"The fact is, Mr. Holland," resumed Stephen Linton, "I have read your book and your paper in that review. The way you deal with a difficult question has filled me with admiration. You will, I need scarcely say, be outside the Church before long."
"I cannot allow you to assume that, Mr. Linton," said George gravely. "I should be sorry to leave the Church. I cannot see that my leaving it is the logical sequence of anything that I have yet written. My aim is, as doubtless you have perceived, to bring about such reasonable and, after all, not radical changes in the Church system as shall make her in the future a more potent agency for good than she has ever yet been, splendid though her services to humanity have been."
"Still you will find yourself outside the walls of your Church, Mr. Holland. And you will probably adopt the course which other sons of the Church have thought necessary to pursue when the stubborn old thing refused to be reformed."
"If you suggest that I shall become a Dissenter, Mr. Linton--"
"I suggest nothing of the sort, though you dissent already from a good many of the fundamental practices of the Church, if I may be permitted the expression. Now, I should like to make a provision for your future, Mr. Holland."
"My dear sir, such a proposition seems to me to be a most extraordinary one. I hope you will not think me rude in saying so much. I have not suggested, Mr. Linton, as other clergymen might, that you mean an affront to me, but I don't think that anything would be gained by prolonging--"
"Permit me to continue, and perhaps you may get a glimmer of gain. Mr. Holland, I am what people usually term a doomed man. So far as I can gather I have only about six months longer to live."
"Perhaps it is merciful on the part of Heaven to destroy a man when he has reached the age of forty. We'll not go into that question just now. I was warned by a doctor two years ago that I had not long to live. It appears that my heart was never really a heart--that is to say, it may have had its affections, its emotions, its passions, but pneumatically it is a failure; it was never a blood-pump. Six months ago I was examined by the greatest authority in Europe, and he pronounced my doom. Three days ago I went to the leading specialist in London, and he told me I might with care live six months longer."