THE RIGHT OF WAY - VOLUME 3.
THE RIGHT OF WAY - VOLUME 3.
XIX. THE SIGN FROM HEAVEN
XX. THE RETURN OF THE TAILOR
XXI. THE CURE HAS AN INSPIRATION
XXII. THE WOMAN WHO SAW
XXIII. THE WOMAN WHO DID NOT TELL
XXIV. THE SEIGNEUR TAKES A HAND IN THE GAME
XXV. THE COLONEL TELLS HIS STORY
XXVI. A SONG A BOTTLE AND A GHOST
XXVII. OUT ON THE OLD TRAIL
XXVIII. THE SEIGNEUR GIVES A WARNING
THE SIGN FROM HEAVEN
The agitation and curiosity possessing Rosalie all day held her in the
evening when the wooden shutters of the tailor's shop were closed and
only a flickering light showed through the cracks. She was restless and
uneasy during supper and gave more than one unmeaning response to the
remarks of her crippled father who drawn up for supper in his wheel-
chair was more than usually inclined to gossip.
Damase Evanturel's mind was stirred concerning the loss of the iron
cross; the threat made by Filion Lacasse and his companions troubled him.
The one person beside the Cure Jo Portugais and Louis Trudel to whom
M'sieu' talked much was the postmaster who sometimes met him of an
evening as he was taking the air. More than once he had walked behind
the wheel-chair and pushed it some distance making the little crippled
man gossip of village matters.
As the two sat at supper the postmaster was inclined to take a serious
view of M'sieu's position. He railed at Filion Lacasse; he called the
suspicious habitants clodhoppers who didn't know any better--which was
a tribute to his own superior birth; and at last carried away by a
feverish curiosity he suggested that Rosalie should go and look through
the cracks in the shutters of the tailor-shop and find out what was going
on within. This was indignantly rejected by Rosalie but the more she
thought the more uneasy she became. She ceased to reply to her father's
remarks and he at last relapsed into gloom and said that he was tired
and would go to bed. Thereupon she wheeled him inside his bedroom bade
him good-night and left him to his moodiness which however was soon
absorbed in a deep sleep for the mind of the little grey postmaster
could no more hold trouble or thought than a sieve.
Left alone Rosalie began to be tortured. What were they doing in the
Go and look through the windows? But she had never spied on people in
her life! Yet would it be spying? Would it not be pardonable? In the
interest of the man who had been attacked in the morning by the tailor
who had been threatened by the saddler and concerning whom she had seen
a signal pass between old Louis and Filion Lacasse would it not be a
humane thing to do? It might be foolish and feminine to be anxious but
did she not mean well and was it not therefore honourable?
The mystery inflamed her imagination. Charley's passiveness when he was
assaulted by old Louis and afterwards threatened by the saddler seemed to
her indifference to any sort of danger--the courage of the hopeless life
maybe. Instantly her heart overflowed with sympathy. Monsieur was not a
Catholic perhaps? Well so much the more he should be befriended for he
was so much the more alone and helpless. If a man was born a Protestant
--or English--he could not help it and should not be punished in this
world for it since he was sure to be punished in the next.
Her mind became more and more excited. The postoffice had been long
since closed and her father was asleep--she could hear him snoring. It
was ten o'clock and there was still a light in the tailor's shop.
Usually the light went out before nine o'clock. She went to the post-
office door and looked out. The streets were empty; there was not a
light burning anywhere save in the house of the Notary. Down towards
the river a sleigh was making its way over the thin snow of spring and
screeching on the stones. Some late revellers moving homewards from the
Trois Couronnes were roaring at the top of their voices the habitant
chanson 'Le Petit Roger Bontemps':
"For I am Roger Bontemps
Gai gai gai!
With drink I am full and with joy content
The chanson died away as she stood there and still the light was burning
in the shop opposite. A thought suddenly came to her. She would go over
and see if the old housekeeper Margot Patry had gone to bed. Here was
the solution to the problem the satisfaction of modesty and propriety.
She crossed the street quickly hurried round the corner of the house
and was passing the side-window of the shop when a crack in the shutters
caught her eye. She heard something fall on the floor within. Could it
be that the tailor and M'sieu' were working at so late an hour? She had
an irresistible impulse and glued her eye to the crack.
