From the beginning, her father insisted that their parish priest come to their home where Marianne now lay, but each visit was catastrophic. It was as if she knew in advance the priest was coming. She had terrifying fits of rage and violence. She would awaken, endeavor to attack the priest, pour out a stream of obscenity, tear her own skin, try to jump out their fifteenth-story window, or start battering her head against the wall.

There were constant disturbances. The door of her room would never stay either open or shut; it was continually banging to and fro. Pictures, statues, tables, windowpanes, crockery were regularly fragmented and crushed. It was, finally, all this, plus the unbearable and constant stench, that sent her mother and brother to Church authorities. No matter how she was washed and deodorized, and the room scoured and cleaned, it always smelled of sodden filth and a putrefaction unknown to them. All this, together with Marianne’s extreme violence when a rosary or a crucifix was put to her lips, convinced her family finally that her illness was more than physical or mental.

When Peter arrived in New York in mid-August, he was given a short briefing. He insisted on two preliminary visits and examinations; during these, there was surprisingly no violence. First, he accompanied two doctors, chosen by him, on a visit to Marianne. She cooperated fully with them. On the second visit, he had an experienced psychiatrist with him. This expert prolonged his examinations for two or three weeks, taking copious notes, tape-recording conversations, discussing the case with colleagues, questioning her parents and friends. His conclusion was that he could not help her. He recommended another colleague of his. After a hypnosis session, more lengthy conversations with Marianne, and relying as well on the results of drug therapy, his colleague pronounced Marianne normal within the definition of any psychological test or understanding.

It was the beginning of October before Peter felt he could be morally sure he had a genuine case of possession in Marianne, and that he could safely proceed with the exorcism. He planned to start it early on a Monday morning. Beforehand, he chose his assistants and then spent many hours schooling them as to how they should act, what to do, and what not to do during the ritual of Exorcism. Their chief function was to restrain Marianne physically. Peter had a younger priest as his chief assistant; he had to monitor Peter’s actions, warn him if mastery of the situation were slipping from him, correct any mistakes he might make, and-in Peter’s words-“poleaxe me and carry on in my place if I make the ultimate mistake.” All the assistants were given one absolute rule: never say anything in direct response to what Marianne might say.

Late on the Sunday evening preceding his Monday morning appointment at Marianne’s home, as Peter sat chatting after dinner with some friends, he received a frantic call for help from George. Marianne’s condition was worse than ever before.

She raged around the apartment, screaming Peter’s name. There had been a series of disturbances in the house that still continued unabated. And they were beginning to spread beyond the family’s apartment. Not only were the neighbors complaining; his parents had already been the victims of some freak accidents. The situation was getting out of hand.

Peter left immediately, and arrived at the apartment some time past midnight. He set about preparing for immediate start of the exorcism. His assistants had already arrived. He did not approach Marianne’s room. Under his directions, they entered, stripped the bedclothes from the bed, placed Marianne on a blanket thrown on the mattress. She made no resistance, but lay on her back, her eyes closed, moaning and growling from time to time. They stripped the carpet from the floor, and removed all but two pieces of furniture. Peter needed a small night table for the candlesticks, the crucifix, and his prayer book. The tape recorder was placed in a chest of drawers. The windows were closed securely and the blinds drawn. It was after 3:30 A.M. before all was ready for the exorcism.

The four assistants gathered around Marianne’s bed in the little room. The only light came from the candles on the night table. Around them wafted the stale stench that marked Marianne’s presence; even the little balls of cottonwool dipped in an ammonia solution which they had placed in their nostrils did not kill that smell. Occasionally, the honking of a car or the scream of a police siren sounded in their ears from the streets below. None of them felt at ease. The centerpiece of this scene, Marianne, lay motionless on the bed.

When Peter entered wearing black cassock, white surplice, and purple stole, Marianne tried to turn away from where he stood at the foot of the bed, but two of his assistants held her down flat. There was no violence until he held up the crucifix, sprinkled her with holy water, and said in a quiet voice: “Marianne, creature of God, in the name of God who created you and of Jesus who saved you, I command you to hear my voice as the voice of Jesus’ Church and to obey my commands.” Not even he and certainly not his assistants were prepared for the explosion that followed.

Catching them all unawares, Marianne jerked free, and sat bolt upright on the bed. Opening her mouth in a narrow slit, she emitted a long, wailing howl which seemed to go on without pause for breath and in full blast for almost a minute. Everyone was thrown back physically by the force of that cry. It was not piteous, nor was it of hurt or appeal. It was much more like what they imagined a wolf or a tiger would sound like “when caught and disemboweled slowly,” as the ex-policeman described it. It was an embodiment in sound of defiance and infinite pain. It confused and distressed them. Marianne’s father burst into tears, biting his lip to stifle his own voice; he wanted to answer her. “One moment it made you afraid,” said Peter’s young colleague in recalling the moment. “Another moment it made you cry. Then you were shocked. So it went. It confused.”

By the time she was silent, they had recovered and had her pinned down again. She did not resist. The smile was back on her mouth, twisting her lips into a corkscrew shape. She was very cold to the touch. Her body was still, relaxed. The first words that came from her were calm:

“Who are you? Do you come to disturb me? You do not belong to the Kingdom. Yet, you are protected. Who are you?” Father Peter looked up from the exorcism text. “Funny,” he thought, “I should be sweating.” His palms were dry, and his mouth. He glanced at the girl. Her eyes were closed, but her eyeballs were obviously moving beneath her lids as if she were caught in animated conversation. That smile still lay across her lips like a curled whip. Her head was now turned slightly to one side as if listening.

“Marianne!” He said it in a half-whisper, not finding his voice easily. No answer.

Silence for about ten seconds. Then, this time commandingly: “Marianne!”

“Why curse your gentle heart”-Marianne’s words were spoken softly-“I am now of the Kingdom. Didn’t you know?” A pause. “So, please hump off,” Another pause. “With little Zio.” A little laugh. Then: “Betcha he doesn’t know how to hump, fella!” The edge of her teeth appeared like a white curve behind the lips. The crow’s-feet melted away from around her eyes. The whole expression hardened. “Unless . . . unless . . . unless you want to play socket to my hammerrrrrrr . . .” Her words had come out all slurred and on one breath but with no noticeable lip movement. Peter could hear the end of that lungful of air as the prolonged “r” died away like an echo into nothingness.

The four assistants stirred and looked at each other. The bank manager, now perspiring freely, felt for the waxen pads in his ears to reassure himself they were still there. James, the younger priest, caught his breath and was about to speak when Marianne spoke again, this time in a husky voice.

“Sorry, Peter.” She sounded just like a lover who had kissed a little too violently, was sorry, but might bite again if disappointed.

“Marianne!” This time insistingly. The name acted like the pull of invisible wires. Her body became rigid. Her head was flat on the bed, face to the ceiling; the eyeballs turned up behind the eyelids were still; the skin, marbleized and utterly smooth, looked ten years younger. For all the world, this was a teenage student listening intently to her professor. Except for the smile.

“Lechah venichretha verith.” * The Hebrew words came off her lips quite intelligibly to Peter. “A deal,” she continued, “just you, Peter, and me. Peter the Eater.”

A window opened in Peter’s memory releasing a small sharp panic in him. It was like a bat zigzagging at him out of the night of memory. And like a grain of grit thrown in his eye and stinging him to tears. “Don’t worry. No one will know it. Only me.” Mae’s face and voice were back with him for an instant from that distant summer evening. They were so dear in his memory. But Marianne’s voice seaped the memory to ashes.

“A deal, Peter! Let’s talk of the Un in the All-Holy. Aleph. Beth. Gimel. Daleth. Shin. Forget your Hebrew in all that hair and skin?”


The tone was level, throaty, neither male nor female, grittily mocking. The grain of panic in Peter now became a boulder pushing him against the bars of his mind, as he sought refuge. He remembered the neat trap, and the words of old Conor: “Nivir discuss, me bhoy. Nick’s a “Comet Let’s make a deal.” pahst mahsther at it. He’ll have yeh bet in wan tick uv a lamb’s tail.”

Peter made a new effort at mental control. His panic receded. “Marianne!”

But the Pretense continued. “Tschah! Peter! What’s a little Hebrew between you and me?” The voice was less throaty now, appealing, even.

“In the name of Jesus, I command you, Marianne, to answer.”
“Why can’t we forget the past? You forget it. I forget it. So everybody’s happy, Peter.”
“Marianne, you belong to the Most High . . .”
“Forget it, Peter!” The hard note again. “Don’t be a bore. This is, is, is Marianne. The real Marianne . . .”
“Marianne, we love you, and we know you. Jesus knows you. God knows you.
Answer me in the name of Jesus who saved you.”

“If you’re thinking of that little pimply girl with no breasts and heavy glasses and her silver cross and her calloused knees . . .”

“Only love can save and heal, Marianne.” Peter knew that confrontation was being avoided, and the voice of Pretense went on.

“. . . and her no-mother-yes-mother-no-father-yes-father-bless-me-father-for-I-have-sinned. Forget it, Peter.” The throaty tone had returned; but there was a silky snarl laced with contempt and, Peter felt, some tiny threat.

A sound caught Peter’s ear. Marianne’s father was shaking and looking at the chest of drawers. For the last 17 hours, that chest of drawers had never stayed in exactly the same place. This had not been too disturbing. But now it rocked back and forth at irregular intervals; the brass handles rattled.

“Throw some holy water on that thing,” Peter whispered to his colleague. He heard some short hissing sounds like drops of water falling on a red-hot stove.

But-even as quickly as that-the initiative had been taken out of Peter’s hands. He had been distracted by her father’s reactions and his own whispered order.

“Peter? You okay?” She had a mocking solicitude in her tones. The rattling had ceased. “About that Un. What’s the difference?”

Peter clenched his teeth and decided to be assertive. “The All-Holy,” he said flatly, “is one.”

“Ah! But to be complete, the All-Unholy goes with it.” “Dirt does not go with cleanliness.” “Without darkness, no light, Peter. No light.”

“The All-Holy cannot go with the All-Unholy.”

“Wrong, Peter pet, pet Peter.”

