The day was fixed for the ceremony itself, in a corrugated iron hut on the edge of the Railway Hotel at Beaconsfield, the town at that stage having no recusant place of worship.  Father Ignatius Rice came over from the nearby Douai Abbey.  Ronald Knox arrived from Oxford, and they all sat awaiting the appearance of Mr Belloc.  The moments ticked by, turning first into half an hour and then an hour.  Frances Chesterton, still loyal to her Anglicanism and broken-hearted by her husband’s defection, was in floods of tears, and Father Rice had to take her into the bar of the hotel for a drink to calm her nerves, while Father O’Connor heard Chesterton’s confession in the tin tabernacle.  At length, they abandoned any hope of Belloc’s appearing, and they proceeded with the ceremony in an agony of awkwardness.  Father O’Connor remembered too late that he had neglected to bring his Ritual […].  Chesterton thought that he had one, and fished about in his elephantine pockets and produced a ‘threepenny shocker’  before the prayer book, mingled with string, chalk, sweet papers and tobacco, made its unexpected appearance.  The perfunctory rite was performed to the accompaniment of Frances Chesterton’s lachrymose sniffing, and Ronald Knox felt afterwards that the occasion had been ‘spoilt’ by Belloc’s negligent failure to appear. 

A month later, Maurice Baring wrote to Belloc to ask if it was true that Chesterton had at last been reconciled to the Holy See.  He received the reply, dated from the Reform Club on August 25th.  ‘Yes, Gilbert was received in the end of July.  I think the date was Sunday, the 23rd, but on that I am not absolutely sure.  It is a very astonishing occurrence, but these things are always astonishing.’

From Hilaire Belloc by A. N. Wilson (London, 1984)

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