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The Triumphant Beast
Marjorie Bowen:
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Language: English
Date first posted: Jun 2023
Most recent update: Jun2023

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The Triumphant Beast

by

Marjorie Bowen

Cover Image

Cover based on a picture created from
historical data by the Deep AI image generator


PART 2 OF "THE RENAISSANCE TRILOGY"
Comprising:
1. The Golden Roof (1928)
2. The Triumphant Beast (1934)
3. Trumpets at Rome (1936)



First published by John Lane, The Bodley Head Ltd., London, 1934

This e-book edition: Project Gutenberg Australia, 2023


TABLE OF CONTENTS


Cover Image

A portrait of Giordano Bruno
(created from historical data by the Deep AI image generator)


I. — THE HOUNDS OF GOD

THE murderer whimpered a prayer to the cascade of stars and began to drag his victim down the slope soft with spring grasses and flowers. There had been a furious struggle and he felt exhausted; one of his fingers ached violently, he believed that it was broken; the other man's body was heavy, too, and difficult to tackle; sometimes, in the half-dark, Gioan seized the shirt instead of the coat and felt the linen tear.

Perhaps, thought the murderer, it really would be better not to try to hide the body or even try to escape. Justice of God, if not justice of man would find out and punish him, whatever he did.

He sat down on a boulder and sighed; a tall pine tree made a black pattern between him and the purple sky which was full of falling stars. Never had he seen so many; thousands of them, in a fiery rain, glittered over the city and were reflected in the bay. What did they, mean? A portent, no doubt, but there never were portents for wretches like himself—the falling stars must mean more wars, slaughters, and conspiracies among the great ones, perhaps some prince had been slain in Portugal where the fighting was and where he might have been, earning good pay and a chance of plunder if he had not been useless by reason of his crooked leg, lame from the wound he had received in Flanders.

Gioan wiped the sweat off his face with the back of his hand and bemoaned his ill-luck. Why should all the captains have refused to take him when they were recruiting? He was still able to kill a man. He peered down at the dark heap by his feet—all that was left of the creature who had been so lusty, strong, blasphemous, and so difficult to overcome until he had had that dagger in his breast.

Somehow he must be pushed down the hill and into the sea. Yes, that was the best plan, then, perhaps he would not be found until he was so devoured by fishes and rotted by water that no one would know who he was.

Gioan shivered; the stars seemed to be falling close beside him on either hand, as if they darted into the grasses and the wild vines and were extinguished in the dew. For the first time he was conscious of immensity. It seemed to him impossible to compute the size of the heavens or of the bay, and compared to this unfathomable grandeur of air and water, the city, which hitherto had always appeared to him the most magnificent object possible, seemed quite small and unimportant.

He sighed, crossed himself, rose, and clutched desperately at the prone man. He thought that it would be much easier if he were to kick the corpse down the hill, but he did not want to do that. Tears came to his eyes because of his weakness and all the difficulties and the reaction after the fight.

The man whom he had thought dead spoke and Gioan began to cry.

"Gioan, are we on the hill?"

"Yes." Gioan knelt down to hear what the small, tired voice whispered. "You are not, then, slain!"

"Yes. I shall only live a little while. It is a mercy, which I don't deserve. How these stars confuse one's senses! We seem to be in the midst of them."

"Yes, it is a great miracle, or mystery. They make me feel giddy too. What shall I do for you, Silvestro? Could you get up if I supported you?"

The two men talked together gently, almost affectionately, as if they had never quarrelled. Silvestro had changed completely since his swoon, he no longer was harsh, bullying, full of rage and contempt, but humble and peaceful.

He tried to rise, Gioan helping him. He named him brother and whispered:

"God has given me this little time in which to make my peace. Brother, find me a priest."

Gioan could not think how this could be done; they were both so exhausted and it was not easy to see the way. But he became absorbed in the desire to save his enemy's soul which he had never thought of before.

Silvestro, leaning against the stone, whispered again:

"You cannot do it—they would arrest you. But we might tell them some tale."

"I do not think of that, only of how to find the priest. It is true that a moment ago I wanted to drag you down to the sea for the fishes to eat, but now I only want to help you."

"Think then, quickly, of something, for surely I am dying."

"There is my brother," said Gioan. "Often, when the weather is very warm or there is something wonderful in the heavens he will be in the garden by the cottage, if we could find him—"

"It is too far for me to reach the monastery," Silvestro sighed, and drooped over the boulder; when Gioan shook him he did not speak. The stars fell glittering about the two men, showers of them, thousands of them, like the fireworks on the Viceroy's birthday.

* * * * *

Gioan crept round the convent wall; the tall dark trees hid the heavens from him, he could hear the rustling of the ilex leaves like water running in a still place; he saw at an angle of the wall a glimmer that he knew to be the gardener's cottage, greyish opaque in the starlight and close to that another blur that he was sure was his brother's white habit showing under the black cloak.

"Felipe!" he used the monk's baptismal name, and as he spoke he fell on the grass exhausted and sobbing. But when he heard his brother's tender voice he was as comforted as if a weight had been lifted from his breast.

"Gioan! You are panting, weeping! You are in trouble—tell me."

"I have killed a man. But he is still alive, he longs for a priest—he is out on the hill."

The monk rose, the prone man clasped the edge of his white habit; there was comfort in the feel of the rough cloth, to the edge of which stuck small fragments of dried grasses.

"Oh, the stars, the stars, Felipe! They make me feel giddy—I thought you would be here, watching them—"

"Rise, Gioan. I shall fetch a lantern from the cottage and we will bring this man in—"

"No one will see us?"

"No one. I am allowed the cottage for a little while. The gardener is in the other capanna. They know that I often go on the hill at night, no-one will be surprised. Who is the man?"

"Silvestro."

"So young!" the monk's voice was sad with compassion. He drew his robe gently out of his brother's nervous fingers and turned through the white gate. Very quickly he returned with a lantern; it seemed like a larger, duller star hanging in his hand and the beams showed his coarse white robe and brown sandalled feet, while the upper part of his black-clad body was dim in the purple shade. Gioan, panting and distressed, limped a step ahead to show the way.

"Why did you do this, Gioan? Silvestro was so young, and no worse than others."

"I did it because of you, Felipe."

"Ah? I think that is a lie."

"No, no! Silvestro has been mouthing ugly scandals of you, even in the city streets—that you are a loose-liver and don't keep your vows. That you are a heretic and will soon be denounced."

"You slew him for that? And why here?"

"I followed him from the city—to a quiet place."

"Why did he come here?"

"To spy on you. He said that you had too much liberty, that observing the heavens was only an excuse, that the Prior let you out just to see how far you would go. I sprang on him from behind—he fought, I thought that I could have mastered him easier—it is this accursed leg—"

"Hush, Gioan. You are losing your breath. You must save your strength if you are to help me with Silvestro. If he thinks evil of me I shall not be very welcome to him—"

"I was afraid to fetch anyone else. It should be here. Hold up the lantern a little, Felipe. Yes, there he is."

They approached the man huddled on the wild vines which were covered by strong shoots and curling tendrils; they could hear the distant sound of the waves breaking on the rocks below. The falling stars had vanished, fixed constellations dazzled overhead, the moon was rising, the air became colder.

The monk put the lantern on the boulder and went on his knees beside Silvestro; the beams, like the spokes of a wheel, radiated light into the darkness that was fading into pallor with the strengthening of the moonlight.

"He is alive. Perhaps we can save him. I can stop the bleeding—tear up your shirt. Then we will carry him to the cottage, for we do not know who may be on the hill."

* * * * *

Gioan sat in the gardener's cottage and gazed at the man on the pallet bed; everything seemed strange and he felt light-headed. He wondered why he had killed Silvestro, already the violent fight seemed far away.

The room was small and of white stone; there was a stool near the pallet bed, a cupboard in one corner, a table on which were some books and the lantern, and the bench where Gioan drooped.

On the wall opposite the bed was a crucifix in metalwork and beside it was a door opening into a small kitchen. Silvestro lay straightly, his chest bare save for the bandages of Gioan's shirt; the monk's black cloak had been rolled as a pillow for his head. Gioan had never noticed before how red and glossy was the hair of the dying man nor how sharply his eyebrows sprang from the base of his nose, like wings.

Gioan was quite sure that Silvestro was dying, and he longed to question his brother who sat so quietly with his hands folded in his wide white sleeves and his chin sunk on his breast. The monk was younger than Gioan by a few years, he was about thirty, of middle weight with a countenance of singular nobility, his mouth and his hands were beautiful, his dark thick hair grew long round the tonsure; his black eyes were lively and formidable, his lean cheeks brown. The long, aquiline nose was delicate with sensitive, flaring nostrils, he had the air of a man of much vivacity who contains himself for a deliberate purpose.

Gioan was like him in shape and feature and yet an ordinary man where his brother was extraordinary. He had been coarsened by his profession, which was that of a soldier, yet he had an air of simplicity. The injury to his knee which made him lame had distorted his whole body; his clothes were ragged, and where he had torn his shirt for bandages his hairy chest and arms showed.

Silvestro began to mutter; he had been unable to take the strong native wine that the monk had tried to force on him, there were stains of it on his chin and chest.

"Bring me," said the monk without moving, "the viaticum which I have put ready in the box in the kitchen."

Gioan obeyed. Two candles burnt in the kitchen which was small and very clean. There was a pan of charcoal on a brazier, several pots of herbs, ewers of water, and two wounded pigeons lying in a basket. Gioan fetched two fresh candles, the bottle of oil, the vessel of water, folded a clean linen napkin and the box of wafers which Felipe had set ready. He felt as if he was about to die himself and he wondered about the pigeons—were they for supper? Why did Felipe take such care of them in the basket with fresh grass at the bottom?

Silvestro spoke, thickly and without sense; he cast up his eyes and his lips were the lilac colour of the wine stain on his chin. The monk prayed; Gioan was awed by his beautiful voice and the Latin words; he too knelt and tried to pray, but he was so tired and his finger hurt; he had twisted a piece of the shirt torn up for Silvestro round it, and he noticed that the rag was black and stiff with blood.

Silvestro was dying, and Gioan was a murderer; he looked up at his brother who was placing the wafer on Silvestro's lips that were muttering gross nonsense. The monk's face was serene, earnest, intent on his task. Gioan had seen that look on his face when they had stood in the home fields at Cicala and stared at Monte Somna, knowing that Vesuvius, the great volcano, was behind. The monk's face had the quality of metal, wrought silver or fine bronze, it seemed formed for some peculiar and definite purpose; he had always awed Gioan, to whom he was unalterably kind.

He sprinkled the dying man. "Te asperges..."

Silvestro struggled a little and spat out the wafer; without recognizing anyone he died.

"I have done what I can," said the monk, rising, and placing the napkin over the dead youth's twisted face. "Now I must think of you."

Gioan remained on his knees, he felt sad, tired, and homesick. He wished that they were boys together again in the sweet meadows outside Nola with their mother calling to them from the doorway of their home to food and rest. It seemed stupid to be a soldier, stupid to be a priest, very stupid to kill a man.

"Oh, Felipe!" he sighed, and limped to his feet.

The monk had gone into the kitchen, taking one of the candles with him. He was washing his hands with a ball of white soap in a crock of yellow earthenware. He had put bay leaves and wild thyme into the water and cast some herbs on the charcoal brazier that gave a pungent odour. His loose white habit was the colour of the walls, only his serious, reserved and imperious face and his fine hands from which the water dripped were dark and vivid. He had been outside and thrust a book into a heap of rotting manure. Carefully he washed his hands.

Gioan stared at the pigeons; their feet were tied with a thread. They were still alive and that seemed odd now that Silvestro was dead.

"They were being sold for food," said the monk. "I bought them for a penny."

"How did you get the money?"

"When I was in the city an old man at the door of a shop asked me to read a letter for him. He gave me a penny for the poor."

The monk dried his hands that on the back were covered by long, fine, dark hairs.

"What are we going to do, Gioan? There will be a scandal when Silvestro is found here."

"We could drag him out and throw him into the sea. I was going to do that when I found that he was still alive."

"No. That would beastly. It is time, too, that I left Naples. We will go together."

Gioan was astonished, but pleased, too. He felt that if he had his brother with him it would be like being protected by a god. "You mean that you will leave the monastery?"

"Yes. No one will question a wandering monk."

"Are you afraid?" whispered Gioan with deep sympathy. "They are going to punish you? What have you done?"

"Gioan, there is not time to talk. I have long thought to go out and see the world, and your misfortune has decided me."

Gioan was troubled, he remembered that Felipe had been in difficulties several times with his superiors—yes, even when he was a novice, for giving away to poor old women images of Saint Catherine of Siena, and of Saint Anthony of Padua, as if they were of no importance, instead of keeping them in his cell to worship. But Gioan comforted himself by recalling that his brother had been so brilliant a scholar that he had been made a sub-deacon and deacon when he was only a boy and ordained a priest when he was twenty-four years of age. He had written books, too, and this was very marvellous to the poor soldier who could not read, and he had been taken in a coach to Rome because of his learning, and there, before the Pope himself, he had expounded his theory of memory training, and recited a psalm in Hebrew.

The monk looked keenly at his brother's bewilderment and gave a swift smile.

"Don't be so distressed, Gioan, it is a pity that you slew Silvestro; he was a bad man, but young. And it was a pity that he did not know I was there to give him absolution. But these things are past. If you would save your life you must come with me from Naples. It is well that you have neither wife nor child to leave behind."

A slight distortion passed over the soldier's dark pallid face.

"How shall we live?" he asked sullenly. "I have hardly any money and you have nothing at all."

He glanced round the bare poverty of the kitchen; the monk was untying the threads from the legs of the pigeons.

"They have recovered," he said, "there is a little blood on their wings and their feet are bruised, but they can fly again."

He took the basket to the open door and the birds fluttered, a quiver of lilac and green in the candlelight, then flew away into the night and the rustling of their wings became one with the rustling of the unseen ilex trees.

* * * * *

The two men went down in the moonlight towards the city. Gioan spoke of the falling stars, he asked his brother if he knew what portent there might be in those celestial marvels.

"Nothing," said the monk. "It is only a manifestation of God."

Human lights were before them in the purple dark—the lamps of the city and on the prows of ships in the harbour.

"Where shall we go?" asked the soldier, "they will pursue us on horses and soon overtake us."

"They will not know which way we have gone," replied the monk; he gathered up his robe so that he could walk with more ease.

They entered the suburbs of the city and the strong, sweet perfumes of the hill-side were lost to them, and they were surrounded by the foul exhalations of gutters and garbage heaps, the smell of greasy cooking and the taint of decaying meat and fish.

They had not gone far before they paused under a broken wall-lamp which showed a mean dwelling with a gaudy sign. It was a small puppet theatre which the soldier had kept since he had been disabled from the army. With the rag and wooden dolls gaily dressed in scraps of stuff he begged from his uncle the velvet Weaver, he had been able not only to earn his living and pay two assistants, but to send a few shillings now and then to his mother, who lived with her sister at Cicala since her husband, the stout old soldier, had gone to the wars in Portugal.

The ground floor of the little house was the theatre; a curtain of canvas painted with stars, and a rude scrawling meant to represent the Arms of Spain, Leon, and Castile, divided the stage from the rows of dirty benches where the audience sat.

Now it was empty. The brothers groped their way over the filthy floor to the back of the stage where the puppets with strings and weights attached to their heads, legs, and arms lay sprawling out of their boxes. Here there was a light, a candle on a broken table, and by it sat a boy with a small drum on his knees. As soon as he saw his master he began to beat this vacantly; he was simple in his mind and weakly in his body and could do no other work than this. Gioan employed him because he required no money, only food and a place to sleep.

The monk smiled at him and gently took away the sticks, telling him he need not drum tonight as there would be no performance.

"Shall we take him with us?" he asked his brother.

The soldier shook his head.

"What should we do with an idiot? We are hampered enough already." Then, in a timid voice that he was not able to raise above the level of a sigh, he implored: "Giulia? Giulia!"

"She will never hear that," smiled the monk. In a high, clear voice he called: "Giulia!" so that the word rang beautifully, like clear notes of music in the poor place. The boy had secured the drum-sticks again and began tapping on the drum, bending his head sideways to listen.

The ragged curtain at the back was-raised, and Giulia entered. She was the girl who helped to work the puppets and who, in a thin, squeaky voice recited the words of the female dolls. She was seventeen years old, straight and delicate in every line. Her brilliant hair, which seemed to have the colour of all the metals in it, gold, silver, bronze, and copper, was gathered into a green kerchief and hung so heavily on the nape of her thin neck that it seemed as if she bore a great treasure bound on her forehead and supported on her neck.

"What do you want to tell her asked the monk, for his brother stood mute under the girl's bright gaze.

"What is there to tell me?" asked Giulia quickly.

"I have hurt my finger," muttered Gioan, and he held out his hand disfigured by the bloodstained rag.

"It is worse than that," said the monk serenely, "Gioan has killed a man and I am in danger of arrest, and we intend to leave Naples."

"You, too!" exclaimed the girl, with lively interest and sparkling eyes, "you, too, FrÓ Jordanus?"

"Yes," smiled the monk, "it is time that I saw a little more of the world. I do not suppose that they will pursue me, it is not to their advantage, either, to have a scandal. Come, Giulia, get us a little food, there's a good girl; just some bread and wine and cheese if you have it, and we will set out before the dawn."

The girl withdrew immediately behind the curtain; the idiot boy continued his rapping on the drum, but neither the priest nor the soldier took any more heed of him.

Gioan seated himself at the table. There he rested his elbows and sank his head in his hands.

"You see," he muttered, "she took no notice of my finger, she was not sorry for that at all." Then he added in a lower tone: "What I told you on the hill-side was a lie. I did not kill Silvestro because of anything he said about you, but because of Giulia."

"I knew."

"She liked him," complained the soldier, "they tormented me, both of them. After the puppet shows were over she used to make me give her some of the money, then she would go out on the hill-side to meet Silvestro."

"It is," said the monk serenely, "a beautiful place for lovers. There all would be sanctified—like a rite."

"But she would not go with me," continued Gioan bitterly, "because I am lame and spoiled. Yet sometimes she was kind to me too—just enough to madden me. And he was very insolent—yet I was fond of him. Can you explain it all, Felipe?"

"It was Nature working in all of you. Why were you so desirous for Giulia if she preferred another? There are many tall, sweet girls in Naples."

Gioan snuffed the coarse candle in front of him and continued in a low, rapid voice.

"Silvestro had no parents, they were taken away by the Turkish buccaneers two years ago when they raided the coast for slaves, and there will be no one to pay for Masses for him, unless Giulia—I wonder if she really loved him?"

"Loved, perhaps," replied the monk; "but she will not love a dead man long. Tell me, Gioan, it was not true that you heard Silvestro speak of me evilly—heresy, you said, and loose living?"

"Yes, I've heard that from him and others. I thought there had been many complaints about you, but you're not the only monk who errs, and I dare say no one notices much."

"It is quite true, that they complain of me, I have been aware of it for a long time. They leave me at liberty because they are watching me, and they wish me to commit myself. Since I do not wish to have either my body or my mind fettered I shall leave the Dominicans and leave Naples."

The soldier's uneasiness increased, he felt afraid for his brother. Surely it would be almost better to offend Felipe, the Lord of Naples, than to offend the Church. The Dominicans, too, who enjoyed the special favour of the King, who were so wealthy, who owned so much land! And was not their especial work the hunting out of heretics, so that they were named "Hounds of God"?

"What have you done?" he asked fearfully. "Oh, Felipe, what have you done?"

"The charges they have against me I am ignorant of, but I know that a conversation I had with one of our Order has been reported at head-quarters, it has been taken as a defence of heresy. I am a priest, Gioan, and answerable to the Provincial Father. If he should decide against me, I might find myself in prison. It has always been difficult for me," he added simply, "whatever monastery I have been in—Remember, Gioan, I was no more than fifteen years when I took the vow. Well, we will go, we will leave the kingdom of Naples and once we are in the Papal States we shall be free, at least, of Spain. What were you going to tell Giulia?" he asked rapidly. "Will you let her think you slew some stranger in a scuffle or a brawl—there is enough carrion left in the streets and on the hills every night to satisfy Hydra at his feast."

The girl entered again, and put the rough food on the table. Her movements were quick and anxious, and she glanced continually from the priest to the soldier. She had also brought a strip of linen and with eager rapid movements bound up Gioan's wounded finger.

As she performed this task, frowning in her earnestness, and while the priest ate his bread and drank his wine and water, Gioan gazed sullenly at the bright head bent above his hand. Then he burst out impulsively:

"It was Silvestro whom I killed, and because of you."

The girl began to cry, her face puckered, her eyes brimmed with tears, she bit her trembling lip as she continued to bind up the finger.

"You did not love him, then?" demanded the soldier, joyously.

Giulia would not answer. When she had tied up the finger she remained on her knees and hid her face in her hands, which were amber coloured and work roughened.

"Do not weep for him," said the priest, contemplating Giulia tenderly. "What was alive in him has passed into some other life, and what was beautiful in him has become some other beauty. Did you observe the stars tonight, how they flecked infinity with glory? We see them no longer, but they are not dead, but have passed into some other shape of splendour."

"That is heresy," said the soldier, in distress. "Silvestro is in purgatory and we must pay the Masses to shorten his torment."

The girl had dropped her hands and frowning, gazed earnestly at the priest, whose face seemed full of light even in the murky illumination of the guttering candle.

"Why are you leaving Naples?" she asked. "Are you really afraid of the Inquisitors? But we have not the Inquisition here, the people would never endure it."

"But I as a priest under Spanish jurisdiction am answerable to the Inquisition. I do not want to go to prison, Giulia, I feel restless and impatient, there is so much to see, so much to learn, so much also perhaps, to teach."

"You have read too many books," grumbled the soldier, gulping down the coarse thick wine and pulling at the crusts of black bread. "Even as a boy you were always reading with that old Augustinian, Teofilo. I think it would be better for you to stay here, Felipe, you know so much, whatever they were to say to you you would find an answer."

"That, perhaps," smiled the monk, "would be my chief fault in their eyes. No, I will go to Rome, where men's minds are alive. I will escape this tyranny and the tyranny of Spain which frets me to think of. What do you want to do, brother?" he added in another tone, with sudden tenderness.

"I would like to go back to Nola, to Cicala, we were happy there. That's true, isn't it?"

"Yes, we were happy, brother, because we were young and knew nothing."

But Gioan maintained obstinately:

"It is a beautiful place. Everyone who has ever been there says so. They call it 'the happy fields', don't they? Do you remember our little house, the marble pillars that supported the vine, and you said they came from a heathen temple? The marble hearthstone, too, and the pagan altar at the corner of the pigsty, and the other half-broken pillar to which the goat was tethered? Although it is not so far away it is much sweeter there than here. Do you remember the vintage, Felipe, and the festivals and games we had, and how joyous it all was?"

"I remember it, but we could not go back to it, Gioan, one never can. Oh, yes, I recall it very well. I remember hearing the cuckoo, I must have been a tiny child, I thought it was a spirit."

"You said you saw spirits once," interrupted the soldier, "on the hills, in the beech and laurel groves. It is true there were many ghosts there," he added moodily, as if to himself. "I remember once near that broken temple I saw them too. Then there was the place where the people who had died of the plague had been buried, far away from all the houses. I used to see them at nights sitting on their graves—when I was watching the charcoal burners of Monte Scarvacta coming home."

"It was as fair a place," smiled the priest, "as Araby, or the garden of the Hesperides. How glorious those violet hills, those plains of corn. Our mother is old and lives in our sister's house. Our father is at the wars and we never hear from him; it is quite likely that, old as he is, he will never return. And you and I have our lives to live."

He rose, smiling, and brushed the crumbs of bread from his white habit.

"Come, we must set out. They may soon discover the body of Silvestro—a brother will visit the cottage early—"

"I wish," lamented the soldier bitterly, "I had followed out my own ideas and not listened to you. I wanted to throw him on to the rocks, make it seem as if he had lost his foothold there and been drowned."

"If you had done that you would have been grieved about it afterwards. It is better that he should be found by the brothers and given a Christian burial. It is better not to conceal what one does and to be fearless."

Giulia rose to her knees, the tears had dried in delicate stains on her smooth face.

"I think you are that—fearless," she said directly to the monk.

"It is only," he replied, looking steadily at her, "that I have never yet met or heard of anything that inspires fear."

"That is strange," mused the girl. "The world, has seemed to me sad and dreadful ever since I looked on it! Every day there is murder, cheating, and punishment! Nobody has any pleasure or ease because we must pay taxes to the King of Spain, to root after heretics in a distant country we know nothing about, and the heathens raid our coasts and carry our people away to be slaves." She glanced bitterly at the soldier. "And that which one loves is slain out of jealousy, and still you say, FrÓ Jordanus, that there is nothing to fear!"

"For you, yes, I understand, Giulia, the world is indeed full of misery and terror."

"And then," continued the girl, cutting up what was left of the bread and soaking it in the lees of the wine in the cup, "when one is dead there is no happiness, for if one has, in one's weakness or ignorance, sinned, one is punished to eternity."

"That is not true," said the monk, and the girl paused with the sop in her hand; and Gioan called out in terror:

"That is heresy again! You must not speak so!"

"But I," smiled Giulia, softly, "like to hear it. I like to think that there is no Hell, no matter what the priests say."

She took the sop in a saucer to the boy and set them down beside him; he began to eat greedily, using his mouth like a dog.

"He feeds like that because his teeth are rotten," remarked the girl. "If you give him hard food he only licks it."

"Where does he come from?" asked the monk. "Is there anybody to whom he belongs?"

"No one at all. We found him in the street. One cannot understand very well what he says, but I think he meant to tell us that his mother died of the plague. One can see that he is but a poor idiot who can do nothing but beat the drum."

"He must come with us," said the priest.

The soldier sullenly protested; he was turning over the few rags that were hid behind the puppets and the boxes at the back of the room. He hoped to find a few garments that would be useful to him on his travels, which appeared in his thoughts as so desperate and hopeless. He had no money, no trade, and no relatives, save those who were very distant or as poor as himself.

"Will you take me also?" asked Giulia. "I would look after the boy for you, he is fond of me."

The soldier, clasping a pair of leather shoes to his breast, cried out in an ecstasy.

"Oh, Giulia, you would come with us after all, after I have slain Silvestro?"

"Yes, I will come with you," replied the girl, but she looked at the monk, not at his brother. "You know very well," she added, "what I shall become if I remain in Naples. If there is no longer to be a puppet show where can I earn a few shillings? Gioan was good to me, where shall I find such another?"

"You are very intelligent, Giulia," smiled the monk, "I noticed that when I first met you. How long have I known you now? Five years, since you were a very little maiden. Yes, you may come with us since you have nothing to leave behind of any value. Perhaps we might find work for you somewhere on the way, I know that you are quick and clean and willing."

He paused, and seemed to reflect deeply, the girl's bright glance on him the while. Then he said:

"Would you like to marry Gioan and go with him to Cicala where perhaps, after all, our mother might find something for you both to do? Gioan might work on a farm, or with the charcoal burners; he might even take again a little cottage that we had. I have a friend there who perhaps might do something for you if I wrote to him—Giovanni, the sculptor, or Leone, the scholar."

Giulia shook her head.

"I couldn't marry Gioan." Then she added: "I did not love Silvestro either, it was only that he was young and loved me and it was very sweet on the hill-side."

"I understand," said FrÓ Jordanus. "Put together, then, anything that you may wish to bring with you and come with us."

* * * * *

The early morning was so beautiful that the spirits of all the four travellers were raised. The vast upper air was quivering in an ecstasy of light, the stately violet hills seemed luminous, the upspringing beeches, cypresses, ilex and pine quivered with a vibrant life and every little flower and grass along the wayside was edged with gold.

They had avoided the highways and had taken a winding path through the vineyards so well known to all of them. The minute green flowers of the grapes were budding among the closely curled tendrils; on the ilex trees the small, pale, tender leaves showed against the dry, rusty foliage of last year. The cushat dove was cooing in the silver branches of the beech trees, which were hidden by rosy golden leaves.

When they left the vineyards they crossed by an arched stone bridge over a small stream where the clear water flowed swiftly over round, smooth pebbles.

Giulia, who was leading the boy, leaned for a moment against the bridge and the monk watched her. She reminded him of those little figures on the coins that his father used to find in the fields outside Nola when digging, or on those that he had seen the men turn up with the plough in the furrows round Cicala—the figures of women in straight robes, profiles of women on coins, busts of women with heavy knots of hair on the napes of the slender necks, with straight features and large eyes. The waif of the Naples' slums, although she knew it not, was direct heiress of that ancient and vanished race of Grecia Magna to which he, the Nolan, felt so akin in thought and interests; he felt tenderly towards her because she was formed from that ancient time, because she gave shape and colour to many deep, sweet dreams that had come to him leaning against the broken altars of Cicala.

* * * * *

They journeyed on steadily through the lovely serenity of the spring tide, presently leaving the fields and taking the high road towards Benevento and the frontiers of the Papal States.

The child, with his drum on his back, seemed happy, and the girl and priest were in equable moods, but Gioan, the soldier, was uneasy and depressed. He was homesick for Naples, and the puppet show where he had made a pleasant livelihood, he lamented this and his earlier days when he had served under Prince Juan in Flanders. He longed for the gaiety, the obscenity, the music and the odour of the city.

Though he had been in so many confusions of blood and violence, had done many wicked deeds and seen them done by others, so that they became but a daily matter of course to him, he was much troubled by the death of Silvestro, whom he had killed in the dark on the warm, sweet hill-side under the falling stars. As if to comfort himself he muttered over many of the horrible recollections of what he had beheld at the siege of Antwerp, and yet it was clear that none of this was very real to him, while the murder of Silvestro kept much in his mind.

He, with his lameness and low spirits, and the boy, with his feeble steps, hampered the other two, who could have walked boldly and freely in their health and strength. But, as they had no longer any fear of pursuit once they had cleared the confines of the city, and as there was no object in their travels except to be free of tyranny and to see the world, it did not irk any of them to travel slowly.

They lived on very little; the priest begged at farms and wayside houses and was never refused water or a slice of bread or a bowl of soup with dried peas and perhaps meat in it, a piece of cheese or a few eggs. Other food they procured themselves; Gioan made himself a rod and line and hook from a few trifles he had in his bundle and caught fish in the clear flowing streams which often passed the highway. There were wild sallets and acrid wild roots, very young and soft, which they ate too.

It would have been quite easy for them to have obtained shelter in some barn, or even in a farmhouse kitchen, but they always preferred the open air. The girl would lie down with the boy, and the two men close together, and all would sleep soundly.

* * * * *

But on the third night the priest did not sleep; he remained watchful long after the other three were silent. And then, when he believed that they were no longer conscious of his actions, he rose and turned back the ragged cloak in which his brother was wrapped. Gioan slept, but not peacefully, he muttered and tossed and the sweat glistened on his brow. The moon was high overhead and so strong that the sky seemed like a globe of solid silver; this radiance concealed all the stars, the heavens seemed barren.

The priest very gently loosened the soiled sleeve round his brother's arm, which was swollen and hot to the touch. Even in that light he could see the dull purple flush that ran up from his injured finger.

A shadow fell over the torso of the sleeping man and on the monk's own fine, pitying hands. He glanced up, Giulia stood beside him; she seemed clothed in silver, so did the moonlight transform her rags.

"He is ill, your brother," she whispered, "I noticed it today. He has a fever, I think."

"Yes, he is becoming worse, too, and there is nothing we can do. Indeed, I think there is nothing that a doctor could do."

"He will die?"

"I begged a little vinegar at that last farm we stopped at, they gave it me in return for a blessing. If you have any rags and linen left bring those, we will soak them in vinegar to put on his lips and forehead."

The girl obeyed. Together, and in silence, in that vivid glow of the moon, they tended the sick, unconscious man whose wound was slowly poisoning his blood. Then, together, they watched, one either side, the monk in his white habit which seemed under the moon to be of an unearthly hue, and the girl in her ragged stained clothes, the bodice laced tightly over her slender bosom. A little way off, under a tall solitary tree, the boy slept. Now and then the monk turned his head to look at him; in this light he was beautiful, his malformation and his disease were eclipsed by the universal radiance—a lovely, sleeping child who seemed happy, too.

The monk began to talk to Giulia to comfort her. He told her, in his rich and beautiful voice which he kept very low so as not to wake Gioan to more pain, some of the pleasant things that he could remember—his own childhood and his great felicity as a youth underneath the walls of the very ancient ruined city of Nola, which he still loved so greatly. Though his parents had been so poor when he was born they had been of gentle birth, a branch of a noble family at Asti, and there had been a famous poet by the name of Tansillo, who had made visits to the town and who had—he, Felipe, knew not how—been a friend of his father. He could remember him, a smooth, elegant man, and the verses he would recite, and the stories he would tell of that ancient world which lay, as it were, beneath their feet. He had known Ariosto and Tarso and been patronized by the Spanish Viceroy, Don Pedro de Toledo.

"They were civilized, tolerant, and free, those Greeks, Giulia. Often have I held in my hand a little image of a gracious woman or a noble man, with wise eyes. You could pick them up in the furrows, or when you dug in the garden your spade would clink on them. When I was older I read in Greek and Latin the books written by those people—" he broke off. "You are like them. Did you ever know from what part of Italy you came, Giulia?"

She shook her head. Like Silvestro and the poor little boy, like everyone in that slum of Naples where the puppet theatre was, she knew not what her origin might be. She was a stray creature, a castaway. She could remember being in service with an old woman who was kind to her, and then serving in a vegetable shop, where she was beaten; and then being employed as a goatherd.

"That is when I remember you first, Giulia," interrupted the monk. "I saw you coming out of the wood on the hill-side. I lifted my eyes from the great book I had and you were there. My memory awoke as from a dream—what woman was this? Surely she died long ago?"

"That was when Gioan met me, on the hill-side, when he came up to see you, and so I got work in the puppet show, but I am sorry that all that has come to an end."

They gazed down at the sick man; they were used to bloody death and gross violence, to riot and murder and robbery, they had been born and bred in a country that was sunk beneath a foreign tyranny and was crushed beneath a ruinous taxation. The girl thought of all this cruelty and misery, she found a great comfort in the strong, serene face of the monk; his eyes seemed not to be those of an earthly creature, she thought.

"Why did you become a priest?" she asked, timidly, regretfully.

"Because I love learning, Giulia."

"You should have been a soldier, you are so strong. Gioan told me how you carried Silvestro over the hills to the gardener's cottage, quite easily."

"Gioan helped, and Silvestro was not heavy. I detest war and cruelty—the devices of little men."

The girl asked candidly:

"Have you kept your vows? Is what they say of you true?"

"Where have you heard people talk of me, Giulia?" replied the monk, unperturbed.

"Oh, Gioan told me, Silvestro too. One hears these tales—"

"I have broken no vows," smiled the monk, "save those that no man could make and few men keep."

"I never saw you on the hill-side. Whom did you meet there? Is it true that you write verses?" She spoke without jealousy or curiosity, only with a candid desire to be enlightened.

"See the moon," said her companion. "Diana—truth and wisdom, so lustrous, so benign. She is the lady of my first love—the modest daughter of the Emperor of the Universe—a lonely nymph whom I have woo'd on the golden fields of Nola—name her Philosophy—"

Giulia understood nothing of this, but his voice was so beautiful that she listened, rapt.

"The world is ruined by barbarians. Consider this scene and think of all the misery you have beheld in seventeen years. Consider the beauty of Italy and the men who rule this brilliant earth, whose banners pollute the luminous air. Why am I a monk? Where could I turn for peace? Pest, robbery, the monstrous tyranny of Spain—I recall, when I was a boy I heard of the massacres in Calabria, the heretics who had fled from Piedmont, eighty-eight had their throats cut with one knife—"

"I wish," said Giulia, "that the moon would never set. How warm it is, how still! We do not know that we are poor or pursued—no one mocks us or reminds us of our sins."

"It is like an indrawn breath—all in abeyance. But the sun will rise and life go on."

"Are you not afraid?"

"There is a yoke of fire lighter than air—he who wears it is raised above all things, even above liberty."

"But the Inquisition—"

The girl crouched on the sweet grass and tried to find comfort in the lustre of the moon, but a monstrous figure seemed to blot out that radiance, the shape of the grim Spaniard, Saint Dominic, in his gloomy robes with his fierce dog by his side and his lean hands stained by the blood of heretics; his saturnine visage was in the shadow of his hood—"Persecutor of the Heretics," "the Sword of the Lord" in Toulouse, Captain of the Bodyguard of the Inquisition—domini canes.

"I think of Saint Dominic," sighed Giulia, shivering together as if she strove to protect her heart.

"He was but a man, and no very enlightened one. Make no idol of such, child."

She looked at him eagerly; though he sat so still he seemed the very personification of ardour and energy. So vibrant with life was he in his immobility that she felt comforted as by the presence of something vital and everlasting. The coarse robe clothed him as the cloud clothes the mountain, his feet, beautifully shaped in the thongs of the sandals, seemed as firmly part of the earth as were the trees springing from the warm mould full of seeds and roots.

About him and the girl crouching beside him and the smooth rock on which they sat, the moon cast a pool of deep violet shadow. None of the lines of fatigue and thought were visible in the monk's face; his features were clearly defined, the fine, straight nose, the large wide-set eyes, the fully-curved, tightly set together lips, the rounded chin. His face was like the intaglio on an ancient gem that he had once picked up near the old burial-place (where they had found the urns) outside Nola. When he had washed the jewel it had shone yellow in his hand-a fiery fragment in the setting sun—a portrait of himself cut by a hand long since one with the dust of the lovely landscape.

Patiently, and at peace, they waited, watching the sleep of the sick man.

When Gioan awoke he was in a delirium, and they carried him to the shade of the tree where the boy had slept—a gracious tree full of young green leaves and rousing birds. There was a stream not far away and they took it in turn to watch by him and fetch him water in the little wooden bowl that Giulia had brought. He became hideous, purple faced, swollen, with turgid lips, and much afraid.

The boy, who was quite happy, brought out his drum and rapped softly the little march that opened the puppet show, as if he thought it would comfort his master. Gioan knew nothing of this or anything, and at Giulia's request his brother gave him absolution, and when the evening came again, he died, holding Giulia's hands and crying pitifully to his God for mercy. The child laughed, listening to his drum; the sun was so strong that the water began to dry in the cup as they fetched it.

They were a long way from a town and they had no means of burying the dead man, nor of carrying him to a church or to a burial ground. They waited and hailed one or two passers-by, who only rode the faster when they glimpsed a corpse.

So in the evening they covered him with boughs broken off the beech tree, which the little boy climbed up to get for them, and went on their way towards Benevento.

That night they stayed their journey under the walls of a ruined house which was tufted with wallflowers and brown and cinnamon hued pale grasses. The girl fed the boy with the food they had begged during the day. Neither of them could eat, and Giulia could not sleep for thinking of the two dead men. She believed that their ghosts would come wavering towards them in the moonlight, which cut the desolate house into fantastic shapes.

The monk told her that she need not be fearful, for she would see no phantoms.

"You yourself, FrÓ Jordanus, have said that you saw spirits in the groves outside Nola."

"But they were not spirits who had ever been men, Giulia. If you cannot sleep and are frightened, I will tell you a tale."

She nodded her head meekly, and he spoke to her of a book he had written which was named Noah's Ark, and which he had dedicated to His Beatitude Pius V, and presented to him when the Dominicans had taken him to Rome in a coach.

The monk told Giulia how all the animals in the Ark strove for the most splendid seat, which was in the poop, and that in the end he who claimed it was the ass. Then he broke off in the middle of his tale, which he told with laughter and many gestures, and asked the girl why she had come with him on this tedious journey.

"Was it because you loved Gioan? You have not wept for him very much."

"No. It was because I loved you."

"You know that I am a priest and you know what is forbidden to me."

"Yes, but you said yourself there are some vows that a man cannot keep. Besides, what does it matter? I am happy."

Her candour was as complete and pure as his own. She moved away from him and sat down by the sleeping child, who lay on Gioan's cloak with his drum beside him. The monk walked into the silver night, he heard the girl's voice, thin and faint, coming after him through the absolute stillness.

"You will not forsake me?"

"No, Giulia, I shall return."

He walked along the edge of fields where the young corn was sprouting, the whole earth vibrated with the putting forth of leaf and blossom and the promise of fruit.

The monk felt relieved, happy, in harmony with everything. He looked back at the ruined house, tufted with flowers, at the girl and the child by the silent drum, reposing on the dead man's cloak.

* * * * *

In sweet loneliness the solitary man essayed to review his life which had been suddenly and strangely broken. He was thirty years old, sixteen years a monk, six years a priest. He had always found the world of an exceeding beauty and men of an extreme meanness, ignoble creatures on a noble earth.

He himself had more learning than any scholar he had met. Compared to himself the Prior Ambrogio Pasqua, Vice-Chancellor of the College of Theology, before whom he had made his final vows, was ignorant. Many of his fellows in the great Spanish Order, these "Hounds of God," trained to hunt out heresy as pigs hunt out truffles, were wrapped in superstition, stupid, and dark-minded. Even the splendid Cardinal Rebiba, who had commanded him to come from Naples that he might be presented to the Pope, had not been a man of much erudition, while he, the poor youth from the mean hamlet, outside the broken walls of Nola, had found time for so much reading that he seemed to have done, already, with material learning.

He was as familiar with Spanish as with his native Neapolitan, and the cultured Italian that the great poets, Dante, Ariosto, and Tasso wrote. He could command Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, he had accepted and digested the orthodox education that had been put before him, the study of Aristotle, of Albertus Magnus, and of the great Saint Thomas Aquinas, the angelic doctor, himself the most powerful and famous of all the Dominicans.

But these thinkers were not to him as great as their predecessors, the philosophers of Greece and Arabia, whose writings he had studied in the libraries of the monasteries of the Order of Saint Dominic. So much learning, so much musing, and for what end? The monk stood motionless in the moonlight and clasped his hands tightly together.

For several years he had known that a man who was fearless and candid, whose mind thirsted for knowledge, and whose soul quested for truth, could not live in a convent; even while the other monks praised his learning and seemed proud of his brilliancy and gave him much liberty and independence.

The moment had come when his brother's crime had set him suddenly and violently free—and for what end? He thought of the man whose example had most stimulated him—the Franciscan mystic, Raymond Lull.

He thought of the Cardinal, Cusanus, Roberto of Cusa, the friend of Aeneas Silvius. Raymond Lull had been dead nearly three hundred years, and Cusanus a hundred years, yet the monk thought of them as friends. They seemed to be with him now, modest, simple, but with eyes like jewels.

He sat down on a stone silvered by the moonlight and touched it lovingly with his strong hands. He was happy in his body and in his mind. "God is incomprehensible, and in all."

He remembered the two wounded pigeons that a poor man had sold him for food, and how he had cherished them and given them back to liberty. He recalled the lovely moment when he had set them free and they had flown out in the dark and the noise of their wings had been one with the noise of the leaves of the ilex trees, an act which had made him forget the squalid sadness of the dead man lying on the pallet bed with the murderer kneeling shivering and forlorn. He mused on the exceeding grandeur of the shooting stars, like sparkles of light shaken from the beams on God's forehead, and that reconciled him to the memory of his brother's body, malformed through wounds received in senseless, bloody wars, of his corpse dead from a hurt inflicted by the man whom he had murdered, lying under the fresh boughs of the green tree drowsy with birds, that the idiot boy had plucked so gladly.

He threw back his cowl and shook aside the long dark hair that fell on his forehead. What to do now? What should be the life for a man like himself? He belonged to the Church, he owed the Church much—his education, his learning, the peace and security in which he had pursued his studies, and the Church enshrined magnificent truth. She was necessary as a safeguard and a symbol; she required wise, strong men to purge her of error and corruption—that would, that must be done. He loved her, too, her grave and splendid ceremonies, her high mystic doctrines of the famous saints and doctors.

He remembered Rome, so superb and mighty, with pleasure and gratitude. Even the superstitions of the Church were useful, nay, were necessary to little people, to humble, sorrowful people. He was not a heretic, only the very ignorant or spiteful or malicious would name him that, he had but demanded the right to independent thought, the liberty to unleash his mind on the long quest of truth.

He told himself that there must be his intellectual peers in Italy, even if he had not found them in Naples. The thoughts that inspired him, troubled him, and drove him onwards, could not be his alone. Other men had them before him, men who were long since dead, the essence of whose spirits had been perhaps in those falling stars that had darted into the Bay of Naples, that had lifted the lilac and blue pinions of the two wounded pigeons he had released from the gardener's cottage.

He put his head into his hands and considered the beauty and pleasure and pride of the world. He was young, strong, and healthy; he remembered the orgies in the ripe fields at Cicala. The Spanish masters of the ancient people to whom he belonged, people descended from Greeks, Etruscans, and Moors, had been scandalized and alarmed. They had sent soldiers to prevent the peasants from holding their great festivals at the gathering of the corn and the plucking of the vine.

"Bacchus and Ceres," smiled the monk, "whom they worship in their own way on their own alters."

He remembered his native city with great love; it was now a miserable ruined place lying crushed under the heavy laws of a foreign tyrant. But it had been superb and gorgeous, with twelve gates and a great amphitheatre—a great city of Grecia Magna.

He pondered, but without discontent, how different and how much easier his destiny might have been if he had been born rich—a prince, perhaps, or a great lord. Then he would not have needed to have become a monk in order to obtain learning, to have spent so many years of his youth in a monastery. He could have travelled with dignity and in state, he could, perhaps, have moved the destinies of people, he might have done something to smooth out the bloody confusion in which mankind writhed.

But his father had been a poor mercenary soldier and he had not one penny.

This consideration of his poverty brought to his mind Giulia and the witless boy—one of them loved him and both were, in a way, depending upon him and had trusted him, but he could do nothing for them. He turned back the sleeves of his white habit and locked at his lean wrists. Where, anywhere, in all the world, as he knew it, would life be possible to such a man as he knew himself to be? He felt the scapulary on his breast, he thought of Saint Dominic, dark-faced, in his funereal robes with his lean dog, nosing through the lazy sloth of the night.

* * * * *

Beneath the walls of Benevento they came upon a travelling puppet show. A fat woman with a baby at her bare brown breast was sitting at the door of the wagon mending the green petticoat of a limp doll with tow stitched to its head. Some men were watering a white horse at a stream, two dwarfs were cooking a meal over some charcoal.

"You will go with these people, Giulia," said the monk, "you and the child."

He approached the woman and told her that these were two orphans who were in his charge, and begged her, in the name of God, to take them with her on her journey.

"The girl is clever at working the puppets and saying the voices for the women dolls, and the boy can play the drum. They eat very little and can earn their keep."

The woman stared at the face of the priest and was frightened; she thought at first that he was a saint or an angel.

"The high road from Naples to Rome is full of robbers," added the priest, "and I cannot protect these two. There are many of you and you will be safer."

"Do you go to Rome?" asked Giulia of the woman, who nodded. She was a Neapolitan and greatly frightened of the Spaniard, the priest, and the Dominican.

"I shall see you in Rome," said the monk. "Be kind to these two for your own sake and the love of Our Lady."

The boy sat down on the edge of the woman's skirt and began to beat the little drum. This pleased the baby, who laughed and danced in his mother's arms. The woman smiled, timidly; only Giulia looked sad, like a child whose candid happiness is suddenly taken from it; her mouth moved, trying to shape words that she could not utter.

"We shall stay at the Field of Flowers," said the woman. "We do quite well there. We have acrobats and clowns as well as the dolls."

"The Field of Flowers," repeated the monk, "I do not know the quarter, but I shall find it—"

"It is a square near the river."

The woman rose and placed her laughing baby in Giulia's arms; she had been a rope walker and still retained an alert and wary grace and seemed to place her feet with caution on the grass. She asked the monk if he would share their meal, but he refused, disliking delay. The stroller's baby pulled at Giulia's kerchief and the heavy tresses tumbled to her waist; the monk, smiling at her with his eyes, admired her without desire. He hoped that she would find another lover, one who would be kind to her and make her laugh joyfully.

The dwarfs came close to listen to the child's drumming; they were bow-legged and their mouths had been slit in order to make them grotesque, one had a ginger beard and other was bald with scarred cheeks.

The monk gave them all his blessing and went his way by the walls of Benevento. He had no cause for gladness, but some pulse of his inner being beat in harmony with the universe, with the eternal rhythm of infinity. This gave him a sense of excitement, of enthusiasm that made him walk swiftly.

For a long way he could hear the beat of the child's drum coming faintly and unevenly on the slothful air.

Towards Rome—a long journey. The dusty, uneven road unrolled before him; an almond tree, a church, a farm, a village would be specks before him, then large, taking shape, colour, then close, filling the evening, then behind him again, only to be seen by a backward glance, then lost.

With the evening came a greenish light, pale as the radiance in a lily cup; the monk rested in a solitary place where he could see nothing but the outline of the darkening hill-side against the translucent sky. A little waterbreak, falling from level to level nearby made a hastening sound—an urgent, yet soothing melody. A small tree was outlined, every delicate bough and quivering leaf, against the dazzling purity of the heavens.

The monk spoke to himself: "What are you doing here, Felipe Bruno? Where are you going?"

He mused, his thin face in his fine, hairy hands, the soiled monk's habit hanging heavily on his firm limbs that seemed active even in complete repose.

Into his happy solitude a stranger passed; a tall man walking with an air of strong purpose over the brow of the hill under the dancing leaves of the slender tree, a black figure in an ample cloak thrown darkly against the bright void of the sky. As the monk glanced at him he passed on, looking straight ahead; there was a gaunt dog at his heels.


II. — THE INCANTATIONS OF CIRCE

WHEN the monk entered Rome he was very tired and even a little giddy from long journeying, but the sight of the beautiful, superb city whose very name was like the sound of trumpets, upheld his strength.