Peter’s mental grip weakened for an instant, as he felt the claws of argument closing around his mind. Fatally his logic rose. Conor’s warning faded in a kind of cry to intellectual battle, and he blurted out: “Impossible“


“Now, we’re on the ball.” Her voice rose, cut in triumphantly. “I know your fuddy-duddy medieval Principle of Contradiction. Esse et non-esse non possunt identificari.” Even know the Latin! But that’s for now, Peter. See? Only for now. It can be different.”

Peter forced himself away from argument.

“No, Peter . . .”
“In the name . . .”

“Of the All-Unholy and, if you wish, the All-Holy. No objection.” Then that terrible little laugh. “Some day soon, your esse and your non-esse will go together like . . .”

“. . . of Jesus, Marianne ...”

“. . . a cock in a cunt, like a hand in a glove. Mine do . . . did . . . will ...”

Suddenly she vibrated in a high-pitched scream, shoulders, hips, thighs, feet, hands, all beating against the hands that held her down, like a woman driven to insanity with caresses but cut short of orgasm: “Will somebody fuck me, fuck the esse out of my ass, Peter. Put your esse in me and fuck me, fuck me.” She ended in a forlorn wail.

Marianne’s uncle gasped for air, as if throttled by a blow across the throat. Peter’s eardrums ached from that scream. He almost felt the hot tears of her father, who was now crying quietly, biting his lips as he held his daughter down.

Peter knew: the Pretense was wearing thin; something had to give. But they were not yet in sight of the Breakpoint.

Suddenly Marianne went limp. The men relaxed their grip on her and stood back. A high color crept into her cheeks. The voice that came from her throat now was youngish, full of interest, calm, as though reciting a lesson, cascading with soft syllables. As she spoke, her head moved from side to side, eyes closed. The whip-smile was now a coy kitten playing around the corners of her mouth.

“I have been on a simple quest. You see. No harm to anybody. Not “Being and nonbeing cannot be one and the same.”

Even to myself. Only, I wanted to end all the painful choosing. Mummy and Daddy could not help me. Nor my teachers. Nor boyfriends. All of them were split with decisions. All of them tortured by their choices. Afraid. Yes. You see? They were afraid. Had fears. Like dogs yapping at their heels. Is this right? Is this happy? Is this possible? Is this impossible? Miles and miles of yapping mongrel questions. I knew if I found my real self, there would be no more need to respond to choices and therefore no more fear of error. No more guilt.”

Peter understood there was no hope of arresting this flow of her speech. She was eluding him now by a stratagem of logical talk into which he could not enter without closing steel jaws around his mind. It would be all over. Fatally. The only way of “teasing” her out of this tricky stage of the Pretense was by an equally sustained flow of talk in direct contradiction to the sense of what she was saying.

For long minutes and at various stages, Peter and Marianne responded as if chanting antiphonal psalms, one taking up where the other left off. But there was no sequence or logical connection between what each was saying. The only point on which he endeavored to match her was the manner of speaking. When she whispered, he whispered. When she shouted, he shouted. When she murmured, he murmured. When she interrupted, he interrupted her. When she was silent, he fell silent. If one could have visualized their struggle at this phase, it would have been like a surrealistic slow-motion Olympic wrestling match in which the contestants strove with each other’s shadow, while all colors and actions faded into blurry grayness, and scores were kept by a referee never seen or heard but felt as a sure and eerie presence.

“Possible and impossible,” Marianne cooed, “make all human happenings impossible, posing suppurating distinctions and pat partisanships and perfunctory periods . . .”

“If a man has any love for me,” Peter read, “he will be true to my word.” He was battering against the confusion, the numbing use of words that lulled the mind toward nothingness. “And then he shall love my Father; and we will both come to him and make our abode with him . . .”

“. . . in between us and our other halves,” Marianne interrupted. “Saying to the Yin in me: Thou shalt not have thine Yang. Saying to the Yang in you: Thou shalt not have a Yin ...”

Peter cut Marianne off again. “The branch that does not live on in the vine can yield no fruit of itself.” The very simplicity of the words gave Peter new blood. His voice was calm. “No more than you . . .”

“. . . making a male the creature of his dangling ganglions,” screamed Marianne violently, “and a female the bed of her clit and her clots and her ...”

“. . . if you do not live on in me,” Peter said at the top of his voice. “I am the vine; you, its branches; if a man lives on in me, and I, in him, then he . . .”

“. . . tomby womb.” Marianne was now snarling the words in a hoarse yell. “He out. She in. And never the twain shall meet except in sweat and groans. Ugh! For out’s out . . .” Now Marianne blew out a great gust of air at the candles on the night table at the foot of the bed. The young priest shielded them with the cupped palms of his hands.

Peter would not disengage. He went on, still knifing at the confusion, the verbal expression of the stink in the room, using the words that kept him free. “. . . will yield abundant fruit; separated from me, you have no power to . . .”

“. . . and in’s in,” she broke across him. “This cut-and-dried business started long ago with all that crap of master and slave, creature and creator, god and man. The whole cotton-pickin’, mother-fuckin’ . . .”

“. . . anything,” Peter continued imperturbably with his text. “If a man does not live on in me, he can only . . .”

“. . . winners-and-losers game.” She paused slightly for a moment, as if listening. “The fella in that white robe with that camp-following whore and her vaseline. And then for us . . .”

She broke off. Her eyes opened and she sat up in bed. The ex-policeman and the bank manager, fearing violence, reached for her arms. But there was none. Father James thought of the old lithograph of Jesus and Mary Magdalen that hung in the rectory.

“Yeah, my young eunuch. That’s him and her,” said Marianne, laughing and looking at James crookedly and conspiratorially.
But Peter’s voice recalled the stunned James to reality.

“. . . be like the branch that is cast off and withers away. Such a branch is ...”

“Mother Mary Maidenhead Virgilius announced that the impossible can’t be possible.” Marianne was lying back once more on the bed. “You’re telling us, we all chorused at her . . .”

Peter caught the sardonic tone. His voice went hard as he cut her off.

“. . . useless and cast into the fire, to burn there. I pray for those who are to find faith in me through their word; that they may be all one; that they too may be one in us, as thou, Father, art in me, and I ...”

“. . . withered boobs and remembering her fallen womb and her pasty complexion at curse time every month.” Marianne’s voice was once again rising to a falsetto. “If only you had known, Mother dear! The impossible isn’t . . .”

Marianne was chuckling. Peter kept the hard note in his tone, as he took up where she had cut him off: “. . . in thee; so that the world may believe that it is thou who has sent me.”

Still talking, Marianne now turned over on her side, relaxed. While she spoke, the doctor took her pulse as he was supposed to do every quarter of an hour, when her movements didn’t make this too difficult. “. . . possible unless the impossible is actual. Otherwise the impossible would be impossible. Must be really impossible, though. Really.” Her tone was confidential. “For the possible to be possible, I mean. Must have both. Must have ...”

Peter’s voice sank low and vibrant: “This is my commandment that you should love one another, as I have loved you. This is the greatest ...”

They all jerked to attention: Marianne’s body had become rigid as a plank of wood. She was still talking: “. . . both.” Now her words ran ahead of him. He looked up, listening and watching for any telltale sign that the Breakpoint was upon them. She continued feverishly.

“The real is real because of the unreal. The clean, clean because of the unclean. The full, full because of the empty. The perfume, perfume because of the smelly. The holy, holy because of the unholy.” Then in an intense rush of words interspersed with grunts intent on hammering home contradictions, in an unholy pursuit of all that could confuse and confound human thought and open blankness in the mind: “Sweet sweet huh bitter. What is is huh what isn’t. Life life huh death.” Each grunt preceded an opposite and sounded as though Marianne were being punched in the stomach each time.


“Pleasure pleasure huh pain. Hot hot huh cold.” Then in a chain of words pasted together in a scream: “Updownfatthinhighlowhardsoftlongshortlight-darknesstopbottominsideoutsidealleachalleachalleachchchchchchchch-ch . . .” The piping voice died away on that long, coagulated mishmash as if choking on its breath. The effort had been so violent that Marianne seemed to be almost plucked off the bed, every part of her prone body straining upward.

Peter resumed his reading evenly. “I have no longer much time for conversation with you. One is coming, who has power over the world, but no hold over me. Now is the time when the Prince of this world is to be cast out . . .” He paused in the middle of the sentence and looked at Marianne.

She was still lying rigid, her legs apart, hands on her crotch. A low whispered growl started in her throat and parted her lips.
Peter started to whisper: “Yes, if only I am lifted up from the earth, I will attract all men to myself.” He stopped, no longer hearing that growl.

Marianne’s body relaxed. She rolled over jerkily on her other side. In a girlish voice, a seemingly instantaneous departure in a new direction: “Binaries, we need them, y’know? Yessir. Cybernetics has ‘em. Before and after. Plus and minus. Odd and even. Negative and positive. Always to be with us. But just as far as that: with us. Not splitting us.”

Peter would not be pulled aside or try to follow any sense of Marianne’s words. That same trap, that constant, easy invitation to defeat. He took up again: “He who rules this world has had sentence passed on him already. The spirit will bring honor to me because it is from me . . .”

“He who is not with me,” she took up, interrupting in a dreadfully mocking falsetto, “is against me, sez the Lord. No man can serve two masters, sez the Lord.” Lowering her tone: “Ever see two pricks in the ass and cunt of one broad and she pumping back and forth servicing two masters?” Her father turned his face away and leaned on the policeman’s shoulder.

Again the falsetto: “Whom do men say I am? sez he. Black and white, sez he.” Now the falsetto rose to a howl that pierced the ears of Peter and the others, making them wince and grimace: “You’re in, sez he. You’re out, sez he. The Lord God of Ghosts. Sheep ‘n’ goats, sez he. Doves and devils, sez he. Golden clouds and bloody brimstone. Driving a nail in the heart. Opening up a gaping wound in my oneness.” Then, raising her pelvis up and down rhythmically and shouting at the top of her voice: “Jeebum! Jeebum! Jeebum! Jeebum!”

“. . . the Father belongs to me,” said Peter calmly, finishing his interrupted sentence.

