Part 3 out of 9
He pronounced those words with a hopeless, heart-broken humility
dreadful to see. I laid my hand on his bosom. I said, "Eustace,
look at me."
He slowly lifted his eyes to my face--eyes cold and clear and
tearless--looking at me in steady resignation, in immovable
despair. In the utter wretchedness of that moment, I was like
him; I was as quiet and as cold as my husband. He chilled, he
"Is it possible," I said, "that you doubt my belief in your
He left the question unanswered. He sighed bitterly to himself.
"Poor woman!" he said, as a stranger might have said, pitying me.
My heart swelled in me as if it would burst. I lifted my hand
from his bosom, and laid it on his shoulder to support myself.
"I don't ask you to pity me, Eustace; I ask you to do me justice.
You are not doing me justice. If you had trusted me with the
truth in the days when we first knew that we loved each other--if
you had told me all, and more than all that I know now--a s God
is my witness I would still have married you! _Now_ do you doubt
that I believe you are an innocent man!"
"I don't doubt it," he said. "All your impulses are generous,
Valeria. You are speaking generously and feeling generously.
Don't blame me, my poor child, if I look on further than you do:
if I see what is to come--too surely to come--in the cruel
"The cruel future!" I repeated. "What do you mean?"
"You believe in my innocence, Valeria. The jury who tried me
doubted it--and have left that doubt on record. What reason have
_you_ for believing, in the face of the Verdict, that I am an
"I want no reason! I believe in spite of the jury--in spite of
"Will your friends agree with you? When your uncle and aunt know
what has happened--and sooner or later they must know it--what
will they say? They will say, 'He began badly; he concealed from
our niece that he had been wedded to a first wife; he married our
niece under a false name. He may say he is innocent; but we have
only his word for it. When he was put on his Trial, the Verdict
was Not Proven. Not Proven won't do for us. If the jury have done
him an injustice--if he _is_ innocent--let him prove it.' That is
what the world thinks and says of me. That is what your friends
will think and say of me. The time is coming, Valeria, when
you--even You--will feel that your friends have reason to appeal
to on their side, and that you have no reason on yours."
"That time will never come!" I answered, warmly. "You wrong me,
you insult me, in thinking it possible!"
He put down my hand from him, and drew back a step, with a bitter
"We have only been married a few days, Valeria. Your love for me
is new and young. Time, which wears away all things, will wear
away the first fervor of that love."
He drew back from me a little further still.
"Look at the world around you," he said. "The happiest husbands
and wives have their occasional misunderstandings and
disagreements; the brightest married life has its passing clouds.
When those days come for _us,_ the doubts and fears that you
don't feel now will find their way to you then. When the clouds
rise in _our_ married life--when I say my first harsh word, when
you make your first hasty reply--then, in the solitude of your
own room, in the stillness of the wakeful night, you will think
of my first wife's miserable death. You will remember that I was
held responsible for it, and that my innocence was never proved.
You will say to yourself, 'Did it begin, in _her_ time, with a
harsh word from him and with a hasty reply from her? Will it one
day end with me as the jury half feared that it ended with her?'
Hideous questions for a wife to ask herself! You will stifle
them; you will recoil from them, like a good woman, with horror.
But when we meet the next morning you will be on your guard, and
I shall see it, and know in my heart of hearts what it means.
Imbittered by that knowledge, my next harsh word may be harsher
still. Your next thoughts of me may remind you more vividly and
more boldly that your husband was once tried as a poisoner, and
that the question of his first wife's death was never properly
cleared up. Do you see what materials for a domestic hell are
mingling for us here? Was it for nothing that I warned you,
solemnly warned you, to draw back, when I found you bent on
discovering the truth? Can I ever be at your bedside now, when
you are ill, and not remind you, in the most innocent things I
do, of what happened at that other bedside, in the time of that
other woman whom I married first? If I pour out your medicine, I
commit a suspicious action--they say I poisoned _her_ in her
medicine. If I bring you a cup of tea, I revive the remembrance
of a horrid doubt--they said I put the arsenic in _her_ cup of
tea. If I kiss you when I leave the room, I remind you that the
prosecution accused me of kissing _her,_ to save appearances and
produce an effect on the nurse. Can we live together on such
terms as these? No mortal creatures could support the misery of
it. This very day I said to you, 'If you stir a step further in
this matter, there is an end of your happiness for the rest of
your life.' You have taken that step and the end has come to your
happiness and to mine. The blight that cankers and kills is on
you and on me for the rest of our lives!"
So far I had forced myself to listen to him. At those last words
the picture of the future that he was placing before me became
too hideous to be endured. I refused to hear more.
"You are talking horribly," I said. "At your age and at mine,
have we done with love and done with hope? It is blasphemy to
Love and Hope to say it!"
"Wait till you have read the Trial," he answered. "You mean to
read it, I suppose?"
"Every word of it! With a motive, Eustace, which you have yet to
"No motive of yours, Valeria, no love and hope of yours, can
alter the inexorable facts. My first wife died poisoned; and the
verdict of the jury has not absolutely acquitted me of the guilt
of causing her death. As long as you were ignorant of that the
possibilities of happiness were always within our reach. Now you
know it, I say again--our married life is at an end."
"No," I said. "Now I know it, our married life has begun--begun
with a new object for your wife's devotion, with a new reason for
your wife's love!"
"What do you mean?"
I went near to him again, and took his hand.
"What did you tell me the world has said of you?" I asked. "What
did you tell me my friends would say of you? 'Not Proven won't do
for us. If the jury have done him an injustice--if he _is_
innocent--let him prove it.' Those were the words you put into
the mouths of my friends. I adopt them for mine! I say Not Proven
won't do for _me._ Prove your right, Eustace, to a verdict of Not
Guilty. Why have you let three years pass without doing it? Shall
I guess why? You have waited for your wife to help you. Here she
is, my darling, ready to help you with all her heart and soul.
Here she is, with one object in life--to show the world and to
show the Scotch Jury that her husband is an innocent man!"
I had roused myself; my pulses were throbbing, my voice rang
through the room. Had I roused _him_? What was his answer?
"Read the Trial." That was his answer.
I seized him by the arm. In my indignation and my despair I shook
him with all my strength. God forgive me, I could almost have
struck him for the tone in which he had spoken and the look that
he had cast on me!
"I have told you that I mean to read the Trial," I said. "I mean
to read it, line by line, with you. Some inexcusable mistake has
been made. Evidence in your favor that might have been found has
not been found. Suspicious circumstances have not been
investigated. Crafty people have not been watched. Eustace! the
conviction of some dreadful oversight, committed by you or by the
persons who helped you, is firmly settled in my mind. The
resolution to set that vile Verdict right was the first
resolution that came to me when I first heard of it in the next
room. We _will_ set it right! We _must_ set it right--for your
sake, for my sake, for the sake of our children if we are blessed
with children. Oh, my own love, don't look at me with those cold
eyes! Don't answer me in those hard tones! Don't treat me as if I
were talking ignorantly and madly of something that can never
Still I never roused him. His next words were spoken
compassionately rather than coldly--that was all.
"My defense was undertaken by the greatest lawyers in the land,"
he said. "After such men have done their utmost, and have
failed--my poor Valeria, what can you, what can I, do? We can
"Never!" I cried. "The greatest lawyers are mortal men; the
greatest lawyers have made mistakes before now. You can't deny
"Read the Trial." For the third time he said those cruel words,
and said no more.
In utter despair of moving him---feeling keenly, bitterly (if I
must own it), his merciless superiority to all that I had said to
him in the honest fervor of my devotion and my love--I thought of
Major Fitz-David as a last resort. In the dis ordered state of my
mind at that moment, it made no difference to me that the Major
had already tried to reason with him, and had failed. In the face
of the facts I had a blind belief in the influence of his old
friend, if his old friend could only be prevailed upon to support
"Wait for me one moment," I said. "I want you to hear another
opinion besides mine."
I left him, and returned to the study. Major Fitz-David was not
there. I knocked at the door of communication with the front
room. It was opened instantly by the Major himself. The doctor
had gone away. Benjamin still remained in the room.
"Will you come and speak to Eustace?" I began. "If you will only
say what I want you to say--"
Before I could add a word more I heard the house door opened and
closed. Major Fitz-David and Benjamin heard it too. They looked
at each other in silence.
I ran back, before the Major could stop me, to the room in which
I had seen Eustace. It was empty. My husband had left the house.
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
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
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
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
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.
"Nothing can make matters worse than they are, sir," he said. "If
I may be permitted to advise, let her have her own way."
The Major rose and took the book out of the Italian cabinet, to
which he had consigned it for safe-keeping.
"My young friend tells me that she informed you of her
regrettable outbreak of temper a few days since," he said as he
handed me the volume. "I was not aware at the time what book she
had in her hand when she so far forgot herself as to destroy the
vase. When I left you in the study, I supposed the Report of the
Trial to be in its customary place on the top shelf of the
book-case, and I own I felt some curiosity to know whether you
would think of examining that shelf. The broken vase--it is
needless to conceal it from you now--was one of a pair presented
to me by your husband and his first wife only a week before the
poor woman's terrible death. I felt my first presentiment that
you were on the brink of discovery when I found you looking at
the fragments, and I fancy I betrayed to you that something of
the sort was disturbing me. You looked as if you noticed it."
"I did notice it, Major. And I too had a vague idea that I was on
the way to discovery. Will you look at your watch? Have we waited
half an hour yet?"
My impatience had misled me. The ordeal of the half-hour was not
yet at an end.
