

this world."
His voice ceased, and he stood for a measurable time with his

arms extended and his face upturned....


The golden clouds that whirled and eddied so splendidly in his

brain thinned out, his sense of God's immediacy faded and passed,

and he was left aware of the cathedral pulpit in which he stood

so strangely posed, and of the astonished congregation below him.

His arms sank to his side. His eyes fell upon the book in front

of him and he felt for and gripped the two upper corners of it

and, regardless of the common order and practice, read out the

Benediction, changing the words involuntarily as he read:


"The Blessing of God who is the Father, the Son, the Spirit and

the King of all Mankind, be upon you and remain with you for

ever. Amen."
Then he looked again, as if to look once more upon that radiant

vision of God, but now he saw only the clear cool space of the

cathedral vault and the coloured glass and tracery of the great

rose window. And then, as the first notes of the organ came

pealing above the departing stir of the congregation, he turned

about and descended slowly, like one who is still half dreaming,

from the pulpit.
(13)

In the vestry he found Canon Bliss. "Help me to take off these

garments," the bishop said. "I shall never wear them again."
"You are ill," said the canon, scrutinizing his face.
"Not ill. But the word was taken out of my mouth. I perceive

now that I have been in a trance, a trance in which the truth is

real. It is a fearful thing to find oneself among realities. It

is a dreadful thing when God begins to haunt a priest.... I can

never minister in the church again."
Whippham thrust forward a chair for the bishop to sit down. The

bishop felt now extraordinarily fatigued. He sat down heavily,

and

rested his wrists on the arms of the chair. "Already," he resumed



presently, "I begin to forget what it was I said."
"You became excited," said Bliss, "and spoke very loudly and

clearly."


"What did I say?"
"I don't know what you said; I have forgotten. I never want to

remember. Things about the Second Advent. Dreadful things. You

said God was close at hand. Happily you spoke partly in Greek. I

doubt if any of those children understood. And you had a kind of

lapse--an aphasia. You mutilated the interrogation and you did

not pronounce the benediction properly. You changed words and you

put in words. One sat frozen--waiting for what would happen

next."
"We must postpone the Pringle confirmation," said Whippham. "I

wonder to whom I could telephone."
Lady Ella appeared, and came and knelt down by the bishop's

chair. "I never ought to have let this happen," she said, taking

his wrists in her hands. "You are in a fever, dear."
"It seemed entirely natural to say what I did," the bishop

declared.


Lady Ella looked up at Bliss.
"A doctor has been sent for," said the canon to Lady Ella.
"I must speak to the doctor," said Lady Ella as if her husband

could not hear her. "There is something that will make things

clearer to the doctor. I must speak to the doctor for a moment

before he sees him."


Came a gust of pretty sounds and a flash of bright colour that

shamed the rich vestments at hand. Over the shoulder of the

rector and quite at the back, appeared Lady Sunderbund resolutely

invading the vestry. The rector intercepted her, stood broad with

extended arms.
"I must come in and speak to him. If it is only fo' a moment."
The bishop looked up and saw Lady Ella's expression. Lady Ella

was sitting up very stiffly, listening but not looking round.


A vague horror and a passionate desire to prevent the entry of

Lady Sunderbund at any cost, seized upon the bishop. She would,

he felt, be the last overwhelming complication. He descended to a

base subterfuge. He lay back in his chair slowly as though he

unfolded himself, he covered his eyes with his hand and then

groaned aloud.


"Leave me alone!" he cried in a voice of agony. "Leave me

alone! I can see no one.... I can--no more."


There was a momentous silence, and then the tumult of Lady

Sunderbund receded.

CHAPTER THE EIGHTH - THE NEW WORLD
(1)

THAT night the bishop had a temperature of a hundred and a

half. The doctor pronounced him to be in a state of intense

mental excitement, aggravated by some drug. He was a doctor

modern and clear-minded enough to admit that he could not

identify the drug. He overruled, every one overruled, the

bishop's declaration that he had done with the church, that he

could never mock God with his episcopal ministrations again, that

he must proceed at once with his resignation. "Don't think of

these things," said the doctor. "Banish them from your mind until

your temperature is down to ninety-eight. Then after a rest you

may go into them."


Lady Ella insisted upon his keeping his room. It was with

difficulty that he got her to admit Whippham, and Whippham was

exasperatingly in order. "You need not trouble about anything

now, my lord," he said. "Everything will keep until you are ready

to attend to it. It's well we're through with Easter. Bishop

Buncombe of Eastern Blowdesia was coming here anyhow. And there

is Canon Bliss. There's only two ordination candidates because of

the war. We'll get on swimmingly."


The bishop thought he would like to talk to those two

ordination candidates, but they prevailed upon him not to do so.

He lay for the best part of one night confiding remarkable things

to two imaginary ordination candidates.


He developed a marked liking for Eleanor's company. She was

home again now after a visit to some friends. It was decided that

the best thing to do with him would be to send him away in her

charge. A journey abroad was impossible. France would remind him

too dreadfully of the war. His own mind turned suddenly to the

sweet air of Hunstanton. He had gone there at times to read, in

the old Cambridge days. "It is a terribly ugly place," he said,

"but it is wine in the veins."


