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The Miraculous Revenge
by [?]

“Uncle,” I said, bursting into the sweetest tears I had ever shed, “my wanderings are over. I will enter the Church, if you will help me. Let us read together the third part of Faust; for I understand it at last.”

“Hush, man,” he said, half rising with an expression of alarm. “Control yourself.”

“Do not let tears mislead you. I am calm and strong. Quick, let us have Goethe:

Das Unbeschreibliche,
Hier ist gethan;
Das Ewig-Weibliche,
Zieht uns hinan.”

“Come, come. Dry your eyes and be quiet. I have no library here.”

“But I have–in my portmanteau at the hotel,” I said, rising. “Let me go for it. I will return in fifteen minutes.”

“The devil is in you, I believe. Cannot—-“

I interrupted him with a shout of laughter.

“Cardinal,” I said noisily, “you have become profane; and a profane priest is always the best of good fellows. Let us have some wine; and I will sing you a German beer song.”

“Heaven forgive me if I do you wrong,” he said; “but I believe God has laid the expiation of some sin on your unhappy head. Will you favor me with your attention for awhile? I have something to say to you, and I have also to get some sleep before my hour of rising, which is half-past five.”

“My usual hour for retiring–when I retire at all. But proceed. My fault is not inattention, but over-susceptibility.”

“Well, then, I want you to go to Wicklow. My reasons—-“

“No matter what they may be,” said I, rising again. “It is enough that you desire me to go. I shall start forthwith.”

“Zeno! will you sit down and listen to me?”

I sank upon my chair reluctantly. “Ardor is a crime in your eyes, even when it is shewn in your service,” I said. “May I turn down the light?”


“To bring on my sombre mood, in which I am able to listen with tireless patience.”

“I will turn it down myself. Will that do?”

I thanked him and composed myself to listen in the shadow. My eyes, I felt, glittered. I was like Poe’s raven.

“Now for my reasons for sending you to Wicklow. First, for your own sake. If you stay in town, or in any place where excitement can be obtained by any means, you will be in Swift’s Hospital in a week. You must live in the country, under the eye of one upon whom I can depend. And you must have something to do to keep you out of mischief and away from your music and painting and poetry, which, Sir John Richard writes to me, are dangerous for you in your present morbid state. Second, because I can entrust you with a task which, in the hands of a sensible man might bring discredit on the Church. In short, I want you to investigate a miracle.”

He looked attentively at me. I sat like a statue.

“You understand me?” he said.

“Nevermore,” I replied, hoarsely. “Pardon me,” I added, amused at the trick my imagination had played me, “I understand you perfectly. Proceed.”

“I hope you do. Well, four miles distant from the town of Wicklow is a village called Four Mile Water. The resident priest is Father Hickey. You have heard of the miracles at Knock?”

I winked.

“I did not ask you what you think of them but whether you have heard of them. I see you have. I need not tell you that even a miracle may do more harm than good to the Church in this country, unless it can be proved so thoroughly that her powerful and jealous enemies are silenced by the testimony of followers of their heresy. Therefore, when I saw in a Wexford newspaper last week a description of a strange manifestation of the Divine Power which was said to have taken place at Four Mile Water, I was troubled in my mind about it. So I wrote to Father Hickey, bidding him give me an account of the matter if it were true, and, if it were not, to denounce from the altar the author of the report, and contradict it in the paper at once. This is his reply. He says, well, the first part is about Church matters: I need not trouble you with it. He goes on to say—-“