Slowly and more slowly the heavy minutes followed each other, and
still there were no signs of my husband's return. We tried to
continue our conversation, and failed. Nothing was audible; no
sounds but the ordinary sounds of the street disturbed the
dreadful silence. Try as I might to repel it, there was one
foreboding thought that pressed closer and closer on my mind as
the interval of waiting wore its weary way on. I shuddered as I
asked myself if our married life had come to an end--if Eustace
had really left me.
The Major saw what Benjamin's slower perception had not yet
discovered--that my fortitude was beginning to sink under the
unrelieved oppression of suspense.
"Come!" he said. "Let us go to the hotel."
It then wanted nearly five minutes to the half-hour. I _looked_
my gratitude to Major Fitz-David for sparing me those last
minutes: I could not speak to him or to Benjamin. In silence we
three got into a cab and drove to the hotel.
The landlady met us in the hall. Nothing had been seen or heard
of Eustace. There was a letter waiting for me upstairs on the
table in our sitting-room. It had been left at the hotel by a
messenger only a few minutes since.
Trembling and breathless, I ran up the stairs, the two gentlemen
following me. The address of the letter was in my husband's
handwriting. My heart sank in me as I looked at the lines; there
could be but one reason for his writing to me. That closed
envelope held his farewell words. I sat with the letter on my
lap, stupefied, incapable of opening it.
Kind-hearted Benjamin attempted to comfort and encourage me. The
Major, with his larger experience of women, warned the old man to
"Wait!" I heard him whisper. "Speaking to her will do no good
now. Give her time."
Acting on a sudden impulse, I held out the letter to him as he
spoke. Even moments might be of importance, if Eustace had indeed
left me. To give me time might be to lose the opportunity of
"You are his old friend," I said. "Open his letter, Major, and
read it for me."
Major Fitz-David opened the letter and read it through to
himself. When he had done he threw it on the table with a gesture
which was almost a gesture of contempt.
"There is but one excuse for him," he said. "The man is mad."
Those words told me all. I knew the worst; and, knowing it, I
could read the letter. It ran thus:
"MY BELOVED VALERIA--When you read these lines you read my
farewell words. I return to my solitary unfriended life--my life
before I knew you.
"My darling, you have been cruelly treated. You have been
entrapped into marrying a man who has been publicly accused of
poisoning his first wife--and who has not been honorably and
completely acquitted of the charge. And you know it!
"Can you live on terms of mutual confidence and mutual esteem
with me when I have committed this fraud, and when I stand toward
you in this position? It was possible for you to live with me
happily while you were in ignorance of the truth. It is _not_
possible, now you know all.
"No! the one atonement I can make is--to leave you. Your one
chance of future happiness is to be disassociated, at once and
forever, from my dishonored life. I love you, Valeria--truly,
devotedly, passionately. But the specter of the poisoned woman
rises between us. It makes no difference that I am innocent even
of the thought of harming my first wife. My innocence has not
been proved. In this world my innocence can never be proved. You
are young and loving, and generous and hopeful. Bless others,
Valeria, with your rare attractions a nd your delightful gifts.
They are of no avail with _me._ The poisoned woman stands between
us. If you live with me now, you will see her as I see her.
_That_ torture shall never be yours. I love you. I leave you.
"Do you think me hard and cruel? Wait a little, and time will
change that way of thinking. As the years go on you will say to
yourself, 'Basely as he deceived me, there was some generosity in
him. He was man enough to release me of his own free will.'
"Yes, Valeria, I fully, freely release you. If it be possible to
annul our marriage, let it be done. Recover your liberty by any
means that you may be advised to employ; and be assured
beforehand of my entire and implicit submission. My lawyers have
the necessary instructions on this subject. Your uncle has only
to communicate with them, and I think he will be satisfied of my
resolution to do you justice. The one interest that I have now
left in life is my interest in your welfare and your happiness in
the time to come. Your welfare and your happiness are no longer
to be found in your union with Me.
"I can write no more. This letter will wait for you at the hotel.
It will be useless to attempt to trace me. I know my own
weakness. My heart is all yours: I might yield to you if I let
you see me again.
"Show these lines to your uncle, and to any friends whose
opinions you may value. I have only to sign my dishonored name,
and every one will understand and applaud my motive for writing
as I do. The name justifies--amply justifies--the letter. Forgive
and forget me. Farewell.
In those words he took his leave of me. We had then been
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
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 letter.
I wrote to him in these words:
"I am still too weak and weary, Eustace, to write to you at any
length. But my mind is clear. I have formed my own opinion of you
and your letter; and I know what I mean to do now you have left
me. Some women, in my situation, might think that you had
forfeited all right to their confidence. I don't think that. So I
write and tell you what is in my mind in the plainest and fewest
words that I can use.
"You say you love me--and you leave me. I don't understand loving
a woman and leaving her. For my part, in spite of the hard things
you have said and written to me, and in spite of the cruel manner
in which you have left me, I love you--and I won't give you up.
No! As long as I live I mean to live your wife.
"Does this surprise you? It surprises _me._ If another woman
wrote in this manner to a man who had behaved to her as you have
behaved, I should be quite at a loss to account for her conduct.
I am quite at a loss to account for my own conduct. I ought to
hate you, and yet I can't help loving you. I am ashamed of
myself; but so it is.
"You need feel no fear of my attempting to find out where you
are, and of my trying to persuade you to return to me. I am not
quite foolish enough to do that. You are not in a fit state of
mind to return to me. You are all wrong, all over, from head to
foot. When you get right again, I am vain enough to think that
you will return to me of your own accord. And shall I be weak
enough to forgive you? Yes! I shall certainly be weak enough to
"But how are you to get right again?
"I have puzzled my brains over this question by night and by day,
and my opinion is that you will never get right again unless I
"How am I to help you?
"That question is easily answered. What the Law has failed to do
for you, your Wife must do for you. Do you remember what I said
when we were together in the back room at Major Fitz-David's
house? I told you that the first thought that came to me, when I
heard what the Scotch jury had done, was the thought of setting
their vile Verdict right. Well! Your letter has fixed this idea
more firmly in my mind than ever. The only chance that I can see
of winning you back to me, in the character of a penitent and
loving husband, is to change that underhand Scotch Verdict of Not
Proven into an honest English Verdict of Not Guilty.
"Are you surprised at the knowledge of the law which this way of
writing betrays in an ignorant woman? I have been learning, my
dear: the Law and the Lady have begun by understanding one
another. In plain English, I have looked into Ogilvie's 'Imperial
Dictionary,' and Ogilvie tells me, 'A verdict of Not Proven only
indicates that, in the opinion of the jury, there is a deficiency
in the evidence to convict the prisoner. A verdict of Not Guilty
imports the jury's opinion that the prisoner is innocent.'
Eustace, that shall be the opinion of the world in general, and
of the Scotch jury in particular, in your case. To that one
object I dedicate my life to come, if God spare me!
"Who will help me, when I need help, is more than I yet know.
There was a time when I had hoped that we should go hand in hand
together in doing this good work. That hope is at an end. I no
longer expect you, or ask you, to help me. A man who thinks as
you think can give no help to anybody--it is his miserable
condition to have no hope. So be it! I will hope for two, and
will work for two; and I shall find some one to help me--never
fear--if I deserve it.
"I will say nothing about my plans--I have not read the Trial
yet. It is quite enough for me that I know you are i nnocent.
When a man is innocent, there _must_ be a way of proving it: the
one thing needful is to find the way. Sooner or later, with or
without assistance, I shall find it. Yes! before I know any
single particular of the Case, I tell you positively--I shall
"You may laugh over this blind confidence on my part, or you may
cry over it. I don't pretend to know whether I am an object for
ridicule or an object for pity. Of one thing only I am certain: I
mean to win you back, a man vindicated before the world, without
a stain on his character or his name--thanks to his wife.
"Write to me, sometimes, Eustace; and believe me, through all the
bitterness of this bitter business, your faithful and loving
There was my reply! Poor enough as a composition (I could write a
much better letter now), it had, if I may presume to say so, one
merit. It was the honest expression of what I really meant and
I read it to Benjamin. He held up his hands with his customary
gesture when he was thoroughly bewildered and dismayed. "It seems
the rashest letter that ever was written," said the dear old man.
"I never heard, Valeria, of a woman doing what you propose to do.
Lord help us! the new generation is beyond my fathoming. I wish
your uncle Starkweather was here: I wonder what he would say? Oh,
dear me, what a letter from a wife to a husband! Do you really
mean to send it to him?"
I added immeasurably to my old friend's surprise by not even
employing the post-office. I wished to see the "instructions"
which my husband had left behind him. So I took the letter to his
The firm consisted of two partners. They both received me
together. One was a soft, lean man, with a sour smile. The other
was a hard, fat man, with ill-tempered eyebrows. I took a great
dislike to both of them. On their side, they appeared to feel a
strong distrust of me. We began by disagreeing. They showed me my
husband's "instructions," providing, among other things, for the
payment of one clear half of his income as long as he lived to
his wife. I positively refused to touch a farthing of his money.
The lawyers were unaffectedly shocked and astonished at this
decision. Nothing of the sort had ever happened before in the
whole course of their experience. They argued and remonstrated
with me. The partner with the ill-tempered eyebrows wanted to
know what my reasons were. The partner with the sour smile
reminded his colleague satirically that I was a lady, and had
therefore no reasons to give. I only answered, "Be so good as to
forward my letter, gentlemen," and left them.
I have no wish to claim any credit to myself in these pages which
I do not honestly deserve. The truth is that my pride forbade me
to accept help from Eustace, now that he had left me. My own
little fortune (eight hundred a year) had been settled on myself
when I married. It had been more than I wanted as a single woman,
and I was resolved that it should be enough for me now. Benjamin
had insisted on my considering his cottage as my home. Under
these circumstances, the expenses in which my determination to
clear my husband's character might involve me were the only
expenses for which I had to provide. I could afford to be
independent, and independent I resolved that I would be.
