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in the Arts and Sciences."
At St. Regis' Amory stayed three days and took his exams with a scoffing
confidence, then doubling back to New York to pay his tutelary visit.
The metropolis, barely glimpsed, made little impression on him, except
for the sense of cleanliness he drew from the tall white buildings seen
from a Hudson River steamboat in the early morning. Indeed, his mind was
so crowded with dreams of athletic prowess at school that he considered
this visit only as a rather tiresome prelude to the great adventure.
This, however, it did not prove to be.
Monsignor Darcy's house was an ancient, rambling structure set on a hill
overlooking the river, and there lived its owner, between his trips to
all parts of the Roman-Catholic world, rather like an exiled Stuart king
waiting to be called to the rule of his land. Monsignor was forty-four
then, and bustling--a trifle too stout for symmetry, with hair the color
of spun gold, and a brilliant, enveloping personality. When he came into
a room clad in his full purple regalia from thatch to toe, he resembled
a Turner sunset, and attracted both admiration and attention. He had
written two novels: one of them violently anti-Catholic, just before his
conversion, and five years later another, in which he had attempted
to turn all his clever jibes against Catholics into even cleverer
innuendoes against Episcopalians. He was intensely ritualistic,
startlingly dramatic, loved the idea of God enough to be a celibate, and
rather liked his neighbor.
Children adored him because he was like a child; youth revelled in his
company because he was still a youth, and couldn't be shocked. In the
proper land and century he might have been a Richelieu--at present he
was a very moral, very religious (if not particularly pious) clergyman,
making a great mystery about pulling rusty wires, and appreciating life
to the fullest, if not entirely enjoying it.
He and Amory took to each other at first sight--the jovial, impressive
prelate who could dazzle an embassy ball, and the green-eyed, intent
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