The Black Robe
The Harvest Is Reaped
ON their way through the streets, Father Benwell talked as persistently of the
news of the day as if he had nothing else in his thoughts. To keep his
companion's mind in a state of suspense was, in certain emergencies, to exert
a useful preparatory influence over a man of Romayne's character. Even
when they reached his lodgings, the priest still hesitated to approach the
object that he had in view. He made considerate inquiries, in the character of
a hospitable man.
"They breakfast early at The Retreat," he said. "What may I offer you?"
"I want nothing, thank you," Romayne answered, with an effort to control his
habitual impatience of needless delay.
"Pardon me--we have a long interview before us, I fear. Our bodily
necessities, Romayne (excuse me if I take the friendly liberty of suppressing
the formal 'Mr.')--our bodily necessities are not to be trifled with. A bottle of
my famous claret, and a few biscuits, will not hurt either of us." He rang the
bell, and gave the necessary directions "Another damp day!" he went on
cheerfully. "I hope you don't pay the rheumatic penalties of a winter
residence in England? Ah, this glorious country would be too perfect if it
possessed the delicious climate of Rome!"
The wine and biscuits were brought in. Father Benwell filled the glasses and
bowed cordially to his guest.
"Nothing of this sort at The Retreat!" he said gayly. "Excellent water, I am
told--which is a luxury in its way, especially in London. Well, my dear
Romayne, I must begin by making my apologies. You no doubt thought me a
little abrupt in running away with you from your retirement at a moment's
"I believed that you had good reasons, Father--and that was enough for me."
"Thank you--you do me justice--it was in your best interests that I acted.
There are men of phlegmatic temperament, over whom the wise monotony of
discipline at The Retreat exercises a wholesome influence--I mean an
influence which may be prolonged with advantage. You are not one of those
persons. Protracted seclusion and monotony of life are morally and mentally
unprofitable to a man of your ardent disposition. I abstained from mentioning
these reasons, at the time, out of a feeling of regard for our excellent resident
director, who believes unreservedly in the institution over which he presides.
Very good! The Retreat has done all that it could usefully do in your case. We
must think next of how to employ that mental activity which, rightly
developed, is one of the most valuable qualities that you possess. Let me ask,
first, if you have in some degree recovered your tranquillity?"