While I am occupied in confessing my weakness and my errors, it
is only right to add that, dearly as I still loved my unhappy,
misguided husband, there was one little fault of his which I
found it not easy to forgive.
Pardoning other things, I could not quite pardon his concealing
from me that he had been married to a first wife. Why I should
have felt this so bitterly as I did, at certain times and
seasons, I am not able to explain. Jealousy was at the bottom of
it, I suppose. And yet I was not conscious of being
jealous--especially when I thought of the poor creature's
miserable death. Still, Eustace ought not to have kept _that_
secret from me, I used to think to myself, at odd times when I
was discouraged and out of temper. What would _he_ have said if I
had been a widow, and had never told him of it?
It was getting on toward evening when I returned to the cottage.
Benjamin appeared to have been on the lookout for me. Before I
could ring at the bell he opened the garden gate.
"Prepare yourself for a surprise, my dear," he said. "Your uncle,
the Reverend Doctor Starkweather, has arrived from the North, and
is waiting to see you. He received your letter this morning, and
he took the first train to London as soon as he had read it."
In another minute my uncle's strong arms were round me. In my
forlorn position, I felt the good vicar's kindness, in traveling
all the way to London to see me, very gratefully. It brought the
tears into my eyes--tears, without bitterness, that did me good.
"I have come, my dear child, to take you back to your old home,"
he said. "No words can tell how fervently I wish you had never
left your aunt and me. Well! well! we won't talk about it. The
mischief is done, and the next thing is to mend it as well as we
can. If I could only get within arm's-length of that husband of
yours, Valeria--There! there! God forgive me, I am forgetting
that I am a clergyman. What shall I forget next, I wonder?
By-the-by, your aunt sends you her dearest love. She is more
superstitious than ever. This miserable business doesn't surprise
her a bit. She says it all began with your making that mistake
about your name in signing the church register. You remember? Was
there ever such stuff? Ah, she's a foolish woman, that wife of
mine! But she means well--a good soul at bottom. She would have
traveled all the way here along with me if I would have let her.
I said, 'No; you stop at home, and look after the house and the
parish, and I'll bring the child back.' You shall have your old
bedroom, Valeria, with the white curtains, you know, looped up
with blue! We will return to the Vicarage (if you can get up in
time) by the nine-forty train to-morrow morning."
Return to the Vicarage! How could I do that? How could I hope to
gain what was now the one object of my existence if I buried
myself in a remote north-country village? It was simply
impossible for me to accompany Doctor Starkweather on his return
to his own house.
"I thank you, uncle, with all my heart," I said. "But I am afraid
I can't leave London for the present."
"You can't leave London for the present?" he repeated. "What does
the girl mean, Mr. Benjamin?" Benjamin evaded a direct reply.
"She is kindly welcome here, Doctor Starkweather," he said, "as
long as she chooses to stay with me."
"That's no answer," retorted my uncle, in his rough-and-ready
way. He turned to me. "What is there to keep you in London?" he
asked. "You used to hate London. I suppose there is some reason?"
It was only due to my good guardian and friend that I should take
him into my confidence sooner or later. There was no help for it
but to rouse my courage, and tell him frankly what I had it in my
mind to do. The vicar listened in breathless dismay. He turned to
Benjamin, with distress as well as surprise in his face, when I
"God help her!" cried the worthy man. "The poor thing's troubles
have turned her brain!"
"I thought you would disapprove of it, sir," said Benjamin, in
his mild and moderate way. "I confess I disapprove of it myself."
"'Disapprove of it' isn't the word," retorted the vicar. "Don't
put it in that feeble way, if you please. An act of
madness--that's what it is, if she really mean what she says." He
turned my way, and looked as he used to look at the afternoon
service when he was catechising an obstinate child. "You don't
mean it," he said, "do you?"
"I am sorry to forfeit your good opinion, uncle," I replied. "But
I must own that I do certainly mean it."
"In plain English," retorted the vicar, "you are conceited enough
to think that you can succeed where the greatest lawyers in
Scotland have failed. _They_ couldn't prove this man's innocence,
all working together. And _you_ are going to prove it
single-handed? Upon my word, you are a wonderful woman," cried my
uncle, suddenly descending from indignation
to irony. "May a plain country parson, who isn't used to lawyers
in petticoats, be permitted to ask how you mean to do it?"
"I mean to begin by reading the Trial, uncle."
"Nice reading for a young woman! You will be wanting a batch of
nasty French novels next. Well, and when you have read the
Trial--what then? Have you thought of that?"
"Yes, uncle; I have thought of that. I shall first try to form
some conclusion (after reading the Trial) as to the guilty person
who really committed the crime. Then I shall make out a list of
the witnesses who spoke in my husband's defense. I shall go to
those witnesses, and tell them who I am and what I want. I shall
ask all sorts of questions which grave lawyers might think it
beneath their dignity to put. I shall be guided, in what I do
next, by the answers I receive. And I shall not be discouraged,
no matter what difficulties are thrown in my way. Those are my
plans, uncle, so far as I know them now."
The vicar and Benjamin looked at each other as if they doubted
the evidence of their own senses. The vicar spoke.
"Do you mean to tell me," he said, "that you are going roaming
about the country to throw yourself on the mercy of strangers,
and to risk whatever rough reception you may get in the course of
your travels? You! A young woman! Deserted by your husband! With
nobody to protect you! Mr. Benjamin, do you hear her? And can you
believe your ears? I declare to Heaven _I_ don't know whether I
am awake or dreaming. Look at her--just look at her! There she
sits as cool and easy as if she had said nothing at all
extraordinary, and was going to do nothing out of the common way!
What am I to do with her?--that's the serious question--what on
earth am I to do with her?"
"Let me try my experiment, uncle, rash as it may look to you," I
said. "Nothing else will comfort and support me; and God knows I
want comfort and support. Don't think me obstinate. I am ready to
admit that there are serious difficulties in my way."
The vicar resumed his ironical tone.
"Oh!" he said. "You admit that, do you? Well, there is something
gained, at any rate."
"Many another woman before me," I went on, "has faced serious
difficulties, and has conquered them--for the sake of the man she
Doctor Starkweather rose slowly to his feet, with the air of a
person whose capacity of toleration had reached its last limits.
"Am I to understand that you are still in love with Mr. Eustace
Macallan?" he asked.
"Yes," I answered.
"The hero of the great Poison Trial?" pursued my uncle. "The man
who has deceived and deserted you? You love him?"
"I love him more dearly than ever."
"Mr. Benjamin," said the vicar, "if she recover her senses
between this and nine o'clock to-morrow morning, send her with
her luggage to Loxley's Hotel, where I am now staying.
Good-night, Valeria. I shall consult with your aunt as to what is
to be done next. I have no more to say."
"Give me a kiss, uncle, at parting."
"Oh yes, I'll give you a kiss. Anything you like, Valeria. I
shall be sixty-five next birthday; and I thought I knew something
of women, at my time of life. It seems I know nothing. Loxley's
Hotel is the address, Mr. Benjamin. Good-night."
Benjamin looked very grave when he returned to me after
accompanying Doctor Starkweather to the garden gate.
"Pray be advised, my dear," he said. "I don't ask you to consider
_my_ view of this matter, as good for much. But your uncle's
opinion is surely worth considering?"
I did not reply. It was useless to say any more. I made up my
mind to be misunderstood and discouraged, and to bear it.
"Good-night, my dear old friend," was all I said to Benjamin.
Then I turned away--I confess with the tears in my eyes--and took
refuge in my bedroom.
The window-blind was up, and the autumn moonlight shone
brilliantly into the little room.
As I stood by the window, looking out, the memory came to me of
another moonlight night, when Eustace and I were walking together
in the Vicarage garden before our marriage. It was the night of
which I have written, many pages back, when there were obstacles
to our union, and when Eustace had offered to release me from my
engagement to him. I saw the dear face again looking at me in the
moonlight; I heard once more his words and mine. "Forgive me," he
had said, "for having loved you--passionately, devotedly loved
you. Forgive me, and let me go."
And I had answered, "Oh, Eustace, I am only a woman--don't madden
me! I can't live without you. I must and will be your wife!" And
now, after marriage had united us, we were parted! Parted, still
loving each as passionately as ever. And why? Because he had been
accused of a crime that he had never committed, and because a
Scotch jury had failed to see that he was an innocent man.
I looked at the lovely moonlight, pursuing these remembrances and
these thoughts. A new ardor burned in me. "No!" I said to myself.
"Neither relations nor friends shall prevail on me to falter and
fail in my husband's cause.
The assertion of his innocence is the work of my life; I will
begin it to-night."
I drew down the blind and lighted the candles. In the quiet
night, alone and unaided, I took my first step on the toilsome
and terrible journey that lay before me. From the title-page to
the end, without stopping to rest and without missing a word, I
read the Trial of my husband for the murder of his wife.
THE STORY OF THE TRIAL. THE PRELIMINARIES.
LET me confess another weakness, on my part, before I begin the
Story of the Trial. I cannot prevail upon myself to copy, for the
second time, the horrible title-page which holds up to public
ignominy my husband's name. I have copied it once in my tenth
chapter. Let once be enough.
