Now he swung on, large, forceful, a man young enough to feel, yet old enough to know. He entered his door quickly, as was his custom, impatient for his work and his fireside. On his desk lay the papers that had been brought over by his secretary, and he ran his fingers carelessly through them, gleaning indifferently the drift of their contents. As he did so a light flashed suddenly upon him, and the meaning of Eugenia’s restlessness was made clear, for upon his desk was an application for the pardon of Bernard Battle.
The paper was still in his hand when the door behind him opened.
“A lady to see you, suh.”
“A lady?” He turned impatiently to find himself facing Eugenia Webb. She had come so swiftly, with a silence so apparitional, that he fell back as from a blow between the eyes. For a moment he doubted her reality, and then the glow in her face, the mist on her furs, the fog of her breath, proclaimed that she had followed closely upon his footsteps. She must have been almost beside him when he hurried through the frost.
“You wish to speak to me?” he asked blankly, as he drew a chair to the hearth rug. “Will you not sit down?”
There was an unfriendly question in his eyes, and she met it boldly with the old dash of impulse.
“They told me that to-morrow would be too late,” she said. “I went to Ben Galt’s to ask him to come to you in my place, but he is out of town. I found you there instead. It is a matter of life and death to me, so I came.”
She sat down in the chair he had drawn up for her, her muff fell to the floor, and he placed it upon the desk where the petition lay unrolled. As he did so he saw the list of names that presented the appeal—judge, jury, prosecuting attorney, all were there.
She followed his gaze and moved slightly towards him. “It can’t be true that you—that you will not—” she said.
He was stirring the fire into flame, but as she broke off he turned squarely upon her.
“I have not looked into the case,” he answered harshly.
He was standing beside his own hearthstone and he was at ease. There was no awkwardness about him now; his height endowed him with majesty, and in his inflexible face there was no suggestion of heaviness. He looked a man with a sublime self-confidence.