THE RIGHT OF WAY - VOLUME 6.
THE RIGHT OF WAY - VOLUME 6.
L. THE PASSION PLAY AT CHAUDIERE
LI. FACE TO FACE
LII. THE COMING OF BILLY
LIII. THE SEIGNEUR AND THE CURE HAVE A SUSPICION
LIV. M. ROSSIGNOL SLIPS THE LEASH
LV. ROSALIE PLAYS A PART
LVI. MRS. FLYNN SPEAKS
LVII. A BURNING FIERY FURNACE
LVIII. WITH HIS BACK TO THE WALL
LIX. IN WHICH CHARLEY MEETS A STRANGER
LX. THE HAND AT THE DOOR
LXI. THE CURE SPEAKS
THE PASSION PLAY AT CHAUDIERE
For the first time in its history Chaudiere was becoming notable in the
eyes of the outside world.
"We'll have more girth after this" said Filion Lacasse the saddler to
the wife of the Notary as in front of the post-office they stood
watching a little cavalcade of habitants going up the road towards Four
Mountains to rehearse the Passion Play.
"If Dauphin's advice had been taken long ago we'd have had a hotel at
Four Mountains and the city folk would be coming here for the summer"
said Madame Dauphin with a superior air.
"Pish!" said a voice behind them. It was the Seigneur's groom with a
straw in his mouth. He had a gloomy mind.
"There isn't a house but has two or three boarders. I've got three"
said Filion Lacasse. "They come tomorrow."
"We'll have ten at the Manor. But no good will come of it" said the
"No good! Look at the infidel tailor!" said Madame Dauphin. "He
translated all the writing. He drew all the dresses and made a hundred
pictures--there they are at the Cure's house."
"He should have played Judas" said the groom malevolently. "That'd be
right for him."
"Perhaps you don't like the Passion Play" said Madame Dauphin
"We ain't through with it yet" said the death's-head groom.
"It is a pious and holy mission" said Madame Dauphin. "Even that Jo
Portugais worked night and day till he went away to Montreal and he
always goes to Mass now. He's to take Pontius Pilate when he comes back.
Then look at Virginie Morrissette that put her brother's eyes out
quarrelling--she's to play Mary Magdalene."
"I could fit the parts better" said the groom.
"Of course. You'd have played St. John" said the saddler--" or maybe
"I'd have Paulette Dubois play Mary the sinner."
"Magdalene repented and knelt at the foot of the cross. She was sorry
and sinned no more" said the Notary's wife in querulous reprimand.
"Well Paulette does all that" said the stolid dark-visaged groom.
Filion Lacasse's ears pricked up. "How do you know--she hasn't come
"Hasn't she though! And with her child too--last night."
"Her child!" Madame Dauphin was scandalised and amazed.
The groom nodded. "And doesn't care who knows it. Seven years old and
as fine a child as ever was!"
"Narcisse--Narcisse!" called Madame Dauphin to her husband who was
coming up the street. She hastily repeated the groom's news to him.
The Notary stuck his hand between the buttons of his waistcoat. "Well
well my dear Madame" he said consequentially "it is quite true."
"What do you know about it--whose child is it?" she asked with curdling
"'Sh-'sh!" said the Notary. Then with an oratorical wave of his free
hand: "The Church opens her arms to all--even to her who sinned much
because she loved much who through woful years searched the world for
her child and found it not--hidden away as it was by the duplicity of
sinful man"--and so on through tangled sentences setting forth in broken
terms Paulette Dubois's life.
"How do you know all about it?" asked the saddler. "I've known it for
years" said the Notary grandly--stoutly too for he would freely risk
his wife's anger that the vain-glory of the moment might be enlarged.
"And you keep it even from madame!" said the saddler with a smile too
broad to be sarcastic. "Tiens! if I did that my wife'd pick my eyes
out with a bradawl."
"It was a professional secret" said the Notary with a desperate resolve
to hold his position.
"I'm going home Dauphin--are you coming?" questioned his wife with an
"You will remain and hear what I've got to say. This Paulette Dubois--
she should play Mary Magdalene for--"
"Look--look what's that?" said the saddler. He pointed to a wagon
coming slowly up the road. In front of it a team of dogs drew a cart.
It carried some thing covered with black. "It's a funeral! There's the
coffin. It's on Jo Portugais' little cart" added Filion Lacasse.
