And Mark thought of his own bitter bread, too, as he reentered the rectory.
FATHER MURRAY OF SIHASSET
Ann bustled into Father Murray’s study next morning with something on her mind. When Ann had something on her mind the pastor was always quite likely to notice it, for Ann never had learned how to conceal her thoughts. Good, pious, and faithful she was, but with an inherent love of gossip. She had loyal feelings to express this morning, but long experience as the housekeeper of priests had made Ann wary of approaching a subject too abruptly.
“Mrs. Thompson was here, yer Reverence.”
“Yes? What was it this time?”
“Sure, ‘twas about her young b’y Jack, the good-fer-nothin’. He’s drinkin’ ag’in.”
“And she wants me to—”
“Give him the pledge.”
“All right; but why didn’t you bring him in?”
“Well, wan raison is that he isn’t sober yet and she couldn’t bring him wid her. The other is that yer Reverence has sp’iled more good pledges on that lad than would kape the Suprame Coort in business for tin years.”
Father Murray smiled and Ann knew she had made considerable progress, but not quite enough yet.
“I’ll go and see him to-morrow morning. He’ll be sober then,” said the priest, looking down longingly at his work.
But Ann had another case. “The choir’s busted.”
Father Murray put down his book. Here was disaster indeed. “Again?”
“Yes, ag’in. The organist, Molly Wilson, is insulted.”
“Who insulted her?”
“Ye did. She says ye didn’t appreciate her music for the Confirmation.”
“But I did.”
“But ye didn’t tell her so, the hussy.”
“Hush, Ann. Don’t call names. I had no time to tell Miss Wilson anything. I’ll see her to-day.”
“Yes, ye will, and that’ll make her worse. She’s got to be soft-soaped all the time, the painted thing!”
“Please, Ann, don’t talk like that. I don’t like it, and it makes hard feelings.”
“’Tis little feelings yer Reverence should have left after the way the Bishop—”
“I will say it. Didn’t he slide out of bein’ here three months ago? An’ I wid a dinner fit fer the auld Bishop, and too good fer this—”
“Wasn’t ye the Vicar Gineral once? Why should he hurt ye now? I could tell him things if I had me tongue on him—”
But Father Murray was on his feet, and Ann was afraid. She held her tongue.
“Once and for all, Ann, I forbid you to say a word about my superiors. The Bishop is a great and a good man. He knows what he is about, and neither you nor I may judge him. No! not a word.”
The housekeeper was crying. “Sure, I’m sorry, yer Reverence. I won’t say a word ag’in, even if I do think he treated ye dirthy. But I hope ye won’t spake like that to me. Sure I thry to serve ye well and faithfully.”