“Philippe! Speak to me, Philippe! Philippe… Don’t you hear me? O God of Heaven! Philippe!”
At a glance they saw that here neither priest nor doctor could avail. The cheek that lay against Andre-Louis’s was leaden-hued, the half-open eyes were glazed, and there was a little froth of blood upon the vacuously parted lips.
Half blinded by tears Andre-Louis stumbled after them when they bore the body into the inn. Upstairs in the little room to which they conveyed it, he knelt by the bed, and holding the dead man’s hand in both his own, he swore to him out of his impotent rage that M. de La Tour d’Azyr should pay a bitter price for this.
“It was your eloquence he feared, Philippe,” he said. Then if I can get no justice for this deed, at least it shall be fruitless to him.
The thing he feared in you, he shall fear in me. He feared that men might be swayed by your eloquence to the undoing of such things as himself. Men shall be swayed by it still. For your eloquence and your arguments shall be my heritage from you. I will make them my own. It matters nothing that I do not believe in your gospel of freedom. I know it – every word of it; that is all that matters to our purpose, yours and mine. If all else fails, your thoughts shall find expression in my living tongue. Thus at least we shall have frustrated his vile aim to still the voice he feared. It shall profit him nothing to have your blood upon his soul. That voice in you would never half so relentlessly have hounded him and his as it shall in me – if all else fails.”
It was an exulting thought. It calmed him; it soothed his grief, and he began very softly to pray. And then his heart trembled as
he considered that Philippe, a man of peace, almost a priest, an apostle of Christianity, had gone to his Maker with the sin of anger on his soul. It was horrible. Yet God would see the righteousness of that anger. And in no case – be man’s interpretation of Divinity what it might – could that one sin outweigh the loving good that Philippe had ever practised, the noble purity of his great heart. God after all, reflected Andre-Louis, was not a grand-seigneur.