|Chapter Title||CAUTRAN SEEKS JOHN VANBRUGH.|
|Newspaper Title||Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)|
|Trove Title||The House of White Shadows|
THE HOUSE OF WHITE SHADOWS.
Br R L FABJEON, Author of " BUde^'-Grass," "JoshOA M&rr*^ "Bread and Cheote and JOsses," "Grif, 'Lou. doc's Heart/ Ac.
CHAPTER XXXrV. CAUTBAJI SEEKS JOH5 VANBRCGH.
The following nigbt was oven darker thin tbe preceding one hod been. In the afternoon portents of a coining storm were Apparent in tbe sky. Low muttering of thonaor In tbe distance (ravelled faintly to the ears of the occupants of the House of White Shadows. The Advocate's wife ahaddered as she heard tbe sounds. '' There are only two things in tho world I am afraid of," ano said to Pierre Lamoat, "and those arc thunder and lightning. When I was a little child a dreadful thing occurred to me. I was playing in a garden when a storm came on. I was all alone, and it was sotne distance to the house. The storm broke eo suddenly that I had not time to reach shelter without getting myself dreached, I dare say, though, I should have tun through it had I not been frightened by tbe flashes of lightning that seemed to want to cut me in two. I new behind a troe, and stood there trembling. Every time a flash of lightning came I shot my eyes tight and screamed, bnt tbe storm did not allow my cries to DO heard. You can imagine the Btptelwaiin. It would not bavo mattered much, except for the wetting, had I kept my eyes closed, bat like a little fool I opened them once, and just at that moment a flash seemed to strike tbe tree behind whichlstood. I can almost hear tbe shriek I qave as I fell and fainted dead awav. There, lyiug in the wet grass, 1 was fouua. A dreadful-looking object I must have been ! They carried me into the house, and when I came to, I asked why they did not liuht the gas. The fact is, 1 was unite blind, and remained so for several days. Was it not shocking ? I shall never, never forget my fright. Can jruu imagine anything more dreadful than being struck blind? To bo born blind cannot be half as bad, for one docs not know wlmt one loses—never having seen the flowers, and tho fields, and the beautiful skies. Hut to enjoy tliein, and then to lose them ! it ife altogether too horrible to think of Soo was very gracious to the old lawyer (luring the afternoon. l < Do you know," she said, " I cau't quite make up my mind whether to bo fond or frightened of you." " Be fond of mo," said Pierre Lamont.with amorous look. " I shall aee how you behave. I am afraid you ate very clever. I don't like cloverpeojde, llioy aro so auspicious, pretending to know everything always." 1 4 lam very simple," said Pierre Lamont, laughing inwardly ; he knew that she wanted to propitiate hiui; "and beauty can lead ir»e by a silkco thread." 4 1 Is that another of your compliments? I believe if you were a younger man you would be dangerous." She did, indeed, desire to win Pierre LamODt entirely to ncr, and she would have endured much to mako himher friend instead of her enemy. lialcorol>e had told her that the old lawyer had slept in the next room to his, and enc had set herself the task of sounding the old fellow to ascertain whether his suspicions were aroused, and whether she h&a anything to fear from him. She could not help saying to herself what a fool Mother Denisc—who looked after these household arrangements—was to put him 60 close to Arthur lialconibe. "I do believe," thought Adolaide, "that she did it to spite me." tier mind, however, was quite at ease after chatting with the old lawyer. " I am so glad we are friends," she said to him, "it is altogether so much nicer." l'jerre Lamont looked reproachfullyat her, and opked bow she could ever have supjKwed he was anything but her most devoted worshipper and admirer. " Lawyers aru so fond of mischief/ 1 sbc replied, " that if it dots not come to them ready-made, they manufacture it for themselves." •'Ia m no longer a la T vycr," he said ; " if I were twenty years younger I should call myself a lover." "If you wore twenty years younger." she rejoined, gaily, "I should noteitand listen to vour noufienisc." Being called from his side, sho turned and nave him au aich look. " (Juilty, my lady, i^uilty," he euid, inwardly, "if ever a woman was." During Iho chief part of the day (JauLran conccnli'd him^df in tHe woods. Twice in tho n»uiiiiuu had lie ventured to present himself to hit* fcllow-creatureti. He was hungry, ucdiuhore need of food, and he wuit tu a wayside inn, aud oallcd for some cold melt and bread and brandy. "Can >ou pay for it?" asked the inn keeper, busr.icinuely. (Jautr.m threw down a piec-e. The UIIILLCI a- tcnik it, liit it, turned it over over, r:ii)L' it ou the wooden t.t'ue, and then set tlu' feud ln.'foio (Jantran. The murderer ate ra\cnuiisly ; it win the lirht fiicient meal lie had eaten for days. Tho innkeeper H-ive him his ehangc. and he ordered meat and brandy, and paid for IH MII. While lie was dixpobiiJK of this second portion, t HKUC^m. up, eyed Mm, and pawd h.Vot inn; Uauinu was rating at a little t.il.lo the open air. Presently the innkeeper camc out aud looked at him ; then the innkeeper'* wife did the same ; then other men and women came and cast watchful glanccs upon him. At first he was not cousciou.s that he was being thus observed, lie was so ravenously CDgaged ; but his hunger being appeased, he raised liis head aud paw seven or eight persons standing at a little distance from him, and all with their eyes taxed upon his face. "What are you stariug at?" no cried, "Did you never see a hungry man eat before ?" They did uot answer him, but stood whispering among themselves. The idea occurred to (lautran to tako away with him a supply of food, and he called to the innkeeper to bring it to him. Instead of doing so tho innkeeper removed the plates and glasses in which hia meal had been served. Having
