The Law and the Lady
8. The Friend Of The Women
I FIND it impossible to describe my sensations while the carriage was taking me to Major
Fitz-David's house. I doubt, indeed, if I really felt or thought at all, in the true sense of
From the moment when I had resigned myself into the hands of the chambermaid I
seemed in some strange way to have lost my ordinary identity--to have stepped out of my
own character. At other times my temperament was of the nervous and anxious sort, and
my tendency was to exaggerate any difficulties that might place themselves in my way.
At other times, having before me the prospect of a critical interview with a stranger, I
should have considered with myself what it might be wise to pass over, and what it might
be wise to say. Now I never gave my coming interview with the Major a thought; I felt an
unreasoning confidence in myself, and a blind faith in him. Now neither the past nor the
future troubled me; I lived unreflectingly in the present. I looked at the shops as we drove
by them, and at the other carriages as they passed mine. I noticed--yes, and enjoyed--the
glances of admiration which chance foot-passengers on the pavement cast on me. I said
to myself, "This looks well for my prospect of making a friend of the Major!" When we
drew up at the door in Vivian Place, it is no exaggeration to say that I had but one
anxiety--anxiety to find the Major at home.
The door was opened by a servant out of livery, an old man who looked as if he might
have been a soldier in his earlier days. He eyed me with a grave attention, which relaxed
little by little into sly approval. I asked for Major Fitz-David. The answer was not
altogether encouraging: the man was not sure whether his master were at home or not.
I gave him my card. My cards, being part of my wedding outfit, necessarily had the false
name printed on them--Mrs. Eustace Woodville. The servant showed me into a front
room on the ground-floor, and disappeared with my card in his hand.
Looking about me, I noticed a door in the wall opposite the window, communicating with
some inner room. The door was not of the ordinary kind. It fitted into the thickness of the
partition wall, and worked in grooves. Looking a little nearer, I saw that it had not been
pulled out so as completely to close the doorway. Only the merest chink was left; but it
was enough to convey to my ears all that passed in the next room.
"What did you say, Oliver, when she asked for me?" inquired a man's voice, pitched
cautiously in a low key.
"I said I was not sure you were at home, sir," answered the voice of the servant who had
let me in.
There was a pause. The first speaker was evidently Major Fitz-David himself. I waited to