From Lord of the World by Fr. Robert Hugh Benson
Father Francis, who had been sitting in a lax kind of huddle, seemed to know his thoughts, and sat up suddenly.
"You are tired of me," he said. "I will go."
"I am not tired of you, my dear father," said Percy simply. "I am only terribly sorry. You see I know that it is all true."
The other looked at him heavily.
"And I know that it is not," he said. "It is very beautiful; I wish I could believe it. I don't think I shall be ever happy again—but—but there it is."
Percy sighed. He had told him so often that the heart is as divine a gift as the mind, and that to neglect it in the search for God is to seek ruin, but this priest had scarcely seen the application to himself. He had answered with the old psychological arguments that the suggestions of education accounted for everything.
"I suppose you will cast me off," said the other.
"It is you who are leaving me," said Percy. "I cannot follow, if you mean that."
"But—but cannot we be friends?"
A sudden heat touched the elder priest's heart.
"Friends?" he said. "Is sentimentality all you mean by friendship? What kind of friends can we be?"
The other's face became suddenly heavy.
"I thought so."
"John!" cried Percy. "You see that, do you not? How can we pretend anything when you do not believe in God? For I do you the honour of thinking that you do not."
Francis sprang up.
"Well—-" he snapped. "I could not have believed—I am going."
He wheeled towards the door.
"John!" said Percy again. "Are you going like this? Can you not shake hands?"
The other wheeled again, with heavy anger in his face.
"Why, you said you could not be friends with me!"
Percy's mouth opened. Then he understood, and smiled. "Oh! that is all you mean by friendship, is it?—I beg your pardon. Oh! we can be polite to one another, if you like."
He still stood holding out his hand. Father Francis looked at it a moment, his lips shook: then once more he turned, and went out without a word.