Chapter 198379704

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Chapter NumberXII
Chapter TitleGAUTRAN'S CON?SSION.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198379704
Full Date1883-07-28
Page Number1
Corrections0
Word Count3480
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)
Trove TitleThe House of White Shadows
article text

THE HOUSE OF "WHITE SHADOWS.

By B, L. FABJEON, * Author ct "BbA+cf-Qnmf " Jortnm UWT4U "Bnfkd ml ObMM «ul Kbaas," "Obit' ''liondolt Bart," A*. ...

CHAPTER TTTT. • OAoraiiCa ooNTEaaios.

There lived not in file world a man more fearleaa than the Adrooite. At thia threatening demand he exhibited u little trepidation as he would hare done at an soquaintanoe asking him in brptd daylight for a pinbh of Banff. Indeed, he wee so thoroughly anemtarawed that hit yoioe assumed an airineaa diitlnotly foreign to it> naual sortona tones. " Money, my friend 1 ho* much F •'All you re gel" " Terae, and to the point IflrefnaeT" "I am aespwat*. Look to yooraell" For some reason the Advooate thre<r into bia voice a certain airineaa which he seldom adopted, and whioh distinctly altered its character. " This is a aeriona bnsiness, tbal»- r " Yoo'll find itBO if yon trifle with me." "There is, perhaps, oontinnedthe Advocate, unmoved, " alesi snpnrficial cause (or it than the probability—forgive me for mentioning it—of your bung , a thief. It may cbanoe that appearances are against yon, ana that you are an honest man." "lam." ' Plunged, through no fanit of your own. t the nail, muter," " Are yon hnrigty f " I am starring. - "Yon have—dcm't be In a hurry, my friend: there axe boors of darknma before us, and there is no f eax of our being disturbed on thia lonely road—yvn have a powerful voioe for a starving man. "Don't play with me mnoh longer, master. I mean to hare what I ask for." " How can yon if I do not possess it? How will yon if, possessing it, I refupe to give it to yon I" The reply was a crashing blow at an overbanging Branch, which broke it tothegronnd. It was evident the man carried a stoat weapon, and that he meant to use it with murderous effect, if driven to extremes. They spoke at arm's length; neither was quite within the other's grasp. " A strong argument," Bald the Advocate, without blenching, "and a savage one; but scoundrels would run less risk of the gaol if their proceedings were logioal. Are yon sure that I shall rait your purpose f " The chances are in my favour. Be qaiok; I'll wait no longer." " Another moment, I beg. I may be, like yourself, a poor man plunged into the depths. " You are not Your voioe is too gay for that." "Or," continued the Advocate^ secretly taking a box of matches from his pocket, " like yourself, not only a thief, bat—a would-be murderer 1" As the word passed his lips he flung a lighted match into the man's face, and, for a moment, the glare revealed the ruffian's features. Qe Btaggered back, repeating the 1 word, 1 Murderer [" in a hoarse, startled whisper. The Advocate strode swiftly to his side, and striking another match, held it up to hie own faoe. " Look at me, Gautran,' he said. The man looked np, and recognising the Advocate, recoiled, muttering, "Aye, aye—I see who it is." 1 ' And yon would rob me, wretch 1" "Not now, master, not now. I did not know who it was. Your voice—it was the voice of another man. I crave your pardon, humbly." "So—you soon get to work again, Gautran. One would have thought you would have preferred a rest after yonr late fever. Have you not had enough of the gaol 1" " More than enough. " It must have been a pleasant experience, nevertheless, for you to court ft so soon again. It can soarcely be an honr since ybu were set free, and the yearning for the cell proceeding; but take this to heart, Gautran. Every man, mad or sane, is accountable for his acts." " I don't half understand what yon say, master; but perhaps you'll have the goodness to tell me what a poor devil is to do whose pockets are as empty as his belly ?" " You are a dull-witted knave, or you would be aware it is useless to lie to mc. Gautran, I can read your soul. You wished to speak to me in the Court. Say what you had to say." "Give me breathing time, master. You've the knack of driving the thoughts clean out of a man's head. Have you got a bite of something about you that a poor fellow can chew—the end of a cigar or a nip of tobacco ? " I have nothing about me but money, which you can't chew, and should not have if you could. Let me tell you, my friend. When you said you were