Hadrian the Seventh: extracts (7)

Then I began to write, simply because of the imperious necessity of expressing myself. And I had much to say. Note please that I asked nothing better than to be a humble chantry-priest, saying Mass for the dead. It was denied me. I turned to express beautiful and holy ideals on canvas. Again I was prevented. I must and will have scope, an outlet for what the President of Maryvale called my ‘talent and energy.’ Literature is the only outlet which you Catholics have left me. Blame yourselves: not me. Oh yes, I have very much to say.”
He paused. The cardinal evaded his glance; and intently gazed at the under- side of well-manicured pink-onyx finger-nails.
“And about your Vocation, Mr. Rose. What is your present opinion?”
George wrenched himself from retrospection. “My opinion, Eminency, as I already have had the honour of telling you, is the same as it always has been.”
“That is to say?”
“That I have a Divine Vocation to the Priesthood.”
“You persist?”
“Eminency, I am not one of your low Erse or pseudo Gaels, flippertigibbets of frothy flighty fervour, whom you can blow hither and thither with a sixpence for a fan. Thank The Lord I’m English, born under Cancer, tenacious, slow and sure. Naturally I persist.”
Cardinalitial eyebrows re-ascended. “The man, to whom Divine Providence vouchsafes a Vocation, is bound to prosecute it.”
“I am prosecuting it. I never for one moment have ceased from prosecuting it.”
“But now you have attained a position as an author.”
“Yes; in the teeth of you all; and no thanks to anyone but myself. However that is only the means to an end.”
“In what way?”
“In this way. When I shall have earned enough to pay certain debts, which I incurred on the strength of my faith in the honour of a parcel of archiepiscopal and episcopal and clerical sharpers, and also a sum sufficient to produce a small and certain annuity, then I shall go straight to Rome and square the rector of St. Andrew’s College.”