Chapter 198382277

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Chapter NumberXLI
Chapter Title? WIFE, ?SE FRIEND.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198382277
Full Date1883-09-18
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count1572
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 a U FABJEON, Author of " " ";<Khu Matte), "Brad ud CbMH and Bm," "OrU," "Losdon* HeaK," 4«.

CHAPTER XLL

FAISS wm, mas mora. Thufl abruptly the record oloead. To the last written pige there vnre several added. never been carried oat. The reading of the reoocd occupied the Advocate over an hoar, and whan he had finished he eat gazing with attentive eyoi upon the jswuoript. For a quarter o! an hour be did not move. Then ne rose, not quickly, aa goe wonld rise who ma stirred by a sddden impulse—bat slowly, with the air of a man who found a difficulty In arranging hie thoughts. ~ With uneven steps be paoea the study to and fro, to and fro, lulng oocaeionally -to handle. In on aimless way, a rare vase,' Which he turned about in his handa and gazed at witli vacant eyes. memory .. retained. He did this with a oonacioMneaa vrhicltforoed itself upon him, and which he vainly strove to ignore, that what he sought yras applicable to nlmself. It kjj notoompuMloG. It was not tender neas, it was not horror, that moved him thos strangely, for he was a man who had been bat rarely if ever moved as he was at the present time. It waa {he.curious and disquieting iwsnmatinn between the dead nan who had written and fche liviog man who tad read the record. And yet, although he could 41 he had chosen have reasoned this oat and have placed it mentally before him in partfle! lines, his only distinct thought was to avoid the comparison. That he was

successful la this dia not tend to compose him. Upon a bracket lay a bronze upon wnioh his eyoa invariably rested. It was the model of a woman's hand from the life. A beautiful hand, slender but shapely. It reminded him of his ijpile. Be took it from the braoket and examined it, and alter a little while thus passed the words' oatae involuntarily from Ms Upa, ." Perfect, .but cold." The Broken wordsannoyed him ; they were the evidence of a lack of self-control. He replaced the bronee hastily, and when be pasaed-tt again would not look at it Suddenly he left the Btudy, and went towards his wife's rooms. He had not proceeded more than half a dozen yards before his purpose, whatever it may have been, was relinquished as swiftly as it nad been formed. He rebated his steps, and lingered irresolutely at the door of the study. With an impatient movement of his head—it was the action pf a man who wrestled with thought as he would have done with a palpable being -—he onoe more proceeded in the direction of his wife's apartments. At the commencement of the passage which led to the Btudy was a lobby, opening from the principal entrance. A noble staircase in the centre of the lobby led to the rooms oocupied bv Arthur naloomba and Pierre Lamont. On the same floor as the btudv, beyond the staircase, was his wife's boudoir and private rooms. This portion of the house was but dimly lighted { one rose-lamp only was alight. Op the landing above where tbe staircase terminated, three lamps in a cluster was burning, and shed a soft and clear light around. When he reached the lobby, and was about to pass the staircase, the Advocate's progress was arrested, not by a mental impulse, but by the sound of voioeB which fell upon his ears. These voices proceeded from the top of the Staircase. He looked up, and saw, standing close together, his wife and Arthur Balcombe. Instinctively he retreated into the deeper shadows, and stood there in silence with bis eyes fixed upon the figures above him, Bis wife's hand was resting ou Balcombe'a shoulder, and her fingers occasionally touched Iiis hair. She was speaking almost in a whisper, and her face was bright and animated. Balcombe was replying to her in monosyllables, and even in the midst of the torture of this discovery the Advocate observed that Balcombe's face was troubled. The Advocate remembered that his wife wished him good night before 10 o'clock, and that when he made the observation that she WOB retiring early she replied that she was BO overpowered with fatigue that she could not keep her eves open one minute longer. And here, nearly two hours after this statement, lie found her conversing clandestinely with liia friend in undisguised gaiety of spirits. Never had he seen her look so happy. F

