Chapter 198379100

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Url
Full Date1883-07-16
Page Number3
Word Count1898
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)
Trove TitleThe House of White Shadows
article text


Br B, L. FARJEON, Author of "Blade-o'-Qmas" "Joshua Marr-O," "Bread aad Cheese and Kisses,* "Grif," London's Heart," <£c.


Geneva was in a state of feverish excitement. Not in tbe memory of living man had a trial taken place ia which the interest manifested had been soabaorbwa. " Whafc news from the Court-HouseT" "How many davt» longer is it likely to last f " What will the verdict be V were questions which men and women asked freely of each other. In every grade of society, from the highest to lowest In fashionable assemblies, and in the Caf&i where the people drank their Lager and red wine; in Clubs and workshops: on steamboats and dlligenoes; ia the field and vineyards tbe trial of Uaatran was the foremost subject in every person's mind, and formed the principal topic of conversation and debate. So animated were the discussions, that the ffirl lying in her, grave mkht have been supposed to be closelyrelateato half the inhabitants of Geneva, instead of having been, as she was, a comparative stranger in the town, with no claim upon any bving Qenevese on the score of kinship. The evidence against the prisoner was overwhelming, and it appeared as if a spirit of personal hatred had guided its preparation, with deadly patience and skill the prosecuting counsel blocked up every loophole of escape; Gautran was fast in the meshes; and it was observed that the Advocate, in his examination of the witnesses brought forward by the prosecution, elicited precisely the kind of evidence that, to the minds of those wbo listened to hint, now for the first time, strengthened the case against the man he was defending. It was, to those observers, as though he shared the general borror of Gautnurs crime, aud had undertaken the delcnce for the sole purpose of ensuring a conviction, liut, in the minds of others, who had some knowledge of the Advocate's nurvellous resources, this very circumstance iespired the gravest doubts as to the result of the trial. Instances were citod in which this remarkable man had seemed to play so directly iuto the hands of his antagonists that they re^rded defeat as impossible ; and in which, by the cxercise of his inscrutable powers, ue had led them craftily into an ambush where, by a startling and totally unej^>ecte4 movement, he had, as it were, by a miracle, at tho supreme moment snatcned victory from their grasp. And it galled them to discover, when it was too late to repair their error, thit ho had so blinded their iudgmeut as to compcl thera to contribute largely to their own discomfiture. It was in the acknowledgment of these extraordinary powers that the doubt arose whether, in the case of Gautran, tiie prisoner would slip through the hands of justice. The excitement had become so intense that it had spread from tlie ancient and ordinarily peaceful town to other and greater towns and cities all the world over, the columns of whose newspapers teemoa with telegraphic despatches of the progress of the trial. 8peci.1l corre8i>ondents and artists were busily employed in noting and sketching every picturesque leature of the proceedings that afforded a subject foi illustraticn by pen or pencil. It was imiK)ssibJe, without favour or influence, to obtain admission to tho Court, and could seata have been purchased, a higher price would willingly have been paid for them than the most celebrated actress or prima donna oould have commanded. Slurders are common enough, but this crime had feverishly stirred the heart of the community, and the nnwonted excitement it causea was due, strangely enough, not so much to the murder itself as to an accidental connection, which imparted to it an extraordinary interest. The victim was a young girl named Madeline, seventeen years of age. Until a few months before her cruel and untimely death ehe bad been a stranger in the neighbourhood, and nothing was Known of the story of her life. When she first appeared in the suburbs of Geneva she was accompanied by a woman older than herself, and two facts became immediately apparent—that a strong attachment existed between the newcomers, and that they were very poor. This l;ust circumstance was in itself a suliicient ludication that they belonged to the lower classes. The