But presently she started back with a smothered cry. There by the great
fireplace stood Louis Trudel picking up a red-hot cross with a pair of
pincers. Grasping the iron firmly just below the arms of the cross the
tailor held it up again. He looked at it with a wild triumph yet with a
malignancy little in keeping with the object he held--the holy relic he
had stolen from the door of the parish church. The girl gave a low cry
She saw old Louis advance stealthily towards the door of the shop leading
into the house. In bewilderment she stood still an instant then with
a sudden impulse she ran to the kitchen-door and tried it softly. It
was not locked. She opened it entered quickly and found old Margot
standing in the middle of the room in her night-dress.
"Oh Rosalie Rosalie!" cried the old woman "something's going to
happen. M'sieu' Trudel has been queer all evening. I peeped in the key-
hole of the shop just now and--"
"Yes yes I've seen too. Come!" said Rosalie and going quickly to the
door opened it and passed through to another room. Here she opened
another door leading into the hall between the shop and the house.
Entering the hall she saw a glimmer of light above. It was the reddish
glow of the iron cross held by old Louis. She crept softly up the stone
steps. She heard a door open very quietly. She hurried now and came to
the landing. She saw the door of Charley's room open--all the village
knew what room he slept in--and the moonlight was streaming in at the
She saw the sleeping man on the bed and the tailor standing over him.
Charley was lying with one arm thrown above his head; the other lay over
the side of the bed.
As she rushed forward divining old Louis' purpose the fiery cross
descended and a voice cried: "'Show me a sign from Heaven tailor-man!'"
This voice was drowned by that of another which gasping with agony out
of a deep sleep as the body sprang upright cried: "God-oh God!"
Rosalie's hand grasped old Louis' arm too late. The tailor sprang back
with a horrible laugh striking her aside and rushed out to the landing.
"Oh Monsieur Monsieur!" cried Rosalie and snatching a scarf from her
bosom thrust it in upon the excoriated breast as Charley hardly
realising what had happened choked back moans of pain.
"What did he do?" he gasped.
"The iron cross from the church door!" she answered. "A minute one
She rushed out upon the landing in time to see the tailor stumble on the
stairs and fall head forwards to the bottom at the feet of Margot Patry.
Rosalie paid no heed to the fallen man. "Oil! flour! Quick!" she
cried. "Quick! Quick!" She stepped over the body of the tailor
snatched at Margot's arm and dragged her into the kitchen. "Quick-oil
The old woman showed her where they were moaning and whining.
"He tried to kill Monsieur" cried Rosalie "burned him on the breast
with the holy cross!"
With oil and flour she hurried back over the body of the tailor up the
stairs and into Charley's room. Charley was now out of bed and half
dressed though choking with pain and preserving consciousness only by a
"Good Mademoiselle!" he said.
She took the scarf off gently soaked it in oil and splashed it with
flour and laid it quickly back on the burnt flesh.
Margot came staggering into the room.
"I cannot rouse him. I cannot rouse him. He is dead! He is dead!" she
Charley swayed forward towards the woman recovered himself and said:
"Now not a word of what he did to me remember. Not one word or you
will go to jail with him. If you keep quiet I'll say nothing. He
didn't know what he was doing." He turned to Rosalie. "Not a word of
this please" he moaned. "Hide the cross."
He moved towards the door. Rosalie saw his purpose and ran out ahead of
him and down the stairs to where the tailor lay prone on his face one
hand still holding the pincers. The little iron cross lay in a dark
corner. Stooping she lifted up the tailor's head then felt his heart.
"He is not dead" she cried. "Quick Margot some water" she added to
the whimpering woman. Margot tottered away and came again presently
with the water.
"I will go for some one to help" Rosalie said rising to her feet as
she saw Charley come slowly down the staircase his face white with
misery. She ran and took his arm to help him down.
"No no dear Mademoiselle" he said; "I shall be all right presently.
You must get help to carry him up stairs. Bring the Notary; he and I can
carry him up."
"You Monsieur! You--it would kill you! You are terribly hurt."
"I must help to carry him else people will be asking questions" he
answered painfully. "He is going to die. It must not be known--you
understand!" His eyes searched the floor until they found the cross.
Rosalie picked it up with the pincers. "It must not be known what he did
to me" Charley said to the muttering and weeping old woman. He caught
her shoulder with his hand for she seemed scarcely to heed.
She nodded. "Yes yes M'sieu' I will never speak." Rosalie was
standing in the door. "Go quickly Mademoiselle" he said. She
disappeared with the iron cross and flying across the street thrust it
inside the post-office then ran to the house of the Notary.