There was a tender expression in her eyes as she gazed upon Balcombe which she had never bestowed upon him from the first days of their courtship. A grave, diicnitied courtship, in which each was studiously kind and courteous to the other. A courtship without romance, in which there was no spring. A bitter smile rested upon his lipsas this remembrance impressed itself sigoilicantly upon him. There recuired to him a case In which he had been engaged when be was a much younger plan than he was now. An old man 4\as suing for divorce from a young wife on the grouna of infidelity, and the Advocate in bis speech had said, Even if the evidenoe were conclusive, which it is not, it might be remarked of tbe petitioner, between whom and his wife stretched a bridge of forty years, that if a loveless life were not what be deserved, it was at least what he might have expected." Although he indignantly refused to admit that there was any analogy between himself and this man, the words he had used struck him now like sharp-pointed arrows. Ho watched and waited, motionless as a statue. Midnight struck, and still the couple on the staircase lingered. Presently, however — and manifestly on Balcombe s urging — she consented to leave him. Smilingly she offered him her hand, and held hiB for a longer time than friendship warranted. lliey parted, he ascending to his room, she descending to hers. When she was at tbe foot of the Btaircase she looked up and threw a kiss to Baloombe, and her face, with the light of the rose-lamp upon it, was inexpressibly beautiful. The next moment the Advocate was alone. He listened for the -shutting of their chamber doors. So softly was this done both by Baloombe and his wife that it was difficult to catch tbe faint sound. He smiled ngain—a bitter smile of confirmation. It was In his legal mind a fatal item of evidence against them. Slowly he returned to his study, and the liret act of which he was conscious was that of standing on a certain spot, and saying audibly as he lookod down. " It was here M. Gabriel fell." He knelt upon the carpet, and thought that on the boards beneath, ever at this distance of time, Btains of blood might be discerned, the blood of a treacherous friend. It was im|K)S8ible for him to contiol the workings of his mind ; impossible to dwell upon the train of thought it was necessary he should follow out Defore he could decide upon a line of action. One o'clock, two o'clock struck, and he was still In this condition. All he could think of was tbe fate of M. Gabriel, and over and over again he mut tcrcd, " It was here he fell, it was here hef ell." There was_a harmony in the storm raging ofthi was standing on the brink of a fatal cipice. " Which would be the best," he asEed, mentally, of himself, " that lightning should destroy three beings in this unhappy bouse, or that tbe routine oi a nine days' wonder

should be allowed to take Its oourscf All that is wonting to oomnlete the wreck would be eomo evidence to damn me in connection with Gautran, and the unhappy girl lie foully murdcrod." As if in' answer to his thought, he heard a distinct tapping on one of his study windows. He hailed It with eagerness i anything in the shape of action was welcome to him. He stepped to tbe window, and drawing up tbe ulind saw, darkly, the form of a man without. • 4 1 Whom do yon Beek ?" he asked. " You," was the answer. " Your mission must be an urgent one," said the Advocate, throwing up the window. 4 1 Is it murder or robbery ?" " Neithpr. Something of far greater im- With strange recklessness he held oat his hand to assist his visitor into tbe room. The man accepted the assistance, and climbing over the window slU Bprang Into the study. He was bloody, and plashed from head to foot in mqd. " Have yon a name ?" enquired the Advocate. "Naturally." " Favour me with it." "John Vanhrngh." CT ADVICB TOMOTHKBS I—Are jroo broken la your rest by a sick child suffering with the pain of cutting teeth ? Go at once to a chemist and get a bottle oi Mas. WIKSLOWS Boorawa Bnvr. It will relieve the poor sufferer Immediately. It la button." It soothes tbe child, U softens the gums, allays all pain, relieveswind, regulates the towel*, and la the beat known runedy for dysentery an' diarrhoea, whether arintng from teething or othet crapes. Mm. Window's Soothing Syrap la sold by Medicine dealers everywhere hi Is l}d. par bottle