THE SUPPLY AT SAINT AGATHA'S.
At the crossing of the old avenue with the stream of present traffic, in a city which, for obvious reasons, will not be identified by the writer of these pages, there stood—and still stands—the Church of Saint Agatha's.
The church is not without a history, chiefly such as fashion and sect combine to record. It is an eminent church, with a stately date upon its foundation stone, and a pew-list unsurpassed for certain qualities among the worshipers of the Eastern States. Saint Agatha's has long been distinguished for three things, its money, its music, and its soundness.
When the tax-list of the town is printed in the daily papers once a year, the wardens and the leading parishioners of Saint Agatha's stand far upwards in the score, and their names are traced by slow, grimy fingers of mechanics and strikers and socialists laboriously reading on Saturday nights.
The choir of Saint Agatha's, as all the world knows, is superior. Her soprano alone (a famous prima donna) would fill the house. Women throng the aisles to hear the tenor, and musical critics, hat in hand, and pad on hat, drop in to report the anthem and the offertory for the Monday morning press.
In ecclesiastical position, it is needless to add, Saint Agatha's has always been above reproach. When did Saint Agatha's question a canon? When did she contend with a custom? When did she criticise a creed? Why should she contest a tradition? She accepts, she conforms, she prospers.
In one particular Saint Agatha's has been thrust into an attitude of originality foreign to her taste. Her leading men feel called upon occasionally to explain how the eternal feminine came—a little contrary to the fashion of our land—to be recognized in the name of the church. Saint Agatha's first pastor, one should know, was a very young man of enthusiastic and unconventional temperament. He did not live long enough to outgrow this—for a clergyman—unfortunate trend of nature, having died, full of dreams and visions, in the teeth of a lowering conflict with his wardens; but he lived long enough to carry the day and the name for a portion of his people who desired to call their church in honor of a sweet, though rich, old lady who had put her private fortune into their beautiful house of worship, and her warm heart into their future success. It had befallen this dear old lady to bear the name of Agatha, which, for her sake,—and, of course, in due ecclesiastical remembrance of the strictly canonical saint of similar cognomen,—was accordingly bestowed upon the church.
In the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and another numeral, which I am requested not to indicate, but I may not deny that it is a recent one, the popular rector of Saint Agatha's took a winter vacation. He was an imposing and imperious man, full of years and honors, in the full sway of his professional fame, when he fell a victim, like any common person, to the grippe.
In the attempt to recover from this vulgar malady, he was forced to observe that his select physician had drugged him, via an exclusive bronchitis, into a minister's sore throat, such as any ordinary country parson might develop for lack of an overcoat, or a fire in his bedroom....