The factor, in the seclusion of his bachelor home, held the little cross up and examined it critically. “To be sent to his mother, she lives in Rue —— Ah, if I could have been but a day sooner; yet the bishop must know,” he added, putting the crucifix carefully away.
The good people in the other world, beyond the high wall that separated the two Christian Tribes, had been having shivers over the factor and his fondness for the Romans; but when he volunteered to assist at the funeral of his dead friend, his people were shocked. In that scant settlement there were not nearly enough priests to perform, properly, the funeral services, so the factor fell in, mingling his deep full voice with the voices of the bishop and the Irish brother, and grieving even as they grieved.
And the Blind Ones, Wing and Dunraven, came also, paying a last tearless tribute to the noble dead.
When it was all over and the post had settled down to routine, the factor found in his mail, one morning, a long letter from the Chief Commissioner at Winnipeg. It told the factor that he was in bad repute, that the English Church bishop had been grieved, shocked, and scandalized through seeing the hitherto respectable factor going over to the Catholics. Not only had he fraternized with them, but had actually taken part in their religious ceremonies. And to crown it all, he had carried, a respectable Cree and the Chinese cook along with him.
The factor’s placid face took on a deep hue, but only for a moment. He filled his pipe, poking the tobacco down hard with his thumb. Then he took the Commissioner’s letter, twisted it up, touched it to the tiny fire that blazed in the grate, and lighted his pipe. He smoked in silence for a few moments and then said to himself, being alone, “Huh!”
“Ah, that from the bishop reminds me,” said the factor. “I must run over and see the other one.”
When the factor had related to the French-Canadian bishop what had passed between the dead cure and himself, the bishop seemed greatly annoyed. “Why, man, he had no mother!”
“The devil he didn’t—I beg pardon—I say he asked me to send this to his mother. He started to tell me where she lived and then the call came. It was the dying request of a dear friend. I beg of you tell me his mother’s name, that I may keep my word.”
“It is impossible, my son. When he came into the church he left the world. He was bound by the law of the church to give up father, mother, sister, brother—all.”
“The church be—do you mean to say—”
“Peace, my son, you do not understand,” said the bishop, lifting the little cross which he had taken gently from the factor at the beginning of the interview.
Now the factor was not in the habit of having his requests ignored and his judgment questioned.
“Do you mean to say you will not give me the name and address of the dead man’s mother?”