|Chapter Title||ADELAIDE AND DIONETTA.|
|Newspaper Title||Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)|
|Trove Title||The House of White Shadows|
THE HOUSE OF WHITE SHADOWS.
CHAPrER XXIV. ADELAIDE AND DIONETTA.
Br B. L. FARJEON, Author or " Blade-o'-Orass," " Joshua Maml,' "Bread nod Cheese and Kisses," "Qrlf," "Loo* don's Heart," Ac.
" Dionetta." " Vol, my lady." Tbe moia ana bor miatresa were ia Adelaide's dressing-room, and Dioactta was brnsbiag bor laay'e bair, which bung down in rich heavy waves. Tbe Advocate's wife was proad of uer liair, and often wished it were the fashion to wear it loose, so that she might prove to men—women, of course, did not need the prooft they could see with half au w/e, as the saying is—that she had no occasion to cali in the aid of art. It took five years off her ago when her hair hong over her shoulders as it was doing now. She smiled at herself in the glass before which she was sitting, and her smile became more joyous as she noted the whiteness of her teeth and the beautiful expression of her mouth. She was never tired of admiring her beauty; it was to her a most precious possession of which nothing coold rob her but time. The idea of growing old was so repugnant to her that she thought of it as little as possible. *' To-day is mine," she frequently said to herself, and she had once said to Arthur Balcombe that she wished with all her heart that there were no to-morrow. Yes, to day was hers, and she was beautiful, and, gazing at the reflection of her fair self, she thought that she did not look more than eighteen. " Do you think I do, child ?" she asked of DiooflAa. "Tbuik you do what, my lady?" enquired Dionetta. Adelaide laughed, a nonsensical, 'child-like laugh, which a man hearing would have judped to be an expression of pure innooent delight. She derived pleasure even from this pleasant sound. "I was thinking to myself, and I believe I was speaking aloud. Do you think I look twenty-five! " But you arc Dot so old, my lady." u No—and 1 don't look it, ao I, Dionetta ?" 1 1 No, indeed, my lady, not by many years. You look younger than I do." " And you are not eighteen, Dionetta." " Not yet, my lady.'' It was really true, and Adelaide's eyos sparkled as she recognised it. She looked younger than her main, who was in herself a beauty and young looking. Certainly at this particular moment Dionetta's face was very pale, ana there was a frightened look in hor eyes—but that would count for very little. "Dionetta," she said aloud after a pause, " I have had a littlo dream." 4 1 1 saw you close your eyes for a moment, my lady." "I dreamt I was the most beautiful woman in all the wide world." "You are, my lady." The words were uttered in perfect honesty and simplicity. Her mistress was truly the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. "Nonsense, child—nonsense; there arc others as fair, although I should not fear to stand beside them. It was only a dream, and this but the commencement of it I was the most beautiful woman in the world. I am not a poet, and cannot properly describe myBelf; nor a painter, else I could show you myself on canvas, l had the handsomest features, the loveliest figure, and a shape that sculptors would have called perfoctiou. Then I had the most exquisite dresses that evor were worn, and everything in that way a woman's heart could desire." 7 dream, my lady.' . ..__,! had a palace to live in, in a'land where it was summer the whole year through Such gardens, Dionetta, and such flowers as oue only sees in dreams. I had rings enough to oover my fingers a dozen times over; diamonds in profusioo for my hair, and neck and arms-—trunks full of them and of old lace, and of the most wonderful jewels the mind can conceive. Would you believe it, child, in spito of all this I was tho most miserable woman in the universe " It is hard to believe, my lady." " Not when I tell you the reason, Dionetta. I was al>solute!y alone. There was not a single person near me, old or young—not one to look at me, to envy me, to admire me. to love mc. V> hat was the use of beauty, diamonds, liowcrs, dresses? The brightest eyes, the loveliest complexion, tho whitest skinall wcro thrown away. It would have been just ns well if I had >>ccn dressed in rags, and were old and wriukled as l'ierre Laaiont. Now wliat 1 Icaru from my dream is this — that beauty ia not ivorth the having unless it iti admired and loved, and unless other people can see it as well as yoursell." " Everybody sees thiit you are beautiful, my lady ; it is spokeu of everywhere." Js it, Dionetta; really now, is it?" " Yts, my lady, and you are admired ami loved." "I think 1 am, child ; I know I am. So that my drenin coca fur nothing. A foolish fancy, was it not, Dionetta? but women are ucvcr fiatitlifl. I should never bo tired, never, never, of hearing tho man I love say, 4 I love you, 1 love you. You are the moat beautiful, the dearest, the sweetest.She
leant forward and looked closely at herself in tho glass, and then sank back in her ehair and smiled and half-closed her eyes. 4 4 Diouctta," sho said presently, "what makes you so pale ?" 4 1 It is the shadow, my lady, that was seen to-night," replied Dionetta, in a whisper. " I cannot get it out of my mind." " But you did not see it." 4 1 No, my lady ; but it was there." " You believe in ghosts " Yts, my lady." " You would not have the courage to go where one wis to be seen ?" 4 1 Not for all the gold in the world, my lady." liut tho other servants ore more courageous." 4 1 They may be, but they would not dare to ^o; they said so to-night, all of them." 4 1 3 hey have boon speaking of it, then 4 1 0, yes—of scarcely anything else. They know whose spirit it was thatappoarcd." 4 1 Whose v.as it. child?" 4 4 The spirit of Master Arthur's mother." "How do they arrive at this knowledge, Dionetta ?"' 4 1 Do you not see it yourself, my lady ? ft is HO very plain, For months and mouths notliiug has appeared. Grandmother baid tonight that if you ho4 not come to the villa the belief in the shadows would have died awa^' altogether." 4 laide. 1 What can / have to do with the "If you had not 'jome," said Dionetta, 4 4 grandmother said our young master would not be here. It id IJCIAIIBO lie is in the house, Bleeping here for the first night for so mauy, many uar?, that the spirit of his mother ap- 1 .eared to him." "But iour grandmother has told me she did not believe in tho shadows." "My ladv, 1 think sho is changing her opinion—else she would never have said what t;he did. It is long uinec i have seen her so difturl'cd." Adelaide rose from her chair, the fairest pictui u of womanhood eves ever ga/od unon. picture an artist would have containpUtuit with delidit. She Htood stiil for a few moments, her hand resting on her writing desk. "Your grandmother docs not like me, Dionetta." "She has not said so, my lady," said Dionetta. after an awkward pause. " Not uircctly, child," said Adelaide, "and I have no reason to com): lain of want of rein her, But one always knows whether one is really liked or not." "She is old, my lady," murmured Dionetta apologetically, "and has seen very little of ladies." " Neither havo you, child. \ct you do not ditslike me." 4 1 My lady, if 1 dare to say it, 1 love you." " There is no daring in it, child. I love to be loved—and I would rooncr IMJ loved by the young than the old—so I must not grumble. Come here, pretty one. Y our cars are like little pink shells, and deserve something letter than those 6mall rings in them. Put these in their place." She took from a jewel case a pair of earrings, turquoise and small diamonds, and with her own hands made the exchange. , ( (J, my lady!" sighed Dionetta, with a 4 rosc-lightiu her face. 1 They arc too grand for me I What U1LQ.11 I say when people see t hem ?" The girl's heart was beating quick with cctosy. She looked at herself in the glass, ami uttered a cry of joy. "Say that I gave them to you bcciuse I lovo you. 1 never had a maid who pleased me half as much. Does this prove it?" and tho put her lips to Dionetta's face. Tho girl's eyes filled with tears, and sho kissed Adelaide's hand in a passion of gratitude. " I love you, Dionetta, because you love mo, jirid because I can trust you." i % YOQ can, my lady. 1 will serve you with my heart and souL But I have done nothing for you that any other girl could not have done." 4 4 Would you like to ao something for me that no other can do, that I would trust no 0 t " C Yeb, my lady," eagerly answered Dionetta. " I Rhould be proud." _ Ai d you will tell no one? "Not a soul, my lady, if you command m " I do command you. It i6 easy to do— mertiy l«>d !iv*-r a note, and to say, ' This is h \i\V\'':. '•.Vt:.- 1 . ^ no ti?k at all. It i-
1 1 Simple as it is, I do not wish even your grandmother to hear of it" "8he shall not, nor any person. I swear it." In the extravagance of her gratitude and joy she klteed a little cross that hung from her neck. 4 1 Yon have made me your friend for life, Dionetta, tho best friend you ever had, or ever will have." She Bat down to ber desk, and on a sheet of note-paper wrote these words :— " P<?ar Love—I cannot sleep until I wish yon good night, with no horrid people around us. Come to me immediately, tor one minnte only. For ever and for ever yours, ADE- LAIDE." Placing the sheet of note-paper in an envelope, she gave it to Dionetta, saying— 1 1 Take this note to Mr. Balcombe's room, and give it to him. It is not of any importance, but he will be pleased to receive it." Dionetta, marvelling why her lady should place any valne upon so slighta service, went upstairs with the note, and returned with the information that Arthur Balcombe was not in his room. " But hla door is open, my lady," she said, " aud the lamps are burning. 1 "Go there again," said Adelaide, "and place the note on his desk which stands beneath my pot trait. There is no harm, child: ho cannot see you as he is not there, and if he were he would not be angry." Dionetta obeyed without fear, and when she told her mistress that tho note was placed where Mr. Balcombe was sure to see it, Adelaide kissed her again, and wished her good night