Chapter 198380403

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Chapter NumberXVIII
Chapter TitleLAWYER AND PRIEST.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198380403
Full Date1883-08-11
Page Number1
Corrections0
Word Count2412
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.

BR B. L. FABJEON, 1 Author of 1 Blmde-o'-Gimag/' "Joshua Marrot,', "Bread aad Choo— and lOises," "GriC "Loo* don'a Heart," &P.

CHAPTER XVIIL LAWTEH AlfD TBIEBT.

_. That evening bad been set apart by certain of the Advocate's neighbours as a fit and proper time J or a friendly visit. Jacob Hartrioh was on* of tbe earliest arrivals. He had heard that Arthur Baloombe was exptefcted, andaa an old friend he was anxious to be among tbe first to welcome the master of the House of White Shadows. The Hartrioh family accompanied the banker, biB wife, a magnificent woman, handsome and dignifi&L and his two daughters, whose beauty gloraed by their fathers wealth, would hare excited sensation in fashionable circles. Old Pierre lAmont was also at the villa, having been drawn thither in his hand-carriage forc two miles over rough roads. Some jean ago an accident had deprived him of the use of his limbs, and he could not walk a yard, bat he still enjoyed life, although now he was bnt an on-looker at its battles. He bad been in bis time a famous lawyer, and his name figured conspicuously in most of tbe great criminal trials of his day. Many a great legal i battle bad he won at the point of his sword, and bis great regret now was that his infir-

mities prevented him from being present at the trial of Gautran, and watching the pro* gress of a case which -was on every man's : tongue. He entertained no doubt as to the result of the trial, though even he failed to discover the line of defence which tbe Ad* vocate would adopt; but his own experiences . were sufficient to convince him that no lawyer of renown would voluntarily undertake a cue surrounded with such mystery and difficulty as Gautran's unless he had In his mind the plan of a campaign which he was satisfied would lead to victory. Astute and wily as a {ox was "Pierre Lamont, and with vivid remembrances of the tougn battles in whioh he himself had been engaged, he fully appreciated the odds against which the Advocate was fighting, and felt the victory about to be gained was in some sense a personal victory. Knowing that the trial would come to a. conclusion on this day he was eager to hear the result and to converse with the Advocate upon the proceedings. Father Capel was there—a simple and learned ecolesiast, with a smile and a pleasant greeting for old and young, for rich and poor alike. A benevolent, sweet-natured man who, when trouble came to bis door, received it with cheerful resignation; universally beloved; oae whose course through life was strewn with flowers of kindness. The visit of these and other guests was unexpected by the Advocate's wife, and she inwardly resented this interruption to a contemplated quiet evening with Arthur Balcombe i but outwardly she was all affability. She Advocate, who was a simple liv*»r, had desired her, during tbe trial of Gautran, not to wait dinner for him, and consequently there were no domestic arrangements to disturb the self-invited guests. "The Court will sit late," said Pierre Lamont ; " I would willingly have given a year of my life, which cannot have many years to run, to have been present at the trial." " It has always been a puzzle to me," said the Advocate's wife, who did not like Pierre Lamont because his tastes resembled those of her husband," bow such vulgar oases can excite the interest they do." "Surprising." said Pierre Lamont, regardtog the lady with curiosity, "that the wife of an Ad vocate. bo celebrated should express such an opinion." 1 1 1 believe," she retorted, with an amiable smile, " that lawyers ore only happy when

