The Law and the Lady
6. My Own Discovery
FORTUNATELY for me, the landlord did not open the door when I rang. A stupid maid-
of-all-work, who never thought of asking me for my name, let me in. Mrs. Macallan was
at home, and had no visitors with her. Giving me this information, the maid led the way
upstairs, and showed me into the drawing-room without a word of announcement.
My mother-in-law was sitting alone, near a work-table, knitting. The moment I appeared
in the doorway she laid aside her work, and, rising, signed to me with a commanding
gesture of her hand to let her speak first.
"I know what you have come here for," she said. "You have come here to ask questions.
Spare yourself, and spare me. I warn you beforehand that I will not answer any questions
relating to my son."
It was firmly, but not harshly said. I spoke firmly in my turn.
"I have not come here, madam, to ask questions about your son," I answered. "I have
come, if you will excuse me, to ask you a question about yourself."
She started, and looked at me keenly over her spectacles. I had evidently taken her by
"What is the question?" she inquired.
"I now know for the first time, madam, that your name is Macallan," I said. "Your son
has married me under the name of Woodville. The only honorable explanation of this
circumstance, so far as I know, is that my husband is your son by a first marriage. The
happiness of my life is at stake. Will you kindly consider my position? Will you let me
ask you if you have been twice married, and if the name of your first husband was
She considered a little before she replied.
"The question is a perfectly natural one in your position," she said. "But I think I had
better not answer it."
"May I as k why?"
"Certainly. If I answered you, I should only lead to other questions, and I should be
obliged to decline replying to them. I am sorry to disappoint you. I repeat what I said on
the beach--I have no other feeling than a feeling of sympathy toward you. If you had
consulted me before your marriage, I should willingly have admitted you to my fullest
confidence. It is now too late. You are married. I recommend you to make the best of
your position, and to rest satisfied with things as they are."