Chapter 198380576

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Chapter NumberXX
Chapter TitleJOHN VAN?B?GH WAITS FOR THE SIGNAL.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198380576
Full Date1883-08-15
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count1894
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.

B i E L FARJEON, Author of "Blade-o"-arses," "Joehtu Mart 1 *),' "Bread ul Cheese and Kisses," "OrU," London's Heart," Ac.

CHAPTER XX. JOHN VASBBDOH WAITS FOB THE 8EONA.L.

For NON than twenty years Hie HOMO of White Shadowl may be said to havo lived without a hiatory. Its laat eventful ahapter ended with the death of Arthnr Baloombe's lather, whon tragic (taxy had been related bv Mother DSDIM. Then came a blank—a doll uniformity of days and months and years— without the occurrence of a single event worthy of record in the annalH of the family, who had held the estate {or four generations. Hie doors and windows of the villa were but seldom opened, end on those rare oooaoona only by Mother Denise. who had too strtot a regard for the faithful discharge of her duties to allow the costly furniture to fall into decay. Suddenly all this was altered. Life and light reigned again. Startling was the transformation. Within a few short weeks the House of White Shadows had beoome the centre of a chain of events in which the aflections which eway mankind were displayed in all their strangest variety. At a short distance from the gates, on this dark night, upon the rise cf a hill which commanded a view of the villa, sometimes stood and sometimes lav, a man in the prune

of life. Sot a well-looking man, nor a desirable man, and yet one who in his better days (for it was clear he and good fortune were not on the best of terms) might have passed for a gentleman. Even now he mieht. with the eld of fine feathers, have reaohed such a height in the judgment of those who were not given to close observation. His feathers at the present time were the reverse of fine. A sad fall, for they had been once euoh as fine birds wear—no barn-door fowl s, but of the partridge's quality. So that between the past and present condition of the man and his garments there was something of an affinity. As for the man himself, be was tall and wellshaped, and he bore himself with a certain air, which in the eyes of the vulgar wonld have passed for grace. Bat his swagger spoilt him—end his sensual mouth, which had begot a coarseness from long and unrestrained indulgence, spoilt him—and the blotches on his faoe spoilt him. His hands were still well shaped, and rings would have looked well on them, if rings over look well on the hands of a man—which may be doubteil. .. , .. As he stood, or lay, his eyes were for tho chief part of his time fixed on the House of White Shadows. Following with precision his line of sight, it would have been discovered that the point which claimed his attention were the windows of the Advocate's study. There was a light in them, but no movement. "Yet he is there," muttered the man, whose name was John Vanbrugh, "for I see his shadow." His sight, unassisted, would not have enabled mm to speak with suthority upon this ; but he held in his hand a glass, which brought the villa nearer to him, and ho saw by its MA what would otherwise have been hidden fiom him. " His oompanv has gone," oontmued John Vanbrueh, "and he has time to attend to mo. I nave that to sell, Edward, which it is worth your while to purchase. Every hour's delay increases it's prioe. It must be noar midnight, and still no sign. Well, I can wait—I can wait." He had no watch to tako count of the time, which passed slowly,but he waited patiently, nevertheless, until the Bound of footsteps approaching in his direction diverted his attentionrrhev oame nearer, nearer, until this other wanderer of the night was close upon him. . . . , •' Who the devil," ho thought, " has taken

it into his head to come my way ? This is no time for honest men to be about." And then lie said aloud, for the intruder had paused within a yard of him, " Wnat particular business bring? you here, friend, and why do you not pass on ?" A great sigh of relief escaped the breast of tlio new-comer, who was none other than Gautran. With the cuff of his shirt he wiped the perspiration from his forehead, and muttered, in a grateful tono, " a man's voioe. That is somothing to be thankful for." The sound of this muttering, but not the words, reached Vanbrugh's ears. " Well, friend," said Vanbrugh, who, lrting unarmed, felt himself at a disadvantage. " Are you meditating an attack upon me? It will lie time and labour and talent thrown away. X am not worth it, I assure you. if you are poor, behold in me a brother in mislortuno. Go to a bettor market." " I don't want to hurt you." "I'll take your word for it. Pass on, then. The was i 8 clear for you." Ho stepped aside, and lie observed that Uautran took step with him instead of from him. LB'' Are you going to DOSS on ?" asked Gautran. " Upon my word, this is getting amusing, and I should! eiyoy it if I were not devilish augry. 1*0,1 am not going to pass on." "Neither am I." Vanbrugh found this nutiicientl 1 ing. 1 In the name of the father of he cried, "what is it you want?" "Company," was the answer, "till daylight. That is all. You need not be afraid ° " Company!" exclaimed Vanbrugh. " My 0 0 ™tmira, or any man's. Something human. ,'And you must talk to me, I'm not going to be driven mad by silence." " You are a cool customer; with your this and that. Are you aware that you are robbing me ?" " I don't want to rob you." " But you are—of solitude, the possession most valuable to me ; the only possession, indeed, I can oall mine. Ana you appropriate it I Come, no further fooling. Leave Not till daylight" " There is something soriptural in your resolve. Let me have a better look at you." He Laid his hand upon Gautran'a shoulder, and the man did not resent the movement. Vanbrugh had been in Geneva during the day, ana had made an attempt to enter the Courthouse, but he was unsuccessful. Therefore—Gautran being otherwise a stranger to him—he did not recognise in the face .of the man he was now looking into tile prisoner whoso trial for murder had caused so great an cxcitement. " If 1 am any judge of human nature," he Baid, " which I claim to be, you are in a bad way, I take it. From a social point of view, you are a ruin, a very wreck of respectability, if your lines are crossed in that direc-

tion. In which respect. I, who was onoe a gentleman, and am still, cannot deny that there is something of kinship between us. This confers distinction upon you—upon me disgrace. but we must take the world as we tind it—a villainous world, a curscd bad Ivor Id. Whit say you ?" " A damnable world. Go on talking." " I am willing to humour you, for just as long as it pleases mo." Vanbrugh stood with his face towards the House of White Shadows, watching for the signal he had asked the Advocate to give him. Gautran, facing the man upon whom he had forced biB company, stood, therefore, with his back to the villa, the lights in which ho had not yet seen. ''Our oondition maybe borne,"continued VtuiUrugh, " with greater or lesser equanimity, BO long as we feed the body— the quality of our food being really of no groat importance; but when the mind is thrown on its balance, as I eec by your eyes is the case with you, the oondition of the man becomes serious. What is it you fear !" " Nothing human." " Yet you are at war with society ?" " 1 was: but I am a free man now." c " You nave been in peril, then—plainly speaking, a gaol-bird. What matters ? The world IB apt to be too censorious ; / find no fault with you for your misfortune. Such things happen to the best of men. It has bapiicncil—you will hardly believe it—to me. But you arc free now, you say, and you fear nothing in the human shape. What is it, then, you do fear?" "Were ynu ever followed by a spirit?' asked Gautran, in a hoarse whisiter. " A moment," 6ald Vanbrugh. " Your question startles mo. I liavc been delicately nurtured—reared in the very lap of luxury— and my nerves are constitutionally tender. I have about me two mouthfuls of an elixir without which life would not be worth the living. Share and share alike." He produced a bottle containing about a quarter of a pint ot brandy, and Bayinp, "Your health.fiieod," put it to his lips. Gautran -watched him rcedily, and. when he received the bottle, §raised it with a gasp of savage satisfaction. "Thatis fine, that Is fine, he said; "I wish there were more of it." " I echo your wish ; and that Is the extent of my power. Now we oaa continue. Was I ever followed by a spirit? Of what kind!" "Of a woman, replied Ciartran, with a shudder. " A dead woman." "Aye, a dead woman—one who was murdiTt-ii." A look of suddenly and nowly-awaboncd intclliiruicc flashed into Vanhrugh's face, ilo iilajud his h;in<l again upon Gautran's shoulder. " A young woman," he Baid. " Aye," responded Gautran. " Fair and beautiful?" " Yes." V Who met he; death in the EUver Rhone."

" Aye—it fa .known to all the world." "One Who sold flowers in the streets of Geneva, whose name was Madeline." This ntteraaoe of the name «nuured up the phantom &f the murdered girl, had Gautran, with violent shudders, gazed upon the spectre. "She Is there—she is there I" be •nattered, in a voice of .agony. " WOI the never, never Uaye.meT" These words confirmed Vanbrugh's auspldon. It was Gautran who stood before him. " Another winning card," be said, in atone of triumph, and with a strange smile. " The man is guilty—else why should he foar? Vanbrugh. a life of ease Is yours once more. Away with these rags, this mOney-pioch which has nipped you for yean. Days of pleasure, of luxury, are yours to enjoy. You step once more into the ranks of gentlemen. What would the Great Advocate in yonder study think of this chance encounter, knowing—what he has yet ta loam—that I hold in my hands what he prizes most—his fame and honour." Gautran heard the words; he turned, and followed the direction of Vanbrugh's gaze. "There is but one Great Advocate, the man who set me free. He lives yonder, then f " You blow it, rogue," replied Vanbrugh. " There an the lights in his study window. Gautran, you and I moot be better acquainted." But he ww compelled to submit to a postponement of his wish, for the next moment he was alone. Gautran had disappeared.