THE RETURN OF THE TAILOR
Twenty minutes later the tailor was lying in his bed breathing but
still unconscious the Notary M'sieu' and the doctor of the next
parish who by chance was in Chaudiere beside him. Charley's face was
drawn and haggard with pain for he had helped to carry old Louis to bed
though every motion of his arms gave him untold agony. In the doorway
stood Rosalie and Margot Patry.
"Will he live?" asked the Notary.
The doctor shook his head. "A few hours perhaps. He fell downstairs?"
Charley nodded. There was silence for some time as the doctor went on
with his ministrations and the Notary sat drumming his fingers on the
little table beside the bed. The two women stole away to the kitchen
where Rosalie again pressed secrecy on Margot. In the interest of the
cause she had even threatened Margot with a charge of complicity. She
had heard the phrase "accessory before the fact" and she used it now
with good effect.
Then she took some fresh flour and oil and thrust them inside the
bedroom door where Charley now sat clinching his hands and fighting down
the pain. Careful as ever of his personal appearance however he had
brushed every speck of flour from his clothes and buttoned his coat up
to the neck.
Nearly an hour passed and then the Cure appeared. When he entered the
sick man's room Charley followed and again Rosalie and old Margot came
and stood within the doorway.
"Peace be to this house!" said the Cure. He had a few minutes of
whispered conversation with the doctor and then turned to Charley.
"He fell down-stairs Monsieur? You saw him fall?"
"I was in my room--I heard him fall Cure."
"Had he been ill during the day?"
"He appeared to be feeble and he seemed moody."
"More than usual Monsieur?" The Cure had heard of the incident of the
morning when Filion Lacasse accused Charley of stealing the cross.
"Rather more than usual Monsieur."
The Cure turned towards the door. "You Mademoiselle Rosalie how came
you to know?"
"I was in the kitchen with Margot who was not well."
The Cure looked at Margot who tearfully nodded. "I was ill" she said
"and Rosalie was here with me. She helped M'sieu' and me. Rosalie is a
good girl and kind to me" she whimpered.
The Cure seemed satisfied and after looking at the sick man for a
moment he came close to Charley. "I am deeply pained at what happened
to-day" he said courteously. "I know you have had nothing to do with
the beloved little cross."
The Notary tried to draw near and listen but the Cure's look held him
back. The doctor was busy with his patient.
"You are only just Monsieur" said Charley in response wishing that
these kind eyes were fixed anywhere than on his face.
All at once the Cure laid a hand upon his arm. "You are ill" he said
anxiously. "You look very ill indeed. See Vaudrey" he added to the
doctor "you have another patient here!"
The friendly oleaginous doctor came over and peered into Charley's face.
"Ill-sure enough!" he said. "Look at this sweat!" he pointed to the
drops of perspiration on Charley's forehead. "Where do you suffer?"
"Severe pains all through my body" Charley answered simply for it
seemed easier to tell the truth as near as might be.
"I must look to you" said the doctor. "Go and lie down and I will come
Charley bowed but did not move. Just then two things drew the attention
of all: the tailor showed returning consciousness and there was noise of
many voices outside the house and the tramping of feet below-stairs.
"Go and tell them no one must come up" said the doctor to the Notary
and the Cure made ready to say the last offices for the dying.
Presently the noise below-stairs diminished and the priest's voice rose
in the office vibrating and touching. The two women sank to their
knees the doctor followed his eyes still fixed on the dying man.
Presently however Charley did the same; for something penetrating and
reasonable in the devotion touched him.
All at once Louis Trudel opened his eyes. Staring round with acute
excitement his eyes fell on the Cure then upon Charley.
"Stop--stop M'sieu' le Cure!" he cried. "There's other work to do."
He gasped and was convulsed but the pallor of his face was alive with
fire from the distempered eyes. He snatched from his breast the paper
Charley had neglected to burn. He thrust it into the Curb's hand.
"See--see!" he croaked. "He is an infidel--black infidel--from hell!"
His voice rose in a kind of shriek piercing to every corner of the
house. He pointed at Charley with shaking finger.
"He wrote it there--on that paper. He doesn't--believe in God."
His strength failed him his hand clutched tremblingly at the air. He
laughed a dry crackling laugh and his mouth opened twice or thrice to
speak but gasping breaths only came forth. With a last effort however-
-as the priest shocked stretched out his hand and said: "Have done
have done Trudel!"--he cried in a voice that quavered shrilly:
"He asked--tailor-man--sign--from--Heaven. Look-look!" He pointed
wildly at Charley. "I--gave him--sign of--"
But that was the end. With a shudder the body collapsed in a formless
heap and the tailor-man was gone to tell of the work he had done for his
faith on earth.
