|Chapter Title||TWO LETTERS-FROM FRIEND TO FRIEND.|
|Newspaper Title||Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)|
|Trove Title||The House of White Shadows|
THE HOUSE OF WHITE SHADOWS.
Br B. L. FARJEON, Author at "Blftde-o'-araifl" " Joe boa Marrel," "Breed tad Cheese a-u! Kiasea," "Qrif," "London's Usart," 4o.
FBOM LOVEB TO LOVEB.
CHAPTER VTL TWO LETTBB^rBOM FRtEND TO FlilEJn),
"My dear Balcombe—Wo hare been hero t'ljro ''nand are oomforfcably established 1 i m ur aiugukuiy'named vUUj the Hoobc of \\ hiie Shadows. Upon entering it I saw at a glance how desirous yon were to make the place agreeable to na. Your labour is not thrown away; I fully appreciate the mark of £i iendehip and affection You have alao accomplished a work whiob pleases me : I dislike to see property fall into docay. With a honse, with the mind, it fa well occasionally to sweep away the cobwebs. Yoar villa is a perfect oouatry residence, and the scenery around it is, I am told, o harming. I have, as yon are aware, no eyes for the beauty of naiore. Human nature and ham&a motive alone Interest me ; and my impressions of the surrounding country are derived from the descriptions of my wile, who enjoys novelty with the enthusiasm of a child. It appears that she was enchanted when she heard from your lips that your house wat haunted by shadows; up to this time, however, none nave appeered to her, nor has my composure been disturbed by su pern at iral visions. At a convenient time I shall take an opportunity of learning why your villa has received its singular appellative; you, yourself, may enlighten me : and you may also relate to me the story of the sign of the little inn close by—the inn of The Seven Liars. These stories must have a human interest. " I have travelled hither for rest, and no sooner am 1 here than I become interested in a case which is coming on shortly for trial It is a case of murder, and a man is charged with its commission. He has no friend*, he has no money, he is undoabtedly a vicious crcature of the commonest and lowest order. Left to himself, it appears to me that he will be condemned, for jjublic opinion is dead against him, and there is nothing in him to rccommend him to favour ; he is a creature to avoid. But these are not the points to b? considered. Is the man guilty or not guilty? lie is pronounced guilty by the universal public voice; bat there is a feature in the case which has taken powerful po38e3sion of me, and which appears not to Wave occurred to others. I intend to devote the whole of to-night to a study of all the circumataucea of the crime, and it is hkely that I shall undertake tiie defence of this repulsive beio^, I have no doubt much to his astonishment. There is a mystery in the matter, aid to endeavour to unravel it will afford me pleasure. Change of air and scene has already douc mj good, and I am physically renovated. Occu- >ation of mind will help me on ; so when you 1icar—if you liavc the opportunity of hearing any news at all from the world in th-j mountain fastness in which you arc ont reached—that I have undertaken tlio defence of a man named Gautran, accused of the murder of a Bower-girl named Madeline, do not be surprised.
"Now, what is troubling me is whit is my uifc to do? How is she to occupy hur time during our stay in Petit Sarcounex? At present she is full of animation and delight in the new faoos and new scenery which surround her ; but the novelty will wear off, and then she will be dulL Save me from si-If-reproach by taking up your njitdcuoe with us, if uot for the whole time we remain here (which I should much prefer), at least for-a few weeks. By so doing you will confer a eeivlce upon all of as, My wife enjoys your society ; I love you ; and personal as jo ciatioa with sincere friends will be of real benefit to you. 1 urge it earnestly upon you. Were you engaged in the preparation of any cherished work with which you intend to surprise us and the world, I should not desire you to come to us, but I have an iinprcjsion that you are bruodiog upon uuhealthy fan cies, and that you have eotght solitude for the purpose of struggling with one of those nj dinary though oppressive maladies of the mind to which sensitive natures are prone. You will not conquer it in solitude ; you caanut gruw strong iii solitude; sileuce and scclusiou will uot help you to a victory over yourself. Lome and unboeom youreelftj me, li you have anything to uuboaom, and do not f« ar that I snail intrude myself upon you «Kainet your inclination, tf you have a grief, meet it in the company of those who love j ou ; there ie a nicdiuiLC in a friendly u.nile; iu a friendly word, in a friendly shake of the liaud. even iu sileut friendly ^romu^'.iity, «biofi you cannot tind in solitude. Ooe needs sometime?, not the sunshine of fair weather, but the suushiue of the soul; here it awaits you, and should