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The Evil Genius

38. Hear the Lawyer
"Mr. Herbert Linley, I ask permission to reply to your inquiries in writing, because it is
quite likely that some of the opinions you will find here might offend you if I expressed
them personally. I can relieve your anxiety on the subject of Miss Sydney Westerfield.
But I must be allowed to do so in my own way--without any other restraints than those
which I think it becoming to an honorable man to impose on himself.
"You are quite right in supposing that Miss Westerfield had heard me spoken of at Mount
Morven, as the agent and legal adviser of the lady who was formerly your wife. What
purpose led her to apply to me, under these circumstances, you will presently discover.
As to the means by which she found her way to my office, I may remind you that any
directory would give her the necessary information.
"Miss Westerfield's object was to tell me, in the first place, that her guilty life with you
was at an end. She has left your protection--not to return to it. I was sorry to see (though
she tried to hide it from me) how keenly she felt the parting. You have been dearly loved
by two sweet women, and they have thrown their hearts away on you--as women will.
"Having explained the circumstances so far, Miss Westerfield next mentioned the motive
which had brought her to my office. She asked if I would inform her of Mrs. Norman's
address.
"This request, I confess, astonished me.
"To my mind she was, of all persons, the last who ought to contemplate communicating
in any way with Mrs. Norman. I say this to you; but I refrained from saying it to her.
What I did venture to do was to ask for her reasons. She answered that they were reasons
which would embarrass her if she communicated them to a stranger.
"After this reply, I declined to give her the information she wanted.
"Not unprepared, as it appeared to me, for my refusal, she asked next if I was willing to
tell her where she might find your brother, Mr. Randal Linley. In this case I was glad to
comply with her request. She could address herself to no person worthier to advise her
than your brother. In giving her his address in London, I told her that he was absent on a
visit to some friends, and that he was expected to return in a week's time.
"She thanked me, and rose to go.
"I confess I was interested in her. Perhaps I thought of the time when she might have
been as dear to her father as my own daughters are to me. I asked if her parents were
living: they were dead. My next question was: 'Have you any friends in London?' She
answered: 'I have no friends.' It was said with a resignation so very sad in so young a
creature that I was really distressed. I ran the risk of offending her--and asked if she felt
 
 
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