Anne Redmon is a living Catholic novelist whose writing ought to be better known in this country. She is an American by birth who married young, and into British Catholic literary royalty. (She is married to She-Evelyn’s son). This excerpt is from her second novel, “Music and Silence,” published in its first U.S. edition in 1979. The novel’s spine is the intense, strange and soul-searching friendship that develops between two single women: Beatrice (a Catholic doctor) and Maud (an agnostic cellist). The scene below takes place after a strange, raving evangelist has broken into Maud’s apartment upstairs and confronted her:
“‘Where is the Foot of the Cross?’ It was as if all the brandy and soothing had been for nothing. Maud’s eyes seized an inward vision and fixed themselves upon it. Oh, not shock. Beatrice apprised longer, deeper shock. Something that had shocked and shocked and shocked again the girl’s mind to this pitch. There was something so raucous about the voice, so hoarse,
Gently, she said, ‘Have you been thinking about that for the last few weeks-that sort of thing?’
‘No! No, that’s was so odd. I haven’t. I don’t understand why it upset me so. I’ve thought about God-as I said to you earlier. I’ve even prayed once or twice. He just went on and on about it. “Are you saved?” “Well, if you don’t know you are, you aren’t”-I don’t know-then over and over again, he got wilder and wilder, “Come to the Foot of the Cross.” I kept asking him where it was. It made him angrier and angrier.’
‘That was because he couldn’t explain it.’ Beatrice felt a fundamental sympathy for the man.
‘No, that wasn’t it. It was demands with menaces-he was full of threats. I can’t explain it. His face was terrible. I was never so terrified in all my life. He kept going on about my crime, some crime I had committed. You saw him. If you hadn’t seen him, I wouldn’t believe it had happened.’
‘How did you get him to leave?’
‘I screamed. Or at least I think I did. I think I screamed. Yes, of course I did. He’s going to kill me.’
Beatrice was at once alert. ‘Did he say so?’
She just shook her head. ‘I just feel it. You have no idea what he was like.’
Beatrice had an idea what he was like.
The man’s fanaticism touched the lip of an inner wound and she winced. To Beatrice, religion was not a pastime; it was an absorbing hole in her centre which she fell into nightly, daily: it permeated the veins in her hands and occupied her temples as a whole way of life. With her, it had got beyond an idea which made her happy or unhappy; it was not a duty but a reality plumbed without finding its depths and aspired to without discovering its height. In her work, she was accustomed to death daily, and although she had bent herself in some respects from a too-close inspection of it, it was familiar to her and not a particular outrage. She had had to distance herself from death in order to cope with it and she had come to assume it into the pattern of her religious beliefs, which coped with the awesome and the gruesome adequately for her. Her ulterior life, however, was not so resolved or connected.
Her fear of the man was at once made clear to her. A deeper threat than a mortal one insisted itself on her mind as the true threat she had sensed on the stair.”