Turning to the second page of the Trial, I found a Note, assuring
the reader of the absolute correctness of the Report of the
Proceedings. The compiler described himself as having enjoyed
certain special privileges. Thus, the presiding Judge had himself
revised his charge to the jury. And, again, the chief lawyers for
the prosecution and the defense, following the Judge's example,
had revised their speeches for and against the prisoner. Lastly,
particular care had been taken to secure a literally correct
report of the evidence given by the various witnesses. It was
some relief to me to discover this Note, and to be satisfied at
the outset that the Story of the Trial was, in every particular,
fully and truly given.
The next page interested me more nearly still. It enumerated the
actors in the Judicial Drama--the men who held in their hands my
husband's honor and my husband's life. Here is the List:
THE LORD JUSTICE CLERK,}
LORD DRUMFENNICK, }Judges on the Bench.
LORD NOBLEKIRK, }
THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mintlaw), } DONALD DREW, Esquire
(Advocate-Depute).} Counsel for the Crown.
MR. JAMES ARLISS, W. S., Agent for the Crown.
THE DEAN OF FACULTY (Farmichael), } Counsel for the Panel
ALEXANDER CROCKET, Esquire (Advocate),} (otherwise the Prisoner)
MR. THORNIEBANK, W. S.,}
MR. PLAYMORE, W. S., } Agents for the Panel.
The Indictment against the prisoner then followed. I shall not
copy the uncouth language, full of needless repetitions (and, if
I know anything of the subject, not guiltless of bad grammar as
well), in which my innocent husband was solemnly and falsely
accused of poisoning his first wife. The less there is of that
false and hateful Indictment on this page, the better and truer
the page will look, to _my_ eyes.
To be brief, then, Eustace Macallan was "indicted and accused, at
the instance of David Mintlaw, Esquire, Her Majesty's Advocate,
for Her Majesty's interest," of the Murder of his Wife by poison,
at his residence called Gleninch, in the county of Mid-Lothian.
The poison was alleged to have been wickedly and feloniously
given by the prisoner to his wife Sara, on two occasions, in the
form of arsenic, administered in tea, medicine, "or other article
or articles of food or drink, to the prosecutor unknown." It was
further declared that the prisoner's wife had died of the poison
thus administered b y her husband, on one or other, or both, of
the stated occasions; and that she was thus murdered by her
husband. The next paragraph asserted that the said Eustace
Macallan, taken before John Daviot, Esquire, advocate,
Sheriff-Substitute of Mid-Lothian, did in his presence at
Edinburgh (on a given date, viz., the 29th of October), subscribe
a Declaration stating his innocence of the alleged crime: this
Declaration being reserved in the Indictment--together with
certain documents, papers and articles, enumerated in an
Inventory--to be used in evidence against the prisoner. The
Indictment concluded by declaring that, in the event of the
offense charged against the prisoner being found proven by the
Verdict, he, the said Eustace Macallan, "ought to be punished
with the pains of the law, to deter others from committing like
crimes in all time coming."
So much for the Indictment! I have done with it--and I am
rejoiced to be done with it.
An Inventory of papers, documents, and articles followed at great
length on the next three pages. This, in its turn, was succeeded
by the list of the witnesses, and by the names of the jurors
(fifteen in number) balloted for to try the case. And then, at
last, the Report of the Trial began. It resolved itself, to my
mind, into three great Questions. As it appeared to me at the
time, so let me present it here.
FIRST QUESTION--DID THE WOMAN DIE POISONED?
THE proceedings began at ten o'clock. The prisoner was placed at
the Bar, before the High Court of Justiciary, at Edinburgh. He
bowed respectfully to the Bench, and pleaded Not Guilty, in a low
It was observed by every one present that the prisoner's face
betrayed traces of acute mental suffering. He was deadly pale.
His eyes never once wandered to the crowd in the Court. When
certain witnesses appeared against him, he looked at them with a
momentary attention. At other times he kept his eyes on the
ground. When the evidence touched on his wife's illness and
death, he was deeply affected, and covered his face with his
hands. It was a subject of general remark and general surprise
that the prisoner, in this case (although a man), showed far less
self-possession than the last prisoner tried in that Court for
murder--a woman, who had been convicted on overwhelming evidence.
There were persons present (a small minority only) who considered
this want of composure on the part of the prisoner to be a sign
in his favor. Self-possession, in his dreadful position,
signified, to their minds, the stark insensibility of a heartless
and shameless criminal, and afforded in itself a presumption, not
of innocence, but of guilt.
The first witness called was John Daviot, Esquire,
Sheriff-Substitute of Mid-Lothian. He was examined by the Lord
Advocate (as counsel for the prosecution); and said:
"The prisoner was brought before me on the present charge. He
made and subscribed a Declaration on the 29th of October. It was
freely and voluntarily made, the prisoner having been first duly
warned and admonished."
Having identified the Declaration, the Sheriff-Substitute--being
cross-examined by the Dean of Faculty (as counsel for the
defense)--continued his evidence in these words:
"The charge against the prisoner was Murder. This was
communicated to him before he made the Declaration. The questions
addressed to the prisoner were put partly by me, partly by
another officer, the procurator-fiscal. The answers were given
distinctly, and, so far as I could judge, without reserve. The
statements put forward in the Declaration were all made in answer
to questions asked by the procurator-fiscal or by myself."
A clerk in the Sheriff-Clerk's office then officially produced
the Declaration, and corroborated the evidence of the witness who
had preceded him.
The appearance of the next witness created a marked sensation in
the Court. This was no less a person than the nurse who had
attended Mrs. Macallan in her last illness--by name Christina
After the first formal answers, the nurse (examined by the Lord
Advocate) proceeded to say:
"I was first sent for to attend the deceased lady on the 7th of
October. She was then suffering from a severe cold, accompanied
by a rheumatic affection of the left knee-joint. Previous to this
I understood that her health had been fairly good. She was not a
very difficult person to nurse when you got used to her, and
understood how to manage her. The main difficulty was caused by
her temper. She was not a sullen person; she was headstrong and
violent--easily excited to fly into a passion, and quite reckless
in her fits of anger as to what she said or did. At such times I
really hardly think she knew what she was about. My own idea is
that her temper was made still more irritable by unhappiness in
her married life. She was far from being a reserved person.
Indeed, she was disposed (as I thought) to be a little too
communicative about herself and her troubles with persons like me
who were beneath her in station. She did not scruple, for
instance, to tell me (when we had been long enough together to
get used to each other) that she was very unhappy, and fretted a
good deal about her husband. One night, when she was wakeful and
restless, she said to me--"
The Dean of Faculty here interposed, speaking on the prisoner's
behalf. He appealed to the Judges to say whether such loose and
unreliable evidence as this was evidence which could be received
by the Court.
The Lord Advocate (speaking on behalf of the Crown) claimed it as
his right to produce the evidence. It was of the utmost
importance in this case to show (on the testimony of an
unprejudiced witness) on what terms the husband and wife were
living. The witness was a most respectable woman. She had won,
and deserved, the confidence of the unhappy lady whom she
attended on her death-bed.
After briefly consulting together, the Judges unanimously decided
that the evidence could not be admitted. What the witness had
herself seen and observed of the relations between the husband
and wife was the only evidence that they could receive.
The Lord Advocate thereupon continued his examination of the
witness. Christina Ormsay resumed her evidence as follows:
"My position as nurse led necessarily to my seeing more of Mrs.
Macallan than any other person in the house. I am able to speak
from experience of many things not known to others who were only
in her room at intervals.
"For instance, I had more than one opportunity of personally
observing that Mr. and Mrs. Macallan did not live together very
happily. I can give you an example of this, not drawn from what
others told me, but from what I noticed for myself.
"Toward the latter part of my attendance on Mrs. Macallan, a
young widow lady named Mrs. Beauly--a cousin of Mr.
Macallan's--came to stay at Gleninch. Mrs. Macallan was jealous
of this lady; and she showed it in my presence only the day
before her death, when Mr. Macallan came into her room to inquire
how she had passed the night. 'Oh,' she said, 'never mind how _I_
have slept! What do you care whether I sleep well or ill? How has
Mrs. Beauly passed the night? Is she more beautiful than ever
this morning? Go back to her--pray go back to her! Don't waste
your time with me!' Beginning in that manner, she worked herself
into one of her furious rages. I was brushing her hair at the
time; and feeling that my presence was an impropriety under the
circumstances, I attempted to leave the room. She forbade me to
go. Mr. Macallan felt, as I did, that my duty was to withdraw,
and he said so in plain words. Mrs. Macallan insisted on my
staying in language so insolent to her husband that he said, 'If
you cannot control yourself, either the nurse leaves the room or
I do.' She refused to yield even then. 'A good excuse,' she said,
'for getting back to Mrs. Beauly. Go!' He took her at her word,
and walked out of the room. He had barely closed the door before
she began reviling him to me in the most shocking manner. She
declared, among other things she said of him, that the news of
all others which he would be most glad to hear would be the news
of her death. I ventured, quite respectfully, on r emonstrating
with her. She took up the hair-brush and threw it at me, and then
and there dismissed me from my attendance on her. I left her, and
waited below until her fit of passion had worn itself out. Then I
returned to my place at the bedside, and for a while things went
on again as usual.
"It may not be amiss to add a word which may help to explain Mrs.
Macallan's jealousy of her husband's cousin. Mrs. Macallan was a
very plain woman. She had a cast in one of her eyes, and (if I
may use the expression) one of the most muddy, blotchy
complexions it was ever my misfortune to see in a person's face.
Mrs. Beauly, on the other hand, was a most attractive lady. Her
eyes were universally admired, and she had a most beautifully
clear and delicate color. Poor Mrs. Macallan said of her, most
untruly, that she painted.
"No; the defects in the complexion of the deceased lady were not
in any way attributable to her illness. I should call them born
and bred defects in herself.
