Chapter 198379825

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Chapter NumberXIV
Chapter TitleA LOVE STORY OF THE PAST.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198379825
Full Date1883-07-31
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count2209
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)
Trove TitleThe House of White Shadows
article text

THE HOUSE OP WHITE SHADOWS.

BY B. L. FARJEON, Author of "Blade-o'-UnoH," "Joshua MatW,'. " bread and Checee and KiiwoB."" Orll," JxradoD'i Heart," Ac.

CHAPTER XIV. A LOVB 8TORT OP THE PAST.

** I was born in this boiuc, my Lady." said Mother Deoise; " my mother was noose' keeper here before mo. I am Btxty^ight years old, and 1 have never slept a night away from the villa; I hope to die here. Until yotJr arrival tbc honse has not been regularly inhabited for more than twenty years. It has been lonely for me sometimes, and I have often wished for company, but on the whole I am contented. I dare say if Mr. Balcoml>e—the present Mr. IktcomDe—had had the power to sell the estate he would have done so long ago, but he is bound by his father's will sot to dispose of it while he lives. He has his own reasons for not lotting it. There have been opportunities, though, of course, in consequence of its being said that it is haunted, the people who would have been willing to take it would have wanted it for next to nothing. Mr. Balcombe's Agent, however* would never listen to any proposition; the villa was not to be let; it was to remain as it was ; that was the one answer always returned to those who made enquiries about it. So it has been, f cft to our care all these years, and we have done our best to prevent it falling into decay. We havo never been idle a day; in the hands of any other persons it would have been in ruins long ago. Arthur Balcombe's father lived here, and courted his young wife here ; a very beautiful lady ; asking your ladyship's pardon, almost as beautiful as yourself. That is her portrait hanging on the wall. It was painted by M. Gabriel, who could have become a great painter I have heard Bay. I don't know how true thbt may bo, but I know that the picture is very faithful; it is exactly like Arthur Balcombe's mother. Ilia father, perhaps he may have told you, was a distinguished author ; there are books ^ written by nim on the library shelves. 1 will speak , of him, if you please, as Mr. Balcombe, and ' my present master 1 will call Master Arthur ; it will make the story easier to tell. " When Mr. Balcombe came into the property, which consisted of this vill* and of many houses and much land in other paits, all of which have been solil ; this is the only portion of the old o&Utcs which remains in the family; there were at lenBt twenty servants emploved here. Although Mr. Balcombe was fond oi jibing auys and days shut up with his books and papers, he liked to ate company about him. He had great Dumber or fnends and acquaintances, and nioucy was freely spent. He would invite a dozen, twenty at a time, who used to come and no as they plca&cil, living in the house as if it w as their O A k, and passing generally 1 obtained. Mr. Balcouibe and his friends appeared to under* t.tu<l cach other's ways, aud the master was seldom intruded upon. When he took it into his head he came anions them, and then he w .is uuotber being. In his HOlitude he was wry, very quiut, and he would walk up aud dowit the avenue of limes for hour* aud houia toother, without utteriiiRawonl, looking straight before liim, and seeing nothing that w C saw; he seemed to be looking far, far away. He would do the eame in his study, and wo who were not as learned as lie would wonder what kind c{ thoughts pa ased through bis mind at those times, But when ho oame among his (meets lie laughed, he joked, and was full of life and Hpirits. At those times lie reminded me of a boy just escaped from school; he seemed to forget his books and his studies and bis loneiv walks, and it was hard to believe it was tfio same gentleman who •app^rod to be so happy when he was in EUitudc. He win i K°od master, and although be appeared to pay no attention to what was passim; nroimd him, there was very little that escaped his noticc. At the lime I hptal; of he not a you»c man, he was forty two years oi aye, and everybody wondc:cd why he d»d imt marry. He smiled and shook his head whni it was mentium-.l, ami said sometimes tint he wan too old, sometimes that lie ua* happy enough with his hooka, Eometirm s that ii a man married without loving and U-inu loved ho deserved c\trv kind ot mi.sfurlnm: that conld happen to him ; and then he >v.»ul«l suv that, cold .is he might appear, hi- worshipped beauty, aud that it was not possible he could iiurry a'jy Init a beautiful wumsm. I liave heard the remark made to him that the world was full of vntnv and I .can? if d wmnen, u.id have heard him ropy th»i it wis not likely one wculd fall to tV lot ol a man of hi.i n^e. My mother and I were privih-ged Bercants ; tny mother was his ncr-'\ and he lul an alluctiou for her, so that u c had opportunities of knowing and hearing mure tlian the other BervautR of the houhw " One summer th. re came to the villa, :unoug other vjgitnrH, ;>n old ^'utlcinau aud his wile and their daughter, MdUe. Beatrix. The )oung lady was one of tlio brightest Itoimis 1 ha\e ever Mudd, with the happiest face ami the happiest laugb, and & step as lulit as a fairy's. I do not know how many people fell inlo%c\\ith hcr-l think all who saw her. My master, Mr. JJalconibo, was one of these, but, unlike her other admirers, he avoided rather than folluwed her. He shut himself up with hii l<ouks, and for longer periods, and took h-.ss part thao ever in the gaieties and excursions which wero going on day after day. No one w ould havo supposed tliat her beauty aod her wiuuinu wayB had made any impression upon him. It is not for mc to aay whether the young lady, observing this, as she could scarcely help doing, was nettled at it, or w hether she made up her mind that he should show his love for her. In youth we act from impulse, and do not stop to consider consequences. It hap|>cncd, nowever, and it is a fact that for one whole week Mr. Balcombe gave up his books, and mixed freely with nio guests. But there was no lovemaking on his part, so far as anybody could see. ilifi conduct gave occasion for no remarks, but I remember it vis s|>oken of among the guests that the young; lady was in love with our master, and we all wondered what would eome o| it. At the end of the week there was a dreadful accident. The gentlemen were out ridim, and were not expected homo till evening; but they had not been away more-thin two hours before Mr. Balcombe uall^ped homo iu a state of great agitation. He Bought Mdlhi. Beatrice's mother, and communicated to her, s gently as he could, the news of the accident. Uer husband had hce;i thrown froai bis horse, aud was being carried hack in a state of insensibility. Mr. Balooinbj'd object was to keep the; intelligence from the daughter. • ut he did not succeed. She rushed into the room in which her mother and \lr. JUlcombc were closeted, and flip hoard all. She VisliUeone distracted. She ilew out of the vila in her white dr.-ss, and ran almi^ the road the horsemen had taken. U«T moveincuts were so quick that they co ila oot stop her; bnt Mr. Balcombe jumped upon his horse, which was standinj; at the-^.ites. and galloi»ed after her. His nnxietv was to |<i\ Vent thrt young lady seeing h r father, tor th') old gentleman was dreadlully cat, .mi th ; cflect upon such a ausveptible yo i:i,'ore.it!ire && Mdllo, Beatrice would Www been torriUlc. He overtook her, aud going alma I of her for tweuty yards or so, jumped o!f his horso and stood in her way. She tried tj gut past him, and there was a struggle, gentic on his part, despairing ou hers, and the on 1 of it was that she lain ted iu his arms. In this condition he carried her back "to hcv into the ehargi .Soon afterwards the °ld gentleman was brought in, and the doctors came, and the house was a house of mourning. No dancing, no music, no singing — all was changoa ; we spoke in whispers, and moved about slowly, as if a funeral was ahout to take place, \Ve felt as much for the young lady as for her father, aud ihcro were as many enquiries after her as after him. The old gentloman's life was despaired of, aud the doctors said he might linger iu hishclplcja state for weeks, but that it was almost impossible he cou-ld recover. U( course this put an end to all the festivities, and ono after another the guests took their departure until iu a little while the only visitois remaining wvrc the family upon u bom such a heavy blow hail fallen. Mr. Balcombe no longer locked himself in liia study, but devoted the whole of hUtimeto Mdll'e. lleatiice ar.d her p^u-.iU. IU> gave the young lady into my caiv, an 1 a.v;cd m.: to be in constant alL«;ndanco u,.,»u her and not allow her slightest wish t.i remain uu gratified. 1 found her »ery ipiii I and very gentle ; she epoke but little, and tn^ only strci L'tb < f mind she dmplave-i w is iu^isting upon tittin.' by her father's Ivi-i 1c a few hour? everv dav. "D.ni.se',' siid Mr. lUl.iombi' nu-, " the doctors say that if Mdllc liunli ieu dues not tako cm rciseshcwiM her. ••!( l-ei-oinv >riim??ly ill. I'jidt-avi ur to pi.-vail upon h-r to enjoy the fn tli air ; walk with hi r iu tUejir-ten au hour or PO a dav. a-w uu) h.r with light talk; o nature like h. n j.«.|niu-i sunshine, "I did tnv best t<> plro>- M-. llii-'O-nbe. and 1 s:«vie1ed. Tin: wr«th r w .s i.-.e. and not a d iv pasted that Mdi: •. 1? •.uri.- Ii I u-jt alk . flora ti» Mr. I'. tivlljn'. I t.'jd!J uut 1:

