Tenth instalment of a novel
by Col. Remy, D.s.o.
Gerard, a young priest in the hands of the Communists, is tricked into signing a confession that he Is a Vatican spy by a man who was once a priest himself but has now turned Communist. Girard is thrown into prison, but the ex-priest, who is bitterly anti-God, keeps Gerard's box containing the Sacred Vessels and the Pyx enclosing the Sacred Host. Now read on.
THE woman smoked her cigar
ette and watched the man who was pacing up and down in her little drawing-room. His head was Kent, his hands folded on his breast. "I shall never cure him of that habit," sire thought. smiling. "How can anyone, seeing him for the first time, not notice at once that he's a priest?"
She stubbed out her cigarette in the ash-try, stretched herself and yawned: "You're not very talkative this evening?"
The man behaved as if he hadn't hen rd. "Trouble?" she insisted. "Is it serious?"
lie stopped and stared at her as though he had only just become conscious that a stranger was present in this delicately furnished sitting-room with its soft and perfumed warmth. "It's too dark to see!" sighed the woman, and she lit a lamp that was placed near her on a small round table. "Put out that light!"
She obeyed him, in surprise.
"But whatever's the matter? You haven't said one word to me since you came, an hour ago. . . . Always this spy they're talking about and whom they can't get hold of? Is that it'?"
In the street the lamps went on and the crude light from the one outside suddenly brightened part of the room. The black box, still stained with mud, lay on the wall table.
"You've stilt not told me what's in that dirty box?" teased the woman.
As he did not answer, she went over to the table and picked it up, unhindered. "Bless me," she exclaimed, ". . . then, it was a cure? Now I see what it's all about!"
The sacred vessels shone under
her eyes. She smiled: "How odd . • , it's almost Like a little toilet-yeti Where did this idiot you've arrested come from?" "From Rome."
"Atil He's an Italian 7" "No, French."
"A Frenchman! Come to Roumania? Today? When he was lucky enough to live in Paris!" "You forget that he's a priest." "What of it? Weren't you a priest, too? I'd give my all if only I could live in Paris!"
HE shrugged his shoulders and turned away from the woman, who put the Pyx down on the table and went on with her inspection. "Ah! This looks like a shaving dish!" she said. picking up the paten. "And what's this? A whetstone for a woe And this? Hair oil?"
She opened the flask which held the Holy Oils, sniffed the contents and put it away from her nose with disgust. Then she unfolded the linen cloth for the communion table and found the Pyx, which she took up in her hands:
"Well ! A watch!" she exclaimed. The man with grey hair spoke sharply.
"What did you say? What have you got there?"
He seized hold of the Pyx and
opened it, The woman saw that the tarnished silver box held a small white disc.
"Look here . ." she began.
Startled by the abrupt change which was taking place in the man's appearance, she stopped. He was holding the silver case in the hollow of his shaking hands, and his quivering lips seemed to be spitting out silent insults.
"What's the matter with you?" demanded the woman. "Look. tell me. What is it? You've gone quite pale . . ."
The expression in the man's eyes was so cruel. so charged with malevolence and intolerable hate that she cried out in alarm:
The man took hold of himself and spoke with panting breath;
"Don't you really know what's in this box? Don't you understand what it is I am holding, here in my hands? It's their God ! Their living God! The God of the Christians!"
HE closed his hands on the case with such violence that the woman thought he was going to crush the thin silver cover. Then he took two steps forward, gasping painfully for breath as though he were suffocating. and uttered, almost screamed out his blasphemies: "Their God ! He whom the priests summon in their prayers and whom they bring down from His Cross! Their living God!" "What are you saying. . . . What are you saying? Why are you talking like this? You know perfectly well that there's no God?" "No. God is no more! But these people, don't you understand, by their idolatrous faith, by their magic words, by their incantations repeated every day for thousands and thousands of days over the last two thousand years, assert that they can capture God in this piece of bread. . • They believe that if they eat it they will incorporate God within their whnIe being, and draw every strength from it and every power. . • . "Ah I I know now why that priest felt so sure of himself this afternoon. I understand why he defied me to the point of telling me he would pray for me! He kept his eyes fixed upon this black box. . . . He flung himself on it, trying to open it. . . He wanted to take his God into the prison of his body, believing that by so doing he could defy the world! "He would have detached a tiny piece every day:
Sunlit unus, sumunt mille Quantum isti, tanturn ille . . .
'One receives it. thousands receive it, as much for all as for one.'
"I, too, have sung that, on the day they call the Feast of Corpus Christi. ... So he could hold on for days and days. . . But this God, it is I who hold Him, it is I who grasp Him here between my hands, like a bird that I am going to strangle . . He was on fire with a rage so wild and so ferocious that the woman backed away.
"VI/HERE are you?" be wondered, TY as though surfacing from the depths of some dream. "I can't see you, now . . , Where are you, you whom I have shown to this God, the God whom I once served, with whom I have nothing more in common . . . Where are you. woman? "You who never believed in any of the things that I have had to tear up, one after the other, from my being, like someone gouging out a many-headed cancer with a steel lancet . . . "Come! Approach! Draw close to met You're going to taste this bread.
. He said to His disciples, 'Take and eat! This is my Body!' Very well! I take it. This helpless Body, which they worship as though it were an idol—I'm going to give it to you."
THE woman stood. terrified, flat
tened against the wall in a corner of the room. The man opened the box and put it down on the console table, then took a step backwards.
"Here you are, then, you, the Host!"
In his fury. he frothed at the lips. He was still drawing deep breaths to cry out fresh insults, when he saw his shadow clearly thrown on the lightcoloured paper of the wall in front of him. He raised his right hand to wipe
his hrovv .
The woman murmured. "What is it? What is it?" She saw him pause, as he lowered his arm, then turn his right hand this way and that, while his eyes, as though fascinated, never
moved from the . wall, .
"Don't . . . you . . see?" The shadow's hand was moving, too. but it was not the priest's right hand that it reflected : the shadow was moving the other hand.
(To be contInuedt
"God's Secret Agent" was published in June by Arthur Barker Ltd., under the title of "The Messenger."