Chapter 198380531

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Chapter NumberXIX
Chapter TitleConcluded. THE WHITE SHADOW.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198380531
Full Date1883-08-14
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count1792
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.

Bt B. L. FAEJEON, Author of " Blade-o'-Grass," "Joshoa Marr^') "Brad and CbeeM and Kims," "Grtf," 1 London's Heart," Ac.

CHAPTER ~&iyi.-{Condudcd). THB WHITE SHADOW.

It w&£' with some indignation that Jacob Wnrtrich replied, "That a man of honour y, ould voluntarily oome forward as a defender under any conditions than that of the firmest belief in a prisoner'* innocence 1b Incredible." " Wo agree npon this point, I am happy to know, and npon another—that in the profession to which I have the honour to belong there are men whose actions are guided by the highest and finest principles, and whose motives spring from what 1 oonoeive to be the most ennobling of all impulse—a desire orjustice." 4 C Who can donbt it?" 1 4 How, then, stands the case as between you and my brother the Advocate ? You have an inward conviction of Oautrau's guilt—he no inward conviction of Gautrau's innooence. Up to a certain time you and he are on an equality. Your knowledge of the crime is derived from hearsay and ne wspaper reports. Upon that evidence you rest; you have your business to attend to—the vaJae of money, the fluctuations of the Exchanges, the pablio movements which affect securities, in addition to the anxiety springing from your rivate transactions. On the other hand, ae Advocate cannot afford to depend upon 8

hearsay and the newspapers. It is his business to investigate, to search, to unearth, to bring together the scattered bones and fit them one with another, to reason, to argue, to deduce. As all the powers of your mind are brought to bear upon your business, which is money, so all the powers of his mind are brought to bear upon Bis, which is Gantrao, in connection with the crime of which he stands accused. His candid conviction of the man's innocence is strengthened no less by the facts which oome to light than by the presumptive evidence he is enabled, by his patience and application, to bring forward in favour of his client. You and he are no longer on an equality. He is a man informed, yoa remain in finance, he has dissected the bodv and all, the arteries of the crime are exposed to his sight and judgment. You merely raise up a picture—a dark night, a river, a girl vainly struggling with her fate, a murderer (with veiled faoe) flying from the spot, or looking with brutal calmness upon his victim. That is the entire extent of your knowledge. You seize a brush—you snow light upon the darkness—you paint the river and the girl—you paint the portrait of the murderer—Gautran. All is clear to you. You have formed your own Court of Justice •—imagination affords the proof, and prej udice is the j udge. It is an easy, an agreeable task to fina the prisoner guilty, iou are satisfied. You believe you have fulfilled a duty, whereas yon have been but a stumblingblook in the path of justico." " Notwithstanding whioh," said Jacob Hartrich, who had thoroughly recovered his pood humour, "1 have asfirm a conviction as ever in the guilt of Gautran, the woodman." " Admonish this member of a stiff-necked race, Father Capel," said Pierre Lam on t, "and tell him why reason was given to man." Earnest as the old lawyer was in this discussion, and apparently engaged in it to the exclusion, of all other subiects, be had eyes and ears for everything that passed in the room. Retirement from the active practice of his profession had by no means rusted hiB powers ; on the contrary, indeed, for it had

