THIS CHANCE MEETING with Carry, inconsequential though it might appear, accelerated a change in me which, no doubt, was already on the way. The dormant half of my nature, so long overlaid and suppressed, began at last to awaken and, persuasively, to assert itself. Was it the spirit, prim and puritanical, of my mother's Covenanting ancestors? Or a whisper, far back on my father's side, from some Celtic mystic rapt in the dim interior of a turf-roofed tuath on the hill of Tara? I cannot attribute it to senility, since I was not yet forty and full of health and vigor. Yet whatever the primal cause, the effects were apparent enough.
The word "conversion" is thoroughly obnoxious to me, suggestive of a revivalist meeting where, under stress of mass emotion, the erstwhile sinner leaps forth with a hysterical promise of atonement. Nor am I prig enough to claim for myself any great and dramatic moral regeneration. I was no Saul of Tarsus, no Augustine impelled by a sudden vision to swift and passionate amendment. Nevertheless there was manifest in me about this time a new attitude toward life, and especially toward religion. This in itself was a remarkable reversal since, because of the peculiar circumstances of my upbringing, I had long maintained a show of indifference toward organised belief.
I may be better understood when I explain that my mother, a Montgomerie, branch of one of the oldest and most Protestant Scottish families, had, when only nineteen, fallen deeply in love with a young Irish Catholic, had run away from home, married him, and, in the excess of her affection, voluntarily adopted his faith. As the sole