The Law and the Lady
21. I See My Way
IN the gray light of the new morning I closed the Report of my husband's Trial for the
Murder of his first Wife.
No sense of fatigue overpowered me. I had no wish, after my long hours of reading and
thinking, to lie down and sleep. It was strange, but it was so. I felt as if I had slept, and
had now just awakened--a new woman, with a new mind.
I could now at last understand Eustace's desertion of me. To a man of his refinement it
would have been a martyrdom to meet his wife after she had read the things published of
him to all the world in the Report. I felt that as he would have felt it. At the same time I
thought he might have trusted Me to make amends to him for the martyrdom, and might
have come back. Perhaps it might yet end in his coming back. In the meanwhile, and in
that expectation, I pitied and forgave him with my whole heart.
One little matter only dwelt on my mind disagreeably, in spite of my philosophy. Did
Eustace still secretly love Mrs. Beauly? or had I extinguished that passion in him? To
what order of beauty did this lady belong? Were we by any chance, the least in the world
like one another?
The window of my room looked to the east. I drew up the blind, and saw the sun rising
grandly in a clear sky. The temptation to go out and breathe the fresh morning air was
irresistible. I put on my hat and shawl, and took the Report of the Trial under my arm.
The bolts of the back door were easily drawn. In another minute I was out in Benjamin's
pretty little garden.
Composed and strengthened by the inviting solitude and the delicious air, I found courage
enough to face the serious question that now confronted me--the question of the future.
I had read the Trial. I had vowed to devote my life to the sacred object of vindicating my
husband's innocence. A solitary, defenseless woman, I stood pledged to myself to carry
that desperate resolution through to an end. How was I to begin?
The bold way of beginning was surely the wise way in such a position as mine. I had
good reasons (founded, as I have already mentioned, on the important part played by this
witness at the Trial) for believing that the fittest person to advise and assist me was--
Miserrimus Dexter. He might disappoint the expectations that I had fixed on him, or he
might refuse to help me, or (like my uncle Starkweather) he might think I had taken leave
of my senses. All these events were possible. Nevertheless, I held to my resolution to try
the experiment. If he were in the land of the living, I decided that my first step at starting
should take me to the deformed man with the strange name.
Supposing he received me, sympathized with me, understood me? What would he say?
The nurse, in her evidence, had reported him as speaking in an off-hand manner. He