THE CURE HAS AN INSPIRATION
White and malicious faces peered through the doorway. There was an ugly
murmur coming up the staircase. Many habitants had heard Louis Trudel's
last words and had passed them on with vehement exaggeration.
Chaudiere had been touched in its most superstitious corner.
Protestantism was a sin but atheism was a crime against humanity.
The Protestant might be the victim of a mistake but the atheist was the
deliberate son of darkness the source of fearful dangers. An atheist in
their midst was like a scorpion in a flower-bed--no one could tell when
and where he would sting. Rough misdemeanours among them had been many
there had once been a murder in the parish but the undefined horrors of
infidelity were more shameful than crimes the eye could see.
To the minds of these excited people the tailor-man's death was due to
the infidel before them. They were ready to do all that might become a
Catholic intent to avenge the profaned honour of the Church and the
faith. Bodily harm was the natural form for their passion to take.
"Bring him out--let us have him!" they cried with fierce gestures to
which Rosalie Evanturel turned a pained indignant face.
As the Curb stood with the paper in his hand his face set and bitter
Rosalie made a step forward. She meant to tell the truth about Louis
Trudel and show how good this man was who stood charged with an
imaginary crime. But she met the warning eye of the man himself calm
and resolute she saw the suffering in the face endured with what
composure! and she felt instantly that she must obey him and that--who
could tell?--his plan might be the best in the end. She looked at the
Cure anxiously. What would he say and do? In the Cure's heart and
mind a great struggle was going on. All his inherent prejudice the
hereditary predisposition of centuries the ingrain hatred of atheism
were alive in him hardening his mind against the man before him. His
first impulse was to let Charley take his fate at the hands of the people
of Chaudiere whatever it might be. But as he looked at the man as he
recalled their first meeting and remembered the simple quiet life he
had lived among them--charitable and unselfish--the barriers of creed
and habit fell down and tears unbidden rushed into his eyes.
The Cure had all at once the one great inspiration of his life--its one
beautiful and supreme imagining. For thus he reasoned swiftly:
Here he was a priest who had shepherded a flock of the faithful passed
on to him by another priest before him who again had received them from
a guardian of the fold--a family of faithful Catholics whose thoughts
never strayed into forbidden realms. He had done no more than keep them
faithful and prevent them from wandering--counselling admonishing
baptising and burying giving in marriage and blessing sending them on
their last great journey with the cachet of Holy Church upon them. But
never once never in all his life had he brought a lost soul into the
fold. If he died to-night he could not say to St. Peter when he
arrived at Heaven's gate: "See I have saved a soul!" Before
the Throne he could not say to Him who cried: "Go ye into all the world
and preach the gospel to every creature"--he could not say: "Lord
by Thy grace I found this soul in the wilderness in the dark and the
loneliness having no God to worship denial and rebellion in his heart;
and behold I took him to my breast and taught him in Thy name and led
him home to Thy haven the Church!"
Thus it was that the Cure dreamed a dream. He would set his life to
saving this lost soul. He would rescue him from the outer darkness.
His face suffused he handed the paper in his hand back to the man who
had written the words upon it. Then he lifted his hand against the
people at the door and the loud murmuring behind them.
"Peace--peace!" he said as though from the altar. "Leave this room of
death I command you. Go at once to your homes. This man"--he pointed
to Charley--"is my friend. Who seeks to harm him would harm me. Go
hence and pray. Pray for yourselves pray for him and for me; and pray
for the troubled soul of Louis Trudel. Go in peace."
Soon afterwards the house was empty save for the Cure Charley old
Margot and the Notary.
That night Charley sat in the tailor's bedroom rigid and calm though
racked with pain and watched the candles flickering beside the dead
body. He was thinking of the Cure's last words to the people.
"I wonder--I wonder" he said and through his eyeglass he stared at the
crucifix that threw a shadow on the dead man's face. Morning found him
there. As dawn crept in he rose to his feet. "Whither now?" he said
like one in a dream.
THE WOMAN WHO SAW
Up to the moment of her meeting with Charley Rosalie Evanturel's life
had been governed by habit which was lightly coloured by temperament.
Since the eventful hour on Vadrome Mountain it had become a life of
temperament in which habit was involuntary and mechanical. She did her
daily duties with a good heart but also with a sense superior to the