It was early in the day and he wandered slowly through the sunny streets until he came to a large fountain and there sat down and refreshed himself, when he had drunk allowing the water to run through his lean, brown hands, which were covered with dust. Already a strong heat crept into the air, the pale buildings, the colour of ochre, of sand, of amber, and of the earth of Sienna, began to dazzle as if they also gave out light.

The narrowed eyes of the monk peered out under his dusty black hood; he could remember the city, but not well, he had only been there once before and not for long, but he could recall the Dominican monastery, the head-quarters of that Order which stood in the great Piazza of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. He recalled the pleasure he had had in the ruined temple opposite, still, even in decay and neglect, a worthy dwelling-house for the gods.

The sky overhead strengthened into a violent blue, shadows under the balconies, in the deep doorways and window-place became clear-cut and violet in colour; the monk noticed some antique cornices, the full flow of acanthus leaves, the half-defaced mask of a satyr or a nymph built into the walls of the Christian dwellings. He noted also in the gardens, the strong fronds of the plants, the palms and vines, the rose briars and wall-flowers full of sap and rearing proudly to the rising sun.

He lingered by the fountain for he was footsore and he liked to hear the splash of the water falling from the grinning jaws of the marble fish, he liked to watch the ripples spread and break on the curved, discoloured lip of stone, he liked to watch the drips of water fall on the hot paving stones.

Presently children came by and paused to drink and smile at him shyly before they ran away. The monk pondered his future, to which he was really indifferent. Probably it would be safe for him to go to the head-quarters of his Order—wandering monks were common enough, the Dominicans in particular were often sent on the road, sometimes in a secular disguise, to spy out heresy, to observe the world, to take news from one convent to another—it was not likely that any ill report of him had been received from Naples. There had, indeed, been scarcely time, for he, though on foot, had travelled swiftly, often walking through the sweet spring night being content with but an hour or so of sleep. Besides, there had been no definite charge against him put before the Provincial Father.

He recalled curiously as if it were a picture detached from his own experience, the room in the gardener's cottage as he had last seen it, with the dead man on the bed. When that poor corpse was discovered they would see that he had done his best to succour body and soul, whatever they thought of him they would scarcely blame him for that crime nor would they be likely to connect his brother with the murder. Yet, he did not know. He thought of the flight from the puppet show. All gone, and there would be those who knew that Silvestro and Gioan had been both enamoured of Giulia, who pulled the strings and said the words for the female dolls.

The monk rose; none of these things mattered since both the men were dead, and Giulia, as far as he knew, safe enough. With his long easy stride, a little slow by reason of his fatigue, he turned through the noble streets in which it gave him such pleasure to walk, and asked the way from the first man he met—a peasant from the Campagna who was bring fresh vegetables into the city.

The man did not understand him at first because of his Neapolitan accent, but soon guessed from his habit where he was going and eagerly gave him the direction.

The vibrant light was increasing brilliantly over the mighty city, and on every window sill and in every dark plot buds and leaves were uncurling to the gracious heat.

* * * * *

The monk was received without question in the great monastery facing the temple of Agrippa. Clearly, the brothers had had no news from Naples and observed nothing suspicious in the journeyings of FrÓ, Jordanus to Rome. They knew his reputation as a magnificent scholar and treated him with courtesy and respect.

The wanderer was glad of the shadowed cell, the sun-flecked cloisters, the plain food and regular hours, and the large, handsomely appointed library, glad, even, to find himself again one of those black and white-robed figures whose days were given to meditation and prayer. With no sense of hypocrisy he assisted at the divine services in the gorgeous chapel, the ceremonies and observances of a monastic life had become woven into the fibres of his being. He approved of these great organizations, so skilfully managed, so wealthy, and so powerful that strove in a world of blood and chaos, of lust and greed, to maintain philosophy, religion, and a contemplative life, and he mused that if the Dominicans would purge themselves of ignorance and bigotry and allow the minds of their brethren to remain unfettered, he would ask no better than to pass his days as one of them.

But he was irked to find that so many of the richly bound books in the sumptuous library were out of date, traditional, a mere collection of words turning over superstitions, half-truths and lies. And he was vexed by the continuous talk among his brethren of heresy, of the duty of hunting out errors, of the obligations on every priest to accept without a shade of question the tenets laid down by his superiors.

The Prior, who was a Spaniard of haughty birth, and some of the brothers also, was disappointed in FrÓ Jordanus because he did not show much zest and zeal on the question of heresy, but seemed to keep his lips guarded; they mistrusted his eyes, too, which were so full of fire and had a look, they thought, of unaccountable and unwarrantable boldness.

The monk went much abroad, walking the city swiftly, observing everything, from the insects in the cracks of the hot paving stones, to the glitter on the unfinished dome of Saint Peter's Church. Rome was full of activity, on every hand men were labouring and hastening to and fro on arduous work. Huge, formidable fortresses, three or four hundred years old rose beside the gorgeous columns and broken, ornate arches left from the Rome of the Imperial Caesars. Elegant basilicas leaned against the yellowing marble of ancient temples, goats browsed above the capitals of buried pillars, living plants grew next the sculptured vines and acanthus leaves rigid in cracked alabaster.

Eager, gesticulating workmen urged on by earnest overseers were building hospitals, libraries, and spanning the yellow, turgid waters of the Tiber with a new bridge. Palaces raised by men intoxicated by the splendour of their own genius rose triumphantly to the stainless sky.

For the last hundred and fifty years Pope after Pope had striven with a feverish ardour and an unflagging energy to embellish the resplendent city which had been for so long the capital of paganism and the mistress of the world.

Slums and mean, half-dismantled houses jostled by the new, vigorous buildings; beggars, many of them broken and mutilated soldiers, clustered on the shallow steps of the gilded churches and in the shade of the high balconies of the proud palaces. None of the streets was safe after dark, for the country beyond the walls of Rome swarmed with brigands and robbers. Filth, disease, and ignorance were side by side with the sublime aspirations of the human spirit expressed in marble, in stone, in gilding, in mosaics, in wide avenues, in strong, elegant bridges.

FrÓ Jordanus often paused to gaze with his brilliant, restless eyes at the walls of the Vatican, where the great new library, erected to house the collection of priceless books and manuscripts collected by the Popes, was nearing completion. The monk knew the names of several books that were not among those cherished treasures. He mused, smiling, on the Pope, head of Christendom, the Viceroy of God on earth, and the incompetent governor of these tumultuous, badly managed, half-ruined Papal States—an ascetic old man fiercely declaiming against heresy, favouring those fierce soldiers of Christ, the Jesuits, who through the Collegium Romanum were making themselves the masters of education in Rome. Unnoticed, merely another monk in a city crowded by monks, the Dominican went his way observing everything.

* * * * *

The monk found, in the ugly slum inhabited by outcasts, the puppet show that he had seen outside the walls of Benevento. The little theatre had been arranged upon an open space of ground in the Campi dei Flori near a wall which had once been part of a patrician's house. The back and one side of the little theatre was formed by an angle of the ancient yellow and cracked marble walls, with, above, a slightly hollowed niche, in which was the smooth features of a defaced mask crowned by vines. The roof and the other side of the theatre was formed by a tattered awning of orange canvas.

The simple-minded boy whom the monk had brought with him from Naples was seated by his drum, but he was not playing it. He seemed healthier, his dirty face was plump, and he laughed at the dark-eyed baby tied in the shawl that lay on the ground beside him, and whom he was teasing with a bunch of weeds that had quickly wilted in the heat.

Near the shattered fragments of a fluted column sat Giulia; she was threading scarlet beads on a blue string and her smooth long face seemed as empty as the mask carved on the wall. Strong yellow sunlight came from under the coarse awning and glowed on her bare neck, and the glimpse of bosom that showed between the lacings of the ragged bodice.

With his long, yet elegant strides, the monk came over the broken alabaster flagstones through which the luxuriant weeds were sprouting.

She looked up at him when his shadow touched her feet and smiled as if she had been expecting him. There was singing, the voices of boys and men, coming from a basilica nearby. The sound, floating through the narrow windows on the warm air, sounded harsh and unnatural in contrast to the voluptuous sweetness of the day.

"Did you come to look for me?" asked Giulia.

"No," replied the monk, "I found you by chance. But I meant to come."

Giulia let the beads fall into the lap of her ragged skirt, her bare brown feet were clearly defined by a line of purple shadow on the yellowish broken alabaster of the pavement.

The monk asked her if she was happy, and she shook her head.

No. The wife of the puppet master had taken a fancy to the boy for she had lately lost a child of her own who would have been of about that age. She was kind to him, almost foolish with him and he had become pampered and sly, but for herself she was often ignored and often beaten. Several times they had told her that she must leave. She had feared, during that long and dangerous journey from Benevento to Rome, that the wagon would go on in the morning and leave her behind, a prey to all the robbers and evil men who prowled on the highway.

As she told him this she revealed, by her rapid words, by her quick looks, that she was neither resigned nor bitter, there was something gentle and noble in her sad expression.

The monk was helpless to offer advice or help, and she was but one of so many. He thought of the markets as he saw them on his early morning walks, of delicate, lovely, slaughtered birds and animals who had been a few hours before free and joyous and now lay in mangled, bloody piles, sometimes still faintly breathing. Giulia was like that, but one of many fair and helpless creatures who every day were ruthlessly destroyed without anyone feeling regret or remorse.

"This is the life I was born to," continued the girl, smiling, "therefore I ought to be contented. But you know, FrÓ Jordanus, I am not. I often think of those who live delicately and comfortably, I see them in the streets of Rome—ladies, like peacocks, with gold dust in their hair."

"Do not envy them, Giulia, they are no more happy than you are."

"You say that to comfort me, but it is not true. Besides, if I were in such a position, I should not be idle and vain and stupid—" She broke off quickly. "But you! What are you doing? I see you still wear your habit." She spoke half in awe, half in tenderness—he had always known that she was afraid of his robe.

He told her he lodged in the Dominican monastery, that no one had questioned him. They were silent a while, watching the poor, harmless boy and the fat baby who played together on the cracked alabaster through which the weeds sprouted. Resonant and robust the harsh undertone of the song of adoration to God rose from the gilt frames of the windows of the nearby basilica.

"It is difficult," said the monk, "to build up one's life from nothing. We neither of us have anything, Giulia—I, a monk, and you, a vagrant. If we had been left, now, even a little money—"

"But you have so much," she urged, her voice sounded weary and depressed, "your learning, all those books that you have read."

He gave her his vivid, disturbing glance from under his hood.

"I have a great deal of learning, Giulia, yet not as much as I should wish. But I doubt if I were once free of this habit it would suffice to earn me my bread—"

"Nor even to give you happiness?" she asked him. "Your habit—could you not leave that as some do? I have seen them dressed like ordinary men. Could we go away together, somewhere, anywhere? Who would notice or care?"

He smiled at her candour, which so suited his own character. It was also impossible for him to conceal any thought or mood, any impulse or aspiration, save only by that clumsy expedient which he used now in the Dominican monastery—closed lips and downcast eyes, which at once provoked comment and suspicion.

"You and I, Giulia! Neither of us is clever enough for an adventure like that. Besides—"

She interrupted him by rising and coming from without the hot shadow of the orange awning.

"You don't want me," she said decidedly. "Very well."

She turned into the tent and began with feverish vigour to set ready the puppets for the evening performance—all the strings and the lead weights had to be put in order, all the dresses to be brushed and smoothed.

* * * * *

When the monk returned to the monastery another brother with whom he had a little acquaintance and who had been friendly, stopped him in the doorway with an urgent hand on his sleeve.

"I have been waiting for you—do not go in. Come, let us walk up the square a little way as if we were in ordinary converse."

FrÓ Jordanus obeyed. He was astonished at the interest this stranger took in him, he had hardly noticed the man, who was young and plump and who read much in the library and ate heartily in the refectory.

"There has come news from Naples," muttered the young monk, looking steadily down at the hot flagstones. "They say that there was found in the gardener's cottage that you had left, a man who had been slain violently." He looked up quickly, sideways. "That, of course, was nothing. It was supposed to have been some poor wretch whom you had taken in to succour, but they found a book torn across and thrust into a bed of manure. It was a forbidden book," added the young monk, emphatically, without raising his eyes.

"I know," replied the other with complete frankness, "it was some of the works of Saint Jerome, annotated by Erasmus. I knew that they were forbidden, that's why I tore them up and put them under the manure heap. I thought they would not be found."

The young monk glanced at him in astonishment.

"You are very reckless and careless," he said. "You know that that is heresy. The works of the Holy Father are forbidden, and still more the annotations of Erasmus."

They had walked one side of the square—white figures on the white pavement, both gilded by the strong sunshine.

"Why do you concern yourself with me?" asked FrÓ Jordanus, kindly.

"I don't know," replied the other Dominican, troubled, "you seem to me to have no fear. That is what I cannot understand."

"There was nothing evil in the book, of course. We have such ignorant, malicious men in authority, people who understand nothing."

He looked up with an air of triumph at the facade of the temple of Agrippa in front of which their slow steps had come to a pause. He raised his hand and let it fall as if he was measuring the noble lengths of the pillars; he had the air of an architect who has planned a superb building.

"I don't understand you," said the young monk hurriedly, "I thought I would give you a warning. I think they mean to arrest you and hand you over to the Inquisition. It is heresy, you see."

FrÓ Jordanus looked at him kindly, almost with an air of amusement.

"What do you think I could do?" he asked.

"I don't know. I feel you are a great man. I suppose I should not say that, if you have these leanings to heresy, but I feel you are brave, too. I don't think you know what fear is."

FrÓ Jordanus glanced from the temple across the sunlit square across to the convent; a flight of pigeons filled the brilliant air. "I suppose that I had better be on my travels again."

"Yes, I think that is all you can do. The Prior will want to see you as soon as you come in, he is sure to find fault with you, your answers are so bold and ill-considered. All the brothers have been suspicious of you, too, you speak so little yet you have an air of secret knowledge."

"Where am I to go?"

"I don't know. I suppose you could go to another convent where they haven't heard of you yet, but the news from Naples will soon be spread everywhere. I should take off your habit, though, many monks do, especially when travelling in dangerous parts of the country. But," added the young man earnestly, "whatever you do, don't remove the scapulary from your neck, you know that that is a most serious offence."

Then, as if fearful of being spied upon from one of the windows of the convent, he hastened away, walking awkwardly in his long white robe across the sunny square.

The noise of the city, remote and yet insistent, hung in the air.

Against this web of distant sound the church bells began to clatter violently. The monk turned swiftly, as if following an invisible guide and hurried through the hot streets to the puppet theatre near the walls.

* * * * *

It was the hour before the evening performance; a pole with a lantern and a puppet dressed in scarlet and green tied at the top, had been stuck by the fluted columns where Giulia had sat earlier in the day. Some youths and children were lifting the flap and passing in to the benches which had been set for the audience. There was a smell of garlic and vinegar and frying fish from the poor houses in the neighbourhood. A child wailed, an old man coughed, a young woman laughed, the steady, rhythmic beating of the boy's drum sounded against these discordant noises.

The monk drew himself apart in a corner of the ruins and waited. He was hungry, he had eaten nothing at midday and he had missed the evening meal at the monastery. He did not possess a penny in the world and knew not how to earn one. But his immediate necessity was not even food but a suit of secular clothes—in his white habit he was easy to trace if he should be pursued.

Calmly, and without any fear in his equable mind, he set about to plan his future, but it was impossible for his thoughts to be long full of thrifty and anxious matters. The stars came out and seemed to hang low over his head so that if he threw up his hands he might brush them or even feel their rays scorch his black hood.

The orange curtain fell on the audience of the puppet show, he heard Giulia's assumed voice, muffled, squeaky, he heard the steady tap of the boy's drum, but all these were mingled with and subdued to a dull throb like that of his own blood to his inattentive ears.

His spirit travelled far, it seemed to him that he hovered over the whole of Rome, ancient and crumbling, new and stalwart, bricks and stone, tile and marble, lust and greed, and blood and treachery, all housed in a glorious confusion of beauty and decay.

He forgot Giulia, and he forgot his peril, but presently the girl found him when she came out to throw away the broken scraps left over from the supper of herself, the puppet master and his wife and children.

Shrewdly and seriously she considered him, sensing the hours he had sat there, the numbness of his limbs, his hunger and his great folly in lingering in this place, for she was aware, as if he had told her, of his peril. She knew, too, that he had forgotten her, though some memory of her must, in the first place, have brought him to this obscure and humble spot.

"Wait for me," she whispered, her finger on her lips, and was gone quickly, a shadow in the rich twilight.

When she returned, and he did not know how long she had been gone, she had better food on a clean plate which she offered on her knees, and a bundle under her arm as she had had the day when they had fled together from the puppet theatre in Naples.

"You are leaving Rome?" she whispered.

He nodded, not having until that moment known of his own resolution.

"Then we will go together."

He nodded again, having no need of her but realizing that, desolate and poor as he was, she had need of him. He ate his food slowly and carefully for he felt slightly sick from fasting, and looked awhile at her with a serene penetration.

"Make haste," she kept urging him, but he replied:

"Who will look for me here?"

When he had finished they set the plate down on the cracked alabaster among the rich weeds and went away together.

"There had been an information lodged against me," smiled the monk, "I must take a secular habit if I can find one."

"I can manage that," replied Giulia swiftly. She implored him to meet her (it was dangerous, perhaps, but they had to risk something) among the old ruins of the fallen masonry of the temple of Venus Victrix. In a little while, oh, in such a brief space, she would be with him and she would have the garments.

* * * * *

The monk found the place Giulia had so anxiously and earnestly indicated. There was a roadside calvary by the steps of the temple, round the base of which a wild briar twined. The air was faintly tainted by the exhalations from the stagnant water, from cast-out refuse rotting in the broken ground. There seemed a faint, noisome veil across the stars.

The girl came hurrying back and put a bundle of clothes into his arms. He smiled as he asked her how she had obtained the garments, fearing that she had stolen them, for he had a great dislike of any petty crime or sin. Yet he would not have refused the clothes, even if she had pilfered them for his sake.

But she told him, no, she had gone to the poor tailor who made the better clothes for the puppets. She had said that her master required, in a hurry for the marriage of his daughter, a suit of clothes, something not expensive but that perhaps had been set aside after being spoiled for another client, and as she had had the money in her hand the poor man had been glad to find something for her need.

"The money, Giulia—how did you obtain it

"It is mine, what they paid me for my labour, what chance have I had to spend it before?"

"I must find some way of giving that back to you."

He went behind the cold, marble pillars of the temple of Venus Victrix that was like a tomb, and in the shadows of the pagan shrine he took off the white habit, the black cloak and cowl, and put on the cheap, ill-cut garments that the girl had brought him not knowing even the colour or make of them in the thick twilight. He felt very easy, tall and thin without the encumbering robes; it was curious to turn his head and not feel the folds of the hood at his throat. But what to do with the black cloak? He regretted that, it was a good cloth, a warm covering for a wanderer on a winter's night. But it would be foolish to take such a piece of evidence with him. He fingered the ends of the scapulary on his breast as he clumsily laced the doublet.

The monk then joined the girl; two shadows among the shadows, they turned again into the city and made their way through the by-streets and the less frequented ways and followed the Tiber out of the tall gates towards Oriveto.

* * * * *

They did not pause until the dawn and not till then did she see him in his new, strange habit—a slight, slender man, stately and full of vigour, graceful, even in his crooked, ill-adjusted clothes. No one would ever guess that he had been a priest, she thought: that he is a priest, she corrected herself.

They sat down side by side in the thick grasses that were full of perfume and she showed him the few pence she had, all that was left in her possession after she had bought the suit. What would they purchase? She did not know. What did it matter, they could beg as they had begged on the way from Naples to Rome. The weather was warm and fine and they could sleep in the fields.

"Giulia, when we came from Naples I was in a monk's habit, therefore people gave to me when I begged, and that a little protected me, too, from robbers. But now I am in a civil habit and shall command respect from no one. Besides, I am unarmed."

"We must be patient."

"I, too, think so," smiled the monk. The sun was coming up and colouring two light wisps of cloud which floated over them like wings of fire outspread. "When life puts a burden on you," he added strongly, "you must hold your head high and not flinch. We will go to some great city—"

"We will go!" she interrupted, softly and joyously. "You will not shake me off, then, this time?"

He put his arm round her shoulder, drawing her close to him with a strong pressure.

"We will go to some great city, perhaps Genoa, where there are many wealthy people and bookshops, and I shall obtain some work copying or correcting for the press. Perhaps, even, I can sell some books of my own. I have had books printed before, Giulia."

She looked straightly and candidly, in that light which every second deepened into gold, into his long face with the smooth features, the full lips and formidable, ardent eyes. She believed he was a god in disguise, or a saint concealed, and that she never could mean much to him. She knew that he was often filled with the wild surge of restless passion, but that it was not for her. She knew, too, that when she was with him, life seemed to go swift and strong, clear and pure, like the waterbreaks that she had seen, falling from rock to rock, violent and unchecked.

The landscape was very lonely, the fields were uncultivated, not far off they could hear the river rushing to the sea.

"Is this sin to you?" asked the monk serenely.

Sin! She did not know, the word sounded alien in her ears. She was conscious only of the man whom she had chosen in a deep ecstasy of love, long ago, as one might choose a god or a saint, to worship.

"Lie down," she said, "you must be tired."

She pulled some boughs from an oak tree as the idiot boy had pulled some beech boughs to cover the body of Gioan. She laid these pleasant green leaves over her poor bundle of soiled garments to make a pillow for him. He sighed, for the strength was indeed smitten out of him.

"But you, Giulia, you need to rest."

"No, I shall watch while you sleep. Then I shall rest a little while you watch."

The monk laid his head on the pillow covered with leaves and fell into a swoon of fatigue. For several nights he had watched and thought, for several weeks he had had little sleep. Giulia sat beside him and gazed at him earnestly, marking every line of the spare body in the miserable clothes, the long face and the tangled hair that was heavy with sweat and dust.

The birds stirred drowsily in the trees, the rush of the unseen river seemed to grow louder, the moonlight to strengthen in the pellucid sky. Between the lacings of the ill-fitting doublet of the sleeping man showed the ends of the scapulary of the priest.

* * * * *

Giulia broke her vigil and stretched her arms to the sky; the moon was waning and the white light of it seemed warm. She wandered away from the sleeping man, and, guided by the rushing sound, languid and hurrying, found a freshet that ran to the river.

There she bathed, her naked body breaking the reflected moon with widening circles of shuddering silver, the tall flags at the water's edge crossing her pale shape with lines of indigo-violet shade. Cleanliness was her sole luxury; for her vanity's sake she had always contrived water, the perfume of dried flowers, bay, or rosemary leaves that could be gained for nothing, and a ball of soap worth a few pence.

Now she bathed with voluptuous enjoyment, washing away the filth of the city, the dust of the journey, the stains and sweat of her employments.

She rinsed her hands in the water, held them up dripping, and watched the drops turn to lobes of silver in the moonlight, while the reflection of the moon settled to placidity by her thigh, that looked silver too. The water was low because of the heat; by the crown of summer it would be dried up.

Giulia moved, shaking the mock moon to fragments again, and plunged her head and her heavy, dusty tresses beneath the water.

She thought that she washed away more than the pollutions of the city and the fatigues of the journey. Her ablutions became a rite which brought forgetfulness of the dead men, Gioan to whom she had been fiercely unkind, and Silvestro whom she had embraced because he was young and comely and stammered from desire of her beauty.

She slipped from the stream and stood erect among the sheathed lilies waiting to blossom amid their spear-like leaves. She knew that the beauty of women was transient—that it did not last much longer than twenty years, but, as she stood there amid the iris buds, dripping with water, watched by the warm moonlight, she felt contented with the assurance of immortality.

* * * * *

The monk woke refreshed; as he lay still the taste, fragrant and acrid, of the leaves on his pillow, was on his lips. When he moved he felt the lack of his habit like relief from a burden. He sat up and saw the moon setting behind a grove of trees on a little hill. The beauty of the night flowed around him like an incantation. So exquisite was the serene tranquillity that it seemed as if the city had never existed, as if all that filth and grandeur, so needless, so ignoble, was no more than a blur of smoke on the horizon that had disappeared with the setting of the sun.

He had dreamt heavily and the power of his dreams was still over him as he rose and turned towards the grove. He lost his identity in that delicate solitude; he forgot the scapulary on his breast, why he had fled from Naples, why he had fled from Rome. He was no longer FrÓ Jordanus, the brilliant Dominican who read forbidden books, who argued so boldly, to whom the truth was more sacred than his vows of obedience. He was no longer poor Felipe Bruno from Cicala, who had stood in the golden fields outside Nola with the newly washed yellow gem in his hand, on which was the likeness of his own face. His dreams had been of the ancient world which was more familiar to him than that about him; as he walked to the grove he dared to imagine that Christ had never been born. Ah, what ease, what pleasure in that thought! The hideous, savage Eastern Jehovah and the son whom he had consigned to torture had never existed, like the city with its slums and thieves, its harlots and priests, they had never existed, but were mere fragments of a nightmare, staining the repose of mankind. In the various monasteries where he had lived he had seen brothers convulsed by sensual, gross, and ugly dreams, shrieking and foaming at the mouth in their sleep so that they had to be watched. These fits were supposed to be due to the temptations of Satan, who was always busy after the followers of Saint Dominic. So might these barbaric gods and their ignorant followers be evil dreams, tormenting mankind, from which they would one day awaken.

So, standing on the confines of the remote, still, and lovely grove, might this man imagine. He knew what the Dominicans would name such thoughts—blasphemous, incredible—how they would name the enchantment of the night—the incantations of Circe.

The moon had almost set, the shadows of the trees were very long, fine-drawn, and quivering as a little breeze ran through the leaves.

In the centre of the grove sat Giulia, clad in the white shirt she had worn under her ragged petticoat, stained with oil and fruit juice. She was wringing the water from her hair, which was dark and heavy in her hand as a tangle of unspun silk; it was the colour of newly pressed wine in her nimble fingers.

As she looked up he thought her quite changed; no longer the pretty wanton from the slums of Naples, no longer the puppet worker of the Campo dei Flori, outcast among outcasts, but a creature beautiful, with a definite purpose, vital with a noble intention.

She dropped her wet tresses and crawled to him across the small, unseen flowers. He still wore his sandals, for she had not been able to procure him shoes, and his legs were bound with rags that had come awry, so that she touched his bare feet, damp from the evening moisture. He understood that the trees were myrtles between flowers and fruit; he broke off a bough and held it across his breast as he raised the girl with his other arm.

"I am still soiled from the city, Giulia."

Their separate weaknesses fused into one strength as they kissed, crushing the broken bough between them; the bruised flowers diffused a mild sweetness. The moon set, leaving some scattered stars.

* * * * *

When the monk woke the world lay precise and exact about him; a grove of trees, a withered branch beside a sleeping girl in a coarse white shirt whose dry, parted lips rested on the backs of her work-calloused hands, a sound of a distant stream and the stiff rustle of the wings of restless birds.

Through the tracery of the trees showed a shape that last night the magic of the shadows had blended with the tender foliage, but which now was stark against the brightening sky—a wayside crucifix. The gaunt shape, the bowed head, the bony knees and startling ribs, the projecting nails showed implacable behind the delicacy of the myrtles, the warm, humble beauty of the slumbering woman.

The monk gazed unmoved at these emblems—of man's contrivances and therefore vanity. When a radiant bird poised on one of the arms of the cross to preen its soft bright breast he smiled.


III. — THE WANDERERS

THE monk and the girl wandered from Oriveto to Perugia, begging their way, working at farms for a meal, and sleeping in the fields. They had an agreeable sense of being lost to the world that knew them; there was no sign of any pursuit, and they moved among strangers. They often lost their way and took much longer than they need to get from one point to another. Every week, too, the weather became fiercer, and then so hot that they could not travel in midday, but had to sit at the roadside in any scrap of shade that they could find.

They came, footsore, and bent from fatigue, out of the Papal States into Tuscany and then into the territory of the Republic of Genoa, but in the great, turbulent, money-making city of marble and palms set in the noble bay full of prosperous shipping, where men cared little for letters, for the arts, but were always quarrelling over trade, there was no place for them.

The monk no longer used the name FrÓ Jordanus which had been given him when he entered the monastery, but used his baptismal name of Felipe and his father's name of Bruno. No one knew of the scapulary hidden beneath his poor clothes.

A bookseller in Genoa gave him a little employment correcting some sheets of Latin for the press, and told him that there might be in Noli, a little town under the protection of the Republic along the rocky coast, opportunities for a scholar.

So the two wanderers went there and the monk obtained work, teaching the use of the spheres to certain gentlemen of Noli and grammar to their children. As he spoke Spanish very well he allowed it to be assumed, without deliberately saying so, that he was a Spaniard who had lost his family and his fortune through the raids of the Saracens on the Sicilian coast.

He worked quietly and diligently, as a man who enjoys a lull in a life of tumult. Out of his earnings he rented a room in a small cottage, little better than a hut, which he and Giulia occupied; there were two windows in the chamber that at the back opened on to orange groves, and that at the front opened on to the sea. Giulia told the few people whom she met that she was Felipe Bruno's wife, and no one troubled them.

In the late autumn the poor teacher heard from one of the children whom he was instructing in grammar, that two Dominicans in their black and white robes had been seen in Noli. They were making inquiries for a fugitive monk who had been traced, they said, as far as Genoa.

Giulia was scouring a pot when her lover told her this news; she stood at the door of the cottage and before her was the extravagance of the sunset, blood and fire in colour and brilliancy, staining the sky above, the sea below.

"They might not know you," she said, hopelessly and sullenly defending her happiness.

"They will soon hear there is a stranger, a scholar here. If I am questioned I must admit who I am. I still wear the scapulary."

"Oh, why!" Often she had taken this from his neck when he slept and hidden it, but never had she been able, because of superstitious terror, to destroy it, always, angry and reluctant, she had returned it to him on his demand.

Taking no heed of her sighing reproach, he said:

"It was, perhaps, time that I left this place."

"Where we have been safe and happy?"

He smiled tenderly at her; it took so little to make Giulia happy, a kiss, an embrace, a flower for her warm bosom, a garland for her heavy hair, some assurance that she was loved. Safe! As if she would ever be safe in a world where she was as much despised as any wayside weed.

The sunset flared out suddenly, leaving the ocean grey and cold with only a rippling reflection of dying fire fading on the idle waves.

"Take me with you," she implored in an access of terror at his silence.

"Wherever I go—always. Be quiet, Giulia. This is nothing. We have the world before us and we require so little."

* * * * *

That night the monk left Noli, and Giulia carried the bundle of their few possessions and their scanty store of crowns. Travelling with the utmost haste, living with the utmost frugality, eking out their money by wayside work and by begging, they came to Turin, the gorgeous city of a splendid and enlightened ruler. But here, although the monk went from shop to shop, there was no work to be found, neither in the correcting of books for the press nor in teaching.

So, lean and ragged, they turned and followed the Po to Venice, where, opposite the magnificent church of San Marco in the great piazza at the end of a lane of shops named the Frezzaria, they found, after much searching, a lodging with an old bookseller who was becoming decrepit and blind and needed an assistant in his work.

Here they remained for six weeks, Giulia cooking the meals for the old man, sweeping the shop and dusting the books, and Felipe Bruno preparing the manuscripts for the press, helping the printer to set the type. Here for a little while was rest and a competent living, but there was the plague in Venice, thousands of people had died of it in the last two years, and they became afraid for one another—the monk fearful for the girl, who was the only creature who loved him and had any concern in his fortune, and the girl for the monk lest he should die and leave her utterly desolate in a foreign city.

In his small leisure left from his work for the old man, the monk had written a book which he called Of the Signs of the Time. His employer had it printed for him; it only sold a few copies and gained but a few pence, but these were welcome enough for they had to have clothes, the garments made by the puppet master's tailor in Rome, which had been patched and turned and restitched in Noli, no longer formed a decent covering, and Giulia had turned about her rags as often as she could.

One morning, while they hesitated as to whether they should remain in the plague-infested city, they found the old man who had employed them, dead in his chair with a great book fallen on his knees. Fearing that it was of the plague he had died, and seeing they could do nothing for him and that their employment was gone—for they knew that the shop would fall to people who would not need them—they set out again and went to Padua.

There they paused at an inn to buy food and found when it was too late to draw back, that two Dominican monks were seated at a table, under the pergola of dusty vines. One was reading and one was lazily chasing flies with flicks of his hand—this was the man who had warned FrÓ Jordanus to fly from Rome. He knew the traveller immediately and nodded pleasantly.

Felipe Bruno stood motionless, thinking that they had come after him. The young monk remarked in a tired, agreeable voice:

"How uncomfortable travelling is, and how disagreeable the inns are. It is a long way, too, from one monastery to another."

He looked at Giulia, who went and sat down at the back of the inn porch, her heart numbed and her limbs trembling. The monk with the book did not look up from the closely-printed pages. Felipe Bruno sat down opposite the Dominicans and rested his elbows on the soiled table. It was more than two years since he had been in Rome, and his face had changed.

"I can't think how it is that I knew you at once," said the young monk, "you really are quite different. I see you've left off your habit," he added, "now that is not a wise thing to do. You should put it on again, it is much more convenient for travelling. You are treated with more respect, and any monastery will give you shelter."

"I still wear the scapulary," said Felipe Bruno, with a frank smile. He drank a little of the thick wine that was brought him, ate a little of the bread, and told them to take food to the girl who sat in the corner. Then he looked, with his steady, formidable eyes full into the face of the plump monk, and his glance asked directly: Are you a friend?

The other Dominican nodded in answer to this unspoken question.

"You must be acquiring experience, FrÓ Jordanus," he said. "When you return to Rome you will have a great deal to tell us."

At this the other monk glanced up from his book which had worn covers and thumbed leaves, smiled, nodded, and returned again to his reading.

"Perhaps what you say is wise, I have found it very difficult to earn a few pieces for my livelihood. It would be better for me to put on the white habit and beg my way again."

He felt pleased at being with the Dominicans again, glad of his connection with the great Order whose shelter and ceremonies he remembered with gratitude. He began to converse, easily and pleasantly with the plump monk; a certain weight was off his mind by reason of this friendly reception. No doubt these were the two Dominicans who had been at Noli and from whom he had fled, but they meant him no harm. Yet the young man talking to him was he who had warned him to fly from Rome...Felipe Bruno could not understand that, but it did not trouble his reckless candour.

While he ate the badly cooked mess of food before him he talked easily of his adventures since he had left Rome.

The monk who had been reading put down his book to ask suddenly:

"What of the manuscript you tried to conceal at Naples, FrÓ Jordanus? Was it in a cesspool that you left it?"

"It was a book, not a manuscript, I left in the garden under a heap of manure," Felipe Bruno smiled; the incident seemed grotesque, amusing, he was quite at his ease with the Dominicans. He felt that he had been foolish to suppose that they had ever suspected him of heresy. He told them of some of the books that he had read in Venice, of those that he hoped to write himself.

"Books!" interrupted the elder monk. "Are there not too many already in the world?"

"No doubt. But there is a need, an urge to express what is in oneself. I wish I could have remained longer in that shop. The old man had many treasures. I am very sorry that I had to leave him in his chair—but he was already rigid, it was impossible to move him."

The dry, curling vine leaves, the colour of rust fell from the trellis overhead on to the dirty table where the three monks sat, hens scratched in the dust about their feet. Felipe Bruno told, with much irony, how he had seen the monks of Castello, in Genoa, worshipping an ass's tail.

"It was the tail of the ass that bore Christ into Jerusalem," said the elder monk, and the younger checked Felipe Bruno's impetuous reply by saying:

"The tail of Balaam's ass is at the Laterano," with what seemed a careless gesture of his finger to his lip, but which was accompanied by so bright a glance, that Felipe Bruno felt it to be a warning and so checked his speech suddenly and sat, his hands on his knees, staring in front of him with his large, wide-set, beautiful eyes.

The elder monk rose and asked a question.

"Tell me, FrÓ Jordanus, do you think that these were great men among the heretics—Savonarola, Luther, Calvin, Beza?" It was the plump young man who replied:

"Greater than any of these are the mighty saints of the Church—even in our own Order there has been Blessed Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Antonio and His Beatitude Pius V—"

"Ay," smiled Bruno, "he was a good Inquisitor—delivering even men like Carnesecchi and the Archbishop of Toledo to the stake for small points of doctrine—"

The plump monk interrupted:

"A Hound of God, FrÓ Jordanus, such as would melt even the Church plate for means to war on the heretic. We must be on our way."

The other monk, clasping his book, remarked:

"You are restless and fantastic, FrÓ Jordanus. Have you made any further studies of the great star?"

Felipe Bruno began to speak of the observations that he had made at nights, sleeping in the fields—he had come to some conclusions as to the monstrous comet seen in '72, his lips shaped the name of Copernicus, but the young, friendly Dominican again checked his imprudent enthusiasm and abruptly drew away the other monk.

"Truly," said this person, pulling his black hood over his face, for the sun was strong overhead. "FrÓ Jordanus has more the aspect of a satyr than that of a priest—with his rags, hairy chest, and arms—and his tonsure quite overgrown. And what was he about to say of the comet when you checked him?"

"He is fantastic," repeated the other, "there is no harm in him."

Felipe Bruno looked after the two black-hooded figures disappearing slowly down the dusty road; he had thought well of them—but, after all, they were ignorant fools or timid hypocrites, though one at least meant kindly to him; how quickly they had silenced him and fled when he had been about to speak of the miracle of the Heavens! The Copernican heresy! The Church must believe in an inflexible sky, one fixed site for Saint Peter's Throne, another for the mouth of Hell.

Whence came this bat-blind ignorance? Pythagoras had known that the earth was only a planet like the moon...Felipe Bruno turned into the inn where Giulia waited with fear and patience.

"What are you going to do now?" she whispered.

"We will go on our way. Those Dominicans advised me to wear my habit again. I have enough money for cheap cloth—I will cut it and you can sew it, in order to save expense."

* * * * *

When they reached Milan, Felipe Bruno was again attired as a Dominican in a rough white habit of Giulia's sewing, and a black cloak with the scapulary showing on his breast. He had shaved his light chestnut beard and the tonsure amid his long, dark hair. Giulia did not like this change in him; it emphasized what she already knew—that he had little need of her, but kept her with him out of pity and kindness.

She was afraid of his learning and wisdom, of all the books he had read and written, of all the languages he knew, of his nightly studies of the stars, of the strange figures he could draw whenever he could get a piece of paper and a pencil. Yet in much they were companions, both strong, hardy, long of limb, tanned of skin, frugal travellers, sturdy beggars traversing Lombardy.

Giulia was happy simply because she was with her beloved; she trudged beside him, knowing neither fatigue nor disappointment. She had so few expectations that there was very little sadness in her life. She was quite prepared for any disaster, sudden death from the plague or from violence, for one or both of them; she was even prepared for the pains of Hell because of her daring sin in loving a monk, but of this she thought very little.

Felipe Bruno told her that he intended to cross the Alps into France, where Italian culture and learning was so much thought of because of the Queen, and where surely he would get some work as writer or teacher...it was obvious that the Dominicans were quite friendly, those two at the inn, now, they had given him good advice and let him go free on his way. No, there was nothing to be feared, but he had a mind for France.

"You never have a suspicion of anyone," said Giulia, "you trust all men."

"I have done no harm. The Dominicans have discovered, no doubt, that there was no heresy in my words or deeds, and they are quite willing to allow me to travel over Europe. I am obliged to them, but I do not want too much of their company. As I see it, a monk is a monk, and an ass is an ass, when all is said."

* * * * *

They reached Milan in a cold, wet fog; they could only afford to go to the poorest inns, and these were all full and it seemed that they would have to do like so many vagrants—sleep in an archway, or against the city walls where the buttresses afforded a rude shelter.

As they stood, hesitant in the increasing mist close to the gateway of a great palace which was full of light, a heavy coach passed them, going slowly by reason of the fog.

Inside were two men—one, an old, bearded fellow, was asleep with his hands folded on his fat chest. The other was young, with a long, pale, enthusiastic face which was framed in a ruff of silver wire and crowned by curls of very light hair. He peered out into the mist with the air of one looking for a friend, saw the two standing there forlorn, and, leaning impulsively out of the window, ordered the coachman to stop.

"Do you know him?" whispered Giulia, frightened. "No. He is some rich foreigner—there are a great many of them who come to Italy."

The young man had now jumped from the coach without waiting for the step to be let down, and came walking towards them. He was slender and fantastically dressed, his light grey eyes were full of melancholy and he was heavily armed with elegant weapons, and a collar of steel showed under his silver wire ruff. In a courteous voice and using precise Italian, he asked the monk the way to some place of which Felipe Bruno had not even heard the name.

"You, too, are a stranger then?" exclaimed the young man.

"I am a Dominican, as you see, and we claim no country."

The stranger glanced at the girl who, lean, hardy, and serene, wrapped her bare arms in her shawl and stood erect, impervious to the cold and fog.

"Your coach is waiting," said Felipe Bruno courteously. "If you go a little further you will find someone to direct you."

Impulsively, and yet with a certain affectation of manner, the young man said:

"I am a stranger, not only to Milan but to Italy, and I was thinking very deeply. My companion was asleep, I looked out of the coach window and saw your face, I was not sure if you wore a black hood or if it was the fog that enclosed you. Surely, although you are a priest you will bear with what must seem my idleness. Yes, asking you the way was only an excuse, I wanted to speak to you. Will you come and see me tomorrow?"

He named the fashionable and expensive inn where he was staying, then entered the coach and rode away beside the elder man, who still slept heavily.

"Don't go," whispered Giulia.

Felipe Bruno replied kindly: "I shall go, but it will make no difference to us."

* * *

"When I first saw you," mused the Englishman, "I thought that you looked like a flame. That's a strange thing to say, as you were standing in the fog and that heavy black cowl you wear was half over your face. Yet, so strong was that image in my mind, that I stopped the coach, as you know, and spoke to you."

"Is there not a flame in all of us?" replied the monk. "Often have I felt that my soul might go, like a flame, to God."

The two sat in a fine room of the inn where the Englishman was staying, a great fire burned on the marble hearth, the wood was scattered with aromatic herbs which gave out a delicious perfume; the walls were gilt and painted; thick wax candles stood ready to be lit.

The young Englishman was dressed in black velvet over white satin, fastened by laces with silver tags. He sat in a high-backed chair and there was a lamp above his head and the light of this made his fine hair shine like spun silver. His face was very long and pale, his eyes were brilliant, sad, and restless. He spoke with great ardour and there was an air of yearning in his glance.

Felipe Bruno admired him, almost, even on his first meeting, loved him. He spoke to him with that reckless candour he used to all, and the young Englishman listened with eager respect; neither of them thought that this was a strange or sudden friendship; the monk had thrown back his hood and the light of the fire showed his lean, dark face and the thick, quickly growing hair which when thrown back covered the tonsure.

He was led to talk eagerly of his travels, out of which he made an amusing tale. He laughed when he spoke of the forbidden book which he had thrust under the manure heap and which had been so easily found.

"As I might have guessed it would be, and I did not put it there from disrespect for the Holy Father Jerome, nor out of contempt for the annotations of Erasmus, for manure holds the germ of life and is not to be despised."

The Englishman, about whom there was something pure and delicate like colours seen in the light of dawn, urged him to continue to speak of his early life, and the monk related readily the beauties of the convent outside Naples. It was very old and finely built and there was a large garden full, as a cup is full of wine, of the perfumes of many flowers. There were lofty walls, too, and outside, groves of noble trees, beeches, chestnuts, and lower down the hill, laurels and olives.

"God seemed always present in that beautiful place, in the azure waters of the bay, in the violet tints of the sky, in the huge stars at night, and in the active quiver of the light, which never ceased from splendour as long as the sun was in the heavens."

He had been in many cloisters in the kingdom of Naples, reading much in the libraries, musing in his different cells, kneeling before the gorgeous altars of many magnificent chapels but never, save in his own home at Cicala, beneath the broken walls of Nola, had he felt so happy as in the superb convent on the heights above the city of Naples.

"Why did you leave?" asked the Englishman, with deep interest. He leaned forward from his chair, a great green jewel, fantastically set, that he had on his breast, sparkled and glowed in the light of the hearth flame.

The monk answered pleasantly and easily, mentioning the fear that he had that he would be accused of heresy, also his desire to see the world, and some other reasons not so easily put into words.

He loved nature and life, the company of men, the fresh air, change of place, and he did not wish, while he could avoid it, to be immured in a prison of the Spanish Inquisition. He spoke with disdain that trembled on to anger of the errors and corruptions among the high officials of the Catholic Church. He had no love for heretics, nor did he accuse himself of heresy, but he saw that ignorance and hypocrisy ruled in the high places of the Church...on that, which so many other men had lamented.

"I am an heretic."

"What do these differences of creed and dogma matter between those who love art and letters and philosophy?"

"Nothing," smiled the Englishman, "if you think like that."

They continued to talk together in great amity. The monk, who when he was with his inferiors or ignorant or simple people was serene and calm, became now, in the presence of this fine and sympathetic youth, warm and animated. He spoke with feeling and almost with passion as he detailed his long thoughts. Fifteen years of monastic seclusion he had had, and hundreds of books he had read, many of them forbidden. He spoke of the doctrines of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the angelic doctor, of the Cardinal Bishop of Cusa, of Raymond Lull, of the ancient thinkers—Lucretius, Plotinus, Pythagoras, of Plato, of Aristotle, who was the idol of the schoolmen, but to him, poor Felipe Bruno, an obstacle in the way of learning, for many of his ideas were false and his knowledge limited.

Speaking boldly and with deep music in his beautiful, voice, the Dominican addressed the young stranger and foreigner as one equal to another.

"Deus in Rebus," he said passionately, "God in everything."

And then he laughed pleasantly, showing his white teeth, as he added in his erratic, casual fashion that a Dominican brother had told him that mathematics were of the Devil. But what, he asked, what of the great mind of Copernicus that had blown aside the superstitions of Ptolemy, which had for so long held captive the speculations of mankind?

He warmly praised that Copernicus, and with quick gestures of his long brown hands seemed to sketch, in the lamp-lit atmosphere of the small, rich room, the immensity of the heavens. He declared that here and there the planets were placed, and here and there the stars, and described how the earth revolved round the sun, and was itself but a minute speck in a vast system—immensity impossible to be grasped by a finite mind.

The Englishman listened in a subtle amazement; for himself he cared little for the wonders of the universe, to him all, Ptolemy or Copernicus, were indifferent; sun, moon, and stars were but the decorations of the heavens, symbols for poetry and adjuncts of romance. He was interested in the speaker, not in the subject.

This threadbare monk with the weather-flayed face, whose dingy habit was so roughly sewn, so ragged at the hem, whose feet were scarred and calloused in the rough sandals—this vagrant outcast who had nothing, nothing, was speaking with enthusiasm, with joy of the heroic raptures of the soul winging its way towards immensity With all the fire and rapidity of the Neapolitan he expressed his ideals, his philosophy to this interested and puzzled listener.

The Englishman watched him with the greatest curiosity; the lean brown features had great purity of line, the wide-set eyes were beautiful, all his gestures had a fiery grace. He seemed happy, he seemed inspired—he who lived on begged scraps, who slept like a rat in a ditch, who had over him the shadow of the wrath of the Inquisition. The Englishman contrasted this life with his own, so elaborate, so complicated, so full of soft luxury, of endless ease, of extravagant praise, of self-indulgence and all manner of fantastic devices for pleasure—and yet so overlaid by a melancholy boredom, a sense of frustration, of futility.

How softly he had always lived! And where had this strange man housed last night? Probably he had not even been able to beg the rough charity of a monastery, because of the girl he had with him, a creature without charm to the fastidious taste of the Englishman, thin, gaunt, in tattered clothes, with a tangle of coarse hair, weather-beaten face, and great eyes like those of a spaniel dog.

"Stay!" he exclaimed suddenly. "What is your name?"

"FrÓ Jordanus."

"That is strange, to name a man after a river."

"It is a custom. I was baptized Felipe Bruno of Nola—"

"That is my name, too—Philip," the Englishman mused, seated upright in the formal chair, gazing into the rippling flames on the hearth. "Your speculations are dangerous, what Church can allow them?"

"What Church should deny them, since they are for the honour of God?"

The young man smiled into the dark eager face of the questioner, he had lost much of his delicate air of affectation and spoke simply.

"Where, among these whirling spheres, do you place the throne of God and that stable Heaven where the souls of the blessed praise their Creator? Ay, and where in your infinity, good father, do you place that Hell where the damned roar?"

"There are no such places. There is no everlasting punishment and no eternal beatitude, save what we find in ourselves, in our different forms, as we pass from one to another. How can the soul which dares to contemplate infinity, imagine a pit of material flame where poor corruptible flesh shall burn? Where, in such a paltry thought, is the beauty, the wisdom and the mercy of God, who hath created the dove on the wing, the breaking waves, the flower in the bud? Why, there are men on this earth who would not send another to torment, and is God less than they?"

"Are not these dangerous words for a monk to speak?"

"I never think of that," Felipe Bruno had risen and walked up and down the tessellated floor. "What does it matter what the stupid and ignorant think, or what they try to do?"

The Englishman sighed; he had never heard such words as these; they inspired him, but also filled him with melancholy.

"I think," he said, "men are not ready to receive these truths—if truths they be."

"I know it," smiled the monk, "but why should one falter or be silent for that?" He changed his tone abruptly. "Tell me, cavalier, how long have you been in Italy?"

"Some months now, travelling from place to place. I have stayed at Padua and resided in Venice. In my country gentlemen are thus sent abroad to learn something of manners, letters, art, and life."

"What have you found?"

"So much that is splendid and so much that is vile. I never knew an Englishman yet who returned from Italy the better for it. Vice and obscenity, filth and crime—and all lovely, lovely."