Marianne stopped as Peter said those words. Now he was standing by the window but facing into the room and watching Marianne on the bed. She whimpered piteously:

“All I want is no more questions. No more challenges. No more choices. No more yesses and noes. Not even maybes. No thou-shalt-nots. In the Kingdom . . .” Then in a suddenly deep gurgle like a man who needs no air but speaks through gallons of water “. . . in the Kingdom in the Kingdom in the Kingdom . . .”

Every instinct in Peter drummed at him to put pressure on her. He felt that the Pretense was almost over, that Marianne’s revolt against possession would break out now, and that the evil occupying her would be forced to fight openly to retain its hold.

Peter moved quietly to Marianne’s side, still looking for the telltale signs on her face. If the Breakpoint were near, then all expression should be absent; and there should be queer and unnaturally crooked lines. Sure enough, the face was a frozen mask grained with stark lines. Silence.

“Father, is she going to come out of it?” It was Marianne’s father.

Peter ignored the question. Put the pressure on, his instinct told him. Now! Fast!

“Jesus, Marianne. The name is . . .”

“Jeebum! Jesusass! Jeebum! Jesusass! Jeebum!” She was howling again. Peter wanted desperately to cover his ears against the slivers of pain that pierced his brain.

“Watch it!” he shouted to his assistants as he saw her two forefingers shoot into her nostrils and begin tearing at them. He jumped to her side again. “Pin her down!”

Every pair of hands clamped down on her. They held on. Each one had his own memory of some wild animal: a tiger in a zoo cage, a hyena lowering at another hyena, a sow fighting the hands at a slaughterhouse. The sides of Marianne’s mouth were pulled back-it seemed the grimace stretched to her ears-baring teeth, gums, tongue. A grayish foam bubbled and seeped over her lower lip and down her chin. Her eyes were open but rolled up so far that they saw only white, red-streaked patches glistening wet. Two men pinned her arms to the bed; one leaned on her belly; another held her legs still.

It seemed no human being could survive what Marianne was going through. The doctor closed his eyes as his own perspiration stung into them.

“Hold on, for the love of God,” Peter said.

The muffled “zheeeeeeeeeee” buzzing between her teeth died away to nothing. Her eyelids closed. “Stay put,” muttered the ex-policeman, “she’s still all tight.” The doctor lifted one of Marianne’s eyelids, then let it fall shut again.

Peter had won. The Pretense had failed. But it was many hours after the start, and only the end of round one. He recited the second part of the Exorcism ritual, while his assistants stood back watching.

As always before, the Breakpoint came at the precise moment Peter least expected it. It started with a sound difficult to describe. A horse whimpering. A dog whinnying. A man meowing. It was the very sound of pain. Of nature violated by unnature. Of deep agony. Of protest. Of helplessness. “Supposing a cadaver, after the death rattle and after the grimacing of the last breath was over, started to cry for help, what do you imagine it would sound like?” Peter asked later in an effort to describe this indescribable sound. “Or supposing when you were closing his dead eyelids with your thumb and forefinger” (he made the motion with spatular fingers) “and supposing you missed one eye, and it looked up at you still glassy and dead-you know how they look-and it filled with genuine tears.


That’s the feeling. Something reaching out from the middle of all the worms and putrid flesh and stink and body water and silent immobility of death, saying: ‘I’m alive! Pull me out! For the love of Jesus, save me!’ That was Marianne when the Breakpoint began. The tug of war for her soul that nearly broke me in two.”

Now, Peter felt, he could appeal directly to Marianne and aid her. He started to read the first part of another “teaser text” slowly.

“Marianne. You were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. You belong to Jesus. It was the sacrifice of his life that made it possible for you to belong to God. Whatever of beauty, of love, of kindness, of gentleness there was in you-all came from Jesus. He knows you, knows every fiber of your being, is more than a friend, nearer than your mother, more loving than any lover, more faithful to you than you yourself can be. Speak! Speak! Speak out! And tell me you are listening. Speak and tell me you want to be saved in the name of Jesus who saved you and in the name of God who created you. Speak!”

Looking over the top of the book, he could see her hands relaxing and being placed at her sides by his assistants. The ear-to-ear grimace faded. Her eyes were open but still turned up so far that you felt she was looking into her own eye sockets. The whites of her eyes glistened. There was complete silence. The doctor took her pulse. “She’s as cold as ice.” “Okay, okay,” Peter answered the doctor, with a motion of his head, never taking his gaze off Marianne.

Marianne’s whole body was limp now. It looked heavy, sodden with fatigue, A faint bluish coloration gave an eerie appearance to her hands, arms, feet, neck, and face. All was still. He heard breathing: his own, his assistants’. Marianne’s he could not hear.

The doctor reported a faint pulse. “She’s very low, Peter,” he said. Peter held up his hand restraining further comment. The moments ticked by. Her father cleared his throat and brushed his eyes: “It’s over, Father?” Peter silenced him with a quick, almost rude shake of his head. He watched, waiting for the slightest change. “If it’s going to happen, it’s now,” he said half to himself, half-aloud; “Keep watching.”

But with the intolerable strain of silence, he felt the muscles in his calves, back, and arms relaxing. His grip loosened on his book. His head began to straighten up. The younger priest unfolded his arms. A radio blared in a downstairs apartment. Gradually the silence took over as a welcome blanket wrapping itself around their ears and swaddling the entire room. It gave an uneasy feeling to find oneself getting lost in that silence after the shouting, the discordancy, and the lethal sound of the gurgling voice Marianne had used.

The pain began to ease in Peter’s mind. Still gazing at Marianne’s face, he thought of Conor in Rome, of Zio-now Paul VI-in New York. And he thought of sleep. He glanced at his watch. It was 9:25 P.M. Mass at Yankee Stadium should almost be finished. This ordeal in the room should also be finished soon. Soon, hopefully, they could all go home and sleep . . . sleep . . . sleep.
Sleep? Through the settling haze of his fatigue, the thought triggered Peter’s memory. Hadn’t Conor warned him that sleep, sleepiness, the desire to rest, sometimes came as a last trap, usually preceding a last onslaught of the Presence?

But he was a few moments too late. As Conor’s phrase lit up like a red signal in his memory: “Moind the sleeperrr, lad. Moind the sleeperrr! Tis all up wid yah, if yeh fergit the sleeperrr!”, it was already upon him.

It was sudden. And yet the Presence seemed as if it had been clutching at him for ages beforehand, already had a hold on the vitals of his being. His body shuddered as he whispered, “Jesus! Jesus!”

The others heard only a groan from him and thought that he had tried to say something without having cleared his throat.
“Okay, Father?” asked the doctor.

Peter gestured wearily with his hand. This fight was all his. The others would be unknowing witnesses.

The Presence was everywhere and nowhere. Peter fought off the instinct to step back or to look around or, most of all, to run far and fast. “Freeze yer moind,” had been Conor’s advice. “Freeze it in luv. Shtick there, lad.” But, Holy Jesus! how? The Presence was all over him, inside him, outside him. A total trap of cloying ropes he couldn’t see. He heard no word, saw no vision, smelled no odor. But his skin was no longer the protective shell of his mortality. His skin didn’t work! It was now a porous interface that let the invisible filth of the Presence ooze in. Worst of all was the silence of it. It was soundless. Suddenly he had been attacked and caught; and he knew his adversary was superior and ruthless, that it had invaded deep into the self he always hid from others and hoped only God did know and would never show him until he was strong enough to bear the sight.

He could not discern where the struggle lay. His confusion of mind was like molasses oozing over spiders, paralyzing every effort at control and every natural movement. Sometimes it seemed his will was made of rubber twisted this way and that and cruelly snapping back at his mind like a wet towel smacking the face. Sometimes his mind was a sieve through which stinging particles tumbled, each one tabbed with a jeering name: Despair! Dirt! Smell! Puny! Mush! Misery! Mockery! Hate! Beast!

Shame! . . . There was no end to them. At other times, he realized, his mind and will were only exits, sewage pipes; and his imagination was the recipient of what they vomited. Out through them were pouring the shapes of the real struggle that lay in another dimension of himself. Deep down? High up? Conscious? Unconscious? Subconscious? He did not know. But certainly somewhere in the depths of the self he was. All the hidden valleys of that self were red with his agony. Every high peak was a sharp slope of tumbling confusion. Each plain and corner was crammed with pressure and weight and sorrow. His imagination was now a cesspool swelling with gobs of repulsive images and twisted fears.

“I’m alone,” he thought, covering his face with his hands for an instant.

“Yes! Alone! Alone! Alone! Alone!” came the answer in silent mockery.

It seemed to be himself answering himself with a blasphemy as primal as the scream of the first man who murdered another man, and as actual as the grunt of the latest mugger on that same October night driving his knife deep into the back of his victim on Lenox Avenue.

“Oh, God! Oh, Jesus!” Peter exclaimed within himself. “Oh, God! Oh, Jesus! I’m finished . . .”

Then, as suddenly as it had come, and for no reason he could discern, the Presence receded from him; but it did not leave altogether. Peter felt as if extended claws pricked themselves loose out of his flesh and mind and folded back unwillingly.
Without Peter’s knowing, a small gale of consternation-a pale copy of his own agony-buffeted his assistants all this time as they kept troubled watch over Marianne.

Little patches of relief spotted Peter’s consciousness. His eyes focused again. Over rims of tears, he could now see her. She was a body of trembling. It seemed that everything beneath her skin and hair and clothes was moving in unnatural agitation, arhythmically, but that her exterior remained somehow still. Her mouth opened a fraction. The lips moved wordlessly.

And then, for the third time in his life, Peter heard the Voice.

It came from nowhere. It merely sounded; it was audible to Peter and all present, but it did not come from any discernible direction. It was everywhere in the room, but nowhere in particular. It was level in tone, slow in speed, without any trace of breathing or any pause. Not high-pitched. Not deep. Not throaty. Not tinny or nasal. Not male. Not female. Accentless. Controlled. Peter had once seen a film about a talking robot; when the robot uttered a word, each syllable, as it was pronounced, was followed by eddies of gurgling echoes of itself. The echoes muddied the next syllable; and so it went on for the syllables of each word in a sentence.

