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- The Right of Way, Volume 1. - 1/13 -
THE RIGHT OF WAY
By Gilbert Parker
Volume 1. I. THE WAY TO THE VERDICT II. WHAT CAME OF THE TRIAL III. AFTER FIVE YEARS IV. CHARLEY MAKES A DISCOVERY V. THE WOMAN IN HELIOTROPE VI. THE WIND AND THE SHORN LAMB VII. "PEACE, PEACE, AND THERE IS NO PEACE!" VIII. THE COST OF THE ORNAMENT
Volume 2. IX. OLD DEBTS FOR NEW X. THE WAY IN AND THE WAY OUT XI. THE RAISING OF THE CURTAIN XII. THE COMING OF ROSALIE XIII. HOW CHARLEY WENT ADVENTURING, AND WHAT HE FOUND XIV. ROSALIE, CHARLEY, AND THE MAN THE WIDOW PLOMONDON JILTED XV. THE MARK IN THE PAPER XVI. MADAME DAUPHIN HAS A MISSION XVII. THE TAILOR MAKES A MIDNIGHT FORAY XVIII. THE STEALING OF THE CROSS
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
Volume 4. XXIX. THE WILD RIDE XXX. ROSALIE WARNS CHARLEY XXXI. CHARLEY STANDS AT BAY XXXII. JO PORTUGAIS TELLS A STORY XXXIII. THE EDGE OF LIFE XXXIV. IN AMBUSH XXXV. THE COMING OF MAXIMILIAN COUR AND ANOTHER XXXVI. BARRIERS SWEPT AWAY XXXVII. THE CHALLENGE OF PAULETTE DUBOIS XXXVIII. THE CURE AND THE SEIGNEUR VISIT THE TAILOR XXXIX. THE SCARLET WOMAN XL. AS IT WAS IN THE BEGINNING
Volume 5. XLI. IT WAS MICHAELMAS DAY XLII. A TRIAL AND A VERDICT XLIII. JO PORTUGAIS TELLS A STORY XLIV. "WHO WAS KATHLEEN?" XLV. SIX MONTHS GO BY XLVI. THE FORGOTTEN MAN XLVII. ONE WAS TAKEN AND THE OTHER LEFT XLVIII. "WHERE THE TREE OF LIFE IS BLOOMING--" XLIX. THE OPEN GATE
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
In a book called 'The House of Harper', published in this year, 1912, there are two letters of mine, concerning 'The Right of Way', written to Henry M. Alden, editor of Harper's Magazine. To my mind those letters should never have been published. They were purely personal. They were intended for one man's eyes only, and he was not merely an editor but a beloved and admired personal friend. Only to him and to W. E. Henley, as editors, could I ever have emptied out my heart and brain; and, as may be seen by these two letters, one written from London and the other from a place near Southampton, I uncovered all my feelings, my hopes and my ambitions concerning The Right of Way. Had I been asked permission to publish them I should not have granted it. I may wear my heart upon my sleeve for my friend, but not for the universe.
The most scathing thing ever said in literature was said by Robert Buchanan on Dante Gabriel Rossetti's verses--"He has wheeled his nuptial bed into the street." Looking at these letters I have a great shrinking, for they were meant only for the eyes of an aged man for whom I cared enough to let him see behind the curtain. But since they have been printed, and without a "by your leave," I will use one or two passages in them to show in what mood, under what pressure of impulse, under what mental and, maybe, spiritual hypnotism it was written. I first planned it as a story of twenty-five thousand words, even as 'Valmond' was planned as a story of five thousand words, and 'A Ladder of Swords' as a story of twenty thousand words; but I had not written three chapters before I saw what the destiny of the tale was to be. I had gone to Quebec to start the thing in the atmosphere where Charley Steele belonged, and there it was borne in upon me that it must be a three- decker novel, not a novelette. I telegraphed to Harper & Brothers to ask them whether it would suit them just as well if I made it into a long novel. They telegraphed their assent at once; so I went on. At that time Mr. F. N. Doubleday was a sort of director of Harper's firm. To him I had told the tale in a railway train, and he had carried me off at once to Henry M. Alden, to whom I also told it, with the result that Harper's Magazine was wide open to it, and there in Quebec, soon after my interview with Mr. Alden and Mr. Doubleday, the book was begun.
The first of the letters published in The House of Harper, however, was apparently written immediately after my return to London when the novel was well on its way. Evidently the first paragraph of the letter was an apology for having suddenly announced the development of the book from a long short story to a long novel; for I used these words:
"Yet if you really take an interest in the working of the human mind in its relation to the vicissitudes of life, you will appreciate what I am going to tell you, and will recognise that there is only stability in evolution which the vulgar call chance. . . . Now, sir, perpend. Charley Steele is going to be a novel of one hundred thousand words or one hundred and twenty thousand--a real bang-up heartful of a novel."
Then there follows the confidence of a friend to a friend. As I look at the words I am not sorry that I wrote them. They were a part of me. They were the inveterate truth, but I would not willingly have uncovered my inner self to any except the man to whom the words were written. But here is what I wrote:
"I am a bit of a fool over this book. It catches me at every tender corner of my nature. It has aroused all the old ardent dreams of youth and springtime puissance. I cannot lay it down, and I cannot shorten it, for story, character, soul and reflection, imagination, observation are dragging me along after them. . . . This novel will make me or break me--prove me human and an artist, or an affected literary bore. If you want it you must take the risk. But, my dear Alden, you will be investing in a man's heart--which may be a fortune or a folly. Why, I ought to have seen--and far back in my brain I did see--that the character of Charley Steele was a type, an idiosyncrasy of modern life, a resultant of forces all round us, and that he would demand space in which to live and tell his story to the world. . . . And behold with what joy I follow him, not only lovingly but sternly and severely, noting him down as he really is, condoning naught, forgiving naught, but above all else, understanding him--his wilful mystification of the world, his shameless disdain of it, but the old law of interrogation, of sad yet eager inquiry and wonder and 'non possumus' with him to the end."
This letter was evidently written in December, 1899, and the other went to Mr. Alden on the 7th August, 1900; therefore, eight or nine months later. The work had gone well. Week after week, month after month it had unfolded itself with an almost unpardonable ease. Evidently, the very ease with which the book was written troubled me, because I find that in this letter of the 7th August, 1900, to Mr. Alden, I used these words:
"A kind of terror has seized me, and instead of sending a dozen more chapters to you as I proposed to do, I am setting to to break this love story anew under the stones of my most exacting criticism and troubled regard. I go to bury myself at a solitary little seaside place" (it was Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire), "there to live alone with Rosalie and Charley, and if I do not know them hereafter, never ask me to write for 'Harper's' again. . . . This book has been written out of something vital in me--I do not mean the religious part of it, I mean the humanity that becomes one's own and part of one's self, by observation, experience, and understanding got from dead years."
Anyhow that shows the spirit in which the book was written, and there must have been something in it that rang true, because not only did it have an enormous sale and therefore a multitude of readers, but I received hundreds of letters from people who in one way or another were deeply interested in the story.
The majority of them were inquisitive letters. A great many of them said that the writer had shared in controversy as to what the relations of Charley and Rosalie were, and asked me to set for ever queries and controversies at rest by declaring either that the relations of these two were what, in the way of life's stern conventions, they ought not to be, or that Rosalie passed unscathed through the fire. I had foreseen all this, though I could not have foreseen the passionately intense interest which my readers would take in the life-story of these unhappy yet happy people. I had, however, only one reply. It was that all I had meant to say concerning Charley and Rosalie had been said in the book, to the last
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