|Chapter Title||MOTHER DENISE CONSCLUDES HER STORY.|
|Newspaper Title||Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)|
|Trove Title||The House of White Shadows|
THE HOUSE OF WHITE SHADOWS.
Br a U FAHJEON, Author of "Blade-o'-Grass," "Joshua Marvel, "Bread aad Cheese ud Kiraei," " Grif," " London's lieart," Ac.
CHAPTER KVL—Conrtnuerf), MOTUER DENISE COtfCLtTDES HEB STORY,
He paused, < and she said cdl " ' Von are doubtless stating the truth.' 4, < lbc simple truth/ he said, 4 neither more oor less. Yoor lady mother listened to me with eiLgular impatience. She would have interrupted me more than once, but I fogged her to hear me to the end before she «poke. I hod carefully thoogbt over what I lad to as? to her, and I would not run the risk of bong sight of the most trifling detail in the discuMfob of a subject BO Important as yOur hftpptsess; for, believe it or not u you Vfillf it was your happiness which was uppermost in my mind. Your lady mother analtered tne. She assured me that before you -came to this villa your heart was entirely £ will employ no rhapsodies fa describing my joy. I could scarcely belie re the evidence of my semes; I entreated yoor lady mother not to mislead me by false hopes, and the proved to me—to me, to whom the workings of a woman's heart were as & sealed tx»ok—in a hundred different ways, whioh she said I might hare discovered myself if I bad had the wit, that you loved me. She said she was honoured by my proposal, which she acoepted for you, and wtiich you you rue If wonld joyfullv accept. But she told me that it would be diffioult for you to express your satisfaction, that your joy would be more deeply felt than displayed, And that I, as a wise man, must put a right and sensible oonBtrucfckra on the natural maidenly reserve of ayoung and modest girL The rest you know. The Wiseman, madame, has been sadly at fault; it has been fatally proved to him that he knows little of the VTOrking of the human heart.' " She held up her hand as a aim that she wished to speak, and be paused. A little thing struck me at the time, whioh I have never fojgdtten. She held up her hand in front of the lamp, and the lij the thin» delicate fingers. Scarcely ever ha <re I thought of my lady without seeing that filight, beautiful naad, with the light shining ihrouch It. " 1 My mother/ she said, 'did not speak the truth. M. Gabriel and I were affianced fcefbre I became your guest.' " * Your information comes too late,' said Mr. Balcombe; 4 you ehou\d have told me flo much when I offered you my name. It trould have been sufficient. Shame and sin fpoald then have been avoided.' u • There has been no stn,* said my lady. * It is I who have been wronged, beyond the bope of reparation In this life. I wrote to M. Gabriel from this villa before you Bpoke to. me on the subject of marriage. My letters were intercepted; false information concerning M. Gabriel was supplied to mc. My mother deceived me. 1 And you,' added my master, * deceived me.' " 1 How was I to know she asked. * After explanations had passod between me and M. Gabriel, that you had not shared in the plot against me ? Bow am I to know it now ?' " 4 By my denial. I see in your face your doubt of my avowal; you believe I am speaking an untruth; you believe that I trickcd to Obtain you, Believe it. Not by another word shall I endeavour to undeceive you. No good purpose would be served bv a successful attempt to soften your feelings towards me—for no thought of love can ever unite us. It never did, and never can: and I am not a man to live upon shams. I have tearnt my lesson, the fruits of which will never pass out of my life. You loved M. Gabriel before you know me; tou were made to believe lie was false to you; concealing this knowledge you accepted roe, and I, unversed in women s ways, believed tbat no woman could marry a man without loving him. Your faith, your honour, your life were pledged to me, as mine were pledged to you, M. Gabriel was my friend ; I was a man when he was a boy, and I gave him my friendship. We had not met for y«are when I invited him to my house. He knew that I was married.' " 1 But he did not know.' interrupted my lady, * that you had married me.' " * Granted. What was his duty, what was yours, when you snd he met in my presence, when 1 introduced him to you, and you rccived him, as a stranger ? From that moment—without reference to my previous sufferings, which, madame, were