The Voice was something like that, but in reverse: the eddying echoes of each syllable preceded the syllable itself. To the listener, it was excruciating to understand but impossible to blot out. It was distracting and dizzying. The effect was like a million voices stabbing the eardrum with nonsensical confusion and clamor, preechoing each syllable. You tried to pick out one voice, almost succeeded, then another piled on top of that; you tried to pick out another, but the first one came back at you. And so on, seeming scores of persistent voices exasperating you, confusing you, defeating you. Then the Voice pronounced the syllable; and your confusion was complete with frustration, for the syllable and the word were drowned in the general babel.

Like most people, Peter had acquired the knack of “reading” voices. We all develop such an instinct and have our own classification of voices as pleasant or unpleasant, strained or peaceful, male or female, young or old, strong or weak, and so on. The Voice fitted into no category Peter could think of. “Unhuman I suppose you’d call it,” he said later. “But it was the same as in Hoboken and Jersey City. With the added touch, of course.”

The “added touch” was his way of indicating the peculiar timbre of the Voice at each exorcism. In Hoboken as in Jersey City the timbre conveyed some violent and shocking emotion that aroused fear. But the timbre in the Voice that October night was different. “For all the world,” said Peter, “as if the Great Panjandrum himself was speaking, and all the little panjandrums pronounced each syllable before he did. His precursors, if you wish.”

The timbre, the “added touch,” conveyed a single message: utter and undiluted superiority. It didn’t hit the emotions, but the mind, freezing it with a realization that there was no possibility and could never be any possibility of besting it; that its owner knew this, and that he knew you also knew; and that this superiority was neither sweetened by compassion nor softened by an ounce of love nor eased by a grain of condescension nor restrained by one whit of benignity toward one of lesser stature. “If sound can be evil, with no human good in it all,” said Peter, “that was it.” It brought him up to the thin edge of nothingness and face to face with the anus mundi, the ultimate in excretion of self-aggrandizing sin.

Then the bedlam and confusion of the Voice died away as if into some middle distance.

The four assistants lifted their heads, as Marianne’s own voice was heard speaking with heavy deliberateness, almost quietly, in comparison with the preceding uproar.

“Nobody mortal has power in the Kingdom. Anybody can belong to it.” A short pause. “Many do.” Each word had come out polished, precise, weighty, and clear as a newly minted gold dollar tossed onto a bar counter.

Time for the final assertion, thought Peter. His final shot. The trump card of every exorcism: the power of Jesus and his authority.

“By the authority of the Church and in the name of Jesus, I command you to tell me what I shall call you.”

Peter kept his voice level as he issued the challenge. All his hopes rested on the acceptance of that challenge. Rejected, the challenge could only result in further distortions of Marianne. At this stage, Peter knew she could not take much more. But there could be no turning back now. And to break off was total defeat. He could feel the nervousness in his assistants: all and everything in the room reflected the tension of the moment. Peter knew, and each one present knew, he had issued a final challenge.

“You command!” Now Marianne sounded amused, as though Peter had told a joke.

He kept reminding himself that this was not Marianne, but the spirit using her voice. Still his heart sank a little. “I am us,” he heard her say. “We are me. Isn’t is? Aren’t are? What we are called is beyond human mind.”

We! Peter was riveted by that key word. Only those of the Kingdom used it. Peter knew instantly that he was almost there and he had no intention of allowing the Presence to identify again with Marianne, so he broke in brusquely.

“There is no immunity for you and your kind in the universe of being.”

The calculated and cold ruthlessness, a new note in Peter’s interruption, brought the ex-policeman up sharp. Years of experience had given him a sixth sense for lethal threat and attack, for hatred and open disgust. He had heard many a cop speaking to arrested murderers in that tone, and many a killer behind bars telling of his hatred in as controlled a way as Peter was using now. He looked at Peter’s face. It had changed. Something subtly merciless had lodged there.

Peter continued: “You, all of you, are . . .”

‘Tow, you, you have no particular immunity, my friend.” Marianne’s emphasis was exact as she broke in. Nicely calculated. Just heavy enough to make one uneasy. Too light to betray any ripple of annoyance or fear.

A vague uneasiness ran through Peter’s assistants; they moved spontaneously nearer him. The Presence was getting to them. For all his instructions to them before the exorcism began, he knew there was no way to prepare them for the shock, the fear, the onslaught.

Marianne’s body was utterly still, her face pasty white, her lips barely open. After a pause, her voice continued with the merest edge of sharpness: “You may have polished your knee balls in a Confession Box”-this with a sneering inflection-“but you were not sorry, friend. Not always, anyway. So where is your repentance? And need I tell you, priest, without repentance, you have sins still? And you! You command the Kingdom?”

In his memory Peter heard Conor’s caution: “What happened in pahst histhoree, happened. The recorrd shtands. Ferivir. Loike a shtone ‘n a feeld, opin ‘n’ maneefist. Fer awl teh see, me bhoy. Incloodin’ the Grate Panjandhr’m hissilf. No, don’t deny it. Wallow in humilitee.”

“How shall we call you?” Peter persisted.
“We?” Sarcastically, but calmly. x
“In the name of ...” l
“Shut your miserable mouth . . .”-it was suddenly an animal growling the words.
“Close it! Shut it! Lock it! Fuck it!”
“. . . Jesus. Tell us: how shall we call you?”

Then a low, long cry came from Marianne’s lips. All in the room held their breath as the Voice gurgled and they made out the words with difficulty: “I will take my toll. I will take our pound of flesh. All 142 pounds of him! I will take him with me, with us, with me!” Complete silence. Then Marianne’s voice: “Smiler. I just smile.”

Peter glanced at her face. The name was obvious, now he knew it. The twisted smile was back on her mouth. Now, he realized, he had to deal with the most ancient of man’s tempters and enemies: the hater who deceived you with a smile and a joke and a promise.

The cleverness of it. How could you suspect or attack someone called Smiler? And if they just smile at anything you do, what can you do? The whole thing-God, heaven, earth, Jesus, holiness, good, evil-becomes a mere farce. And by the evil alchemy of that farce, everything becomes an ugly joke, a cosmic joke on little men who in their turns are only puny little jokes. And, and, and . . . the utter banality of all existence, the wish for nothing.

He wrenched his mind away from this dead blanket of depression and concentrated again. This was the meeting point with Marianne.

“You, Smiler, you will leave, you shall leave this creature of God ...”

“This annoying affair has gone on long enough.” The words had a smirking quality overlaid with pomposity. “Marianne has made her choice.” Peter’s inner reaction was:

We are almost there. Marianne’s voice continued: “You understand better than these oafs do. After all . . .”

“. . . because love is all there is needed . . .” Peter continued.

“. . . her life is short, as is yours. She takes what she can, as you . . .”

“Because love is all there is needed.” Peter repeated himself. But the monologue by Smiler went on uninterruptedly.
“. . . take it with your arrogance.”

“And you, Smiler, you rejected love.” There was a sudden break in the exchange. For a split second Peter waited. “We came from love,” he started again. But that was as far as he got.

“LOVE!!!” The word was fired out at him like a pistol shot. The assistants bent toward Marianne, expecting violence in the wake of that shriek. Peter straightened up, not in suspense, not as though expecting more. Conor had said never trade shouts but let outbursts run their course.

But there was no more shouting. It was the violence of the loathing in Marianne’s voice that was physically painful to Peter, as it continued on studiously and quietly:

“Yes ...” A trailing pause, as if ruminating. Then: “Ah! Sixty-nine. Right? A handy image!”

Peter winced at the tone and the mental picture. His memory was wilting his effort, and he prayed.

But Marianne went on with unruffled mercilessness as if reciting from a technical report. “And first the tongue, its apex like a single wet pink eye with a white iris, goes exploring: sliding its dorsum over each groin, every epithelial cell registering the ripples of the museums gracilis, following the tautened adductor longus, summoning saliva to glisten its course toward the darkling mountain, the mons veneris. Her saphena majora rustles and tickles with rushing blood.”

A retort rushed to Peter’s mouth. He held it back.

Marianne continued. “Then, at the os pubis it lingers, all its papillae hungry, tensile, wet. Filiform cries to fungiform, fungiform to circumvallatae, circumvallatae to foliatae; ‘On! Brothers! On!’

The doctor whistled through his teeth and glanced at Peter. But Peter was dangerously abstracted from the scene. He could hear Mac’s sigh, that long-distant day in the sunshine, miles and decades apart from this evil encounter; he could see her lying on the slope of the sand dunes, felt one hand lying lightly on his belly. And then he had the wisping image of her lying in her coffin just before it was closed forever.

Inexorably the recital went on. “Amid his moans and her heaving, the tickling in his sacrum (ah! Resurrection Bone! Those rabbis had a word for it!), through his thighs; the corpus cavernosum fills up with thick red-black blood. The tongue stabbing within, and she closing around it, holding it.

Smiler was now using Marianne’s voice in a soft, matter-of-fact tone. There was a short pause of seconds. Then, with a burst of fierce contempt:

“He is fucking her. And like the hyena with a dead deer”-the voice rose to a scream-“he starts with her anus, and she like a mother snake is swallowing her son. LOVE?????” A piercing, shattering scream. The voice fell to a sneer: “Cunni-cunni-cunni-cunni-cunni! Peter the Eater.” Then casually, as one asks the time of day: “Tell us, Peter. Are you sorry? Do you miss it?”

Marianne’s father had his face buried in his hands; his shoulders heaved with sobbing. The ex-policeman and the banker stared red-faced at Peter. His young colleague leaned on the night table, his face ashen. The tirade, like a great, sprawling canvas, had thrown a mass of screaming colors and nonsensical patterns of thought and feelings over them all.

The doctor reacted more quickly than the others: “Peter, can we pause?” He was apprehensive, seeing the bloodless color of Peter’s face and a distracted look in his eyes. Peter gave no answer.

Smiler, the cosmic joker, smears and tears at everything, Peter was thinking to himself, as he ruminated and groped toward his next step. Smiler, who turns memories to dirt and chokes you with them. But then he’s not subtle. And he’s not clever. Peter thought: This is either a trap for us, or we have Smiler trapped. Which?

He found himself reacting by instinct: “Silence! Smiler! Silence in the name of Jesus! I command you to desist, to leave her. Tell me that you will obey, that you will leave her. Speak!”