"Her illness, if I am asked to describe it, I should say was
troublesome--nothing more. Until the last day there were no
symptoms in the least degree serious about the malady that had
taken her. Her rheumatic knee was painful, of course--acutely
painful, if you like--when she moved it; and the confinement to
bed was irksome enough, no doubt. But otherwise there was nothing
in the lady's condition, before the fatal attack came, to alarm
her or anybody about her. She had her books and her writing
materials on an invalid table, which worked on a pivot, and could
be arranged in any position most agreeable to her. At times she
read and wrote a good deal. At other times she lay quiet,
thinking her own thoughts, or talking with me, and with one or
two lady friends in the neighborhood who came regularly to see
"Her writing, so far as I knew, was almost entirely of the
poetical sort. She was a great hand at composing poetry. On one
occasion only she showed me some of her poems. I am no judge of
such things. Her poetry was of the dismal kind, despairing about
herself, and wondering why she had ever been born, and nonsense
like that. Her husband came in more than once for some hard hits
at his cruel heart and his ignorance of his wife's merits. In
short, she vented her discontent with her pen as well as with her
tongue. There were times--and pretty often too--when an angel
from heaven would have failed to have satisfied Mrs. Macallan.
"Throughout the period of her illness the deceased lady occupied
the same room--a large bedroom situated (like all the best
bedrooms) on the first floor of the house.
"Yes: the plan of the room now shown to me is quite accurately
taken, according to my remembrance of it. One door led into the
great passage, or corridor, on which all the doors opened. A
second door, at one side (marked B on the plan), led to Mr.
Macallan's sleeping-room. A third door, on the opposite side
(marked C on the plan), communicated with a little study, or
book-room, used, as I was told, by Mr. Macallan's mother when she
was staying at Gleninch, but seldom or never entered by any one
else. Mr. Macallan's mother was not at Gleninch while I was
there. The door between the bedroom and this study was locked,
and the key was taken out. I don't know who had the key, or
whether there were more keys than one in existence. The door was
never opened to my knowledge. I only got into the study, to look
at it along with the housekeeper, by entering through a second
door that opened on to the corridor.
"I beg to say that I can speak from my own knowledge positively
about Mrs. Macallan's illness, and about the sudden change which
ended in her death. By the doctor's advice I made notes at the
time of dates and hours, and such like. I looked at my notes
before coming here.
"From the 7th of October, when I was first called in to nurse
her, to the 20th of the same month, she slowly but steadily
improved in health. Her knee was still painful, no doubt; but the
inflammatory look of it was disappearing. As to the other
symptoms, except weakness from lying in bed, and irritability of
temper, there was really nothing the matter with her. She slept
badly, I ought perhaps to add. But we remedied this by means of
composing draughts prescribed for that purpose by the doctor.
"On the morning of the 21st, at a few minutes past six, I got my
first alarm that something was going wrong with Mrs. Macallan.
"I was awoke at the time I have mentioned by the ringing of the
hand-bell which she kept on her bed-table. Let me say for myself
that I had only fallen asleep on the sofa in the bedroom at past
two in the morning from sheer fatigue. Mrs. Macallan was then
awake. She was in one of her bad humors with me. I had tried to
prevail on her to let me remove her dressing-case from her
bed-table, after she had used it in making her toilet for the
night. It took up a great deal of room; and she could not
possibly want it again before the morning. But no; she insisted
on my letting it be. There was a glass inside the case; and,
plain as she was, she never wearied of looking at herself in that
glass. I saw that she was in a bad state of temper, so I gave her
her way, and let the dressing-case be. Finding that she was too
sullen to speak to me after that, and too obstinate to take her
composing draught from me when I offered it, I laid me down on
the sofa at her bed foot, and fell asleep, as I have said.
"The moment her bell rang I was up and at the bedside, ready to
make myself useful.
"I asked what was the matter with her. She complained of
faintness and depression, and said she felt sick. I inquired if
she had taken anything in the way of physic or food while I had
been asleep. She answered that her husband had come in about an
hour since, and, finding her still sleepless, had himself
administered the composing draught. Mr. Macallan (sleeping in the
next room) joined us while she was speaking. He too had been
aroused by the bell. He heard what Mrs. Macallan said to me about
the composing draught, and made no remark upon it. It seemed to
me that he was alarmed at his wife's faintness. I suggested that
she should take a little wine, or brandy and water. She answered
that she could swallow nothing so strong as wine or brandy,
having a burning pain in her stomach already. I put my hand on
her stomach--quite lightly. She screamed when I touched her.
"This symptom alarmed us. We went to the village for the medical
man who had attended Mrs. Macallan during her illness: one Mr.
"The doctor seemed no better able to account for the change for
the worse in his patient than we were. Hearing her complain of
thirst, he gave her some milk. Not long after taking it she was
sick. The sickness appeared to relieve her. She soon grew drowsy
and slumbered. Mr. Gale left us, with strict injunctions to send
for him instantly if she was taken ill again.
"Nothing of the sort happened; no change took place for the next
three hours or more. She roused up toward half-past nine and
inquired about her husband. I informed her that he had returned
to his own room, and asked if I should send for him. She said
'No.' I asked next if she would like anything to eat or drink.
She said 'No' again, in rather a vacant, stupefied way, and then
told me to go downstairs and get my breakfast. On my way down I
met the housekeeper. She invited me to breakfast with her in her
room, instead of in the servants' hall as usual. I remained with
the housekeeper but a short time--certainly not more than half an
"Coming upstairs again, I met the under-housemaid sweeping on one
of the landings.
"The girl informed me that Mrs. Macallan had taken a cup of tea
during my absence in the housekeeper's room. Mr. Macallan's valet
had ordered the tea for his mistress by his master's directions.
The under-housemaid made it, and took it upstairs herself to Mrs.
Macallan's room. Her master, she said, opened the door when she
knocked, and took the tea-cup from her with his own hand. He
opened the door widely enough for her to see into the bedroom,
and to notice that nobody was with Mrs. Macallan but himself.
"After a little talk with the under-housemaid, I returned to the
bedroom. No one was there. Mrs. Macallan was lying perfectly
quiet, with her face turned away from me on the pillow.
Approaching the bedside, I kicked against something on the floor.
It was a broken tea-cup. I said to Mrs. Macallan, 'How comes the
tea-cup to be broken, ma'am?' She answered, without turning
toward me, in an odd, muffled kind of voice, 'I dropped it.'
'Before you drank your tea, ma'am?' I asked. 'No,' she said; 'in
handing the cup back to Mr. Macallan, after I had done.' I had
put my question, wishing to know, in case she had spilled the tea
when she dropped the cup, whether it would be necessary to get
her any more. I am quite sure I remember correctly my question
and her answer. I inquired next if she had been long alone. She
said, shortly, 'Yes; I have been trying to sleep.' I said, 'Do
you feel pretty comfortable?' She answered, 'Yes,' again. All
this time she still kept her face sulkily turned from me toward
the wall. Stooping over her to arrange the bedclothes, I looked
toward her table. The writing materials which were always kept on
it were disturbed, and there was wet ink on one of the pens. I
said, 'Surely you haven't been writing, ma'am?' 'Why not?' she
said; 'I couldn't sleep.' 'Another poem?' I asked. She laughed to
herself--a bitter, short laugh. 'Yes,' she said, 'another poem.'
'That's good,' I said; 'it looks as if you were getting quite
like yourself again. We shan't want the doctor any more to-day.'
She made no answer to this, except an impatient sign with her
hand. I didn't understand the sign. Upon that she spoke again,
and crossly enough, too--'I want to be alone; leave me.'
"I had no choice but to do as I was told. To the best of my
observation, there was nothing the matter with her, and nothing
for the nurse to do. I put the bell-rope within reach of her
hand, and I went downstairs again.
"Half an hour more, as well as I can guess it, passed. I kept
within hearing of the bell; but it never rang. I was not quite at
my ease--without exactly knowing why. That odd, muffled voice in
which she had spoken to me hung on my mind, as it were. I was not
quite satisfied about leaving her alone for too long a time
together--and then, again, I was unwilling to risk throwing her
into one of her fits of passion by going back before she rang for
me. It ended in my venturing into the room on the ground-floor
called the Morning-Room, to consult Mr. Macallan. He was usually
to be found there in the forenoon of the day.
"On this occasion, however, when I looked into the Morning-Room
it was empty.
"At the same moment I heard the master's voice on the terrace
outside. I went out, and found him speaking to one Mr. Dexter, an
old friend of his, and (like Mrs. Beauly) a guest staying in the
house. Mr. Dexter was sitting at the window of his room upstairs
(he was a cripple, and could only move himself about in a chair
on wheels), and Mr. Macallan was speaking to him from the terrace
"'Dexter!' I heard Mr. Macallan say. 'Where is Mrs. Beauly? Have
you seen anything of her?'
"Mr. Dexter answered, in his quick, off-hand way of speaking,
'Not I. I know nothing about her.'
"Then I advanced, and, begging pardon for intruding, I mentioned
to Mr. Macallan the difficulty I was in about going back or not
to his wife's room without waiting until she rang for me. Before
he could advise me in the matter, the footman made his appearance
and informed me that Mrs. Macallan's bell was then ringing--and
"It was then close on eleven o'clock. As fast as I could mount
the stairs I hastened back to the bedroom.
"Before I opened the door I heard Mrs. Macallan groaning. She was
in dreadful pain; feeling a burning heat in the stomach and in
the throat, together with the same sickness which had troubled
her in the early morning. Though no doctor, I could see in her
face that this second attack was of a far more serious nature
than the first. After ringing the bell for a messenger to send to
Mr. Macallan, I ran to the door to see if any of the servants
happened to be within call.