Lady Ella was doubtful about Zeppelins. Thrice they had been

right over Hunstanton already. They came in by the easy landmark

of the Wash.
"It will interest him," said Eleanor, who knew her father

better.
(2)

One warm and still and sunny afternoon the bishop found himself

looking out upon the waters of the Wash. He sat where the highest

pebble layers of the beach reached up to a little cliff of sandy

earth perhaps a foot high, and he looked upon sands and sea and

sky and saw that they were beautiful.
He was a little black-gaitered object in a scene of the most

exquisite and delicate colour. Right and left of him stretched

the low grey salted shore, pale banks of marly earth surmounted

by green-grey wiry grass that held and was half buried in fine

blown sand. Above, the heavens made a complete hemisphere of blue

in which a series of remote cumulus clouds floated and dissolved.

Before him spread the long levels of the sands, and far away at

its utmost ebb was the sea. Eleanor had gone to explore the black

ribs of a wrecked fishing-boat that lay at the edge of a shallow

lagoon. She was a little pink-footed figure, very bright and

apparently transparent. She had reverted for a time to shameless

childishness; she had hidden her stockings among the reeds of the

bank, and she was running to and fro, from star-fish to razor

shell and from cockle to weed. The shingle was pale drab and

purple close at hand, but to the westward, towards Hunstanton,

the sands became brown and purple, and were presently broken up

into endless skerries of low flat weed-covered boulders and

little intensely blue pools. The sea was a band of sapphire that

became silver to the west; it met the silver shining sands in one

delicate breathing edge of intensely white foam. Remote to the

west, very small and black and clear against the afternoon sky,

was a cart, and about it was a score or so of mussel-gatherers. A

little nearer, on an apparently empty stretch of shining wet

sand, a multitude of gulls was mysteriously busy. These two

groups of activities and Eleanor's flitting translucent movements

did but set off and emphasize the immense and soothing

tranquillity.
For a long time the bishop sat passively receptive to this

healing beauty. Then a little flow of thought began and gathered

in his mind. He had come out to think over two letters that he

had brought with him. He drew these now rather reluctantly from

his pocket, and after a long pause over the envelopes began to

read them.


He reread Likeman's letter first.
Likeman could not forgive him.
"My dear Scrope," he wrote, "your explanation explains nothing.

This sensational declaration of infidelity to our mother church,

made under the most damning and distressing circumstances in the

presence of young and tender minds entrusted to your

ministrations, and in defiance of the honourable engagements

implied in the confirmation service, confirms my worst

apprehensions of the weaknesses of your character. I have always

felt the touch of theatricality in your temperament, the peculiar

craving to be pseudo-deeper, pseudo-simpler than us all, the need

of personal excitement. I know that you were never quite

contented to believe in God at second-hand. You wanted to be

taken notice of--personally. Except for some few hints to you,

I have never breathed a word of these doubts to any human being;

I have always hoped that the ripening that comes with years and

experience would give you an increasing strength against the

dangers of emotionalism and against your strong, deep, quiet

sense of your exceptional personal importance...."
The bishop read thus far, and then sat reflecting.
Was it just?
He had many weaknesses, but had he this egotism? No; that

wasn't the justice of the case. The old man, bitterly

disappointed, was endeavouring to wound. Scrope asked himself

whether he was to blame for that disappointment. That was a more

difficult question....
He dismissed the charge at last, crumpled up the letter in his

hand, and after a moment's hesitation flung it away.... But he

remained acutely sorry, not so much for himself as for the

revelation of Likeman this letter made. He had had a great

affection for Likeman and suddenly it was turned into a wound.
(3)

The second letter was from Lady Sunderbund, and it was an

altogether more remarkable document. Lady Sunderbund wrote on a

notepaper that was evidently the result of a perverse research,

but she wrote a letter far more coherent than her speech, and

without that curious falling away of the r's that flavoured even

her gravest observations with an unjust faint aroma of absurdity.

She wrote with a thin pen in a rounded boyish handwriting. She

italicized with slashes of the pen.
He held this letter in both hands between his knees, and

considered it now with an expression that brought his eyebrows

forward until they almost met, and that tucked in the corners of

his mouth.


"My dear Bishop," it began.
"I keep thinking and thinking and thinking of that wonderful

service, of the wonderful, wonderful things you said, and the

wonderful choice you made of the moment to say them--when all

those young lives were coming to the great serious thing in life.

It was most beautifully done. At any rate, dear Bishop and

Teacher, it was most beautifully begun. And now we all stand to

you like creditors because you have given us so much that you owe

us ever so much more. You have started us and you have to go on

with us. You have broken the shell of the old church, and here we

are running about with nowhere to go. You have to make the

shelter of a new church now for us, purged of errors, looking

straight to God. The King of Mankind!--what a wonderful,

wonderful phrase that is. It says everything. Tell us more of him

and more. Count me first--not foremost, but just the little one

that runs in first--among your disciples. They say you are

resigning your position in the church. Of course that must be

true. You are coming out of it--what did you call it?--coming

out of the cracked old vessel from which you have poured the

living waters. I called on Lady Ella yesterday. She did not tell

me very much; I think she is a very reserved as well as a very

dignified woman, but she said that you intended to go to London.