"Ah God be merciful it's Rosalie Evanturel and Mrs. Flynn! And M'sieu'
Evanturel in the coffin!" said Madame Dauphin running to the door of
the postoffice to call the Cure's sister.
"There'll be use enough for the baker's Dead March now" remarked M.
Dauphin sadly buttoning up his coat taking off his hat and going
forward to greet Rosalie. As he did so Charley appeared in the doorway
of his shop.
"Look Monsieur" said the Notary. "This is the way Rosalie Evanturel
comes home with her father."
"I will go for the Cure" Charley answered turning white. He leaned
against the doorway for a moment to steady himself then hurried up the
street. He did not dare meet Rosalie or go near her yet. For her sake
it was better not.
"That tailor infidel has a heart. His eyes were leaking" said the
Notary to Filion Lacasse and went on to meet the mournful cavalcade.
FACE TO FACE
"If I could only understand!"--this was Rosalie's constant cry in these
weeks wherein she lay ill and prostrate after her father's burial. Once
and once only had she met Charley alone though she knew that he was
keeping watch over her. She had first seen him the day her father was
buried standing apart from the people his face sorrowful his eyes
heavy his figure bowed.
The occasion of their meeting alone was the first night of her return
when the Notary and Charley had kept watch beside her father's body.
She had gone into the little hallway and had looked into the room of
death. The Notary was sound asleep in his arm-chair but Charley sat
silent and moveless his eyes gazing straight before him. She murmured
his name and though it was only to herself not even a whisper he got
up quickly and came to the hall where she stood grief-stricken yet with
a smile of welcome of forgiveness of confidence. As she put out her
hand to him and his swallowed it she could not but say to him--so
contrary is the heart of woman so does she demand a Yes by asserting a
No and hunger for the eternal assurance--she could not but say:
"You do not love me--now."
It was but a whisper so faint and breathless that only the heart of love
could hear it. There was no answer in words for some one was stirring
beyond Rosalie in the dark and a great figure heaved through the kitchen
doorway but his hand crushed hers in his own; his heart said to her "My
love is an undying light; it will not change for time or tears"--the
words they had read together in a little snuff-coloured book on the
counter in the shop one summer day a year ago. The words flashed into
his mind and they were carried to hers. Her fingers pressed his and
then Charley said over her shoulder to the approaching Mrs. Flynn: "Do
not let her come again Madame. She should get some sleep" and he put
her hand in Mrs. Flynn's. "Be good to her as you know how Mrs. Flynn"
he added gently.
He had won the heart of Mrs. Flynn that moment and it may be she had a
conviction or an inspiration for she said in a softer voice than she
was wont to use to any one save Rosalie:
"I'll do by her as you'd do by your own sir" and tenderly drew Rosalie
to her own room.
Such had been their first meeting after her return. Afterwards she was
taken ill and the torture of his heart drove him out into the night to
walk the road and creep round her house like a sentinel Mrs. Flynn's
words ringing in his ears to reproach him--"I'll do by her as you would
do by your own sir." Night after night it was the same and Rosalie
heard his footsteps and listened and was less sorrowful because she knew
that she was ever in his thoughts. But one day Mrs. Flynn came to him in
"She's wantin' a word with ye on business" she said and gestured
towards the little house across the way. "'Tis few words ye do be
shpakin' to annybody but if y' have kind words to shpake and good things
to say y' naidn't be bitin' yer tongue" she added in response to his
nod and left him.
Charley looked after her with a troubled face. On the instant it seemed
to him that Mrs. Flynn knew all. But his second thought told him that it
was only an instinct on her part that there was something between them--
the beginning of love maybe.
In another half-hour he was beside Rosalie's chair. "Perhaps you are
angry" she said as he came towards her where she sat in the great arm-
chair. She did not give him time to answer but hurried on. "I wanted
to tell you that I have heard you every night outside and that I have
been glad and sorry too--so sorry for us both."
"Rosalie! Rosalie" he said hoarsely and dropped on a knee beside her
chair and took her hand and kissed it. He did not dare do more.
"I wanted to say to you" she said dropping a hand on his shoulder
"that I do not blame you for anything--not for anything. Yet I want you
to be sorry too. I want you to feel as sorry for me as I feel sorry for
"I am the worst man and you the best woman in the world."