"The only person I saw in the corridor was Mrs. Beauly. She was
on her way from her own room, she said, to inquire after Mrs.
Macallan's health. I said to her, 'Mrs. Macallan is seriously ill
again, ma'am. Would you please tell Mr. Macallan, and send for
the doctor?' She ran downstairs at once to do as I told her.
"I had not been long back at the bedside when Mr. Macallan and
Mrs. Beauly both came in together. Mrs. Macallan cast a strange
look on them (a look I cannot at all describe), and bade them
leave her. Mrs. Beauly, looking very much frightened, withdrew
immediately. Mr. Macallan advanced a step or two nearer to the
bed. His wife looked at him again in the same strange way, and
cried out--half as if she was threatening him, half as if she was
entreating him--'Leave me with the nurse. Go!' He only waited to
say to me in a whisper, 'The doctor is sent for,' and then he
left the room.
"Before Mr. Gale arrived Mrs. Macallan was violently sick. What
came from her was muddy and frothy, and faintly streaked with
blood. When Mr. Gale saw it he looked very serious. I heard him
say to himself, 'What does this mean?' He did his best to relieve
Mrs. Macallan, but with no good result that I could see. After a
time she seemed to suffer less. Then more sickness came on. Then
there was another intermission. Whether she was suffering or not,
I observed that her hands and feet (whenever I touched them)
remained equally cold. Also, the doctor's report of her pulse was
always the same--'very small and feeble.' I said to Mr. Gale,
'What is to be done, sir?' And Mr. Gale said to me, 'I won't take
the responsibility on myself any longer; I must have a physician
"The fastest horse in the stables at Gleninch was put into a
dog-cart, and the coachman drove away full speed to Edinburgh to
fetch the famous Doctor Jerome.
"While we were waiting for the physician, Mr. Macallan came into
his wife's room with Mr. Gale. Exhausted as she was, she
instantly lifted her hand and signed to him to leave her. He
tried by soothing words to persuade her to let him stay. No! She
still insisted on sending him out of her room. He seemed to feel
it--at such a time, and in the presence of the doctor. Before she
was aware of him, he suddenly stepped up to the bedside and
kissed her on the forehead. She shrank from him with a scream.
Mr. Gale interfered, and led him out of the room.
"In the afternoon Doctor Jerome arrived.
"The great physician came just in time to see her seized with
another attack of sickness. He watched her attentively, without
speaking a word. In the interval when the sickness stopped, he
still studied her, as it were, in perfect silence. I thought he
would never have done examining her. When he was at last
satisfied, he told me to leave him alone with Mr. Gale. 'We will
ring,' he said, 'when we want you here again.'
"It was a long time before they rang for me. The coachman was
sent for before I was summoned back to the bedroom. He was
dispatched to Edinburgh for the second time, with a written
message from Dr. Jerome to his head servant, saying that there
was no chance of his returning to the city and to his patients
for some hours to come. Some of us thought this looked badly for
Mrs. Macallan. Others said it might mean that the doctor had
hopes of saving her, but expected to be a long time in doing it.
"At last I was sent for. On my presenting myself in the bedroom,
Doctor Jerome went out to speak to Mr. Macallan, leaving Mr. Gale
along with me. From that time as long as the poor lady lived I
was never left alone with her. One of the two doctors was always
in her room. Refreshments were prepared for them; but still they
took it in turns to eat their meal, one relieving the other at
the bedside. If they had administered remedies to their patient,
I should not have been surprised by this proceeding. But they
were at the end of their remedies; their only business the seemed
to be to keep watch. I was puzzled to account for this. Keeping
watch was the nurse's business. I thought the conduct of the
doctors very strange.
" By the time that the lamp was lighted in the sick-room I could
see that the end was near. Excepting an occasional feeling of
cramp in her legs, she seemed to suffer less. But her eyes looked
sunk in her head; her skin was cold and clammy; her lips had
turned to a bluish paleness. Nothing roused her now--excepting
the last attempt made by her husband to see her. He came in with
Doctor Jerome, looking like a man terror-struck. She was past
speaking; but the moment she saw him she feebly made signs and
sounds which showed that she was just as resolved as ever not to
let him come near her. He was so overwhelmed that Mr. Gale was
obliged to help him out of the room. No other person was allowed
to see the patient. Mr. Dexter and Mrs. Beauly made their
inquiries outside the door, and were not invited in. As the
evening drew on the doctors sat on either side of the bed,
silently watching her, silently waiting for her death.
"Toward eight o'clock she seemed to have lost the use of her
hands and arms: they lay helpless outside the bed-clothes. A
little later she sank into a sort of dull sleep. Little by little
the sound of her heavy breathing grew fainter. At twenty minutes
past nine Doctor Jerome told me to bring the lamp to the bedside.
He looked at her, and put his hand on her heart. Then he said to
me, 'You can go downstairs, nurse: it is all over.' He turned to
Mr. Gale. 'Will you inquire if Mr. Macallan can see us?' he said.
I opened the door for Mr. Gale, and followed him out. Doctor
Jerome called me back for a moment, and told me to give him the
key of the door. I did so, of course; but I thought this also
very strange. When I got down to the servants' hall I found there
was a general feeling that something was wrong. We were all
uneasy--without knowing why.
"A little later the two doctors left the house. Mr. Macallan had
been quite incapable of receiving them and hearing what they had
to say. In this difficulty they had spoken privately with Mr.
Dexter, as Mr. Macallan's old friend, and the only gentleman then
staying at Gleninch.
"Before bed-time I went upstairs to prepare the remains of the
deceased lady for the coffin. The room in which she lay was
locked, the door leading into Mr. Macallan's room being secured,
as well as the door leading into the corridor. The keys had been
taken away by Mr. Gale. Two of the men-servants were posted
outside the bedroom to keep watch. They were to be relieved at
four in the morning--that was all they could tell me.
"In the absence of any explanations or directions, I took the
liberty of knocking at the door of Mr. Dexter's room. From his
lips I first heard the startling news. Both the doctors had
refused to give the usual certificate of death! There was to be a
medical examination of the body the next morning."
There the examination of the nurse, Christina Ormsay, came to an
Ignorant as I was of the law, I could see what impression the
evidence (so far) was intended to produce on the minds of the
jury. After first showing that my husband had had two
opportunities of administering the poison--once in the medicine
and once in the tea--the counsel for the Crown led the jury to
infer that the prisoner had taken those opportunities to rid
himself of an ugly and jealous wife, whose detestable temper he
could no longer endure.
Having directed his examination to the attainment of this object,
the Lord Advocate had done with the witness. The Dean of
Faculty--acting in the prisoner's interests--then rose to bring
out the favorable side of the wife's character by cross-examining
the nurse. If he succeeded in this attempt, the jury might
reconsider their conclusion that the wife was a person who had
exasperated her husband beyond endurance. In that case, where (so
far) was the husband's motive for poisoning her? and where was
the presumption of the prisoner's guilt?
Pressed by this skillful lawyer, the nurse was obliged to exhibit
my husband's first wife under an entirely new aspect. Here is the
substance of what the Dean of Faculty extracted from Christina
"I persist in declaring that Mrs. Macallan had a most violent
temper. But she was certainly in the habit of making amends for
the offense that she gave by her violence. When she was quiet
again she always made her excuses to me, and she made them with a
good grace. Her manners were engaging at such times as these. She
spoke and acted like a well-bred lady. Then, again, as to her
personal appearance. Plain as she was in face, she had a good
figure; her hands and feet, I was told, had been modeled by a
sculptor. She had a very pleasant voice, and she was reported
when in health to sing beautifully. She was also (if her maid's
account was to be trusted) a pattern in the matter of dressing
for the other ladies in the neighborhood. Then, as to Mrs.
Beauly, though she was certainly jealous of the beautiful young
widow, she had shown at the same time that she was capable of
controlling that feeling. It was through Mrs. Macallan that Mrs.
Beauly was in the house. Mrs. Beauly had wished to postpone her
visit on account of the state of Mrs. Macallan's health. It was
Mrs. Macallan herself--not her husband--who decided that Mrs.
Beauly should not be disappointed, and should pay her visit to
Gleninch then and there. Further, Mrs. Macallan (in spite of her
temper) was popular with her friends and popular with her
servants. There was hardly a dry eye in the house when it was
known she was dying. And, further still, in those little domestic
disagreements at which the nurse had been present, Mr. Macallan
had never lost his temper, and had never used harsh language: he
seemed to be more sorry than angry when the quarrels took
place."--Moral for the jury: Was this the sort of woman who would
exasperate a man into poisoning her? And was this the sort of man
who would be capable of poisoning his wife?
Having produced this salutary counter-impression, the Dean of
Faculty sat down; and the medical witnesses were called next.
Here the evidence was simply irresistible.
Dr. Jerome and Mr. Gale positively swore that the symptoms of the
illness were the symptoms of poisoning by arsenic. The surgeon
who had performed the post-mortem examination followed. He
positively swore that the appearance of the internal organs
proved Doctor Jerome and Mr. Gale to be right in declaring that
their patient had died poisoned. Lastly, to complete this
overwhelming testimony, two analytical chemists actually produced
in Court the arsenic which they had found in the body, in a
quantity admittedly sufficient to have killed two persons instead
of one. In the face of such evidence as this, cross-examination
was a mere form. The first Question raised by the Trial--Did the
Woman Die Poisoned?--was answered in the affirmative, and
answered beyond the possibility of doubt.
The next witnesses called were witnesses concerned with the
question that now followed--the obscure and terrible question,
Who Poisoned Her?
