Chapter 198379892

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Chapter NumberXV
Chapter Url
Full Date1883-08-01
Page Number4
Word Count1770
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)
Trove TitleThe House of White Shadows
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By B. L. FARJEON, Author of " niade-o'-GtMR." " Joshua Marrel/i " Uread ami Cheese and Kiaaea," " Urlf," ''Aondou's Heart," 4c.


" Two d*ys after Mdlle. Beatrice's father was buried, Mr. Balcombe said to me— "'Denise, I am compelled to go away on important business, ana I shall bo absent a fortnight at least. I leave Mdlle. Beatrice in your carc. As a mark of faithful service to oic, be sure that uothiog is left undone to comfort both her and her mother in their great trouble.' " I understood without his telling me that it woe really Mdlle. Beatrice he was anxious about; cVery one who had any experience of the old lady knew that she was very well able to take care of herself. " On the same day a long conversation took place between my master and the widow, and before sundown he departed. " It got to be known that he hod gono to look after the affaire of the gentleman who died here, and it cot to be known, also, that the ladicfl, instead of being rich, as we had supposed them to be, were in reality very poor, and likely to be thrown upon the world in a state of vwverty unless they accepted assistance from Mr. Balcombe. They were much woree off than poor people; having been brought up as ladies, they could do nothing to Tielp themselves. " While Mr. Balcombe was away, Mdlle. Beatrice and 1 became almost friends I may say. She took preat notice of me, and appeared to be glad to have me with her. The poor young liuly had no one else, for it was easy to see that there was not much love lost between her and her mother. The selfish old lady did nothing but bewail her own bard fate, and spoke to her daughter as if the young lady could have nothing to grieve at in Leing deprived of a fathers love. " But sorrow does not last (or ever, my lady, even with the old, and the young shake it off much more readily. So it was, to my mind, auitc natural, when Mr. Balcombc returned, which be did after au absence of fifteen days, that he should tiud Mdlle. Beatrice much more .cheerful than when he left. Ho was pleased to say it was my doing, aua that 1 should have no cause to regret it to the last day of my life. I had done so little that the great store lie set u|>on it made ine think more and moru of the cuding to it all. There could be but ono natural ending, a marriage, and yet never for one monieut had I seen him conduct himself towards Mdlle. Beatrice ae a lover. Lie brought bad uewa back with him, and when lie communicated it to the obi lady she walked about the grounds like a distractcd person, moaning and wringing her hands. 1 got to know about it through my youug lady. TVe were out walking iu the lanes when we overtook two wretched-looking women, one old and one young. They were in rags, and their white faces, and slow jiainful stens as they drap^ed themselves aloug would have led anybody to suppose that they had not eaten a meal for a ays. Thuy were truly misery's children. " Mdlle. Beatrice aaked in a whisper, as they turned and looked pitifully at her— " 1 Who arc they, Denise"!' 41 4 They aro beggars,' 1 answered. "Sho took out her purse, and spoke to fchom, and uave them some money, more than they had and for many a long day. They thanked her very gratefully, and crawled away, Mdlle. Beatrice looking after them •with an expression of thoughtfulncss and curiosity in her lovely face. Denise, 1 she said presently, 1 Mr. Balcombe, who, before my father's 'ither's < death, ui tnised to look iok after aiter his affairs, has tola that . ) all H beggars. _ ... „, very sorry to heiir it, bat I could not reconcile thu apitearaacc of the •Ijriclit young creature stauding before me "witu that of the wretched huinjgs who had ?U8t left us ; and although she ai>oke gravely, and said the news was shocking, she did uot Hccm to feel it as much as her words would have led one to believe, it was a singular thine, my lady, that Mdlle. Beatrice wore black for her father for only one day. There VOH quite a scene between her ami her mother on the feubiect, but the youri^ lady had her way, aud only uorc her bl ick dresafor a few hours. '1 bate it,' she said ; 'it makes m.: feel as if I wero dead.' I am sure it was not I>e^uso she did not love her father that she refund to J'wt on inouruiim for him. Never, except on that one day, did 1 sec her wear any dress but white, aud thu