"The incantations of Circe. But a man need not become a swine because he listens to them, cavalier."

"You think," asked the young man swiftly, "that there is a certain cowardice in turning aside from these sweet temptations? I have prided myself that I have listened unmoved to the siren's song. This is a fair and dangerous land, I believe that if the Turk were to conquer it he would fall to its allurements. I must return north before I am corrupted."

Felipe Bruno smiled tenderly.

"Cavalier, beauty is to be savoured and splendour to be enjoyed. Not for you is the macerated flesh, the pining senses—there are myrtle groves in Italy, and gardens of rose, kind nymphs and soft music—who forbids you to enjoy these delights?"

"You do not condemn these things—which so many of your habit term the snares of the Devil—tell me, then, what is evil to you?"

"I love not the rabble, the little people who never look down at the flowers or up at the stars, mean wretches who would not be called brutish, for the animals have their dignity and their pride—the ignorant, the bigot, the hypocrite. Cavalier, much of what you seem to fear is of God—the beauty of women is noble, and the love of them, too. Splendid also are horses and rich gems, fine buildings and pictures and music."

"Tell me," asked the young man earnestly, as a disciple speaking to his master, "what would I learn? I have had my schooling at Shrewsbury School in England, and at Christ's College, Oxford. I can tell you something of the seven liberal arts—Trivium, or grammar, rhetoric and dialect, and quadrivivum, or arithmetic, mathematics, astronomy, and music. But tell me how I should conduct myself, how, in the little time I may have in the world, I should pursue my way?"

"Your way is to what end?"

"What is your end?" counter-questioned the Englishman, his pale brows knit above his clear eyes. "You seem to have achieved serenity, although there is so much fire in you. I thought so when I gazed out of the coach window and saw you standing in the fog."

"I try for harmony with the universe, and with God and nature. I own nothing, I have nothing. I wander from place to place. For three years I have begged my way or earned a few pieces for correcting proofs for the press and teaching children. I love God, who, to me, is one with truth and with nature. My soul pursues that—truth—God. When I have found it I hope to dissolve into it, like when you find a flower cup filled with dew and one drop on the petals' brim, and even as you clutch it, that drop falls down into the chalice and is dissolved. But for you, you are born a gentleman and great and wealthy, as I suppose."

"I have doubted much—even honour," whispered the young Englishman, rising as if in anguish, "and I love—yes, monk, I love."

"Even the love of a woman may be turned to beauty."

"Even the love of a woman!" echoed the other bitterly. "There has been no better thing in my life."

He sat down in his chair again, and breathed out his story which he had kept locked in his heart for years and was now disclosed by he knew not what magic the other had in his eager, noble presence. And after all, there was nothing to tell.

Her name was Penelope and he had kissed her once when she was asleep, and now she had married another man against her wish and his entreaties.

"Penelope!" smiled the monk. "The name of a good and patient woman."

"But I call her Stella, I know of nothing more lovely than a star." Then he said: "Why do you not come to England, we are not as barbarous as you think. Perhaps I could do something for you—you are a mighty teacher. Perhaps at Oxford or at Cambridge you could get a licence to hold classes."

"I have no degrees or honours, I am only a wandering scholar. But I will go on my way into France where the Italians are mostly welcomed. Perhaps there they will allow me to teach."

"How do you intend to travel?"

"I will cross the Alps over Mont Cenis. I shall go through the valley of the Arc into Savoy. I have seen a map and met men who have told me how I should go. At Chambery there is a Dominican monastery and there they will receive me." He touched the scapulary on his breast. "I am still a monk."

"I wish you would come with me," said the Englishman, earnestly. "I have companions and friends who travel with me, and everywhere I go there is feasting, tournaments, carnivals, and plays. But I am lonely, I feel that I should like to cross the Alps with you, the snow underfoot, and the dark overhead. I can talk to you of my love, that I have never breathed to anyone."

"It cannot be," replied the other with a tender smile. "You to your way, I mine. I wish that I could speak your language or pronounce your name, but it is too difficult for me, and your Italian, your Latin, are both smooth and good."

The Englishman rose, his exquisite fingers grasped the monk's hairy hand.

"Where are you going now?"

"I must return to that poor girl whom I have with me. I left her in the straw in the only lodging we could find. She has not had much for supper, I must see that they are kind to her. She will be wondering what has become of me."

"You are not going to take her with you on that long, terrible journey?"

"She is quite hardy," replied the monk, smiling, "as much as I am. We have travelled together over four hundred miles, we have been wandering together nearly three years. But if she wishes to stay in Milan perhaps I could find someone who would take her in."

"I could do that for you," said the Englishman eagerly. "I have many friends here."

"No doubt, and wherever you go," said the monk courteously, "Will you accept my blessing?"

They parted, with no promise of meeting on either side, with no vows of friendship, with no further exchange of courtesies.

But the ragged monk, going out into the mist of the great city which lay so cold on the wide Lombard plain, felt as if he carried a warmth within him to dispel the rigours of the night. Never yet had he met one so excellent, so lovely, and so courteous as the young Englishman. The thought of him was warm within his heart; it was well to know that in this world of blood and greed, of lust and war there were such men as this young foreigner whose difficult second name he could not pronounce.

When he reached the poor inn he found that Giulia had gone and no one could give him any news of her. She had eaten her supper, flung her shawl over her head, and walked out into the fog which thickly shadowed the city.

All night the monk searched for her, going down noisome alleys, walking along the banks of dark canals, peering into archways, lifting the leather mattresses in front of the churches and scanning the glittering interiors.

Giulia had gone. Either tired of him and his misfortunes, sick with a sudden feminine caprice, or lured from him by someone who offered comfort and warmth, she was lost in the monstrous city. Had she wandered abroad, perhaps lonely, endeavouring to find him? He thought of the myrtle grove and her warm body with the wet hair creeping to his feet.

For two days he lingered, but neither in the convents nor in the lazar-houses nor in the hospitals for poor folk could he find Giulia.

* * * * *

Felipe Bruno did not return to the noble inn where the young Englishman lodged, for he was a man who never went back, either in his mind or in his tracks. And on the third day after he had lost Giulia he set out from the Lombard city across the plains and over the first snows of the Alps, a black figure in his coarse, roughly-made habit with the hood over his face, the scapulary on his breast, and a staff in his hand, proceeding slowly on the white frozen fleece that covered the rocks of the mountains. It was already late for this journey; soon winter would set in and it would be impossible.

At night the monks of St. Bernard gave him food and shelter, and in the daytime he travelled from dawn to dusk.

Those were strange, beautiful days. High on the mountains following the pilgrims' route from Rome, Felipe Bruno journeyed solitary, feeling detached from the ugliness that men had created. Never had he seen so much snow as this first scatter over the high pastures and grim rocks. Never had he been so high above the common level of the ground; the thin air stung his face, his feet, wrapped in greasy rags inside the sandals became cold, almost frost-bitten, the coarse habit that Giulia had stitched flapped on his lean limbs, but his blood flowed smoothly, his mind was clear and a complete serenity possessed him, so that he ceased even to think of the things that men valued or of the follies that troubled them.

Up, up, and on and on. The sun sparkled on the powder of dry snow on the summit of the rocks and crunched beneath the quick striding of the traveller; the pale sky seemed so near that it seemed to him that he could put out his hands and bathe them in the everlasting blue radiance.

He composed verses as he walked, beating the rhythm out with blows of his staff on the hard ground. Sometimes he was in an ecstasy of loneliness, sometimes he appeared to be accompanied by a multitude of shapes—his parents, Gioan, the Englishman whose name was also Felipe, Giulia, lost in the foggy plain, and all the muses, high-girdled with purple robes.

The Bernardines who sheltered him treated him with ingenuous respect, not only because of the powerful, famous Order to which he belonged, but because of the light in his eager eyes and something swift arid joyous about him that set him apart even from saintly men. They thought that he must have been inspired by God to go into France where heresy was rampant, like a many-headed beast.

"Domini canes," they would say as the lithe figure of the Dominican, with crust and flask in the bundle on his back, left their doors to stride into the glitter of the dawn. And they would tell each other tales of the great sanctity of Saint Dominic—the miracles he had wrought, and how, when his tomb had been opened, his body had smelt so sweet that the brothers who had touched it had their hands perfumed for weeks.

The Bemardines also told each other, with something of awe, how the grim Spanish saint sometimes revisited the earth with his keen-nosed hound at his heels, to hunt out heretics.

* * * * *

So Felipe Bruno came over the Alps and to the long dark valley of the Arc through which the rapid river hurried, and at Chambery found the convent of the Dominicans which had been built within his lifetime and was not yet finished. The brothers knew nothing against FrÓ Jordanus, but they received him dryly and seemed to have no wish for his company.

On his journeyings through Savoy, Felipe Bruno had noticed that the people were rough and inhospitable, the kindly manners and kindly skies of Italy were alike lacking. In the inns he had to share filthy, bug-infested beds with loathsome travellers. In the monastery all was cold and austere, and an Italian priest who chanced to be sojourning there warned the Dominican from Italy that as he proceeded into France he would meet with a more and more ill reception. It was true that a peace treaty had been signed between the heretics and the Catholics, but that was merely in the nature of a truce, and bloody war was to be resumed any moment.

The incessant carnage would begin again, on all the roads carrion would be piled, and everywhere there had been a village there would be flames.

"The bloody misery of France," said the priest, "is as if a thousand devils had been let loose and each had a cohort of fiends under his command."

Felipe Bruno was silent in disgust at the ugly stupidity of men. A swift nostalgia for the home of his boyhood, which to him had been so sweet and beautiful, shook him for a second. He had been happier in the snowy solitudes of the Alps, or in the long, dark valley of the Arc than he was here in this modern, comfortable building, where his fellow-monks turned on him sour, inhospitable looks, where he heard these tales of a mutilated and riven world.

The Dominicans declared it was all the fault of the heretics, they would not be quiet, they did not know when they were bested, the Devil inspired and helped them. There were ambitious princes, too, Guise and Lorraine, Bourbon and Conde. The good Queen did her best, but she was only a woman, and in trying to keep her balance by leaning this way and that, she cast everything into a worse confusion.

The wanderer from Italy did not listen, these things had no interest for him. He wished for some place where he might be in peace and security, where he might think or perhaps teach without interference from tyranny or ignorance.

So, hearing this dismal account of France so riven by civil wars, he left the monastery, and turning aside from the route to Lyons, took the road to Geneva, the seat of the heretics who followed Jean Calvin.

"Perhaps there I can find some corner in which I can ponder the many things that still perplex me."

The heavens were close-packed with wintry clouds when he left Chambery; a bitter, harsh wind blew into his face and tugged at his poor robe.


IV. — THE HEROIC RAPTURES

THE three cities of Paris lay coiled about the river; the city of the Churches, the city of the Universities, and the city of the People. Thin spires rose from the dark streets into the frosty air, in the island in the centre the huge double-towered church lay like a monstrous ship at anchor, in the long palace by the river the King interviewed a monk, a stranger and a foreigner of whom he had heard exciting reports.

"Why did you come to Paris?"

"I had heard that an Italian, sire, may earn his living very well in your capital."

"Astrologers and actors," replied the King, "riding masters and fencing masters may do so, yet I do not know if we have so many places vacant for scholars and doctors. Yet certain chairs have been given to Italian professors—tell me, friends of mine at the University have spoken to me about you, where did you get your degree?"

"At Toulouse, sire."

"You are a Dominican?"

"I was, but I have cast aside my habit and it is long since I went to Mass, because of scruples, not because I have been forbidden."

"You are very bold," remarked the King curiously. "Stand in the light that I may have a better look at you."

The monk moved easily and courteously into the pale glow that fell from deep-set oriel windows; the King's house was splendid, very dark, and redolent of Italy. Out of the squalid misery, the filthy hovels that comprised most of the residences in the capital, the gorgeous palace bloomed like a flower on a dunghill.

"You are very bold," repeated the King, "it is not so many years since all the heretics were slaughtered in Paris."

"I have heard of it, sire. I am not a heretic."

"We have now the seventh civil war in this country."

"Christians endeavouring to exterminate each other," smiled the monk with irony. "No doubt on each side are rogues and money-makers, with here and there an honest man."

The King sat astride an ornate chair as if he were on horseback, his hands clasped on the arched rails. He had a long peculiar face with an overhanging nose, a sunk upper and a full under lip, his eyes were slant and sly. Save for his tight-fitting hose he was dressed like a woman in the most fantastic and elaborate of garments. His plump hands and his slightly sottish face were white as silk, but his eyes, bright beneath the swollen lids, had the quality of cornelian or agate, shining and smooth.

"These are difficult, bloody times," he said in a frightened voice.

Felipe Bruno knew him to be effeminate, corrupt, master of manifold devices, bloody and implacable. Yet, looking beyond all this, or through it, there was something about the unhappy prince that he liked. The man seemed earnest, puzzling for the truth.

"Tell me about yourself, and how you came to Paris," added Henri de Valois.

With the frank simplicity he never could forego, whatever danger it might involve him in, the monk related his wanderings and how he had come from Naples to Rome, from Rome to other cities, and so across the Alps to Savoy and from Savoy to Geneva.

"Ah, you went to live among the heretics. John Calvin was a terrible man."

"Yes, though he is dead fifteen years, sire, his spirit lives in that grim city. I found them bigots, unable to bear a word reflecting on their intolerance. Through remarking on some error that I detected in the teaching of one of their doctors, I was forced to leave the city. So I went to Toulouse where there is no one who has any sympathy with heresy. But I did not go to the Dominican convent where is the tomb of Saint Thomas Aquinas, for I believed that they would consider me an outcast.

"By reason of my attainments I was allowed to teach at the University, and there I obtained my degree. But always there was a murmuring against me because what I taught was too broad. And then there came the plague, the troops of Henri de Bourbon ravaged Languedoc. And so I came to Paris, and was allowed to teach in the Sorbonne."

"What do you teach?" demanded the King, with the air of one who asked direction in a dark way.

"The lamp of learning burns dimly in your city, King of France. You have your ruffling brigands in your streets, your bloodstained soldiers and your sporting noblemen, but so much poverty that even your pampered priests are forced to beg their bread. And your Universities are starved and scantily attended, and your pupils are rough and rude, yet the divine mistress, Philosophy, holds a little light aloft. Scholars like myself have now to wander from one city to another, subsisting on what crumbs they may gather on their way, teaching here and there."

"Why do you live this life?" interrupted the King, keenly, "for such a man as I very well perceive you to be there must be place and honours to be found. Are you an astrologer, can you read the heavens?"

"No. And as for places and honour, I care nothing, only for peace and security in which I may ponder at my ease."

"You have been lecturing on the art of Lull and the thirty divine attributes taken from the Summa Theologia of Saint Thomas Aquinas?"

"Yes. And I have had some success with my pupils, I have been able to interest them, I have had something to say to them on many subjects. I could," added Felipe Bruno simply, "have had a Chair at the University had I not left my Order and cast off my habit."

"You have a marvellous memory, I hear," remarked the King, slowly, "there is nothing, they say, that escapes you, that is why I sent for you."

The monk still stood in the square of light from the oriel windows. He wore the dark habit of a scholar, a black cap was in his hand, his bearing was calm, yet he appeared as eager as a hawk just before it is unloosed upon a flight.

"What do you want to tell me, sire?" he asked, in that quick Italian which the King understood and spoke so well. "Would you allow me to advise you, would you take my opinions and weight them a little against those of the jobbers, profiteers, knaves, and scoundrels who surround you?"

The King opened his lips as if about to speak, but was silent, and the monk continued with the greatest simplicity:

"You have seen what your country is like, how your people live. You have seen how all that is good and lovely perishes for lack of sustenance, and all that is brutal and ugly and of the Devil flourishes."

"You are bold," said the King again in a faint voice. He pulled from his bosom a handkerchief that glittered with gold thread and pressed it to his pale lips and thin nostrils. "You seem to know no fear. I wonder—I wonder if I dare do that—take your advice?" His voice held a peculiar horror in it; to the monk who listened with a keen understanding and a wise sympathy it was like the voice of one who cries out of a deep pit as he struggles up to the light, a glimpse of light only which will soon be lost to him for ever.

The King cast down his glance.

"A wandering scholar from Italy, a poor teacher from the Sorbonne, what can you know? I did not send for you for that—" he lowered his voice and beckoned the monk closer and said: "Do you know black magic?"

Too disappointed to reply, Felipe Bruno shook his head.

"Ah, but perhaps you are afraid to tell me—you need not be. You have heard, perhaps, that the Queen rules all, but I am powerful enough, I can do what I wish, I could protect you. Yes, even from the Inquisition, even from the charge of heresy. I could make you rich and famous if you would only tell me your secrets."

"Come!" his smooth white hand was laid on the scholar's rough habit. "You and I—we could meet secretly and then you could instruct me. I have a tower where I work, secretly, you understand? Nay, don't be obstinate, your memory is supernatural, so they say."

"Sire, memory is the result of system and training, it is a science easily explained, I know nothing of black magic."

The King peered at him very keenly and the gaze of the two men met.

"There is no such thing," said the monk firmly, "as black magic. Why should your Majesty seek to pry into these horrid illusions?"

The young man astraddle the chair answered:

"Because I am so helpless," and again it was like the voice of one muffled in a pit. "I see what you see, priest—much blood, much confusion, no one is honest or faithful, all goes crooked, and I who am the King, I do not know what to do nor where to turn, therefore I drink and play, put on a mask and act the part in a comedy. But I am well aware, monk, of the blood and filth beneath my windows. Therefore, if you know the art of black magic, tell it me."

"What use would you make of it, sire, if I did? Could I give you rules whereby you might govern France well I should be as a god."

"And something like a god I thought you were, priest, when you entered this room of mine. There is that in your eyes—"

The young man paused and thoughtfully bit his lower lip, and Felipe Bruno smiled with pleasure. This pampered, bedizened prince who looked an effeminate fop, who was corroded to the marrow with indolence and vice, who was ruined by the mishandling of women and favourites, yet possessed a spark of divinity which leapt as steel to magnet to the divinity that was in him—poor Felipe Bruno of Nola, who had nothing.

"If you would permit it," he said, "I could help you to rule France."

And their common simplicity was fused in one so that for a second they became like a single soul seeing the misery of the world and resolute to mend it—arduous in a gleam of heroic rapture.

But the King's spirit, that had soared so swiftly and unexpectedly high, soon sank and fell. He sighed and said:

"Teach me some black magic, then I will rid myself of my enemies, I will clear everyone away who displeases me. Then I should be able to govern the country well and justly. I would turn everything to profit, I would have gold in my treasury, well-fed, well-armed men for my troops. I would have no religion, there would be no disputes or arguments."

"Sire, these things are not to be attained by black magic or by the summoning of any devil, only are they to be attained by the endeavours of the human spirit which is infused with the spirit of God."

The King looked at him, dropped his heavy lids, sighed again, and muttered:

"You know no magic, and what you ask I cannot do. Go in peace, I wish you well."

"I will not go so easily," replied Felipe Bruno. "Though I cannot teach you black magic I may, sire, help you in other things. I can invent devices by which you might remember that which you wish to store in mind. I could give you fruitful figures and letters, signs and number, I have written a book on memory which I termed The Shadow of Ideas that I might get printed so your Majesty might gradually understand what organized knowledge means and how it throws out the superstitions which the ignorant term black magic."

The King listened intently. He was held by the other man as he had never been held by anyone before. His unstable temperament was, at last and transiently, fixed. The monk knew him too well, however, to believe that this would last. He knew the Valois to be a creature of caprices, one day garbed as a soldier, the next as a painted harlot, followed by a troop of loose youths and seductive women one day, and by ascetic monks and priests the next. He had been in Italy and learnt something besides the vices which had made him neurotic, nervous, feeble in health. He admired art, and learning, but he itched after forbidden things; always he hesitated, pulled this way and that. Perhaps there was something in what the monk said—the adventure of the mind—there might be excitement there, perhaps as much excitement as in pursuing an intrigue of lust or murder.

"Stay in Paris, teach what you can," he commanded abruptly, neither his voice nor his bearing was that of the fripple that men commonly believed him to be. "I will give you a Lectureship and a salary."

* * * * *

Felipe Bruno wrote his book entitled The Shadow of Ideas and dedicated it to the King. He composed other works while he had his salaried Lectureship at the College of Cambrai—The Incantation of Circe and a comedy entitled The Candlebearer.

He had rooms near the college and made some acquaintances; his lectures were well received, though most people thought them too bold and there were those who did not understand them.

The College of Cambrai was a modern school and opposed to the conservative orthodoxy of the Sorbonne. In between his lectures and his writing the monk corrected proofs of other men's books for the press, and so he earned his bread and lodging, and it might have been supposed that he found himself at peace. But in his heart he was solitary and he knew himself surrounded by suspicion and defiance, perhaps by malice.

Many wondered at his recklessness, for he made no attempt to disguise his thoughts or to soften his phrases. His fellow lecturers were courteous and his pupils attentive, but his energy remained unbounded and was not satisfied by this success. Neither lecturing nor writing nor proof correcting nor hours of solitary study in his small chamber up the dark spiral staircase in the little secluded house could exhaust his questing ardour, which was well-night unquenchable. Many passers-by would look a little askance as they saw the lean professor with his swift and stately step walking beside the filthy gutters with bright, restless eyes under the tangle of hair and the flat cap. There was something unearthly about the man—of God or the Devil?

Often he was passionate and burst out vehemently, but usually he was serene, never melancholy or bilious or gloomy, though sometimes sad.

* * * * *

Among his copyists was one Jerome Besler, who came to think very much of him and whose whole day would be rendered happy if the Italian gave him a quick word of praise. Besler was a German, a keen student who enjoyed his work and who earned his living by working as assistant to the professors. He could copy Hebrew and Greek and Latin, Spanish and Italian, and seldom made mistakes. When he did so he would scrub them out so neatly with a knife on the paper or parchment, and ink them over with such care that they could scarcely be perceived.

It was on a night near the end of the year when young Besler came to his master's room. The busy monk was up late, as usual, writing in his quick flowing hand on sheets of parchment which Kesler had finely scoured with pumice-stone. The parchments were more expensive than paper, but the monk liked to use them when he wrote sonnets. He did not often polish his work, which was always hasty and full of mistakes, but now and then he copied out some thought himself, not so much because he wished to preserve it as that he had the desire to clarify it by writing it out again and again until it burnt before him like a flame.

When the modest young man entered he looked up with a smile and asked what time it was.

"You cooked some supper for me when you were here before, but I fear I have let it get cold. Never mind, bread and a glass of water will do for tonight."

"It was fish," regretted Jerome Besler, peering into the pan which stood upon the brazier of charcoal, "it has become burnt and sodden. You pushed it aside from the heat before it was cooked. Never mind that, master, that is not what I have come to tell you."

"You came, then, to tell me something?"

"Yes." The youth gave him an appealing look. "You are so wrapped in your thoughts, master, that you don't notice what's going on around you. You don't hear the things that I do among the students, or even the professors, or even in the streets."

Felipe Bruno threw sand on the wet parchment, wiped his quill, and swung round in his chair.

"What have you heard about me? Are they hounding me again?"

The young man nodded gravely.

"I think so. I have been listening very carefully and finding out all I can. There is talk of an excommunication, they say you are a monk who left his Order and cast aside his habit and never goes to Mass—an outcast. Yet there are others who say that you are a monk still."

"I have never been degraded," replied the Italian casually. "What do they want of me? I want nothing of them. What am I?—monk or schoolman, Christian or pagan? None of this, but an academician of no academy, a child of Nature and of the sun."

"Don't say those words," said the young man, terrified, "they are heresy."

"Is there anyone should hear me but yourself?"

"Come master, do something, you don't want to be arrested. You might spend years in prison."

"If that came one would have to endure it. Besler, you know I think the soul should be at one with God and the Universe that prison should not matter. One should learn to look forward to death as those in the dark turn to a window—so we should strive to die—light and death in one. Yet it is true that it might be difficult. I am alive, therefore I wish to live, and I am still young and my brain is active. Maybe there is something that I can teach men."

"What will you do, then?" cried Besler. "How will you free yourself from this coil?"

"I will go to the King."

The young man was frightened and begged him to change his resolution.

Would it not be better, he argued, to take flight yet once again, wander away over the stricken, bloody fields of France, along her polluted rivers and ravished woods, seeking shelter where he might find it?

"I would go with you, master."

"And how should we live—like the crows, on carrion. Once more flight and penury—" He paused, thoughtful, but not dismayed nor abashed.

He thought of Giulia, the girl whom he had lost in Milan—perhaps she was wandering while he was safe—poor sweet.

Lately he had taken from his drawer an old comedy that he had written when in the monastery at Naples—a fierce satire full of the obscene side of life he had observed in the streets of the southern cities, even in the convents of Saint Dominic.

He had re-read some of the licentious pages with a certain disgust, angry with himself that he had known so much evil when he had been so young and had been forced to fling it on paper. But that could not be ignored—into some such filth and ugliness Giulia might have disappeared; in some such surroundings Gioan, his brother, had slain and been slain; he had retouched the comedy and allowed it to be printed. Only by satire and invective could the sluggish minds of fools be roused—why did he think of it now, with Jerome Besler's patient, alarmed eyes on him.

Suddenly he became aware of the boy, the pallid studious face, the shabby student's attire, the quivering mouth and the earnest gaze full of love.

"Are you concerned for me, Jerome?"

Jerome nodded.

"What do you think they would do to me?" asked Felipe Bruno curiously.

"Master, you know—the fate of heretics."

"I am not one."

"It will be difficult to persuade the Inquisition of that."

With astonishment, Felipe Bruno noted that the youth was distressed, almost overwhelmed.

"How strange, Jerome, do you, then, love me?"

The youth was silent; it was impossible for him to even try to put into words the feeling he had for this man whose innate splendour seemed to him more dazzling than the pomp of a great lord, whose natural boldness was without arrogance, whose wisdom was fiery and serene, who was free of superstition and free of fear. Whenever Jerome Besler saw the lean, untidily dressed figure of Felipe Bruno striding through the filthy streets of Paris he thought of a comet tearing through a dark sky.

"Master," he said at length, speaking with awkward difficulty, "they say that you begin to speak against Aristotle."

The other smiled tenderly.

"Is he God that I should not?"

"But you know what they hold sacred—Aristotle and the Church—Ptolemy and Christ."

Felipe Bruno's smile deepened.

"Some day all the world will think as I think now. I stand by the truth and truth must prevail."

"But first—" shuddered Besler, "I fear, I know, many will perish—"

"One's body might perish—not one's integrity."

"How to preserve that, master?"

Felipe Bruno mused in the darkening room. He did not wish to leave Paris. He liked his post at the College de Cambrai; there were several among his pupils who seemed impressed by his lectures, listened to him keenly, and questioned him shrewdly. He liked his leisure, too, the writing, the reading, the drawing of diagrams, even the learning—his Greek was poor, for instance, he placed the accents wrong and his spelling was faulty; his Hebrew, too, he would like to improve that...he wanted so little, merely a garret, a little food, a few garments, Besler to copy for him, a few hours of peace each day in which to muse, to ponder, to dream. Sometimes he felt so near the core of the universe, the heart of light hidden by the ignorance and folly of mankind, that it was as if the walls of the mean dwelling that housed him had crumbled away and left him seated amid the stars, his wide pinions rising for a flight to other worlds.

Jerome Besler watched him with love and awe—those steady, haunted eyes, those straight features, the beautiful, mobile mouth, the quick lean hands, with the fine dark hairs on the backs...

"Oh, master, leave Paris—"

"Jerome, indeed I know not where to go—light a candle—yes, I might go and put my case before the King—"

"Oh! the King!" exclaimed Besler in disappointment.

"He appointed me. I shall appeal to him."

"He is a fool, a scoundrel, a creature neither man nor woman, a monster given to the black arts," whispered the youth in despair.

"I understood him," replied Felipe Bruno, rising. "He called to me out of the pit where he suffocates in slime."

* * * * *

After many tedious difficulties, affronts, and delays, Felipe Bruno was admitted to an audience of the King, the very evening that Jerome Besler advised him of his danger. The closet in which he was bidden to wait had a large tapestry on the wall in which Io, the white heifer, was pursued by the malicious, yellow gadfly across a flowery mead where all the little plants showed—buds and roots.

The King entered with a light step.

"My philosopher!" he said uneasily. "Well, will they not let you be in peace?"

For a second Felipe Bruno did not recognize his patron, for the King was clothed like a woman in lace ruff and brocade farthingale; he wore a feminine peruke on which was a plume of feathers and long pearl drops were in his ears; only his fine beard and his sickly masculine features gave an air of hideous grotesqueness to the disguise.

"A masquerade," he added, peering into the other's face. "One likes to conceal oneself, does one not? You have no idea how I try to forget who I am," he touched the woven image of Io on the wall—"To be totally transformed like that! An animal or a bird—"

"Yet the body or the attire of the body matters so little, sire."

"Do you think so? You look ragged enough—like a satyr. I should not be surprised if you had hoofs in those ugly shoes, and long ears in that tangled hair." He spoke nervously and went to a gilt casket tied with satin ribbons, full of puppy dogs, struggling and squealing, their warm fat bodies wriggling one on another.

"What do you want of me?" asked the King.

Again it was to the priest the voice of one who cried out for help out of captivity. He did not see the obscene and ridiculous disguise, but the naked soul within, shivering, searching blindly for succour, a small timid soul, much afraid. Felipe Bruno gazed with great compassion at the man whose protection he had come to ask; he even forgot his errand.

"It is something to be King of France, sire, there is much that you could do."

"Is there, priest, is there?" Henry pointed a thick white finger at the other's breast. "Speak low, there may be spies even here." He interrupted himself. "No. I won't hear you—why are you troubling me again? I gave you permission to teach, didn't I, if you could find anyone to listen to you."

Quietly and more concerned in the poor creature who peered at him from his fantastic disguise than in his own errand, Felipe Bruno replied:

"I have come for protection. I hear that they are going to denounce me as a heretic. I have taught nothing but truth, as I know it, virtue and honour as I can see it. I have a mind above those of these pedants who would condemn me. Will you, sire, give me your protection?"

The King's eyes glittered between the swollen lids. Without fear the monk thought: 'Perhaps he will have me instantly put to torture or broken on the wheel. He is not quite sane and he knows it—he has it on him to be very vile and he knows that too.'

The King stared at the smooth shape of the white heifer.

"Yes, I have heard complaints about you—heresy at the College de Cambrai! How do I know that these pedants are not right?"

"They are wrong, sire, the most tedious and dull creatures in the world. They feed on dead lies like vermin on a decaying carcase—"

"Is that blasphemy?" muttered the King, as if posing a question to himself. "Ought I to allow you to be denounced?"

He hesitated, stroking the tapestry with uncertain fingers. Felipe Bruno gazed at him tenderly; it was clear that this ridiculous creature was profoundly unhappy.

"I shall leave the country, sir. I see that you can do nothing for me. I shall not disturb you."

"You think that it is not in my power to protect you? You are wrong. M. MauvissiŔre de Castlenau is going to London as my envoy—you shall go with him—as a simple gentleman. In the country of the heretics perhaps you will be at peace. But it's dull and foggy!" The King laughed shrilly and tickled the struggling puppies. "Oh, yes, you must be prepared for fogs!"

Felipe Bruno hastened to his little room where Jerome Besler waited anxiously for his news. The wandering scholar was full of gratitude towards the King who had protected him; he drank with zest the bowl of soup that the copyist had prepared for him in compensation for the spoiled fish of the other night.

"Jerome, I am going to England where I shall meet enlightened people and be able to live in peace. Why does the thought please me?"

He was indeed inspired by heroic raptures as if he was going to meet his love—not Diana, not Giulia, but a creature half divine, half human and wholly belonging to him. But Besler the copyist, had tears in his humble, loving eyes.

"Please be careful whom you employ for your work, master, you make so many mistakes—"


V. — THE SHADOW OF IDEAS

IN the long, narrow Aula of the University, which was brightly lit by spring sunshine falling through the tall, pointed windows, the new teacher preached to a number of curious and scoffing students who at first fidgeted on the benches, nudged one another, and talked out loud, then fell into a hostile silence, astonished and a little over-awed by the vehemence of the speaker.

The University was very old and very conservative, and the students were used to the formal lectures of the pedagogues who expounded Aristotle and allowed no one to question the orthodoxy of their ideas.

Free thought and free speech were forbidden; the University was as bigoted as Rome, nothing that was established must be questioned, no tradition must be disturbed.

The pedants, teachers, and scholars alike were exasperated by the new ideas beginning to be published on the continent. Many of the pedagogues in the University thought it was strange that this wandering scholar had received the licence to lecture and give lessons in the University.

Who was he? Whence did he come? It was said that he was a monk, although he did not wear the habit, that he was apostate, even degraded by Rome, although he did not go into the Protestant churches. It was said also that he had written a great many books and contrived to get them, somehow, printed in various cities in Europe—he lodged over a bookseller now. He seemed to be of a prodigious industry, and those going past his room at night could see his bent head and the shape of his hand moving rapidly over the paper. Who was he, then, and what was he doing at Oxford?

The lecturer had forgotten his audience, many of whom were boys of thirteen or fourteen, newly come up to the University, several of whom were plain fops and fools in velvet gowns, with gems on their fingers and gold chains round their necks, and others of whom were big, handsome sportsmen who cared for nothing but exercise and games, but who had come into the lecture hall because they had heard that the foreigner was a curiosity and that his speech might end in a riot.

The speaker no longer saw any of them; he looked above all their heads into the blur of light that was formed by the beams crossing from the opposite windows in which a bird which had flown in, darted to and fro.

Speaking in a flowing but rough and ungrammatical Latin full of Italian words which now and then caused one of the students to sneer or giggle, he tried to clarify his ideas. He had long since got away from the subject with which he began; he said no more of Aristotle, who seemed to him antiquated and out of date; he said no more of Raymond Lull, whose mystifying doctrines he had left behind; he did not touch on Thomas Aquinas, a great man, but one whose mind was partially in fetters.

Like one who breasts a strong tide he tried to press on into realms of thought that were beyond all these earlier thinkers. Passages out of books he had lately written came to his eager lips. He spoke with many gesticulations, holding even those who had come to sneer by the force of his personality and the power of his fiery words. All the ardour of the southern Italian showed in his looks and his gestures. The lips of the English boys twitched in good-humoured scorn at the antics of the foreigner; the backs of his hands were hairy, almost like the paws of an animal, and where his poor coat was opened on to his plain, unbuttoned shirt his chest showed hairy too. Sometimes he caught his foot in his hand and stood so, hopping as if lame.

He began to speak of Copernicus and there was a shuffle of rage among the students—these new, upsetting and vexatious doctrines had never been received in Oxford. Ptolemy and Aristotle were the twin gods of the scholastic heavens. But the lecturer went even further than praising the discoveries of Copernicus—he referred with severity to the dolts and poltroons who refused to admit the truth of these new conceptions of the heavens. He refuted the physics of Aristotle and the astronomy of Ptolemy.

Then suddenly, with a change in the note of his rich, beautiful voice which had been sarcastic and bitter, he praised England, its opulent, verdant pastures and the rich flocks of pretty, excellent fat, white, and nimble lambs, the healthy English countryman with his love of games and Nature, the temperate heavens which seemed to create a perpetual spring.

The Italian declared that it was shameful that this exquisite land was defaced by a rude, uncouth populace in the cities, a hateful rabble, ignorant and filthy, and by scholars who stupidly refused the new truths which were so apparent to more cultured people.

The students muttered angrily, some laughed; the lecturer continued to speak eagerly, now gripping the desk in front of him, now moving his hands in unconscious gestures, now lifting high his head with formidable eyes and the beautiful mouth and the distended nostrils, now striding about the platform, now standing rigid. He became intoxicated with the sublimity of his own conceptions, and even in that rude, untutored crowd of boys and pedants (for a few of the masters and professors had come into the hall to hear this extraordinary man), there were one or two who were moved and exalted by his words, which so few understood. The captive bird continued to fly to and fro in the cross beams of light.

"Who are ye, the followers of Aristotle, but parrots?—subtle metaphysicians seeking to excuse the insufficiency of your divinity! Cannot you accept a new idea or accept it only as a plaything to be torn to pieces for your amusement, to be jeered at and made a scoff of? I have seen much disorder in your university, I have seen that many of your students are children, boorish and ignorant, occupied in horseplay, drinking, and fighting in inns, taking their ease in the lecture rooms as in the taverns, inattentive to all learning But where was I? What has been the theme of my discourse?

"I have come to speak to you of the immortality of the soul. I have held, and I hold, that souls are immortal, I have reasoned that the soul subsisting without the body and non-existent in the body may pass from one body into another, no substance being of itself destructible. We should not suffer fear of death since we only await our passing to another place. Such is the doctrine of Pythagoras.

"Dissolution can only take place in that which is compounded, that which has no substance but is a circumstance, otherwise our substance would be continually changed by the perpetual flow of matter entering into and issuing from our body. So then we are that which we are by reason of the indivisible substance of our souls, around which the atoms assemble and from which they depart. Hence it happens that in birth and in growth the quickening spirit expands. If under the dominion and virtue of the soul, corporal matter, which is compounded, invisible, changeable and consistent, is not subject to annihilation and can in no point nor atom be annulled.

"This principle is the true man. This is the divinity, the demon, the hero, the particular god, the intelligence which moves and governs the body, and is in itself subject to the high justice which proceeds over all things."

The lecturer paused, sighed, and remembered his audience. He looked curiously at the intent faces in rows before him, some fresh and fair, some stupid and overclouded, some gross and brutish, some thin and sly. Not one of them had a friendly look for him, he believed that not one of them understood.

Two boys rose, laughed, and went out, jostling each other; the lecturer saw the ringed hands of a pedagogue standing at the back which travelled nervously and impatiently up and down his velvet robe. It was time this lecture was over. They did not like him and he had not, save very transiently, impressed them, but he was not in the least disturbed; he watched the captive bird suddenly find the window and dart into space.

He turned aside to pick up his volumes of Lull and Aristotle which he had brought with him and not used. Then it seemed to him that there was something more he must say to them and quite indifferent to the fact that they were moving, some of them leaving the hall, many of them talking aloud, and all looking at him with contempt, derision, or hostility, he said loudly:

"Love is more than knowledge, for love is of the infinite. If it be finite, it would be fixed and of a certain measure, but to behold it rising ever higher and higher is to know that it turns towards the infinite. The intellectual fire is not appeased with comprehended truth, but only by advancing nearer and nearer to incomprehensible truth. The being of the soul is not related to any other end but the thought of its co-substance and unity with the divine. To define the substance of the individual soul is the aim of all progression, so that man is comforted and receives all the glory of which its finite nature is capable, when it shares its infinite love of the divine.

"Read Plotinus, who was a pagan philosopher, but who can expound to you Christianity."

A wild-looking youth who had risen up suddenly and who stood in a shaft of light, shouted out:

"Where, most learned doctor, is the soul? Tell us its lodging."

"The soul," replied the lecturer, "is not in the body locally, but has its intrinsic form and extrinsic mould so that which makes the members makes the soul, within and without. The soul is the mind, the intelligence either is from God or is in God, so by it's essence it is God, Who is its life. Deus in Rebus—God in everything. Believe that—doubt everything else."

"He is a lunatic or he talks blasphemy!" cried several youths as one. A lousy foreigner! Who understood a word of what he said?

With menace in their faces they moved towards Felipe Bruno as he descended from his desk on the platform. It seemed as if they would have molested him, stood in his way, perhaps have maltreated him, but their mood changed, was hesitant, hostile but quiet. He looked at them with contempt. What boors these Northerners were! He had always hated the rabble of any land, he did not believe that there were ten learned men in England.

He pushed through the students scornfully, with his elegant, springing stride. He knew that not one of them commended or applauded him. When he reached the door where the professors and pedagogues were grouped he looked at them straightly and they moved aside with lifted shoulders and lips as if they beheld a fool or a braggart.

In the doorway a pale, stooping boy whom he had not observed before in the press, stopped him and asked if he might speak a few words away from the others. Felipe Bruno assented at once, for the tone of the inquirer was sincere and earnest. He observed too, that the boy seemed ill, his face had a look of wrinkled parchment pitiful in one so young, and his frame was sharp and bent beneath his rusty gown.

"I heard your speech, I believe I comprehended some of it, though no one seemed to like it. Tell me, sir, if I understood you right, we should not be afraid of death?"

"As a flame to the flame we should mount to God," said the lecturer. "Why should we fear to change from one state to another? This life here—is it so delightful that we should cling to it?"

The young student smiled. His walk was slow and painful, Felipe Bruno accommodated his step to this feeble gait.

"You are from Italy? I have often wished to go there, but I don't suppose that I ever shall go. You praised our country just now, but I think Italy must be much more beautiful."

"Italy is very fair—Naples in particular is like a dwelling of the gods. But you have a lovely land. It is true I am sometimes homesick for the sunshine and the great green leaves, the numerous flowers; homesick for my own place, which was a poor village outside the walls of an ancient town. But why did you stop and question me? Is there anything in which I can help you?"

"I suppose you won't stay in Oxford," smiled the youth, wistfully; they had paused in the narrow, sunlit street.

"I suppose not. Everywhere I have been—Naples, Rome, Milan, Turin, Paris, Toulouse, Geneva—why, there's a long list naming half the places in Europe!—I had to leave, flight and penury always."

"It seems a hard life," smiled the youth, rubbing his thin hands together, "I don't think I could live like that. I am always so glad to get home and rest and sit by the fire. There's nothing I wanted to ask you, really—only that about death. I don't want to be afraid, you see, I've to die soon."

"You are ill?"

"Yes. I don't suppose I shall last this summer. It is foolish, really, for me to go to lectures and read books, but I have no strength for anything else. You see, I spoke to you because I didn't get much courage out of the Church. I don't want to go to Paradise."

"No, not the Paradise imagined by the churchman. That is only a fiction, a pretty story, the other is true—the immensity of God's domain, the immortality of the soul."

"Could you do it?" asked the boy earnestly, staring up with his dim, intent eyes. "Die, suddenly and horribly, young as you are? You don't seem to be afraid of anything, but perhaps that's because you're well and strong, even if you are poor and always homeless. Would you be afraid if you were weak and utterly desolate?"

This question put to him by the sick boy, to whom he was an utter stranger, in the narrow streets of Oxford fragrant with spring sunshine, had often come secretly to Felipe Bruno.

"I believe I could," he answered. "I believe one need not feel either fear or pain at death. It is but the leaping of the soul through a window to freedom."

The student smiled and shifted his books under his arm, which ached at the least burden.

"I shall try to remember that, I suppose it just means courage," he said, and turned away abruptly down a side street under the overhanging gables of the dark houses where the reflected sun played in the dirty panes.

When Felipe Bruno returned to his lodgings he felt suddenly weary, the fatigue of the body weighed down and clouded the mind. He was, after all, disappointed. Almost certainly he would have to leave Oxford. It was a pleasant city, set in an agreeable place and he had come to love the Thames with the swans on the grey water and the sweet meadows on the banks.

He had thought that, exiled as he was from Europe, he might have found here a security, leave to think and to teach. But no, again he was being hounded, again he must take to flight. But this time, where? In Oxford he had been able to earn a few pieces by his books, which he had been able to induce an Oxford printer to publish for him, and he had earned a little more by his lectures and his lessons, sufficient for his bare necessities and therefore all he asked. It had been a refuge, like the College de Cambrai.

How to obtain even this meagre pittance if he left his work at the University? He knew that in England nobody would give alms to a begging friar or throw a crust of bread to a wandering scholar. M. de Castelnau, who had recommended him to Oxford had warned him of that.

He had written several books since his coming to England which he wished printed, and which might bring him in a few crowns. But he would have to find another printer in London, one would have to be near the press for corrections, and journeying was so difficult in between Oxford and the capital, and books were not sent to and fro...

He smiled at himself, at the thought of the petty annoyances and absurd obstacles that beset the path of a man who asked for nothing but to pursue his way in simple tranquillity. He had hoped much from Oxford, as he had hoped much from Geneva, Toulouse, Paris—and now all was at an end again. He would have to go to London, M. de Castelnau was his sole hope, even for existence.

As for anything else—the zest of the pageant of life in which he had never been able to take part came to him like a perfume wafted from pungent, distant sweets.

He was not a born ascetic, and though the monastic habits of fifteen years were strong upon him, he often mused, though without envy, on how different his life might have been. He was so sensitive to the beauty of the world that at the very thought of it he felt pleasure. He liked noble festivals, sweet weather, the writing of poetry and songs, musical instruments, kind, lovely women.

He paced up and down the poor little room rendered rich by the afternoon sunlight which fell through the gable window and felt, even in that hour of loneliness and humiliation, a sense of inner excitement, that secret heating of a tense enthusiasm that was like the flow of strong wine in his blood.

He turned over the pile of untidy manuscripts on the rough wooden table, stained from droppings of food and the fillings of his inkhorn. He had written his last works in Italian, his mother tongue, despising Latin as the instrument of the pedants—but who cared to read his outpourings, considered so fantastic, and even blasphemous?

Yet there were many Englishmen, courtiers and refined men, in London who, surely, fresh from their travels in Italy, would understand his works.

Felipe Bruno remembered the young Englishman with his own name whom he had seen in the costly inn in Milan. He had loved him at one sight of him with that silver look that most of his high-bred countrymen had, sitting in his gorgeous black habit with his long hands clasping the lion's heads on the arms of his seat. How eager he had been, delicate and pure—there must have been some affinity between them, for Felipe Bruno recalled how the young man had stopped the coach and spoken to him out of the fog. Afterwards he had likened him to a flame, and this simile flickered in and out of the scholar's mind—a flame to a flame—

He mused again on Giulia, whom he had sought for in the straw of the wretched inn, but who had vanished into the foggy night. He hoped, without either astonishment or remorse, that she was dead, released into the upper air.

And thinking of her, her beauty and her tenderness, he dreamed again of the raptures of heroic love, the very climax and crown of all human felicity.

His eager, thin fingers turned over the papers on which were scribbled his sonnets; his brilliant formidable eyes flashed on his own words:

"O worthy love of beauty, O desire for the divine, lend me thy wings! Bring me to the daybreak, the clearness of the young morning, and the outrages of the rabble, the storms of time and the darts of fortune shall fall upon this feeble body and weld it to steel."

Heroic love, without which man can scarcely live—he had not had that. They called him a man of loose life, they who lived like pigs—the students, foppish or voluptuous, the teachers, vicious or craven—they who did not know the meaning of love. Love, the source of good and evil, the lower love of transient things, and the higher love of divine and eternal things, this was the theme of his sonnet—the union of God, divine love; union with another human being, human love; they could be welded in one ecstasy.

How little this was understood, how easily and eagerly people accepted counterfeit coins, how on some transient intrigue they spent their best heart's pleasure! How the proud, fair, dainty women, who had so much to offer, passed him unheeded, and lavished all they had to give on some hollow pretence of a man!

He sat down and took his exhausted head in his lean, quivering hands, his eyes were fixed without comprehending on his own sonnet, lying on paper pulled awry on the stained table:


"While that the sun upon his round doth burn,
And to their source the roving planets flee,
Things of the earth do to the earth return,
And parted waters hasten to the sea.
So shall my spirit to the high gods turn
And heaven-born thoughts to heaven shall carry me."

He wished that he could have music, any music, and he fumbled among his papers for the song he had written to the nine Muses, one stanza for the zither, one for the mandolin, one for the lyre, one for the viol, one for the Spanish timbrel, another for the lute and the Irish harp, an eighth for a viol and a bow, and a ninth for the rebec.

Leaning back in his chair, which was of wood polished smooth by continual use, he thought he saw them grouped around him—the sacred nine, crowned by his native laurel with girdles of his native ilex and beech seated on a hill as sweet as the hill of Naples where he and Gioan had stood among the falling stars beside the murdered man dying on the vines.

Yes, there they sat, his nine with their several instruments, chanting the verses that he had composed.

His hand rose and fell as he kept time with them, and he repeated very low in a sweet, full voice, the ninth verse which the most gracious figure of all played upon the rebec:


"Clouded awhile, to be revealed once more!
Thus neither doubt nor fear avails;
O'er all the incomparable End prevails
O'er fair champaign and mountain,
O'er river-spring and fountain,
And o'er the shocks of seas and perils of the shore."


Into his imagined and celestial light there came a small human being, a candle flame fluttered in front of him and he recalled himself to his present circumstances—a poor scholar muttering in the twilight in a garret room—a creature small in body and estate.

It was Jakin, the bookseller's daughter, a full-bosomed English girl, who stood before him, timidly and stammering.

She had been alarmed, she said, because he sat up there so long alone. Daylight had faded and he neither went out nor called for his food. She looked at him anxiously, shielding the candle with her hand so that the light was over her face and made gold in her chestnut hair, fine strands of gold that blew out in the evening breeze that flowed through the attic window.

When Felipe Bruno looked at her he saw curious perception in her eyes, as if she understood all that was passing in his mind. Her glance flickered to his paper; he knew she could not read, even in her own language.

"My father says that you are leaving Oxford."

He could not understand what she said; English was almost impossible to him; she repeated what she had said, adding:

"Yes, yes. There were several of the professors here. They came to speak to my father, they wanted to see the sheets of the last book that you have given him to print. They took some away."

He understood that, as she explained herself slowly with many gestures, with a few words of Latin picked up from her father.

"They had no right to do that, there is little courtesy in this country!" he exclaimed in Italian.

"I am sorry that you are angry, sir."

"Yes, so am I, and it is not true," he responded instantly. "I have had much courtesy from you and your father. But these men who call themselves learned, what do you think they will do? But how foolish of me to ask you that question."

He rose, then found he could scarcely stand, and he was amazed at his own weakness. He had not eaten all day; an odd distaste of food had been on him since the early morning and most of the night he had been walking in the grove beside the Thames. Even now, in the twilight of the attic the glory of the dawn was with him and he could see very distinctly the silver shapes of swans moving to and fro on the grey ripples.