In London then I suppose you will set up the first altar to the

Divine King. I want to help.
"Dear Bishop and Teacher, I want to help tremendously--with

all my heart and all my soul. I want to be let do things for

you." (The "you" was erased by three or four rapid slashes, and

"our King" substituted.) "I want to be privileged to help build

that First Church of the World Unified under God. It is a

dreadful thing to says but, you see, I am very rich; this

dreadful war has made me ever so much richer--steel and

shipping and things--it is my trustees have done it. I am

ashamed to be so rich. I want to give. I want to give and help

this great beginning of yours. I want you to let me help on the

temporal side, to make it easy for you to stand forth and deliver

your message, amidst suitable surroundings and without any horrid

worries on account of the sacrifices you have made. Please do not

turn my offering aside. I have never wanted anything so much in

all my life as I want to make this gift. Unless I can make it I

feel that for me there is no salvation! I shall stick with my

loads and loads of stocks and shares and horrid possessions

outside the Needle's Eye. But if I could build a temple for God,

and just live somewhere near it so as to be the poor woman who

sweeps out the chapels, and die perhaps and be buried under its

floor! Don't smile at me. I mean every word of it. Years ago I

thought of such a thing. After I had visited the Certosa di Pavia

--do you know it? So beautiful, and those two still alabaster

figures--recumbent. But until now I could never see my way to

any such service. Now I do. I am all afire to do it. Help me!

Tell me! Let me stand behind you and make your mission possible.

I feel I have come to the most wonderful phase in my life. I feel

my call has come....

"I have written this letter over three times, and torn each of

them up. I do so want to say all this, and it is so desperately

hard to say. I am full of fears that you despise me. I know there

is a sort of high colour about me. My passion for brightness. I

am absurd. But inside of me is a soul, a real, living, breathing

soul. Crying out to you: 'Oh, let me help! Let me help!' I will

do anything, I will endure anything if only I can keep hold of

the vision splendid you gave me in the cathedral. I see it now

day and night, the dream of the place I can make for you--and

you preaching! My fingers itch to begin. The day before yesterday

I said to myself, 'I am quite unworthy, I am a worldly woman, a

rich, smart, decorated woman. He will never accept me as I am.' I

took off all my jewels, every one, I looked through all my

clothes, and at last I decided I would have made for me a very

simple straight grey dress, just simple and straight and grey.

Perhaps you will think that too is absurd of me, too

self-conscious. I would not tell of it to you if I did not want

you to understand how alive I am to my utter impossibilities, how

resolved I am to do anything so that I may be able to serve. But

never mind about silly me; let me tell you how I see the new

church.

"I think you ought to have some place near the centre of



London; not too west, for you might easily become fashionable,

not too east because you might easily be swallowed up in merely

philanthropic work, but somewhere between the two. There must be

vacant sites still to be got round about Kingsway. And there we

must set up your tabernacle, a very plain, very simple, very

beautifully proportioned building in which you can give your

message. I know a young man, just the very young man to do

something of the sort, something quite new, quite modern, and yet

solemn and serious. Lady Ella seemed to think you wanted to live

somewhere in the north-west of London--but she would tell me

very little. I seem to see you not there at all, not in anything

between west-end and suburb, but yourself as central as your

mind, in a kind of clergy house that will be part of the

building. That is how it is in my dream anyhow. All that though

can be settled afterwards. My imagination and my desire is

running away with me. It is no time yet for premature plans. Not

that I am not planning day and night. This letter is simply to

offer. I just want to offer. Here I am and all my worldly goods.

Take me, I pray you. And not only pray you. Take me, I demand of

you, in the name of God our king. I have a right to be used. And

you have no right to refuse me. You have to go on with your

message, and it is your duty to take me--just as you are

obliged to step on any steppingstone that lies on your way to do

God service.... And so I am waiting. I shall be waiting--on

thorns. I know you will take your time and think. But do not take

too much time. Think of me waiting.


"Your servant, your most humble helper in God (your God),
"AGATHA SUNDERBUND."

And then scrawled along the margin of the last sheet:

"If, when you know--a telegram. Even if you cannot say so

much as 'Agreed,' still such a word as 'Favourable.' I just hang

over the Void until I hear.
"AGATHA S."

A letter demanding enormous deliberation. She argued closely in

spite of her italics. It had never dawned upon the bishop before

how light is the servitude of the disciple in comparison with the

servitude of the master. In many ways this proposal repelled and

troubled him, in many ways it attracted him. And the argument of

his clear obligation to accept her co-operation gripped him; it

was a good argument.


And besides it worked in very conveniently with certain other

difficulties that perplexed him.


(4)

The bishop became aware that Eleanor was returning to him

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