The Right of Way by Gilbert Parker
Chapter LXI. The Cure Speaks
The Cure stood with his back to the ruins of the church, at his feet two newly made graves, and all round, with wistful faces, crowds of reverent habitants. A benignant sorrow made his voice in perfect temper with the pensive striving of this latest day of spring. At the close of his address he said:
"I owe you much, my people. I owe him more, for it was given him, who knew not God, to teach us how to know Him better. For his past, it is not given you to know. It is hidden in the bosom of the Church. Sinner he once was, criminal never, as one can testify who knows all"--he turned to the Abbe Rossignol, who stood beside him, grave and compassionate-- "and his sins were forgiven him. He is the one sheaf which you and I may carry home rejoicing from the pagan world of unbelief. What he had in life he gave to us, and in death he leaves to our church all that he has not left to a woman he loved--to Rosalie Evanturel."
There was a gasping murmur among the people, but they stilled again, and strained to hear.
"He leaves her a little fortune, and to us all else he had. Let us pray for his soul, and let us comfort her who, loving deeply, reaped no harvest of love.
"The law may never reach his ruthless murderers, for there is none to recognise their faces; and were they ten times punished, how should it avail us now! Let us always remember that, in his grave, our friend bears on his breast the little iron cross we held so dear. That is all we could give--our dearest treasure. I pray God that, scarring his breast in life, it may heal all his woes in death, and be a saving image on his bosom in the Presence at the last."
He raised his hands in benediction.