name of tbe elder of the women was Pauline. That they chose to be kuown by these names, Madeline and Pauline, was not considered eincular by those with whom they consorted—as they presented themselves so they were acceptcd, and although at tiret a natural - curiosity was evinced concerning their history, nothing was gathered from them which threw light upon it. Some said tlie women came from the mountalus, some lrom the plains; but this was mere guess-work. Their dress did not proclaim tneir canton, and thty brought uothing with them to betray them. They hired a room in a poor cottage for three francs :i month, and paid the tint mouth's rent in advance, uud the woman who recei"ed the money w:is correct in her surmise that it constituted nearly the whole of their wealth. Kor three or four days they did nothing, and then thuir choice oi avocatiou was made. They sold flowers in the streets and cafes of Geneva, aud gained a scanty living thereby ; but poor as it was they appeared conteuted with it. Tne woman with whom they lived said she never heard a dissatisfied word from either of them, and that she was surprised they did not make a great deal ol mouey, because of Madeline's beauty. Had Pauliue traded alone it is more than likely that failure would have attended her, for although she was both comcly and straight-made, there was aiwavu in the fctrectb a cloud upon her face, and she did uot cither have the power, or would uot take tlie trouble, to matfe herself agreeable. It was otherwise with Madeline, in whose young life Natuiu'rt fairest season was opening, and it woald have been strange indeed if her smiling face :uid whining muiners had not attracted custom. Admiration pursued her, not only from those in her own station, but from bomc who occupicd a higher, and many an insidious proposal was whispered in her car, v.!iuao poisonous llattery would have beguiled her to her ruin. If she had net had in 1'auliuc a st«iu<»h aud devoted protector, it iu hard to say whether bhe could have resisted temptation, for her uuture was singularly geutlo and eunliding ; but her faithful couijiauii;ti, upon whom compliments and llattery were alike wasted, was ever on the alert, and uo man could deal with Madeline without reckoning with l'auline. She guarded Madeline as a mother ^uuidt- her )oung, and th-.-ir adectiou for each -dht r had grown almost into a proverb. Certuiuly iio harm could Ufa! the youug dower girl while Pauline was near; but a day arrived uhen the elder woman was called away for a while, aud they parted with tears and kifases—uevcr 10 tucel a^ain. Among those whom Mudeiii O'B beauty had attiacted was a man in her jwu station iu life, Gautran, a woodman, v'10 by some means* had obtainod au intiu<uce over her, and who assumed a licence, permitted to no other, to associate witli her. "hat his companionship was distasteful to her could not be doubted, but he was not to be shaken oil. and hie known ferocity of character deterred Mtlitre fiotn approaching the g rl when he was l-risi'it. Many times had he been heard to bay, "Madeline belongs to me; let me see who is bold enough to dispute it." And.

again and again, that it would bu an evil hour for tho man who stepped bctwecu him and the woman he loved. Even Pauline was loth to anger him, though when be and Madeline were seen together people would say. " There go the wolf and the lamb." This wretch it was who stood accused of the murder of the pretty tiower girL Her body had been found in the Eiver Rhone, with marks of violenoe upon it, and a handkerchief tightly twisted round her neck. The proofs of a cruel murder were incontestible, and suspicion fell immediately upon Gautran, who was the last person known to be in Madeline's oomjiany. Evidence of his guilt was soon forthcoming. After Pauline's departure Madeline had expressed to companions her fears that, in consequence of her refusal to marry him, he rould one day do her a mischief; according f0 their statements he had ur^ed her to go to the priest with J)im while Pauline was absent Ue was madly, brutally in love with her, and madly, brutally jealous of her. On tbe qi$ht of the murder they bad been seen wanting together on the bank of the river ; high words were beard to pass between th-m: the man's exclamation, will kill you—I will kill von 1" was sworn to by witnesses; and the handkerchief ronnd her neck belonged to iiim. A thousand dameing details were Ewiftiy .accumulated, all irjiutin^ to the wretch's guilt, and tbe ev^deno 1 was so complete and crushing that h« WIM doomed by the public voioe before he was tri«L It was well for him that he did not fall into the honds of tbe jiopulace. 60 incensed were they against him that they would have torn him to pitces. 4 , But while be lay in nrifon, awaiting tbe day of trial, thcro a. rived in Geneva an Advocate of renowu, who had travelled thither w ith bis wife in search of much-noedcd repose from years of mentil toil His physicians, fearing that he w uuld breakdown in health, and knowing that he would not spare hinfelt, had inii>eratively iusiattd that he bhould retire awhile from his professional duties, end he had reluctantly consented to oUy tnem. This man was famous in many ect.ntriee; he was an indefatipable and mrijt't woiker, and so iu portant were his ((iviut<d that phenomenal fees wore puid tg_ evcw« UKID« &ufe MV.

withstanding that hii time was more valuable than Uiat of lay other member of his profession, he had -been' known to refuse large aom pf money to cases offered tq him, so thM h* might devote himself to those wfaioh hejd oatnoprospeotof t>owmlaj-y rtwird. Wealthy, ' and held' iq almost exaggerated esteem, it vas confidently predicted that the hi«W honours of the State were in storp JerwOi Vno it^ras ungrudgingly admitted thaixho loftiest office would be 91({ni5ed * by 'ossod&tioii With, his urnie! lnq pofdtipo. hi had attained Was doe as mtich toiis.toWnse.entifinslasin in the oanse he chf^nploBsd as to his wondrous capacity for tfflJiinRlt.on to victory. As leader of a fdrlont hop* h« was nnrLvaUAd. He had an insatiable appetite for obstacles^criminal cases .of great moment, in which life was in imminent peril, &Dd in which there was a dark mystery to he solved, possessed an latibte nwcmatioB for him. The more ntd tW task, the otoser his «tddy bf it; aeepfer invstnry, the fleeter his OBftiS ,th« uniiveiling of it; the more i' an'ej&rqiisioa oferullatlon to escai_ hita. Bis qulwaM tranquillity, even ita supreme crint, was astonishing. His nerve wis of frofl, -and to his most intimate "ate* Jus into? life was a sealed boot by his wife, the Advocate