"I must go," he said patiently, "for I would not be the cause of a brawl and a riot. I have spoken against the God whom they must serve."

Jakin stood holding the candle while Felipe Bruno put together his papers, his inkhorn, his quills, one or two books, and strapped them into an old travelling cloak that he had in which also was folded a pair of worn, comfortable leather shoes and some hose he had made himself out of a waste piece of cloth given him by a tailor for whom he had written a little poem for his daughter's marriage. The poor man had thought it sounded very grand in Latin, especially the way Felipe Bruno recited it in a different accent from that used by the dons at Oxford.

"Where are you going?" asked Jakin. There was a look of Giulia in her face, though she was much taller and silver where Giulia had been gold, and comfortably dressed where Giulia had been ragged. "Where are you going?" she asked in Latin.

"To London. I have a friend in the Ambassador of the King of France. He is a notable and learned man, perhaps he will take me into his house for a little while and there I shall be protected."

"And what will you do?"

"What I have done here, demoiselle, and at other places—think, write, and preach."

"You like England, sir?"

"Yes. Much of it is an Arcadia, a seat of the Muses, but these boors—" he raised his hand and let it fall. "I am exhausted, I do not think very clearly."

"I will fetch you some food," said the girl quietly. "There is no need for you to hasten away."

"No," he said, "none. After all, what harm would it be if I were taken by the shoulders and turned out of Oxford? Bring up the food, demoiselle, and ask your father what I owe him for rent, I have a little money."

He was touched by the trouble she had taken to understand him, to learn a few words of Latin, of his own language.

* * * * *

The pedants met together and comforted each other as to the ignorance, insolence, and boldness of the foreigner—the renegade monk. What did they know about him? After all, he might be a man of vile life, a degraded Romanist priest, and yet, no Protestant, a man who quoted Pythagoras and Plotinus and seemed to ignore Christ and Aristotle, a blasphemer or a lunatic, a poor Greek scholar, too. He must certainly be no longer allowed to lecture in the University or there would be a riot among the students.

What self-assurance, too! How boldly, how arrogantly he bore himself! Why, it was exasperating to see him striding through the streets with his head held high, as if he disdained them all. He lectured, too, so wildly often so incoherently without notes and with so many gestures and grimaces like the Southern Italian that he was—he made mistake after mistake, and his Latin was corrupt, full of Italian and even Neapolitan idioms.

His morals were not good either, he had been seen in taverns and worse places. It was insufferable that a man of this type should come to flaunt and insult them on their own ground. It was decided to withdraw his licence to preach, to refuse him permission to lecture any more. It was resolved to warn him that he must leave the University within a few hours.

But when two of the pedagogues came to the bookseller's to tell Felipe Bruno this sentence of banishment, they found that he had already gone. They were a little disappointed that they had not had the opportunity of rebuking and humiliating the man who vexed them so and sneered at him to each other for a coward who took flight at the least hint of danger.

The bookseller, who had liked his lodger, said that the Italian gentleman had gone gaily, his bundle on his back, his head erect, a song on his lips. It was true that this gallant front had not saved him for he had been recognized in the lights from the houses and the shop windows, and boys had run after him. The bookseller had seen that as he peered from his doorway. The urchins had thrown mud and stones at him, and he had been hit, too, because he would not take shelter nor hasten his walk. The last the bookseller had seen of him he had been turning a corner and in the light that fell from an upper window there had been blood glistening on the hand with which he had wiped his forehead.

* * *

The French Ambassador, M. MauvissiŔre de Castelnau, though he was poor, lived in a sumptuous mansion in London with his wife and his two daughters, Marie and Elizabeth, and his two sons.

He was an elderly man, gentle, cultured, and wise-minded, a politician by profession, a scholar by taste. His work was difficult and often uncertain; he did not much care for the English, who were heretics and, too often, boors, yet a people that was beginning to be feared in Europe and who had been, since the Treaty of Blois, an ally of his own country. The Ambassador had an especial and difficult work to do—that of looking after the interests of a Queen at whose Court in Edinburgh he had once been envoy and who was now, through strange vicissitudes, a prisoner in England. Much of his time was occupied with the desperate case of Mary Stewart.

He was a clever man with an excellent memory, just, impartial, and temperate. He often regretted his own lack of guile, which made him, on their many encounters, often bested by the Spanish Ambassador, Bernardino de Mendoza. He was frequently in monetary difficulties and had to deny himself many of the comforts and elegances of life. Often his salary was not paid and he was obliged to borrow money from the Lombard merchants in the city, and at a high rate of interest.

But there was in Beaumont House in the Strand, where the Ambassador resided, much elegance and a gracious atmosphere of tolerance and culture.

Before this timber-framed house, the fašade of which was enriched with fleurs-de-lis and coronets, Felipe Bruno stood at the end of his difficult and tedious journey from Oxford. He had seldom found himself, poor and neglected as his life had been, in a worse plight. He was alien in a country that he had liked, but had seemed to dislike him; although he had been three months at Oxford he could only speak a few words of the language that he despised as only fit for dogs. He had only a few pieces of money in the thin purse which he kept above the scapulary on his breast.

He had met much rudeness and many insults on his journey, and even as he proceeded along the boundary of the city in search of the French Embassy, and reached the Strand close to Saint Clement's Dane, the apprentices all turned to jeer at him as a foreigner and a miserable ragged scarecrow at that—limping from fatigue, with a bundle on his back and a tangle of dark hair over his glowing eyes.

The French Ambassador was alone in his little cabinet. He was a slender man with bent shoulders, grey hair, a pale face, and rich clothes, something troubled by the world.

He received Felipe Bruno with great courtesy, he recalled bringing him to London and begged him to be seated, then asked him at once his business.

"It is stated very simply, monseigneur," smiled the monk. "It is only to ask you to save me from the pedantic doctors and from hunger."

The Ambassador raised his eyebrows and shook his head a little sadly; he had had some experience of the ignorance and prejudices of mankind.

"Your teaching was ill received at Oxford?"

"Yes. I do not think they will allow the last book I wrote to be printed, I do not know where to go nor what to do. If your Excellency does not assist me," added Felipe Bruno calmly, "I must go out and die in a ditch. And yet," he added, with a certain wistful tenderness: "I do not know, although I was recommended to you by the King of France, why I, an Italian scholar in barbarous Britain, should come to you."

"Why not?" said M. Castelnau gently. "Why should not a scholar expect a courteous hospitality, a gentle and honourable treatment from any gentleman? Here is your refuge. I shall take you into my establishment—as my gentleman only."

"I did not ask so much," replied Felipe Bruno, greatly moved, as he always was at any kindness.

"I give you that, and freely—a shelter here. While you are in my house you are safe, though I cannot perhaps offer you as much as you suppose. I have been in my time of a philosophic turn, and so have found myself often outmatched by the craft and zest of other men, who never think above the things of the moment—it is those who are successful. I do what I can for my country, but you perhaps know something of the confusion there, you remember Paris. Well, I am not wealthy, and often my Government leaves me with little money. I shall be glad, if in return for what I may do for you, sometimes you can act as my secretary. Now and then I might have work in which you could be of assistance to me."

Felipe Bruno agreed gladly, and the Ambassador rang the silver bell at his hand; he insisted that his guest should drink wine. When it came the gentle, broad-minded statesman and the fiery scholar began to talk together of the country in which they found themselves, this island ruled by a strange and wonderful woman who was very difficult to understand and who was, M. Castelnau thought, corrupt in many ways, but who, with her rough country which was still half barbarous, held her own, surprisingly, among the great estates and empires of Europe.

Felipe Bruno had received an ill impression of the city where the apprentices had turned to pelt him with offal from the butcher's stalls; it surely was a filthy place, a twist of black and stinking streets with garbage piled in the gutters and with crazy houses which shut out the daylight.

"There is very little beauty anywhere," he commented, "even the churches have been despoiled of all that was fair and gorgeous. What do they think to do, these people?"

"They have their aspirations," smiled the Ambassador, "and their dreams. Money, I think, is the basis of both. They have ravaged the Church and taken all they can get there, and now they dream of what their sailors may bring from across the seas. They hope that their small ships will return with wedges of gold, sacks of pearl, lumps of crystal, also monsters for their sports, great oxen and dragons who can be tied to posts and baited as they now bait bears and dogs."

"Have they no other thoughts than these?" asked the scholar. "Truly, from what I saw of them at Oxford, I do not think so."

"They have their ideas of Heaven—there, too, they think they have made their discoveries and marked out their plunder. Since they lately came at the Bible they have read therein and think they are sure of Paradise. But do not believe," M. de Castelnau added, "that because some boorishly pelted you in the streets that they are all savages. There are many gentlemen, especially those who have been in Italy, who are fine and delicate and never speak their own tongue, or only when necessity compels."

"I have met some young nobles at Oxford,", said the scholar, "but they were gentlemen in nothing but rank, and it was as well to have no further acquaintance with them."

"Have supper with me tonight," said the Ambassador, "and I will present you to an Englishman who is a mirror, not only for his country, but for all time, for courtesy and the graces."

* * * * *

Madame de Castelnau, without astonishment or question, gave Felipe Bruno a fair chamber on the second floor of Beaumont House. Never had the poor wanderer been so well lodged. He was indifferent to bodily comforts, but he found that he liked, without perceiving the reason for his content, the smooth polished floors and walls, the air of cleanliness, the gleaming window-panes in which were the rich colours of the Arms of France, blue and silver, the bed with linen sheets and blankets of English wool, the stand on which he might place his books, the level polished table on which he might write, the inkhorn and quills set ready. And in the tall press, placed without comment, were two suits of plain clothes such as a gentleman might wear.

The Ambassador also presented the scholar with a light sword, but it was not for the first time that FrÓ Jordanus had carried a weapon. When he had been in Geneva the Marchese di Vico had called on Felipe Bruno and given him cloth for a suit and a sword. He had awkwardly worn the unaccustomed weapon for a while, but when he had been forced to leave Geneva he had sold it to the cutler for a few shillings with which to buy food and shelter, for the winter had come on then and to have slept out in the snow would have meant death. He recalled the episode now as he handled the slim weapon, placed with the best suit of clothes he had ever possessed.

* * * * *

Madame de Castelnau was much younger than her husband, and had been a fair woman. But now, having borne four children and being homesick in a foreign land, her constitution sunk by the fogs and seven English winters, she was colourless and faded like a white rose pressed between the heavy covers of a cumbrous book. The shape and grace were there, but the rich fragrance and the warm hues of former days were gone.

Her youngest child ran into Felipe Bruno's room when he was putting his papers in order; he had washed his face and hands, combed his hair, shaved, and put on, so as not to shame his host and hostess, the clean, decent habit they had provided for him; he felt much at ease in his mind, though exhausted in his body.

The little girl ran up to him, curious and pleased. She told him that when this room had been empty she had often come to play there; the floor was so smooth and sloped so that it was delicious to roll balls down it...

"I hope you will come still, you would not disturb me in the least even if I were writing, and sometimes I should be abroad or in your father's cabinet working for him."

The little child stood thoughtful in the centre of the room, fearlessly and graciously surveying the stranger. She was about eight years old and wore a straight blue frock; in a composed fashion she crossed her hands on her narrow bosom. Her dark hair fell either side of her face which was as pale as a may-bud; she seemed serious and had something already of her father's faint look of trouble.

The scholar asked her her name and she replied that it was Marie, but more often they called her Fleurette.

"Fioretta," murmured Felipe Bruno in his own language. It suited her as it would suit any child—a little flower. And so she was, being very small, tender and delicate even for her age, and yet with a rich lustre as if a light always rested on her fragility.

He called her to him with an air of respect and she came willingly and willingly kissed his lean, newly-shaven cheeks, and then ran away, and he perceived that she had a little doll tucked under her arm.

* * * * *

Some days later M. de Castelnau took Felipe Bruno, whom he named one of his secretaries, with him to the mansion of an English gentleman. Everything was very strange to the Italian, he thought the servants were insolent, the splendid house ill-kept, and that everything lacked the refinement of Italy. There were a number of costly objects about but they were badly arranged; the English voices seemed to him, too, to be talking loudly and aggressively, the harsh English language offended his ear.

The tall young man whose back was to him and who was very fantastically dressed with a quantity of gold lace, seemed to be the admired of all present. Everyone was trying to talk to him, to defer to him, and, Felipe Bruno thought, to flatter and praise him.

The graceful young man accepted all this homage with a lack of arrogance and a seductive sweetness which proved him one who could not be spoilt by the flattery of the world.

"That is the gentleman of whom I told you," whispered M. de Castelnau. "He is worthy of all the court they pay him."

The young man turned his blond head and Felipe Bruno saw that it was the Englishman whom he had met in Milan and whose second name he could not pronounce—the first had been Philip.

When the Englishman recognized the monk whom he had last seen in the Lombard fog with his dingy robe hanging on him like a wet horse blanket, a look at once urgent and vivid replaced his gentle languor. Without ostentation he made it apparent to everyone present how he valued this stranger who was nothing, who had nothing.

As Sir Philip Sidney held out his hand, Felipe Bruno saw in his pale hazel eyes the look of understanding and of love that he had seen in the gaze of Jerome Besler. All that the Englishman said was:

"I did not think that you would always be disinherited."


VI. — FLEURETTE

MONSIEUR de Castelnau de MauvissiŔre, as became a man of great culture, tolerance, and learning, was well received by the fairest company of London, and the houses open to him were open to Felipe Bruno also.

The Italian's enthusiasm, his strange new ideas, his passionate talk, his beautiful voice made him very agreeable to the eager English intellectuals. They questioned him much on his ideas and discoveries; they were excited to learn that he had accepted all the conclusions of Copernicus, nay, gone beyond Copernicus as he had gone beyond Aristotle. His mind, which was turning much to science and turning to it with a warm ardour, had overleaped even the discoveries which had exploded the ideas of Ptolemy.

To his English friends he expounded with simple boldness his theories of the motion of the earth and that it was a sphere, flattened either end, of the motions of the stars and the planets about the sun, his belief that all these were hung in immensity. He added that he felt that the souls of men also belonged to this infinity and that they were being wafted towards it as the vapours rise from the earth to vanish in the sky: "Hence our unrest, our fumblings, and our despair and our invented creeds."

Sir Philip Sidney asked him if the Copernican theory did not diminish the importance of man, making him but a small insignificant person in the Universe instead of the centre of it?

Felipe Bruno replied quickly that man's importance had been increased by the discovery since it revealed that he had a mind to grasp a mighty truth. Aristotle's ideas, for instance, were based upon appearances—the man put down what he saw, and from that made his deductions, but Felipe Bruno argued that he agreed with many of the ancient philosophers that it was the function of the mind to pass beyond the semblance of things to truth.

"Do not ask me," he added quickly, "what truth is, for in your heart you all know it, although it is not a thing easily defined."

The educated Italianate gentlemen of the Court listened with pleasure to these reasonings. The Italian was accepted by a circle of grateful friends with whom he moved with ease without having to disguise his most daring thoughts. And yet he was unconscious of any courage, for his candour was utterly without fear.

Besides Sir Philip Sidney, with whom he had a peculiar affection, there were other Englishmen who were very dear to him. John Florio, an Italian by birth, who had come from that city of Oxford where the monk had fared so ill, Fulk Greville, and others, who, alert but confused, fumbled about in the half-dark for the truth of art and philosophy like men enclosed in the shadow of a mine will fumble for ingots of gold or precious stones, treasures not of their own unearthing, but the long-hidden and long-forgotten relics of other men's labours.

But sometimes after these long philosophical disputations, Sir Philip Sidney would turn to his friend and say, half-laughing, yet with wistful intent:

"But, master, how does this help us to live our daily life?"

* * * * *

Felipe Bruno went several times to the Court at Greenwich or Richmond, and was presented to the ageing Queen, who inspired him with an instant admiration. He always remembered her as he had first seen her, with her pale, withered face like a slip of the moon, and the heavy gold dress like an armour, and gilt wings on her narrow shoulders. She was rather like, he thought, one of those flaming Roman lilies that seemed too rich and gaudy, even for an Italian summer.

This strange woman turned to him sharply, she had that air of questing curiosity which distinguished so many of the men about her shimmering presence; she spoke Italian eagerly in a high voice so that all might hear. She asked the Italian about the wise men and poets of Italy and if he knew any of their sonnets by heart or if he had any music which she might play or sing.

He satisfied her as best he could, observing her keenly while he spoke. She was very extraordinary to him, different from any woman whom he had ever met or of whom he had ever thought. Her features were small and fine like those he had noticed on some of the rough coins which had been turned up by the ploughs in the fields outside Nola. Her auburn wig dripped with pearls; she seemed indeed to him superhuman, something above ordinary humanity, and he was prepared to call her "Diva," or goddess.

She asked him of his faith and if he were still a monk or if he had joined the reformed religion, and he answered her boldly that he had laid aside his habit although he had retained his scapulary and he doubted if his Church would receive him again, but rather would hold him excommunicate, yet the religion of Geneva had not pleased him either. But as for himself, he was a philosopher and asked for nothing but a place in which he might have peace to bring his meditations to fruit. There was so much to be learned and life was so short.

"You are a brave man," said Elizabeth pleasantly; her jewels rattled as she moved. "And you will have need of your courage, as I suppose."

* * * * *

At the palace on the water where the river widened at Greenwich, Felipe Bruno saw the lady whom Sir Philip Sidney named Stella. She had been Penelope Devereux and she was then Lady Rich. The romantic, platonic love of the most admired man in England, and the poetry he addressed to her under the name of "Stella" set her apart from all other women.

The Italian, mystical and enthusiastic, regarded the lady as through a haze of star-dust. She seemed at once transient and immortal, like a rainbow, a vision of beauty that comes and goes throughout the ages, continually fades, but is ever the same; it was not her own virtue or beauty that gave her this enchantment, but the love she had evoked in Philip Sidney.

She gave him her hand when he was made known to her, and he noticed that it was cold as if she were already dead, and her eyes were both hungry and afraid.

* * * * *

That evening as he went homewards through the filthy streets he met Jakin, the daughter of the Oxford bookseller. She stopped him and spoke to him earnestly, she seemed very ready with her words, as if she had hoped to meet him and had had her tale prepared. Twisting her hands together in the ends of her blue wool mantle she told him she had come from Oxford, yes, that long and difficult way, because she was to be married. She was staying with the mother of her future husband, he also was a bookseller, his name was Field and they lived by the Black Friars.

Felipe Bruno noticed the girl's beauty, which was suited to the still, pearl colour of the English twilight. She reminded him of Giulia, and again the simile of the rainbow came into his mind. It was an image that he adopted very willingly, for it expressed his earnest and continuous ideas of the immortality of the soul and of the continuance of beauty and loveliness, now here, now there, now in this woman, now in that.

In everything the English girl was different from the Neapolitan. Nay, not in everything—the look she gave him was the same. He mused, gazing at her with his eyes that were so full of fire and foreboding, that it was strange that few men, even those who admired him and seemed to understand him, could not read his destiny. Yet there were several women, and among them the poor and humble, who had looked at him as if they knew, praised, and pitied all his endeavours and all that he must yet undergo. Even the Queen had given him that look from her long, wrinkled green eyes; even the glance of Penelope Rich, heavy with tears shed for another man, had been full of compassion and surprise.

When Jakin had finished talking of her own humble affairs, she said quickly:

"I hope you will stay in England where you will be safe."

Felipe Bruno had not been listening to what she said, even if he had done so he would have understood very little of it, for her speech was in English and of that he could only, and with great difficulty, make out a sentence here and there, while it was impossible for her to put together more than three or four words of his own tongue. So he shook his head, smiling at her, pressed her restless, nervous hand as a sign of good will.

Then she understood her eager folly—that he had not been able to comprehend her. So, pulling eagerly at his sleeve, she made a motion for him to follow her, which he did under the pale afterglow over the city and through the huddled back streets and the gutters running filth between the overhanging, crowded houses.

* * * * *

Jakin brought him to a little bookseller's shop in Black Friars where in the small room at the back a young man and a boy were working a printing press. In the shop an old woman at a spinning-wheel spun white wool and kept guard over the new neat books piled on the counters.

Jakin said a few words to the young man, who was black-browed and serious, and he began to talk to the scholar in a laboured Latin. Henry Field had heard of the learned and daring Italian philosopher, and he was proud of this visit. He showed his modest press, the proofs with the ink wet on them, the sheets waiting to be stitched and bound, shyly he displayed the last work, a book of dreams that he was bringing to the light.

It was hard labour and there was little money in it, because there were not many people who cared for books, and those who did had seldom the wherewithal to buy them. But it seemed to the printer a noble task, and his dark, close-set eyes were ardent as he spoke. He liked to think that he sent knowledge and wisdom journeying throughout the land in his laboriously compiled and printed books.

Felipe Bruno smiled tenderly. He had already seen that in many of the manuscripts piled up round the shop, the heaps still wet from the press, and those inscribed in the neat handwriting of the copyists, was not knowledge and wisdom, but superstition and error, a tangle of false beliefs and feeble misunderstandings.

Henry Field continued to talk, glad of the patience of this learned man in listening to him. He asked about Oxford and why the Italian had left that learned city. Was it true that there had been a dispute about Aristotle? Did he, the erudite Bruno, believe in the new discoveries of Copernicus, which seemed so absurd? Was it possible that he did not credit that the earth was a kernel of several transparent spheres in which the stars and planets and the sun and moon moved?

Felipe Bruno replied kindly that none of that mattered, and he asked the printer to question the girl as to why she had brought him to the shop. But Jakin could not say. She had sat down beside the old woman and was twisting the tow for her on the spindle.

The young man turned on her looks of love. In the half-light of the shop, for even the windows were darkened by rows of books placed in front of them, she looked tall, dimmed, pale, with something of divinity in her downcast submission.

"We are to be married in July, the very crown of summer," said Henry Field. "Jakin is fond of books, too, she is teaching herself many things. Before she can read English she is beginning to speak Latin."

There was a little silence in the small shop and Felipe Bruno had an exquisite perception of the joy and suffering of these simple people from whom he was so far apart. He knew, too, that the girl's soul was more akin to his own than to that of the young man, but that she was scarcely aware of this herself and that she would go on and accept her destiny and that only now and then, perhaps wakening in the night while her husband slept beside her and her child was cradled in her arms, she would remember him who had not even been able to talk to her in her own language. She would be disturbed, and perhaps weep a little, then perhaps sleep and dream again of the possibility of heroic love.

Henry Field questioned the scholar as to the books he had written while in London, three of them dedicated to M. de Castelnau, and another that he was reported to be writing that was to be dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney.

Felipe Bruno said that he had already arranged for the publication of these, but that he might write some more pamphlets for Mr. Field to publish for the sake of spreading the truth and also to earn a few pieces so that he might not be wholly dependent upon his patron, the French Ambassador, who had been so good and gracious to him, though he was himself so straitened in his means.

And he added, in the quick Latin full of Italian words that Henry Field had to frown and puzzle over to understand, that there were other things he could write books on besides philosophy and mathematics. He could turn a satire, ay, and a coarse and biting one, or a comedy, or love sonnet. With that he looked at the girl again, straightly and compassionately, thinking how well a melody of music or a melody of words might express her uncomprehending passivity. But she did not look up, her strong hands moved to and fro over the white wool.

Felipe Bruno took his leave, but when he was on the threshold, Mr. Field questioned him, asking him what perhaps no man should ask another—as to what he thought of all the warring creeds, and of God, and of the immortality of the soul?

Felipe Bruno shook his head, not being willing to disturb this honest, simple man.

"Some day we shall all be enlightened."

"Yet for yourself, sir? I mean, what use has knowledge been to you, and all your great toil? You seem to have been a wanderer all over Europe—nowhere did you stay long. Now you have a patron, but from what I can hear of your story, your doctrines are not accepted, your speculations are not admired, or only by a few who have been of little use to you."

The printer paused, embarrassed, he feared that he had said too much, and a little perturbed by the Italian's dark eyes so full of what seemed to him a more than mortal melancholy and fire.

"To each his way in the world. And mine is different from that of many, but I have never lamented."

"Nor ever been depressed?" questioned Henry Field.

"No. From my youth up I had been exposed to the slights of fortune, yet I have been firm and constant to my thoughts." He raised his beautiful hand in an unconscious gesture and let it fall. "To this, God is my witness, and I am not so unfortunate as you perhaps think, for, in submitting to my misfortunes I despised them."

"That is difficult to understand," said the young Englishman, earnestly, "for you have nothing. Bold as you are, death may lie in wait for you round the next corner."

"Death itself does not terrify me," replied the Italian, and in no tone of boasting. "And the greatness of my soul is such that all things mortal are in subjection to it."

The young man frowned, pondered earnestly for a second, and said:

"Yes, sometimes I read in the evening—not quickly, for I have trouble over some of the words—but I remember I read in Cicero 'They are alive who have escaped from the fetters of the body as from a prison, for that which is called life is really death.'"

"What greater consolation could there be to mankind than this belief which sets him above the utmost perils that may beset his mournful way?"

"But could you do it?" asked Henry Field curiously. "Die, young and die horribly?"

"You are no philosopher," said Felipe Bruno pleasantly, with his hand on the lintel of the door, "why should you be?" He looked over his shoulder at the old woman and the young woman intent on the spinning. "While we are alive let us live and enjoy the fruits of the earth. But remember, those men most fear death, most desire to live, who have not the light of true philosophy."

"What is your true philosophy, sir?"

"I would not leave you without some comfort, for any man in these bloody, crooked times might fall upon misfortune. Remember, then, that the body is bound and united to divine things, so that the philosopher is not sensible either of absorbing love or desperate hatred for mortal things, knowing he is greater than these."

Felipe Bruno glanced at the girl's downcast face again, and added:

"The philosopher must not be the servant and slave of his body, it is to be regarded as no other than the prison of his liberty, a snare for his wings, a chain upon his limbs, a veil impeding his sight."

"That is difficult," said the young bookseller humbly.

"Yes, it is difficult not to shrink when confronted by death, it is difficult to be strong against all the onslaughts of fortune. It is hard to be armed against all the enticements of passion. I have prayed to be delivered from these blind tremors, knowing that death is less horrible than the fear of death."

"Why do you think so much of it?" inquired the young man, curiously. "Your discourse seems ever to run on that."

"Is it not very present in the minds of most men? Why do you hang your skulls at your watch-chain? Why do you have your ceremonies to soften the passing of your friends? Why do you ring your bells and pray before your altars? Is it not all to fend from you the terrors of this end, which is, as I tell you, no end? Death! I fear it so little that I have often entreated that this, my death, may be changed into life, as the cypress into laurel, Hell into Heaven, and mortality into immortality."

"These are deep things," said the serious young bookseller timidly, "and it is difficult for a man to come at them."

"Yes, because we are overladen by so many creeds, so much buying and selling, so much murdering and cheating. Whenever you go abroad you see blood, a brawl, an execution, a man with a raw disease. All this poor corruption has for its salve the superstitions of a money-making creed. Farewell; some day in my walks I will return to you and see what you print."

The Italian gave a courteous salutation and passed rapidly down the street with his stately, swinging gait; the young printer stared after him, not seeing a lean scholar with a brown, hollow face, large eyes, tangled hair and a doublet buttoned awry, but rather a golden, an immortal figure, that might be a god or an angel, who had come to earth for a brief while and passed, undismayed and unastonished through all the vilenesses of mankind.

* * * * *

Philip Sidney lay low on his brocaded day-bed with his slim books with crimson tassels cast aside. He had no more pleasure in sonnet writing, in listening to the music of the rebec or the lute, in dreaming of martial exploits. Love was on him like a sickness; he did not want the Stella of his verses, but Penelope Rich who walked the earth, a mortal like himself. Platonic passion no longer satisfied, he wanted the fair gentlewoman, whom he had only kissed once in her sleep, as his companion, to lie in his arms, to sit at his table, to ride abroad with him, to hold converse with him. Without her his hours seemed of an incredible loneliness.

The chamber, which was filled with objects that he loved, rich books, polished musical instruments and fine pictures, was to him like a prison cell and the tracery of the stonework of the window against the paling evening sky was like the gateway to a land of misery.

Felipe Bruno sat beside him and listened patiently to his confession that had not been made to any other. Though all knew of his love for Stella they thought that this had become a sublime emotion, a star indeed to light but not to trouble him, beauty to heal not to disturb.

The Italian's subtle mind understood the elaborate misery of his friend as he understood other matters—the problems of mathematics, the beauty of geometry, which in itself might be named God, and all these warm desires of the human heart not so easily to be checked and purged even in a pure essence of heroic love.

The young man lay low; his beauty, which consisted in his deportment and his courtesy, was gone. He seemed but a wan and sickly youth. He would not have the candles in, yet he hated the shadows, he lamented the world—there had been an age of chivalry, but it was dead before his birth, everything now was moneymaking. Why did people take those great voyages to discover fresh worlds? Merely that they might bring home ingots of gold, sacks of pearl, and rareties which could be exchanged for shillings and half-pennies in London's markets.

Christians were divided into two sects and fought and struggled with one another and enrolled on either side you might find nine knaves for one honest man. England was barbarous and uncouth, there were but a few who understood the excellencies of art, philosophy and learning. Italy was as lovely as a red rose in full bloom, yet peer down the leaves and in the heart you saw the maggots swarm. The loneliness of despair, the urge of a hopeless quest pursued every thinking man. Only the brutes who could fill their bellies and swill their wines until they were insensible, only those who were content with bought love and purchased honours, were happy.

Gloom darkened about the slim young man stretched on his silk cushions sobbing out his misery, and the Italian sitting beside him intent as a priest at a confessional.

Philip Sidney sat up suddenly and like a penitent ashamed of his remorse, and asked:

"What have you got? If I, who hath nothing, complain, what have you? What of you?"

"What of me?" replied Felipe Bruno from out the sweet shadows that seemed to melt one into the other until all the hard outlines of the room were effaced. "I who hurry through the world in doubt and ignorance towards I know not what end! When I was young I longed for love, and I did not long to live as a monk. I was not kept harshly nor were the sins of the body frowned upon, for the Church is always lenient towards those carnal indulgences that she cannot hope to control. But who was I, poor and ill-favoured, more like a hairy satyr than a hyacinth-crowned Apollo, to inspire that heroic love for which I yearned? You, at least, knight, have found it. Leave this lady apart and dedicate to her your highest raptures. But young, pleasing, wealthy, and highly honoured as you are, there are other flowers that may perfume your way in this world which may be a paradise for such as you."

"My fate," replied the young man, "seems indeed, compared to yours, so easy that I am ashamed. Yes, although I love all that is divine and high and pure, I too—" he paused, and his voice broke. "Where are we going? What are we doing? Can we live only on this nectar of the gods, this dew in the lily cup?"

"No, cavalier, take the graces and the beauties of women as the thirsty wayfarer takes the draught of water from the spring, or the ripe fruit from the trees—unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

"I admire your boldness," said the young man, peering curiously through the dusk. "There are those who, when they hear you speak like that, accuse you of loose living and of obscenity."

"What does it matter?" smiled the Italian, indifferently, "one does not need to have a very exalted soul to despise the rabble. Often when I go about in your streets, floundering over the mud on your footways the boys and youths run out, jeer at me, cast stones and filth, even attack me, shouting 'A foreigner! A foreigner!' Well, how should that concern me? I do not know their language nor they mine. Tonight I have some letters to write for M. de Castelnau, I like to labour for him all I can, for there is little I can do to repay him for the ease—the first of my life—that he has given me."

"You are very grateful for little," smiled the Englishman. "I would willingly have you as my companion. Come and stay with me, we will listen to music and write verses and meditate philosophy together."

"While I can be of service to M. de Castelnau I must remain with him. I write dispatches in Latin, Italian, and sometimes in French. You know he is very poor, often for months together no money comes from France."

"That is dull labour for you, all those worldly affairs of wars and diplomacy. It must seem very stupid to you."

"It is trivial, no doubt. What does it matter who governs what country? All governments are much the same and none is yet of sufficient penetration and enlightenment to wish to avoid bloody war, desperate massacre, and hideous murders."

The Englishman rose, the two men stood side by side; the youth and splendour of one, and the worn middle-age and shabby attire of the other were alike eclipsed by the shadows which so wrapped them round that they seemed snatched up into another sphere, away from all commonplace affairs and objects.

"Philosopher," said the young man out of this encircling dusk, "tell me what is the best death that a man can die."

"I do not know. Only this—however a man's death comes, he should run to meet it."

"Priest, have you ever known this heroic love that I cannot achieve?"

"Cavalier, you ask what I cannot answer."

* * * * *

Felipe Bruno returned slowly to Beaumont House through the air, heavy with the reek of garbage and filth. All the alleyways that led down to the Strand were choked with foul mud into which the unwary traveller, by a false or careless step, might easily be involved to knees or waist.

To avoid this dirt one had to look down at it; to gaze at the stars was to risk falling into a cesspool, and the Italian smiled to himself as he walked daintily. He was aware of a waxing moon overhead, and the pallid, veiled light of it mingled with the coarse flares of lamps here and there beside the houses or set in windows. The wind had a chill in it that caused his flesh to prickle under his thin jacket and made his face and hands feel cold. It was like a trickle of water in his ears under his heavy hair, yet he was glad of it for it seemed to blow from another world.

When he reached Beaumont House he found the mansion very quiet. M. de Castelnau could not afford many servants and he was himself abroad on business and had taken with him his secretary.

Madame de Castelnau was seated in the cabinet where her husband usually worked. She had waited, she said, to show the Italian the despatches he was to copy—they lay there neatly under a weight of gilded alabaster which was in the shape of a woman's hand with a ring on the third finger.

Madame de Castelnau had lit two pure wax candles and kept them neatly trimmed. These, stuck on the bronze sticks, gave the tidy writing-table the air of an altar. Some thick-stalked, vigorous marigolds—those flowers which the English admired for their texture, perfume, and colour as being more than ordinary blooms—stood in a pale jar by the papers.

Madame de Castelnau looked at them and told the Italian what the work was to be, and repeated with meticulous care the messages her husband had left for him. She looked exhausted, and her dress, which had often been scoured and turned was of a pale green colour clouded with grey, something the hue of the stiff, upstanding leaves of the marigolds. Her bosom, veiled by a partlet of silver lace, looked the colour of the moon which hung so serenely above the squalor of the city.

Felipe Bruno seated himself at the desk and began to work, diligently and keenly, like a busy, experienced clerk. The lady did not move, with her thin fingers interlaced underneath her chin, her elbows resting near the vase of marigold flowers, she watched his noble face, which was brought into strong relief by the light of the two candles which she had placed and carefully tended for his return.

When he came to the end of three of his letters she asked him gently if her presence disturbed him, and he answered no, without looking up. The room was small and very high ceilinged, she had drawn the curtains over the long, pointed window, and they could hear without the noises of the town, the shouts and laughter of a passing of roisterers coming up from the Thames, the raucous voices of two men quarrelling, a snatch of drunken singing. The noises were all remote and this gave them a curious companionship as if they were enclosed together away from all the world.

"Why do you work so hard and so eagerly," asked Madame de Castelnau, "at what must be so distasteful to you?"

He turned on her his brooding and formidable glance, as if in that one look he drew to himself all her soul, her thoughts and her unhappiness.

"It is not distasteful. For your husband, who has been so good to me, I would do much more than this."

"How good to you? In plain terms, you earn all we give you, and what we give is very little."

She leaned forward suddenly, so that her bosom was over the papers with the sand sticking to the writing that he had just finished and which lay scattered on the table; she put her fine hand, in which the veins faintly showed under the delicate skin, next to his hand—lean, brown, and beautiful with the fine hairs on the back.

"Tell me what your life was before you came to England."

"Tell me yours, madame, and yet I do not need to ask."

"You can guess it, then?"

"Perhaps I can."

"Tell me," she smiled, bravely.

"I see you, a child, a girl, and a young woman in a fair, well-appointed house open by many doors and windows to the sunlight. A cold stream is outside, and perhaps a rushing river. You are much abroad, with dogs at your heels, or riding a horse. You have a good mother and a kind father; you have pretty, clean gowns and your hair is brushed and perfumed. I see you plucking little bouquets of flowers and laying them among the linens and woollens in your drawer. In the spring you will pluck the first violets and scatter them on your garments. You will even twist them in your hair at night and so sleep, binding the blooms with a narrow ribbon which will be, perhaps, a saffron colour or perhaps azure, across your brow.

"Then, in the winter, when there is nothing else, you will take orris root or powdered cinnamon, or perhaps an orange stuck with cloves, and so you will have everything that you touch perfumed. And when you are in the house you will dream sitting by your fire, or your spinning-wheel, or your open window, at your music, or at church you will dream too. All those dreams of men and angels will be woven into one."

"Yes," admitted the lady, "that was my life. Then I was a blossoming bud, now I have borne fruit and begin to fade."

She looked at him very earnestly, the intensity of her appeal was agonizing; the flames of the candles were steady in the still air; the heavy strangeness of the marigolds was emphasized by the shadows beyond the desk.

"Tell me," asked Madame de Castelnau, "when is it a sin to love? You have been a monk—answer."

"I have not been a monk who has kept his vows."

"Does that trouble you?" she breathed.

"No. Why should I respect what I undertook when I was fifteen years old and knew nothing save my own ignorance?"

Madame de Castelnau wrung her pale hands.

"I am so alone," she cried, "everything seems dark and I drifting on a midnight sea and when there is a little light goes by I may not snatch at it."

"A little light?"

"You are selfish," she said, "you pretend not to understand, you want to force me to speak first—"

"You feel for me, then, what I feel for you?"

"Yes, and we knew it, but it gives me pleasure to hear you say so."

Her youth had returned to her with a transient lustre; she was like a pearl in the twilight. They looked at each other with such delight that their sight became clouded and neither of them beheld anything but a blurred glory. He said at length and with a deep serenity:

"We must preserve our integrity."

To which she replied without hesitation:

"Yes."

Then he said:

"It will not be for long."

She asked him what he meant, and he replied:

"Neither of us is young and when we have shaken off these bodies we shall meet in some common felicity."

He shook with joy to think that he had discovered this beautiful passion to brush all his days with gold. But the woman cried out again on her loneliness. There had always been with her, she said, even in those happy days of which he had drawn a truthful picture, a sense of a veil or a barrier between her and all the things that other people deemed so precious.

"Everything that a woman values I have had, but I have never been able to enjoy it completely. My husband has been kind to me, I have had no misfortunes, I love my children, yet, only in the thought of you, only in these words that we speak together now have I known what true joy is. It is more than love, it is half immortality."

"To you I must seem a vagrant, a vagabond, almost a beggar, a heretic, a blasphemer, perhaps."

"You only say that to amuse yourself—you know that from the first day that you came here—I prepared your room as for a bridal."

"I know. With me, also, every little action, every little sound—your skirt on the floor, your fingers on the virginals, your voice speaking to the children and the servants—"

"You know nothing about me," said Madame de Castelnau.

"Do I not? Your soul is mirrored in mine. When I look inwards I see you."

"Do you want more than this?"

"No—if you are with me—always, in everything."

"Always in everything?"

"I mean beyond death, Marie."

"Ah, death," said Madame de Castelnau, indifferently. "Sometimes he seems to me to be on the threshold and I am not frightened, only curious."

"Never be frightened, Marie."

The narrow, long door of the cabinet opened and Fleurette ran in, wearing her nightgown and carrying a doll under her arm. Her mother, in a quick alarm sprang up and caught her to her bosom. The child drew herself closely into that gentle haven; she was sobbing a little. She had had a dream, she said, she did not know of what, but it had frightened her and when she awoke she had found herself alone in the room.

"Give the child to me," said the Italian in a strong voice.

He rose and took the little girl from her mother's arms, the hands of the man and woman met and passed—one over the other round the body of the child; they smiled at each other over her head. She rested very willingly on the man's shoulder and became soothed at once.

Madame de Castelnau sat down again beside the marigolds and watched Felipe Bruno caress and kiss her child with fine fingers, with cool lips.

"What should frighten you, Fleurette? There is nothing in the world nor in the sky, nor in the seas that would frighten such as Fleurette. She is safe and forever the stars watch over her and the moon is her sentinel. Sleep, my darling, within my arms."

The child clasped her small hands round his neck over the thick, unkempt hair and he turned to his place before her father's papers and set her on his knee. Fleurette began to laugh and chatter, looking from him to her mother with the gay confidence of love. Then suddenly she drooped, and suddenly she was asleep, a sweet burden against his shoulder.

Madame de Castelnau rose then.

"She is too heavy for me, will you carry her to her chamber?"

"Yes. Then I must return at once, I do not want your husband to come back and find I have neglected my task."

Marie de Castelnau smiled in perfect resignation and perfect understanding.

* * * * *

They ascended the narrow stairs of the tall house together, every time they passed a window they glimpsed the sinking moon. On the threshold of the child's chamber Madame de Castelnau paused and kissed Fleurette, and the Italian obeyed her unspoken wish, gently saluting the small, soft face in the same instant that Madame de Castelnau kissed her child's forehead; this was the only pledge of love that they exchanged.

Together they entered the small bedroom where the other child still lay in a deep slumber between the curtains on which Madame de Castelnau, when she was awaiting the birth of Fleurette, had embroidered the Arms of her husband.

"I will watch beside her, it is a duty one should not trust to a servant. Good night."

"Good night," he replied, and he went back to the little cabinet with the two candles that she had lit and neatly trimmed, that stood beside the bowl of marigolds. His ecstasy was deeper than his individual life, it seemed one with eternity.

A few days later M. de Castelnau was recalled to France and in the middle of the sudden preparations for departure Fleurette fell ill. She seemed not to suffer but shrank and withered like a wind-flower before a gale of spring snow. The doctor feared the plague, which was then so prevalent that every man of sense went about with a vinegar-soaked handkerchief and packets of herbs sewn inside his coat, or with charms bound about his wrist.

Fleurette died as quickly as a snow crystal dissolves on the warmth of the hand. Her mother lay with her head on the pillow trying to breathe life into the lips and nostrils of her child. She did not move even when, too late, the Sacrament came, brought by M. de Castelnau's French chaplain.

When they took Fleurette away Madame de Castelnau remained inert upon the bed round which were the curtains she had embroidered herself while waiting for the birth of the child that had just died. They could not move her, even to take off her clothes; Jeanne, her woman, was only able to unlace and draw from underneath her the fine silk bodice, stiffened with steel.

It was undoubtedly the plague, and most of the English servants left the house, which smelt of the vinegar soaking into the curtains and carpets and of the herbs cast on to the braziers kept anxiously burning to purge infection from the air. With this mingled the smell of cabbage and mutton cooking in the kitchen, where the servants ate and drank in gossiping fear.

Again the chaplain came from the small, inconvenient chapel with the host in his hands; when he crossed the beams of sun that fell through the windows, the pyx shivered like unsubstantial liquid radiance.

But Madame de Castelnau did not see him nor the enshrined body of God; she lay with her face pressed into the pillow where she had sucked the infection from Fleurette; her hair, usually so smooth, was in disorder, and her cheek, usually so pale, was flushed with fever.

Felipe Bruno remained apart from the disaster; his sense of gain outweighed his sense of loss; Marie de Castelnau belonged to him, all she was and ever had been, and would so belong for all time. He was, too, uplifted by the thought that it was most likely that he would also die of the plague, a wind from another world would bear them away side by side from an earth that had been to both a place of exile.

Was it not the avowal of her love that had slain her with the pang of fulfilment, as the rose opens in a great heat to show the full heart then falls to await rebirth in the ground? He grieved for Fleurette, who had been so happy.

M. de Castelnau came to him.

"She asks for one—Philippe—I think she had a brother of that name who died long ago. I do not know who else it could be—" his brow was wrinkled with anguish. "They say at these times the mind goes back—"

The two men stood silent; outside in the street was the sound of a bawdy song.

"You are a priest, come and pray in her room."

Felipe Bruno went to the chamber she had so carefully prepared for him, where Fleurette had rolled her bright balls on the uneven floor, took the scapulary from the press where he had kept it, and placed it over his shoulders.

It was silent in her room save for her unnatural breathing; the water, the oil, the bread, the wine, stood on the chest at the foot of the bed. The French chaplain was reciting the prayers for the dying.

Felipe Bruno went on his knees inside the door; he could see the outline of her fallen head on the pillow, so lovely, so beloved, so eternally secure; he pressed his full lips on his clenched hands in the attitude of a man praying, making vows.

"M. de Castelnau," whispered Jeanne, "you should not stand so close, it is certainly the plague."

He did not hear; he had not the strength to hold back the bed curtain, the heavy stuff slipped from his hand, screening the dying woman. So Felipe Bruno, kneeling by the door, with his lips on his whitened knuckles could no longer see Marie de Castelnau, but only the foxes, acorns and acanthus blooms in mignonette green and indigo blue wool that she had embroidered eight years before.

When Jeanne pulled back the curtain, Madame de Castelnau was dead; she had turned on to her back and her fingers were over her bare bosom as if she held a child there.

Felipe Bruno rose and helped the wretched husband from the room.

The Ambassador became suddenly very old, bent and thin, saying foolish things, weeping and praying in a childish manner so that the direction of the packing and travelling fell upon Felipe Bruno.

He did all with quiet zeal so as to spare his patron any possible pain. When he came to see the furniture moved from M. de Castelnau's private closet, he saw some withered marigolds still standing between two half-burnt candles and on the pulled-out chair Fleurette's doll.


VII. — THE BEAST EXPELLED

MONSIEUR DE CASTELNAU left England in the second week of September; he had been delayed by his bereavement and by his tedious affairs. He had had too much to do and his mind was overcast with his grief. Neither the presence of his surviving children nor the playing of music nor the reading of poetry nor the discourses on philosophy could distract him from his lamentations over the loss of his wife and of Fleurette.

Whenever a door opened he looked up as if he expected to see them, the mother with the child in her hand, whenever he passed a window he looked quickly and yearningly out as if he sought to observe them below, entering or leaving the house.

Felipe Bruno was much with him and, for his sake, deserted those companies where he had found much pleasure—the society of Sir Philip Sidney, of Fulk Greville,, and those other men of letters who had always made him welcome. Beaumont House became to him almost like the monastery of Naples had been, a place he seldom left, in which his very thoughts and even his imagination hung suspended like incense in a shrine.

He had always been enraptured with symbols, words and objects had always been to him but pictorial representations of ideas, and those trivial things which the dead woman and the dead child had left behind them in the house where they had been so long, were to Felipe Bruno symbols of their continued presence nearby. Strong, bright-coloured marigolds grew in the garden into the late autumn; when he left England there was still a bed of them, but closed, for there was that day no sun.

He did not, as did M. de Castelnau, glance upwards when doors were opened, nor peer out of windows as he passed them. He did not need to do so, for she seemed ever beside him with her steadfast look and half-astonished smile; he did not need, as did the bereaved father, to listen in a foolish persuasion that he heard the child's feet pattering on the stairs, for she seemed always to be running beside him, her head on the level of his outstretched hand.

At times he was smitten by a gnawing desolation, his body was too strong for the spirit, the agony with which he realized his loss was so exquisite that it almost touched ecstasy. He would then go out into the garden and look up at the stars, which to him were so many whirling worlds, and he would console himself for his pain by the thought of that immensity, beside which humanity was but as dust.

* * * * *

There were many sordid cares to occupy the mind of M. de Castelnau and his household, debts to be paid, repairs to be made to Beaumont House, goods to be packed away, then brought out again as the travelling was delayed, passports to be signed, farewells to be taken here and there.

The Ambassador, too, was much burdened by the affair of the Queen of Scotland who lay a prisoner in England, and who besought him incessantly to come to her help as one who appeals to an only friend. This troubled him too, the woman was blighted in her reputation, she had been, as even her friends feared, wanton and foolish. She was ageing now, and sick, and the thought of what had once been so proud and beautiful, so gay and swift, wearing out in decay, despair and loneliness, was not pleasant to M. de Castelnau nor to the Italian who served him as secretary.

When they were embarked and sailing away from England, for ever, as most believed, Felipe Bruno felt a pang of homesickness, not for Beaumont House where he had met Marie de Castlenau, for she was always with him, but for the grey island itself. He had, after all, come to feel an affection for the islanders whom at first he had found so rude and insolent, who were so uneducated and barbaric.

Gazing back on the low, pale cliffs that rapidly receded from his view as the galley made head with a favourable wind in the canvas, he forgave the pedants of Oxford, the street boys of London, for the sake of those gentlemen who had tolerated his company, and listened courteously to his disputations and even accepted, if only in part, some of his passionate philosophy. He could forget much that had been rough and inhospitable for the sake of Jakin, the bookseller's daughter, who had looked at him with a comprehending simple glance; for the sake of Henry Field, the young bookseller, who had fumbled in the darkness of speculation for the truth; for the sake of Philip Sidney, who had now taken his poetic grace, his philosophic elegance, and his melancholy moods to Flanders, there to fight under the banner of the heretics against the King of Spain, who was Felipe Bruno's own peculiar master.

When the Ambassador and his little train reached France, they found three of the servants had absconded at Dover, and with them the greater part of the baggage. This was a serious loss, for the missing chests and bales contained almost all that M. de Castelnau possessed of value. Among them was all Felipe Bruno's worldly possessions—two cases of books, a few clothes of stout, pure English wool, which he found comfortable and commodious, and some small articles which had been given him as gifts, such as rolls of fair parchment, bundles of wax for sealing, sheepskin slippers, a belt, and two daggers.

"I never possessed anything in the world before, and these have not been mine long," he said, and he smiled to think how trivial was his loss compared to the great riches he had, of which none could rob him.

M. de Castelnau was much distressed; this was a severe blow to his already galling poverty. He stood forlorn by the wagons which were to take him to Paris, he had scarcely the heart to continue his journey. There was a ship in the harbour that was about to sail for England, and the old man had much ado to restrain himself from entering that and returning to the grey island where his wife and Fleurette were buried.