great—in what position did I, the husband, stand in relation to my wife and my friends, who, after explanations had passed between them, met and conversed as lovers? Their guilt was the more heinous beaiuee of tnoir secrecy—and utterly, utterly unpardonable because of their treachery to him wh trusted, who l>clicved in tltem both. But at W retribution, and a black chapter in the lives of three human beings was closed.' He paused, a long time it seemed to me, before lie spoke again. The silence was awful, and in the faces of the husband and wife there were no signs of relenting. They stood facing cach other as two persons might have done who had inflicted upon each other a mortal wrong which could never, never be forgiven. From my heart I pitied them both. 1 You sent for me, madame/ he said, * to know whether I had anything to say to you. It was not my purpose to say what I have said, but it is the truth, and it is perhaps as well that you should have heard it. You inform me that after this night you will never open your Hps to m@|Uor ever again listen to my voice. Be it so. Rest assured, madame, that I shall never force myself upon you ; my experiences of you are sufficient to last my lifetime. But you bear my name, and my honour is in your keeping. So far as that is concerned I intend to exercise control over you — no farther. Your son, al*o, is mine. 1 ask you bow it is you propose to act V "' Do you wish to drive me away from your house ?' she asked. U 4 No,' he replied, 1 1 have no such desire.' 44 4 Am I free to go if I wish ?' 44 4 Yyu are not free to go. With my consent you shall not leave mc. Only one thing ehall separate us—death. 1 11 1 And my child ?' " 'Remains here. To love moor hate me— to love you or bate you—according to his own prompting. From my lips ho shall never hear a disparaging word of his mother. In this respect you wul act by me as I act by you.' 44 4 1 shall do so,' said my lady. "Mr. lialoombe bowed as he would have done to a strange lady, and said, 4 1 thank you. There is ueforc us a plain duty. Wc are bouud to each other irrevocably, and wc cannot part without disgrace. Our griefs wc have brought upon ourselves, and must bear in silence. These pates will nover again be open to friends. We have done with friendship as wc have done with love. Once more I ask vou what it is you propose to do.' 41 4 You will give me these rooms to live in,' said my lady. " 4 They are yours,' he replied ; 'unless I am compelled by duty or by circumstances which I do not at present foresee. I will never enter them during your lifetime.' 44 4 It is in accordance with my wish,'she said. 4 In daylight I will never leave them ; only at nightfall will I walk in the grounds. Outside the gates I will never moreoe seen. People's tongues cannot be stopped, aud your acta this day have brought shame upon me. But I repeat, no direot sin lies at my door. I bave been misled and betrayed; my life has been blighted ; I can bear it, and will Nor shall you boar me complain. Will you give me Deolse to wait upon me?' "'She is your servant, and yours only, from this moment.' < 4 ' Denise,' she said to me, 4 Are you willing ?' 44 4 Yes, my lady,' I answered. I was almost choked with.sobB, while they, outwardly, were calm and unmoved. 44 4 Then all that is necessary has been said. Farewell/ and she looked towards the door. 4 4 He did not linger a moment. He bowed to her ceremoniously, and left the room. 4 4 When he was gone I felt as if some sudden and fearful shock must take place, as if a thunderbolt were about to fall and destroy us, or as if my lady would fall dead at my feet. But nothing occurred, and when 1 had oourage to look up I saw my lady seated in her chair, white aud. still, with a resigned and determined expression on her face. It would have been a great relief to me if she had cried, but there was not a tear in her eyes. 14 4 Do you believe me guilty, Denise ?' she asked. " ' The saints forbid/ I said, 'that such a thought should ever cross my mlod. I kno-* you to be an innocent, suffering lady.' 4 4 ' You will do as you have been bidden to do, Denise. While my husband and I are alive you will not speak of what has passed within this room.' 44 4 Never, my lady/ I said. 4 4 And never again was the subject spoken of between us. She did not refar to it, and I did not dare to do so, although it seldom left my mind. 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