starving you lied to me, and I knew it." ''How?" " Fool! Are there not fruit-trees here laden with wholesome food within any thief's jjraep? Your pockets .at this moment are tilled with fruit. You were eating when you first demanded money of me." " You have a gift," Baid Gautran, with a cringing movement of his body. " You mast have bought it of the deviL It would b6 an act of chanty to put me in the way of it." " What would von purchase ? asked tne Advocate, ironically. " Gold, for wine, and women, and fine clothes ?" " Aye, master," replied Gautran, with eager voice. " Power to crush those you hate, and make them smart and bleed ?" " Aye, master, aye." " Friend Gautran, these things are precious, and have their price. What are you willing to pay for them ?" " Anything—anything but money 1" " Something of less worth—yonr soul ?" Gautran shuddered, and crossed himself. "No, no," he muttered, "not that—not that!' "Strange," said the Advocate, with a contemptuous smile, " the value we place upon an unknown quantity 1 We cannot bargain, friend. Say now what you desire to say, and as briefly as possible." But it was Eome time before Gautran could sufficiently recover himself to speak with composure. " I want to know," he said at length, with a curious clicking m his throat, whether you've been j>&id for what you did for me ?" " At your trial ?" " Ave, master." " I have not been paid for what I did for you." " When they told me down there," said Gautran, after another pause, pointing in the direction of Geneva where tne prison lay, *' that you were to appear for me, they said I might thank my lucky stars, for I'd got the cleverest man in all Europe on my side." " On yoir side," repeated the Advocate, with a slight frown, which quickly disappeared. " Well, strictly speaking, it may be put that way. But for you there would have been no battle to fight." " They asked me how I managed it, but I couldn't tell them, and I'm beating my head now to fina out why you did it. There must be a reason." " You strike a keynote, my friend." " Has some one promised to pay you ?" " No one has promised to pay me." "You puzzle and confuse me, master. You're a stnnger to Geneva, I'm told." " It is true. " I've lived about here nearly all ray life; I was born in Siene ; my father worked in the foundry, my mother in the fields. You are not a stranger in Sierre." " I am a stranger there ; I never visited the town." " My father was born in Martigny. You knew my.father." " I did not know your father." " My mother—Aer father owned a vineyard. Yon knew far." " I did not know her." Onoe more Gautran was silent What he desired now to say raised up iaiages so terrifying that he had not the courage to give it immediate utterance. " You are in shadow, my friend," said the Advocate, " bnt I perceive you are ill at ease. Shall I divine what is in your mind," " Yon can do that" " It is not unlikely," " Tell me. then." " You wish to know If I was acquainted «ith the unhappy girl with whose murder you were charged. 1 ' " Is there another man in the world like you?' asked Gautran, with a kind of fear in his voire. " It is what I want to know." " I was not acquainted with her." Gautran retreated a step or two. in positive terror. "Then what," ne cried, "'in the devil's name made von oome forward T* " At length," Baid the Advocate, " we have arrived at a point in our conversation—a strange one, at a 6trange time, my friend— which it is worth while employing a few minutes to consider. I thank you for the opportunity you afford me ot questioning my inuer 6elf. What in the devil's name made me comc forward to the assistance of such a scoundrel? Humanity? No. Compassion* No. Sympathy? No. What, then, was niy motive ? Shall I say I was prompted by a desire to assist the course of justice—or by a contemptible feeling of vanity to engage In a contest for the simple purpose of proving myself the victor? It ^os something ofooth, mayhap. Do you k oow, tinutian, a kind of self-despistl stirj tvitlnu me at the present moment ? You do