SECOND QUESTION--WHO POISONED HER?.
THE evidence of the doctors and the chemists closed the
proceedings on the first day of the Trial.
On the second day the evidence to be produced by the prosecution
was anticipated with a general feeling of curiosity and interest.
The Court was now to hear what had been seen and done by the
persons officially appointed to verify such cases of suspected
crime as the case which had occurred at Gleninch. The
Procurator-Fiscal--being the person officially appointed to
direct the preliminary investigations of the law--was the first
witness called on the second day of the Trial.
Examined by the Lord Advocate, the Fiscal gave his evidence, as
"On the twenty-sixth of October I received a communication from
Doctor Jerome, of Edinburgh, and from Mr. Alexander Gale, medical
practitioner, residing in the village or hamlet of Dingdovie,
near Edinburgh. The communication related to the death, under
circumstances of suspicion, of Mrs. Eustace Macallan, at her
husband's house, hard by Dingdovie, called Gleninch. There were
also forwarded to me, inclosed in the document just mentioned,
two reports. One described the results of a postmortem
examination of the deceased lady, and the other stated the
discoveries made after a chemical analysis of certain of the
interior organs of her body. The result in both instances proved
to demonstration that Mrs. Eustace Macallan had died of poisoning
"Under these circumstances, I set in motion a search and inquiry
in the house at Gleninch and elsewhere, simply for the purpose of
throwing light on the circumstances which had attended the lady's
"No criminal charge in connection with the death was made at my
office against any person, either in the communication which I
received from the medical men or in any other form. The
investigations at Gleninch and elsewhere, beginning on the
twenty-sixth of October, were not completed until the
twenty-eighth. Upon this latter date--acting on certain
discoveries which were reported to me, and on my own examination
of letters and other documents brought to my office--I made a
criminal charge against the prisoner, and obtained a warrant for
his apprehension. He was examined before the Sheriff on the
twenty-ninth of October, and was committed for trial before this
The Fiscal having made his statement, and having been
cross-examined (on technical matters only), the persons employed
in his office were called next. These men had a story of
startling interest to tell. Theirs were the fatal discoveries
which had justified the Fiscal in charging my husband with the
murder of his wife. The first of the witnesses was a sheriff's
officer. He gave his name as Isaiah Schoolcraft.
Examined by Mr. Drew--Advocate-Depute, and counsel for the Crown,
with the Lord Advocate--Isaiah Schoolcraft said:
"I got a warrant on the twenty-sixth of October to go to the
country-house near Edinburgh called Gleninch. I took with me
Robert Lorrie, assistant to the Fiscal. We first examined the
room in which Mrs. Eustace Macallan had died. On the bed, and on
a movable table which was attached to it, we found books and
writing materials, and a paper containing some unfinished verses
in manuscript, afterward identified as being in the handwriting
of the deceased. We inclosed these articles in paper, and sealed
"We next opened an Indian cabinet in the bedroom. Here we found
many more verses on many more sheets of paper in the same
hand-writing. We also discovered, first some letters, and next a
crumpled piece of paper thrown aside in a corner of one of the
shelves. On closer examination, a chemist's printed label was
discovered on this morsel of paper. We also found in the folds of
it a few scattered grains of some white powder. The paper and the
letters were carefully inclosed, and sealed up as before.
"Further investigation of the room revealed nothing which could
throw any light on the purpose of our inquiry. We examined the
clothes, jewelry, and books of the deceased. These we left under
lock and key. We also found her dressing-case, which we protected
by seals, and took away with us to the Fiscal's office, along
with all the other articles that we had discovered in the room.
"The next day we continued our examination in the house, having
received in the interval fresh instructions from the Fiscal. We
began our work in the bedroom communicating with the room in
which Mrs. Macallan had died. It had been kept locked since the
death. Finding nothing of any importance here, we went next to
another room on the same floor, in which we were informed the
prisoner was then lying ill in bed.
"His illness was described to us as a nervous complaint, caused
by the death of his wife, and by the proceedings which had
followed it. He was reported to be quite incapable of exerting
himself, and quite unfit to see strangers. We insisted
nevertheless (in deference to our instructions) on obtaining
admission to his room. He made no reply when we inquired whether
he had or had not removed anything from the sleeping-room next to
his late wife's, which he usually occupied, to the sleeping-room
in which he now lay. All he did was to close his eyes, as if he
were too feeble to speak to us or to notice us. Without further
disturbing him, we began to examine the room and the different
objects in it.
"While we were so employed, we were interrupted by a strange
sound. We likened it to the rumbling of wheels in the corridor
"The door opened, and there came swiftly in a gentleman--a
cripple--wheeling himself along in a chair. He wheeled his chair
straight up to a little table which stood by the prisoner's
bedside, and said something to him in a whisper too low to be
overheard. The prisoner opened his eyes, and quickly answered by
a sign. We informed the crippled gentleman, quite respectfully,
that we could not allow him to be in the room at this time. He
appeared to think nothing of what we said. He only answered, 'My
name is Dexter. I am one of Mr. Macallan's old friends. It is you
who are intruding here--not I.' We again notified to him that he
must leave the room; and we pointed out particularly that he had
got his chair in such a position against the bedside table as to
prevent us from examining it. He only laughed. 'Can't you see for
yourselves,' he said, 'that it is a table, and nothing more?' In
reply to this we warned him that we were acting under a legal
warrant, and that he might get into trouble if he obstructed us
in the execution of our duty. Finding there was no moving him by
fair means, I took his chair and pulled it away, while Robert
Lorrie laid hold of the table and carried it to the other end of
the room. The crippled gentleman flew into a furious rage with me
for presuming to touch his chair. 'My chair is Me,' he said: 'how
dare you lay hands on Me?' I first opened the door, and then, by
way of accommodating him, gave the chair a good push behind with
my stick instead of my hand, and so sent it and him safely and
swiftly out of the room.
"Having locked the door, so as to prevent any further intrusion,
I joined Robert Lorrie in examining the bedside table. It had one
drawer in it, and that drawer we found secured.
"We asked the prisoner for the key.
"He flatly refused to give it to us, and said we had no right to
unlock his drawers. He was so angry that he even declared it was
lucky for us he was too weak to rise from his bed. I answered
civilly that our duty obliged us to examine the drawer, and that
if he still declined to produce the key, he would only oblige us
to take the table away and have the lock opened by a smith.
"While we were still disputing there was a knock at the door of
"I opened the door cautiously. Instead of the crippled gentleman,
whom I had expected to see again, there was another stranger
standing outside. The prisoner hailed him as a friend and
neighbor, and eagerly called upon him for protection from us. We
found this second gentleman pleasant enough to deal with. He
informed us readily that he had been sent for by Mr. Dexter, and
that he was himself a lawyer, and he asked to see our warrant.
Having looked at it, he at once informed the prisoner (evidently
very much to the prisoner's surprise) that he must submit to have
the drawer examined, under protest. And then, without more ado,
he got the key, and opened the table drawer for us himself.
"We found inside several letters, and a large book with a lock to
it, having the words 'My Diary' inscribed on it in gilt letters.
As a matter of course, we took possession of the letters and the
Diary, and sealed them up, to be given to the Fiscal. At the same
time the gentleman wrote out a protest on the prisoner's behalf,
and handed us his card. The card informed us that he was Mr.
Playmore, now one of the Agents for the prisoner. The card and
the protest were deposited, with the other documents, in the care
of the Fiscal. No other discoveries of any importance were made
"Our next inquiries took us to Edinburgh--to the druggist whose
label we had found on the crumpled morsel of paper, and to other
druggists likewise whom we were instructed to question. On the
twenty-eighth of October the Fiscal was in possession of all the
information that we could collect, and our duties for the time
being came to an end."
This concluded the evidence of Schoolcraft and Lorrie. It was not
shaken on cross-examination, and it was plainly unfavorable to
Matters grew worse still when the next witnesses were called. The
druggist whose label had been found on the crumpled bit of paper
now appeared on the stand, to make the position of my unhappy
husband more critical than ever.
Andrew Kinlay, druggist, of Edinburgh, deposed as follows:
"I keep a special registry book of the poisons sold by me. I
produce the book. On the date therein mentioned the prisoner at
the bar, Mr. Eustace Macallan, came into my shop, and said that
he wished to purchase some arsenic. I asked him what it was
wanted for. He told me it was wanted by his gardener, to be used,
in solution, for the killing of insects in the greenhouse. At the
same time he mentioned his name--Mr. Macallan, of Gleninch. I at
once directed my assistant to put up the arsenic (two ounces of
it), and I made the necessary entry in my book. Mr. Macallan
signed the entry, and I signed it afterward as witness. He paid
for the arsenic, and took it away with him wrapped up in two
papers, the outer wrapper being labeled with my name and address,
and with the word 'Poison' in large letters--exactly like the
label now produced on the piece of paper found at Gleninch."
The next witness, Peter Stockdale (also a druggist of Edinburgh),
followed, and said:
"The prisoner at the bar called at my shop on the date indicated
on my register, some days later than the date indicated in the
register of Mr. Kinlay. He wished to purchase sixpenny-worth of
arsenic. My assistant, to whom he had addressed himself, called
me. It is a rule in my shop that no one sells poisons but myself.
I asked the prisoner what he wanted the arsenic for. He answered
that he wanted it for killing rats at his house, called Gleninch.
I said, 'Have I the honor of speaking to Mr. Macallan, of
Gleninch?' He said that was his name. I sold him the
arsenic--about an ounce and a half--and labeled the bottle in
which I put it with the word 'Poison' in my own handwriting. He
signed the register, and took the arsenic away with him, after
paying for it."