She leaned over him with tears in her eyes. "Hush!" she said. "I want
to help you--Charles. You are wise. You know ten thousand things more
than I; but I know one thing you do not understand."
"You know and do whatever is good" he said brokenly.
"Oh no no no! But I know one thing because I have been taught and
because it was born with me. Perhaps much was habit with me in the past
but now I know that one thing is true. It is God."
She paused. "I have learned so much since--since then."
He looked up with a groan and put a finger on her lips. "You are
feeling bitterly sorry for me" she said. "But you must let me speak--
that is all I ask. It is all love asks. I cannot bear that you should
not share my thoughts. That is the thing that has hurt--hurt so all
these months these long hard months when I could not see you and did
not know why I could not. Don't shake so please! Hear me to the end
and we shall both be the better after. I felt it all so cruelly because
I did not--and I do not--understand. I rebelled but not against you.
I rebelled against myself against what you called Fate. Fate is one's
self what one brings on one's self. But I had faith in you--always--
always even when I thought I hated you."
"Ah hate me! Hate me! It is your loving that cuts me to the quick" he
said. "You have the magnanimity of God."
Her eyes leapt up. "'Of God'--you believe in God!" she said eagerly.
"God is God to you? He is the one thing that has come out of all this to
me." She reached out her hand and took her Bible from a table. "Read
that to yourself" she said and opening the Book pointed to a passage.
He read it:
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in
the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the
presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
And the Lord God called unto Adam and said unto him Where art
And he said I heard Thy voice in the garden and I was afraid
because I was naked; and I hid myself.
And He said Who told thee that thou wart naked? Hast thou eaten of
the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
Closing the Book Charley said: "I understand--I see."
"Will you say a prayer with me?" she urged. "It is all I ask. It is
the only--the only thing I want to hurt you because it may make you
happier in the end. What keeps us apart I do not know. But if you will
say one prayer with me I will keep on trusting I will never complain
and I will wait--wait."
He kissed both her hands but the look in his eyes was that of a man
being broken on the wheel. She slipped to the floor her rosary in her
fingers. "Let us pray" she said simply and in a voice as clear as a
child's but with the anguish of a woman's struggling heart behind.
He did not move. She looked at him caught his hands in both of hers
and cried: "But you will not deny me this! Haven't I the right to ask
it? Haven't I a right to ask of you a thousand times as much?"
"You have the right to ask all that is mine to give life honour my body
in pieces inch by inch the last that I can call my own. But Rosalie
this is not mine to give! How can I pray unless I believe!"
"You do--oh you do believe in God" she cried passionately.
"Rosalie--my life" he urged hoarse misery in his voice "the only thing
I have to give you is the bare soul of a truthful man--I am that now at
least. You have made me so. If I deceived the whole world if I was as
the thief upon the cross I should still be truthful to you. You open
your heart to me--let me open mine to you to see it as it is. Once
my soul was like a watch cased and carried in the pocket of life
uncertain untrue because it was a soul made not born. I must look at
the hands to know the time and because it varied because the working
did not answer to the absolute I said: 'The soul is a lie.' You--you
have changed all that Rosalie. My soul now is like a dial to the sun.
But the clouds are there above and I do not know what time it is in
life. When the clouds break--if they ever break--and the sun shines the
dial will speak the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth--"
He paused confused for he had repeated the words of a witness taking
the oath in court.
"'So help me God!"' she finished the oath for him. Then with a sudden
change of manner she came to her feet with a spring. She did not quite
understand. She was however dimly conscious of the power she had over
his chivalrous mind: the power of the weak over the strong--the tyranny
of the defended over the defender. She was a woman tortured beyond
bearing; and she was fighting for her very life mad with anguish as she
"I do not understand you" she cried with flashing eyes. "One minute
you say you do not believe in anything and the next you say 'So help me
"Ah no you said that Rosalie" he interposed gently.
"You said I was as magnanimous as God. You were laughing at me then
mocking me whose only fault is that I loved and trusted you. In the
wickedness of your heart you robbed me of happiness you--"
"Don't--don't! Rosalie! Rosalie!" he exclaimed in shrinking protest.
