The change was that the old man did not want food, and that he
slept, or seemed to sleep, nearly all the time. On the last day of
his life his condition was pretty generally known. The Cathedral
was full of people all day long, praying for him; nuns and old
women, young men and girls, coming and going. The sick man had
received the Viaticum early in the morning. Some of the Tesuque
Indians, who had been his country neighbours, came into Santa Fé
and sat all day in the Archbishop’s courtyard listening for news of
him; with them was Eusabio the Navajo. Fructosa and Tranquilino,
his old servants, were with the supplicants in the Cathedral.
The Mother Superior and Magdalena and Bernard attended the sick
man. There was little to do but to watch and pray, so peaceful and
painless was his repose. Sometimes it was sleep, they knew from
his relaxed features; then his face would assume personality,
consciousness, even though his eyes did not open.
Toward the close of day, in the short twilight after the candles
were lighted, the old Bishop seemed to become restless, moved a
little, and began to murmur; it was in the French tongue, but
Bernard, though he caught some words, could make nothing of them.
He knelt beside the bed: “What is it, Father? I am here.”
He continued to murmur, to move his hands a little, and Magdalena
thought he was trying to ask for something, or to tell them
something. But in reality the Bishop was not there at all; he was
standing in a tip-tilted green field among his native mountains,
and he was trying to give consolation to a young man who was being
torn in two before his eyes by the desire to go and the necessity
to stay. He was trying to forge a new Will in that devout and
exhausted priest; and the time was short, for the diligence for
Paris was already rumbling down the mountain gorge.
When the Cathedral bell tolled just after dark, the Mexican
population of Santa Fé fell upon their knees, and all American
Catholics as well. Many others who did not kneel prayed in their
hearts. Eusabio and the Tesuque boys went quietly away to tell
their people; and the next morning the old Archbishop lay before
the high altar in the church he had built.