The Law and the Lady
9. The Defeat Of The Major
MAJOR FITZ-DAVID'S visitor proved to be a plump, round-eyed overdressed girl, with
a florid complexion and straw colored hair. After first fixing on me a broad stare of
astonishment, she pointedly addressed her apologies for intruding on us to the Major
alone. The creature evidently believed me to be the last new object of the old gentleman's
idolatry; and she took no pains to disguise her jealous resentment on discovering us
together. Major Fitz-David set matters right in his own irresistible way. He kissed the
hand of the overdressed girl as devotedly as he had kissed mine; he told her she was
looking charmingly. Then he led her, with his happy mixture of admiration and respect,
back to the door by which she had entered--a second door communicating directly with
"No apology is necessary, my dear," he said. "This lady is with me on a matter of
business. You will find your singing-master waiting for you upstairs. Begin your lesson;
and I will join you in a few minutes. Au revoir, my charming pupil--au revoir."
The young lady answered this polite little speech in a whisper--with her round eyes fixed
distrustfully on me while she spoke. The door closed on her. Major Fitz-David was a t
liberty to set matters right with me, in my turn.
"I call that young person one of my happy discoveries;" said the old gentleman,
complacently. "She possesses, I don't hesitate to say, the finest soprano voice in Europe.
Would you believe it, I met with her at the railway station. She was behind the counter in
a refreshment-room, poor innocent, rinsing wine-glasses, and singing over her work.
Good Heavens, such singing! Her upper notes electrified me. I said to myself; 'Here is a
born prima donna--I will bring her out!' She is the third I have brought out in my time. I
shall take her to Italy when her education is sufficiently advanced, and perfect her at
Milan. In that unsophisticated girl, my dear lady, you see one of the future Queens of
Song. Listen! She is beginning her scales. What a voice! Brava! Brava! Bravissima!"
The high soprano notes of the future Queen of Song rang through the house as he spoke.
Of the loudness of the young lady's voice there could be no sort of doubt. The sweetness
and the purity of it admitted, in my opinion, of considerable dispute.
Having said the polite words which the occasion rendered necessary, I ventured to recall
Major Fitz-David to the subject in discussion between us when his visitor had entered the
room. The Major was very unwilling to return to the perilous topic on which we had just
touched when the interruption occurred. He beat time with his forefinger to the singing
upstairs; he asked me about my voice, and whether I sang; he remarked that life would be
intolerable to him without Love and Art. A man in my place would have lost all patience,
and would have given up the struggle in disgust. Being a woman, and having my end in
view, my resolution was invincible. I fairly wore out the Major's resistance, and
compelled him to surrender at discretion. It is only justice to add that, when he did make
up his mind to speak to me again of Eustace, he spoke frankly, and spoke to the point.