Blinded by his tears and by the light of God’s mercifulness he bent his head and heard the grave words of absolution spoken and saw the priest’s hand raised above him in token of forgiveness.
—God bless you, my child. Pray for me.
He knelt to say his penance, praying in a corner of the dark nave; and his prayers ascended to heaven from his purified heart like perfume streaming upwards from a heart of white rose.
The muddy streets were gay. He strode homeward, conscious of an invisible grace pervading and making light his limbs. In spite of all he had done it. He had confessed and God had pardoned him. His soul was made fair and holy once more, holy and happy.
It would be beautiful to die if God so willed. It was beautiful to live in grace a life of peace and virtue and forbearance with others.
He sat by the fire in the kitchen, not daring to speak for happiness. Till that moment he had not known how beautiful and peaceful life could be. The green square of paper pinned round the lamp cast down a tender shade. On the dresser was a plate of sausages and white pudding and on the shelf there were eggs. They would be for the breakfast in the morning after the communion in the college chapel. White pudding and eggs and sausages and cups of tea. How simple and beautiful was life after all! And life lay all before him.
In a dream he fell asleep. In a dream he rose and saw that it was morning. In a waking dream he went through the quiet morning towards the college.
The boys were all there, kneeling in their places. He knelt among them, happy and shy. The altar was heaped with fragrant masses of white flowers; and in the morning light the pale flames of the candles among the white flowers were clear and silent as his own soul.
He knelt before the altar with his classmates, holding the altar cloth with them over a living rail of hands. His hands were trembling and his soul trembled as he heard the priest pass with the ciborium from communicant to communicant.
—CORPUS DOMINI NOSTRI.
Could it be? He knelt there sinless and timid; and he would hold upon his tongue the host and God would enter his purified body.
—IN VITAM ETERNAM. AMEN.
Another life! A life of grace and virtue and happiness! It was true. It was not a dream from which he would wake. The past was past.
—CORPUS DOMINI NOSTRI.
The ciborium had come to him.