“Well, I’m not sayin’ anything against Mr. O’Day, Kitty,” broke in John. “I’m only askin’ for information. What do you think of him, Father? What’s he up to, anyhow? There ain’t any of ’em can fool ye. I don’t want to watch him—I ain’t got no time—and I won’t if he’s all right.”
The priest rose from his chair and stood looking down at Kitty, his hands clasped behind his back. “You believe in him, do you not?”
“I do—up to the handle-and I don’t care who knows it!”
“Then I would not worry, John Cleary, if I were you.”
“Well, what does she know about it, Father?”
“What every good woman always knows about every good man. And now I must go.”
As was to be expected, Kitty’s first words to O’Day on the following morning related to his meeting with Father Cruse. “Ye’ll not find a better man anywhere,” she had said to him, “and there ain’t a trouble he can’t cure.”
Felix had smiled at her enthusiasm for her idol and comforted her by saying that it had given him distinct pleasure to meet him, adding: “A big man with a big soul, that priest of yours, Mistress Kitty. I begin to see now why you and your husband lead such human lives. Yes—a fine man.”
But no closer intimacy ensued, nor did he pursue the acquaintance—not even on the following Sunday, when Kitty urged him, almost to importunity, to go and hear the Father say mass. He was not ready as yet, he said to himself, for friendships among men of his own intellectual caliber. In the future he might decide otherwise. For the present, at least, he meant to find whatever peace and comfort he could among the simple people immediately around him—meagrely educated, often strangely narrow-minded, but possessing qualities which every day aroused in him a profounder admiration.
With the quick discernment of the man of the world —one to whom many climes and many people were familiar—he had begun to discover for himself that this great middle class was really the backbone of the whole civil structure about him, its self-restraint, sanity, and cleanliness marking the normal in the tide-gauge of the city’s activities; the hysteria of the rich and the despair of the poor being the two extremes.
Here, as he repeatedly observed, were men absorbed in their several humble occupations, proud of their successes, helpful of those who fell by the wayside, good citizens and good friends, honest in their business relations, each one going about his appointed task and leaving the other fellow unmolested in his. Here, too, were women, good mothers to their children and good wives to their husbands, untiring helpmates, regarding their responsibilities as mutual, and untroubled as yet by thoughts of their own individual identities or what their respective husbands owed to them.