The sweat was over his face, and he walked to the door to get a breath of air. The priest knew there was no longer even a lingering doubt as to what he should do. He went back to the church, and, before the altar, awaited his call.
It was not long in coming. The old housekeeper appeared in half an hour to summon him.
“Kendis is in the house. He lives on the other side of the Run. It is for his wife, who is sick, that he comes. She is dying.”
The priest bowed and followed the old servant into the house, but Kendis had left.
The priest looked at his few books and lovingly touched some of his favorites. His reading chair was near. His eyes filled as he looked at it, with the familiar breviary on its wide arm. The crucified Christ gazed down from His cross at him and seemed to smile; but the priest’s eyes swam with tears, and a great sob burst from him. He opened the door, but lingered on the threshold. When he passed out on the street his walk was slow, his lips moving, as he went along with the step of a man very weary and bending beneath the weight of a Great Something.
The people did not know then that their one dark and muddy street was that night a Via Dolorosa; that along it a man who loved them dragged a heavy Cross for their sake; that it ended for him, as had another sorrowful way ended for his Master, in a cruel Calvary.
Slevski told the whole story before the trap of the gallows was sprung.
When the “Boston Boat” drew near Charlottetown I could see Mac waving me a welcome to the “Island” from the very last inch of standing space upon the dock. When I grasped his hard and muscular hand fifteen minutes later, I knew that my old college chum had changed, only outwardly. True, the stamp of Prince Edward Island, which the natives call “the Island,” as if there were no other, was upon him; but that stamp really made Mac the man he was. The bright red clay was over his rough boots. Could any clay be redder? It, with his homespun clothes, made the Greek scholar look like a typical farmer.
We had dinner somewhere in the town before we left for the farm. It was a plain, honest dinner. I enjoyed it. Of course, there was meat; but the mealy potatoes and the fresh cod—oh, such potatoes and cod—were the best part of it. I then and there began to like the Island for more reasons than because it had produced Mac.
We drove out of town, across the beautiful river and away into the country, along red clay roads which were often lined with spruce, and always with grass cropped down to a lawnlike shortness by the sheep and kept bright green by the moisture.
“You must enjoy this immensely, you old hermit,” I said to Mac, as the buggy reached the top of a charming hill, overlooking a picture in which the bright green fields, the dark green spruce, the blue sky and the bluer waters were blended.