Chapter 24

in which Father Smith attends an audience of Pope Pius XI.

In the Hall of Audiences the squat dumpy figure of His Holiness Pope Pius XI, two hundred and sixty-first Vicar of Christ on earth, passed among the pilgrims, scattering benedictions. Jammed in between three nuns from Montevideo and a baritone from Alaska, Monsignor O'Duffy murmured, to his companions, Canon Smith and Canon Bonnyboat, 'His Holiness and me have met before, so mind and let me dae the blethering.' But the Supreme Pontiff's eyes were vacant behind his gleaming glasses as he passed the kneeling monsignore. He stretched out his hand, however, for Canon Smith to kiss his ring. 'Vous êtes de quelle nationalité, mon fils?' he asked in French. 'I am Scots, Holiness,' Canon Smith replied in English, for he knew that the Pope was an excellent linguist. 'Ah, Sgotz,' His Holiness murmured in the same tongue. 'How very interesting.' The two hundred and sixty-first Vicar of Christ passed on scattering benedictions.


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