Work of Human Handsrnby Chilton Williamson, Jr.rnThe priest liad just closed the volume by Thomas a Kempisrnon the bookmark and put away what was left of the bottlernof wine when the telephone rang. He answered it reluctantlyrnand recognized Mrs. Corclli’s voice on the line, begging him tornhurry and saying that the doctor was already on his way. RosarnCorelli was a widow in her late 80’s, who was driven to Massrnevery Sunday by her grandson, a married man in his 40’s whorncame for her when the service was over; in the past six monthsrnshe had suffered a series of attacks. The priest glanced at thernclock that was beside the phone. It said nearly 11, and hernfelt sleepy and thickheaded. He promised Mrs. Corelli tliat hernwould come as quickly as he could, and hung up the receiver.rnIn the bedroom he put on his collar and shoes, his fingersrnworking clumsily against the buttons and laces. The snowstormrnhad caused him to cancel a trip out of town, and for thernfirst time in weeks he had been able to sit alone in the rectoryrnand read, making notes for the book he was writing, withoutrninterruption. He was surprised to discover how late it was;rnalso how much of the wine was gone. Wine was FatherrnI hllary’s sole luxury, in which he indulged himself regvilarly exceptrnduring Lent. He had acquired a palate when he wasrnstudying in Paris at the Sorbonne, learning to discriminaternamong wines at the same time that he wa.s mastering Augustinernand Aquinas. His rule was to restrict himself to two glassesrna night at supper, but this evening he had eaten from arntray table while reading I’he Imitation of Christ in his big armchair,rnso engrossed that he must have neglected to keep countrnof the glasses he had poured from the magnum bottle besidernhim. He finished finally with the shoes and collar and went tornthe vestibule for his coat, hat, and boots.rnThe glass panes inset in the outer door were frosted in patternsrnlike cathedral windows where the heat from the forced-airrnsystem came up through the grate in the floor. The stormrnhad eased away in great slow wheels to the east, leaving behindrnChilton WiUiamson, jr.,rnChronicles.rn: senior editor for hooks atrnit a lake of bitter cold. Father I lillary opened the door and feltrnthe night, like an entire world, rise up against him; the onlyrnsound was the creak of snow beneath the tires of a slowly passingrnvehicle. Above the almost lightless town, the stars shonernwith a brilliant intensity they had lacked in Princeton, New Jersey,rnand in France, where they had been obscured by a mixturernof smoke and fog in pastel colors. His car was parked outsidernthe garage with an extension cord running from under thernhood to the electrical outlet just inside the garage door, whichrnhad jammed in its tracks in a halfway position; one of hisrnparishioners had promised to come and repair it in the morning.rnHe went to the car through the dry light snow that liftedrnin clouds about his boots, aware of the terrible cold against hisrnheated cheeks. Once he set a foot down wrong, but managedrnto regain his balance without breaking stride in the snow.rnThe priest switched on the ignition and in the shine of thernheadlights unplugged the extension cord from the block heater.rnThen he got in behind the wheel again and drove across thernwide snowy parking area to the street, where he continued forrna couple of blocks before making a left turn toward the centerrnof town. The engine had no warmth yet for the heater tornpump; Father Hillary’s breath fogged the windows and thernlenses of the eyeglasses he needed to drive with. Ahead, thernstreet dropped steeply down from one shelf of bungalows tornthe next, a slope of pale slippery ice descending to the hotrncolored lights of the bars at the heart of the downtown businessrndistrict. The priest, though he was in a hurry, did notrndare to drive very fast. When he reached the intersection atrnthe foot of the hill, the light-box said DON’T WALK but therntraffic-light above it remained green. The priest tapped the acceleratorrnand depressed the signal lever for a left turn.rnHe drove with his left eye, the lens in front of the right onernhaving become fogged suddenly. Father Hillary removed thernglasses hastily, rubbed them on the lapel of his coat, and wasrnattempting to return them to the bridge of his nose when anrnearpiece caught somewhere and they were snatched from hisrnhand. They fell at his feet under the pedals and he lunged forrn22/CHRONICLESrnrnrn