* * * * *

On the monotonous journey to Paris, M. de Castelnau told Felipe Bruno that he could no longer keep him in his train.

"I shall retire to my estates as a private gentleman, if I may. There will be no work for me to do and I shall be able to employ no one, but surely you will be able to get a lectureship at the University, though I fear there is little lust for learning in Paris now."

The wandering scholar was not disturbed; he thanked his patron greatly for all his kindness, for which he could give no return. He had done all he could in dedicating to him two of the books which he had written in London. A third had gone forth with the name of Philip Sidney on it—that was his only means of ever making a gift—he who was naturally so generous.

He thought with regret of these books—the only copies he possessed had been in the stolen baggage—they had been very comely and pleasing to look upon, beautifully printed and decorated with white figures on a black background. He had taken great trouble with them and the bookseller had done his utmost to sell them, even putting on the title pages that they had been printed in Venice as an extra inducement to the Englishmen to buy, for foreign books were more highly thought of than home products, and if it were admitted that a book had been printed in London, it would have been very difficult to dispose of even a single copy.

Felipe Bruno thought with pleasure and regret of the trouble he had taken in seeing his work through the press—that had been a most agreeable task. He had himself helped to set up the Latin and Italian type, he had liked the feel of it beneath his fingers, he had liked the shape and heaviness of the great press, he had liked the slightly roughened surface of the paper. The title of the last of these books went hammering in his head—The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast...The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast. Like a great, exultant beast the world was about him yet, coiled, venomous, ready to hiss and leap.

Yet even against the triumphant beast he was armoured. He repeated to himself a sonnet by Tansillo, the poet who had been his father's friend and whom he had introduced as a character in Heroic Raptures, repeating this verse, which now was in Felipe Bruno's mind to dedicate to Marie de Castelnau:


"Winged by desire and thee, O Dear Delight!
As still the vast and succouring air I tread,
So mounting still, and swifter pinions sped,
I scorn the world and Heaven receives my flight;
And if the end of Ikaros be nigh,
I will submit, for I shall know no pain;
And falling dead to earth, shall rise again;
What lonely life with such high death can vie?
Then speaks my heart from out the upper air,
'Whither dost lead me? Sorrow and despair
Attend the rash'; and thus I make reply,
'Fear thou no fall, nor lofty ruin sent;
Safely divide the clouds and die content;
When such proud death is dealt thee from on high.'"


He recalled with tenderness the days spent in the company of the English gentlemen in the house of Sir Fulk Greville, when they had made him a member of a poetic Academy on the Italian model they had instituted, and he had read aloud the sonnets that were so akin to the genius of his patron, Sir Philip Sidney, and which were always written with Marie de Castelnau in his mind and heart.

"The moth beholds not death as forth he flies
Into the splendour of the living flame;
The hart athirst to crystal water hies,
Nor heeds the shaft, nor fears the hunter's aim;
The timid bird, returning from above
To join his mate, dreams not the net is nigh;
Unto the light, the fount, and to my love,
Seeing the flame, the shaft, the chains, I fly;
So high a torch, love lighted in the skies,
Consumes my soul, and with this bow divine
Of piercing sweetness what terrestrial vies?
This net of dear delight doth prison mine;
And I to life's last day have this desire
Be mine Thine arrows, Love, and mine thy fire."

"God is at the same time imminent and transcendent, life of life, light of light, the vivifying spirit of us all."

* * * * *

In Paris he parted from M. de Castelnau, who had no hotel of his own but lodged in a small house. There was not, however, any immediate hardship confronting the wanderer; M. de Castelnau had told him that a man known to both of them, Fabricio Mordente, of Salerno, was in Paris. He was a great mathematician and hoped soon to be appointed to the household of the Emperor Rudolf.

This man received Felipe Bruno very gladly, he admired his mind and his works, and he employed him at once to help him on two mathematical books that he was composing, and he offered to share with him his lodgings, which were in a tall house near the University. But he asked his guest with some trepidation if he had ever been to Mass while he had been in the country of the heretics.

"No. I remained two years and a half in England not going to Mass when it was said indoors, nor out of doors, nor to sermons."

At this admission the mathematician pursed up his lips. Surely this was almost like a confession of heresy, but Felipe Bruno denied vehemently that he was a heretic. He had been to Geneva and had much disliked the doctrines of Calvin, which showed an intolerant bigotry which was more rigid and acid than any to be found in the Church of Rome. He, FrÓ Jordanus of the Order of Saint Dominic, maintained and gave every credit and reverence to the Church and to His Beatitude the Pope. He believed that such an institution as the Church was necessary for the ordering of men's minds and the peace of their souls, and he argued this point vehemently and passionately, trying to convince the mathematician, who looked at him with doubting eyes and a screwed-up mouth, and fidgeted with his compasses on his pile of parchments.

"Why may not the Church admit the right of philosophy, and allow her sons freedom in which to think? It is my aim to remain in the Church, though not perhaps as a monk, and to support her with all my learning and with what authority I may gain from my works."

Felipe Bruno added that there were many learned and tolerant men in the Church. Had not Cusanus himself been a Cardinal? Thomas Aquinas himself was a Dominican. Why should not the Church embrace all the new discoveries of science, all the loftiest ideas in philosophy? Why should she not purge herself of crudities, superstition, and corruption?

The mathematician shook his head, he did not care to commit himself on this dangerous subject. He remarked curiously:

"You are of a very trusting nature, FrÓ Jordanus. You go here and there offending the priests, flouting their authority, staying away from Mass, discarding your habit, and you still think you will be received back into the fold! You even believe that you will be allowed to use the authority of the Church to cover your teachings!"

"I do not," replied Felipe Bruno, "think of the rabble and the ignorant priests, or of the stupid mob who follow them, or of the vile herd of ignorant and superstitious idolaters who daily kneel to images. And yet, for them too, I feel a certain pity, for I have seen these same images bring consolation enough to the simple and the miserable. Nay, I speak of my intellectual equals—"

"If such there be," put in the mathematician slyly.

"I think of appealing," continued the other, unmoved, "to those men among them who cannot deny the truths that I shall put before them. Yet I would reconcile myself to the Church—not out of fear," he added, "but because I might be of service to her, because it is only by the aid of science and philosophy that she will survive."

This to the mathematician was a large and dangerous pretence, he refused to listen any longer and turned the discussion on to the subject of his books. He had made, he declared, a divine discovery; he was able to take the exact measure of the earth and to square the circle; he wanted Felipe Bruno to write a preface to his work.

Then he returned reluctantly to the other matter and warned his friend that he had better be careful for there was incredible disorder and confusion in France, and the charge of heresy might easily be lodged and easily enforced. It would be better for one, perhaps, thinking as the Nolan thought, to retreat into Germany or the Low Countries, or even to return to England.

Felipe Bruno, sitting at the table in the mathematician's lodgings with the instruments near his hand, the books at his elbow, listened and smiled like one who does not see what is about him. Indeed, he thought that Fleurette was at his knee and that Madame de Castelnau was by his shoulder, and this gave him a complete serenity; he never could lose that which was immortal.

But Fabricio Mordente repeated his advice, then added with a shrug:

"You are in such an abstraction that I might as well speak to a man in a trance!"

Felipe Bruno smiled, excused the discourtesy of his inattention, and quoted Cato.

"When I leave this rabble rout and defilement of the world, I leave it as a temporary shelter and not as a place of abode. Nature has given us our bodies as an inn for lodging and not to dwell in." But he added frankly that he would endeavour to reconcile himself with the Church, which might offer him that peace that he could not find elsewhere.

* * * * *

A wandering Dominican passing out of one of the great churches of Paris, was touched on the sleeve by a slight man in a habit so poor that the other took him to be a beggar, but when he addressed him in a beautiful voice and in the Latin tongue, the Dominican knew that he was in the presence of a scholar and courteously motioned him into the deep, sunken porch of the church.

"My name is Felipe Bruno and I am of your Order. Under my jacket I still wear the scapulary—the Nolan, Fri Jordanus—"

"I have heard something of you," whispered the other Dominican, greatly troubled.

"Yes, I have published several books. I know not how far they have circulated."

"What do you want of me?" demanded the other monk from the depths of his cowl, which he had drawn over his face.

"I want to know from you if I may be reconciled with the Church. According to my own conscience I have done nothing to offend any save the bigots. I have travelled to observe men, to publish books and to teach, and I have been followed by charges of heresy, which I have avoided by flight. I believe these were framed by ignorant men, I would appeal to the highest. I believe that my doctrines and my labours might be acceptable to the Pope."

"When did you last go to Mass?" asked the Dominican.

"It is now many years since I laid off my habit, and I thought that I should not go to Mass without permission."

"Would you willingly return to your vows?" asked the other friar, FrÓ Domenico of Nocera. He also was from the south of Italy, and the two priests had changed unconsciously from Latin to Italian and spoke with great animation and gesticulations, so that the Frenchmen going in and out of the church paused to throw glances over their shoulders at the monk in the white habit and black hood and cloak and the other in the rough secular dress with the jacket buttoned awry.

"Would you return to your vows?"

"Yes, I would do that. The ceremonies to me are beautiful and symbolic, I have a wish to uphold the Church. I should like to speak to the Pope."

The other Dominican seemed amazed at this easy assertion, given without arrogance.

"You are very bold and hazardous," he remarked. "How can I help you? I wish you well, if only because of the country from which we both come. I, too, have had my doubts, but it is dangerous even to say as much as that. It is better to believe what one is taught and not to question."

"But so," cried Felipe Bruno impetuously, "nothing advances. If every man were of your mind we might be hundreds of years hence in a slough of ignorance. I cannot be quiet, I cannot be still. But why should I not labour under the protection of and to the glory of the Church?"

"Go to the Nuncio," replied FrÓ Domenico, slightly sinking his voice, "he is an enlightened man. Go to the Spanish Ambassador." Then he added: "What are you doing in Paris?"

"I am helping a friend compose a book on mathematics, I am allowed a few disputations at the University, but I think if I am not reconciled to the Church they will not permit me to teach." With a smile he added: "You are witness that I have not broken my vow of poverty. Look at my shoes! And my sole possession is a copy of Vicino's Plato."

* * * * *

Full of hope, and with an eager heart, Felipe Bruno approached the Papal Nuncio in Paris. This was the first time since he had left the monastery in Naples that he had come face to face with a priest in authority. He was convinced that here he would find help and encouragement; he could not conceive it possible that an enlightened man would refuse to understand his attitude, and his expectations were further raised by the courteous reception given him by the Nuncio, who was a suave and elegant gentleman. His appearance was handsome, he spoke in a cultured Latin, his house was richly appointed.

The Nuncio leaned back in his massive chair with arms, his delicate finger-tips pressed together, his slightly swollen eyes keenly on the lean figure of the monk in his secular habit, his long hair hiding the tonsure, with his air of passion, and yet of serenity, his quickly gesticulating hands, his swinging stride—for as he became impassioned in his talk he walked to and fro in the elegant closet.

The Nuncio listened with a sympathetic air to all that the monk had to say. He seemed interested, moved when in plain, simple and utterly fearless words, without any of the gorgeous ornaments of rhetoric that he used when speaking at the University or in a disputation, Felipe Bruno stated his case.

The Nuncio replied easily:

"You think, then, that your works on philosophy and mathematics and the science of memory and astronomy might be acceptable to His Holiness, that he might receive you again in the Church, from which I fear you at present stand excommunicated."

"I had hoped as much as that, Eminence."

"You believe also, my son, that you might be received again in Holy Church without returning to the religious life for which you hold yourself unsuitable and to which you were vowed while you were young and lacking in judgement?"

"That, Eminence, is my case. I earnestly pray and beseech you to address yourself on my behalf in these terms to the Pope."

"His Beatitude," replied the Nuncio, with a touch of dryness in his mellow voice, "is a sword and a whip to the heretic."

"But I," replied Felipe Bruno candidly, "have never even considered heresy. I believe these quibbles as to forms and ceremonies to be but the playthings of a small mind—that the Church needs purging and maybe, saving from corruption, none of her most enlightened sons can deny."

The Nuncio pursed up his lips; there was on his face something of the expression there had been on the face of the mathematician when he had asked the monk when he had last been to Mass. But Felipe Bruno, in his steadfast constancy, did not observe this. With great simplicity he urged:

"Will your Eminence put my case before His Holiness? My only desire is to live in peace, to write and meditate without fear of giving offence and being hounded from one place to another by the bigotry of ignorant men."

"My son, you do not know His Holiness, but I do. To write to him in these terms would be but to court a rebuke, ay, and a bitter one. If you would return to your religious life, if you would recant, then, and then only, I might help you."

"For the religious life, your Eminence, I am not fitted, and as to a recantation, what is there that I should recant?"

The Cardinal looked at him searchingly out of his uneasy eyes and said in a quiet tone:

"I believe that you hold and have helped to expound the Copernican heresy? Do you not say that the earth moves round the sun instead of being the centre of the Universe, fixed and steadfast amid the enveloping spheres?"

"Yes. And it is true, Eminence."

"You say that to me, son, and yet you ask me to write on your behalf to the Pope?"

The Nuncio rose quickly and in his sudden action was an air of menace. He glanced at a superb clock of gold and crystal that stood on a bracket above his head.

"I have exceeded the time I allowed myself for this interview. I will tell you a man to whom you should go in your difficulty—Padre Alons. I have no more to say."

Felipe Bruno obediently took his departure. When he reached the threshold he heard the Nuncio's voice behind him, sibilant, saying almost in a whisper:

"Be careful, my son, be very careful."

But when Felipe Bruno paused, turned, and would have spoken, the Nuncio had a smiling air of silence and was occupied with his tablets.

* * * * *

The Spanish Jesuit, Padre Alons, received Felipe Bruno with what seemed a sad compassion. He told him that he could hope for nothing until he had received the absolution from the Pope's censure, and that he could do no less than return to his religious life, and he warned him that being excommunicate he could not assist at the divine offices, but that he might hear sermons and say his prayers in church.

The monk was much astonished, at first angry and indignant, then melancholy and full of grief at so much prejudice, superstition, and even, as he began to suspect, malice beneath the kind manners and kind words of the two priests. Felipe Bruno still believed that there must be intelligent men in the Church.

He longed to go to Rome and speak to Sixtus V, face to face. He admired His Holiness, the good accounts of whose conduct as Pontiff had spread all over Europe. The throned Franciscan had put down crime and vice in Rome, he had cleared the Campagna of brigands and thieves, he had drained the marshes and cleansed the city, he had set up great splendid buildings in the place of hovels and filthy tenements. He was passionately interested in the famous library and the great printing press at the Vatican.

Could such a man, Felipe Bruno argued, be the tool of ignorance and superstition?

The Jesuit glided away from this subject and spoke of Bruno's own works; he had read some of these, but had been confused by the figures and symbols in which abstract ideas had been clothed—did FrÓ Jordanus mean to continue and expand, or to unify and exalt the philosophy of Marsilio Ficino? Were not the ideas of Ficino but those of Neo-Platonism? And what of Raymond Lull and Cusanus? Surely there were many childish devices, cloying symbols and tedious allegories mingled with what might be worthy in the writings of these men? They lacked the sanity, the cold ease of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Consider, for instance, what such studies had done for another Dominican, FrÓ Girolamo Savonarola. Simply driven him mad and brought him to the gallows. He might have even become a saint like another of his Order, Saint Antonio, had he never confused himself with ancient lore and bewildered himself with the works of Georgios Gemistos, which were rightly burnt so that little remained.

"It is better," concluded the Jesuit tolerantly, "to love God and to do good than to enter this maze of philosophy."

"Before I can love God I must know Him, define Him, realize Him. I no longer cleave to these ancient sages, I would rise above them all, strike clean and unhampered into the heavens, above all the superstitions of men. Do you not see?" demanded Felipe Bruno eagerly. "Above it all—science, yes, that is the word—truth—ice and fire, immutable, cold to puerile human passion, a flame to guide the spirit."

The Jesuit received this audacity with a guarded look.

"I can only give you advice," he smiled. "Do you remain in Paris?"

"I do not know. Indeed, it is difficult to live here, for the brawling and the tumults in the streets. It is said that one must not disturb the universe of Ptolemy for that leaves no place for the throne of God. Ah! What does He look down on, your God, from that stable glory? Cities such as Paris! It must seem, from up there, like lice crawling over a bloody scab."

The small, dark eyes of Padre Alons sparkled in his sallow, bilious face.

"One can only give advice," he repeated. "Did you see my two cats? They are very friendly and exquisitely clean—they always preserve their dignity and never show surprise. What more can I say? One can only give advice."

Felipe Bruno caressed the cats that sat on the Jesuit's window-sill and stretched and arched their necks to meet his hand.

"Farewell, Padre Alons. I thank you for giving me all you had—good advice."

He hastened away with as much eagerness as if Marie de Castelnau and Fleurette were waiting for him in the room he shared with Mordente, the mathematician.

Confusion of symbols, the Spanish Jesuit had said! What was the world and all in it but symbols? The rose, a symbol of beauty, a guarantee that beauty exists, as a note in your hand is a guarantee that there is money in the banker's hand—Marie de Castelnau, a symbol of love, Fleurette of tenderness.

As he hurried up the dark, worn, twisting stairs a mood of exaltation was on him and his thoughts shaped into verse:


"'Tis thou, O Spirit, dost within my soul
This weakly thought with thine own life amend,
Rejoicing, dost thy rapid pinions lend
Me, and dost wing me to that lofty goal
Where secret portals ope and fetters break,
And thou dost grant me, by thy grace complete
Fortune to spurn and death; O high retreat,
Which few attain, and fewer yet forsake!...

"Girdled with gates of brass in every part
Prisoned and bound in vain, 'tis mine to rise
Through sparkling fields of air to pierce the skies,
Sped and accoutred by no doubting heart
Till, raised on clouds of contemplation vast,
Light, leader, law, Creator, I attain at last."


* * * * *

While Felipe Bruno dreamed of standing at the feet of Saint Peter and there arguing his case, he received notice that he could not be allowed to preach in the Sorbonne until he was reconciled to the Church, but permission was given him to hold a final disputation in the University.

At that he put forward eagerly a hundred and twenty theses against the Peripatetics, or followers of Aristotle, with thirty Pythagoric and Platonic theses.

The Rector of the University, Jehan Filesac, granted the permission for this disputation on the understanding that it was to be regarded in the light of natural philosophy and not to be offered to the eye of faith.

Quick to respond to any generosity and eager to make disciples in the cause of truth, Felipe Bruno responded impulsively to this kindness. In his letter of gratitude to the Rector he put forward some of the reasons as to why he might be listened to patiently:

"Because I am single and lone, an innovator not approved by the many, but rather rejected by them, only supported by the little band of wise and divine men long since forgotten. Therefore there may be some who would wish to defend me against the imposing number of those who, during the long course and lapse of ages in so many countries and in a great multitude of universities have brought the Muses to bondage."

In his little room, which was full of the smell of bad cooking from the kitchens below—grease, onions, garlic and sausage, and of the pure light of the moon rising high above the dark towers of Paris, the Nolan, in his quick, flowing hand, wrote his letter of gratitude:

"I am about to thank you, together with the directors and professors of your university for the many acts of kindness. The most learned of your body have honoured my teaching, either with their presence, or with their indulgence.

"Now that I must wander abroad to other universities, I cannot, nor must I, depart without greeting you, nor without discussing certain theses with you as a token of gratitude and a remembrance.

"Truth is new, rather than old—in antiquity there was no belief which was not once new. Tradition and credulity must cede to Reason and the inquirer must enter on the way of truth cheered by the light of the rising sun of Philosophy. He believes rashly who believes without the aid of reason, for God, who bestowed Reason upon us, designed us to use it in research."

The writer's thoughts became too strong, he became impatient with the symbol of words. He leaned back in his poor chair and stared out of the narrow window at the sky. In that prospect alone was there consolation. Would he ever achieve his beloved dreams of reconciling the Faith that was in Christianity with the truth that was in Philosophy? Would he be able to cleave through the ranks of the ignorant and the spiteful, the stupid, and the superstitious, and standing face to face with the heads of Christendom, convince them of the flame that was within him and the necessity he had to let it shine before all men?

He smiled with a certain irony to think of his own obscurity and poverty, his utter helplessness. He had nothing but his eloquence, not even a decent gown in which to appear, not a respectable cloak to put over his shoulders, nor one ring nor chain as all the other doctors displayed. He had neither wife nor woman, only the memory of Madame de Castelnau, who had kissed one cheek of her child while he had kissed the other. That had been all the salute that had passed between them, yet she was now, as ever, he knew, strong and steadfast, extraordinarily confident. He never beheld her ghost, but her presence was with him continually.

As he stared at the moon he thought, too, of Giulia, and Jakin, the daughter of the English bookseller, and other women who had come his way and gone again, leaving behind a reluctant perfume like that of a crushed hyacinth trodden underfoot in a spring wood.

The season was Pentecost and he longed for the open air. How agreeable those nights had been which he had spent under the spicy roofs of trees, sleeping perhaps by the banks of a stream which rippled continuously over the small, smooth pebbles through which the little fish darted, living silver and opal.

There came into his mind the night of the flight from Naples, the murdered man, and the dangerous book so carelessly thrust into the manure heap, the falling stars and the girl from the puppet show.

He shook these broken symbols of the past out of his mind. There was nothing to do but go onward, for the rest, almost naked as he might be. How to put it into words? Even with the aid of whole charts of figures it was too difficult. In the streets below were sounds of quarrelling, bawdy speech, a woman shouting for money, a man striking another—the triumphant beast.

* * * * *

The day after he had delivered his disputation in the Sorbonne, Felipe Bruno returned to his lodging and packed up his few things in a bundle, discharged his rent, and set out on his way to Mainz; so swift his mind, so strong his thought, it was as if his feet were winged.

The first mutters of the tumult of civil war were again heard in Paris, the schools and the universities began to empty; in the welter of blood and greed, lust and strife, few had ears to listen to the voice of Philosophy, few had eyes ready to glance after the figure of Wisdom.

The Spanish Ambassador and the Nuncio and the Jesuit to whom the Nuncio had recommended the monk, alike sent him messages after his appearance at the University telling him that such doctrines as he had expounded were not acceptable to the Church, but that if he would recant and implore the mercy of the Pontiff, he might be received once more in the seclusion of a monastery there to repent his errors and obstinacy.

Felipe Bruno repeated: "I have nothing to recant."

It was the end of May, and when he reached the first woods outside Paris, he found the wild hyacinth still lingering in the clearings.

He cast off his bundle and gazed with gratitude at the exquisite translucent blue sky from which was wafted a breeze that gently lifted the heavy hair on his lined brow.

As soon as he had taken his bread and cheese from his wallet, birds came out of the trees and hopped round his feet. Eagerly pleased by the sight of the beauty of these charming creatures he flung them crumbs until nearly all his store of food was gone. He who was in his nature so munificent and generous, and who never had anything to give, was full of joy at this pretty charity it was in his power to bestow and at the fluttering grace of the winged creatures flying and settling among the bluebells where the black fragments of the Paris bread, Mademoiselle de Montpensier's bread, said to be ground from bones, were spread as a feast.

"Look at them, Marie! Look at them, Fleurette! They please you, do they not?"


VIII. — THE OBELISK

THE mighty and ruthless old man who ruled in Rome, hated for his strength, his rapacity and his intolerance of crime and disorder, was often tormented by the events of his past life.

He had not long worn the tiara and his early days had been obscure, sad, and laborious. Felice Perretti was said by his enemies to have herded his father's pigs in youth at Montalto in the Marches; from the age of twelve he had worn the habit of a novice in the Franciscan monastery in his native state. Eh, he frequently thought of those years, exaltation, misery, a torment of discomfort.

By the time he was thirty he was the friend of Popes and saints, Paul IV, Pius V, Saint Ignatius Loyola, and Saint Philip Neri, himself one of God's elect.

He had always been filled with a burning zeal for the orthodoxy of the Church; by then his boldness, the rigour with which he enforced discipline whenever he was in a post of authority, his uncompromising opinions, and his rough manners, had made him many enemies. But Felice Perretti pursued his way, giving heed to no man; in his old age, seated in the Vatican, he recalled with zest the cold audacity, the grim zeal of his young manhood.

He had been counsellor to the Inquisition of Venice; when the Venetian Government thought his zeal excessive he had been recalled to Rome—that now, had been a thrust at his pride—excessive zeal—the fools! Lecturer to the University, counsellor to the Holy Office, Procurator-General and Apostolic Vicar of his Order, the Franciscan had advanced from one honour to another without conceding a jot of any of his earlier opinions or prejudices, and yielding to none in his vigour and energy.

"What have I to regret or to repent? Did I not do well to be so steadfast?"

Pius V, the Dominican, had made him a bishop and then a cardinal; the Franciscan friar had taken the name of his native town—that had been a proud moment, he who had been among the poorest and lowliest of the earth, barefooted, wearing a ragged brown robe, was then clothed in scarlet and crimson, and Felice Perretti, Cardinal de Montalto.

"Was I too proud? It was all for the service of God."

Then the Pope who had elevated him was succeeded by that Cardinal Boncampagni who was a personal enemy of Perretti, and on the accession of this priest as Gregory XIII, Cardinal de Montalto had retired into a haughty and cultured seclusion, where he made precise studies of the Fathers, and in the intervals of these arid labours, watched the erection of a noble mansion, the laying out of splendid gardens, near the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

It was while he was leading this life of elegant and somewhat morose retirement that a domestic tragedy soured his already severe disposition, and left him with the dreams that vexed his old age.

He had always noted with scorn the state of anarchy in Rome, the feeble rule of the Pope, the poverty and misery in the streets, the rapine and murder prevalent on the Campagna, and this atrocious crime that struck him to the heart had been a direct result of the anarchy he had always so sternly deplored.

"Why cannot I forget? Always, sunshine or twilight, it returns. What punishment for what sin is this, O God?"

* * * * *

The Cardinal de Montalto had loved his sister, Camilla, greatly, and regarded her two children with much affection. One of these, Francesco Perretti, had married a beautiful Roman lady of extraordinary grace and charm, Vittoria Accoramboni—ah, hateful name!

The magnificent noble, one of the most highly placed in Italy, Paulo Giordano Orsini, had become the lover of Vittoria after having, as rumour declared persistently, foully done to death his own gentle wife, Isabel de Medici, the sister of the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

This adulterous and sinister intrigue had been encouraged by the mother of Vittoria, out of the ambitious hope of seeing her daughter united to the great House of Orsini.

So far in the sordid story Cardinal de Montalto held himself apart in indignant disdain, spending his days in his building and gardening and his dissertation upon the Holy Fathers, meditating in his alert and vigorous mind plans of government for Rome and how to exalt and embellish the seat of the Viceroy of Christ on earth.

But though he strove with cold passion to keep his mind steeled by ascetic exercise, prayers and dreams of what he might, some day, do for the glory of God, he was poisoned in all the fibres of his being by this filthy tale of lust—Francesco, of his own blood, the despised cuckold, Orsini, the insolent adulterer, and Vittoria, who looked like apricots, pearls, amber and sunshine, a piece of shameless devil's bait.

Ah, for the sword of the Lord to smite them into the dust where they belonged!

That day when they had come to him with the news—he had been busy with Fontana over a drawing—Francesco murdered! Francesco hacked to death like a gutter rat and left to rot in the foul streets of Rome.

It had to be borne, though all pointed at Orsini as the hirer of the bravi, it was the pander Vittoria's brother, who had lured Franceso to the ambush—but it had to be endured. Even though his sister wept at his feet, calling on him to avenge her son—he, a Prince of the Church!

The Cardinal de Montalto had loved his nephew and was, besides, deeply outraged by the impossibility of obtaining the justice which his sister so frantically demanded against the high-placed murderers, but he maintained his formidable calm and with impressive dignity presented himself the day after the crime at the Consistory.

Yes, looking back, he was glad to think that he had been able to control himself.

The Pope, touched to tears by a sense of his own weakness, endeavoured to make some excuses for his inability to revenge the murderer, but the haughty Cardinal had replied in tones of icy serenity: "I must be resigned to the will of God."

Then, seeing it was impossible for him to obtain justice for this insolent blow both at his affections and his pride, he had withdrawn into a stern seclusion with a corroding bitterness at his heart.

The wanton and reckless Vittoria Accoramboni had fled with her lover, Orsini, and on the day when, despite all threats and prohibitions, she had married him, Cardinal de Montalto, the uncle of her murdered husband, was elected Pope under the title of Sixtus V.

That was good to remember, a superb moment, as if the sword of the Lord had indeed been put into his wasted hands. They had never expected that, no, they had thought him old, crippled with gout, done for, they had laughed at him and his murdered blood spilt in the gutter.

He liked to recall his election, when his pent-up fury had burst through the usual cold ease of his rigid manners. Yes, it was like a strong cordial to His Beatitude to turn over in his arid mind that triumph.

Felice Perretti, who had entered the conclave seeming an old man, with a stricken air, leaning upon crutches and his glance downcast, on hearing his name proclaimed had risen, cast away the sticks that supported him, and exclaimed vigorously:

"Now I am master! All must henceforth obey me!"

He had been able to fulfil his boast; he had put down disorder without faltering or pity. Four boys who dared his decree by carrying firearms when he had forbidden it, were, in spite of the desperate pleas on their behalf, hanged on the bridge opposite the Castle Sant' Angelo. He smiled to think of the impudent young aristocrats dangling on the gallows.

Orsini and his wife had fled to Venice where both soon died violently. Ah, Francesco had been avenged, no matter by whose hand, eh?

Then the Pope, who seemed to have little regard for the things of the other world, but who was full of energy, vigour, ability, that sought with an inexhaustible energy for the things of this world, set himself with extraordinary zeal the task of organizing his kingdom.

"Was it not well done, to the best of my strength and knowledge?"

He had surrounded himself with the men who had been in favour with Pius V, his patron; he had turned his attention to money matters, to politics, and to indulging that passion for glorifying himself, his family, and Rome by the vast and sumptuous buildings which he so long cherished in secret.

The monk had nosed down brigands, criminals, and lawbreakers as a skilful huntsman with a pack of hounds tracks down the prey. Though he acted as an instrument of law and order and though his intentions were good, there was a ruthlessness and cruelty about his swift action that impressed and intimidated all his subjects. Never before had so many heads been seen on the bridge of Sant' Angelo or in every street corner of Rome. He rubbed his dry old hands to think of that.

In Cardinal Colonna he had found a willing lieutenant, and the two stern, fierce priests between them swept Rome and the Papal States clear of the evil-doers who for so long had infested them with impunity. No one who resisted the terrible Pope was allowed to go unpunished, nobles, men of influence and position were tracked down and executed as readily as were the most miserable of the cut-throats of Rome.

Two things, the Pontiff had declared grimly, speaking to Cardinal Joyeuse, were necessary in order to govern well—one was severity and the other was money. His economies were insufficient to allow him to accumulate the treasures that he needed, for not only did he wish to cleanse Rome, he wished to make it beautiful beyond all the cities of the world. By the sale of public offices and by money-lending he did, however, contrive to make himself one of the wealthiest sovereigns in Europe. Millions of crowns in gold and silver lay stored in the vaults of the Castel Sant' Angelo. That was good to think of, very good—millions of pieces of gold and silver.

To those who ventured to object that a highly taxed people and a large sum of idle money were not signs of good government, the Pope had replied that there was no power equalled to that given by the possession of a large treasure.

Musing in the sunshine the arrogant, intolerant, and ruthless old man with his active mind, energetic body, strong sense of power and lust of dominion, found a great delight in the thought of all that wealth piled up in his treasury while the neighbouring princes were starved and hampered and rendered desperate by sheer lack of means. Almost the thought of the gold blotted out the thought of Vittoria, Orsini and their panders, howling in Hell.

* * * * *

The old Pope had his dreams. One was to conquer Algiers, the other was to convert that heretic island—England. The image of the English Queen fascinated him; he saw in her a woman after his own nature, alert, energetic, impetuous, bold, forming a nation out of her rude people by swift, able strokes of policy as a potter may form a vase out of the wet clay.

He did not undervalue the English people towards whom he looked so longingly. He saw them breaking the Spanish monopoly in the New World, he noted their resolution and their daring, their straining forward on new paths of knowledge and enterprise. And he saw the woman who ruled them, with her golden gown, her golden hair, and her thin white face, like a monstrous dominant figurehead on the prow of a mighty ship plunging through turbulent waters.

When he paused in his swift and gigantic labours it was to think of this island and that woman; to convert them both and bring them back into the fold, to make of Elizabeth Tudor a daughter of the true Church, to set all the English energy and enterprise and courage to serve the true Faith—that was the dream of Sixtus V, who had been Felice Perretti, the poor Franciscan.

While the throned monk, the poor friar wearing a triple crown beguiled his scanty leisure with these dreams, his long hours of work were occupied by wise projects. He began to drain the Maremma and tried to divert some of the stagnant waters of the Pontine Marshes into a canal thereby spending much of his hoarded and precious treasure, counting it out grudgingly to engineers and workmen.

He introduced the silk industry into Rome and he patronized the woollen manufacture; he sent out galleys to serve as a defence against the Eastern pirates who were continually raiding the shores of Tuscany.

"Have I done well, O Lord, have I done well?"

But the labours that lay nearest his heart were those that directly embellished Rome.

He was old, he knew that he had not much time, the moment would come, though it was strange to think it, when all his flaming energy would be quenched like a torch flung down and trodden on. He had already built his tomb in the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, but he wished to leave other monuments behind. His happiest hours were those that he spent in consultation with his architect, Dominico Fontana.

It was a great pleasure to him to turn over the sheets on which were the designs for colossal and sumptuous buildings. Thousands of workmen laboured in the streets of Rome, and he planned to cover the bare and neglected quarters with noble buildings, to link by a magnificent street the upper and the lower city which would have at one end the Laterano and at the other the Vatican a wide, sumptuous avenue from one Papal palace to another.

Noble and splendid roads were laid out between the churches, between Santa Croce and Santa Maria Maggiore between the Forum of Trajan and the Colosseum, between the bridge of Sant' Angelo and Porta Pia.

Beside the basilica of the Laterano his architect, Fontana, raised a magnificent mansion to be the dwelling-place of himself and future Popes...the various springs of pure water from the district of Palastrena were brought to Rome, a distance of twenty miles, by an aqueduct on arches and by subterranean channels.

"Have I not equalled the Caesars?"

When the Franciscan had been on the Papal throne for three years they would give his name (calling it Aqua Felice) to the water which gushed out from the grandiose fountain which he had caused to be raised on the new road leading to the Quirinale.

"Have I not also endeavoured, and this perhaps is my greatest task, to complete the mighty church which Michael Angelo when he died, twenty years before, left unfinished!"

The labours of three architects on this magnificent fabric had left unbuilt the cupola that was, to the imagination of the Franciscan friar, the very crown of Rome, and he concentrated all his efforts on what seemed the impossible endeavour to see it rising into the sky before the end of his Pontificate. To the vigorous and passionate imagination of the Pope the cupola was to be the symbol of the immutable grandeur of the Roman Catholic Church—superb, unmatchable, it was to rise, a challenge, a promise, a threat, a hope, above the magnificence of the vast modern city, which the enthusiastic labours of engineers and architects, painters and sculptors, roadmakers and police had been so zealously and triumphantly devoted.

"It is my prayer," he said to himself, "and the affirmation of my belief."

* * * * *

But even the cupola of Saint Peter's was, in the mind of the Pope, of second importance to the Obelisk. This mighty block of solid granite stood in the ancient Circus of Nero, and it symbolized the pomp and power of paganism.

The Pope did not think that the Obelisk had in itself any beauty, and he had already destroyed without any consideration many monuments of the Rome of the Caesars. He had robbed the stately columns of marble from the Palatine in order to use them for the adornment of the Vatican and only the protest of the Cardinals, Santa Severina and Colonna, had prevented him from effacing or mutilating other remains of ancient Rome.

He wanted the Obelisk in order to perform an act of conversion. The stone that had been raised by the terrible emperor who had slaughtered the Christians without mercy, should be torn from its place, removed, and re-dedicated to the glory of God. Paul III had also wished to perform this pious act, but the most expert architects of the day had been unable to advise the removal of the Obelisk, which seemed of a formidable and sinister magnificence with its air of implacable authority and, as it seemed to the Pope, devilish defiance.

* * * * *

For a year the scaffolding had been round the Obelisk; beside it stood cranes and coils of rope, plates of iron and an intricate paraphernalia for the hoisting of the huge block of stone. All this labour was under the direction of Dominico Fontana, who had pledged his reputation that he would satisfy the Pope and who worked without pity for himself or his assistants.

The Obelisk had to be raised, moved sideways, dragged to the new site, which was to be directly opposite the Church of Saint Peter in the centre of the great Piazza, and there set up and steadied so that it would remain, re-dedicated to the glory of the Roman Church, for, as the Pope hoped, all eternity. It was a task at once inspiring and disheartening.

* * * * *

A thunderstorm was moving slowly over Rome, the heavens were packed with formidable purple clouds that seemed to press low on the seven hills in which the trees stood rigid, their leaves livid in the unnatural light. The ancient temples of the dead gods and the sumptuous churches of the Christian faith showed pale hues of amber and ochre, of time-beaten alabaster and marble, against the darkness of the heavens. Lightning flashed behind the ruined columns of the temples of Mars and Jove, and the intermittent thunder sounded like a salvo of artillery coming from the huge forts of Sant' Angelo.

To the excited crowd in the newly laid down streets this pageantry of the heavens seemed a celestial celebration of a mighty event, for it was today that the Obelisk was finally set in its place in the vast Piazza of Saint Peter.

To raise it, to bring it from the Circus of Nero, had been the work of months. It had been May when this labour had begun and it was now the beginning of autumn. There had been a moment when it seemed that the gibes of the envious and the fears of the incredulous were to be justified, and that the thing would not be done. But the fiery insistence of the Pope and the indomitable perseverance of Dominico Fontana had succeeded.

Almost as if it were a sentient creature, the Obelisk had seemed to resist; it had the air of straining on the ropes, of struggling with the cranes that dragged it from the position it had occupied for centuries, of groaning and shuddering.

Cardinals and priests who had watched the ceremony had become anxious, fearing the Obelisk would fall and break or crack and thus prove instead of a symbol of the power of Christianity, a portent of the force of the Devil who might be supposed to be protecting his own.

A stern proclamation had gone forth commanding silence during the actual raising of the stone, but as the wheels began to turn and the cranes began to jerk up their load, the rough voice of a sailor cried harshly: "Water for the ropes!"

The engineer in charge saw that the tight-twisted hemp was indeed breaking under the strain, but on water being dashed on the weak places, they resisted, and the Obelisk was at length, with a sigh of relief from the crowd, laid on a wagon where a long train of stout horses drew it with straining muscles and bent heads towards the Piazza of St. Peter.

Now, on this thunderous autumn day, it was in place. An iron cross had been clamped on the grim summit and a neat inscription cut in the side to the effect that the impious superstition which had caused it to be raised was now cleansed by its rededication to Christianity.

The trains of two foreign princes were passing through the great square at this moment and they paused, although huge drops of rain were beginning to fall from the violet sky and splash upon the hot pavement, to watch the accomplishment of this effort of labour and of faith.

People in the crowd embraced each other, some with fear, some with sobs of gratitude. With the erection of the Obelisk the whole city seemed glorified.

* * * * *

The Pope sat in the dusk in his closet at the end of a sumptuous apartment built by the sixth Alexander, where beneath acanthus scrolls of gilt and silver, through which milk-white limbs of unicorns and the pale forms of girls showed like moonbeams behind wreaths of lilies and of roses, were masks of satyrs and of beasts, tawny-plumed and gorgeous; lavish wreaths of fruit, bloomy, serene and bursting pomegranates, the leaves curling into the gold of autumn showed all the utmost luxuriance of summer's gift in a southern land, rigid in paint and stone.

But the Pope cared nothing for these things save in so far as they emphasized the already emphatic glory of Rome. Burnt up by his ambition yet full of an energy that age could not quench, he leaned over his desk and listened while Cardinal Santoro de Severina described to him in intimate detail the ceremony of the raising of the Obelisk which His Holiness had only been able to perceive from a distance, peering with his old eyes from a window of the Vatican; the throned monk listened keenly. His face, so pure in outline, so pallid and so firm, had itself a look of delicate stone. Only the eyes, sunk in the bistre-tinted sockets, flickered with a vivid light as the last spurt of flame of a lamp before it sinks to extinction shows excellently bright.

"I will have other obelisks," he declared; "in every piazza of Rome there shall be one bearing the Cross, and dedicated to Christianity."

"It is a noble prospect," replied the Cardinal, "and everyone much commends the inspiration of your Holiness in ordering the Trajan and Antonine columns to be restored and surmounted by statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul."

"It shall be done," nodded the Pope, with a hard serenity of one who knows his own fate and accepts it. "I have performed my duty while I have been Pontiff, they will give me that, as I suppose. Rome is more splendid than I found it, the cupola of Saint Peter's is raised almost to the window of the skylight. If I were to die tomorrow my successor would not need much time and money to complete it."

"All the world," replied the Cardinal courteously, "is amazed at what your Holiness has accomplished."

"Not all the world," replied the old man sternly. "The world is very full of heretics, sometimes it irks me that while I have been able to do so much for Rome I have not done so much in that direction. There are dangerous men abroad."

"Dangerous men," repeated the Cardinal with meaning.

The thunderstorm broke over the Vatican and the gathering fury of the heavy afternoon exhausted itself in flash after flash of lightning and roll after roll of thunder as if the infernal cohorts battled in an endeavour to force an entry into the celestial gates and hosts of angry angels drove them back. The old monk listened as one might listen for a summons from his master.

"I heard from Paris," said the Cardinal, glancing from the window at the newly set Obelisk round which crowds, despite the tempest, still gathered. "The Nuncio tells me of one of these dangerous men—a certain Dominican, one FrÓ Jordanus, Felipe Bruno by name, a Nolan. We have kept track of this man, who has been wandering over Europe for many years. Much of his doctrines are questionable and some damnable."

"A monk and a heretic," cried the Pope; his frail hand knocked at his breast. "How long are we to be plagued, O Lord, how long?"

"He denies heresy," said the Cardinal smoothly, "yet every time there has like to have been a judgement against him he has slipped away. He has been long in England, and there, as I hear, for as I say we have had him watched, he has lived a loose life."

The Pope, ascetic himself, replied impatiently:

"What matters a carnal sin in which any man may be involved? It is this damnable heresy. Who is this man, why do you choose this moment to tell me of him, San Severina?"

"It came into my mind when I was considering the great triumph of the Obelisk and the obstinacy of men in resisting the Church. This Bruno has some influence—he goes from university to university."

"What does he teach?" demanded the Pope, craning his thin neck to see the Obelisk, which he could scarcely believe was in the Piazza at last.

"Much that is very foolish—that no one will listen to. He began as a disciple of Saint Thomas Aquinas and of the Blessed Fathers, of Albertus Magnus, of Raymond Lull, of Cusanus. These men were orthodox."

"Yes, but there is in their doctrines much which a rash, impious mind might falsely interpret."

"So much this Dominican, as I can hear it, has done, and now he goes further. He denies Aristotle."

The Pope lifted his thin shoulders with a vexed and impatient shrug. "A Dominican!"

"This Bruno has been forced to leave several universities—Oxford, Paris, and lately, Marburg."

"He should be brought before the Inquisition."

"But that is difficult to accomplish, as I say, the man slips through our fingers. He was for some years in England, in the house of the French Ambassador, where, of course, it was impossible to touch him, where there was no one to lodge a complaint against him. Then he was in Paris, where we might have seized him, but he was gone again, and quickly. It is true," added the Cardinal, pensively, "that the Nuncio tells me that he desires to be reconciled to your Holiness, and he declares his fidelity to the Church and wishes to be forgiven, nay, absolved."

"Let him return to his convent, let him remain in obscurity, prayer and fasting, and purging of the mind of error, that is for such as he."

"That," said the Cardinal, "this man will not do."

"Will not do?" exclaimed the Pope. "Truly, then, a heretic!"

"He says—no. He asks to be released from his vows which he took at a very tender age, not understanding them. He wishes, as I take it, to remain in the fold of the Church, yet not as a monk. He asks, he says, 'liberty of mind'."

"Liberty of mind?" repeated the Pope, and the Cardinal added with a smile:

"He says that he is one who has nothing. These are the words the Nuncio repeated and said to me, that this Bruno asked nothing, only this 'liberty of mind'."

"It is a great insolence," said the Pope, "a dangerous man, as I said."

He was silent for a moment, the crash of the thunder silenced his old, feeble voice.

"And one we have nourished in our own bosom. Are not the Dominicans termed 'Hounds of God'? How was it they did not nose this wretch out before?"

"So they did, as I hear, but as soon as he was suspected he fled from Naples—partly because of that and partly because his brother had committed a beastly murder. Bruno took the man with him, also a vagabond harlot whom, however, he abandoned in Milan.

"He has given," added the Cardinal, curiously watching the greenish-white of the lightning cut above the hills of Rome, "much cause for scandal in many countries, sometimes wearing his habit and often his scapulary."

"He must be watched," sighed the Pope. "Perhaps he will not always remain in Germany."

"I think, I fear that he will not be so rash as to return to Italy. And yet, from what I can hear of him, he has a curious and a most astonishing faith that he may, despite all his sins and errors, yet be reconciled with the Church."

"What does he teach?" asked the Pope; with a trembling and impatient hand he struck the bell on the table beside him, and from the monk who instantly appeared, demanded a glass of warm milk.

"Truly I do not know, I have never had one of his books in my hands, though he has published many. I have heard that he upholds the Copernican heresy."

The Pope's thin nostrils flared with fury.

"What! He dares to go from one university to another preaching this nonsense, that blasphemy!"

"Yes. He asserts that Ptolemy was wrong, that the earth is not fixed as the centre of the universe nor enveloped in several spheres, but is only one of numerous planets which revolve round the sun."

The milk was brought in and the Pope began to sip it in a nervous, exhausted manner; his anger was extreme. This happened to him so continuously, when he believed that he had come to a triumphant moment in his life there was always something, great or small, to mar his satisfaction, some irritating dispatch from the King of Spain, with whose slow, cautious and tedious disposition he had no patience, news of some outrage on the part of the heretic English and their valiant queen, tales of some further knot in the bloody entanglement of France that was beyond his skill to smooth out, or some irritating reports from his engineers, who were busy on draining the marsh and building the sluices and dykes and underground pipes to lay water to Rome. And now this, the very day and hour when, after so many months of labour, the Obelisk had been taken from the Circus of Nero and placed in the Piazza in front of Saint Peter's, the very moment when he, peering from his table, could see the Cross in the cold light of the thunderstorm, San Severina must tell him of this wandering heretic, this apostate monk, this crazy blasphemer!

The Cardinal noticed how moved the old man was, and that amused him a little, for he was elegant, worldly, cultured, himself neither so sincere nor so simple as the crowned monk who was sipping his milk, sucking in his thin lips and moving trembling fingers up and down the chased sides of the beaker.

"Why should this move your Beatitude so deeply? The man is nothing, has nothing, and asks nothing but liberty of mind, reconciliation to the Church—mere words! Let him go, and if he prove offensive, surely we can cast a net long enough to catch him wherever he may be?"

"The earth is not fixed!" muttered the Pope. "Not the centre of the Universe! This earth upon which stands Rome, where I have set up my Obelisk, not the centre of the Universe!"

"It is," murmured the Cardinal, "as foolish as it is blasphemous."

The Pope had no power to see anything save what was material, that could be touched by hand as well as measured by the eye. To him the audacious monk was a heretic, one who must be hunted down and destroyed, but to the Cardinal, who was a man of imagination, there came in the thunder-riven silence of the rich closet where the old man sucked down his milk, a remote little picture of a long, rocky high-road and a wandering scholar begging his way from university to university, a poor, insignificant man with a few rags and a few pamphlets in a bundle, often hungry, often cold, often parched by thirst and heat, sleeping by the brooks or under the trees at night, a man who wanted nothing, who possessed nothing, who asked nothing.

A flash of lightning detached the Obelisk in livid majesty from the sombre background, the new metal of the Crucifix glittered for a second with what seemed supernatural fire. The Pope, peering from the window, gave an old man's croak of joy. He forgot Felipe Bruno, he forgot Vittoria and her murdered husband.

"My Obelisk—"


IX. — THE TRIUMPHANT BEAST

FELIPE BRUNO, the lonely man who asked nothing, did not remain long in Germany, among the Reformers, Lutherans, and Calvinists in the Universities of Marburg and Wittenberg. He found the same intolerance, the same traditionalism, the same refusal to accept new truths and broad outlines as he had found among the Romanists.

Yet in Wittenberg he had been for two years happy enough. He had been allowed to enter his name on the lists of the University, he had been allowed to deliver private lectures and there were not so many haughty and disagreeable pedants as there had been at Toulouse, Paris, and Oxford. Many of the doctors at Wittenberg were courteous and had even allowed him to expound his ideas in peace.

Martin Luther had lived for forty years in Wittenberg—it was there he had nailed his defiance of the Pope on the doors of the Cathedral and Felipe Bruno could see, whenever he cared to walk abroad, the tree outside the city walls where the great Reformer had meditated and drunk his beer and watched the dancing and the sports on days of festival.

Here, too, had dwelt Philip Melanchthon, the memory of whom the wandering scholar admired, not so much because he had defied Papal authority and pried into the corruption of the Church, but because he had been so elegant and profound a Greek scholar, a branch of learning in which the Nolan did not excel.

The followers of Martin Luther favoured the Italian, listened to his teachings, allowed him to have as many scholars as cared to go to him, accepted, in a way, his philosophy, though they declared covertly there was much of it they could not understand and much that they did not desire to follow; under their protection Felipe Bruno lived at ease.

