The Right of Way by Gilbert Parker
Chapter XLVIII. "Where the Tree of Life is Blooming--"
As Charley walked the bank of the great river by the city where his old life lay dead, he struggled with the new life which--long or short--must henceforth belong to the village of the woman he loved. . . . But as he fought with himself in the long night-watch it was borne in upon him that though he had been shown the Promised Land, he might never find there a habitation and a home. The hymn he had mockingly sung the night he had been done to death at the Cote Dorion sang in his senses now, an ever-present mockery:
"On the other side of Jordan, In the sweet fields of Eden, Where the tree of life is blooming, There is rest for you. There is rest for the weary, There is rest for the weary, There is rest for the weary, There is rest for you."
In the uttermost corner of his intelligence he felt with sure prescience that, however befalling, the end of all was not far off. In the exercise of new faculties, which had more to do with the soul than with reason, he now believed what he could not see, and recognised what was not proved. Labour of the hand, trouble, sorrow, and perplexity, charity and humanity, had cleared and simplified his life, had sweetened his intelligence, and taken the place of ambition. He saw life now through the lens of personal duty, which required that the thing nearest to one's hand should be done first.
But as foreboding pressed upon him there came the thought of what should come after--to Rosalie. His thoughts took a practical form--her good was uppermost in his mind. All Rosalie had to live on was her salary as postmistress, for it was in every one's knowledge that the little else she had was being sacrificed to her father's illness. Suppose, then, that through illness or accident she lost her position, what could she do? He might leave her what he had--but what had he? Enough to keep her for a year or two--no more. All his earnings had gone to the poor and the suffering of Chaudiere.
There was one way. It had suggested itself to him so often in Chaudiere, and had been one of the two reasons for bringing him here. There were his dead mother's pearls and one thousand dollars in notes behind a secret panel in the white house on the hill, in this very city where he was. The pearls were worth over ten thousand dollars--in all, there would be eleven thousand, enough to secure Rosalie from poverty. What should Kathleen do with his mother's pearls, even if they were found by her? What should she do with his money did she not loathe his memory? Had not all his debts been paid? These pearls and this money were all his own.
But to get them. To go now to the white house on the hill; to face that old life even for an hour, a knocking at the door of a haunted house--he shrank from the thought. He would have to enter the place like a thief in the night.
Yet for Rosalie he must take the risk--he must go.