That she had spoken to him as her deepest heart abhorred only increased
her agitated denunciation. "Yes yes in your mad selfishness you did
not care for the poor girl who forgot all lost all and now--" She
stopped short at the sight of his white awe stricken face. His eye-
glass seemed like a frost of death over an eye that looked upon some
shocking scene of woe. Yet he appeared not to see for his fingers
fumbled on his waistcoat for the monocle--fumbled--vaguely helplessly.
It was the realisation of a soul cast into the outer darkness. Her
abrupt silence came upon him like the last engulfing wave to a drowning
man--the final assurance of the end in which there is quiet and the
"Now--I know-the truth!" he said in a curious even tone different from
any she had ever heard from him. It was the old Charley Steele who
spoke the Charley Steele in whom the intellect was supreme once more.
The judicial spirit the inveterate intelligence which put justice before
all was alive in him almost rejoicing in its regained governance. The
new Charley was as dead as the old had been of late and this clarifying
moment left the grim impression behind that the old law was not obsolete.
He felt that in the abandonment of her indignation she had mercilessly
told the truth; and the irreducible quality of mind in him which in the
old days made for justice approved. There was a new element now
however--that conscience which never possessed him fully until the day he
saw Rosalie go travelling over the hills with her crippled father. That
picture of the girl against the twilight her figure silhouetted in the
clear air had come to him in sleeping and waking dreams the type and
sign of an everlasting melancholy. As he looked at her blindly now he
saw not herself but that melancholy figure. Out of the distance his
own voice said again:
"Now--I know-the truth!"
She had struck with a violence she did not intend which she knew must
rend her own heart in the future which put in the dice-box the last
hopes she had. But she could not have helped it--she could not have
stayed the words though a suspended sword were to fall with the saying.
It was the cry of tradition and religion and every home-bred convent-
nurtured habit the instinct of heredity the wail of woman for whom
destiny or man or nature has arranged the disproportionate share of
life's penalties. It was the impotent rebellion against the first curse
that man in his punishment should earn his bread by the sweat of his
brow--which he might do with joy--while the woman must work out her
ordained sentence "in sorrow all the days of her life."
In her bitter words was the inherent revolt of the race of woman. But
now she suddenly felt that she had flung him an infinite distance from
her; that she had struck at the thing she most cherished--his belief that
she loved him; that even if she had told the truth--and she felt she had
not--it was not the truth she wished him most to feel.
For an instant she stood looking at him shocked and confounded then her
changeless love rushed back on her the maternal and protective spirit
welled up and with a passionate cry she threw herself in the chair again
in very weakness with outstretched hands saying:
"Forgive me--oh forgive me! I did not mean it--oh forgive your
Stooping over her he answered:
"It is good for me to know the whole truth. What hurts you may give me
will pass--for life must end and my life cannot be long enough to pay
the price of the hurts I have given you. I could bear a thousand--one
for every hour--if they could bring back the light to your eye the joy
to your heart. Could prayer do you think make me sorrier than I am?
I have hurt what I would have spared from hurt at the cost of my life--
and all the lives in all the world!" he added fiercely.
"Forgive me--oh forgive your Rosalie!" she pleaded. "I did not know
what I was saying--I was mad."
"It was all so sane and true" he said like one who on the brink of
death finds a satisfaction in speaking the perfect truth. "I am glad to
hear the truth--I have been such a liar."
She looked up startled her tears blinding her. "You have not deceived
me?" she asked bitterly. "Oh you have not deceived me--you have loved
me have you not?" It was that which mattered that only. Moveless and
eager she looked--looked at him waiting as it were for sentence.
"I never lied to you Rosalie--never!" he answered and he touched her
She gave a moan of relief at his words. "Oh then oh then . . . "
she said in a low voice and the tears in her eyes dried away.
"I meant that until I knew you I kept deceiving myself and others all my
"But without knowing it?" she said eagerly.
"Perhaps without quite knowing it."
"Until you knew me?" she asked in quick quivering tones.
"Till I knew you" he answered.
"Then I have done you good--not ill?" she asked with painful
"The only good there may be in me is you and you only" he said and he
choked something rising in his throat seeing the greatness of her heart
her dear desire to have entered into his life to his own good. He would
have said that there was no good in him at all but that he wished to
A little cry of joy broke from her lips. "Oh that--that!" she cried
with happy tears. "Won't you kiss me now?" she added softly.