But when the old Elector died his feeble-minded son, Christian, overturned the Lutherans and set up the Calvinists; again Felipe Bruno found himself the centre of dislike, ridicule, almost persecution...

He had his chance to compromise, as he had had it in Paris;

"Recant," the Dominican had said; "Recant," the Nuncio and the Jesuit had advised, but Felipe Bruno had not even glanced at the comfort and security that was offered as a bribe by the three priests. He had left Paris and gone begging his way into Germany.

Again he had the choice to subscribe to Calvinism or to leave the University of Wittenberg; he did not hesitate; it seemed to him that there was only one thing to do.

But for a moment it was as if a cold wind blew on his soul; he was already past the prime of life and not so well able to withstand hardships as he had been in the days of his earlier wanderings. There was a peculiar desolation in being homeless, friendless, persecuted when there was no longer youth, strength, and that indefinable glorious hope of the future that goes with youth and strength.

With this fresh misfortune the days of his happiness seemed set suddenly further away. While he had been at peace in Wittenberg, walking the streets at his leisure, sitting at his ease in his small chamber near the clock tower, reading, writing, pondering, lecturing, it had seemed to him that those creatures whom he had loved had been very close to him. Madame de Castelnau had often stood by his worn chair; the young Englishman, Philip Sidney, dead a year or so ago in the stupid fight in Flanders, had often seemed to stand by his worn bed-curtains smiling at him in the twilight, wishing him "Good night, good night, good night."

And how often on the creaking stairs when he had gone up late to his room or left it early, lit by the pale, intermittent light and shadow of dawn or twilight, had he not met the little shape of Fleurette?

They loved, a heroic love, a human and an immortal love; the beginning and end of all things for which he had longed so passionately and which he had always been denied had been fused into these visions until he had felt neither yearning nor regret, but only the peace that comes from eternal communication with these symbols of beauty, tenderness, friendship.

How long since Milan and his meeting with the English cavalier? How long since Beaumont House and Fleurette?

It had not mattered—but when he had no place in which to dream? The Chancellor of the University of Wittenberg issued a decree that the Lutherans were to be silent on points of doctrine. This, as if the triumphant beast had reared itself to strike, was to Felipe Bruno of such an intolerable menace that he decided to depart at once before he was involved in vexatious dispute with fools.

He was full of warm gratitude towards the men who had tolerated him so courteously for two years and so he put on his cap and robe (he went very humbly for what money he earned had gone in charity and in books), and went down to the University, and in the dark Aula delivered his farewell oration.

It was a cloudy day in March and the roving winds were high, all the weathercocks in the tall, spired town whirled this way and that, veering gusts whistled over the narrow streets that had an icy look. The wanderer was glad to think that this was the last breath of winter and that he had the spring in which to journey; he might soon find a leafy grove, a hill worthy of the Muses.

There were kindly and friendly faces among his audience, tolerant faces of professors and teachers, eager, pleasant, youthful faces of the students. Several of his friends and acquaintances had besought him to stay, saying that they would protect him against any possible tyranny of the Calvinists, but compromise was never acceptable to him, it might not always be in his power to prevent men from chaining his limbs, but it would always be in his power to refuse shackles on the mind.

He had much changed in appearance since he had left the convent at Naples, his skin was weatherbeaten, his features lined and haggard, but the beautiful curve of the full lips remained and the haunting light of fantasy in the dark eyes, threads of grey were in the blackish chestnut hair which had long since overgrown the monkish tonsure; his lean figure stooped a little, his step was less rapid, yet he still had an air of haste.

From his desk he spoke in praise of Wisdom, the splendour of the sun, the vastness of the Universe, and of the power of God, his beautiful voice filled the Aula, while the March wind struggled at the high-placed, deep-set windows.

"It is a worthy and exalted task to celebrate the praise of Wisdom, even though when we denote the clear shining of the light we must darken it with obscure and feeble words. Yet I look for your pardon; and since fate decrees we shall deal in words with that which is unspeakable, let us bestow upon it what time and pains we may. I shall praise Wisdom as far as in me lies, although the soul to which this majesty has been imparted is below the measure of so lofty and sublime a conception, and, as I perceive it the more with the eye of my mind, I am so much the more deprived of words, for I am one without the common graces of speech. Still rather than cause by silence the appearance of ingratitude, I would be taken for a most unlettered speaker."

He put down his notes, which he always carefully made out, but seldom used, and described the fable of Paris, who on Mount Ida had to give the golden apple to the most beautiful of the three goddesses who had come to accept his judgement. And when he had told this legend he broke again into praise of Beauty, who had won the glittering fruit from the shepherd in those ancient days; he spoke as if he were describing something before him or a tenderly remembered scene of childhood.

"Would you know who is the star and goddess of my adoration? What can I say of her? Have I beheld her unveiled and in her natural beauty? What mortal eye could look upon such beauty and such majesty and live? To see her is to become blind, to become wise by her is to be foolish. Have I seen her in truth or was it a dream? I have seen her, yet I am not mad nor blind, for though she looked upon me with a dark and threatening aspect, and though I knew she was not Beauty but Wisdom, she drew me to her and fettered me with a magic spell.

"Wisdom is without either the charms of Beauty or the plenteous horn of Wealth. True philosophers are few, but princes and marshals are many. Those who have seen Venus and Juno in the fullness of their splendour are more in number than those beholding Minerva clad in arms.

"Who is she moving like the dawn? It is Wisdom, beautiful as the moon, shining like the sun, and terrible as a host arrayed for battle.

"'I am Wisdom and I dwell on top of a high mountain and my throne is on a pillar of cloud.' "What are her words? "'Jupiter bestowed on me the knowledge of all living things so that to me the disposition of the sphere of the earth is laid bare, the powers of the elements, the beginning, the end, and the mists of time, the sway of Fate, the changes of custom, the course and lapse of years, the order of stars, the nature of life, the deadly rage of beasts, the power of the winds, the thoughts of men, the variety of herbs, the virtue of roots, and that which is hid from others lies for ever before me for mine is the sacred spark which is Unity and Diversity. It is subtle, certain, sweet, sharp, learned, stable, benign, having all virtues, foreseeing all!'"

Felipe Bruno paused and bowed his head; he had forgotten his audience and was speaking to his own soul, to the phantoms who always surrounded him.

But suddenly he recalled the task that gratitude imposed upon him, he smiled affectionately at those gathered to listen to him, there were none of his enemies there, among those eager, grave, fair-faced men and boys.

He praised Germany, that mighty nation, he prayed that Germany might be turned to lofty things so that they might be nearer gods than men. He praised Luther, who had seen the light.

"Thou hast seen it, O Luther, thou hast seen it, thou hast heard the awakening spirit of God and hast not withstood it! With the power of the word thou didst encounter and drive back the enemy, the triumphant beast, and a trophy of the insolent foe thou hast laid at the foot of the throne of God."

The monk spoke then of his own sufferings, his life full of hardship and of the insults and scorn of the vile and the ignorance relieved by the kindness with which he had been received at the University of Wittenberg, and which amazed him:

"For I came to you as a stranger and a pilgrim, outlawed, the sport of Fate, small of stature, poor of fortune and in defenders, oppressed by the hatred of the multitude and despised by the ignoble herd who look for merit to be ushered in amidst the applause of their fellows and with sounding gold and tinkling silver.

"You, O most learned, grave, and courteous senators do not despise me. You have not rejected my philosophy, which is not altogether alien to the philosophy of your own nation. Nay, I had liberty to speak, to preach, for the space of almost two years I shared the protection of your domestic deities, and I received generous entertainment at your hands. Lending no ear to my enemies, you displayed the virtues of your courtesy and forbearance to the whole of the world. And when I signified my desire to depart you came in numbers to hear me, not your youths only, but your studious men full of academic honours. How shall I declare my gratitude?"

He paused a moment; then his beautiful voice, which improved by his speaking, was softened and rendered exquisite in the modulations, using still the Latin which he now more rarely marred with Italian idioms, broke into a general panegyric of the land that had sheltered him and to which he was about to give farewell.

It was more than a farewell to Germany that Felipe Bruno spoke, it was a farewell to all the material beauties of the world. He had, ever since he left Naples, been haunted by the urge onward, onward to what?—The final escape into death?

He believed he had heard a summons, that he could not refuse to obey. Onward only a little further and surely his soul would escape into that upper air for which it longed. Yet a farewell, a warm and loving farewell to all the glories of the world, the very sight of which filled him with ecstasy and so few of which he had enjoyed.

It was not on the domains of the Elector of Saxony that he evoked his benediction but on the whole rich and gorgeous earth where he had sojourned for a little while and which he was soon to leave.

"Let me invoke the gods of the elements, the deities of the stars and the kingly sky! I beseech you, you nymphs, dryads, dwellers in those woods whose spicy roof-trees have so often given me shelter, and you, ye law-givers like Numa, ye mighty emperors and kings, ye poets like Virgil, ye orators like Cicero, give your benediction to the land and bid it hear—laurels, myrtles, clasping ivy, the juicy vine, the blessed olive, the palm of victory. Ye fauns, ye satyrs, and ye sylvan gods tend the fields, govern the plains, foster the herds and make the land fruitful, not alone in heroes but in such blessings as crown the rich Campagna, Araby, and the garden of the Hesperides.

"Ye, too, nymphs and nereids, of that stream on whose verge I could cry peace and gladly breathe my soul into the air, keep watch and ward over the land; let the rivers run with silver, inlay their shores with gold and bid them triumph over the Nile, Euphrates, the Tigris, the Rhone, the Po, and the insolent Tiber. And thou, Eye of the World, Light of the Universe, and thou, Bo÷tes, untiring guardian of the Earth, deliver the lands from bears, wolves, lions, and all ravening beasts. Thou, Eye of the World, Light of the Universe, deliver from all evils which wander in the darkness, and may the Father of all, God of gods, under whose sway all good and evil fortunes, mine and yours alike, may He answer and confirm our prayers."

When he had finished the oration he came down from his desk, said farewell to his friends, and took his way immediately out of the city, going again with his bundle on his back, with some few clothes and some pamphlets he had written on Raymond Lull, out through the tall gates on to the bleak road, where the twisting wind stirred the dust and the stones looked white as a bleached bone in the cold light of the afternoon.

There was much discussion in Wittenberg about the farewell lecture delivered by Felipe Bruno, which many admired and few understood. The Calvinists declared that it was nothing but a discourse in praise of the Devil, full of heathen profanities.

Felipe Bruno spent that night in a woodcutter's hut. His limbs were stiff with fatigue, it was some while since he had walked so far and he was exhausted by his lecture. It was delicious in the dark forest where the wind soughed in the upper branches and between the scudding clouds could be seen the moon with her double halo of icy-green and cold blue, ringed by a wan stain of red, like old blood.

Felipe Bruno was grateful for the dish of beans, the hunk of black bread, the wooden cup of water.

Sometimes, the woodcutter said, he and his family had to live on acorns. He seemed a happy man, full of the secrets of the forest that he was resolved not to reveal. Towards Easter, he said, it was like a Resurrection—he had noticed that, year after year, all the slumbering things in the earth returned to life.

Felipe Bruno blessed the two sleeping children in the back of the hut; it gave him pleasure to think that he still wore the scapulary under his jacket. The woodman asked him where he was going.

"To Prague."

"Ah, the city of the Alchemists, where the Emperor lives! Well, it would be cheaper to go by water."

"Down the Elbe?"

"Yes."

"Then I shall take that way."

"You are not far from the river—there is a landing-stage just through the forest. Now, will you come in and sleep?"

"I shall stay at the door a little. The air is refreshing, though cold."

The woodman nodded and Felipe Bruno remained on the threshold of the hut, listening to the wind in those bare, tossing boughs, taking deep breaths of the chill air, hearing many spirits go past, exultant through trees, clouds, wind, free beneath the halo'd moon, known only to the little, sleeping, stirring creatures of the forest.

* * * * *

Friends of Felipe Bruno had lovingly directed him to the Court of the Emperor Rudolf which was at Prague—the Englishman, the beloved Philip Sidney, had spoken of this Caesar as few of words, sullen of disposition, very secret and resolute, one who gave much of his time to curious experiments, chemistry and astrology, and endeavouring to find the philosopher's stone.

"'Only the knowledge of the unseen can make the soul look upward,'" the English cavalier had quoted. "The Emperor searches, though he knows not for what—go to him if ever in need."

So Felipe Bruno took the crowded boat on the Elbe and came to Prague and sent in his credentials to Caesar. It was near Easter, and the woods full of budding lilies and playing children, before a summons came to the wanderer to proceed to the Hdracany Palace. He was much eased by this, for he had nearly come to the end of his store of money, the modest scrapings of the Wittenberg years, and had already looked for work, proof correcting and the transcription by hand of books too costly to reprint.

* * * * *

The Emperor Rudolf II was working in his stables, to escape observation he was dressed as a groom. With meticulous care he was grooming and currying a magnificent white warrior horse which was tied up in its stall; he wore a leathern apron, jackboots soiled with the filth of the stable, a shirt rolled up to the elbows, and worn, dirty breeches. Round his neck was a string on which hung a large diamond, flawless as a drop of ice.

Felipe Bruno, brought into this strange audience chamber, gazed with an astonished admiration at the beauty of the great horse, which shone in the half-light of the stable like carefully burnished silver, with bluish shadows outlining the swelling muscles.

The monk spoke to the Emperor, whom he thus found in the stable and who leaned, holding the currycomb, against the flanks of the gleaming white horse.

Surroundings were nothing, a mere drop-cloth, to the monk, and little to the Emperor; while they spoke of large affairs they both forgot the dirty stable, the foul air, the tramplings of the impatient steed which now and then pulled at his headstall, which was fastened to a heavy ring above the bitten manger.

Felipe Bruno had brought good credentials from many learned men, and Rudolf of Hapsburg was always pleased to receive anyone who brought him news, strange or curious. For government he cared little, the ruling of people seemed to him a small thing compared to the search for knowledge, the collection of strange and peculiar objects; he was sometimes suspicious, sometimes credulous, often baffled and wearied in his quest, but he was always kept on his dark way, driven by some inner urging.

As the wanderer spoke eagerly, in his eager, lively southern voice, using that smooth, flowing Latin which was very different from the guttural accents that the Emperor gave the classic tongue, he saw in the listener's pale, prominent eyes that look which he, Felipe Bruno, had observed before in the gaze of many other people—in the eager glance of Philip Sidney, now locked in lead, in the trusting glance of Giulia, lost so long ago on that foggy night in Milan, in the meek gaze of Jakin, the bookseller's daughter of Oxford, in the steady look of Jerome Besler, the copyist, and, most clearly, in the fair eyes of Madame de Castelnau.

This sincere look, which was one of wonder passing to trust, the salutation of a free soul to a free soul, a recognition of the truth, as it had appeared in these various faces, had been almost Felipe Bruno's sole reward for his privations and his labours.

As he saw this look of acceptance again in the intent countenance of the Emperor his hopes revived; he was always credulous of good. A mighty man stood before him in the groom's garb, the curry-comb in his hand—Caesar, one who had the ear of the Pope. Might not this prince make himself famous for all time by patronizing neither the Church nor heresy but free thought and toleration?

With his feet in the crumpled straw and his lean hands, on which were the long, fine hairs, striking his breast in the animation of his speech, the Nolan expounded light and truth.

He was so absorbed in his noble discourse that he did not observe the look of recognition, of acceptance, fade from the Emperor's blue eyes and a slow sneer begin to distort the full, tremulous lips, the lower one of which was pendulous over the thrust-out jaws. When the monk came to a pause the rough German voice of the Emperor replied abruptly:

"This sounds to me like heresy. I have heard crazy speech from many wise men, but yours goes beyond belief."

"Caesar," replied the Italian, swiftly, folding his arms over the rough jacket on which there were but few buttons, "there is no such thing as heresy; accept the fact that God is in everything, and how can anyone ever be false to Him? He is the Universal Light, Universal Truth. Is it not blasphemy to divide Him and subdivide Him into creeds, into doctrines?"

"Still it smells to me of heresy," muttered the Emperor uneasily. "You say that the earth is not the centre of the Universe? It is true that much is being discovered in the heavens, that I have protected the men who make these researches, but—that it is not the centre of the Universe, that is hard to believe."

"It may be proved by geometry, a science which itself is God."

"Ah! I understand you now!" exclaimed the Emperor with a cunning laugh that showed his broken teeth. "You are mad! a shrieking madman! I understand. They send so many of them to me. Why is that I wonder? Is Prague to house all the lunatics in Europe? Get on your travels, monk, and keep out of the way of the Church, for surely you are a heretic."

"Is it possible," breathed the Italian, with compassion, peering into the agitated face of the Emperor, "is it possible, sire, that you cannot comprehend me?"

Rudolf began to mutter uneasily, with nervous strokes he curry-combed the glittering flanks of the white warrior steed which moved impatiently to and fro the length of the rope.

"You are mad!" he repeated. "Mad! Why did they send you to me?" And he said again with a hostile look that he had seen madmen before. Then he added, with a sudden intensity: "Do you know black magic, can you make gold?"

"The King of France asked me that question, and everywhere I have travelled, and by now I have passed through many cities, men have been always keen and eager to learn of spells and potions. Human credulity is such that there are many who believe that they can control the elements, can bring disaster on their enemies and fame to themselves by throwing a few drugs into a pot and muttering a few words in an unknown language."

"Nay," said the Emperor, who seemed angry, "you talk folly. It is well known that these things can be achieved. I, standing in my tower above Prague, have seen a wise man raise a tempest, ay, and lull it, too. Did not Albertus Magnus and Raymond Lull work miracles?"

"Miracles there have been and are and shall be," replied the Italian serenely, "but they are not such as can be sensed by the vulgar. To understand miracles one must be aware of the miraculous in one's own nature. I, who have nothing, who ask nothing, could yet give you rules by which you could achieve what would seem to you and to most of your subjects a miracle. But I see that you will not listen."

"Can you make gold?" asked the Emperor. "I demand no other miracle than that. I have had men working for years, I have tried myself, but gold does not come."

"What is gold, Caesar, but a symbol, and the day may come when men choose another symbol to express their earthly value of earthly goods. The day may come when men will be able to make gold. Who knows? The questing mind may in that direction discover much. But how much more important than to make gold would be to realize the worthlessness of gold."

"You are indeed mad," snarled the Emperor. "Who is the most powerful potentate in Europe?—the Pope—and why? Because the cellars of the Castel Sant' Angelo are gorged with gold, and I and the King of Spain and the King of France cannot find the wherewithal to pay our troops, to build our palaces, to pursue our experiments."

"Toleration," said the monk, "would be a greater power than gold. What does your gold purchase, Cesar?—bloodshed and chaos. What does the mere sight of it provoke?—lust and greed and treachery."

The Emperor turned on him an imbecile look and the wanderer checked his enthusiasm. He realized then that man who named him madman was himself insane. A lunatic ruled the Empire, shut up in Prague, the vast towered city of the astrologers.

Felipe Bruno turned to the door of the stable, not downcast, but a little astonished.

"Is there not one of you," he said to himself, "can understand?"

He glanced back curiously into the murk of the stable where only two things shone with light—the flanks of the white horse and the Indian diamond hanging on a dirty string above the soiled leathern coat of the Emperor. There was nothing to be had here, no one would listen to his teachings, no one would allow him even an asylum in which to meditate in peace.

"A fool!" shouted Rudolf after him. "As if anyone could know the earth was a sphere flattened at either end!"

* * * * *

Felipe Bruno took his way from the palace and went slowly through the narrow streets, darkened by reason of the overhanging houses, to his poor lodging. All the places he had ever lived in were mean attics or cellars or barns, his most sumptuous lodgings had been under trees on the banks of streams, he had been regally accommodated in the depths of the forest, in flowery meads under the solitary wayside beech or oak. But men had never given him anything save dark or filthy habitations such as were considered too odious for servants.

He looked up into the sky—there was only a narrow strip that he could see above the pointed gables. He thought that perhaps the day might come when he would not be able to see even that hand's-space of blue. If the bigots got hold of him they might arrest him and put him in prison, yet he hardly believed it—too childish that, surely, even for fanatics! should he go now, what do? He had heard of the University of Helmstedt; he had a great longing to teach, he liked to gather round him boys and young men, to free their minds of crippling superstitions, the anguish of unnecessary fears, he felt inspired to let light into dark places. Therefore he took his way from Prague to Helmstedt where maybe he might be allowed to teach.

As he walked along the high road with a step no longer light nor stately, but a little uncertain and tired, he wondered if indeed the beast was not after all triumphant. Perhaps it was foolish to struggle any longer—everyone said "Recant, give way—confess that you are in the wrong, no one desires your teaching, you are exhausting yourself to no purpose. Grovel at the feet of the Provincial, do penitence—"

What did any of that matter? It was absurd to think of such words, mere dead straws on the pathway, raised and tossed about by the wind. His deep, exultant faith did not falter; he seated himself by the roadside under a young tree in bursting leafage, took his tired face in his hands, and tried to review his fortunes.

Instead he found himself thinking of those of other men—the half-imbecile Cesar in the hot, reeking stables, with the diamond like a fleck of ice on his dirty shirt, that austere old man in Rome, absorbed in his drains, his canals, his obelisks, in attempts to convert Henry of Navarre, in quarrels with Spain, in deep vexation at that ugly tale of lust that had cost him his nephew and his pride which he endeavoured to assuage by monstrous buildings, by wide roads, by aqueducts, by slowly and painfully raising the great cupola.

The poor wanderer had often heard, with a generous envy, of the great printing press of the Vatican—what an instrument had the crowned Franciscan to his hand there!

How had he employed it?

By carefully printing the works of Saint Ambrose, Saint Bonaventura, Saint Gregory, dead theology, dead fanaticism—superstition, error, false reasoning—The grim old man himself, with much delight, was supervising a printing of the Septuagint and of the Vulgate—wasted effort, wasted labour, wasted energy and enthusiasm, like the tedious, costly dragging of the Obelisk of Nero from one part of Rome to another.

"Are you happy, Sixtus Quintus, are you content?" asked the wanderer of the shadow that the tree cast before him. He wondered, very idly, and becoming drowsy in the tepid airs of noontide, what he would have done had he sat throned at Rome. His thought broke into wisps of visions, the perfume of the Easter lilies growing nearby changed into the subtle odour of English marigolds decaying in a neglected closet.

His shaggy head drooped upon his breast where, in the opening of his doublet the folded, faded scapulary showed, his hands fell open at his sides and trailed in the dust. The mating birds perched on his bundle, propped forlorn against the trees, on the Vicino's Plato strapped to the blanket, on the pamphlets of Raymond Lull.

Swiftly along the barren road, with a keen look for the wayside sleeper, passed a lean man, in black, with a dog.


X. — THE SUPPER OF ASHES

HELMSTEDT was the youngest of the great German universities and under the protection of a liberal patron, the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel. When, therefore, Felipe Bruno reached this city he found himself in an atmosphere of some liberal thought.

The old Duke Julius, though a convinced Lutheran, had proclaimed himself the protector of toleration, and had publicly expressed his scorn of theologians.

"We will not," he had roughly declared, "be ruled by these people. They, as well as we, are subject to the will of God, Who does not purpose to fill His mansions on high with theologians only. Nor did He die for them only, but for all men upon earth, without distinction or difference; Heaven is for us as well as for them."

These words had been reported to the wandering monk and had filled him with hope that he had finally, after more than ten years of wandering, found an asylum where he might cherish in peace his meditations, where he might without molestation teach the truth that came to him.

Helmstedt was a stronghold of Protestantism, but not the type of narrow, fanatic Protestantism that had reigned in Geneva. The old Duke Julius, though miserly in his habits, had provided magnificently for the University and the library, which was therefore wealthy, well-conducted, zealous, and attracted men of learning from all over Europe.

Felipe Bruno raised his tired eyes joyfully when he first saw the towers of the University rising clean and new above the charming banks of the Elbe.

Duke Julius soon sent for the wandering scholar, whom he had heard passed from one university to another as a comet traverses the sky and whom he was delighted to receive in his small, valiant estates.

With his slightly bowed body, dark, haggard eyes haunted by fantasy, in his poor clothes, his step not so assured and gait not so swinging as it had been, Felipe Bruno stood before the old Duke, a man who, despite bare living and miserly habits, had a gross fullness of body, a white, putty face, small, pallid sunken eyes.

It was September and suddenly cold; the Duke sat before a scanty fire, two old wheezing dogs with pale, bulging sides slept beside him on the warm hearthstone. He bade Felipe Bruno be seated and questioned him quickly. Did he not teach some science of memory, had he not expounded and extended the doctrines of Raymond Lull, did he believe in astrology, could he foretell men's fortunes by the lines on their hands? Then, without waiting for a reply, the stout old man slapped his thigh and cried:

"Learning! learning! that's the way we must be rid of ignorance! You see me here, living closely, I don't care about luxury nor even comfort, bit I won't rule over fools. You have seen the University, don't you admire it?"

"It is one of the fairest that I have beheld," replied Felipe Bruno. "Sweet and orderly, from what I can judge. Deep is my gratitude, Prince, for permission to remain in your pleasant city."

"Ay, remain and teach. They say that although you are a renegade monk you are not a heretic."

"Neither renegade monk nor heretic," replied Felipe Bruno gently.

He put his lean hand, which was slightly ink-stained about the fingers, on his ragged jacket beneath which rested the ends of the scapulary, stained by the sweat of his body and the dust of the road on his travellings.

"I believe that the Church of Rome should be purged, not overthrown, Prince, and I much dislike the doctrines left by John Calvin. When I was in Wittenberg I was favoured by the Lutherans."

"There was the truth!" exclaimed the old Prince, nodding complacently. "That was truth—found by Martin Luther, a great man inspired by God, don't you think?"

"I think that every man who says the truth as he knows it is inspired by God."

"Well, I'll not interfere with anyone's ideas." The old Prince added, with a dubious look. "My son, my heir, is Bishop of Halberstadt. He was installed with full Papal rites. You mustn't think that was for the land and the money—no, the lad wished it, and I allowed him."

Felipe Bruno did not speak, and in that silence Julius of

Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel read that he was condemned for self-seeking and avarice.

"It is difficult," he asserted harshly, trying to justify himself to himself, "for a princeling with a small estate. I have to think of my family. Well, let it go. You are free to stay and to teach."

He referred again to his son, praising him greatly. The young man knew thirteen languages, was elegant, luxurious, and tolerant. He experimented in most sciences and would be, when he came to reign, one of the most enlightened princes of his day. All this Duke Julius said to excuse himself for having sacrificed his son to Moloch—he knew that was how the Protestants regarded his action in allowing his heir to become Bishop of Halberstadt. Before people whom he respected he always felt uneasy on this point and endeavoured to put his behaviour in a good light.

Felipe Bruno listened courteously; he liked the old man and was compassionate towards his weakness.

"You haven't seen my birds," said the Duke suddenly, heaving his flaccid weight out of the chair. "I must show you my pets."

His guest followed him into an inner room where, on to one of the windows was built an artificially heated aviary full of little birds hopping and flying from bough to bough.

The Duke opened the hook and put in a stick on which six little greenish-coloured birds from the Hartz mountains at once perched in a row, nestling together and ruffling their feathers.

The old Duke looked at them with the greatest love and pleasure; it gave him extreme delight to move the perch to and fro while the little birds remained undisturbed, with bright, placid eyes, huddled together.

"They could so easily fly away," he smiled, "their wings aren't clipped—but they don't you see, they trust me and they don't try to escape."

While he gazed at the little birds seated in cosy confidence on their perch, he forgot about his pride and vexation with regards his son and his joy in his fine new university; his puffy face took on an expression of foolish satisfaction.

Felipe Bruno looked at him in complete sympathy. To him, also, the little birds, their beauty and their trust seemed very important.

* * * * *

In July, the Prince who had been so friendly to Felipe Bruno was dying. He lay in his bed between two plain, green serge curtains, the fat dogs wheezing and snuffling on a cushioned chair beside him, his plain gown unbuttoned over his flaccid throat; with his plain cap on his bald head and his fat face already marked by death he seemed an object at once terrible and ridiculous.

Felipe Bruno stood by his bedside trying to encourage him against the terrors of death, trying to persuade him that the body was nothing and the soul everything, and this moment, so abhorred, so dreaded and seldom to be mentioned on human lips, was but a change, a disillusion, the shifting of elements into other shapes and substances.

The old man smiled grimly on his clean, cold pillows.

"But I don't want to change, I don't want to go," he wheezed through his sunken lips. "I like my city of Helmstedt, I like my splendid son. Don't you see, monk, that I care nothing for your Heaven?"

"My Heaven," replied Felipe Bruno, "has no boundaries. What of the Heaven of Martin Luther, Highness? That is circumscribed and something, I think, like this earth."

"Bah!" whimpered the old man, tossing his head from side to side and beating impatiently with his puffy hands on the coverlet which every few moments an anxious servant smoothed. "I want to stay here, I tell you, I liked my life."

"What assurance that could I give," mused Felipe Bruno, "would comfort your Highness?"

"None. I tell you I like better the estate I have than any estate I can imagine. I like my University, my plans for the future, my two dogs, my food and drink. I like a little, too, monk, my dreams."

"There speaks everyman," smiled Felipe Bruno. "Poor souls, can you not hear even a little whisper, a small breath from the other side?"

The dimming eyes of the Prince turned on the serene dark face bent above him.

"And you, philosopher," he muttered, "do not you a little fear to die?"

"All my life has been a preparation for death, and I have journeyed towards it as a man who turns home."

"Home, monk? I am at home here in Helmstedt. Where is your home, tell me of that, perhaps it will a little distract me, for the hours of waiting are fearful."

"But it may be," said Felipe Bruno, with that soft tenderness which alternated so swiftly with his passionate, fiery moods, "that your Highness will yet recover. When you are well and on your feet again you will cease to think of death."

"No, I have read my doom in the doctor's face and in the eyes of the pastor. Come, talk to me, tell me of your own home and perhaps while you speak I shall die unawares."

"I do not often think of my own home, Prince. It was a village outside Nola in the kingdom of Naples—'the happy fields' we called the meadows thereabouts. I used to play there with my brothers and sisters, we were a large family and poor, and it was very beautiful."

"That was because you were young," murmured the Duke. "If you were to return now you would not find it so enchanting."

"Why, I think so. It is a very old city, and it seemed to me that I was heir to that ancient realm. When the men ploughed they would turn up statues and coins on which there would be images, faces that seemed to me to be the countenances of my friends and relations."

"Pagan gods," muttered the Prince, a little fearfully, "such as men name devils."

"What were these names to me, Prince, they were beautiful! Very lovely was the country, both in blossoming and in seeding time, and in the short winter." Felipe Bruno looked across the bed as if he could see the landscape he was describing. "Our hearthstone was of yellow marble, a stone, a white marble veined with blue, was on our threshold—I cannot tell you the joy I had in the trees. Did your Highness ever notice the differences in trees, in the shape of the leaves, in the colour of them and the texture, some being rough and some smooth, some soft, with white like wool on their backs, and some quite sharp and shining? And the different flowers and fruits they have, each superb in its varying shape and colour, each with its perfume, too, sharp or luscious. I think there can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the design made by the vine leaves, which curl back on the stem, which is dry and ribbed and adorned with curling tendrils."

The sick man shook his head on the pillows.

"I have never noticed these things. Tell me more."

"At night there would be the stars and often the moon. There were few clouds. I loved the place. I recall an old man working in a melon patch, his breeches were held up by a mere string which broke as he stooped. I and my brothers laughed and the old man cursed. There was a kind priest there, too, and once a year he would hear the confessions of all who went to him. And when the penitent said: 'That is the end of the year's sins,' or 'Father, today's sins complete the year,' then Don Paulino would reply: 'Son, thou knowest today's absolution completes the year. Go in peace and sin no more.'"

"Yes, yes," gasped the dying man with a shortening breath, "I think I can a little see the place, it helps me to forget what I must go through. Continue, I always wanted to see Italy."

"How may I tell you what I remember?" smiled Felipe Bruno, "for they are such little things. Our mother standing at the door and calling us into supper, and neighbours coming and one saying once: 'I was never so happy as I am now' and my brother Gioan, who had my father's name, saying: 'It is because thou wert never more foolish than now.'

"I can recall, too, my terror one day when I was sleeping on the floor on a little mattress and a snake came through the hole in the wall and my father rushed in and killed it with a stick. Then when I was fifteen years old I became a Dominican friar."

"That is a proud and haughty Order. I detest them."

"They have their missions, Highness; as the Franciscans bow to Love as manifested in the person of Christ, Saint Dominic looks to the Church for salvation. The Dominicans do not believe so much in poverty and self-denial but in the power of the Word. They are not humble and unlearned like the Franciscans, but must be eloquent men, resourceful and bold. They were vowed to poverty by their founder, but now they own much property."

"What did I know of these things? I liked the cloisters round the perfumed gardens, so sweet, Prince, and the trees again. Surely there were nymphs in those ilex groves, I have seen the spirits standing beneath the oaks and beeches."

At these words the gaze of the dying man brightened. With a stiff, almost automatic gesture, he thrust out his arm and grasped the lean active hand of the monk that rested on the edge of the bed. Into his eyes, from which the spirit was fast withdrawing, came that look which in the eyes of different people and in different countries had been the sole reward of the monk for his teaching and his labours—the look of recognition, of understanding, of salutation.

"You're a queer fellow," stammered the old Duke, "I like you and I hope you'll stay. I'll look after you."

His lips twitched, his eyeballs turned under the fluttering lids, and as he made his useless promise he died.

* * * * *

Because of the favour shown him by the late Duke, Felipe Bruno was allowed to pronounce that Prince's funeral oration in the University. There were those among the professors who did not love him and who waited for a chance to be rid of him. The peace and protection, the security he had hoped for in Helmstedt, had proved to be another delusion. He was aware, even while he spoke, warmly and courteously praising his dead protector, of undercurrents of ill-feeling against him in the packed Aula. How used he was to those narrowed eyes and tight lips, to those shrugs and sneers and glances! How often when he had been talking at his desk he had come to a pause in his oration and looked round, seeing those hostile faces...

Yes, they seemed to him the same faces, although the background was sometimes Paris, sometimes Oxford, sometimes Toulouse, and sometimes Wittenberg. The faces of the men who would not understand, who did not care to know anything but hollow traditions, who worshipped superstition and error.

As he came down from his desk there was little applause, but a servant of the new Duke stopped him as he was leaving the University and presented him with a purse of eighty dollars as a fee for his oration. It was more money than he had ever had at one time before—it felt odd and heavy in his hand.

* * * * *

The new Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel was still Bishop of Halberstadt and a Roman Catholic. On his father's death he came immediately to his capital and began to make preparations for a departure to Denmark, where he was to attend the marriage of the King's daughter, his sister-in-law, to the young King of Scotland.

In the midst of all his activities, however, he found time to send for Felipe Bruno, to compliment him upon his oration in honour of the late Duke, and to beg him to remain at the University.

The palace had greatly changed in aspect since the monk had last been there. The old, dirty, serge hangings had been torn down and handsome tapestries were being put up in their place. Workmen were already busy on some of the dilapidated wings, scaffold poles were rising up; the new Duke was splendid and he meant to live like a prince, not like a private gentleman, and he was delighted to find that his father had left huge sums of money hoarded in his treasury. These were to go in sumptuous buildings and large armies.

All the windows of the palace were open, strong sunshine showed up the dusty, neglected corners, the shabbiness of the furniture and the tarnished liveries which the young Prince had not yet had time to replace.

The old, fat dogs with their bloated, pallid sides, still wheezed in their accustomed corner, the birds still fluttered in the aviary, but no one troubled to put a perch in and take out a row of them, serene and trustful, huddled together with bright, placid eyes.

This new Duke, Julius Henry, was a handsome man, most unlike his father in person—active, generous, broad-minded. Although a Prince of the Church of Rome the quarrels of the theologians did not excite him. If he could have had his way with the world men might have worshipped in what manner they chose.

"I believe," he said to Felipe Bruno, speaking rapidly in impeccable Latin, "that I understand you. I have heard that wherever you go, princes, and even lesser men, demand of you if you can make gold and read the stars and work miracles. I have myself experimented in alchemy and know how long a road that is and how short a way our generation will travel on it. I am content to leave the stars to circle in their courses as they may, and I care little whether Ptolemy or Copernicus was correct. I like learning—Greek philosophy and Roman law both attract me. Remain," added the young man, with a brilliant smile and an air at once haughty and condescending, "and embellish my University by your learning. I shall protect you."

He added, looking down with a satisfied glance at his smooth white hands, on which flashed many curious vivid rings:

"Is there anything of which you wish to ask me?"

It was obvious from the way he spoke that he was a man who delighted to grant favours.

"I only make, sir," replied the scholar, "what is the just demand of civilization—the right to dwell in peace and liberty—under the safeguard of a high-minded Prince."

"You think me that. I am a Roman Bishop," replied the young man, smiling, "and there are those who call you a renegade monk."

"Your Highness knows," replied Felipe Bruno, "how my life compares with that of many, of the vile, disorderly priests who triumph in Italy and remain in authority."

The young man's lips tightened, he half smiled, then half frowned; he was one who would never commit himself to his disadvantage. Yet, a man of the world, learned, brilliant and charming, he wished to add to his attractions that of broadminded toleration. He would like to fix this fine virtue above his name, with the same generous gesture and princely ease as he would pin two jewels in his cap or thrust two towering plumes into his helm.

* * * * *

"The opinion of many is," Felipe Bruno had said, "the judgement of fools."

The fools had avenged this upon him and he found himself facing single-handed the doctors and schoolmen who did not care for the tone of his lectures. They suspected his doctrines, which were not those, they declared, of a Protestant and scarcely those of a Christian.

The Rector of the Evangelical Church, Boethius, used his formidable position to attack the philosopher.

On a Sunday morning not long after his interview with the new Duke, Felipe Bruno learned that the Pastor, in an excess of zeal and rage, had published the ban of an excommunication upon him, announcing this with full ceremony from the pulpit of the principal church in the city.

Felipe Bruno demanded only one thing—that the charges against him might be formulated in order that he could reply to them. He came to the palace and waited on the young Duke, whom he found still in a fever of preparation for his journey, still intoxicated by the handling of his father's hoarded gold, by the sense of power, by the sight of people hurrying to and fro on his command, by the thoughts of love and marriage, pomp and ceremony now open to him as a ruling prince.

Yet what the monk said struck him to the very core of his pride. Here, where he should have been most powerful, he was helpless. He could not control the clergy and schoolmen, he dare not defy the Rector of the Evangelical Church.

"You and I," he said again and again with great uneasiness, "know where these men are wrong, where they lack learning and tolerance and judgement."

"And is that secret knowledge," replied Felipe Bruno with a deep and noble bitterness, "to be my sole consolation? You ask me to remain in your University to instruct your subjects and to adorn, as you were pleased to say, your city. And now, when the first curs bark at my heels, have you no staff, Prince, wherewith to drive them off?"

"Being of the world," replied the young man with great distress, "I must bow to the world. There is no other way."

"Ay," said the monk, looking round at the rich and numerous purchases the Prince had lately made, many of which were standing about yet unwrapped, "it is difficult for one who has great possessions."

Stung almost beyond endurance so that the tears came into his eyes, for Julius Henry wished above all things to be great and noble and generous, he cried:

"Friar, you have wandered far, you have interviewed princes, you have spoken face to face with the Emperor of the West, you have been closeted with the King of France, you have stood in the Court of that strange woman of England—tell me, have you found anywhere one who, for the sake of light and truth, would defy the world?"

"Not one," replied the monk, "among these great ones, not one among those who have much to lose."

"Well, then," cried the Duke passionately, "why do you expect it of me? Press me no further, I am the one who is humiliated. When I promised you protection I meant what I said, but now I find that I cannot do it."

"It is true," said Felipe Bruno compassionately, "that you, Highness, are more humiliated than I, though I am sorry to leave Helmstedt, for I have been well treated and at peace."

"Where will you go?" demanded the young Prince suddenly, leaning across the table. "I am still a priest of Rome—do not go into Italy, I have heard what is intended for you and such as you. His Holiness is a man of iron, a rod and a scourge against the heretic."

"But he is old," smiled Felipe Bruno. "The day must come when he will leave his Rome, his basilicas, his obelisks, his marshes, his roads, and his guarded treasure."

"Yes, but the office is eternal, and when that man perishes then another will arise."

"Maybe he will be a man of innocent soul. I yet hope to stand face to face with Christ's viceroy on earth and prove to him my integrity." He turned suddenly with an earnestness that held the other silent. "Could you not do this thing, Prince, you who are young, generous, and strong? Clear yourself free of all of them, set down the pedants, the schoolmen and the doctors, bid them cease their quibbling, their straw-splitting? Could you not be above all the formalities which are but for a little while and set your power to aid that which is not transient?"

The young Prince did not reply, his lips, which usually had so haughty a set, trembled, his eye, so used to the glance of authority, was clouded with tears.

"Do you care so much for all this?" asked Felipe Bruno curiously and compassionately, "the armies you will raise, the buildings you will erect, the pageants and festivals you may have, is that so much to you who know the ancient philosophies?"

"I am young," pleaded Julius Henry.

"Therefore you should be bold. It is easier for you than for one who grows feeble from many journeyings and much privation."

"I speak," replied the Prince, controlling himself, harshly, "according to the measure of my courage, and that—as you have shown me, monk, and I do not love you for it—is not great."

"It is as much as that of any man," replied Felipe Bruno sadly. "I have often marvelled at the fearfulness of humanity. I will be on my way."

"Don't go to Italy," interrupted the young man keenly. "I like you—even on a brief acquaintance I—almost love you—like my father did."

"You who bow to this Roman wolf, warn me of her fangs?"

"That I do. Remain in Germany, there are other universities in the Empire. Or if you would stay here, may be I could endeavour—"

"I cannot live under tyranny. I shall never give 'Yes', to fools, or bow before pedants. Superstition and ignorance to me are like mists, and I must sweep them before my eyes. Shall a man be forced to gaze out a window filthy with dirt and cobwebs when by his own free will he may step into the open air and gaze direct at the heavens?"

"Your way," sighed Julius Henry, "will be one of distress and poverty."

"So it has ever been. But I leave behind my gratitude, Prince. I am composing a book which I think to get printed in Frankfurt, I implore permission to dedicate it to your Highness. These dedications," he added simply, "which of course, are worth very little, are all I have ever had to give any man who has shown me kindness."

Julius Henry looked at him very curiously, he seemed about to speak, but changed his mind and was silent. On the threshold the Italian paused and asked once more in a thrilling tone:

"You could not do it?"

The monk left the palace and returned again to his lodging. How alike they were, these rooms, garrets, attics, and cellars in which he housed! He put together his bundle and the Prince's presents for the funeral oration into a bag which he concealed in his bosom above the ends of the greasy scapulary, and set out towards Frankfurt.

* * * * *

When Felipe Bruno arrived at Frankfurt-on-the-Main it was the beginning of the great Michaelmas Book Fair. It was the friar's hope to earn somehow his living and with the help of the remainder of the ducats given him by Julius Henry, to spend some months in Frankfurt working over the manuscripts that he had brought with him, and which he intended to revise and to see through the press. He wished to cut with his own hands many of the elaborate drawings necessary for the book on Memory.

The atmosphere of the imperial city and of the Book Fair, a veritable feast of the Muses as it was named among the scholars of Europe, pleased him. In no part of the world were so many books gathered together as on the occasion of the two great fairs at Frankfurt. Whereas in some countries books were still so scarce that copyists could earn a livelihood transcribing books by hand, in Frankfurt and at Leipzig books were there in such quantities as to dazzle the eyes and excite the minds of the lovers of learning.

Italian booksellers came to the German city to exchange their own productions with those sent out by the German presses. Catalogues of the books sold and exchanged at the Frankfurt fair were sent all over Europe.

Felipe Bruno knew a bookseller by the name of Wechel, and he petitioned the Town Council of Frankfurt-on-the-Main for permission to reside with this man.

This was refused, and to his considerable regret the printer had to deny himself the services of the scholar.

"It is evident," smiled Felipe Bruno, "that I am regarded with suspicion by Catholic and Protestant alike."

He was at a loss, not knowing what to do nor where he might go to revise the three great manuscripts that he had brought with him from Helmstedt. But the printer bethought him of an expedient and went to the Convent of the Carmelites. These friars had a guest-house in which they frequently put up the booksellers, scholars, and curious travellers who came to visit the fair. They were themselves tolerant men, busy with activities of kindness and charity.

On the bookseller's recommendation they accepted Felipe Bruno as an inmate of their hostel and left him at peace while he worked for the bookseller, accepting from him only a modest fee in return for his bed, the table on which he worked, and his poor food.

The wandering scholar was at peace again; he had the freedom to speak his mind, even before the monks, who did not molest him, though they decided that he was of no religion whatever, though of fine intellect and of great knowledge.

In these months in Frankfurt the monk was very occupied, all day and sometimes far into the night, in intense study in order that he might, in his books, leave behind something which, perhaps, after generations would be glad to preserve.

Wechel, the enterprising bookseller, paid for the cost of preparing the three manuscripts for the press while Felipe Bruno promised to be responsible for all the corrections, and with his own eager, nervous fingers cut all the explanatory figures in wood.

After seven months four Latin works, The Three-Fold Minimum (De Triplici Minim) or Monad, The Immensity (De Immenso) and The Composition of Images, Signs, and Ideas (De Imaginum, Signorum et Idearum compositione) went to the press.

When the Prior of the Carmelites at Frankfurt was afterwards asked to describe the philosopher who had dwelt calmly in his convent for so long, he said: "He was a man busied with writing for the most part all day long, or in going to and fro indulging in subtle inquiries, wrapped in thought and filled with fantastic meditations of new things."

The Prior added that the Dominican also held heretical conferences with heretic doctors upon the Lullian art of memory. With these activities he, the Prior, did not interfere, being primarily devoted to works of charity and to humility.

The monk had liberty to leave the convent whenever he wished and such time as he would snatch from his loving labour over his books he would spend in the company of the booksellers, in their shops or the parlours behind, or on the occasion of the two great fairs, vernal and autumnal, in going round the exhibition of books and manuscripts sent with such pains, difficulties and perils from all parts of Europe.

In this city it seemed as if the wars of Europe had ceased, as if the conflicts of foreign kings were not more than the crossing of flies in the air, for here was peace, learning, an exhilarating activity and a constant converse of the things of the mind.

When Duke Julius Henry left the Church of Rome, embraced Lutheranism and took to himself a wife, Felipe Bruno, remembering the young man's kindness and his shame at his own weakness, wrote a panegyric in his honour and published it as a preface to De Triplici Minimo. As he said in Helmstedt, this was the only gift he was ever able to give anyone, and he was of a generous, open-handed nature that would have liked to have possessed something in order that he might confer benefits upon others. With great pleasure he handled the trim, handsome volume which bore the printer's mark: Francofurti apud Joannem Wechelum et Petrum Frischerum consortes.

* * * * *

"What," asked the Prior of the Carmelites, "do you write in your books, which seem very learned to me? I serve God in humbler ways."

"How shall I explain!" replied Felipe Bruno with that gentle air of compassion that he always showed to the sincere and simple.

"But tell me, you who are so much greater a man than I, what is the sum of all your teachings and those great books over which you have taken so vast pains, which the printers will pay so much money to get through the press, and which will, I suppose, be spread all over Europe, and may, for what I know, do harm or good?" The Prior added with candid good humour: "From what I hear, a great many of your verses are difficult to understand, and even offend the rules of prosody."

"That is true enough," admitted Felipe Bruno. "I write in haste—wit and learning often fail me; I confuse Latin and Italian, I break the rules of grammar. I feel that much of what I write is obscure, a puppet show of shadows; but how difficult, my father, to put into words the unspeakable!"

"Give me the sum of what you write, my son," urged the Carmelite, "for even I, a little man who can do nothing but small deeds of charity and perform monotonous duties, may perhaps be comforted."

"Comforted, my father! Do you need that?"

"Which of us does not?"

"Those of us who have glanced into infinity. The sum of what I write, father, is that God is in all things, that the last, the supreme unity of our souls is contained in the all-penetrating spirit of the Universe—in every atom, father, is the germ of grandeur."

"Ay, ay," replied the other, tolerantly, "but I can find no comfort in that, nor in any of your philosophies. How does it help me when I have toothache or indigestion or feel full of boredom? But to remember the saints and their sufferings—that does help, to gaze at a little friendly image with a pleasant face, that also consoles, to remember one's vows is a support—but this immensity! I should feel so lost among the stars. Like a scabby beggar in a palace."

"What you say is reasonable, yet only in these speculations do I feel at ease."

"And I should feel lonely and afraid—away from the little cosy things I know."

"Do you think, father, that these little cosy things will go with you to heaven?"

"Ah, the dear saints would never let one feel homesick, and I am sure that the Mother of God is a good hostess." He sighed, smiled, pursed up his lips, and added timidly: "I hear that you yearn after the Copernican heresy—tell me, if the earth be not fixed and but one of many planets of equal importance—where is Heaven?"

"Father, both Plato and Plotinus declare that this earth, this great globe of which you think so much, is but a shadow of the truth which exists only in a divine idea."

"Those two Greeks were pagans. I stand by Aristotle," said the Prior, uneasily.

"Well, was he not also a pagan? A miserable old heathen—and out of date, too."

As Felipe Bruno spoke a smile of great tenderness transformed his swarthy face.

"Thank you for those wild strawberries you put on my table. I forgot them, that was churlish of me."

* * * * *

The thought of death was much with the monk in his activities at Frankfurt. In the middle of this busy, useful life which was as tranquil as life had ever been for him yet, he mused often upon that inward urge which seemed to send him forth from city to city, from principality to principality in search of death, of Marie de Castelnau, of Fleurette, of the English cavalier—yet they would be sparks amid immensity, unknown to each other.

