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MALLOCK W.
In an enchanted island
page 233

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not as a meditative pilgrim, but in the mind and mood proper to a visitor at a country house. The monastery itself was a square mud structure, surrounding a court that was half blocked up with a church. The monks' cells and refectory were simply whitewashed rooms, opening on untidy balconies ; and they suggested nothing but farm-buildings out of repair. The suggestions of the court were similar. There were heaps of manure and puddles in it ; and the monks themselves, who flocked out to inspect us, had about them a pathetic air of the furrows. The faithful Scotty, who had tramped after us with my camera, induced them to stand in a group, whilst I took a photograph of their church. I then realised that there was an old woman amongst them, who so far as I could see must have been the monastic char-woman. I know the reader will not be shocked at this. Scandal itself would have been silent had she lived alone with St. Antony. The photograph taken, several of the younger monks came peeping through the lens, expecting to see the picture. Meanwhile, the senior members of the fraternity pointed to the church, and invited us to enter it. We did so. It was a plain building, with whitewashed sides, and a heavy rounded roof; and, except for a screen at the end, was bare as an empty barn. I knew, however, beforehand that here, surrounded by puddles and whitewash, was preserved a certain treasure unrivalled in Eastern Christendom. I soon saw where it was. The screen I have just mentioned was covered with 230 IN AN ENCHANTED ISLAND

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