not understand me ? I will gfvs yon a closer illustration. You Are a thief?" " Yes, master." " You jrteal aometimea from habit, to keep your hand in. as it were,and yon experience a oertain satisfaction in twine accomplished yonr theft, in it workmanlike manner. We an all of as but gross and earthy patches. It is simply a question of degree; sad it is beoause I am jn an Idle, mood—indeed, I am grateful lo mm for tius playful hour—that I make a confession to you whioh would not elevate me in the eyes of better men. You true, anxious to know whether I have been paid for my services. I now acknowledge payment. I accept as my fee the recreation ypn have afforded me." " I shall be obliged to you, master, if yon will leave your mysteries and oome back to mv trial." " I will oblige you. Iread tho portionlara of the case for the first time on my arrival here,,and it appeared to me almost impossible you could ceoapa conviction. I examined yon, and saw the legal point whioh, villain as you .are. prooUimed yonr Innocence t but I am beginning to bo dangerously shaken. I will do, I aaid, for this wretch what I believe no.ether man can do— I will perform a miracle." "You have done it I" cried Oautnn, falling on his knees in a paroxysm of fear, and kissing the Advocate a hand, which was instantly snatched away. " You are great— you are the greatest 1 You knew the tenth 1" " Hie truth I" exclaimed the Advocate, and had he not been standing in darkness a suddep 3>aleBess would have beau-Been in his thoughtful face. " Aye-^the truth 1 'You can read the sonl; nothing is hidden from von. Finish your work—finish it—end I will be your Blare to the last hour of my life. 0, master, master, finish your work, and save me entirely." " Save yon ? From what {" demanded the Advocate; ne was compelled to exeroise great self-control, for a horror of the victory he had gained was stealing upon him. The trembling wretch rose, and pointed to the opposite roadside, " from shadows, from ai earns, from the wild eyes of Madeline, Look there; look there." The Advocate turned in the direction of Gautran's outstetched hand. "Nothing is visible bnt the shadows of the night, he said, in a suppressed tone. " What are you gazing upon. " Upon Madeline; upon Madeline. She dogs me like my shadow: I cannot shake her off. I have threatened her, but she does not heed me. She is waiting—there, there— to follow me when I am alone; to put her arms about me ; to breathe upoo my face, and tnrn my heart to ice. You must have kDown her; you who can read what passes in a man's souL She will not obey me, but she will you. She came to me In prison, and laid down by my side ; she Btood bv me in the Court house, but only you and I could see her. Command her, compel her to leave me, or she will drive me mad." The wretch shook like a leaf in the wind as he made this appeal. With amazing strength the Advocate placed his hands on Gautran's shoulders, and twisted the man's face so close• to his own that not an inch of Bpace divided them. Their eyes met, Gautran's wavering and dilating with fear, the Advocate's fixed and stern, and with a cold fire in them terrible to behold. " Recall," said the Advocate, in a voice so clear that it rang through the darkness like a bell," what passed between you and Madeline on the last night of her life. Speak 1" " I sought her in the Quartier St. Gervais, andfouna her at eight o'clock in the company of another man. 1 watched them, and kept out of her sight. He was speaking to her softly, and some things he said to her made her Bmile: .and every time she showed, her white tee til l swore that no other man should have her but me. They kepttogether for an hour and then they parted, he going one way, Madeline another. I followed her along the banks of the river, and when I thought no one was near us I spoke to her. She was not pleased with my company, and told me to leave her, but I said I had something particular to say to her, and that I did not intend to leave her until it was spoken. It was a daik night; there was no mooo. I told her I had been watohing her, that I knew she had another lover, and that I would kill him if she did not give him up. She laughed at me, and said I was always talking of killing, and that the man I spoke of could take care of himself. I asked her who he was, and she bade me find out for myself. I asked her if she intended to leave me, and she said yes, and that after that night she would never see me a^ain. I said it might happen, and that it might be the last night we should ever see each other. She asked me if I was going away, and I said no, it might he her that was going on the longest journey she had ever taken. What journey ? she asked, and I answered a journey with death for the coachman, for I had Bwom a dozen times that night that no man should have her but me, kill her. I said it twice, and Bome people passed and turned to look at us, but there was not light enough to see us clearly. Madeline would have cried