He mused, too, on the need for the ultimate fortitude which could despise death even in its most atrocious form. In his room which was like a cell in the Carmelite monastery, he wrote:

"They are fools who dread the menace of death and of destiny, for all things in the stream of Time are subject to change, but are themselves unconquered life. And thy body, either as a whole or in its parts is identical with destiny. The substance of the limbs passes away and is renewed, yet the unchangeable essence dwells within the heart and in the chances and changes of life. The soul has no body and is indivisible by any force of Nature. Lightning cannot devour it, nor flame consume it, for it is indestructible, like the elements of the body, among which it dwells at peace. The parts change constantly, but the soul, the indivisible essence, is tranquil and immutable."

There was a tall window in his room which gave a view of the city like the drawing in an initial letter on an old parchment. There was everything in the room that he needed—a bed, a chair, a desk, a shelf for books, a chest—it reminded him of the cells he had had in the Dominican monasteries in the kingdom of Naples—but in Southern Italy the view had been so delicious—a branch of a tree, a spray of flower, a lizard on a wall, a purple, azure sky.

In his chest lay his scapulary; he sometimes put it over his shoulders. He was still a priest, a follower of the lean man with the dog; he often longed to be reconciled with the Church that presented to him learning, spirituality, intellectualism in a world of waste and woe.

It would be a fitting end to return to the shelter of Saint Dominic's black mantle, to peruse his studies under the protection of that Church to whom he would give all the glory and honour of his fame.

What was at the back of this yearning? Nostalgia for Italy, for Naples, for Nola? Ay, the body for the native soil and the soul to its home.

"A cypress crown, O Muse, is thine to give,
And pain eternal; take this weary frame,
Touch me with fire, and this my death shall live
On all men's lips and in undying fame."

* * * * *

Felipe Bruno, lingering late in Wechel's shop, was accosted, in Italian, by a grave, middle-aged man who declared that he had heard much of the Nolan's fame and had a definite mission to him.

"I came to Frankfurt partly because I heard that you were here."

This stranger was in Frankfurt to buy books for his patron, a certain noble Venetian of great power in the free and mighty city, who was not without hope of one day becoming Doge. This gentleman quested after truth and thirsted after learning. His mind, said the secretary, was lofty, his understanding acute. He had heard of the fame of Felipe Bruno and had empowered his secretary to beg him to come and lodge in his palace at Venice, to teach him Philosophy and the science of Memory.

Felipe Bruno was pleased at this and was minded to accept, but not immediately, for he wished to see his books through the press and in particular that which had the dedication to Duke Julius Henry. He wished to stay in Frankfurt also, until the autumnal fair was over, because it was of great interest to him to meet all the scholars and booksellers and printers who came from all over Europe to sell and exchange their wares in the imperial city.

As he was replying in these terms, one of the men in the shop came over to him and remarked with astonishment on his readiness to return to Italy. It was true that Venice was not the same as the Papal States, independent and proud of her independence, but this German engaged in printing the works of Protestant theologians, expostulated with Felipe Bruno.

"Is it not very rash to return to Italy, I am sure you have given offence to those whom you have yourself named 'Roman wolves'."

"I may have given them offence," replied Felipe Bruno, "but I have done nothing to which they can easily take exception."

"How is it," said the German curiously, "that you are so credulous and civil to others?"

Felipe Bruno replied, with a simple and rather impatient candour:

"I have never said or thought anything that a man of intelligence could find offensive."

The other caught at that sentence:

"A man of intelligence! But there are many in high places who cannot be so named."

But the monk remained untainted by any fear.

"Sixtus V is dead," he said, "and the man who has his place is innocent, gentle, and a scholar. I should like to meet him face to face, to offer him my books, and to expound to him my theory. That is an old dream of mine—to place whatever I may have done of value, whatever I may still have in me of value, at the service of the Church."

The staid Venetian, who had listened keenly to this conversation, standing in the shadows by the book-laden shelves, put in sharply:

"I have nothing to do with the Church. The Signoria is not even on good terms with His Holiness. My master would be, anywhere, sufficient protection for your friend—he is Giovanni Mocenigo."

Wechel joined the group; he also exclaimed: "You do not think of going to Italy!"

"I make a good offer," said the Venetian, with cold ease. "I shall not press it."

Felipe Bruno smiled at his friends' doubts and alarms, and replied courteously to the Venetian:

"It is true that I have a great mind to Italy—I shall consider gratefully the noble proposal of the Ser Giovanni Mocenigo."

When the stranger had left the bookshop the Germans began again to clamour against the idea of a return to Italy.

"But why should I fear? I have answers to any possible charge that might be brought against me. Nay, be persuaded—neither is Venice under the jurisdiction of the Pope."

The men to whom he spoke were not convinced, and many others came up and endeavoured to dissuade the wandering scholar from returning to Italy. As he listened to their arguments he wondered within himself from whence sprang the desire he had to leave a place where he had a safe and comfortable shelter and to return to that land which certainly might be, humanly speaking, full of difficulties and perils.

It was true that he had not yet come into open conflict with the Church of Rome, but he believed that they had, on occasion, been ready to arrest him, but he had always escaped and certainly not been with any violence pursued. He was dwelling now in a Romanist monastery and the monks were all friendly, interested in his work, proud of his reputation, eager to allow him hours of solitude and of meditation.

Yet he was not satisfied, and as he mused on the cause of his unrest he came back again to his nostalgia. He had been a wanderer for twelve years and all that while, secretly, the longing for home had touched his heart...

His father had never returned from Portugal, where he had been fighting to gain the King of Spain another crown; his mother had died in the little house neighbouring that where he, Felipe Bruno, had been born, the house with the vine and the two stones on the threshold and the hearth of old, discoloured marble. His brothers and sisters were scattered, he did not know where they might be.

He realized the illusive quality of his dreams—it would be another Nola that he would view, not the happy fields of his boyhood. Yet the genius loci vexed him; he wished to stand again under the grove of trees where he had seen the visions, to rest on those smooth stones overlooking the bay of Naples where, with the wild vine at his feet and the pine over his head, he might gaze at the sea melting into the sky which formed so fitting a symbol of that infinity of which he was so profoundly conscious.

He would even like to pry again through the little slum streets on the outskirts...there would be the smell of garlic and frying oil, of fish. Perhaps the puppet theatre still stood, where the idiot boy had beaten the drum in steady and melancholy rhythm, and Giulia had patched together the gay rags of the puppets, where Gioan had crept out to murder his rival on the sweet hill-side under the falling stars.

"This," said the wanderer to himself, "is a strange weakness in one like myself who has known so little of worldly affection or worldly ties."

Then he smiled to think that he who had prided himself on being done with all the weaknesses and superstitions of mankind, could be afflicted by this almost unappeasable longing for the south, for Italy, for Naples. He thought: "Perhaps that is where I am to die, for this longing is indeed a longing to go home."

And so he still played in his mind with the thought of accepting the invitation of the Venetian patrician. It was a long way from Venice to Naples, but not so far as it was from Frankfurt to Naples.

* * * * *

When he returned to the monastery of the Carmelites with the project to go to Venice after he had seen his books through the press and despatched on its journey to Helmstedt the volume with the dedication to Duke Julius Henry, of whom he retained such an affectionate recollection, he found that the Prior wished to see him.

The old man received him kindly and courteously, but with an obvious distress, and the quick wits of Felipe Bruno guessed at once the cause of this trouble.

"Father," he said immediately, "you wish me to go away?"

"How did you guess, my son? It is true. I have had advices, I may not say much, I must ask you to believe—" He paused and peered at the other man, curiously and wistfully out of his tired eyes. "I can see no ill in you, I cannot understand what you do wrong, though it is true you often discourse with the heretics."

"From what power came this command, that you should send me forth?" asked Felipe Bruno sadly.

But the Prior would not reply, he looked on the ground; he was a man under authority.

"I must go," added the other quietly, "they have heard that I am here."

The Prior of the Carmelites did not answer this, but said in a low tone as if he did not wish to be overheard by some spy at the door or some chance passer-by at the window:

"Do not go to Italy."

"There is nothing that any man can prove against me, and it is incredible to me that any thinker or theologian should find offence in my theories. But I will go, father, not wishing to involve you in trouble or abuse."

"I am sorry," said the old man in a weary voice. "I wish you would not go to Italy—"

For a moment that weariness communicated itself to Felipe Bruno. He stood at the window and moved his hands to and fro in the sunshine on the sill as if he bathed them in warmth. This had happened so often: the long travel, the asylum, the toleration, the kindness, the company of people whom he liked and then the fiat. "You must go," and once more the bundle on the back, the few ducats in the pocket, and the road.

He was no longer young and his hard-worked body began to fail; the bitter struggle with poverty, the difficulty in getting together a few pence for food and shelter, for ink and paper, for a few rags in which to clothe himself—how many times great men had given him their patronage only to withdraw it on some mysterious threat or at the prompting of some obscure fear!

Everyone seemed to reject him, some with the fury of hatred, some reluctantly and with kind farewell, but always rejection. He felt his blood chilled with the sense of his own failure. Why was it that nobody could accept his teachings nor understand his discoveries? Though he remained firmly convinced of the supreme truth of his belief he was, in that moment, standing in the Prior's parlour, moving his hands to and fro as if he washed them in the sunshine, deeply depressed and astonished at his own complete failure.

He had had no friends, not one. He thought of Madame de Castelnau, of Jerome Besler, his faithful copyist, of the English cavalier, all dead or lost. There was no one now to stand beside him and say, "I believe in you, go on and conquer." Even this old man who had been kind, who was so sorry to have to tell him to leave the shelter of the Carmelites, even he would not permit himself to any belief or encouragement.

Felipe Bruno could not warm himself, even in the sunshine; he wished that all would end. If only he might return to Naples and, lying on the vine-covered slopes or in the haunted groves refreshed by the purple air, smiled on by the ancient gods whose shades still lingered on those sacred slopes, breathe out his soul in ecstasy to that infinity from whence it had come.

"You had better go at once," said the Carmelite uneasily, "I should not like any harm to befall you."

"May I not even stay in Frankfurt to see my books through the press?"

"It would be wiser," replied the other, "if you were to depart immediately."

For a moment the wanderer pondered deeply. Why should he strive any more, why not meet the end here as well as in Venice? Let them come and do their worst.

'I am too weary to travel again. What hope is there for me? Wherever I go it will be the same—a few months, and then I shall have to depart, not even allowed to see my books through the press—they will be full of errors.' Then he thought: 'Who is this young man in Venice of the noble family of Mocenigo, a brilliant youth thirsting for the truth? Well, I will take this last chance.'

"Where do you think to go?" demanded the Prior, rising as if anxious to be not long closeted with this suspected and dangerous man.

"I thought Italy, perhaps in Padua I might be allowed to teach. Then I have an invitation to become a tutor in Philosophy and Astronomy and Mnemonics to a young Venetian patrician. Ciotto, the bookseller, sent him a copy of my book on Lull—he offers maintenance, at least."

The Carmelite seemed pleased at this.

"Venice! You should be safe," he remarked, nodding.

Felipe Bruno knew what he meant; Venice was freer than any city in Italy from Papal jurisdiction.

"My ultimate goal," he said, turning at the door with a sudden upward flash of his vivid purpose and his brilliant ardour, "would be Rome. It is to the Pope that I would speak, face to face."

The Carmelite answered shortly:

"Did it help Paul to appeal to Caesar?"


XI. — O DEAR DELIGHT!

THE University of Padua offered a transitory shelter to the wandering philosopher; as Giovanni Mocenigo was in his villa on the Brenta until the spring and did not immediately require the services of Felipe Bruno, it was convenient that these classes were allowed him, for he had no means of existence once the few pieces that he had brought with him from Frankfurt were exhausted.

This stay in Padua proved very short, however, by reason of a curious episode that strangely moved the heart of the Nolan that he had thought immune from emotional agitation.

From his first arrival in Padua there had been some who had regarded him with wonder and suspicion, others who had glanced at him with awe, respect and fear. He found, to his compassion and amusement, that his reputation was partly that of a charlatan, partly that of a dealer in black magic.

One of the students in his class being taken ill and falling in a fit so that his life seemed extinct, was cured casually by Felipe Bruno, by a mere dose of vinegar and polypod, so that he recovered "—the same ass as he was before," said the Nolan indifferently.

As he went that night to the baker's shop where he lodged, he pondered sadly on the great ignorance and credulity that made the students regard his little medical knowledge as supernatural; he had observed their shrewd glances, heard their muttered words—he questioned himself—Did they regard him as saint or devil? They knew very little about him, probably not even that he was a Dominican friar.

* * * * *

A shouting below his window awoke Felipe Bruno from his poor bed; his narrow attic with the sloping roof was full of the dancing reflections of torch-light. He sprang up and peered from the window; a group of shouting, excited people was below; their upturned faces were stained half red by the torch flare and half pallid by the moon directly overhead, a tangle of fantastic shadows lay about their feet. It was chilly and a cock crowed persistently in the distance.

"What do you want?" asked Felipe Bruno coldly; his hatred of the rabble, of ignorant fools, sounded in his voice.

They clamoured all at once and he made out that they required a miracle—that was the word that they tossed up at him—a miracle.

"Do you wish me to raise one from the dead?" he asked. "Or something more difficult—to fetch down the moon or to put sense into your empty skulls?"

A man detached himself from the crowd.

"You raised one from the dead at the University today. My brother was there and saw it. My wife is dying—cure her and I will give you two thousand crowns."

"Fool!" exclaimed Felipe Bruno angrily. "I learned some medicine in my youth and so I gave a purge to that imbecile today—"

"I will pay more!" cried the man below in a strong, shaken voice, and like a chorus those behind him took up the words: "He will pay more! It is Ser Clemente Grazzini!"

"Ye are all unknown to me. What do I reck of the great men of Padua? I am no miracle worker. May your God help you, and Amen."

He closed the window, but the clamour did not cease; he could hear arguments, cries, even sobs. He sat on the edge of his bed and took his lean face in his hairy hands.

"This woman must be greatly beloved. How men fear to lose what they love! How can love be lost? The presence of the beloved is but a transient affirmation that love exists."

They had roused the baker now and were entering the house; he could hear them below, then on the stairs; he pulled on his clothes and his shoes as they burst open the door. Certainly it was very chilly and the cock crowed shrill through the clangour as if it were infinitely remote.

Felipe Bruno rose to face the strangers.

"What do you want, fools?"

"An unmannerly wizard!" said one man, panting; another seized the Nolan by the arm.

"Of what is the woman dying?" he asked.

"A long, wasting illness—every doctor in Italy—" began the husband.

"Then I can do nothing. And what matters death, Paduan? We are but mirrors within mirrors—a reflection of Nature, which is a reflection of God. Love, in a beloved form, takes on the shape of Beauty—but Love is without shape and immortal. Be comforted and leave me in peace."

Without taking any heed of his words they hustled him out of the room, the house, and into the street. Overpowered by their numbers he walked in the midst of them under the high moon. Some were friends, some were servants of the Grazzini, and some were beggars to whom the dying woman had been kind.

All these people talked at once, trying to persuade Felipe Bruno to perform a miracle. He need not fear, he need not doubt, he would be protected, rewarded.

"Were I a miracle worker I should not be here now." He was no longer angry, only saddened by their stupidity.

"Do you not believe in miracles, then?" one demanded. "Yes, and even that one might happen to me—but not this, in thus manner—"

They came to a handsome patrician's mansion; the sculptures on the facade were outlined in bluish shadow, a light burned in an upper window to which all eyes were turned. Everyone was silent.

Felipe Bruno entered the house heavily and urged by his escort, was forced to the threshold of Isotta Grazzini's death chamber.

* * * * *

He was defeated by her likeness to Marie de Castelnau. She lay clothed on the coverlet, for she had been trying to put through her housewifely duties when she had fainted. Her dark hair was unwound on the pillow, the taint of the disease did not show in her pure, downcast profile. A little child, close as a bud to a flower, pressed next her body and held her slack, damp hand, very still, as if she too were dying.

Felipe Bruno noted the bed-curtains of woman's pretty silly work, the lamp burning beneath the shrine, the maid and doctor by the window.

He advanced to the bed and did not hear the sigh of relief, of expectation that rose from the men who had brought him; all, save the husband, had remained in the ante-chamber; shivering, mute, they peered through the open door.

Marie and Fleurette. His heart was pinched. There seemed that remote, almost impalpable odour of marigolds in his nostrils, he felt giddy and leaned against the fluted pillar of the great bed.

Clemente Grazzini pulled at his robe.

"Will you not save her? Have you no compassion?"

Felipe Bruno turned his haggard dark eyes on the man, grimacing with despair, who stood beside him, and spoke very tenderly.

"Consider me. Do I seem a quack or a saint? I cannot juggle—nor perform miracles. I am as poor a creature as yourself—one who has nothing—only a little glimmer of the truth."

The young man bit his knuckles and the tears hung on his lashes.

"You won't help me?" he stammered. "You won't help me?"

"Paduan—I once lost two like those—could I have performed a miracle should I not have done so then?"

The husband fell on his knees on the bed-step; Felipe Bruno placed a steady hand on his shoulder.

"The outward form alone perishes—because it is not a substance, but the outward form and circumstance of substance." The doctor had approached the bed.

"She is going," he whispered, peering over the pillow. "The priest—quick—"

There was a commotion in the ante-chamber; Ser Clemente raised his face on which was a grin of despair.

"I should have thought of that instead of the miracle worker—"

"Be at ease," said Felipe Bruno with authority, "I am a priest. Bring what is needful, I can do that for you."

They obeyed him in a dark silence, looking at him furtively. The office came easily to him, though he had not spoken these words since he had stood over the dead body of the man murdered by poor Gioan—how many years ago?..."Te asperges"...How like to Marie de Castelnau—the dark hair, the wasted face on which was a gentle look of astonishment.

When it was over they allowed him to depart in silence, awed by his presence and the countenance given him by Ser Clemente, but he knew that he would have to leave Padua.

* * * * *

When Felipe Bruno arrived in Venice he had the manuscript of a book with him, one of those which he had hoped to put through the press at Frankfurt; it treated of the seven liberal arts, Libro delle Sette Arti Liberali, and he wished to dedicate it to Pope Clement VIII, using it as a means of bringing himself directly to the personal knowledge of His Holiness and thus making his peace with the Church. He intended to return to Frankfurt to get this work printed by Wechel and to offer it to His Holiness; it was much in his mind and he spent his leisure in correcting it.

The magnificent beauty of Venice, at once sumptuous and exquisite, soothed and exalted his spirits, the colour and richness of the palaces, their quivering reflections, violet, opal, and amber, in the blue-grey waters of the lagoon, the air of enchantment given by the rainbow-hued twilight flushed by sun and moon, enchanted him like the mysteries of music or the incantations of poetry. Here, in stone, in sound, in colour, of painting and of nature, were the Arts of which he had written. As he entered Venice he thought of Marie de Castelnau and of Isotta Grazzini.

* * *

Giovanni Mocenigo was one of the greatest patricians of the city and he intended, if wealth and intrigue could serve him, to become Doge. His ambition absorbed his life and it was to further it that he had sent for the man whose book on Raymond Lull had so impressed his questing mind.

He was a dark young man with long, aquiline features, and his dress was so enriched with bullion and embroidery that he seemed more like an image than a human being.

Felipe Bruno was prepared to like, even to love him, for he was always eager for friendship. When the young Venetian received him with cordiality he thought of Philip Sidney, of the young Duke Julius Henry, of Jerome Besler, who had copied for him so diligently, of the earnest monk who had warned him to leave the headquarters of the Dominicans in Rome.

The Palazzo Mocenigo was very sumptuous, gilt within and without, inlaid with precious stones, enriched with gorgeous pictures, furnished with painted glass, with silken tapestries and great mirrors, the most fantastic luxuries of the East and the most cunning inventions of the West.

The owner of this splendid dwelling had been educated at Padua, the darling university of Venice, and had so distinguished himself in his studies that he had a reputation in his native city for learning. He had dabbled in new discoveries, and knew something of the expansion of the sciences which had lately so disturbed and interested the learned men of Europe.

He received Felipe Bruno eagerly and began at once to discourse to him on deep and philosophical matters, which, however, were interspersed with many curious questions as to where the philosopher had been, at what Courts he had stayed, and how he had been received, "for a great many adventures must have befallen you during the twelve years since you were last in Italy."

Felipe Bruno did not notice that his patron seemed well informed as to his past. He sat, as he had been desired on the purple cushions in the tall gilded window and glanced out on the canal and the palaces opposite, and the passing gondolas, all of which shone in the light of the setting sun. The rippling waters of the canal were troubled by quivering flakes of light and the line of the sea beyond seemed composed of liquid amethyst and topaz.

Felipe Bruno's spirits rose, he was glad to be in his native land, speaking his native tongue. He looked with respect, enthusiasm, and gratitude at his noble patron, who sat at the further end of the small room before a desk which was inlaid with jewels, and who was holding in his long, elegant hand a book, the cover of which was studded with pearls and gold.

"Is it true," he asked gently, "that you are a monk, a Dominican?"

Felipe Bruno had never concealed this, yet he believed that there were many among whom he had mingled who did not know it. With perfect candour he described his status: A monk, but one who had not been for long to Mass or Confessional, one who had discarded the habit, who had been warned to remain away from the Mass, but who still wore the scapulary—one who had never been degraded.

"A monk," repeated the Venetian, "it might, then, be dangerous for you to leave the state of Venice and my protection?"

"I have never thought of danger."

"No," said Mocenigo, "you are a man of courage. You seem to have been without means, without friends suspected, even hunted, and yet I find you full of hope. And hope of what, FrÓ Jordanus?"

It was a long while since Felipe Bruno had heard that name and the sound of it roused his always present and yet often sleeping homesickness. His tired eyes stared at the sky where the celestial blue and vivid carnation were fading into one glory.

"That was my name," he said, "but I have long since been known as Felipe Bruno, a poor philosopher."

"Your philosophy will be very welcome in Venice. There is much I desire to learn from you—the art of Raymond Lull, your science of Memory, that should help a man at least. We have philosophical disputations here and at the house of Senator Morosini."

"I will teach you all I can, it should not be difficult for you to acquire the knowledge you desire. Am I to lodge in your house?"

"Are you used to the apartments of princes?" asked the young Venetian smiling, as he rose.

"I have lodged with those whom I was teaching or helping, or, shall we say, those who wished to protect me—with Monsieur de Castelnau in London, for a while with the Duke Julius Henry—"

"Ah, he, I think, is a heretic—the renegade Bishop of Halberstedt?"

"He left the Church of Rome, which he had only entered by his father's desire, and as the ruling prince he had to marry."

"You are very plausible in his defence. No, I do not think it fitting that you should lodge with me, FrÓ Jordanus. I will find a room for you in the Quarter of San Samueli not far from here. The fee I pay you will be sufficient for your maintenance."

Felipe Bruno gave the young man a searching look for he did not care for these cold and haughty manners. None of the gentlemen who had been interested in him had ever spoken to him in this tone of command, almost scorn. In that moment he had not great hopes of his pupil and was reminded to refuse his protection and his money and go forth again. Yet indifferentism and a certain weariness overcame him; he was much fatigued.

"While I was on the Brenta I heard that you left Padua hurriedly. Some gossip of a miracle."

"I gave a purge to a bilious ass and fools thought it miraculous."

"One understands. Ignorance is so credulous! But afterwards you administered the sacrament to Isotta Grazzini?"

"Yes," replied Felipe Bruno reluctantly; that episode hung in his mind like the recollection of a vision. "You know, Ser Giovanni, that I am in Holy Orders."

"Well," said the other arrogantly, "I hope that you will make yourself useful to me."

With the air of a parvenu he haughtily dismissed his guest, sending him with a servant to the lodging he had found for him in the Quarter of San Samueli.

Giovanni Mocenigo had little aptitude for learning anything that was new and abstruse. The studies in which he had been successful had been of the routine order and on orthodox subjects. When he found that he made little progress under the direction of Felipe Bruno he began to be impatient with his teacher.

The figures of Raymond Lull which the monk expounded so quickly and eagerly only confused the young man and irritated him with a sense of his own inferiority; neither could he understand the science of Memory, which he had been so desirous to absorb.

He had given up a small room, no better than a lumber chamber, in his palace to Felipe Bruno, and allowed him to keep there his books, globes and manuscripts. Poverty forced Bruno to accept this accommodation for the room he had hired was dark and not fit for work. He had soon discovered that his patron had an odd fault in one young, noble and wealthy, who lived sumptuously—he was avaricious. Splendid as was the appearance that he made, he grudged every ducat that was not necessary for his own personal enjoyment and he soon began to irk at paying even a small sum monthly to Felipe Bruno, from whom, he declared, he was learning nothing. Lull's art of Memory, from which he had hoped so much, was beyond him, yet he hankered after it keenly.

"Surely," he declared impatiently, "that would be a royal road to success if one could be assured that never would one be forgetful of the smallest detail!"

"What is this success, sir, that you are so zealous to attain?" Felipe Bruno asked. "If it be, as I think, entirely worldly, then surely it cannot be attained by other than worldly means—that is, money and intrigue?"

He added, with a strange carelessness as to the might of the man whom he was offending:

"If you would become Doge of Venice, as I hear the gentlemen at Senator Morosini's saying, you may have a good chance of becoming, do not, sir, concern yourself with philosophy, with the architecture of Raymond Lull nor the dispositions of Saint Thomas Aquinas, but use your great wealth to seduce and bribe mankind, in order to elevate you to the post you desire."

"These are strange words to speak to me," replied the young patrician, with a disagreeable lift of his upper lip. Then he fell silent, with his hands spread before him on the desk inlaid with precious marble, while his breast heaved beneath the gold chain he constantly wore, and his narrow eyes were downcast.

Felipe Bruno studied his reserved, handsome countenance with much interest. It was rather, in repose and taken as it were by surprise, like the mask of a comely young fox, smooth and sly. The teacher did not like his pupil, it was the first time he had been disappointed in an ardent young man who had demanded instruction of him. He remembered with regret Sir Philip Sidney, Duke Julius Henry, even Jerome Besler, even many another young man whose names he could scarcely remember who had, among the dolts and pedants who had listened to him in the various universities of Europe, shown a sudden eager interest in the doctrines of light and truth.

Felipe Bruno knew that the young patrician from whose protection he had hoped so much, had a limited mind, shackled by an orthodox education, a narrow soul, a craven heart.

'I must be away again, I cannot live in this man's company nor work in his house,' he thought, and aloud:

"I do not think I have anything to teach that you would care to learn, Ser Giovanni."

At this the Venetian raised his eyes, which glinted coldly with malice. It was the first time he had been spoken to in these frank, almost careless, tones by one who was from every worldly point of view his inferior. Nay, there was more than candour in the voice of the wandering scholar, there was a serene contempt, and as the monk's tired, dark, and haunted gaze had travelled over the smooth, sly features of the young patrician, so the keen, calculating glance of the young man travelled over the worn, shabby figure of the stranger, a little bowed as he sat in his chair, much lined on the forehead, grey in the thick hair that grew where once the tonsure had been set, the long, beautiful hands with the dark hair on the back lying folded on his book.

"I do not know, indeed," sneered Giovanni Mocenigo, "what I can hope to learn from a renegade monk."

"Why did you send for me?" asked Felipe Bruno indifferently. He had, indeed, little interest in the reply, for he intended to be early on his travels again. He had been unmolested in Venice and that had raised his hopes; he would go down Italy, further, with every day, south. Perhaps, before the year was over, if he moved rapidly, he might gain Naples, he might once more look on the little hut with antique polished marble on the threshold and covered with wild vines, which then would be ripening to fruiting, outside Nola. Yes, this was a mistake, a disappointment, he must be free again, get away.

The mood of Mocenigo seemed to change even in a moment; he smiled, and with suavity said:

"Why did I ask you to Venice, which you rightly termed the eldest child of Liberty! That you might be rewarded after all your tribulations in the cause of learning, and, to tell the truth, that I might learn something from you—that is, in a word, sorcery—black magic. Come, we have done with all these vague and useless philosophic disputations, let us come down to the root of the matter. Surely you can teach me some spells whereby I may succeed?"

Felipe Bruno, hardly surprised, smiled without replying. He remembered the like demands of the Emperor and of the King of France. It was all these men could comprehend—sorcery, black magic, how to overcome their enemies by evoking the aid of the devils.

Taking his smile for encouragement, the young patrician continued eagerly, leaning forward across the gleaming table until his smooth, perfumed face was quite near the haggard features of the monk.

"Everybody knows that you are skilled in these tricks. I have heard it at Morosini's house, that is how you have been able to keep yourself safe so long. Is it not true that sometimes you have vanished into the earth when the officers of the Inquisition have been after you? And that once, endowed with infernal strength, hurled six or seven of them, who already had you by the collar, into the Tiber? Besides, that was a miracle at Padua."

Felipe Bruno's smile deepened as he allowed the young man to commit himself further in his folly. The whole talk was no more to him than the chatter of a child, but it was a serious matter to Giovanni Mocenigo.

"Teach me all you know, monk, and I will stand your friend—and before God you are like to need one soon."

Felipe Bruno was unmoved by this threat; he had heard too many menaces to give any attention to them, they were to him as the wind that blew on his face, the stones that pierced his feet when he was on his travels—mere necessary discomforts.

"I have tried," he replied sadly, "according to my capacity and yours, to teach you what I know that may be useful to you. Of sorcery, of black magic, I know nothing."

"You are afraid," insisted the young patrician, in thick, blurred tones, "you do not want to trust me, but you may, I assure you. I shall make you rich, famous, you shall stay with me and I will pay you very well. I shall call you my doctor and my astrologer, and protect you from all—I have the power, before God, I have the power to do that, ay, and the will, too."

"Will, as I serve you, sir, but it is not in my power to serve you in that way. I know nothing of these matters."

"You know nothing?" whispered the Venetian, drawing back; his face darkened and he bit his lower lip. "Then, truly, I have been deceived."

"Not by me," smiled Felipe Bruno, courteously, "I came here to teach you philosophy and the art of Raymond Lull. I cannot make gold, I cannot raise spirits, I have no knowledge of the Devil, who, assuredly, does not exist. I might teach you how to gain friends, how to obtain dominion over your enemies, how to become a great man, but it would be by slow and painful, and even doubtful rules. I could teach you to gain inner peace and that courage which despises suffering and death. But there again, I do not know if it is within your capacity to learn."

"Have you this same courage?" asked the young patrician, with a bitter sneer. "Do you, miserable creature as you are, despise suffering and death?"

Felipe Bruno did not answer that question.

"I will take my leave from Venice, Ser Giovanni, we can be of no service to each other, and I have a longing to travel south."

"You are so foolhardy as to wish to venture further into Italy?"

"Why foolhardy? I have done nothing for which any man should molest me. I have dedicated my last work to the Pope, who is a scholar, an intelligent man, and cannot be offended by my theories. I hoped to get it printed at Frankfurt. Now, I intend to return there—at the next fair."

"This time you will not lodge with the Carmelites."

"How did you know that? I mean, that the Prior had asked me to leave?"

"Your reputation, your troubles, the manner in which you have been driven from one country to another, are known to all."

"You speak very harshly, Ser Giovanni. My career has not been so extraordinary. There are many wandering scholars and monks in Europe who go from Court to Court, from university to university."

"And most of them have odd reputations. Never mind. Sleep here tonight, I will have a bed made up."

"I would rather return to my lodging—I have some matters to make ready—"

"For what?" inquired the Venetian sharply.

"For my departure. I see that you are displeased with me, and for my part I would be away."

"As you wish," replied Mocenigo coldly, "but bring all your manuscripts and books here and I will have them packed for you."

"They are already here, save one or two that I keep always with me."

"Well, sleep here tonight. I wish to see you—to discuss this and that with you for the last time—"

"Very well, I shall remain here tonight, Ser Giovanni."

* * * * *

Felipe Bruno passed along the narrow lane of the Frezzaria where he had, years before, lodged with Giulia in the bookseller's shop—he recalled how they had found the old man, already rigid in his chair, and had feared the plague.

The sights and sounds of the city were pleasing to the solitary man, he liked to see the lithe, strong, young people striding gaily on their way, to watch the children in doorways and on balconies; the May weather was brilliant on palace and water, everyone seemed busy, carefree, and part of the world in which they were set.

The homeless wanderer regarded them with a wistful tenderness; sometimes he envied the common man with his little lusts so easily satisfied, his narrow faith, his precise heaven and hell, his heavy slumber, his unquestioning mind. He was a little downcast that his plan of proceeding south with the spring had been interfered with, that his hope of obtaining sufficient money and patronage from Mocenigo for him to proceed to Rome, to Naples, to Nola, had been disappointed.

"I will return to Frankfurt, get Wechel to print my book, then, somehow, make my way to Rome and state my case to the Pope. Surely the Church will give me protection—"

Standing on the pavement above the bright canal busy with traffic, he asked himself what more he wanted or expected of life.

It seemed as if neither his person nor his ideas were needed or even acceptable—the pedants, the schoolmen, to him most detestable types of ignorance and hypocrisy, had conquered him; the corrupt, the timid, the superstitious, the envious, the malicious, had defeated him—he was weary. While his soul longed for the vast spaces in which the stars were but as dust, his tired body longed for Nola, the happy fields, the haunted groves, the blazing skies, the delicately chiselled and polished antique marbles—beauty, nobility, serenity, ease of mind.

Felipe Bruno could not conceive it as possible that a man like Clement VIII would refuse him permission to live, a retired scholar and philosopher, attached to, though not of, some monastery in the kingdom of Naples.

Giovanni Mocenigo did not enter at all into Felipe Bruno's musings; he regarded him as insignificant, a pedant in the making, a bigot, and a dull fellow; there but remained to put through this last interview and to forget one who had been of no importance in his life.

* * * * *

Giovanni Mocenigo came to the little room where Felipe Bruno awaited him, late in the evening when all the household was still. His guest had wondered indifferently at his choice of a place for their interview, the chamber was so crooked, so dark and poor, so crowded with books—worse than a servant's sleeping place, a mere corner for lumber. A rough plank bed with two coarse blankets and a pillow had been flung down in a corner, there was a chair, a desk and a lamp.

It was too much like all the attics where Felipe Bruno had been lodged. Only by M. de Castelnau had he been entertained courteously in the gracious chamber with the sloping floor where Fleurette used to roll her vivid balls, with the press where he had found a decent suit of clothes and a sword, a gentleman's weapon. Philip Sidney and his friends had treated him as an equal, so had the two Dukes in Helmstedt, and here and there he had met civility—but for the most part—this!

He put his books together while he was waiting, wondering how he was going to find the money for their transport—transport—where? He paused, amused at himself, and was standing thus, inactive, when Giovanni Mocenigo entered and coming close to him, regarded him with a cold, dry shrewdness.

"Bruno, I have come to speak to you for the last time—will you help me?"

As he spoke the young man moved the lamp so that the strong yellow rays fell on the haggard features, the glowing eyes, the greying hair of the scholar.

"Ser Giovanni, I cannot help you."

"You do not yet know what I want. Listen."

Flinging himself down on the one chair and clasping his hands nervously on the back of it, the Venetian began to speak rapidly, uneasily, with great force and fury.

Felipe Bruno scarcely listened, for this was the unfolding of a common tale, the unveiling of a petty soul, and he had no interest in the complicated government of Venice, which Mocenigo explained to show how possible it was that he might one day become Doge—there were seven Doges in his House—seven!

But he had many rivals, people who hated him, rogues who intrigued against him—one needed supernatural powers to prevail against them—"supernatural powers, Bruno!"

"I do not possess them."

"I think you lie. I have heard things—" he drew a thin volume from his bosom. "This was sent me from Frankfurt where it was published—blasphemous, the work of a vile heretic—but—"

Felipe Bruno took the tawdry book, which he at once saw was a vulgar, cheap publication intended for the ignorant and superstitious Protestants, a tirade against Popery; it was entitled The History of Dr. Faustus, the Famous Magician and Dealer in the Black Arts by Johann Spies. Not knowing what to say Felipe Bruno stood mute with the thumbed book in his hand, watching the young man, whose face was slightly distorted with emotion, drawn and damp with sweat, blotted by heavy shadow.

"He—this Dr. Faustus of Cracow, he was as learned as you, he too wandered from Court to Court—he met devils in a wood—"

"I have met many creatures in woods, never devils."

"You evade me! This man knew spells—come, so do you, but you are afraid. Hear me—it is not only power that I want—there is a woman. I might have so many—but this one whom I desire will not look at me—she is not so beautiful, too pale, with hair too dark—but I—" he pulled himself up on a great, panting breath and bit his narrow underlip.

"Ser Giovanni—you are young, lusty, rich—get your women for yourself. Was I fetched from Frankfurt to be your pander?"

"I thought of drugs—spells—"

"I do not deal in them." A sense of the absurdity of the scene angered Bruno; he spoke impatiently. "Would I had known the manner of man you are!"

Unheeding these rebukes which, in an ordinary case would have deeply angered him, Mocenigo, absorbed in his desperate purpose, continued to plead—the power, the woman—Bruno should be his secretary, under his protection, well paid...he stammered the praise of the woman, so pallid, so dark-haired...the man listening reluctantly thought of Marie de Castelnau, of Isotta Grazzini. He was silent, but kept making weary movements of disgust with his long, eloquent hand, then he became interested in the workings of the young man's mind.

"You are a faithful son of Holy Church," he interrupted suddenly, with curiosity, "you run to your confessor every day, you are a regular attendant at the Mass, but you ask me, a priest, to help you to raise devils, to gratify your lust and your greed?"

"How should you, a withered monk, know of the passions of a man like me? You have never been aware of women! You who have never been above the gutter, but always despised and begging!" Mocenigo rose. "I tell you that I aspire to great heights—to a princess for my mistress—to Venice as my domain—"

Felipe Bruno smiled compassionately.

"Will you be damned for it

"Damned! No one need know—"

"Would not God—your God—know?"

"He pities sinners."

"Oh, sophist! If I could raise devils I would not do it for a man like you. Let me have my sleep—tomorrow I leave your house."

This indifferent scorn only further impressed Mocenigo with the power of the man whom he addressed. He became frantic in his endeavours to wrest his secrets from the monk whose history was so strange, about whom so many marvellous stories had been told, and who had, assuredly, only been saved from death by infernal aid; he offered higher bribes, he confessed that he had himself made some experiments...there were men in his way whom he would willingly see dead—and the woman he must have, secretly, since she was the wife of a powerful senator—a drop or so in their cups—a drop in hers—death—love! "I shall pay so well!"

Exhausted by his passion he sank into the chair again, biting his forefinger, his small eyes fixed despairingly on the serene face of the other man. The lamp was sinking; Felipe Bruno trimmed it and filled it with oil. Seeing him immovable, Mocenigo, in a low hoarse voice, began to threaten, casting at the other his poverty, his homelessness, his lack of friends, of protectors—breaking these menaces to gasp, for he was at the end of his strength and his nerves:

"Are you still determined, monk, not to disclose to me your secrets?"

Felipe Bruno stood erect among the packages he had made ready for departure, his few clothes, his few books, with the newly-trimmed lamp in his steady hand.

"I have no secrets," he said, "or none that could be comprehended by you."

At this the young patrician burst out in a fury and recounted all the benefits he had conferred on a miserable outcast—presents, lodging, money.

"When you were in Frankfurt you lied, because you proclaimed before the booksellers that you could do marvellous things, teach the secret of a perfect memory, for one—you can do nothing of the kind! I would that I could make you repay some of the money I have squandered upon you!"

"I did not mean to take favours, I thought that what you had given me was in payment for my services. You have squandered money on me! You, a wealthy man and I one always in the uttermost poverty! Why did you tempt me to return to my native land? I was an exile, and, maybe, happy, but I had sooner remained there and taken my own ways to the South of Italy than have been brought here for this—reproaches that sting a man of honour."

"A man of honour!" sneered the patrician. "If you know what my confessor had said of you—"

"Ah, you have spoken of me to your confessor! Have you told him that you desired me to teach you the secrets of Alchemy, the black arts, and the elixir of life?"

"I have told him your wicked words, both against our Lord Jesus Christ, and against the Church!"

"I do not remember having said any wicked thing whatever. All this is a weariness—leave me to my rest—I depart tomorrow I shall take my habit again."

"Ah, you admit, then, that you abandoned it, you admit that you have been a monk?"

"I have never concealed it, I shall be able to adjust my affairs."

Mocenigo replied angrily:

"How can you adjust your affairs? You have no faith. You must recant your opinions before you may hope to adjust your affairs! For that, if you are willing, you shall have all the help I can give you, though you have shown yourself so wanting in faith in me and ungrateful for all the presents I have used for you, yet in all things I have wished to be your friend."

He rose, unsteadily, and turned towards the door; Felipe Bruno observed through the shadows that he had a key in his hand, and it came to him immediately that he was to be a prisoner, locked into this room until he disclosed the absurd secrets desired by this greedy fool. Then he sadly entreated for his liberty.

"My packages are in order and I am ready to depart, I demand of you my freedom, this is the first time in all my wanderings that I have been constrained. Let me out, Ser Giovanni, let me depart even now, late as it is."

"Teach me, then, what I demanded of you," said the Venetian with the key in his hand.

"I have taught you enough in return for the puerile favours that you have given me, I have taught you to the limit of your capacity, more than equal to the gifts you cast at my feet. I am determined to say farewell. You have no right to seize my person, my writing instruments, my books, and my clothes."

"You shall learn," replied the patrician, "what right I have."

"Then keep all my goods, give me only those I brought here tonight—Ficino's Plato and that transcription I made for you—De Physica Magia—"

"All your goods! All you have is mine—with nothing you arrived and with nothing shall you depart!"

"Only let me go—your house, your company, oppresses me."

"Once more—your secrets, magician, your secrets!"

Mocenigo stood with his back to the door, obscured in the shadows; he was half beside himself with anger and desire.

"Shallow fool," replied Bruno, wearily, casting himself on the wretched bed, "what tedium is in your chatter!"

Mocenigo went out of the room; the turning of the key and the clatter of the bolts told Felipe Bruno that he was a prisoner.

As he turned out the light he saw the cheap book of Dr. Faustus open on the floor.

Giovanni Mocenigo hastened to his sumptuous bed-chamber and roused with a kick the foot-boy sleeping by the bed-step. "Go and wake my secretary."

As the whimpering child ran on his errand the Venetian seized the nightlight on the bed-table and lit the candles on the desk between the windows. Then he pulled out a sheet of paper, a quill, sand, an inkhorn, and waited.

When the half-dressed, drowsy secretary arrived he was startled at his master's appearance, and stammered out his alarm, thinking that Mocenigo had been struck by the plague and wished to adjust his will.

"Don't stare, sit down, write—" Mocenigo pushed the candles closer and thrust a pen into the secretary's hand.

"Yes, Ser Giovanni, yes—what shall I write?"

"This—clearly: 'Giovanni Mocenigo to the Father Inquisitor of Venice. Very Reverend Father and most Honoured Sir, I, Giovanni Mocenigo, son of the most noble Messer Marcantonio, constrained by my conscience and by the order of my confessor, denounce to your most reverend Paternity, Felipe Bruno—"

* * * * *

Felipe Bruno was asleep when Mocenigo, followed by his servant, Bartolo, and several gondoliers, rudely entered the room where he had locked him and roughly bid him rise.

"Once more," cried the young man in a loud voice so that his followers might hear. "Will you teach me the science of Memory and of Geometry as you promised? If so, I shall set you at liberty, if not, a worse thing may befall you."

Without replying, Felipe Bruno sat on the bed where he had slept fully dressed, and pulled on his worn shoes that he had unlatched and kicked off in his fatigue the night before.

"Answer, priest, answer!"

"Ser Giovanni, you have not the capacity to learn what I can teach."

At this the young man ordered his servants to take Felipe Bruno down to a closet in the cellars and there lock him in, guarding him securely.

"But my books, my papers—you have no right! Leave me, at least, my last two manuscripts—"

Before he could say more, Felipe Bruno, disdaining to struggle with servants, was hurried away, while Mocenigo tore open eagerly the packages of books and papers by the disordered bed, and eagerly turned them over, hoping to discover some secrets of black magic, a recipe for the Elixir of Life, a key to the science of the stars, a formula for raising evil and mighty spirits.

But finding nothing of this, nor even anything that he could understand, he returned to his room and wrote a second denunciation of Felipe Bruno which he sent his secretary to hand to the Grand Inquisitor of Venice.

That same day, the 24th of May, an officer of the Inquisition and a body of men entered the Palazzo of Mocenigo and taking Felipe Bruno, who was silent, lodged him in a storehouse outside the palace, where he was kept until nightfall. Then, when all was dark in the city, they conveyed him to the Prison of the Holy Offices, which were on the western side of the Bridge of Sighs.

* * * * *

At the end of the month Giovanni Mocenigo made his third denunciation before the Father Inquisitor present in the Holy Office.

Thereupon the trial for heresy proceeded before the Tribunal of the Inquisition, consisting of the Father Inquisitor, the Apostolic Nuncio in Venice, a Patriarch of Venice, and a noble Venetian, representing the Council of Ten.

The first witnesses examined were two booksellers, Ciotto and Bertano, who had been very intimate with the prisoner during his residence in Venice. Both these swore that he had never given utterance to a word by which they might have doubted that he was a Catholic and a good Christian. They had known him, they declared, in Frankfurt, where he had moved freely among all the booksellers gathered at the great Book Fair, and they had never heard anyone complain that he had uttered words of blasphemy or heresy.

When these witnesses had been dealt with the prisoner was brought into the presence of the Inquisition. With his hand on the Scriptures he swore to tell the truth; his demeanour was easy and quite fearless. He remarked:

"Many times I have been threatened with this Holy Office, and always I have taken the threat for a jest, for I am one ready to give an account of myself!"

He looked with an intellectual curiosity at those great ones in their robes, furs, chains and caps seated aloft to judge him. As Giovanni Mocenigo had retained all his poor possessions he had nothing but the mean attire in which he had been arrested, and since he had been brought straight to the court from the prison, where he had had no comforts, his hair was tangled, his beard unkempt, his face and hands soiled with sweat and dust. But he remained easy and courteous in his demeanour, for though at times he was given to a fiery impatience yet in serious moments he felt no wrath or fury.

Asked to give an account of his life, he said he would do so. Asked what enemies he had, he replied:

"My only enemy is Ser Giovanni Mocenigo, who threatened my life and my honour, and that continually."

He gave an account of his arrest; he told how he had been lured from the safety of Frankfurt to the danger in which he now stood, by the pressing invitation of this Venetian gentleman who had denounced him to the Inquisition. Then, without heat or passion and following on the repeated request of the Judges, he said:

"My name is Felipe, of the family of Bruni, of the city of Nola, twelve miles from Naples. I was born and brought up in that city and my profession was and is letters and the sciences. My father's name was Giovanni, and my mother, Fraulissa Savalina, and my father was a soldier by profession. He is dead and my mother also...at about fourteen or fifteen years of age I took the habit of St. Dominic at Naples..."

* * * * *

The Judges of the Inquisition had listened to Felipe Bruno's account of his life and made no comment thereon, but they demanded of him about his writings and asked him if he had a memorandum of all the books which he had printed, and if he remembered their subjects and doctrines. To this he replied:

"I have made a list of all those books which I have seen to be printed and of those which I have composed and which are not yet printed and which I was devising to give to the press as soon as I should have opportunity, either in Frankfurt or elsewhere, and this I submit."

He had been, since the trial began, allowed paper and ink, and he took from his bosom, on which still hung the crossed ends of the scapulary, this list of books and handed them to the clerk, who laid them on the desk in front of the tribunal where the Judges sat. The prisoner was then asked: What was the subject of all these books? And he replied:

"Philosophic matter, differing according to the titles of the books."

He was then asked whether, publicly or privately, at the lectures given by him in different places, he had ever held, taught, or disputed any article contrary or repugnant to the Roman Faith according to the terms of the Holy Roman Church. To this he said:

"I have taught nothing directly against the Christian Catholic religion, nor have done so indirectly, as has been determined in Paris."

Felipe Bruno was then required to state what was his philosophy.

At this request the prisoner's eyes became radiant and his pale lips, still beautiful in line though his face was so wasted, curved in a joyous smile. Had he not often prayed for this opportunity, to be able to expound the truth at the seat of authority?

He heard the Clerk's voice saying in his ear: "Speak the truth, Felipe Bruno. Remember you have sworn on the Scriptures," and he replied with a brilliant candour:

"What is an oath on the Scriptures to me compared with the desire I have to reveal what is in my soul?"

"Tell us," asked the Father Inquisitor, Giovanni Gabrielli di Saluzzo, urging him, "what think you of God?"

"God is the soul of the Universe, from this Spirit all flows, there is one Truth and one Goodness penetrating and governing all things. In Nature are the thoughts of God; they are made manifest in figures and signs—they are introduced into our thoughts, where alone we can arrive at the consciousness of the true Being. We are surrounded by Eternity and by the Unity of Love. There is but one centre from which all species issue and to which all species return."

He spoke passionately with a single-minded simplicity, with more fervour than he had ever used when he had spoken from the desk of a university or in a private gathering of learned men; he forgot that he was a prisoner, in peril, and his beautiful voice was full of confidence.

"There is but one celestial expanse wherein millions of stars move in complete harmony. In the circle which comprehends in itself the beginning and the end, we have the figure of the true Being, a circular motion is the only enduring form of motion. From this spirit, which is called the Life of the Universe, proceeds everything which has soul and life. Which Life I understand to be immortal, as well as in bodies as in their souls, all being immortal, seeing no other death than division and dispersal of the several parts. Deus in Rebus—that, noble Judges, is my conception of God."

