"Your lordship has spoken to me with the greatest kindness," said George Holland, as his spiritual father offered him his hand.
In a few minutes he was in his hansom once more.
I KNOW THAT IT DOESN'T MATTER MUCH TO GOD WHAT A MAN THINKS ABOUT HIMSELF OR HIS SOUL.
For the next hour and a half the Rev. George Holland had an opportunity of considering his position as a clergyman of the Church of England, and as one whose chief desire was to advance the interests of the Church. His bishop had assumed that he had been single-minded in his aims--that his sole object in writing that book and that paper had been to cure the complaint from which the old Church was suffering. His lordship had done him justice where Phyllis had done him a gross injustice. What would Phyllis have said he wondered, if she had heard that concession, made not under pressure, but voluntarily by probably the highest authority in the world, to his, George Holland's, singleness of aim?
But it was so like a girl to jump at conclusions--to assume that he had been actuated by vanity in all that he had just done; that he was desirous only of getting people to talk about him--being regardless whether they spoke well of him or ill. He only wished that she could have heard the bishop. He felt as a man feels whose character has just been cleared in a court of law from an aspersion that has rested on it for some time. He wondered if that truly noble man whom he was privileged to call his Father in God, would have any objection to give him a testimonial to the effect that in his opinion,--the opinion of his Father in God,--there was no foundation for the accusation against him and his singleness of aim.
But the bishop knew that it was not vanity which had urged him to write what he had written. The bishop understood men.
He was right; the bishop understood men so well as to be able to produce in a few words upon the man who had just visited the palace, the impression that he believed that that man had been impelled by a strong sense of duty without a touch of vanity. He understood man so well as to cause that same visitor of his to make a resolution never again to publish anything in the same strain as the /Zeit Geist/ article, without first consulting with the bishop. George Holland had pulled the bell at the palace gates with the hand of a Luther; but he had left the presence of the bishop with the step of a Francis of Assisi. He felt that anyone who would voluntarily give pain to so gentle a man as the bishop could only be a brute. He even felt that the bishop had shown himself to be his, George Holland's superior in judgment and in the methods which he employed. The bishop was not an overrated man.
For a full hour in the silence and solitude of the reading room of his club he reflected upon the excellence of the bishop, and it was with a sign of regret that he rose to keep his other appointment. He would have liked to continue for another hour or two doing justice to that good man out of whose presence he had come.