ordinaly gentleness and kindness of bis manner towards her ; there was no gaiety or joyonancss In it; it was serious and wiis, mob ss]a father woftld erhibit for a daughter he lofed very dearly. Well, well, 1 thought: I seemed to Bee now It would aLl end, and I believed it would be a good ending, although thfere were suoh a number of years between them—he forty two and she seventeen. A month pasted In this way, and the old gentleman got so much worse that we expected every nour to bear of his death. The accident he met with had deprived him of his senses: but two days before he died his mind bccamc clear. Long private interviews, with so other persons in the room, took place between him and my master, and Mr. Balcombe came from them more serious and praver than ever. I was present when he (bed. He bad lost the power of speech. Hie wife was sitting by bis bedside holding bis band: his daughter was on her knees, wilb her face buried in the clothes; Mr. Balcombe was standing near looking down upon them. I was at the end of the room, in the darkest part of it, waiting to attend upon Mdlle. Beatrice, and I saw all that passed. Mdlleu Beatrice was overwhelmed J with grief ; but her mother's trouble, it appeared'to me, was purely selfish. She seemed to be thinking of what would become of her when ber husband was g one. I may have done her an iqjaatice ut that was the way 1 understood her; the old lady, I must say, was never a favourite with any of us. The dying gentleman suddenly looked up at Mr. Balcombe, and then down at his daughter, and Mr. Balcombe very gravely inclined his bead once or twice, as tnongh he were answering a question. A peaceful expression came upon the old gentleman's face, and a few minutes afterwards he was dead." Here Mother Derise paused, and broke off in her story, saying— "I did not know when I commenced that it would take so long a-telling. I have wearied you, my lady." " Indeed not," said tho Advocate's wife; "I don't know when I have been so much interested. It is just like reading a novel. I am sure there is something startling to come. You mu6t go on to the end, Mother Denise, if you please." With your permission, tny lady," said Mother Denise, and smoothing her apron she continued her narrative.