There was no sign in the gorgeous, placid features of the Judges that they were either impressed or repelled by these words. In severe, but not unkindly tones the Father Inquisitor asked Bruno as to his dealings with the heretics: "For it is known that you have dwelt in the company of heretics, and studied heretic theology."

"But I despise them and their works. They are not theologians but pedants, and I have read their books from curiosity and not from a desire to learn their doctrines, for I hold them to be more ignorant than myself."

The Father Inquisitor then exhorted the prisoner to unburden his conscience and to tell the truth, for only by those means might he expect that the Tribunal would extend to him every sort of kindness possible, necessary, and expedient for the salvation of his soul.

This last sentence struck curiously into the mind of the prisoner, he hesitated, then stood mute. After what he had said, after the philosophy he had expounded, they could still say that? Warn him of the salvation of his soul?

He stood silent for a moment, and then as they again gently urged him to make full confession and to reflect that he had not more than they, he replied:

"God shall pardon my sins, I have spoken truth in all things. Indeed, I know not what more to say."

He was then led away to prison.

The evidence of other witnesses was taken. Under their placid, dignified demeanour the Judges found the case trivial and tedious. What was he to them—a friendless Neapolitan of no family? A wandering Dominican? He spoke well, too, and was plainly a man of erudition—that could be seen from his books—one who might be an ornament to the University of Padua.

The famous Venetian historian, Andrea Morosini, was called upon to give his evidence. Precisely, and with some fear he deposed that Felipe Bruno had indeed frequented his house and joined the philosophical disputations therein held, but never had he given any sign that he was otherwise than a good Catholic.

There was, then, nothing against the prisoner but the evidence of Giovanni Mocenigo.

After two months of imprisonment, Felipe Bruno was again led before his Judges. He had no confession to make and he emphasized the point that he had never wished to leave the Church. He repeated that in Paris he had endeavoured, through the Papal Nuncio and a Jesuit Father, to effect a reconciliation with Rome. He said he had composed a work on the seven liberal Arts which he desired to present to the Pope, and that for the future he had no wish other than to live a quiet, studious life.

He was sorry, he added, that he had given offence and scandal by leaving his convent and wandering over Europe. If his motives had been wild and wilful, he repented them, but it had been love of liberty and teaching that had inspired him. If that had given scandal, he repented it.

"Will you recant?" asked the Father Inquisitor softly. "Think well, my son."

"I do not see what I can recant. I am sorry for what I have done wrong, and if I have thought or talked falsely, I am sorry for that, too."

The prisoner stood silent for a second, a man in extremity, without friends or hope, utterly ruined and in peril of his life; the months he had spent in prison hung on him like a weight. He knew now that he spoke to men who could not understand, he was bowed, grey, ragged, his hands moved restlessly.

"You say you love your liberty?" remarked the Inquisitor in kindly tones; the words were echoed by the other Judges, and in the Court, a whisper that taunted the prisoner—"Loves liberty—loves liberty."

* * * * *

While Felipe Bruno lay in the Piombi of Venice, the great ones of the city disputed what they should do with him. They did not desire to mete out to him a severe punishment—a report of the trial had been sent to Rome and Rome had demanded that the heretic should be handed over to Papal jurisdiction; but this was not to the minds of the Doge and Council of Venice, who did not desire to acknowledge the supremacy of the Court of Rome. Venice prided herself not only on her independence but on the glory she enjoyed as an asylum for men of learning.

The Republic had protected many fugitives from all over Europe, whose opinions had been too daring for their native lands to endure. There was also a commercial reason for the hostility of Venice to Rome. The Papal dignitaries who enjoyed the profits of the Vatican printing press took advantage of their position to place on the Index as many foreign publications as possible, with the result that the great printing presses and book-selling businesses of Venice were crippled and, in some cases, ruined.

When, therefore, the Father Inquisitor in Venice forwarded to the secular authorities a demand from the Cardinal de San Severina, a demand that FrÓ Jordanus, as a spiritual offender, should be handed to the Governor of Ancona as representing the supreme tribunal of the Holy Office of Rome, the Venetians made demur and after some consultation replied that they would not yield one hair's breadth from the fundamental laws of their State, which it was their sacred duty to keep inviolate.

Among themselves they discussed the matter. One said that it was unfortunate that the man was a monk, another regretted that he had appealed to the Pope, as Paul had appealed to Caesar. Another, Procurator Serito Contarini, remarked:

"His errors in heresy are very grave, though as he showed before arrest, he possesses the most excellent rare mind, an exquisite learning and wisdom."

So these adroit, elegant and cultured worldly men discussed the fate of this stranger which had been so strangely and unexpectedly put in their hands. They puzzled over him a little for they were inclined to like him, for he was eloquent and full of strange knowledge. As to his past, what did they know of that? Was it true that when in England he had lived like the heretics? Was the accusation correct which declared that he had lived a licentious life in many countries, leaving scandal wherever he went? Did he know the diabolical arts?

It was Giovanni Mocenigo who was most zealous against him. He described with quiet fury all the actions of the monk, all his blasphemous words and devilish experiments.

"He has boasted," declared the young patrician, "that he knew black arts whereby he could rule the world."

Upon this assertion, one of the Senators smiled and said: "He does not know any arts whereby he may get himself out of prison."

The Doge of Venice, Pasquale Cicoga, on a crystal clear day in January, signed the decree which handed over Felipe Bruno to the Tribunal of the Inquisition at Rome. He and the Senate had decided to relinquish the monk because it was the easiest thing to do. Why not, they argued, please the Pope in a small thing when they intended to resist in larger matters?

This man was a stranger of no consequence, a Neapolitan; there had been indictments against him for heresy before, but he had always contrived to escape. He was poor and friendless, he had no means of bribing anyone and no patron to speak for him. It was a cheap way of pleasing His Holiness.

"It is," remarked the Doge, with a serene smile, "a difficult and tiresome business, one is well rid of it."

* * * * *

A few days later Felipe Bruno was brought from the prison where he had spent eight months, and handed over to a guard of Venetian soldiers, who were to deliver him into the custody of the Governor of Ancona, who was, in his turn, to see that the prisoner was conducted to Rome.

The prisoner was bowed and silent, unshaved and unwashed. He looked very insignificant in the midst of the well-fed, finely-clad soldiers on their handsomely appointed horses. A cart with some straw at the bottom was being prepared for him and as he entered this he looked round rapidly at the sky and drew a deep breath, expanded his chest and flared his nostrils. He had submitted to the Tribunal of the Inquisition, he had declared that he would amend what they had found wrong in his ways, and thus he believed for a moment that this might be liberty to which they were conducting him. So he asked the man whom he took to be the officer in charge of his guard whither he was going.

The soldier replied civilly that their first stage would be to Ancona and there they would deliver him to the Governor. Beyond that they had no orders.

Upon this the prisoner asked if he might have his books, they were unlawfully detained, he declared. "All my belongings were robbed from me by Giovanni Mocenigo. May I not at least have my manuscripts?"

"I should not ask for them, if I were you," replied the young officer, with some compassion, "for I think those manuscripts of yours are at the root of all the trouble."

The prisoner beat his hands, neatly shaped and covered with fine hair on the backs, on his breast. He was very poorly clad, his mantle and cloak and warm vests had been seized by Giovanni Mocenigo. His blood had been chilled in prison by lack of exercise and poor food, he was not used to confinement nor cramping his limbs in one position for hours. Therefore he shivered in the keen weather, which was yet pleasing to him in its purity and freshness.

"Does the Republic deliver me up?" he demanded. "Am I to be handed over to Rome?"

"I believe you appealed for that," said the young officer, still with an accent of compassion, "it would have been better if you had relied on the protection of the Republic."

"I have dedicated a book to His Holiness," the prisoner said. "I should like to deliver it to him and speak to him face to face. I am sure I should be able to convince him that I meant no offence either to the Church or any creature."

The young officer frowned, he was not happy for he had an uneasy sense that much was amiss in this matter.

"My papers were seized," continued Felipe Bruno. "Mocenigo had no right to do that—I wanted Wechel to print that book in Frankfurt." He glanced round with a smile. "Why am I to be taken in a cart? I am a good walker. I have tramped all over Europe, with not as much as a mule—it is true that I feel stiff now."

"They might," thought the officer uneasily, "have given him a horse—in a cart, like that!—as they take pigs and calves to be slaughtered."

He was abashed by the bright, steady eyes of the prisoner, which were fixed on him with a half humorous glance.

The Venetian cavalry broke into a trot and the driver touched up the mule in the cart. Felipe Bruno stretched himself on the straw and stared at the sky with the desperate avidity of a thirsty man drinking water.


XII. — HIS HOLINESS POPE CLEMENT VIII

"HE has been," said the Pope in a gentle, half hesitant tone, "seven years in prison. I believe he was one who loved liberty, a wanderer. It seems a long delay, I almost blame myself...It is difficult perhaps, to find a reason or an excuse."

He glanced with a hint of deference at the two great Cardinals who sat with him in his painted closet. Both of them were learned men, stalwart and remarkable pillars of the Church.

"Perhaps," concluded Clement VIII delicately, "he is punished enough?"

It was Cardinal Bellarmin who replied.

"We have had to be very patient, as your Holiness will realize, it is not an easy thing to bring to trial for heresy a Dominican, one of that order who are especially trained and inspired to nose out heresy. Shall we admit that there is a blasphemer in that choice company?"

The Pope did not immediately reply. He was a man of modest views, of a kindly and tolerant nature, and his anxiety to understand all the fine shades of right and wrong, his keen desire to be worthy of his responsible position, kept him in a continual state of nervous tension. He was not a saint like his predecessor, the thirteenth Gregory, nor an eager man of the world like Sixtus V, nor a rigid upholder of orthodoxy like the Dominican, Pius V, but he had the art of effacing himself in his office, of acting as a peace-maker in Europe and among the factions of the Church.

He was of the noble family of Aldobrandini; he would have found the world a brilliant place and considered his own life successful had it not been for the sensitiveness of his conscience; his youth had been that of a homeless exile, but the talents of his brothers had soon raised his fortune. In the vigour of his days he found himself in the position of Viceroy of God on earth, and sometimes it greatly troubled him. He could not rely on inspiration from on high for often the space between him and Heaven seemed dark and cloudy.

"Seven years," he repeated, "seven years."

And he looked from one to the other of the Cardinals—Bellarmin, the Jesuit, whom he had elevated the year before to the purple, and San Severina, who had stood at the right hand of so many Popes, who had saved the monuments of the city from the barbaric zeal of Sixtus V, who had himself been so sure of the Papacy that he had chosen his title.

Both these men represented at once bucklers and symbols of the Holy Roman Church. They were unflinching in their faith, upright in their lives, of stainless probity, of ascetic conduct, of vast learning. The Pope felt himself their inferior; his respect for Bellarmin was almost touched with awe; the Jesuit had such a prodigious knowledge it was like a powerful weapon in his hand.

His erudite books were of considerable number and almost of unlimited scope. When he had taught theology at Lorraine, Protestants from England and Holland had gone to listen to him, so dazzling was his reputation. He spoke Latin with the same ease and grace with which he employed his native Castilian tongue, on his manuscripts were no erasions, and when he was preaching or lecturing he never had to recall a word and never hesitated over a sentence. Never in his arguments did he employ disguise nor evasion, he stated the dogmas of the Church of Rome with unfaltering precision and brilliant clarity. The ranks of the heretics had not yet produced one who was his equal in polemics.

Small in stature, with an air of uncompromising dignity Roberto Bellarmin sat upright in his handsome chair with gilded arms and looked at the Pope with a glance which His Holiness uneasily interpreted as sharpened with contempt. Although this great Cardinal was a champion of Papacy, impeccable in his private character, and a jealous reformer of any possible corruptions among his own priesthood, yet the Pope did not like him either as man or as Prince of the Church.

"Bellarmin," Clement would say in his own heart, "is too sure of himself, never downcast nor doubtful, he never thinks he may be in the wrong."

His Holiness moved uneasily, played with the papers on his desk and swung in his slightly trembling fingers an onyx letter opener. He felt as if the terrible, implacable Cardinal was watching him, forcing him to do something that he disliked. With an effort over his own hesitation but reluctantly, the Pope said:

"May he not be returned to his monastery? From what I can hear of the evidence he has done nothing which might not be overlooked. His learning might be an asset to the Church, also. Let him retire to a convent in Naples and undergo there some course of penitence. Seven years in Castel Sant' Angelo, my lords, that is something."

"It has not been enough," replied Bellarmin; his voice had a sharp edge, like his small features, his precise slight face, it seemed metallic. "He has been, particularly in the early years of his imprisonment, visited by priests, by scholars, and urged to recant, but always his answer was, he could not even see his error."

"Recant what?" asked the Pope mildly. "I can find no definite heresy with which he had been charged."

"Your Holiness overlooks the fact," put in San Severina quietly, "that this Felipe Bruno maintains that the earth is not the centre of the Universe, but moves on its own axis and so round the sun—the Copernican heresy. He also refuses to recognize the authority of Aristotle; for that reason he has been turned out of almost every university in Europe."

"But these things," murmured His Holiness, "would you consider them a spiritual heresy?"

"What else are they?" demanded Bellarmin. "Do we not say—the Copernican heresy?"

"True," agreed the Pope, "but we are all of us liable to error, and this man may have been ill-educated. There is one, Galileo, whom the Doge of Venice has appointed to the Chair of Mathematics at Padua who, I have heard, although it may be false, avers that the Copernicus theory is not wholly ridiculous."

To this San Severina replied as if the matter deserved no other comment:

"Holiness, it is, however, completely blasphemous. Faith being above reason it is not for us to argue these matters."

The Pope sighed. He felt a weariness of the spirit and the body; he was ageing before his time; he wished that he had not to decide in this affair, he wished that Giovanni Mocenigo had never denounced the wandering monk to the Venetian Inquisition, he wished the free Doge of Venice had not relinquished his prisoner when he had been demanded of him. He longed to put the matter off, but he was aware that his Cardinals would not allow him to evade the issue.

"The books of this man—do they contain definite heresies?"

San Severina replied that he had never been able to find the leisure to come at these books, but Bellarmin, who with an immense intellectual activity had a zest for investigation, replied at once that he had read several of Felipe Bruno's works, taken from those seized at Venice.

"I find them execrable doctrines expressed in atrocious language," he said, "there is scarcely a page not full of errors, vile prosody, execrable grammar, all the laws of reason and sense broken."

The Pope smiled in a deprecating way. Cardinal Bellarmin was the great grammarian of his age and he seldom could take up a work without finding his favourite science had been many times outraged. Now, with precision and authority, he attacked the works of Felipe Bruno. The Latin, he declared, was so poor that it was even mingled with Italian and Neapolitan idioms. Vulgarisms abounded and the hexameters into which many of the so-called philosophic ideas were thrown, were wild, crippled, and maimed. The Pope interrupted:

"Ay, but the substance, Eminence, the substance. What does the man teach?"

Bellarmin lifted his thin shoulders.

"Pure blasphemy, in my judgement—a paganism, the old vile doctrines of heathen philosophers."

"Cannot he be brought to see his errors?" cried the Pope. "The man must have some gifts, some learning, and these should be turned to good account. I do not wish for the scandal of publicly punishing a Dominican."

"I have assured your Holiness," said San Severina, "that the man has been justly, even tenderly treated; he has been disputed with, he has been shown his errors, he has been urged to recant, and he still remains obstinate in his heresy."

The Pope murmured.

"That seems to me to show a rare constancy, after seven years of imprisonment. It is a pity that so much virtue should be dedicated to the Devil."

"Your Holiness," said the Jesuit, "speaks truth when you mention the Devil. I have been to the trouble to read the evidence that has been collected as to this man's life. He has given cause for scandal in several countries, he has lived loosely. When he fled from Naples he was accompanied by a woman of the streets and a murderer. In England he affected the company of freethinkers, atheists, and heretics. When he was in Frankfurt he dedicated a preface to the apostate Julius Henry of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel."

The Pope sighed again and shook his head. He felt bowed beneath the cold denunciation of the Jesuit as if he was the one who was being condemned.

"There is much sensual, nay, licentious matter in his works. Some of his comedies," continued the relentless Cardinal, "are obscene and deal with the most filthy of vices. This man at an early age knew too much for a monk; he celebrates the beauties of women, profane love, he praises the pagan gods and goddesses as if they were nearer to him than the saints of the Christian Church."

The Pope's fine lips moved uneasily. His own life was pure; like the two men who stood before him he had never had a sensual thought. Ascetic, severe, lofty-minded, the thought of carnal corruption to him was horrible—in a monk, disgusting. Yet in this respect he remained tolerant, it never was the custom of the Church to press accusations of carnal sins against her priesthood. These were human failings and they might be absolved or forgiven.

"What are the charges of heresy?" he demanded.

"They have been extracted from his writings and the evidence of his trial in Venice, they shall be put before your Holiness."

The Pope's delicate hand made a gesture of refusal, not untinged with disgust.

"And the man himself, what of him?"

"He has always seemed confident of a reconciliation with the Church. He declared when he was arrested in Venice that he was coming to Rome voluntarily. Sometimes I think he is a madman, for he wishes," added Bellarmin, with more passion than he had yet shown, "to see your Holiness face to face. He has an appeal, he says, to Caesar, and none but Caesar shall hear it."

The Pope averted his glace; again he fumbled with the onyx paper-knife.

"He has dedicated a book to me—the manuscript was found—the seven liberal Arts—I wonder why?"

"At one of the universities, I forget which, where he taught in Germany," said San Severina, "he uttered a panegyric upon Luther, and yet he declares that no form of Protestantism is agreeable to him, that he has embraced no other religion, nor does he love any so well as the Church in which he was nurtured. Such impudence does the Devil lend him that he protests that in no part of his works has he expressly censored any Catholic dogma."

"What manner of man is he?" asked the Pope, still without glancing at either of the two priests before him and speaking with lips that trembled, not from old age.

"A restless, a passionate spirit," replied the Jesuit, "from what I can hear from those who have examined him. He loves life and the company of his fellows."

"What age is he?" asked the Pope.

"About fifty years, I should think."

"The full vigour and flower of his days," said Clement VIII, thoughtfully, "and shut away for seven years. He has not been allowed books, pen or paper, no occupation, no company?"

"None," replied Bellarmin, "except that of those priests and doctors who go to argue with him on his heresy, and of late we have not sent those, knowing it is hopeless. Your Holiness can delay no longer, the man must be made an example."

"Does he not make any demands?" asked Clement VIII.

"Only those which I have mentioned—he desires to speak to your Holiness face to face, and that you should read some of his writings, notably that which he has entitled Of Immensity. He declares that though he is desirous to be reconciled with the Church he does not wish to re-enter a monastery, nor to remain constant to his vows, which were taken, he said, when he was a child and he knew not what he did."

The Pope did not answer. With a certain impatience, San Severina added quickly, as if his speech were a continuation of Bellarmin's words:

"We shall not break his spirit, I believe he has infernal consolation. We must make an end of him."

"Let him," sighed the Pope, "be brought to trial."

In his heart he added: 'It seems as if indeed I could do nothing more to persuade them to charity.'

The Cardinals took their leave with an air of satisfaction at a disagreeable and vital duty having been performed. The Pope envied them their formal self-complacency, their implacable air of rectitude. He wished that he could feel so self-assured, so confident that he was right. Why had God, in His infinite wisdom, given that moral certitude to Julio Antonio Santorio, Cardinal San Severina, to Roberto Francesco Bellarmin, and not to him, who had been elected Christ's Viceroy on earth?

Slowly, within his cabinet where the daylight darkened and where he had through his small window a narrow glimpse of Rome glittering in the fiery air of sunset, the Pope struck the table with an impotent hand and exclaimed on a quavering breath:

"If only I could feel so sure! If only I could feel so sure!"

He loathed shedding unnecessary blood when so much guilty blood had to flow. He was shaken by the horrible crimes that were committed in the Imperial city and which he had to punish. Two noble women had lately knelt at the block for the most hideous of murders, between them they had conspired to kill a man who was the father of one, the husband of the other.

The Pope, shrunk together with anguish, had sat in his closet gazing at the clock, waiting for that moment when Lucrezia Cenci would be kneeling at the block, when there would be that prearranged pause during which he should give her absolution. Her pardon had been in his power, but he had not dared to give it; there were too many of such crimes. These Dominicans—one of them had murdered the King of France to whom this FrÓ Jordanus had dedicated a book. Was FrÓ Clemente saint or murderer?

Mercy was in the Pope's power again; the man who had lain in his prison for seven years might be set free. What mischief could one poor, perhaps crazy, philosopher do the might of Rome? Even men like San Severina and Bellarmin had not been able to discover much that was wrong or heretical in his works, only quibbles, straw-splitting after all, errors of grammar, of theology, men like the two Cardinals cared for nothing else...

But Clement VIII knew that the things of the spirit were beyond the confines of grammar and the laws of Ptolemy. The Cardinals would give this Felipe Bruno's body to the flames and his soul to Hell...The Pope stared at the gold and red of the sunset, gazed past the domes and towers of Rome, which were a dark outline against the flaming sky. His power weighed on him like a chain round the feet, shackling him to earth.

"If I am God's Viceroy, why do I feel so diffident, so self-critical, so ill-assured?"

He rose, and with uncertain steps that were no longer those of a man in full vigour went to the window; his monstrous palace lay about him like a prison.

"If I am God's Viceroy, why do I feel so far from God?"


XIII. — IMMENSITY

FELIPE BRUNO had remained alone for months in his dungeon. He was no longer visited by priests who endeavoured to convince him of his errors, and to make him recant them. Food and water were placed through a grille in the door once a day, and occasionally an imbecile-looking monk with one eye and who limped as if his rotted limbs had been twisted on the rack, entered to clean out the cell.

The prisoner was often astonished at the power of his body to resist the slow torment of seven years' imprisonment. It had survived without sunshine, with little air, with poor, coarse food, brackish water, with no exercise, surrounded by filth and foulness, sometimes chained for days together, for nearly as long a period as he had employed in those wanderings over Europe. At first there had been a decent lodging, a little liberty, even books to read, but for months only this abject treatment.

The prisoner often looked at his withered limbs, caked with dirt, in amazement. How was it that he, denied every necessity of health, had not become crippled, paralysed, useless! And how was it that his intellect had preserved its strength and integrity?

With neither companionship nor occupation, tormented by the trivial arguments of ignorant men, shut away from all communication with his fellows, he, who had so loved the air, and liberty, and life and companionship, yet remained sane, clear-headed, serene.

He did not know how long he had been in the Castel Sant' Angelo, but he believed that a great space of time had passed since he had last beheld the sky, and yet the sky was ever present within his prison, and sometimes he seemed to sit among the stars, sometimes be throned above the sun, flowers would bloom thickly in the straw on which he couched, and a woman with the face of Marie de Castelnau often spent long watches with him, seated by his side and holding his hand.

He saw Fleurette moving easily among all the swirling spheres, which had no place for the throne of God, but which allowed this child to pass direct from their brightness into the Roman prison.

The prisoner shared his food, to which his stomach never became accustomed and of which he ate very little, with a rat he grew to love. The beast was very tame, it would run up his legs and sit on his knee—a dainty fellow, he would clean his whiskers after each meal. The prisoner admired his small, clean hands.

"I wish I could wash myself like you do, little beast, I wish I had some running water to drink, to bathe in."

He made the motions like the rat made as if he washed his hands one inside the other. His mind would go back to the day when he had left Naples, to the man whom his brother had murdered lying dead there on the pallet bed, while he, the priest meditated and washed his hands with, outside, the dangerous book thrust in the manure heap and overhead the falling stars.

"When are they going to make an end of me? Is it possible they will listen to me yet? I think if I could speak to the Pope. And yet, it matters very little."

Sometimes he felt rather sorry for his persecutors, they seemed to him like flies on a dung-heap, wallowing in filth. Then he would be filled with a noble rage against them, a scorn of their pretences, their pedantry, their arrogance. How furious the priests who visited him had been when he had maintained that the sun was not fixed in the centre of enveloping spheres! What could that matter to them, why should knowledge and wisdom be shackled because of pedagogues and fools?

They had pleaded with him eagerly, almost piteously. He knew that they did not want the scandal, the degradation, and the taking off of a Dominican. "If you will only recant," they had said, "if you will admit your error and return to the fold of the Church..." But never had he been tempted.

At Venice, he had told the judges that some of his earlier writings were full of mistakes, that in much he had revised his early judgements, but by his later works he stood. How can one deny a truth when once one has seen it face to face? Atheist, they called him, he who had considered the world and everything in the world down to the tiniest leaf, to be the image and likeness of God. They had called him a "materialist," he who had demanded freedom of spirit and soul, he who believed in the reality of the unseen and the existence of the unknown. Because he said that the earth moved round the sun, one of a system of countless orbs, they said that he was a blasphemer. Did not, on the contrary, such a belief tend to the infinite glory of God?

His hand, which had been beautiful and was now lean, withered, and discoloured, stroked the glossy head of the rat which delicately nibbled his portion of coarse food and looked at him as fearlessly as he had looked at his judges.

* * * * *

Sometimes it was not so easy, a light fever would shake him and he would dream heavily and re-live broken portions of his life, knowing these to be fictions, uneasily endeavouring to shake free of them, as dead husks of dead events. Woods and groves haunted him, woods full of flowers, groves peopled by nymphs, purple-garbed and broad-browed, sometimes the Nine, seated in a circle. Then he was traversing a crooked street in Oxford, and street boys were casting stones at him, while Jakin watched him with sorrowful eyes, with a tuft of white lamb's wool in her hand near the Black Friars (so they named his Order in London) where she lived. Then he was lecturing in a gigantic Aula to a shadowy crowd of shifting forms that dissolved, divided, joined, changed shape—doctors, pedants, monks, students, gowned, robed, with glittering rings and chains. As he broke free from this fantasy he would find himself traversing the long, lonely reaches of the Alps, chill with the early snow, or the dark valley of the Arc, or clearing a way through the mists of Lombardy, in the rifts of which appeared the face of Giulia.

There were worse nights than these, when with aching head and limbs he tossed on his straw and felt nothing about him but a blackness like annihilation, when his body was sick and his heart riven with weariness.

He thought much of the cupola which he had seen as they brought him into Rome; he believed that it could be seen from his prison—he had marked the position of his cell when he was brought there—yes, behind that blank wall of grey stone were the Angels on the Bridge, the Tiber, and the cupola completed by the pride and zeal of Sixtus V.

The Pope frequently came to the mind of the prisoner, the desire to see the supreme head of the Church was strong within him and he often spent hours composing the speeches he would make could he have, even for half an hour, the ear of Clement.

One night, when he was very exhausted and had eaten nothing for two days because of nausea, this dream came to him.

* * * * *

His soul rose from his body and looked down with compassion at the mean heap of flesh and bones shivering on the dirty straw, then passed through the prison walls and out into the far-away night. It was very still, only the waters of the turbid river moved swiftly between the high banks; the soul of Felipe Bruno passed over the Tiber and looked back at the Angel with the sword above the prison where his body lay. He was wafted steadily, like a low wind from the hills, through the quiet streets; he turned aside to look at the Dominican monastery in the Piazza Sopra Minerva; he could see through the walls and behold all the brethren in their cells, some sleeping quietly like animals, some tossing in the grip of vile dreams. Across the vast Piazza of St. Peter he drifted, filled with immeasurable happiness. The Crucifix on the Obelisk showed metallic in the moonlight, the mighty bulk of the Church and Palace rose high, blotting out the stars with grandeur.

The soul of Felipe Bruno passed between the helmeted guards in their scarlet and yellow, pacing up and down with halberds over their shoulders, and moved through a labyrinth of chambers and corridors where small lamps, whose guidance he did not need, sparkled on the walls. He was before a tall gilt door in front of which a soldier stood motionless.

Felipe Bruno passed within the Pope's bedchamber and drew aside the curtains of the tented bed.

"Ippolito Aldobrandini!"

The sleeping man, sunk in his down cushions, tossed uneasily. "Seven years," he muttered, "a long time—for one who loved liberty—"

"Ippolito Aldobrandini!"

Felipe Bruno felt a mist between himself and the Pope, who, however, he could see very clearly, asleep in his elegant luxury; he was full of tenderness and compassion, of a vast desire to make the other understand. He bent as if to embrace, to kiss the uneasy sleeper.

* * * * *

The Pope awoke with a cry that brought to his side his secretary, who slept in the next room.

"Holiness!"

"I was startled. What was it? I was dreaming of—" he broke off as if he feared to betray himself. "I woke suddenly—I thought something bright was hovering over me—like a bird," he added with a foolish smile.

In the dungeon of the Inquisition, Felipe Bruno shivered in all his wasted limbs and woke. His window looked on a blank wall, on this was a patch of moonlight, the reflection of which fell, faintly luminous, into the prison. Exhausted, he gazed at this vague light. It seemed very strange to be confined in this filthy dungeon when he had just been free of immensity.

* * * * *

The tribunal of the Roman Inquisition sat to consider the case of Felipe Bruno. When the prisoner was brought before his judges, of whom His Eminence Cardinal Madrucci was the chief, they saw a miserable-looking creature, a bent man who walked slowly and dragged one leg behind him, who was covered by hair as if he had been a beast or a heathen Pan, whose teeth were broken, whose eyes were sunken, whose ragged secular dress was so filthy that to enable him to present a decent appearance before the Tribunal an old serge coat had been given him by one of the monks.

He was questioned on his life and on his philosophy, and having answered in nothing to the satisfaction of the Judges, he was given forty days in which he was, once more and for the last time, to consider his case. He was told he had a chance, and one only, to save himself from death and from damnation, and that was to acknowledge as heresies the eight points found in his work by Cardinal Bellarmin, to submit himself to the doctrines of the Church, and to surrender unconditionally his philosophies.

* * * * *

The prisoner was sent back to his cell and there came to visit him the General of the Dominican Order, Ippolito Maria Beccaria, and his Vicar, Paulo della Mirandola, and to him, out of courtesy to the Order of Saint Dominic, the prisoner spoke, though to all others he had been silent.

"I ought not to recant, and I will not recant. I have nothing to recant nor any reason to recant, nor know not what I should recant."

The General of the Dominicans answered softly, pointing out how impossible it was for the Order who were the watchdogs of the fold, to produce a heretic.

"Heretic I am not," replied Bruno. "I have always interpreted dogmas approved by the Church—my masters were Lull, a monk, and Cusanus, a Cardinal."

"Cardinal Bellarmin has discovered eight heresies in your works," said Beccaria. "Admit them and be set at liberty. His Holiness is a merciful man."

The prisoner did not answer for a moment; he leaned against the wall, for he was weak in his body; it was strange to see the two Dominicans in their black and white habits standing in the dim, grey light of his cell, with their keen, thin ascetic faces "the hounds of God," well, they had run him to earth. He felt an affection for them, too, he had never ceased to admire and respect his Order, though he knew there were many ignorant, stupid men within it.

The General continued to urge him, quoting Saint Dominic, Saint Anthony, Pius V, Saint Thomas Aquinas, would he disgrace all these, making himself out no better than an atheist?

"It cannot be proved that I am a heretic, an apostate, an atheist. I do not think Aristotle was infallible, I consider the world to be the image of God, I believe the Universe to be vaster than the mind of man can yet conceive, I believe that God dwells in immensity, in the smallest flower and in the mind of man. These things I will not recant."

Beccaria was silent for a moment, fingering his black cowl, then he asked gently:

"Why? One of your intelligence should be able to reconcile his own beliefs with what the Church requires. I have said, the Pope is clement, he wishes to save you. Give way, save scandal, save yourself—renounce these philosophies, these speculations which are, after all, barren and vain, renounce these absurd theories, these Copernican heresies, of the Universe, which are rejected by all men of sense—why cannot you?" insisted Beccaria, sadly. "You have had seven years of—this—"

"I thought, Reverence, it was longer. Why? Because I will not deny my God as you will not deny yours."

"You know what the sentence will be, FrÓ Jordanus."

"I do," said Felipe Bruno quietly. "That will be the shame of the Church, not mine. I thank my God that silence and misery, darkness and pain have not broken my fortitude, nor clouded my mind. There is ever One whispering in my ear—I set out to serve Truth—I have been passionate, eager, a wanderer, in love with life—I, for seven years have dwelt here, Reverend Father, set apart, housed with vermin. I have not changed. You see me, I am vile to look at, lamed, filthy, bent, ragged—I think I have forgotten—I with my science of memory!—a great deal—but it is only my body that is broken. I, Felipe Bruno, the Nolan, have nothing left but this poor body, and that I offer to torture, to death, thus setting myself free."

"Abjure!" cried Beccaria, in a strongly moved voice. "Abjure this obdurate heresy!"

Paulo della Mirandola added:

"It will be death by fire."

The prisoner sighed.

"I have prayed to be—even as a flame of fire. What compared to the stars that will welcome me will be your puny flames? What did I write once?—'There be men in whom the will of God is so powerful that neither threats nor contumely can cause them to waver—'"

"Blasphemy!" interrupted Beccaria. "Cease to repel us, we are here to save you from torment—"

"He who fears for his body has never felt himself to be one with God. I have been strangely upheld—I bless my Creator. At first I suffered and was impatient. All, all past, even Dominic himself, at first I saw him with his hound, zealous to hunt me down—but when last he came he had lilies in his arms."

"He raves, his reason is unsettled," whispered Mirandola, plucking his General by the black sleeve.

Felipe Bruno heard the whisper and smiled.

"Be at rest, I am not mad. I have endured much and what is to come I can endure."

Beccaria then quoted some of the findings of Cardinal Bellarmin, who had been entrusted with the legal side of Felipe Bruno's case.

"Bellarmin," replied the prisoner without passion, "is a violent man, a pedant, narrow, stupid and hostile to truth—I despise him."

"Where do you get this infernal courage?" cried Beccaria, much moved by this, as it seemed to him, desperate obstinacy.

"Oh, Reverend Father," cried Felipe Bruno in an exhausted voice, "it will be such a little while before all men see what I see. You narrow your faith and mar your creed and defile your God—you, who call yourselves guardians of Truth, of the spiritual, of the unseen! Begone, what I have said I shall not recant."

The two Dominicans withdrew sadly. As they left the prison their faces were hidden in their black cowls and they muttered prayers.

When the strangers had gone, the rat crept out of his hole and finished his meal of crumbs, which had been interrupted by their entry.

Watching the silent prisoner with unblinking eyes, he moved daintily over the imprint the monk's sandals had left on the damp floor.

* * * * *

In the Palace of the Chief Inquisitor, Cardinal Madrucci, the Congregation met to consider finally the case of Felipe Bruno, known as FrÓ Jordanus, or Giordano, the Nolan.

A fortnight before, the General of the Dominicans had reported to His Holiness that the prisoner had refused to recant or to admit any taint of heresy. The forty days allowed since he had last been brought to trial were up and the Pope had decreed that the prisoner, as an obstinate heretic, should be delivered to the temporal power.

Felipe Bruno was brought from the prisons of the Dominican monastery adjoining the Church in the Piazza of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, where he had been transferred shortly before, thus being placed in the power of his own Order.

Eighteen years before he had resided in this convent; he recalled the stout monk who had warned him, the flocks of pigeons wheeling, iris-hued, overhead, the elegant fašade of the worn, polished, antique temple.

The Dominicans treated him with silent severity; he was grateful to them for abstaining from all argument. They allowed him to wash, to shave, to cut his hair; a long and painful attention to his wretched body changed his appearance from that of an ape or satyr to a spectre of a man. Felipe Bruno understood what lay behind this sinister care. The day of his trial he was brought the familiar white robe, the scapulary, the black cloak and cowl.

"So everything has been decided. Today I am to be degraded and sentenced."

He felt as if a door had suddenly been opened in front of him, a sense of beauty, of completeness, of triumph possessed him; even his broken body was clean, as if it had never been soiled.

He asked if he might have pen and paper, with which to write to the Pope. They gave him this without comment.

How strange the heavy, sombre habit felt again. He remembered the white robe Giulia had stitched for him, the black cloak that had been used as a pillow, as a blanket—the dirty scapulary that he had preserved so long.

He wrote his letter to Clement VIII; it was a brief memorial in which he stated his case without rhetoric or appeals. The prisoner of the Inquisition, already condemned, without fear or anger conjured the Pontiff to raise the Church from the mire of error and superstition and to admit within her darkness the lamp of Divine Truth.

"How strange the pen feels after so long," he smiled, looking at his crooked letters, his ragged lines.

* * * * *

On his way to the Palazzo Madrucci, the prisoner saw the world again, the sky, the pigeons, bright faces, a basket of the first chill flowers, a man at a window playing a rebec, a girl leaning on the arm of her lover.

For the first time he thought of the grave of Marie de Castelnau in the far, foggy island—Why her grave? What did that matter?

Nola—Cicala, the house with the broken alabaster threshold. Never would he behold these with mortal eyes. Not footsore, bent and poor would he return to the happy fields, but in the wind that blew through the haunted groves where he had seen the spirits when he was a child.

* * * * *

The prisoner did not glance at the splendour of his surroundings nor at the magnificent figures of his Judges; his gaze went straight to that of one other man and held it—Clement VIII and Felipe Bruno gazed at each other, one enthroned on the dais, the other standing between his guards.

He was asked by the notary present if he had anything to say, any reason to give why he had resisted the tender efforts of so many holy men to induce him to recant of his errors, and if he realized the peril in which he stood. Upon this the prisoner, still gazing at the Pope, replied:

"What have I to do but to await the end, or what you think is the end?"

The prisoner then remaining silent, the General of his Order read his report. It was that FrÓ Jordanus made no recantation, but maintained on the contrary that his opinions had been ill-interpreted by the ministers of the Holy Office, he not professing any sort of heresy. Beccaria then added that in the great kindness of their hearts they had allowed the prisoner pen and paper which he, though professing he found it difficult to write after seven years' idleness, had prepared a memorial for His Holiness, and the folded paper covered with cramped letters was handed up to the Pope where he sat enthroned.

The prisoner's dark eyes which burned with the fire of fantasy, eagerly marked this action, and stepping forward so that the jangling of his wrist chains made a noise in the courteous silence of the chamber, he said:

"I appeal to your Holiness to read what is written therein."

It seemed to Clement VIII as if there were only the two of them present, as if they were alone in a great space with the wind cleaving past them; he felt a sense of hallucination, an odd recollection, a dream within a dream, of a voice calling to him "Ippolita Aldobrandini" and a bright creature like a bird, hovering near his breast.

He made a movement as if to repel this vision and as he did so the prisoner's letter fell from his hand. Cardinal Bellarmin picked it up and said harshly:

"Will not your Holiness proceed to judgement?"

The Pope did not reply, he remained rigid on his throne, gazing from under weary lids at the prisoner—this Dominican in his clean black and white habit, with the shaven face, who seemed to have no flesh on his bones, whose wasted features were as worn and fine as if wrought in rubbed, old silver.

The Pope thought of the splendour of Rome, of the cupola, glittering with the regal tints of copper in the sun, of the Obelisk, dragged from the Circus of Nero with such labour, of the splendours of this year of his Jubilee, this first year of a new century—the year sixteen hundred of Our Lord.

Sixteen hundred years after Jesus Christ died to save mankind and he, poor Ippolito Aldobrandini, was seated on the throne of God's Viceroy on earth, and this man, accused of heresy, was gazing at him with those steady eyes that challenged and condemned.

Under his official robes the ageing burdened man trembled. He reminded himself that he had converted the King of France, that he had conquered Ferrara, deposing the rebellious family of D'Este, that he was siding with the Dominicans in their struggle with the heresy of Molinos. But did any of that please God? Did God enter into anything that he, shrewd, able, well meaning, had done? Was not Gregory XIII a saint and Sixtus V a man of God, yet Gregory had been seen by Sixtus, in a dream, writhing in Hell.

Cardinal Madrucci spoke, the business of the Court proceeded. The Pope made a mechanical gesture of assent to this; he saw a regal contempt in the prisoner's eyes and bent his head.

The monks behind Felipe Bruno forced him on his knees, holding him down firmly, for when they relaxed their hold they felt he was striving to get to his feet. He had already seen the Governor of Rome was present and he knew that this meant he was about to be handed over to the civil authority. He wished to stand to affront his doom.

Sentence was then read, together with the history of his life and the tenor of his studies and doctrines, and the diligence the Holy Inquisition had used in paternally admonishing him and with what impiety their efforts had been rejected. He was then declared an apostate from the Order of the Preachers and an impenitent heretic.

All the while the eyes of the man on his knees searched for those of the Pope, who would not look at him.

The words he had used for one of his satires came into his mind—"the Triumphant Beast"—some had thought he had meant the Pope—poor, weak old man, tool of the pedants and the schoolmen. No, the triumphant beast was intangible, the monster of ignorance and superstition, of bigotry and malice.

Some of the sentences in the official form of the sentence of the Inquisition, read in a tedious, monotonous voice by a sickly-looking man wearing spectacles, struck against the prisoner's aloof thoughts:

"...You, a priest and nurtured in the Holy Catholic Church, not having any esteem for the Holy Catholic Faith...(the convent in Naples, the perfumed cloisters, the long hot hours, the serene ceremonies that he had loved). You have been arraigned and prosecuted and found criminal...(the poverty, the wandering, the endeavour to find the truth, to preach the truth, the life deprived of all security and pleasure, the seven years' imprisonment—found criminal!) You have not reformed nor improved...Your established continuance in errors and intercourse with heretics—your hopeless depravity...(Errors! These men who believed in Ptolemy and Aristotle—heretics! Philip Sidney, Julius Henry! Depravity, the kindnesses of women, the dying glance of Marie de Castelnau!) You are an impenitent heretic, a dissembling convert and debased...and we condemn you to the forfeiture of all your property, personal and real...(What have I ever had save my books Mocenigo robbed me of? And those few presents I had in England which the servants stole?)."

When this long, monotonous reading of formalities to which no one listened save the prisoner, had come to the last words "so we Cardinals, Inquisitors-General whose names are written beneath decree," Felipe Bruno was dragged to his feet, and the sentence of degradation from his priesthood pronounced. This ceremony was performed by the Bishop of Sidonia: "Separo to ab Ecclesia militante..."

The black cowl and cloak, the white robe were stripped from Felipe Bruno, the scapulary was removed from his shoulders, he stood as erect as his body, bent from hardship, would permit, in his under-tunic.

All the while the Pope did not look up; high-throned among the purple-clad Cardinals, he kept his glance upon his delicate, slightly trembling hands.

The officials of the Inquisition then delivered the prisoner to the secular arm of the Law, and the soldiers of the Governor of Rome advanced to seize him. As they laid hands upon him, Felipe Bruno turned to his Judges and said, high and clear in the silence:

"I appeal from your verdict to that of posterity!"

At these words the Pope looked up sharply; his face was haggard and his eyes startled as if he had been the one who had been condemned. He spoke, and his voice was not that of a pontiff, but of a man as he whispered: "What does he say?" And he shrank back in his throne.

At this the prisoner smiled and said:

"Maybe you fear more to deliver judgement upon me than I fear judgement."

There was an air of menacing grandeur in his aspect as if he spurned a rabble who vexed him.

The Pope, hesitant, took the memorial from the desk where it had been placed, opened the paper, then let it fall on his knees and glanced at Cardinal Bellarmin. There was a pause, the Pope looked again at the prisoner, then without a word, folded up the unread memorial and handed it to the secretary.

The prisoner smiled as he was led out.

The Dominicans picked up and dusted the clean black and white habit soiled by contact with the floor.

In the registry of expenses kept by the Pontifical depository and administered by Signor Guiseppe Guistiani, a clerk made a neat entry under the date, 8th February, 1600.

"The Bishop of Sidonia, for the degradation of Felipe Bruno, heretic...twenty-seven scudi."


XIV. — THE FIELD OF FLOWERS

THE new Roman streets were crowded with pilgrims for the Jubilee; fifty Cardinals had assembled to do honour to the Pontiff; the splendid thoroughfares built by Sixtus V were thronged with travellers, with sightseers, with traffickers in every manner of vice; traders, merrymakers, jobbers and loose women competed for the money of the foreigners; the church bells mingled with the cries of the hawkers and the melodies of the wandering musicians.

The cupola of Saint Peter's was complete and it rose, a symbol and a challenge, into a stainless sky, attracting glances of awe, admiration, and reverence. The Crucifix on the Obelisk that Sixtus V had raised in the great Piazza, glittered, metallic, implacable in the early spring sunshine. Everywhere was life and movement and gaiety, tumult and turmoil, above the trumpets of the soldiery, the hoofs of the cavalry, the pipes and tabors of merrymakers, the beats of the drums, rose the strident clamour of the monks selling indulgences or offering to show miraculous relics to the sightseers. Even the outcasts of Rome, the pauper pilgrims, the outlaws, who gathered in the Field of Flowers, the dismal riverside slums of Caesar's city, had their amusement.

Before the tattered canvas that tented a ruined hut, a stout, pallid man of about thirty with a vacant face, beat a drum as he bent his ear to listen vacantly to his own music. Within the tent a raddled woman was mending the green skirts of one of the dolls; now there were so many strangers in Rome, spending money, perhaps they would earn a few more pence and be able to buy clean petticoats and jackets for the puppets who worked in the little travelling show that had come to Rome for the Jubilee.

As she heard the sound of a crowd going past the tent she came to the door and bade the young man cease beating his drum for it was very early—hours before the puppet show. She spoke listlessly, for she knew that it was impossible to silence him when he was in the mood to rap out his harsh and monotonous measure; he was a skilful taberer, and knew how to blow the pipe and beat the drum and dance at once when he was in the mood.

He looked up at her and grinned, showing his toothless gums; the greenish light of the pallid morning was over everything.

"Hi, Giulia," he cried, "here comes a procession and I am going to beat time to it. One, two, three, four—here they come—quickly, too!"

The master of the puppet show came to the opening of the tent and peered without curiosity at the approaching crowd. It was nothing extraordinary—the burning of a heretic, he had seen the stake and faggots being made ready in the Campo di Flori the night before; he returned grumbling to the darkness of the hovel, regretting his lost slumber.

Giulia remained, fascinated by the still horror of pity that always moved her at such sights, standing behind the idiot drummer. For years she had known no pleasure and little peace of mind, never, perhaps, since she had wandered into the Lombard fog to seek her companion and been lost, ay, ever since, lost and wandering to find home. She had become, in her degradation, very religious, and often crept out to pray to an image of the Blessed Virgin. She believed that it was in answer to one of these prayers that she had been allowed to meet the taberer, who had grown fat and did not know her, but who reminded her of Naples and one who was lost, who ought to be forgotten.

Above the filth of the streets the pure air of early spring flowed sweetly.

Giulia could see the heretic chained by the neck in the midst of the soldiers and Dominicans, and brothers of the Misercordia of San Giovanni Decollato, who were pursuing him, urging him to recant. He wore the san benito, the dress of those condemned by the Inquisition—a sulphur-coloured scapulary having on each division flames, devils, and the Cross of St. Andrew, and on the head a ridiculous bonnet.

He was hurried along, his bare feet bleeding, over the rough, dirty tufa stones; he often stumbled. Giulia, with the stillness of horror, stared at the faces of the monks, some of them were blotched and diseased, bitten by plague marks, some were vacant and idiotic; she saw their rough hands and red wrists as their sleeves fell back as they held aloft their crosses. One had a red-hot crucifix held in a pair of pincers that he approached to the face of the prisoner which Giulia could not see because of the scarlet and yellow hood and the press of people. Some of the monks carried torches, flaring in the increasing daylight.

"He speaks," cried a man, jostling past in the crowd.

"He says, I die a martyr and willingly—'"

"He refuses all consolation!" cried another. "He says his soul will ascend upon the smoke to Paradise—"

"But now," exclaimed the monk with the red-hot crucifix, "he will blaspheme no more!"

Giulia shrank back within the ragged canvas; the procession had paused a few doors away; she understood from the excited shouts of the crowd that they were gagging the prisoner. For a second he turned to them, a terrible menacing countenance, rejecting them with an unmoved constancy. He quoted one long dead who had always been dear to him: "What power was needed to unite that which is divine in me with that which is divine in the Universe!"

Giulia could see nothing but the movement of the painted devils on the scapulary in the midst of the monk's robes; there were two Jesuits singing Litanies close to the silenced prisoner. She began to weep, and her face, in which there was no longer any beauty, was convulsed in a grimace of despair. There was so much she would have liked to question. Why was she a harlot who took no delight in her trade? Why was she now growing old and hideous so that not even by selling her body could she earn her bread? Why was there no pleasure in anything? Soon she would be too tired to pull the strings of the dolls and mimic their voices.

She sobbed to the idiot taberer to cease his drum, but he screamed out in delight that the procession was still going past, the great crowd of people armed with stones and sticks to cast at the heretic who was to burn on the Campo dei Fiori—eh! what a number of foreigners there were in Rome! All day long singing and processions.

The rabble passed by, thinned out, and could be heard shouting in the distance.

"He is dying now," muttered Giulia, with her hand before her wrinkled eyes, "we ought to pray—O Blessed Virgin, full of pity!

"A funeral march," smiled the taberer, "I ought to play a funeral march as I do at the end of the play when the big doll—the King—is slain."

He slung his tabor on his belt and began to tap softly on the drum, his ear bent in an attitude of listening as if, with the steady beats of his funeral measure, he followed a rhythm very familiar to him, but unknown to the casual ear.

"When I am in trouble and danger, O Courage, with the voice of thy lively persuasion, fail not to murmur in my ear the sentence: 'Tu ne cede Malis, sed contra audentior ito.'"

* * * * *

The light wind from the hills, fresh with the honey of cyclamen and violet, scattered the ashes of Felipe Bruno over the dirty square of the Roman slum, and shook the casement of the Roman palace where the Pope sat alone in his closet. The aged man looked up startled, expectant, as if he had heard one whisper:

"Ippolito Aldobrandini!"

The wind passed on, blowing southwards.


THE END

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