The Law and the Lady
13. The Man's Decision
MY first impulse was the reckless impulse to follow Eustace--openly through the streets.
The Major and Benjamin both opposed this hasty resolution on my part. They appealed to
my own sense of self-respect, without (so far as I remember it) producing the slightest
effect on my mind. They were more successful when they entreated me next to be patient
for my husband's sake. In mercy to Eustace, they begged me to wait half an hour. If he
failed to return in that time, they pledged themselves to accompany me in search of him
to the hotel.
In mercy to Eustace I consented to wait. What I suffered under the forced necessity for
remaining passive at that crisis in my life no words of mine can tell. It will be better if I
go on with my narrative.
Benjamin was the first to ask me what had passed between my husband and myself.
"You may speak freely, my dear," he said. "I know what has happened since you have
been in Major Fitz-David's house. No one has told me about it; I found it out for myself.
If you remember, I was struck by the name of 'Macallan,' when you first mentioned it to
me at my cottage. I couldn't guess why at the time. I know why now."
Hearing this, I told them both unreservedly what I had said to Eustace, and how he had
received it. To my unspeakable disappointment, they both sided with my husband,
treating my view of his position as a mere dream. They said it, as he had said it, "You
have not read the Trial."
I was really enraged with them. "The facts are enough for me," I said. "We know he is
innocent. Why is his innocence not proved? It ought to be, it must be, it shall be! If the
Trial tell me it can't be done, I refuse to believe the Trial. Where is the book, Major? Let
me see for myself if his lawyers have left nothing for his wife to do. Did they love him as
I love him? Give me the book!"
Major Fitz-David looked at Benjamin.
"It will only additionally shock and distress her if I give her the book," he said. "Don't
you agree with me?"
I interposed before Benjamin could answer.
"If you refuse my request," I said, "you will oblige me, Major, to go to the nearest
bookseller and tell him to buy the Trial for me. I am determined to read it."
This time Benjamin sided with me.