people are murdering or robbing each other." "My friend the Advocate," said Pierre Lamont, bending his body gallantly, " is not least happy in one other respect—-that of being the husband of a lady whom none can gee without admiring: if X were a younger man, I should say without loving." "Pierre Lamont gives us here a proof," said Jacob Hartrich, " that love and law oon go band in hand." " Truly." said Pierre Lamont, whose eyes and mind were industriously studying the face of his beautiful hostess, "such proof from me is not needed. The Advocate has supplied it, and words cannot strengthen the case." These polished compliments were not wasted upon her, and he waved his hand courteously towirds the Advocate's wife. Pierre lamont laughed secretly to himself as he observed their effect. " You are worth studying, fair dame," he thought. " with your smiling face and your heart of vanity. Which one ? Which one, you beautiful animal?" His eyes travelled from one to the other in tbe room, until they fell upon Arthur Balcombe. " An I" and he drew a deep breath of enjoyment; " say that we take you into the game. I doubt whether it can 1*b flayed without you." The old lawyei was in nis element, probing character and motive, and submitting them to mental analysis. Physically he was helpless amidst the animated life around him : curled up in his invalid chairt he was dependent for movement upon his fellow-creatures; a fixture, at the mercy of a hind; but he was nevertheless the stiongest man in all that throng, the man most to be feared by those who had anything to conceal, any secret which it behoved tbem to hide from the knowledge of those nearest to them. " How eucb vulgar cases," he said, ignoring the faot that there had been a break in the conversation, " can excite tbe interest they do. It surprises you, madame. But—pardon me for aayin$ so—if you will reflect a moment your

surprise will vanish. There Is not one of these cases which do not contain elements of human sympathy and affinity with ourselves. It is because these things might happen to you, or to me, or to Father Capel, or even to a wealthy banker—thank you for that smile, Mr. Hartrich—though money, if one is willing to part with it, which one generally is not, can purchase immunity to a large degree. The reason why they interest as is beoause we apply them insensibly to ourselves.' They are caused by the human passions and emotions which direct our own movements. In a moment of frenzy or by distinot premeditation I, if I were not so helpless, might murder my enemy, who has been made my enemy by my or his jealousy, by my or his ambition, by my or his cupidity, bv my or his envy excited by the possession of that which one of us covets. I stand in his way or he stands in mine. Self-preservation, it is said, is the first law of nature; but so, indeed, is every kind of selfishness. The balance in our favour is so great when our own desires and wishes clash with the interests of others that we find momentary justification for our misdeeds. Father Capel is listening to me with more than ordinary attention, I observe. He perceives the justice of my argument," "We travel by diflerent roads,"said Father Capel. "You do not take into account the prompting of evil epiritst ever on the alert to promote aiRcord ana instigate to crime. It is that consideration which makes me tolerant of human error—which makes me pity itwhich makes me forgive it." " I dispute your priestly basis. Ali motive for crime springs from within ourselves." "Nay—nay,' gently remonstrated Father CapeL "Pardon me for interrupting you: but I was about to say, not only that all motive for crime springs from within ourselves, but also that all motive, for human goodness likewise does so. If evil spirits prompt us to crime, and good spirits prompt us to deeds of mercy and charity and Kindness, you rob life of its grace, and you virtually declare that it is an id justice to punish a man for murdering his fellow-creature. Plainly stated, you establish the doctrine of irresponsibility. I will not do you the injustice o! believing you to be in earnest. Your tolerance of human error, and your pity and forgiveness for it, spring from

natural kindliness, equally as much as my intolerance of it and my lack of pity and forgiveness for it spring from a natural hardness of heart, begot of mach study of the weakness, perversenesB, and selfishness of my species. In the rank soil of these imperfections grows that wondrous, necessary tree known by the name of Law, whose, wide-spreading branches at once smite and protect. You may thank this Law for preserving to some extent the deoencies of veil expressed, Pierre Lamont," said Jacob Hartncb approvingly. " I regret that tbe Advocate is not present to listen to yoar eloquence." "Ah," said Pierre Lamont, with a scarcely perceptible sneer; " You approve because yon are rich. You would sing another tune if you were starving." "Ycu strike both friend and foe," said Father Capel gently. "It is as dangerous to agree with you as "to oppose you. But in your extravagant laudation of your profession and yourself' —- " Bravo! Bravo !" interposed Pierre Lamont. " You, also, dive beneath the surface." M Yon lode sight," continued Father Capel, taking no notice of the interruption, "of a mightier engine than Law, towering far above it in usefulness and as a protection no less than a solace to mankind—Religion. Without Religion, Law would be powerless, and the world a world of wild beasts. It softens, humanises" "Invents," sneered Piene Lamont, with undisguised contempt, "fables whioh sober reason rejects." " If vou will have it so—yes. Fables we call them, then, circulated divert men's ntiuds from sordid materialism into a purer channeL" " Father Capel," said Pierre Lamont in a

