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TERROR and dismayreigned in the halls of the Vatican. Never since the appearance of the comet as an uninvited guest at the siege of Constantinople, had the Papal Council been in such a quandary. Through the long halls, the lofty salons, rushed a perturbed crowd of pallid dignitaries. Canons, bishops, cardinals, filled the passage-ways. Even the monks and friars who were on prayer-duty dropped their beads and hastened to the scene of excitement. A stream of Ecclesiastical big guns who were off duty came pouring up the cellar stairs. In a great chair, at the foot of the grand staircase, surrounded by censer-boys, sat Pio Nono, much incensed. A frown distorted his benevolent countenance; his attire and manner were ruffled; one of his red shoes was lying some distance off on the floor, and the holy toe tapped impatiently on the pavement. In short, his Holiness had, as the French would express it, l'air d'avoir tire le diable par la queue.

It was all owing to the page, Giacomo.

The Cardinal Antonelli had passed the day in dictating foreign despatches breathing words of hope from the imprisoned Pontiff, and hinting that, in such a time of duress and heretic persecution, it was hoped that the material offerings of believers would not be diminished, to the detriment of their spiritual welfare. After having accomplished this duty, his Eminence had presented himself at the apartments of the Pope, whence both had started, with the usual retinue, to descend the grand staircase to the oratory. All had proceeded with proper dignity until the last step was reached, where Giacomo, a youth at all times ungodly, and prone to sensual enjoyment, had been eating an orange. Plus IX. slipped on the orange-peel, and became suddenly couchant en azur.

Now, whether Antonelli had taken an extra dose of chain lightning by way of lightening his chains, remains a matter of doubt; but certain it is that he so far forgot himself as to give vent to one or two unmistakable guffaws at the mishap of his master.

But the rising snicker was soon checked by the expression on the Pontifical countenance. Slightly troubled, Antonelli deprecatingly inquired if his venerable friend could n't take a joke; and, as the Pope was beginning to mutter something very much resembling an excommunication "published for general distribution," a sympathizing chorus of inquiries arose, and hopes that no bones were broken, -

"Bones," said the Pope, "my bones are all right; but - where's my infallibility?"

* * * * *

Horror stalked grimly through the marble halls, and walked all over the faces of the by-standers.

"Santo Pedro!" said Monsignor McClosky, whose Italian was defective.

"Corpo di Bac - Cristo," said Antonelli.

"Bis - "said Giacomo.

"Who?" interrupted Antonelli, with a frown.

"- millah," said Giacomo.

"Oh!" said the Cardinal.

"But what's to be done?" inquired the Pope.

"Can't we kape it saycret?" blurted out McCloskey.

Ledochowski pointed down a long passage-way, at the end of which could be seen a party of Cook's tourists, doing the Vatican by torchlight. Among them could be seen a shadowy individual with a dark-lantern and a note-book.

"It's Jenkins himself, of the Boston Saturday Evening Chemisette," sighed Antonelli.

"No use," said a monk; "better send for Father Polhemus."

In all the brotherhood of the Church, no man's advice was more sought for than that of Father Polhemus. Born at Ithaca, N. Y., he received a sound Catholic education at Cornell University, several years before that institution was founded. He was the originator of the famous Know-Nothing Society, for which ingenious device for promoting the cause of the true Church he received the mitre. It was his hand that applied the torch to the Roman Catholic Convent at Somerville, Mass.,- a deed which has always been considered a master-stroke of Church policy.

No man knew better than be how to manage the annual miracle of the liquefying of the blood at Naples; how to temper the success to the receipt of offerings; how to have the grand climax at the proper moment. Therefore, when his portly frame appeared at the entrance to the refectory, all hopefully awaited the opening of his lips.

"The Pope's infallible," said he.

A chorus of assent.

"Therefore, his fall is a miracle."

An enthusiastic "Si! si!"

"Miracles are worked by the hand of God."

"E vero! e vero!!"

"To be handled by God is a special mark of favor."

"Naturlich," said Ledochowski.

"And the instrument of Providence was a fiendish German assassin, seeking the life of our most high Viceroy, whom may Heaven confound!"

Shouts of delight rent the air, no one noticing the ambiguity in the last sentence.

"Kneel down, John Polhemus," said the Pope, "and arise CARDINAL POLYMETES!"

Antonelli's face turned as red as the robe that was the emblem of his dignity. He retired, to compose a telegram bearing the news of this last diabolical act instigated by the heretical German premier. As he passed, his eye met the luckless Giacomo, cowering behind a statue. For one second the full flash of the Cardinal's eye was focussed on the unfortunate page. When he went on, the page was no longer there.

* * * * * * *

All is quiet in the Papal palace. The stillness is only disturbed by the shouts of a detachment of the Swiss Guard, who are busied over a bowl of holy-water punch in the cellar, and the monotonous chanting of a relief-guard of bishops, who are cursing Bismarck with all the form and ceremony of the Church.

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