only bits of colour she iwt on were somutiine.i a li^ht pink or a li^ht blue ribbon. That is how it yot to be said, when she was from a <lis tunoe MalkiuK ifl the ^toimda, ' all'? looks like a white fdiadow.' So, when she told me she van a brpK&r, and wtood before me, fair and beautiful, dressed iu soft whitr, with a pink ril'bou at her throat, and lonu coral eirriiijs iu hei' cars, I could not understand ho»v it was poshilde bhc could be what she said. It wastrue. though; she and her mother had nota franc, and Mr. Jtalcomhc, wliu brouyht the newn, did not wcra to be sorry for it. The widow cried for days ami days -did nothing but cry and cry; hut that, of course, cjuld could not KO on for ever, and in time she became to all apptoranee ootwolod. There was no talk of their Koinjj away, and things seemed to stand still for a good many woeks. No puesU were invited to the villa, and my master was alone with Mdlle. Lieatriec and her mother. It seemed to ine after a time that he made many attempts to get back into his old proove ; but he soon discovered that lie wae not his own master, and could not do as he pleased. Now it was Mdlle. ijcatricc who wanted him, now it was her mother; and as they were in a measure dependent upon him he could not deny himself to them. He might have done so nad they been rich; he could not do so as they were poor. 1 soou saw that when Mdlle. Ifcatrico intruded herself upon him it was at the instigation of her mother, aud that, had she consulted her own inclination, she would have retired as far into the background as he himself desired to be. The old lady, however, had set her heart upon a scheme, and she loft DO stone unturned to bring it about. O, she was connine and clevcr, and they were not a match for her—neither her daughter, -who knew nothing of the world, nor Mr. Balcombe, who, deeply read as he was, aud clevcr, and wise in many things, knew as little of worldly -ways as the youuu lady ho loved and was holding aloof from : for this was slear to me' and to others, though I daresay our master had no idea that nis secret Mas known, but, iudecd, it was common talk. He aud Mdlle. Beatrice wero like the hands of a watch, and the old lady was the machinery which sot them going, slow or fast, as she thought best. "One morning I had occasion to go into Geneva, to purchase things fjr the inudj, which I was to bring back with me in the afteruoon. As 1 was stepping into the w.i^ou Mdlle. H'.-atrice came out tu the gates, and said— "'Deniso, d<? you pass the Post Ollijc in Geneva V " * Yes, Mademoiselle,' I re)died. u < Here is a letter,' she then s.iid. ' I havo just Wiitti ii, and I w int it ported there at once': Will vou do it for me"?' " 'Certainly 1 will,' I said ; and I took the letter. " There waB no harm in looking at thj envelope; it was addressed to a M. Gabriel. I was not a half a mile on the road to Geneva before 1 heard coming on behmd «nc very fa-st the wheels of a carriage. We drove aside to Icfcitnass; it was one of our own carriages, and the old lady was in it. " ' All, Dcmse,' she said, ' aie you going to "' Yes, madamc.' " 1 1 shall bo there an hour before you ; I am going to the Post-Office to get some letters.' As sVio said that, I could not help glanciug at the letter Mdlle. Beatrice had given mo, wliich I held in my hand for safety. 4 It is a lotter my daughter has given you to post.' fibc said. " ' Yes, my lady.' 1 could say nothing else, " 4 Give it to me,' she said ; 'I know she wants it posted immediately. It doca not matter who i>osts a letter.' "She sairl this a little impatiently, and very haughtily, for I think I was hesitating. However, I could do nothing elso but give her the IctU-i', and OJS I did imt suspcct anythiuc vrtong 1 said nothing nt the adventure to Mdlle. B-iatric<\ especially ns she did not speak of tho kater to me. Ha 1 .she done so I might have explained that her nioUier had taken it from ine to itost, and ijnite likely— although I hope I am mistaken - the siramsc and dreadful events that occurred before three years passed by might have been avoided. "The old lady was very civ il to me after this, and coutiuuully iiuestioued me about my in a&ter." " ' He is very rich, Denise?' " 1 Vis. iiiailanic. 1 " 1 Aua cuincB from an old family "' Vcfl, m;ul;ime." " ' It is is a jiily he writes l.oolis ; but lie is highlv respected, is he nut, Denise?' f l ' Ko gentleman stands lii^ln r. madamc.' Hie nature, Denise— !limi';li itisexeeodinKly wi-on^ in me to ash, for I luve had cM.eri.m'0 i f It—liia uature is very kind " " ' V> ry kind, madamc. and very nuljle.' (la If cuiilhiiinl.)