6. With Her Veil Down
On the instant he recognised that no common interview lay before him. She was
still the mysterious stranger, and she still wore her veil--a fact all the more
impressive that it was no longer the accompaniment of a hat, but flung freely over
her bare head. He frowned as he met her eyes through this disguising gauze.
This attempt at an incognito for which there seemed to be no adequate reason,
had a theatrical look wholly out of keeping with the situation. But he made no
allusion to it, nor was the bow with which he acknowledged her presence and
ushered her into the room, other than courteous. Nevertheless, she was the first
"This is very good of you, Judge Ostrander," she remarked, in a voice both
cultured and pleasant. "I could hardly have hoped for this honour. After what
happened this morning at your house, I feared that my wish for an interview
would not only be disregarded by you, but that you would utterly refuse me the
privilege of seeing you. I own to feeling greatly relieved. Such consideration
shown to a stranger, argues a spirit of unusual kindliness."
A tirade. He simply bowed.
"Or perhaps I am mistaken in my supposition," she suggested, advancing a step,
but no more. "Perhaps I am no stranger to you? Perhaps you know my name?"
She paused, showing her disappointment quite openly. Then drawing up a chair,
she leaned heavily on its back, saying in low, monotonous tones from which the
former eager thrill had departed:
"I see that the intended marriage of your son has made very little impression
Aghast for the moment, this was such a different topic from the one he expected,
the judge regarded her in silence before remarking:
"I have known nothing of it. My son's concerns are no longer mine. If you have
broken into my course of life for no other purpose than to discuss the affairs of
Oliver Ostrander, I must beg you to excuse me. I have nothing to say in his
connection to you or to any one."
"Is the breach between you so deep as that!"
This she said in a low tone and more as if to herself than to him. Then, with a
renewal of courage indicated by the steadying of her form and a spirited uplift of
her head, she observed with a touch of command in her voice:
"There are some things which must be discussed whatever our wishes or
preconceived resolves. The separation between you and Mr. Oliver Ostrander
cannot be so absolute (since whatever your cause of complaint you are still his
father and he your son) that you will allow his whole life's happiness to be
destroyed for the lack of a few words between yourself and me."
He had made his bow, and he now proceeded to depart, severity in his face and
an implacable resolution in his eye. But some impulse made him stop; some
secret call from deeply hidden, possibly unrecognised, affections gave him the
will to say: