The Law and the Lady
7. On The Way To The Major
"YES, said Benjamin. "It is a coincidence certainly. Still--"
He stopped and looked at me. He seemed a little doubtful how I might receive what he
had it in his mind to say to me next.
"Go on," I said.
"Still, my dear, I see nothing suspicious in what has happened," he resumed. "To my
mind it is quite natural that your husband, being in London, should pay a visit to one of
his friends. And it's equally natural that we should pass through Vivian Place on our way
back here. This seems to be the reasonable view. What do you say?"
"I have told you already that my mind is in a bad way about Eustace," I answered. "I say
there is some motive at the bottom of his visit to Major Fitz-David. It is not an ordinary
call. I am firmly convinced it is not an ordinary call!"
"Suppose we get on with our dinner?" said Benjamin, resignedly. "Here is a loin of
mutton, my dear--an ordinary loin of mutton. Is there anything suspicious in that? Very
well, then. Show me you have confidence in the mutton; please eat. There's the wine,
again. No mystery, Valeria, in that claret--I'll take my oath it's nothing but innocent juice
of the grape. If we can't believe in anything else, let's believe in juice of the grape. Your
good health, my dear."
I adapted myself to the old man's genial humor as readily as I could. We ate and we
drank, and we talked of by-gone days. For a little while I was almost happy in the
company of my fatherly old friend. Why was I not old too? Why had I not done with
love, with its certain miseries, its transient delights, its cruel losses, its bitterly doubtful
gains? The last autumn flowers in the window basked brightly in the last of the autumn
sunlight. Benjamin's little dog digested his dinner in perfect comfort on the hearth. The
parrot in the next house screeched his vocal accomplishments cheerfully. I don't doubt
that it is a great privilege to be a human being. But may it not be the happier destiny to be
an animal or a plant?
The brief respite was soon over; all my anxieties came back. I was once more a doubting,
discontented, depressed creature when I rose to say good-by.
"Promise, my dear, you will do nothing rash, "said Benjamin, as he opened the door for
"Is it rash to go to Major Fitz-David?" I asked.