done this he joiuod the group, and stood ai>art from (jautran, without addressing a word to him. "Do you hear me?" shouted Gautran. u Are you deaf and dumb?" " Neither deaf nor dumb," replied the innkeeper, " we hear you plain enough." " Hnng me the bread^nd meat, then," he said. " Not another morsel," said the innkeeper. " lie off with you." W hen i get food." "You will get none here, nor would you have had bite or sup if I had known." " Known what?" demanded (.lautran, fiercely. " Is not my money as good ad another man's?" " No." " \Yl»y"f" "Because there is blood upon it." If this did not convince him that his namo was known and execrated, what next transt lrcd would have enlightened him. The inneeper's wife carre out with a glass and two plates in her hands. "Are these the tilings," she asked of her husband, "tbe monster has been eating out of?" " Yes," replied the innkeeper. She dashed them to the grouad and shiverod them to pieces, and tbe onlookers applauded the act. "Why do you do that, mistress?" cried (iantran. "So that bonest men shall not be poisoned," was her answer, "by eating out of a murderer's dish or putting their lips to a murderer's glass." And the onlookers again applauded her, and kicked away the pieces. Gautran glared at the men and women and &sked. " W ho do you take me for u For (Jautran. There is but one such monster. If you do not know your own face, look uj-on it there," She nointed to the window, ami there he tahclu his own portrait, cut out of an illustrated paper, and licneatb it his name, "(IATUUS, to which had been added, in writing, the words, "The Murderer of Madeline, the Flower Uirl." lie could not read, the inscription, but he correctly divined its nature. The moment before he Baw his portrait it had entered his mind to deny himself; he rccogniscd uow how futile the attempt would be. "What if I am Gautran !" he exclaimed. I)o you lliink the law would setmc fiee if i was guilty?" To which tho innkeepers wife replied, "You have camped byoijuibble. You aro a murderer, and you know yourself to be " Mistress," lie said, " if I had you alone I would make you smart." " ilQW does that sound, men?" cricd the innkeepers wife, with excited gestures. "Is it the speech of an innocent man ? He would like to get me alone ! Yes, he got one i>oor pirl alone, twid we know what beearr.o oi ner! The coward 1 The murderer! Hunt him away, neighbours. It is a digrace to look npou him. Tlicy advanced towards (lautran threaten iiigly, "and he drew his knife and snapped h open. " Who will bo tho Grst?" he asked savagely, and EtciiiL' that they held together, he re treated lm-kwanls. with his face to them until a tiiin in tho road hid them from hi* eight. Then hi- lie! into the woods, and with w ild ciics f>Mtjd.i d the trees with his knife, which he hiid skat | 'tiiT'l in tho early inorniug, On the seeui.d ociTisitjii lie presented himself at a cotla^e door with the intention of begging or buying some food. He kaockcd
at the door, and not receiving an answer lifted the latch. In the room were two children—a baby in a cradle, and a five-year-old boy fitting on the floor playing with a tittle wooden soldier. Looking up and seeing the features of the ruffian, the boy scrambled to his feet, and, rushing past Gautran. ran screaming down tbe roaa. Enraged almost to madness, Gautran ran after the ohild, and, patching him, tossed him in the air, shouting— "What!—you, too, brat? This for your pains t" and, standing over the child, was about to stomp upon him, when be felt him self seized by tho throat. It was the father, who, hearing the child's screams, oame op just in time to save him. Then ensued a desperate struggle; and Gautran, despite bis boast to the Advocate, found that he had met more than hie match. He was beaten to tbe ground, lifted and thrown in the air as he liad thrown tbe child. He rose, braised and bleeding, and was slinking off, when the man cried, " Holy Mother I—it is the murderer Gautran !" Some labourers, who were coming across the fields, were attracted by the scuttle, and the father called oat to them, "This is Gautran the murderer, and he has tried to murder my child !" This was sufficient for them. Thoy were armed with reaping-hooks, and they raced towards Gautran with loud threats. They chased him for full a mile, but he was fleeter of foot than they, and despair gave him strength. He escaped them, ana sank panting to the ground. The Advocate baa spoken truly. There was no safety for him here. He was known for miles around, and tbe nsople were eager for vengeance. He would hide in the woods for the rest of tbe day. There was but one means of escape for him. He must seek some distant spot, where he and his crimc were unknown. But to get there he would be compelled to pass through villages in which be would be recognised. It was neces sary that he should disguise himself. In what way could this be done ? He pondered upon it for hours. In tbe afternoon he hoard the mattering of the thunder in the distant moun tuins. "There is a storm coming," he said, and hn raised his burniog face to meet the wel come rain. But only a few heavy drops feli aud the wind moaned through the woods at if in pain. Ni^ht stole upon him swiftly and wrapped bim IU horrible darkness. He . his hps, he clenched his hands, his body shook with fear. Solitude was worse thft death to him. He tried to sicep in vaui terrible images crowded upon him. Lomuajj he must have at all hazards. .Suddenly t thought of John Vanbru^h, the man ho had met the ni^ht before on the hill not far from the Advocate's house. This man had not avoided him. He would seek him again, and if he found him would pass tho night with him. So resolving, he walked with feverish steps towards the hill on which John Van hrugh was keeping watch.