The Right of Way by Gilbert Parker
Chapter LX. The Hand at the Door
The eve of the day of the memorable funeral two belated visitors to the Passion Play arrived in the village, unknowing that it had ended, and of the tragedy which had set a whole valley mourning; unconscious that they shared in the bitter fortunes of the tailor-man, of whom men and women spoke with tears. Affected by the gloom of the place, the two visitors at once prepared for their return journey, but the manner of the tailorman's death arrested their sympathies, touched the humanity in them. The woman was much impressed.
They asked to see the body of the man. They were taken to the door of the tailor-shop, while their horses were being brought round. Within the house itself they were met by an old Irishwoman, who, in response to their wish "to see the brave man's body," showed them into a room where a man lay dead with a bullet through his heart. It was the body of Jo Portugais, whose master and friend lay in another room across the hallway. The lady turned back in disappointment--the dead man was little like a hero.
The Irishwoman had meant to deceive her, for at this moment a girl who loved the tailor was kneeling beside his body, and, if possible, Mrs. Flynn would have no curious eyes look upon that scene.
When the visitors came into the hall again, the man said: "There was another; Kathleen--a woodsman." But standing by the nearly closed door, behind which lay the dead tailor of Chaudiere--they could see the holy candles flickering within--Kathleen whispered "We've seen the tailor-- that's enough. It's only the woodsman there. I prefer not, Tom."
With his fingers at the latch, the man hesitated, even as Mrs. Flynn stepped apprehensively forward; then, shrugging a shoulder, he responded to Kathleen's hand on his arm. They went down the stairs together, and out to their carriage.
As they drove away, Kathleen said: "It's strange that men who do such fine things should look so commonplace."
"The other one might have been more uncommon," he replied.
"I wonder!" she said, with a sigh of relief, as they passed the bounds of the village. Then she caught herself flushing, for she suddenly realised that the exclamation was one so often on the lips of a dead, disgraced man whose name she once had borne.
If the door of the little room upstairs had opened to the fingers of the man beside her, the tailor of Chaudiere, though dead, would have been dearly avenged.