to them for help, but I pressed my knife against her skin, but not so as to draw blood, and whispered that if she uttered a word it would be her last, that she need not be frightened, for I loved her too well to do her any barm. Bnt when we were alone again, and no soul was near us, I told her again that, as sore as there was a sky above us, 1 would kill her unless she swore to give up her other lover and be trpe to me. She said ahe# would promise, and ahe put her little hand in mine and pressed it, and said—' Gautran, I will be only yours; now let ns go back.' But I said it was not enough: that she most knoel and swear upon the holy cross that the would have nothing to do with any man bnt me. I forced her upon her knees, and knelt by her side, and put the cross to her lips; and then she began to sob and tremble. She could not >ut her sonl in peril, she said: she did not fove me—how could soe swear to be faithful to me ? I said it was that or death, and that it would be the blackest hour of my life to kill her, but that I meant to' do it if she would not give in to me. She threw her that Bhc would do anything else in the world but that, and that she knew I was only trying to frighten her, and that I could not have the heart to kill her. I asked her for the last time whether she would take the oath, and she said she daren't Then I told her to say a prayer, for she had not five minutes to live. She started to her feet, and ran along the bank. I ran after her, and she stumbled and fell to the ground, and before she could rise again I had her in my arms to fling her into the river. She did not scratch or bite me, bat clung to me and kissed me a hundred times, kissed my eyes, and my lips, and my neck, and my bonds, while her tears fell all about my face. I said to her, ' You love me, kissing me so ; swear, then; it is not too late!' But she cried, * No, no I I kiss you so that you may not have the heart to kill me I' And Btill she kissed and kissed me. Soon she got weak, and her arms had no power in them, and I lifted her high in the air, and flung her from me into the river. I waited a minute or two, and thought she was dead, but then 1 heard a bubbling and a scratching, and looking down I saw that by a miracle Bhe had got back to the river's brink, and that there was yet life in her. I pulled her out, and Bhe clung to me in a weak way, and whispered, nearly chokcd the while, that the Virgin Mary would not let me kill her. ' Will you take the oath?* I whispered: and she shook her head from side to side, ' No I no I no!' I took my handkerchief and tied it tight round her neck, and she smiled in my face. Then I lifted her up, and threw her into the river again. I saw her no more that night!" The Advocate removed his eyes, with a shuddef, from the eves of the wretoh who had made this horrible confession, and who now sank to the ground, quivering in every limb, crying— " Save me, master; save me!" " Monster 1" 'exclaimed the Advocate. " Live and die accursed I" But the terror-stricken man did not hear the words, and the Advocate, upon whose features, daring Gautran's confession, a deep gloom had settled, strode swiftly from him through the peaceful narrow lane, fragrant with the perfume of the limes, at file end of which the lights in the HOUBC of White Shadows were shining a welcome to him. said the man in the Theatre galloiy, " the make-ups were senenUr fair; but there was one make-up that I should like to see—a makMip (or lost Lime between the acta." BOBS, 'sposon you vas ter miss, Boms mornln', dot or pure pinter dog what you paid 1200 for, how much would you gif me ef 1 fotchsd him back to yer house, on Austin Avenue :," asked-Sam Johndug. I expect I would give you ten dollars," replied Colonel Terser, thoughtfully. " Well den, bo»s, Jess band out diu. ten doUan no mad yet NUBUIUIEIY correct, OOWCTCT, ror ne u mnn tor IstSnees every day by the old man. After one o! these -sad scenes between parent and child Mike remarked, dlsmaljy : " 1 percare that there is DO pIsziDg-nt yes. It fs irishin* X was dead I am." "It is loike yourself," retorted the fkther, "to be wisbii)' ye was stretched in an expiusive and con- \anieut ctfhn, takln' it aty for the rest of your Coktttd Biceps of Colonel Calkins. " You made B regular fool of yourself." ' I did, did II" replied "Most cssurediy yon did. 1 Has really ra-porbibility of being a fool <u my shoulders. No with JTCU it is different. TJie man who would bluuie vou tor being a fool would blaiue a uegro becauso