The other men in the room glanced at Peter, surprised at the force in his voice. The verbal assault had left them raw, ashamed of something vague, with a feeling that they had been filthied. They had expected Peter to wilt, to have been crushed. They had been willing to lose hope.

But now they took something from him. They sensed what he knew, saw it on his face, and almost heard him telling them: “I may be engaged in this to my own humiliation. But Smiler is equally engaged in it and there is no escape for him. Just hold on.”

Smiler spoke, but as if Peter had never spoken. “Well! Here we have a thing never seen in the Kingdom”-the voice calm again-“a little drop of sea water pulls a little membrane around it and rots for a million years on an ancient, forgotten shore, and sprouts little hair-trigger nerves and puny little earthen mechanisms, and stands up on two spindly limbs one day, and says, ‘I am a man,’ and lifts its snout to skies above and says again, ‘I am so beautiful’ . . .”

“Silence! Desist!”

“You ugly sod! You smelly little animal . . .”

“And let the soul of Marianne be beautiful once more with the grace of . . .”

“Beautiful?” For the first time, the voice was raised almost an octave higher. “Beautiful?” Now it was a shrill, high-pitched, and painful scream of questioning scorn. “You helpless, yelping, puking, licking, slavering, sweating, excreting little cur. You whipped mongrel. You constipated shit canister. You excuse for a being. You lump of urine and excrement and snot and mud born in a bed on bloody sheets, sticking your head out between a woman’s smelly legs and bawling when they slapped your arse and laughed at your little red balls”-the scream of high-decibel invective ceased suddenly, followed by three syllables pronounced calmly and with loathing contempt-“You creature!”

“And so are you, too. You creature.” Peter surprised himself at his own self-possession: his adversary had made a mistake, and Peter knew it. Peter also surprised himself with the contempt he found himself putting in to his riposte.

He continued: “Once nothing. Then beautiful. The most beautiful of all God made.” The bitter taunt in Peter’s voice turned every head but Marianne’s in his direction. He went on lashing and provoking. “Then ugly with pride. Then conquered. Then thrown from the heights like a dying torch.”

A low roar issued from Marianne’s mouth.

Peter went on unabashed; he had his adversary exactly where he wanted him: “And expelled, and disgraced, and condemned, and deprived forever, and defeated forever.”

Marianne’s body quivered.

“Hold her down!” he muttered to his assistants. Just in time. She was shaking violently. The roar was now the bellow of a pig with a knife gouging out its jugular in gobs of blood.

Peter piled it on: “You, too, creature of God, but not saved by Jesus’ blood.”

Again the long, howling wail.

As its sound died away, Peter’s whole body was electrified with fear.

At that instant the Presence launched its hate again. Like a physical thing, it attacked him. It sent stinging talons into his mind and will, stabbing deep at the root of his determination, at some inner sensitive, delicate part of him where all his pain and all his pleasure lived.

This was the Clash that Conor had analyzed so well for Peter. This was the climax of his one-to-one struggle. Peter made the sign of the cross. He knew: now one of them had to yield; one would be victor. He had to hold. He had to refuse to despair. Refuse disbelief. Refuse damnation. Refuse fear. Refuse. Refuse. Refuse. Hold on. These came like automatic commands to him from his inmost self.

His first desperate thrust was to switch his mind toward any lifeline-any beauty or truth he had known and experienced: the cry of seagulls off Dooahcarrig in Kerry; the rhythmic pattern of nimble feet at winter dances; Mae’s smile; the security of his father’s house; the calm summer evenings he had spent off the coast of Aran Island looking at the Connemara mountains behind Galway City, purple masses welling up in a shining gold vault of sky in haze.

But as quick as any image arose, it dried like a drop of water in a flame. All his internal images of loyalty, authority, hope, legitimacy, concern, gentleness shriveled and faded. His imagination was burning with an overheated despair and his mind could not help him. Only his will locked both mind and imagination into an immobility that pained and agonized him.
But then the Presence turned silently on his will in a slash of naked adversity. For the others present, there was little to go on: no sound except Peter’s heavy breathing and the shuffling of their legs as they endeavored to keep their balance and hold Marianne down; no sensation beyond the straining of Marianne’s body against their hands. The attack on Peter was a fury beating like sharp hailstones on a tin roof, filling all his awareness with a ceaseless din of fears that paralyzed his will and mind. If only he could breathe more easily, he thought. Or if only he could pierce that contempt.

Dimly he saw the candles sputtering on the night table and glinting on the crucified figure on the cross.

“Rimimb’r, lad, his proide. That’s his weak heel. His proide! Git him on his proide!”

With Conor’s voice in his memory, Peter blurted: “You have been vanquished, vanquished, Smiler, by one who did not fear to be lowly, to be killed. Depart! Smiler! Depart! You have been vanquished by a bloodied will. You cheat. Jesus is your master ...”

The others present heard him croaking the words as they held Marianne down on the bed. A babel set in: everyone was affected. The chest of drawers rocked noisily back and forth, its handles clanked discordantly. The door to the room swung and banged, swung and banged, swung and banged. Marianne’s body shirt split down the middle, exposing her breasts and middle. Her jeans tore at the seams. Her voice rose louder and louder in a series of slow, staccato screams. Great welts appeared across her torso, groin, legs, and face, as if an invisible horsewhip was thrashing her unmercifully. She struggled and kicked and heaved and spat. Now she was incontinent, urinating and excreting all over the bed, filling their nostrils with acrid odor.

Peter kept murmuring: “He vanquished you. He vanquished you. He vanquished you ...” But the pain in his will struggling against that will began to numb him; and his throat was dry. His eyes blurred over. His eardrums were splitting. He felt dirty beyond any human cleansing. He was slipping, slipping, slipping.

“Jesus! Mary! . . . Conor,” he whispered as his knees buckled, “it’s all lost. I can’t hold. Jesus! . . .”

Seven thousand miles away across ocean and continent, in Rome, the doctor nodded to the nurse as he stepped out of Father Conor’s room. He told the father superior there was no point in calling the ambulance. The damage was too massive this time. It would be a matter of mere hours.

It was Conor’s third stroke. He had been fine all that evening. Then in the small hours of the morning, he had called his superior on the house phone from his room:

“Fatherr, I’m goin’ teh cause yeh throubel agin.” When they reached Conor, they found him slumped over his desk, his right hand clutching a crucifix.

“Father, it’s all right. It’s me. It’s all over.”

Peter’s younger colleague helped Peter to his feet. Peter had fallen on his knees and bent over until his forehead touched the floor. By the bed, Peter saw the doctor was listening to Marianne’s heartbeat with a stethoscope. Her father was stroking her hand and talking to her through his tears: “It’s all right, my baby. It’s all right. You’re through. You’re safe, baby. It’s all right.”

The bank manager had gone outside to talk with Marianne’s mother and brother. Marianne was quiet now, breathing regularly. The bed was a shambles. The ex-policeman opened the window, and the sounds of traffic entered the room. It was around 10:15 P.M.

“I must phone Conor early,” Peter said to his colleague. Then, “I wonder what else happened today?” He looked over at Marianne again. “Zio’s visit can’t be all.”

Father James looked at him dumbly, not catching the train of his thought. He would never understand exorcists, he felt.
Then Peter continued: “Is it because love is one throughout the world, and hate is one throughout the world?” Peter addressed the seeming vague question to no one in particular.

The younger priest turned away from the pain he saw on Peter’s face; it was more than he could take just now. “I will get you some coffee,” he said brusquely, feeling the hot tears at the back of his own eyes.

But Peter was looking out the window at the night sky. His mind was far away, his senses almost asleep with fatigue.
Down below Marianne’s window, the crowds were returning from Yankee Stadium. Zio at that moment was standing in a darkened gallery of the Vatican Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, gazing at Michelangelo’s Pietd: the dead Jesus in the arms of his mother. Television cameras carried his voice to millions that night: “We bless all of you, invoking upon you an abundance of heavenly blessings and graces.”



Father Bones and Mister Natch

The marriage was to take place at 8:00 A.M. on the Massepiq seashore, just around Dutchman’s Point, New England. It was already a bright and sunny March day at 7:30 A.M. as the first guests arrived. A landward breeze, like the breath of the sun from the East, blew clusters of white clouds across the blue morning sky and juggled the sea with ripples. The tide, almost fully in and about to ebb, was like a formless giant exhaling and inhaling. It sent wave after wave in an unbroken flow to the long shoreline. Each one broke there with a sharp tap on the sand, spread out a running tapestry of whitened water with a rustling whisper, and then was sucked rasping back over sand and pebbles.

This music of the waters and the thin piping of the wind was a quiet but powerful rhythm that ebbed and flowed, uninterrupted by any other sound. As the guests came, they fell under its spell. It was the voice of a very ancient world that had always existed, always moved, and now seemed to be putting them, the intruders, on notice:

“This is my world you have entered. But since this is the morning of man and woman, my children, I will pause a while. This is a new beginning.”

It was, in fact, exactly the sort of morning that Father Jonathan had hoped for. Everything was natural. The only perfume was the air, crisp with a little chill, fresh with salt, exhilarating with light. The only sanctuary was the sharply shelving beach, with the sand dunes behind it, the sea in front of it, its roof the wide dome of the sky. The only altar was formed by the barefoot bride and bridegroom standing where the waters spread a constantly renewed carpet of foam and spindrift around their feet. The only music was the sounding sea and breeze. The only mystery was this beginning undertaken by two human beings in view of an unseen future.

Father Jonathan arrived last. Punctually at eight he began the ceremony. Barefoot like the bride and the bridegroom, wearing a white sleeveless shirt over his denims and a gold-colored stole around his neck, he stood at the edge of the tide, the sea to his right and the land to his left. In front of him stood Hilda and Jerome, the boy and the girl to be married, both in their early twenties. She, in a white ankle-length dress gathered at her waist by a belt woven of long grasses, her hair parted in the middle, falling down on her shoulders. He, wearing a white shirt over blue shorts. Their faces were quiet and calm, swept clean of any trouble.

