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
"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
"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
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
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.
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,
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
CHAPTER THE EIGHTH - THE NEW WORLD
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
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
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
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
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.
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
"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
"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),
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.
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.
The bishop became aware that Eleanor was returning to him