The English papers spoke of it as one of the largest and most distinguished parties ever given at Windsor. Clemens attended it in company with Mr. and Mrs. J. Henniker Heaton, and when it was over Sir Thomas Lipton joined them and motored with them back to Brown's.
He was at Archdeacon Wilberforce's next day, where a curious circumstance developed. When he arrived Wilberforce said to him, in an undertone:
"Come into my library. I have something to show you."
In the library Clemens was presented to a Mr. Pole, a plain-looking man, suggesting in dress and appearance the English tradesman. Wilberforce said:
"Mr. Pole, show to Mr. Clemens what you have brought here."
Mr. Pole unrolled a long strip of white linen and brought to view at last a curious, saucer-looking vessel of silver, very ancient in appearance, and cunningly overlaid with green glass. The archdeacon took it and handed it to Clemens as some precious jewel. Clemens said:
"What is it?"
Wilberforce impressively answered:
"It is the Holy Grail."
Clemens naturally started with surprise.
"You may well start," said Wilberforce; "but it's the truth. That is the Holy Grail."
Then he gave this explanation: Mr. Pole, a grain merchant of Bristol, had developed some sort of clairvoyant power, or at all events he had dreamed several times with great vividness the location of the true Grail. Another dreamer, a Dr. Goodchild, of Bath, was mixed up in the matter, and between them this peculiar vessel, which was not a cup, or a goblet, or any of the traditional things, had been discovered. Mr. Pole seemed a man of integrity, and it was clear that the churchman believed the discovery to be genuine and authentic. Of course there could be no positive proof. It was a thing that must be taken on trust. That the vessel itself was wholly different from anything that the generations had conceived, and was apparently of very ancient make, was opposed to the natural suggestion of fraud.
Clemens, to whom the whole idea of the Holy Grail was simply a poetic legend and myth, had the feeling that he had suddenly been transmigrated, like his own Connecticut Yankee, back into the Arthurian days; but he made no question, suggested no doubt. Whatever it was, it was to them the materialization of a symbol of faith which ranked only second to the cross itself, and he handled it reverently and felt the honor of having been one of the first permitted to see the relic. In a subsequent dictation he said:
I am glad I have lived to see that half-hour--that astonishing half- hour. In its way it stands alone in my life's experience. In the belief of two persons present this was the very vessel which was brought by night and secretly delivered to Nicodemus, nearly nineteen centuries ago, after the Creator of the universe had delivered up His life on the cross for the redemption of the human race; the very cup which the stainless Sir Galahad had sought with knightly devotion in far fields of peril and adventure in Arthur's time, fourteen hundred years ago; the same cup which princely knights of other bygone ages had laid down their lives in long and patient efforts to find, and had passed from life disappointed--and here it was at last, dug up by a grain-broker at no cost of blood or travel, and apparently no purity required of him above the average purity of the twentieth-century dealer in cereal futures; not even a stately name required--no Sir Galahad, no Sir Bors de Ganis, no Sir Lancelot of the Lake--nothing but a mere Mr. Pole.--[From the New York Sun somewhat later: "Mr. Pole communicated the discovery to a dignitary of the Church of England, who summoned a number of eminent persons, including psychologists, to see and discuss it. Forty attended, including some peers with ecclesiastical interests, Ambassador Whitelaw Reid, Professor Crookas, and ministers of various religious bodies, including the Rev.