But the rich have their miracles, no doubt, even in that beautiful empyrean of moneyed ease in which the poor place them. Their money cannot buy all they enjoy, and God knows how much of their sorrow it assuages. As it is, one hears now and then of accidents among them, conversions to better thoughts, warding off of danger, rescue of life; and heirs are sometimes born, and husbands provided, and fortunes saved, in such surprising ways, that even the rich, feeling their limitations in spite of their money, must ascribe it privately if not publicly to other potencies than their own. These cathedral tours de force, however, do not, if the truth be told, convince like the miracles of the obscure little chapel.
There is always a more and a most obscure little miracle chapel, and as faith seems ever to lead unhesitatingly to the latter one, there is ever rising out of humility and obscurity, as in response to a demand, some new shrine, to replace the wear and tear and loss of other shrines by prosperity. For, alas! it is hard even for a chapel to remain obscure and humble in the face of prosperity and popularity. And how to prevent such popularity and prosperity? As soon as the noise of a real miracle in it gets abroad, every one is for hurrying thither at once with their needs and their prayers, their candles and their picayunes; and the little miracle chapel, perhaps despite itself, becomes with mushroom growth a church, and the church a cathedral, from whose resplendent altars the cheap, humble ex-voto tablets, the modest beginnings of its ecclesiastical fortunes, are before long banished to dimly lighted lateral shrines.
The miracle chapel in question lay at the end of a very confusing but still intelligible route. It is not in truth a chapel at all, but a consecrated chamber in a very small, very lowly cottage, which stands, or one might appropriately, if not with absolute novelty, say which kneels, in the center of a large garden, a garden primeval in rusticity and size, its limits being defined by no lesser boundaries than the four intersecting streets outside, and its culture showing only the careless, shiftless culture of nature. The streets outside were miracles themselves in that, with their liquid contents, they were streets and not bayous. However, they protected their island chapel almost as well as a six-foot moat could have done. There was a small paved space on the sidewalk that served to the pedestrian as an indication of the spot in the tall, long, broad fence where a gate might be sought. It was a small gate with a strong latch. It required a strong hand to open it. At the sound of the click it made, the little street ragamuffin, who stood near, peeping through the fence, looked up. He had worked quite a hole between the boards with his fingers. Such an anxious expression passed over his face that even a casual passer-by could not help relieving it by a question—any question: