The Law and the Lady
18. Third Question--What Was His Motive?
THE first question (Did the Woman Die Poisoned?) had been answered, positively. The
second question (Who Poisoned Her?) had been answered, apparently. There now
remained the third and final question--What was His Motive? The first evidence called in
answer to that inquiry was the evidence of relatives and friends of the dead wife.
Lady Brydehaven, widow of Rear-Admiral Sir George Brydehaven, examined by Mr.
Drew (counsel for the Crown with the Lord Advocate), gave evidence as follows:
"The deceased lady (Mrs. Eustace Macallan) was my niece. She was the only child of my
sister, and she lived under my roof after the time of her mother's death. I objected to her
marriage, on grounds which were considered purely fanciful and sentimental by her other
friends. It is extremely painful to me to state the circumstances in public, but I am ready
to make the sacrifice if the ends of justice require it.
"The prisoner at the bar, at the time of which I am now speaking, was staying as a guest
in my house. He met with an accident while he was out riding which caused a serious
injury to one of his legs. The leg had been previously hurt while he was serving with the
army in India. This circumstance tended greatly to aggravate the injury received in the
accident. He was confined to a recumbent position on a sofa for many weeks together;
and the ladies in the house took it in turns to sit with him, and while away the weary time
by reading to him and talking to him. My niece was foremost among these volunteer
nurses. She played admirably on the piano; and the sick man happened--most
unfortunately, as the event proved--to be fond of music.
"The consequences of the perfectly innocent intercourse thus begun were deplorable
consequences for my niece. She became passionately attached to Mr. Eustace Macallan,
without awakening any corresponding affection on his side.
"I did my best to interfere, delicately and usefully, while it was still possible to interfere
with advantage. Unhappily, my niece refused to place any confidence in me. She
persistently denied that she was actuated by any warmer feeling toward Mr. Macallan
than a feeling of friendly interest. This made it impossible for me to separate them
without openly acknowledging my reason for doing so, and thus producing a scandal
which might have affected my niece's reputation. My husband was alive at that time; and
the one thing I could do under the circumstances was the thing I did. I requested him to
speak privately to Mr. Macallan, and to appeal to his honor to help us out of the difficulty
without prejudice to my niece.
"Mr. Macallan behaved admirably. He was still helpless. But he made an excuse for
leaving us which it was impossible to dispute. In two days after my husband had spoken
to him he was removed from the house.