Hilda and Jerome had their eyes fixed on Jonathan’s as he began to speak in a loud and exulting voice which, bell-like, carried to the ears of the 40 or so people standing some yards away at the edge of the sand dunes. “Here on the sand by the sea, here where all great human things have always begun, we stand to witness another great beginning. Hilda and Jerome are about to promise each other to each other in the greatest of all human beginnings.”

A pleasant sense of anticipation ran through the listeners. Athletic, bronzed, graceful, deliberate in his movements, taller than either the boy or the girl in front of him, golden hair touching his shoulders, Jonathan was in complete, even dramatic command of the situation. His eyes had the peculiar blue sheen you cannot believe to be natural until you see it. A fire of blue seemed to burn in them, giving off a hypnotic brilliance. They lacked the warm sentiment of brown eyes; but a burnished patina prevented you from reading them, and this created their mystery.

Only one thing marred Jonathan’s appearance. As he gestured grandly and raised his hand in an initial blessing, some of the guests noticed it: his right index finger was crooked. He could not straighten it. But it was a little thing swallowed up in the golden-blue morning, in the blaze of Jonathan’s eyes, in the lilt of the moving sea.

As Jonathan’s voice rang out, and nature kept up its endless rhythm in apparent unison, only one person seemed incongruous. He stood at the back and to one side of the guests, staring intently through Polaroid glasses at the boy and girl. Lanky, clad in sweater and slacks, with both hands thrust in his trousers pockets, he was the only one wearing a hat, a black hat.

“Funny character. Wonder who he is?” Jerome’s father whispered to his wife. But the parents forgot about him momentarily, and no one else particularly noticed him as Father Jonathan’s sermon reached its climax before the actual vows.

“. . . both are entering this mystery. And both are mirrors of nature’s fullness-its womb, its fertility, its nurturing milk, its powerful seed, its supreme ecstasy, its nestling sleep, its mystery of oneness, and the long mysteries of the immortality it alone confers-if we are one with nature and participants in its sacrament of life and of death. As the perfect man, Jesus, our model, was.”

The man in the black hat stirred uneasily, leaning forward to catch every detail, all the while his eyes on the boy and the girl.

Father Jonathan flung a smoldering gaze over the guests to his left. “Many have sought to rob him, our supreme example, of his human value for us.” His voice throbbed with deep emotion. “To cap his glorious life with a weak, milk-and-water ending.


What is all this dreadful chicanery of his supposed resurrection but a cheat? If he died, he died. Completely. Really. What sort of sacrifice and therefore what sort of love for us was there if he died to live again? Thus to rob the sacrifice of its very sting and its true glory and to rob him and us of all true human nobility-is not this the cruel joke of the happy ending they have attached to his heroic death? He, the supreme hero? Making a Grimm’s fairy tale out of the greatest story ever told.

“You, Jerome and Hilda,” again looking at them with pride, “you will love his mystery of human unity; and, in time, like him, you will face death as he did, human, noble, and go back to nature, to be cemented into its eternal oneness where Jesus went with bowed head but triumphant.”

By now the man in the black hat had moved in front of the little crowd of guests.

Jonathan launched into the marriage ceremony proper. “Look now, Hilda and Jerome, all nature is going to pause for one brief instant to witness your vows.” A sweeping gesture took in all the scene, the crooked index finger jabbing oddly askew. “All things, the wind, the sun, the sea, the earth, all will stop in their ways . . .”

Jonathan broke off. He seemed to be having difficulty in drawing his breath. He gulped. His face flushed with the effort to continue. Then he managed to take up again, dictating word for word to Hilda.

“With all my heart, I do take you . . .”
“With all my heart, I do take you,” Hilda echoed in clear, confident tones.
“As my honored husband . . .”
“As my honored husband ...”
“Within the mystery of nature . . .”
“Within the mystery of nature . . .”
“To have and to hold . . .”
“To have and to hold . . .”
“In life and in death . . .”
“In life and in death ...”
“As God’s womb and pleasure . . .”
“As God’s womb and pleasure . . .”
“For the glory of our humanness ...”
“For the glory of our humanness . . .”
“As Jesus before us . . .”
“As Jesus before us . . .”
“World of living and dead . . .”
“World of living and dead . . .”

Hilda slipped the ring onto Jerome’s finger. The guests stirred. Some had become unaccountably tense and could not take their eyes off Jonathan. Afterward, some remarked that it was as if a disfigurement had begun to show through in him.

The man in the black hat, now in front of the dunes and apart from the crowd, still watched intently.

Jerome looked at Jonathan and waited for the words of his vow to Hilda. Hilda’s eyes were on Jerome. All nature, indeed, had seemingly stopped for her. For the first time she felt at one with life, with the world, with her own body.

Jonathan was again struggling with some impediment. His body was stiff. His chest swelled. At last he was able to fill his lungs, and he started to dictate Jerome’s words.

“With this ring . . .”
“With this ring . . .” Jerome took up the words.
“I do take you ...”
“I do take you . . .”
“As my dearly beloved wife . . .”
“As my dearly beloved wife . . .”
“As you have given me . . .”
“As you have given me . . .”
“The wonder and the mystery . . .”
“The wonder and the mystery . . .”

Jerome waited for the next line. But Jonathan was suddenly again almost purple with effort. His blue eyes were bulging now, showing large, terror-ridden whites. His hands, which had been folded across his chest solemnly, now were tensed by his sides, opening and shutting convulsively. He opened his mouth and rasped: “Of being one with nature . . .”

“Of being one with nature . . .” Jerome repeated.
“And-and-and . . .” Jonathan stammered. 


Hilda’s head turned in alarm. Jonathan’s voice was climbing on each syllable toward hysteria. It seemed that every other sound had died out, as everyone hung on Jonathan’s words.

“And-of be-being one with Je-Jes-Jeeeesus”-Jonathan’s voice broke into a screeching crescendo that split the air. “JESUS!” The name was a curse cracking on every ear. His face twisted into an ugliness that froze Hilda with horror.

In a flash Jonathan was on top of Hilda, his outstretched arms catching her under the arms. Now, in his onrush, he was carrying her out bodily into the water, groaning and muttering wildly to himself. He pushed her head down, keeping her face beneath the surface and straddling her body as she kicked and struggled.

The lightning speed of Jonathan’s actions and their crazy incongruity had frozen everybody. For a split second they did not grasp what was happening. Then a woman screamed with the unmistakable, high-pitched warning of mortal danger.

Within seconds half a dozen men ran and tore Jonathan’s hands away from Hilda, struck him across the neck, lifted him off her, and threw him full length on the beach. He lay there thrashing and kicking for a moment, then went still.

Jerome and Hilda’s father lifted Hilda clear of the water; she was gasping for air and sobbing, her long dress trailing rivulets of sand and water. They laid her down on the high ground among the sand dunes, her head pillowed on her mother’s lap. Gradually she recovered her breath, crying uncontrollably. Jerome knelt by her, dazed, his mouth open, his face utterly white, incapable of any word.

Down on the beach, Jonathan lay flat on the sand. He stirred and groaned, turning over on his side. Then, lifting himself up on one elbow, he clambered slowly and fitfully to his feet and swayed unsteadily. His back and side were caked with sand. The water still dripped from his long hair and his clothes. His eyes were bloodshot. His head was lowered. He blinked in the sunlight at the hard stares of the guests ranged around him. He was at bay.

Nobody said anything at first. Then a sharp, metallic voice broke in. “If you will allow me, sir,” addressing Hilda’s father, “I am in charge here now, sir.” The authority and confidence in that voice attracted all eyes to the speaker. It was the strange man, his black hat off now, revealing a lean, not quite youthful face full of lines, beneath a full head of gray hair tousled by the wind. He removed his sunglasses and with a limp came closer to Jonathan, looking steadily at him. Then he said quietly: “You and I have an important appointment now, Father Jonathan.” He paused; then, with a fresh edge to his voice, “The sooner the better.” The black hat was on his head again. He stretched out his hand to Jonathan.

No one spoke. No one objected. Perhaps all were relieved that someone was taking over.

The man spoke again. “The sun will be high in a couple of hours. We have work to do that will not wait. Come!”

Jonathan blinked for a moment. Then shakily he put the hand with the crooked finger into the other man’s open palm. They turned their backs on the sea. Hand in hand, Jonathan stumbling and swaying, the other man limping, they walked up over the dunes and across to the dirt road where the cars were parked, and stopped by a station wagon. They stood there for a moment. The guests could see the man talking to Jonathan. Jonathan, half-bent and leaning on the door handle of the station wagon, was listening, his head bowed. He nodded violently. Then they both got in.

As the car moved off and the sound died away, someone spoke for the first time.

“Who was that?”

Hilda’s father, his eyes filled with tears, watched the station wagon as it disappeared down the road. “Father David,” he muttered. “Father David M. Everything is going to be all right now.” He shook his head, as if freeing his mind from an uncomfortable thought. “He was right all along.”

At the time he led Jonathan stumbling away from the aborted seashore marriage in 1970, Father David M. (“Bones,” as his students liked to call him) was a forty-eight-year-old priest, member of an East Coast diocese, professor of anthropology at a major seminary, and official exorcist for his diocese. He had already conducted four exorcisms himself and he had been assistant at five others. The first had been in Paris, where he had been assistant to an older priest; the others had been in his home diocese.

When David M. started his professional life as an anthropologist in 1956, he could not have dreamed that within ten years his knowledge of anthropology and his enthusiasm for prehistory would be the major reasons for his role as exorcist and later for his involvement in the bizarre case of Father Jonathan. Nor could he have dreamed even in that March of 1970, as the exorcism began, that it would lead him, first, to the most harrowing personal crisis of his life, and then to abandon anthropology as a study and a profession.

When David was born in Coos, New Hampshire’s northernmost county, in 1922, the state, with a population of nearly half a million, was still a rustic farming community, very far removed from the sophisticated centers south in Boston and New York. Coos County in particular was still permeated with the Yankee traditions of hard work, thrift, sobriety; and it hearkened to the preaching of the evils of alcohol, the wisdom of paying cash for what you bought, of self-reliance, individual responsibility, and-as rock-bottom foundation of right living-the infallible, all-sufficient guidance and enlightenment of the Bible. Even today, when the central and southern tiers of the state have suffered from the malice of change, the land itself still carries for the mind the atmosphere of an ancient and undisturbed kingdom. In mountain, lake, cliff, and forest there is a repose as awesome as the naked weight of the Himalayas and the volcanic face of the Sinai Mountains.

David M. was the only child born of affluent Yankee Roman Catholic parents on both sides. He spent his early years on his father’s farm, occasionally visiting the nearby town and, once in a while, traveling down to Portsmouth with his parents for a brief vacation.

The most abiding images David has of the world in his youth are of lakes, mountains, forests, cliffs, rock formations, valleys shaded by trees and crags, and the great, still stretches of land that surrounded his home. His ears still retain the harmonies riding in the place names of his home ground-Ammonoosuc River, Saco River, Franconia range, Merrimack Valley, and the lingering magic of Lake Winni-pesaukee, whose 20 miles of length were clad in foliage, and the names of whose 274 islands he once learned to repeat by heart.

The Roman Catholicism of his parents was of a conservative kind and an intimate part of daily life. Both parents had been to college; his father had studied in Cambridge, England. Both had traveled in Europe. And their home was centered around the library and its large open fireplace, where they gathered after meals and where David spent long hours browsing through his parents’ books.

Many of David’s relatives lived in the surrounding countryside. His playmates were normally his cousins. His earliest memories of any intellectual awakening he traces to the influence of an uncle who, having taught history in Boston for 37 years, finally retired to live on the farm with his brother and sister-in-law, David’s parents.

Old Edward, as they called him, personified for David the stability and permanence of his home; and he deeply influenced David’s mental development. Edward spent most of his days reading. He stirred out of the house ritually twice a day; once, in the morning, to walk around the farm-rain, hail, or snow; a second time, after dinner, when he walked up and down in the shade of a little copse at the west end of the house, smoking his pipe and talking to himself.

David remembers going with Old Edward again and again to view the Great Stone Face, “The Old Man of the Mountain,” high up on its perch above Franconia Notch. “No one knows how it came there, son,” Edward used to remark. “It just happened. Man emerging from raw nature.” It became a symbol in David’s mind, and a preview of how he later came to think of man’s origin.

Whenever David and his Uncle Edward visited the Great Stone Face, the ritual was always the same. Once in view of the “Old Man,” they would sit down and eat lunch over a fire. Afterward, Edward would light his pipe and, staring at the pockmarked profile, start dawdling through the same conversational piece.

“Now, lad! Who do you think made it?”
“It just seems to come out of the earth and rock, sir,” would be David’s reply.

Sometimes Edward would bring a work of his favorite author, Nathaniel Hawthorne. Having read an episode to David, he would discuss it with his nephew. The Scarlet Letter was his most frequent text.

“Why did Arthur die on the scaffold, lad, and with a smile on his lips?” he would ask.

After a while, David knew the expected answer: “Because, sir, he knew he had to pay for his sins.”
And then: “Why did he sin, lad?”
“Because of Adam’s Original Sin, sir,” would be David’s answer.

Once David ventured a question himself. “Why did Hester put the scarlet letter back again in her dress pocket, if it was a bad letter, sir?” The answer came with unerring relish: “She wanted to be romantic, lad. Romantic. That’s what they called it.” It was David’s first introduction to romanticism, an issue that took very tangible and painful form for him later on. The evil spirit he exorcised in Jonathan had possessed Jonathan under the guise of pure romanticism.

When David was fourteen, he was sent to a prep school in New England but his vacations were all spent on the family farm in Coos County. His uncle still lived there; and together they went on several trips to New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Montreal.

It was, however, a trip to Salem, Massachusetts-made at his own request-that became of prime importance in David’s mind. He was sixteen then. His uncle wanted to see the John Turner house, which had been immortalized by Hawthorne in The House of the Seven Gables. But David had been delving into a copy of Cotton Mather’s Ecclesiastical History of New England that he had found in his father’s library; and he was more interested in people such as Elizabeth Knapp, Anne Hibbins, Ann Cole, and other “witches” and “warlocks” of seventeenth-century Salem. So when they had visited the Peabody Museum and the Turner house, they spent an hour and a half in the “witch house” where Judge Corwin had examined the 19 men and women condemned and executed for witchcraft in 1692.

David realized later that his stay in and around the “witch house” had a special significance. As they moved around inside and outside the house, his uncle provided him with a running commentary on the 1692 trials.

All the while, David had a striking but not uncomfortable sensation or instinct that “invisible eyes,” as he put it then to his uncle, or “spirits,” as he puts it now, were present to him and communicating in an odd way. They seemed to be asking something. It was as if one part of his mind listened and recorded his uncle’s commentary and the sights around him, while another part was preoccupied with other, intangible “words” and “sights.”

Striking as the experience was at the time, it did not in any way obsess his thoughts in ensuing years. In fact, he never vividly recalled this Salem experience until 32 years later at Old Edward’s death and again during the exorcism of Father Jonathan.

No one in David’s circle of family and friends was surprised when he decided to enter the seminary in 1940. His father would have preferred an Army career for him; his mother had nourished a secret hope of grandchildren. But David had made up his mind.

After seven years, when he was ordained in 1947 at the age of twenty-five, the bishop asked whether he would be willing to go through some extra years of study. The diocese needed a professor of anthropology and ancient history. If he agreed, he would first earn a doctorate in theology: Roman authorities were chary of letting any young cleric loose in scientific fields without a special grounding in doctrine. It might not be easy or pleasant, because Rome did not think highly of American theologates. The whole program would take about seven more years of David’s life.

In spite of the possible difficulties, David consented. The following autumn he started to follow theological courses in Rome; and then, in the autumn of 1950, he proceeded to the Sorbonne in Paris.

Like many others of that time, he had heard much about a French Jesuit named Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, but he had never been exposed to his thought. In Paris he fell under the direct influence of the ideas which Teilhard had generated. For postwar Catholic, intellectuals, Teilhard was something of a phenomenon; and from the mid-igsos and on he enjoyed the reputation of a twentieth-century Aquinas, and evoked the type of personal devotion that only a Bonaventure and a Ramon Llul had attracted in earlier centuries.

French of the French, intellectual, ascetic, World War I hero, brilliant student, innovative teacher, mystic, discoverer of Pekin Man (Sinanthropos), pioneer excavator in Sinkiang, the Gobi Desert, Burma, Java, Kashmir, South Africa, Teilhard set out to make it intellectually possible for a Christian to accept the theories of Darwinian evolution and still retain his religious faith.

All matter, said Teilhard, is and always has been transfused with “consciousness,” however primitive. Through billions of years and through all the forms of chemical substance, plant, animal, and finally human life, this “consciousness” had blossomed. It is still blossoming; and now, in this final stage of its development, it is about to burst forth in a final culmination: the Omega Point, when all humans and all matter will be elevated to a unity only dreamed by the visionaries and saints of the past. The key character of the Omega Point will be Jesus, asserted Teilhard. And so all will be gathered into all, and all will be one in the love and permanent being of achieved salvation.

By 195°. when David arrived in Paris, Teilhard and his doctrines had become too much for the Roman authorities with their long memories. Teilhard’s critical eyes, his ready flow of language, his Gallic logic, his constant ability to answer inquisitorial questions with a flood of professional and technical details, his refusal to kowtow intellectually, and his very daring attempt to synthesize modern science with the ancient faith-all this frightened ecclesiastical minds. It was not only Teilhard’s aquiline nose that reminded the authorities of his eighteenth-century ancestor, Descartes, whose ideas they still considered anathema. It was as well, and chiefly, Teilhard’s attempt to rationalize the mysteries of Catholic belief, to “scientize” the Divine and make the truths of revelation totally explicable in terms of test tubes and fossil remains.

Teilhard: dedicated to the “clear and distinct ideas” of Descartes, the father of all modern scientific reasoning; fired inwardly by the personal ideals of Ignatius, father not only of all Jesuits but of all the lone and the brave; lured onward by the mystical darkness of wisdom celebrated by his favorite author, John of the Cross, whose pains he shared but whose ecstasy ever escaped him; honed and refined in intellect by the best scientific training of his day; Teilhard was the custom-built answer, the ready-made darling for the bankrupt Catholic intellectuals of his century and for thousands of Protestants caught in the heel of the hunt by the vicious clamps of that merciless reason they had championed as man’s glory some four centuries previously. Teilhard was, at one and the same time, their trailblazer and their martyred hero. For the tired and besieged French and Belgians he produced shining shibboleths to cry and a new pride to wear. He fanned into a blaze the cold fire that slowly burned in the brains of innovation-hungry Dutch and Germans. He nourished the ever-latent emotionalism of Anglican divines, who by then were floating free of traditional shackles.

His new terminology (he was the author of many current neologisms), his daring thought, his scientific panoply, his international reputation, his refusal to revolt when silenced by chicanery, his long vigil, his obscure death, and finally the flashing wonder of his posthumous fame and publication, all this conferred on him, on his name, and on his ideas the efficacy once enjoyed by a Joan of Arc, a Francis Xavier, and a Simone Weil. When Rome would never canonize him, he was canonized by a new “voice of the people.” He was a marvelous source of esoteric words and intricate thoughts for American pop theologians.

Very few realized that Teilhard’s vision had ceased long before his death. He had provided Christians with only a respite between the long autumn of the nineteenth century and the winter that enshrouded everything in the late twentieth century. Teilhard was neither strong food to satisfy real hunger nor heavenly manna for a new Pentecost. He was merely a stirrup cup of heady wine.

Under Pius XII, the Roman Catholic Church of the post-World War II period was being constantly purged of “dangerous ideas.” And Teilhard fell foul of the censors.

He was silenced and exiled, forbidden to publish or lecture. Nevertheless, his ideas ran through the intellectual milieu of Europe and America like mercury. David with many others drank deeply of this wine of ideas and believed that they were on their way to a new dawn.