The cross-examination of the two men succeeded in asserting
certain technical objections to their evidence. But the terrible
fact that my husband himself had actually purchased the arsenic
in both cases remained unshaken.
The next witnesses--the gardener and the cook at Gleninch--wound
the chain of hostile evidence around the prisoner more
On examination the gardener said, on his oath:
"I never received any arsenic from the prisoner, or from any one
else, at the date to which you refer, of at any other date. I
never used any such thing as a solution of arsenic, or ever
allowed the men working under me to use it, in the conservatories
or in the garden at Gleninch. I disapprove of arsenic as a means
of destroying noxious insects infesting flowers and plants."
The cook, being called next, spoke as positively as the gardener:
"Neither my master nor any other person gave me any arsenic to
destroy rats at any time. No such thing was wanted. I declare, on
my oath, that I never saw any rats in or about the house, or ever
heard of any rats infesting it."
Other household servants at Gleninch gave similar evidence.
Nothing could be extracted from them on cross-examination except
that there might have been rats in the house, though they were
not aware of it. The possession of the poison was traced directly
to my husband, and to no one else. That he had bought it was
actually proved, and that he had kept it was the one conclusion
that the evidence justified.
The witnesses who came next did their best to press the charge
against the prisoner home to him. Having the arsenic in his
possession, what had he done with it? The evidence led the jury
to infer what he had done with it.
The prisoner's valet deposed that his master had rung for him at
twenty minutes to ten on the morning of the day on which his
mistress died, and had ordered a cup of tea for her. The man had
received the order at the open door of Mrs. Macallan's room, and
could positively swear that no other person but his master was
there at the time.
The under-housemaid, appearing next, said that she had made the
tea, and had herself taken it upstairs before ten o'clock to Mrs.
Macallan's room. Her master had received it from her at the open
door. She could look in, and could see that he was alone in her
The nurse, Christina Ormsay, being recalled, repeated what Mrs.
Macallan had said to her on the day when that lady was first
taken ill. She had said (speaking to the nurse at six o'clock in
the morning), "Mr. Macallan came in about an hour since; he found
me still sleepless, and gave me my composing draught." This was
at five o'clock in the morning, while Christina Ormsay was asleep
on the sofa. The nurse further swore that she had looked at the
bottle containing the composing mixture, and had seen by the
measuring marks on the bottle that a dose had been poured out
since the dose previously given, administered by herself.
On this occasion special interest was excited by the
cross-examination. The closing questions put to the
under-housemaid and the nurse revealed for the first time what
the nature of the defense was to be.
Cross-examining the under-housemaid, the Dean of Faculty said:
"Did you ever notice when you were setting Mrs. Eustace
Macallan's room to rights whether the water left in the basin was
of a blackish or bluish color?" The witness answered, "I never
noticed anything of the sort."
The Dean of Faculty went on:
"Did you ever find under the pillow of the bed, or in any other
hiding place in Mrs. Macallan's room, any books or pamphlets
telling of remedies used for improving a bad complexion?" The
witness answered, "No."
The Dean of Faculty persisted:
"Did you ever hear Mrs. Macallan speak of arsenic, taken as a
wash or taken as a medicine, as a good thing to improve the
complexion?" The witness answered, "Never."
Similar questions were next put to the nurse, and were all
answered by this witness also in the negative.
Here, then, in spite of the negative answers, was the plan of the
defense made dimly visible for the first time to the jury and to
the audience. By way of preventing the possibility of a mistake
in so serious a matter, the Chief Judge (the Lord Justice Clerk)
put this plain question, when the witnesses had retired, to the
Counsel for the defense:
"The Court and the jury," said his lordship, "wish distinctly to
understand the object of your cross-examination of the housemaid
and the nurse. Is it the theory of the defense that Mrs. Eustace
Macallan used the arsenic which--her husband purchased for the
purpose of improving the defects of her complexion?"
The Dean of Faculty answered:
"That is what we say, my lord, and what we propose to prove as
the foundation of the defense. We cannot dispute the medical
evidence which declares that Mrs. Macallan died poisoned. But we
assert that she died of an overdose of arsenic, ignorantly taken,
in the privacy of her own room, as a remedy for the defects--the
proved and admitted defects--of her complexion. The prisoner's
Declaration before the Sheriff expressly sets forth that he
purchased the arsenic at the request of his wife."
The Lord Justice Clerk inquired upon this if there were any
objection on the part of either of the learned counsel to have
the Declaration read in Court before the Trial proceeded further.
To this the Dean of Faculty replied that he would be glad to have
the Declaration read. If he might use the expression, it would
usefully pave the way in the minds of the jury for the defense
which he had to submit to them.
The Lord Advocate (speaking on the other side) was happy to be
able to accommodate his learned brother in this matter. So long
as the mere assertions which the Declaration contained were not
supported by proof, he looked upon that document as evidence for
the prosecution, and he too was quite willing to have it read.
Thereupon the prisoner's Declaration of his innocence--on being
char ged before the Sheriff with the murder of his wife--was
read, in the following terms:
"I bought the two packets of arsenic, on each occasion at my
wife's own request. On the first occasion she told me the poison
was wanted by the gardener for use in the conservatories. On the
second occasion she said it was required by the cook for ridding
the lower part of the house of rats.
"I handed both packets of arsenic to my wife immediately on my
return home. I had nothing to do with the poison after buying it.
My wife was the person who gave orders to the gardener and
cook--not I. I never held any communication with either of them.
"I asked my wife no questions about the use of the arsenic,
feeling no interest in the subject. I never entered the
conservatories for months together; I care little about flowers.
As for the rats, I left the killing of them to the cook and the
other servants, just as I should have left any other part of the
domestic business to the cook and the other servants.
"My wife never told me she wanted the arsenic to improve her
complexion. Surely I should be the last person admitted to the
knowledge of such a secret of her toilet as that? I implicitly
believed what she told me; viz., that the poison was wanted for
the purposes specified by the gardener and the cook.
"I assert positively that I lived on friendly terms with my wife,
allowing, of course, for the little occasional disagreements and
misunderstandings of married life. Any sense of disappointment in
connection with my marriage which I might have felt privately I
conceived it to be my duty as a husband and a gentleman to
conceal from my wife. I was not only shocked and grieved by her
untimely death--I was filled with fear that I had not, with all
my care, behaved affectionately enough to her in her lifetime.
"Furthermore, I solemnly declare that I know no more of how she
took the arsenic found in her body than the babe unborn. I am
innocent even of the thought of harming that unhappy woman. I
administered the composing draught exactly as I found it in the
bottle. I afterward gave her the cup of tea exactly as I received
it from the under-housemaid's hand. I never had access to the
arsenic after I placed the two packages in my wife's possession.
I am entirely ignorant of what she did with them or of where she
kept them. I declare before God I am innocent of the horrible
crime with which I am charged."
With the reading of those true and touching words the proceedings
on the second day of the Trial came to an end.
So far, I must own, the effect on me of reading the Report was
to depress my spirits and to lower my hopes. The whole weight of
the evidence at the close of the second day was against my
unhappy husband. Woman as I was, and partisan as I was, I could
plainly see that.
The merciless Lord Advocate (I confess I hated him!) had proved
(1) that Eustace had bought the poison; (2) that the reason which
he had given to the druggists for buying the poison was not the
true reason; (3) that he had had two opportunities of secretly
administering the poison to his wife. On the other side, what had
the Dean of Faculty proved? As yet--nothing. The assertions in
the prisoner's Declaration of his innocence were still, as the
Lord Advocate had remarked, assertions not supported by proof.
Not one atom of evidence had been produced to show that it was
the wife who had secretly used the arsenic, and used it for her
My one consolation was that the reading of the Trial had already
revealed to me the helpful figures of two friends on whose
sympathy I might surely rely. The crippled Mr. Dexter had
especially shown himself to be a thorough good ally of my
husband's. My heart warmed to the man who had moved his chair
against the bedside table--the man who had struggled to the last
to defend Eustace's papers from the wretches who had seized them.
I decided then and there that the first person to whom I would
confide my aspirations and my hopes should be Mr. Dexter. If he
felt any difficulty about advising me, I would then apply next to
the agent, Mr. Playmore--the second good friend, who had formally
protested against the seizure of my husband's papers.
Fortified by this resolution, I turned the page, and read the
history of the third day of the Trial.
THIRD QUESTION--WHAT WAS HIS MOTIVE?
THE first question (Did the Woman Die Poisoned?) had been
answered, positively. The second question (Who Poisoned Her?) had
been answered, apparently. There now remained the third and final
question--What was His Motive? The first evidence called in
answer to that inquiry was the evidence of relatives and friends
of the dead wife.
Lady Brydehaven, widow of Rear-Admiral Sir George Brydehaven,
examined by Mr. Drew (counsel for the Crown with the Lord
Advocate), gave evidence as follows:
"The deceased lady (Mrs. Eustace Macallan) was my niece. She was
the only child of my sister, and she lived under my roof after
the time of her mother's death. I objected to her marriage, on
grounds which were considered purely fanciful and sentimental by
her other friends. It is extremely painful to me to state the
circumstances in public, but I am ready to make the sacrifice if
the ends of justice require it.
"The prisoner at the bar, at the time of which I am now speaking,
was staying as a guest in my house. He met with an accident while
he was out riding which caused a serious injury to one of his
legs. The leg had been previously hurt while he was serving with
the army in India. This circumstance tended greatly to aggravate
the injury received in the accident. He was confined to a
recumbent position on a sofa for many weeks together; and the
ladies in the house took it in turns to sit with him, and while
away the weary time by reading to him and talking to him. My
niece was foremost among these volunteer nurses. She played