Of the Monologue Between Sir Roger and the Mysterious Monk



Anita, sweetheart, by the flush of your Mongol cheeks, and the devilry in your long eyes, I swear I would that my words could tremble with such joy as your body, or your body with such anguish as my soul. For when Sir Roger saw that monk, in 's cardinal hat and Tyrian frock, confound him, he was shaken like a teak sampan in a typhoon, like a man in love with an Australian woman, like a flapper at the first sight of a matinée hero, or like an American grandmother introduced to a new Tango lizard. He felt like a neuraesthenic who finds a Gila Monster in bed with him. Yet there was something in him that was not shaken, after all: Dai-Butsu was glad at heart when the earthquake tumbled the ruins of his temple about him at Kamakura, though I hope no harm came to the Iris gardens.

And so, cried Sir Roger, you are Cardinal Mentula di Caracco? Was there no law of praemunire to abate your insolence? You undercover before me, 'tis some grace in you, but your carriage is proud as Lucifer's, Sir Prelate!

At this the churchman uttered no word, but smote Sir Roger in the abdomen, like a goat butting.

Enough! I'll not endure it! The knight was but a boy, but 'a was angered, 'Od wot. He loved not priests and their ogling, intriguing, domineering, subtle, persistent, pushing, pulling, alluring, menacing, ways – now Attila, now Caesar, now Machiavelli, now Cleopatra – and all so deft that it needs a sharp eye to see them. 'Sbodikins! do ye not know that your own thoughts are his before ye think them?

So good Sir Roger, boiling with wrath, tried courtesy. “Pray rest awhile, good sir, kind sir, reverend sir, most venerable sir! Be at ease, sir, I pray you! Bid your followers loosen their coats, i' God's name, and for the love o' Christian charity, for 'tis plaguy hot,” quoth he.

But to all this the cardinal answered not a word. For he had The Word, and would speak none other, and the moment was not come to send it forth. Ah! would ye had that Word, my darlings – all that live – for it is Silence, and a Seed that, falling into the Earth, is presently clothed about with leaf and flower and fruit. But Sir Roger was devilish annoyed at the dwarf's impudence.

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