Of course, David knew from the start that he was destined for anthropology later on. Therefore, in Rome he concentrated on those theological questions which had a direct bearing on anthropology. He studied, in particular, the divine creation of the material world and of man, the Adam and Eve doctrine and that of Original Sin. He found that Church teaching was explicit: God had created the world, if not exactly in seven days, at least directly and out of nothing. There had been a first man, Adam, and a first woman, Eve. Both had sinned. Because of their sin, all other men and women-for all men and women who ever existed were descended from Adam and Eve-were deprived of a divine quality called grace. They were born with Original Sin. And this condition was only changed by the sacrament of Baptism.

David was troubled that doctrines stated in this way, even including all the refinements and modifications allowed, were extremely difficult to explain in the light of the theories of paleontology current in his time. And the greater the impact of science on the mind, the more dramatic the difficulty.

When the full weight of anthropological and cross-cultural studies was brought to bear on the question of human origins, a human being seemed to have a long and remote ancestry during which not merely his body was formed but what was called his mind and higher instincts were fashioned. And, of course, if you once admitted these beliefs and assumptions of “scientific” theory to be “facts,” or even highly probable, the idea of God creating the human condition and sending his son, Jesus, to save it from its dire predicament, this central theme of all Christianity was up for auction to the highest bidder.
The genius of Teilhard was that his bid was as high as that of any non-Catholic or non-Christian in the field, to construct a bridge across such an impassable and impossible gap. And it was in view of this promise that David, along with a whole generation of men and women, adopted Teilhard’s formulation.

But the fatal flaw was quick and sure. The creating god of Christians was no longer taken as divine. He became internal to the world in a mysterious and essential way. Jesus, as savior, was no longer the conquering hero irrupting into the human universe and standing history on its head. He was reduced to the peak of that universe’s evolution, as natural an element in the universe as amino acids. The thrust that would finally bring forth Jesus in the sight of all men was an evolutionary accident-a kind of cosmic joke-that started over five billion years ago in helium, hydrogen gases, and amino acids of protean space. That thrust had no choice but to keep on thrusting until it gave birth to the refined and culminating flower of “full human consciousness” in the “latter days.”

Like the Great Stone Face on Franconia Notch that David remembered so vividly from his visits with his uncle, Jesus now simply emerged from nature. The Omega Point. Only this would be the final hour of glory, the Last Day.

Neither David nor many others who spoke of the “greatest biological adventure of all time”-meaning human history-were alerted to the fact that, once the ancient beliefs of Christianity were interpreted in this fashion, it was a matter of time before other fundamental issues were affected, and very hard-nosed conclusion* would have to be drawn. But present euphoria often beclouds later issues. Intellectual freedom has its own chains, its own brand of myopia. And a triumph of mere logic seems always to carry with it a neglect both of the human and of the essence of spirit.

In this ferment, David’s mentality matured.

From those years spent in doctoral studies, David has two deeply personal memories. Both took place on the occasion of his Uncle Edward’s death. It was during David’s second last year at the Sorbonne that the old man, in his eighties by then, started to die. David had just arrived back in Paris from a field trip in southern France when he received a telegram from his father: Old Edward had not much time; he had asked for David repeatedly.

David caught a flight that evening. By the following evening he was back in Coos County on the family farm. Edward was sinking gradually, coming out of semicomatose states and lapsing back again.

Toward midnight of David’s second day at home, he was sitting in Edward’s room reading. His family had retired for the night. The room’s only light came from the reading lamp on the desk where David sat. Outside all was quiet. A late wind sighed softly in the trees. Occasionally a very distant cry would echo from the surrounding countryside.

At a certain moment David raised his head and looked at Edward. He thought he had heard the sound of a voice. But the old man was lying still, breathing with difficulty. David went over, dipped a hand towel in a bowl of water, and mopped the perspiration from Edward’s forehead. He was about to return to his chair when he again heard, or thought he heard, a voice-or voices-he was not sure. He looked at Edward: he was unchanged. Then he lifted his head and listened.

If he had not known better, he would have sworn that about half a dozen people were talking with low voices in the next room. But he knew that, except for his parents and one house woman, he was alone with Edward in the house.

Edward stirred uneasily and drew in a few quick breaths. His eyelids fluttered for a moment. He opened them slowly. His gaze traveled across the ceiling to the far corner of the room, then back again to David. “Can I help you, sir?” David asked. He had never addressed Edward in any other way. Edward gave a characteristic shake of his head which David knew so well from the past.

Almost immediately Edward went into a short death agony, inhaling long, deep breaths, exhaling laboriously, heaving his chest, and groaning. David pressed the bell to call his parents, knelt down by the head of the bed, and started to pray in a whisper.

But a motion of the old man’s finger stopped him. Edward was trying to say something. David bent his ear down close to the dying man’s mouth. He could barely hear the breathed syllables: “. . . prayed for them ... I prayed for them . . . coming to take me home . . . you did not . . . lad . . ., home . . . you did not . . . home . . .”

Those voices, David thought. Those voices. Men and women. When had he been with Edward and others when Edward had prayed for those others and he had not? Why would they need prayers? He could not get it out of his head that Edward had been talking about their visit to Salem. He did not see any connection. But he could not rid himself of the idea.

Edward expelled one long breath. His lips moved and twisted slightly. David heard a faint rattle in his throat. Then he found himself alone in that long, deadening, unbroken quiet when the dying is done. Edward’s eyes opened to the glassy sightlessness of a dead man’s look.

After they buried Old Edward, David stayed for a couple of days; then he went down to New York. He had one or two errands to do in the city, and he had a chance to meet Teilhard de Chardin. He brought with him a copy of Teilhard’s Le Milieu Divin in the hope of an autograph.

The meeting with the French Jesuit was brief and poignant for David. The mutual friend who arranged the meeting warned David as they drove to meet Teilhard that the old man had not been well lately. “Let’s make the visit brief. Okay?”

Teilhard was much thinner than David had expected. He greeted David affably but crisply in French, chatted for a few minutes about David’s career as an anthropologist, then took the copy of his book from David’s hands and looked at it pensively. As if making up his mind on the spur of the moment, he took a pen from his pocket and wrote some words on the flyleaf, closed the book, handed it back, and glanced at David. Teilhard’s lips were pursed characteristically, his head slightly bent to one side and forward.

David noticed the strength of Teilhard’s chin. But, much more, it was the expression in Teilhard’s eyes that imprinted itself on David’s memory. David had expected to see the long, deep look of a man who had traveled very far and thought very steeply of the deepest issues in life. Instead, looking at him across the humped curve of that aquiline nose, Teilhard’s eyes were very wide open. They had no hint in them of memories or reflections, no remnants of Teilhard’s own storms. There were no traces of any glinting intelligence. The old paleontologist was completely with David, totally present to him, taking in David’s own glance with a personable expression and a direct j simplicity that almost embarrassed the younger man.
After a few seconds, the older man said: “You will be true. You will be true, Father.

Search for the spirit. But, even if all else goes, give hope. Hope.”

Their looks held together for a moment more. Then they parted. Returning to the center of the city, David remarked to the friend who was driving: “Why in the end, or how in the end, did it become so simple for him?” His friend had no answer for him.

Suddenly, David remembered: what had Teilhard written on the flyleaf of his book? He opened it. Teilhard’s dedication ran: “They said I opened Pandora’s Box with this book. But, they did not notice, Hope was still hiding in one of its corners.”

David was bothered for weeks after that meeting by a nagging idea that hope had become difficult for the seventy-three-year-old Jesuit. But after his return to Paris for the remainder of his courses at the Sorbonne, the sharpness of the incident faded temporarily to the back of his memory.

By the time David returned to the United States in June 1955, Teilhard had been dead for over two months.

When he did return to the United States, few of David’s former associates and acquaintances could recognize the new intellectual man he had become. He was thirty-four by then, in robust physical condition. His six-foot frame was lean and well muscled. His friends did notice the premature grayness, the faint but definite lines of maturity around his mouth, the disappearance from his face of that youthful ebullience with which he had been clothed five years before when he set out for Europe.

Another look had replaced the ebullience: it was a certain “definitiveness,” as one friend described it. David’s eyes were fuller in meaning. He spoke just as pleasantly as before, but less casually and with an emphasis that conveyed more meaning than ever before. When he talked of deep matters, those around him felt that what he thought and said came from an inner wealth of experience and resources gathered carefully, marshaled in harmony, and kept bright and burnished for use. He had the “finished” look. And more than one elder colleague remarked, “One day, he’ll be the bishop.”

Before starting his lectures at the seminary, David spent one extra year in private study, visiting museums, and traveling to various parts of the world where paleontologists were working in the field. This extra year was invaluable to him; he had time to reflect on the condition of research, to catch up on his reading, to acquaint himself with professional colleagues in the field, and to examine the various diggings firsthand. Then, in mid-September 1956, he arrived home to Coos County for two weeks’ vacation on the farm with his parents. The following October he started giving his first courses at the seminary.

The next nine years of his life passed uneventfully. From the beginning he was popular and highly thought of. The students conferred on him the nickname of “Bones” because of the fossils he kept in glass cases in his study.

In May 1965, he was again staying in Paris, attending an international convention. During the three weeks he was there, he was asked one evening by an old friend, a parish priest from a northern French diocese, to help out as a substitute assistant at the exorcism of a fifty-year-old man.

David had very little knowledge of Exorcism. Indeed, from his anthropological studies he was inclined to regard Exorcism as a remnant of past superstition and ignorance. Like any well-indoctrinated anthropologist, he could parallel the Roman Catholic Exorcism rite with scores of similar rites from Africa to Oceania and throughout Asia.

“No, Father David,” the parish priest had answered him amicably when David had let the old man know that in his opinion Exorcism and satanic possession belonged to the world of invented myth and fable. “No, Father. This is not the way it is. Myths are never made. They are born out of countless generations. They embody an instinct, a deep community feeling. Fables are made as containers, fashioned by men deliberately to preserve the lessons they have learned. But this-satanic possession, Exorcism-well! come and see for yourself. At any rate, help me out.”

In this exorcism David was substituting for a young priest who had fallen ill in the course of the rite. The exorcism had already lasted about 30 hours. “Just another couple of hours, and it is the end,” the old parish priest had told him before beginning.

In fact, by the time David entered the case, the worst was over. After only two and a half hours more, the parish priest was about to complete the exorcism and expel the evil spirit. He asked David to hand him the holy-water flask and the crucifix.