voice of honey, "if all priests were likfe you I woula wear a hair shirt to-morrow." f'No need, «ny ton," said Fattier. Capel, "if you h&ve a conscience." " The priest has the best of it,* 1 said the Advocate's wife to Arthur Baloombe. "I bote these dry arguments. It is altogether too bad that 1 should be called upon to entertain a-Set of musty old men. How much happier we should be, we two alone, even in the mountains Where you have been hiding yourself 1" "You are better, I think," said Jacob Hartrich. drawing Balrombe aside; "you look brighter than when I laet saw you. The mountain has done you good. It is strange to see yon In the old house. I never thought to see it oppn again; but it is pleasant, too, end right that you should be sometimes among us." " It is many years since we met under this robf," said Arthur Balcombe thoughtfully, " Yon were very young at tbe time," said tbe banker; " you can scarcely .have a remembrance of it." " My memory is very keen. I could not have been more than five years of age, and we bad no visitors. I remember that my curiosity was excited because you were admitted.' 1 " I came on business," said Jacob Hartrich, suddenly turning from the subject, for he remembered bow bad must have been Balcombe's childish experiences. " Arthur, you should marry." " What is that you are saying," said the Advocate's wife, "that Mr. Balcombe should

marry t If I were a man—how I wish I were one [--nothing, nothing in the world should tempt ine to marry. 1 would have a butterfly-life, without chain or shackle." "Ah, my fair dame," thought Pierre lAmont, Who had overheard this remark, " bright as you appear, there is a skeleton in your cupboard. And then he said aloud toner, "Can you ascertain for me if Fritz the Fool has returned from Geneva f" " Certainly,"Replied the Advocate's wife, and Dionetta being in the room, she sent her out to enquire. " If he has returned," said Pierre Lamont,, " the trial is over.. I miss the Fool's nightly repoit of the proceedings, which he has given me since tbe commencement of the trial. I do not know this Gautran, but from Fritz's description I should recognise him anywhere." " If the trial is over," said Arthur Balcombe, " the Advocate should be here." " You need not expect bim so soon," said Pierre Lamont, "after such exertion as lie has gone through, an hour's solitude will be necessary to calm him. Besides. Fritz can travel faster than our slow-going horses ; he is as fleet as a hare." " A favourite of yours, evidently," observed Arthur Balcombe. " I have the highest respect for him," was the rejoinder. "This particular Fool is the wisest man in my acquaintance." Dionetta entered the room, with Fool Fritz at her heels. " Well, Fritz," called out Pierre Lamont, " is the trial over?" "Yes, Master Lamont," replied Fritz, " and we're ready for the next. If you were a handy-legged man I would hire some scoundrel to do a deed, so that you might be on one side, and my lord the Advocate on the other. Then we should see a fine battle of brains." "And the verdict, Fritz, the verdict?" eagerly enquired Pierre lamont, and every person in the room listened anxiously for the replv. "On second thoughts," said Fritz, very quietly, '*.you would be no match for the greatest lawyer living. It is as well that your pleading days are ended." " No fooling. Fritz. The verdict?" "If you don t know it without being told," replied Fritz, coolly, "I will change names with you." " Acquitted f

" What else ? The man Is mad about it." " I knew how it would be," cried the old lawyer, triumphantly. "How was the verdict received ?" " Admir._0... are furious ; the should have heard the speech! Such a thing was never known. Men's minds were twisted inside out, and the J ury were convinced agsinst their convictions. Why, Master Lamont, even Gautran himself for a few minutes believed himself to be innocent !' " Enough," said Arthur Balcombe, sternly. " You can leave the room." Fritz darted a sharp look at his newlyreturned master, ana with a low bow, Quitted the apartment. The next moment the Advocate made hiB appearance among his guests.