The Law and the Lady
14. The Woman's Answer
THUS far I have written of myself with perfect frankness, and, I think I may fairly add,
with some courage as well. My frankness fails me and my courage fails me when I look
back to my husband's farewell letter, and try to recall the storm of contending passions
that it roused in my mind. No! I cannot tell the truth about myself--I dare not tell the truth
about myself--at that terrible time. Men! consult your observation of women, and imagine
what I felt; women! look into your own hearts, and see what I felt, for yourselves.
What I did, when my mind was quiet again, is an easier matter to deal with. I answered
my husband's letter. My reply to him shall appear in these pages. It will show, in some
degree, what effect (of the lasting sort) his desertion of me produced on my mind. It will
also reveal the motives that sustained me, the hopes that animated me, in the new and
strange life which my next chapters must describe.
I was removed from the hotel in the care of my fatherly old friend, Benjamin. A
bedroom was prepared for me in his little villa. There I passed the first night of my
separation from my husband. Toward the morning my weary brain got some rest--I slept.
At breakfast-time Major Fitz-David called to inquire about me. He had kindly
volunteered to go and speak for me to my husband's lawyers on the preceding day. They
had admitted that they knew where Eustace had gone, but they declared at the same time
that they were positively forbidden to communicate his address to any one. In other
respects their "instructions" in relation to the wife of their client were (as they were
pleased to express it) "generous to a fault." I had only to write to them, and they would
furnish me with a copy by return of post.
This was the Major's news. He refrained, with the tact that distinguished him, from
putting any questions to me beyond questions relating to the state of my health. These
answered, he took his leave of me for that day. He and Benjamin had a long talk together
afterward in the garden of the villa.
I retired to my room and wrote to my uncle Starkweather, telling him exactly what had
happened, and inclosing him a copy of my husband's letter. This done, I went out for a
little while to breathe the fresh air and to think. I was soon weary, and went back again to
my room to rest. My kind old Benjamin left me at perfect liberty to be alone as long as I
pleased. Toward the afternoon I began to feel a little more like my old self again. I mean
by this that I could think of Eustace without bursting out crying, and could speak to
Benjamin without distressing and frightening the dear old man.
That night I had a little more sleep. The next morning I was strong enough to confront the
first and foremost duty that I now owed to myself--the duty of answering my husband's
I wrote to him in these words: