The Innocence of Father Brown HTML version

The Eye of Apollo
That singular smoky sparkle, at once a confusion and a transparency, which is the strange
secret of the Thames, was changing more and more from its grey to its glittering extreme
as the sun climbed to the zenith over Westminster, and two men crossed Westminster
Bridge. One man was very tall and the other very short; they might even have been
fantastically compared to the arrogant clock-tower of Parliament and the humbler
humped shoulders of the Abbey, for the short man was in clerical dress. The official
description of the tall man was M. Hercule Flambeau, private detective, and he was going
to his new offices in a new pile of flats facing the Abbey entrance. The official
description of the short man was the Reverend J. Brown, attached to St. Francis Xavier's
Church, Camberwell, and he was coming from a Camberwell deathbed to see the new
offices of his friend.
The building was American in its sky-scraping altitude, and American also in the oiled
elaboration of its machinery of telephones and lifts. But it was barely finished and still
understaffed; only three tenants had moved in; the office just above Flambeau was
occupied, as also was the office just below him; the two floors above that and the three
floors below were entirely bare. But the first glance at the new tower of flats caught
something much more arresting. Save for a few relics of scaffolding, the one glaring
object was erected outside the office just above Flambeau's. It was an enormous gilt
effigy of the human eye, surrounded with rays of gold, and taking up as much room as
two or three of the office windows.
"What on earth is that?" asked Father Brown, and stood still. "Oh, a new religion," said
Flambeau, laughing; "one of those new religions that forgive your sins by saying you
never had any. Rather like Christian Science, I should think. The fact is that a fellow
calling himself Kalon (I don't know what his name is, except that it can't be that) has
taken the flat just above me. I have two lady typewriters underneath me, and this
enthusiastic old humbug on top. He calls himself the New Priest of Apollo, and he
worships the sun."
"Let him look out," said Father Brown. "The sun was the cruellest of all the gods. But
what does that monstrous eye mean?"
"As I understand it, it is a theory of theirs," answered Flambeau, "that a man can endure
anything if his mind is quite steady. Their two great symbols are the sun and the open
eye; for they say that if a man were really healthy he could stare at the sun."
"If a man were really healthy," said Father Brown, "he would not bother to stare at it."
"Well, that's all I can tell you about the new religion," went on Flambeau carelessly. "It
claims, of course, that it can cure all physical diseases."
"Can it cure the one spiritual disease?" asked Father Brown, with a serious curiosity.