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The Law and the Lady

19. The Evidence For The Defense
THE feeling of interest excited by the Trial was prodigiously increased on the fourth day.
The witnesses for the defense were now to be heard, and first and foremost among them
appeared the prisoner's mother. She looked at her son as she lifted her veil to take the
oath. He burst into tears. At that moment the sympathy felt for the mother was generally
extended to the unhappy son.
Examined by the Dean of Faculty, Mrs. Macallan the elder gave her answers with
remarkable dignity and self-control.
Questioned as to certain private conversations which had passed between her late
daughter-in-law and herself, she declared that Mrs. Eustace Macallan was morbidly
sensitive on the subject of her personal appearance. She was devotedly attached to her
husband; the great anxiety of her life was to make herself as attractive to him as possible.
The imperfections in her personal appearance--and especially in her complexion--were
subjects to her of the bitterest regret. The witness had heard her say, over and over again
(referring to her complexion), that there was no risk she would not run, and no pain she
would not suffer, to improve it. "Men" (she had said) "are all caught by outward
appearances: my husband might love me better if I had a better color."
Being asked next if the passages from her son's Diary were to be depended on as
evidence--that is to say, if they fairly represented the peculiarities in his character, and his
true sentiments toward his wife--Mrs. Macallan denied it in the plainest and strongest
terms.
"The extracts from my son's Diary are a libel on his character," she said. "And not the
less a libel because they happen to be written by himself. Speaking from a mother's
experience of him, I know that he must have written the passages produced in moments
of uncontrollable depression and despair. No just person judges hastily of a man by the
rash words which may escape him in his moody and miserable moments. Is my son to be
so judged because he happens to have written his rash words, instead of speaking them?
His pen has been his most deadly enemy, in this case--it has presented him at his very
worst. He was not happy in his marriage--I admit that. But I say at the same time that he
was invariably considerate toward his wife. I was implicitly trusted by both of them; I
saw them in their most private moments. I declare--in the face of what she appears to
have written to her friends and correspondents--that my son never gave his wife any just
cause to assert that he treated her with cruelty or neglect."
The words, firmly and clearly spoken, produced a strong impression. The Lord Advocate-
-evidently perceiving that any attempt to weaken that impression would not be likely to
succeed--confined himself, in cross-examination, to two significant questions.
"In speaking to you of the defects in her complexion," he said, "did your daughter-in-law
refer in any way to the use of arsenic as a remedy?"
 
 
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