“Hurry, Father,” he called, tearing off his cassock. “The floor here may give way any moment. Father Grady has the Blessed Sacrament. Hurry!”
They were out before the floor fell and the flames burst into the big church, which, poor old relic of the days of wood, went down into the ashes of destruction.
Mr. O’Brien of 32 Chestnut street walked home with Dr. Reilly, but neither of them had much to say. Both paused at the corner where their ways parted.
Then Mr. O’Brien spoke: “What did you think of the sermon, Doc?”
“I think,” said the doctor, deliberately, “that though it cost us the price of a new church, ’twas well worth it.”
They were old cronies, M. le Cure de St. Eustace and M. le Cure de Ste. Agatha, though the priestly calling seemed all they had in common. The first was small of stature, thin of face, looking like a mediaeval, though he was a modern, saint; the other tall, well filled out like an epicure, yet not even Bonhomme Careau, the nearest approach to a scoffer in the two parishes, ever went so far as to call the Cure of Ste. Agatha by such an undeserved name, since the good, fat priest had the glaring fault of stinginess which all the country knew but never mentioned. They loved him too much to mention his faults. He was good to the sick and faithful to their interests, though—“Il etait fort tendu, lui, mais bien gentil, tout de meme.” Besides, the Cure of St. Eustace was too generous. Every beggar got a meal from him and some of them money, till he spoiled the whole tribe of them and they became so bold—well there was serious talk of protesting to the Cure of St. Eustace about his charities.
The garden of St. Eustace was the pleasantest place on earth for both the cronies after Vespers had been sung in their parishes on Sunday afternoons, and the three miles covered from the Presbytery of Ste. Agatha to the Presbytery of St. Eustace. On a fine day it was delightful to sit under the great trees and see the flowers and chat and smoke, with just the faint smell of the evening meal stealing out of Margot’s kingdom. It was a standing rule that this meal was to be taken together on Sunday and the visit prolonged far into the night—until old Pierre came with the worn-looking buggy and carried his master off about half-past ten. "Grand Dieu. Quelle dissipation!" Only on this night did either one stay up after nine.
What experiences were told these Sunday nights! Big and authoritative were the words of M. le Cure de Ste. Agatha. Stern and unbending were his comments and the accounts of his week’s doings. And his friend’s? Bien, they were not much, but “they made him a little pleasure to narrate”—what he would tell of them.
This night they were talking of beggars, a new phase of the old question. They had only beggars in Quebec, mild old fellows mostly. A few pennies would suffice for them, and when they got old there were always the good Sisters of the Poor to care for them. There were no tramps.