The Black Robe
Father Benwell And The Book
R OMAYNE'S first errand in London was to see his wife, and to make inquiries
at Mrs. Eyrecourt's house. The report was more favorable than usual. Stella
whispered, as she kissed him, "I shall soon come back to you, I hope!"
Leaving the horses to rest for a while, he proceeded to Lord Loring's
residence on foot. As he crossed a street in the neighborhood, he was nearly
run over by a cab, carrying a gentleman and his luggage. The gentleman was
Mr. Winterfield, on his way to Derwent's Hotel.
Lady Loring very kindly searched her card-basket, as the readiest means of
assisting Romayne. Penrose had left his card, on his departure from London,
but no address was written on it. Lord Loring, unable himself to give the
required information, suggested the right person to consult.
"Father Benwell will be here later in the day," he said. "If you will write to
Penrose at once, he will add the address. Are you sure, before the letter
goes, that the book you want is not in my library?"
"I think not," Romayne answered; "but I will write down the title, and leave it
here with my letter."
The same evening he received a polite note from Father Benwell, informing
him that the letter was forwarded, and that the book he wanted was not in
Lord Loring's library. "If there should be any delay or difficulty in obtaining
this rare volume," the priest added, "I only wait the expression of your
wishes, to borrow it from the library of a friend of mine, residing in the
By return of post the answer, affectionately and gratefully written, arrived
from Penrose. He regretted that he was not able to assist Romayne
personally. But it was out of his power (in plain words, he had been expressly
forbidden by Father Benwell) to leave the service on which he was then
engaged. In reference to the book that was wanted, it was quite likely that a
search in the catalogues of the British Museum might discover it. He had only
met with it himself in the National Library at Paris.
This information led Romayne to London again, immediately. For the first
time he called at Father Benwell's lodgings. The priest was at home,
expecting the visit. His welcome was the perfection of unassuming politeness.
He asked for the last news of "poor Mrs. Eyrecourt's health," with the
sympathy of a true friend.
"I had the honor of drinking tea with Mrs. Eyrecourt, some little time since,"
he said. "Her flow of conversation was never more delightful--it seemed
impossible to associate the idea of illness with so bright a creature. And how