What was happening to the Colonel?
The mere physical comfort of riding, instead of serving as packhorse, great as it was, not even that could so instantly spirit away the weariness, and light up the curious, solemn radiance that shone on the Colonel’s face. It struck the Boy that good old Kentucky would look like that when he met his dearest at the Gate of Heaven—if there was such a place.
The Colonel was aware of the sidelong wonder of his comrade’s glance, for the sleds, abreast, had come to a momentary halt. But still he stared in front of him, just as a sailor in a storm dares not look away from the beacon-light an instant, knowing all the waste about him abounds in rocks and eddies and in death, and all the world of hope and safe returning is narrowed to that little point of light.
After the moment’s speculation the Boy turned his eyes to follow the Colonel’s gaze into space.
“The Cross! the Cross!” said the man on the sled. “Don’t you see it?”
“Oh, that? Yes.”
At the Boy’s tone the Colonel, for the first time, turned his eyes away from the Great White Symbol.
“Don’t know what you’re made of, if, seeing that... you needn’t be a Church member, but only a man, I should think, to—to—” He blew out his breath in impotent clouds, and then went on. “We Americans think a good deal o’ the Stars and Stripes, but that up yonder—that’s the mightier symbol.”
“Huh!” says the Boy. “Stars and Stripes tell of an ideal of united states. That up there tells of an ideal of United Mankind. It’s the great Brotherhood Mark. There isn’t any other standard that men would follow just to build a hospice in a place like this.”
At an upper window, in a building on the far side of the white symbol, the travellers caught a glimpse, through the slanting snow, of one of the Sisters of St. Ann shutting in the bright light with thick curtains.
"Glass!" ejaculated the Colonel.
One of the Indians had run on to announce them, and as they drew up at the door—that the Boy remembered as a frame for Brother Paul, with his lamp, to search out iniquity, and his face of denunciation—out came Father Brachet, brisk, almost running, his two hands outstretched, his face a network of welcoming wrinkles. No long waiting, this time, in the reception-room. Straight upstairs to hot baths and mild, reviving drinks, and then, refreshed and already rested, down to supper.
With a shade of anxiety the Boy looked about for Brother Paul. But Father Wills was here anyhow, and the Boy greeted him, joyfully, as a tried friend and a man to be depended on. There was Brother Etienne, and there were two strange faces.
Father Brachet put the Colonel on his right and the Boy on his left, introducing: “Fazzer Richmond, my predecessor as ze head of all ze Alaskan missions,” calmly eliminating Greek, Episcopalian, and other heretic establishments. “Fazzer Richmond you must have heard much of. He is ze great ausority up here. He is now ze Travelling Priest. You can ask him all. He knows everysing.”