“The Demon is among us. A dangerous and murderous creature, vile and vicious, debased and disgusting, an abomination and an affront to God Almighty and all of His creatures. He walks among us, disguised as us, eating of our bread, enjoying and abusing our cherished liberties.”
Bishop Mather’s hard eyes looked out over the pulpit to the congregation. There were three churches in Bungay, but St. Mary’s was the largest, the one to which the best families of town belonged. I recognized their faces from the market, where they had all been warm and smiling. Now they sat on the cold wooden pews, their backs stiff and their eyes locked on Bishop Mather. Even the littlest children dared not squirm.
“He is a slave to the Devil,” the bishop continued, his voice rolling over us like a thick fog. “A man cannot serve two masters. A man must choose to serve God, or he must surely choose the Devil. And be he the Devil in Hell or the Devil in Rome makes no difference.”
A curious trick among the congregation. Although they kept their eyes on Bishop Mather, and he kept his on them, they were all watching us for a reaction. Our family histories—Winston and Edmonstone—were well-known. In broad outlines they differed little from those of our neighbors: until Henry VIII all of England had been Catholic, as indeed had almost all of Europe. By the reign of Queen Elizabeth we were Protestant, like most English noble families. But long after the kingdom had renounced Catholicism, our families continued to marry Catholics: Isabelle’s father had found a wife in Spain, and my mother’s mother had come from Portugal. And then, of course, my father’s mother was a witch. Or his grandmother was, or possibly both.
They watched us as Bishop Mather spoke, checking our reactions and judging appropriately.
“A reckoning is coming,” he continued. I admitted that he had a very powerful presence. He appeared every inch a giant. Fee-fie-fo-fum. “The Devil’s servant in Westminster would wrap us in his coils and crush England. He would lay the yoke down upon our necks and press us down before that Antichrist, and commit the care of our England’s sheep to the very wolves of the Vatican.”