“My excellent sir,” said Mr. Leigh, “does not your very presence here show how I am affected toward the holy cause of the Catholic faith? But I cannot in the meanwhile forget that I am an Englishman.”

“And what is England?” said Parsons: “A heretic and schismatic Babylon, whereof it is written, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you be partaker of her plagues.’ Yea, what is a country? An arbitrary division of territory by the princes of this world, who are naught, and come to naught. They are created by the people’s will; their existence depends on the sanction of him to whom all power is given in heaven and earth—our Holy Father the Pope. Take away the latter, and what is a king?—the people who have made him may unmake him.”

“My dear sir, recollect that I have sworn allegiance to Queen Elizabeth!”

“Yes, sir, you have, sir; and, as I have shown at large in my writings, you were absolved from that allegiance from the moment that the bull of Pius the Fifth declared her a heretic and excommunicate, and thereby to have forfeited all dominion whatsoever. I tell you, sir, what I thought you should have known already, that since the year 1569, England has had no queen, no magistrates, no laws, no lawful authority whatsoever; and that to own allegiance to any English magistrate, sir, or to plead in an English court of law, is to disobey the apostolic precept, ‘How dare you go to law before the unbelievers?’ I tell you, sir, rebellion is now not merely permitted, it is a duty.”

“Take care, sir; for God’s sake, take care!” said Mr. Leigh. “Right or wrong, I cannot have such language used in my house. For the sake of my wife and children, I cannot!”

“My dear brother Parsons, deal more gently with the flock,” interposed Campian. “Your opinion, though probable, as I well know, in the eyes of most of our order, is hardly safe enough here; the opposite is at least so safe that Mr. Leigh may well excuse his conscience for accepting it. After all, are we not sent hither to proclaim this very thing, and to relieve the souls of good Catholics from a burden which has seemed to them too heavy?”

“Yes,” said Parsons, half-sulkily, “to allow all Balaams who will to sacrifice to Baal, while they call themselves by the name of the Lord.”

“My dear brother, have I not often reminded you that Naaman was allowed to bow himself in the house of Rimmon? And can we therefore complain of the office to which the Holy Father has appointed us, to declare to such as Mr. Leigh his especial grace, by which the bull of Pius the Fifth (on whose soul God have mercy!) shall henceforth bind the queen and the heretics only; but in no ways the Catholics, at least as long as the present tyranny prevents the pious purposes of the bull?”

“Be it so, sir; be it so. Only observe this, Mr. Leigh, that our brother Campian confesses this to be a tyranny. Observe, sir, that the bull does still bind the so-called queen, and that she and her magistrates are still none the less usurpers, nonentities, and shadows of a shade. And observe this, sir, that when that which is lawful is excused to the weak, it remains no less lawful to the strong. The seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal did not slay his priests; but Elijah did, and won to himself a good reward. And if the rest of the children of Israel sinned not in not slaying Eglon, yet Ehud’s deed was none the less justified by all laws human and divine.”

“For Heaven’s sake, do not talk so, sir! or I must leave the room. What have I to do with Ehud and Eglon, and slaughters, and tyrannies? Our queen is a very good queen, if Heaven would but grant her repentance, and turn her to the true faith. I have never been troubled about religion, nor any one else that I know of in the West country.”

“You forget Mr. Trudgeon of Launceston, father, and poor Father Mayne,” interposed Eustace, who had by this time slipped in; and Campian added softly—

  By PanEris using Melati.

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