you bring d.irk vapours with you, 1 promise you they will soon be dispelled. I am disposed to insist upon your coming, and to tike it an an act of unfriendliness if you refuse me. \Vhen the case of (juutran is at an end I shall bean idle man. It may be a long time before another opportunity occurs of ^ our passing a few weeks in each other's sooiety, undisturbed by the cares and duties of the profesbion to which I am devoted. Add an inestimable value to your hospitality by coming here At once and sweetening my leisure—Your Fueud, Edward." II. "My Own—My husband is uneasy about you, and lias i nposed a task upon me. You shall judge fir jourbe'f \v hot her it isa disagreeable one. I a n to write to you immediately, and iubist u\o i your coming to us without an hour's delay. You have not the option of a refusal. Tie Advocate insists upon it, and I also insist uloq it. You tnt&il come. Upou receipt of tnU letter you will pajk up your i>ortnianteau and travel hither in the swiftest possiblo way by the shortest possible routo lie sure that you do not disobey me. You are to come at once, without an hour's, nay, v ithout a moment's delay. If you fail, I will not answer for the consequences. For what reason, do you suppose, did I accept your offer or your villa in this strangely quiet spot, where one feels as if one were out of the world, unless it was in the hope and the belief that we should be near each other? Aud now that I am here, pledged to reuiaiu, unable to leave without an exhibition of the mobt dreadful vacillation (which wjatd not matter were I to have my own way, and were everything to bo cxistiy as I wish it), you arcs bound tj fly swiftly to the side of one who loveo you with all her heart and e.ou1. Dj uot be aa0'ry with n.e for my disregard of your cauti v.\ to be cartful in my manner of writing to yj-i. cannot help it; I think of you day and night, aud if you wish me not to wriiu what you fear other eyes than yours might toe yo-1 must come and talk to tne> the i tlu-ro will 1)2 uo need to write letters to you. 1 shall couut the minutes till you are heroi Wneu the Advocate said that he had an laca you would haye taken up your quarters with us iu this delightful villa (he did say so, indeed) 101 ado an exci'Bc for you, aud said it was most likely because it was your house that you felt a delicacy in coming without an luvitation. That was nicely put, was it not? Come then, immediately. I cannot livo without you. " Yes ; the Advocate is uneasy about you. He asked me the strangest questions. One was whether 1 thought you had auy special reason for melancholy? Could anything in the world be more absurd! Roaiou for niciancholy 1 Do I not love you? Uo you not love me? lJave we uot vowed to be true to eacli other ? Parted wo aro in one sense by crucl fate, but it cannot stop the beating of our heaits ; only death can do that; aud my htart will l)eat for you, and for you alone, till I am an old, old woman. Think of me as I shall be then—an old woman, with white hair, walking with a crutch stick as they do on tnc stage. But no; I do not think I shall live to be old ; 1 cannot endure the reflection. I have seen such dreadful, dreadful old women, aud I would rather die than be like them. I shall make up my mind not to think of the future; fehorc is hippiness enough in to-day nhen you are with me. As for your being melancnoly, it is ridiculou*. There can be no possible reason for it. " Stop, though. A friend of yours, a banker in Geneva, suggested to the Advocite that you might have had a disappointment in love. No A', this sets mo Uiiukiu^. You have told mo that I am the only one woman in the world you have loved. But arc you to be believed? It is the usual thing for a man to play a woman false. Are yoi lik* the others 7 If I thought so -if I Ihoaght so for a moment" " Now I am going to torment myself. Why havo jou chosen to hide yourself in the mount?in?, away from me? Have you been there before ? Is there some pretty girl there to attract you, from whom you find it impossible to tear yoursolf» If it is so, lot her beware of me. You havo no idea of what I should be capable if vou made me jealous. A pretty girl, with eyes like mine, with hair like mine—vou would pay me that compli- •quit, at all events—a pretty simple girl, pc^ivs or siuring? Which? I cau bo both, you know. Younger than I am. though I am not so old. Sir—with hands—au, I am easier in my mind ; her hands must be coaiso, fo. she can be nothing but a peasant. I am almost satisfied ; yon could never fall in love a peasant. I Jut a peasant in'ulil fdll in love with you -there arc more unlikely things than that. Shall 1 ti 11 you what the Advocate said of you this evoking? ft will ma!;e you vain, but never mini. 'I hive never in my life known a man more likely t> inspire love woman.' Thore, .Sir; his very wurds. How tnie they arc. Ah, my dnrlm j;. How cruel was the chance that separated us from cadi oilier, and brought us toucthct' a^iin jvhen I "'.is aiu.ther nun's wife. Tw