developed in him a finer and more subtle capacity of observation. It gave him time also to devote himself to what, at an earlier period of his life, he would have considered trivial matters. Thus, when he moved in irivate circles, freed from larger duties, there Iurked in him alwayB a possible danger, 'and although he would do mischief for mischief's sake, he was irresistibly drawn in ite direc tion. The quality of his mind was such as to seek out for itself, and unerringly detect human blemish. In a city he would hive been avoided ; in a village he was feared and respected. He was ready, when it was presented to him, to recognise goodness in character, but while he recognised he did not admire it. The good man was in hiB eyes a negative character, pithless, uninteresting; his <]Uilittes being on the surface presented no Held for study. He himself, as has already been seen, was not loth to l>estow money in charity, but he was destitute of benevolence: his soul never flowed with pity, nor did the sight of suffering touch his heart. This did not affect the public estimation of his deeds ; he was spoken of as a charitable m:in, while goodness did not attract him, he took no interest in the profligate or dissolute. His magnet was Mochiavelian cun ning, craft, duplicity, guile—heru he was at home ami in his glory. As easy tothrow hiin off the suent as a bloodhound. Chiefly on this occasion was his attention given to the Advocate's wife. Not a movement of body or limb, not a gesture, not a varying shade of expression escaoed him. Perhaps he had an eye for beauty, and a keener relish for it than he would generally have beea credited with. Certain it is that any person, notine his observance of her, would have detected in it nothing but admiration, and to this conclusion Adelaide herself —ahe knew when she Iwas admired—was by no means averse. But his eye was upon her when she was not aware of it. 4 1 Have I not heard of a case," asked a guest of Pierre Lamont; " in which a lawyer defended a murderer, knowiDg him to be ^"^eB," said the Advocate, taking up the question. During the last few minutes bis mind had been excitedly busy, although no trace of agitation was in his face. ''Yes, there was such a case. The murder was a ruthless murder; the lawyer a man of great attainments. His speech to the Court was most eloquent and thrilling, and in it he declared nis solemn belief m the prisoner's innocence, and made an appeal to God to strengthen the declaration. It created a profound impression. But the evidence was conclusive) and the prisoner was found guilty. It then transpired that the accused in his cell had confessed to his Advocate that he had perpetrated the murder." 1 1 Confessed beforo his trial ?" ** Yes, before the trial/ 1 " What beoame of the lawyer ?" " He was ruined, socially and profeaionally. A great career was blighted. 1 " A deserved punishment. " As you say, a deserved punishment." "Yet it is an open quostion," said Pierre lAmont, " whether the secrets of the prison cell should not be held aB sacred as those of the confessional." " Nothing can justify," said Father Capel, 4 1 the employment of such an appeal, used to

frustrate the ends of justice. I doubt whether of the two men, the murderer and his lawyer, the murderer would not be the firet to "receive pardon at the divine throne." ••Then," said Pierre Limont, who never missod an opportunity, " You admit the doctrinc of responsibility. Your prompting of evil spirits, what becomes of it ?' Father Capel did not have time to reply, for a cry of terror from one of the visitors gave an unexpected turn to the gossip of the evening, and diverted -it into a common channel. The visitor who had uttered this cry was the youngest daughter of Jacob Hartrich. She had been standing at a window, the heavy curtains of which she had held aside, in an idle moment, to look out upon the grounds, which were wrapt in a pall of deep darkness. Upon the utterance of her terrified scream sne had retreated into the room, and was now Kazing, with affrighted eyes, at the curtains which nor loosened hold bad allowed to fall over the window. Her mother and mater hurried to her side, and most of the other guests clustered around her. What had occasioned the alarm? When she had (sufficiently recovered she gave an explanation of it. She was looking out, without any purposo in her mind, " thinking of nothing, as she expressed, when, in a distant part of the grounds, there suddenly appeared a bright light, which moved slowly onward, and within the radius of this light, of which it would seem to form a part, she saw distinctly a white figure like a spirit. The curtains of the window were drawn aside, and all within the room, with the exception of Pierre Lamout, who was left without an audieuco, pressed forward and peered into the room. Nothing was to be seen; no glimpse of light or white shadow; no movement but the slight stir of leaf and branch. But the young lady vehemently persisted in her statement, and questioned more closely, declared that the nguro was that of a woman ; she had seen her face, her hair, her white robe. TTie three persons whom her story most deeply impressed were the Advocates wife, Arthur lialcombe, and Father Capel. With the Advocate it was a simple delusion of the senses; with Jacob Hartrich " nerves." Balcorobo and Father Caj>cl wont out to search the grounds, and when they returned, re])Ortcd that nothing was to be seen. The story, however, bad rcached the ears of the servants, and Dionetta, in a whisper, asked Mother Denisc whethor it was not strange that the white shadow should have appeared on the first night of the young masters return to the old house. Dunne this excitement Pierre La moat was absolutely unnoticed, und it was not till a eroan proceeded from the part of the room in which he sat huddled up in the wheeled chair in which he was imprisoned, that attention was directed to him. He was evidently in great pain—his features were cun-

taraoted with the spasms which darted through his limbs. "It almost masters me," he said.to the Advocate, as he laughed and winoed, "this physical anguish, I will oot allow it to conquer me, but I must humoar it. I am tempted to ask you to Rive me a bed to-nigbt." "Stop with us by all means." said the Advocate: " the night is too dark and yonr house too far for you to leave while yoa are suffering." . , So it was arranged, and within half an hour all the other guests had taken their departure.