but not too late for love. 0. If I had only known. If some£alry had told me that the iqan who, when f was a child, enthralled me with his beautiful fancies ana won my heart, and who then, as it seamed, passed out of my life—if I had suspected that after many years he would return home from his wanderings with the resolve to seek out the child and make her his wife—do you think I would not have waited for him ? Do you think it possible I could ever have aooepted the love of another man ? No, it oould not have been, for even as a child I used to dream of yon, ana held you in my heart above all other human beings. Bat you were gone—I never thought of seeing you again—ana X was so ycung that I ooula have bad no foreshadowing of what was to come. Have you ever reflected, my dear, upon what you owe me f It is more than you can. ever repay. Have you ever considered how utterly different my life might have been had you not crossed it ? Not that I reproach you for it—do not for a motnent think that: your love Is more precious to mo than all the world besides, out how strangely things turn out, without the principal aotor— in this instance an actress, my dear—having anything whatever to do witn them 1 It is exactly like sitting down quietly by yourself, and seeing all sorts of wonderful things occur in which you have no hand, although if you were not in existence they would never have takon place. That proves to me that we are ruled by fate, and that it is useless to resist it. If it bad not happened that you knew me when I was a chila, and loved me then, ds you have since told me (my own feelings at that time were the feelings of a child not of a woman, but you were a man, lemetnber)—if it hed not happened that your restless amrit drove you abroad, where you remained tor I don't know how many years—if it had not happened that, wearied with wandering and tired of a lonely life, you resolved to come home and 6eck out the child you used to pet and make love to (but she did not know the meaning of love then)—if it liad not happened that, entirely ignorant of what was passing in your mind, the child, grown into a pretty woman (I think I may Bay that without vanity), was persuaded by her friends that to refuse an oner of marriage made to her by a great lawyer, famous and rich, was something too shockin? to contemplate. If it had not happened that she. knowing nothing of the world, knowing nothing of her own heart, allowed herself to be guided by those cold calculating friends to accept a man utterly unsuited to her ; if it had not happened that this man aud you were friends There; my dear, follow it out for yourself, and think how dilferent our livos might have been if things had happened in the way they on.ght to nave done. Till 1 saw you, Arthur, after I had become a wife, Idid not know what love was; I was cheated and tricked into a marriage with a man whose heart is as cold as ice; 1 am bound to him for life, but I'am yours till death. "Are you angry with inc for putting all lis on paper. You must not be, for 1 cannot help it if ram not wise. When I_ think of you, when I write to you, when I speak of you. I only know that 1 love you. Aud I declare to you, if you do not come at once to the Uouse of White Shadows that 1 will steal from it in the night, aud will make my way to the mountains to see that wonderful attraction it is that keeps you in loneliness,
and separates me from tne man who has sworn undying love for me. What food for scandal! Save me from its possibility as you are a true man." " Ycu have made the villa beautifuL As I walk about the house and grounds I am filled with delight to think that you have cffectod such a magic tiansformation for my sake. What pains you must have takenl and how strange that you did it all by deputy, and that you have not set foot in Petit Sarconnex for years 1 You see I know all. Who told me? My new maid, Dionetta. Do you remember in one of the letters you received from your agent, that something was said about the old housekeeper, Mother Denise, and a pretty grauddaughter ? I made up my mina at the time that the pretty granddaughter should be my maid. And she is, and her name is Dionetta. is it not pretty ?—but not prettier than the owner. Will that tempt you? I dare say you have forgotten that h2r name, and her grandmother's, and Fritz the Fool's, wero mentioned in the letter you gave me to read : you must learn that women take notice of every trifle. I have sent my town maid home, eo I am here absolutely alone, with none but strangers around me. I could continue my gossip uutil daylight, but I have already lost au hour of iny beauty sleep. My heait lioes with this letter; bring it back to me. With undying love, yq^ix-s for ever, Adelaide."