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tattooing. No girl would allow herself to be tattooed in the interest of abstract justice. Oh, yes! I know all about it; and now I am going out walking in the park with Dick, and I should advise you to compose yourself, for that artist is coming to draw you at twelve."
And she departed and left Augusta to her reflections, which were—well, not unpleasant ones.
Meanwhile Eustace was marching up towards the Temple. As it happened, in the same lodging-house where he had been living for the last few months, two brothers of the name of Short had rooms, and with these young gentlemen he had become very friendly. The two Shorts were twins, and so like one another that it was more than a month before Eustace could be sure which of them he was speaking to. When they were both at college their father died, leaving his property equally between them; and as this property on realization was not found to amount to more than four hundred a year, the twins very rightly concluded that they had better do something to supplement their moderate income. Accordingly, by a stroke of genius, they determined that one of them should become a solicitor and the other a barrister, and then tossed up as to which should take to which trade. The idea, of course, was that in this manner they would be able to afford each other mutual comfort and support. John would give James briefs, and James's reflected glory would shine back on John. In short, they were anxious to establish a legal law firm of the most approved pattern.
Accordingly they passed their respective examinations, and John took rooms with another budding solicitor in the City, while James hired chambers in Pump-court. But there the matter stopped, for as John did not get any work, of course he could not give any to James. And so it came to pass that for the past three years neither of the twins had found the law as profitable as they anticipated. In.vain did John sit and sigh in the City. Clients were few and far between: scarcely enough to pay his rent. And in vain did James, artistically robed, wander like the Evil One from court to court, seeking what he might devour. Occasionally he had the pleasure of taking a note for another barrister who was called away, which
, means doing another man's work for nothing. Once, too, a man with whom he had a nodding acquaintance rushed up to him and, thrusting a brief into his hands, asked him to hold it for him, telling him that it would be on in a short time, and that there was nothing in it, “nothing at all.” Scarcely had poor James struggled through the brief when the case was called on, and it may suffice to say that at its conclusion the judge gazed at him mildly over his spectacles, and “could not help wondering that any learned counsel had been found who would consent to waste the time of the court in such a case as the one to which he had been listening.” Clearly James's friend would not so consent, and had passed on the responsibility, minus the fee. On another occasion, James was in the Probate Court on motion day, and a solicitor—a real live solici
tor-came up to him and asked him to make a motion (marked Mr. — 2 gns.) for leave to dispense with a co-respondent. This motion he made, and the corespondent was dispensed with in the approved fashion; but when he had turned round the solicitor had vanished, and he never saw him more or the two guineas either. However, the brief, his only one, remained, and, after that, he took to hovering about the Divorce Court, partly in the hope of once more seeing that solicitor, and partly with a vague idea of drifting into practice in the Division.
Now, Eustace had often when in the Shorts' sittingroom in the lodging-house in the Strand, heard the barrister James hold forth learnedly on the matter of wills, and, therefore, he naturally enough turned towards him in his recent dilemma. Knowing the address of his Chambers in Pump-court, he hurried thither, and was in due course admitted by a very small child, who apparently filled the responsible office of clerk to Mr. James Short and several other learned gentlemen, whose names appeared upon the door.
This infant regarded Eustace, when he opened the door, with a look of such preternatural sharpness that it almost frightened him. The beginning of that eagle glance was full of inquiring hope, and the end of resigned despair. The child had thought that Eustace might be a client come to tread the paths which no client ever trod. Hence the hope and the despair in
eyes. Eustace had nothing of the solicitor's clerk about him. Clearly he was not a client.
Mr. Short was in “that door to the right.” Eustace knocked, and entered into a bare little chamber about the size of a large housemaid's closet, furnished with a table, three chairs (one a basket easy), and a bookcase, with a couple of dozen of law books, and some old volumes of reports, and a broad window-sill, in the exact centre of which lay the solitary and venerated brief.
Mr. James Short was a short, stout young man, with black eyes, a hooked nose, and a prematurely bald head. Indeed, this baldness of the head was the only distinguishing mark between James and John, and, therefore, a thing to be thankful for, though, of course, useless to the perplexed acquaintance who met them in the streets when their hats were on. At the moment of Eustace's entry Mr. Short had been engaged in studying that intensely legal print, the Sporting Times, which, however, from some unexplained bashfulness, he had hastily thrown under the table, filling its space with a law book snatched at hazard from the shelf.
“ All right, old fellow,” said Eustace, whose quick eyes had caught the quick flutter of the vanishing paper; “don't be alarmed, it's only me."
"Ah !” said Mr. James Short, when he had shaken hands with him, “you see I thought that it might have been a client—a client is always possible, however improbable, and one has to be ready to meet the possibility.”
“Quite so, old fellow,” said Eustace; “but do you know, as it happens, I am a client - and a big one,
too; it is a matter of two millions of money-my uncle's fortune. There was another will, and I want to take your advice.”
Mr. Short fairly bounded out of his chair in exultation, and then, struck by another thought, sank back into it again.
“My dear Meeson,” he said, “I am sorry I cannot hear you."
“Eh !” said Eustace; "what do you mean?”
“I mean that you are not accompanied by a solicitor; and it is not the etiquette of the profession to which I belong to see a client unaccompanied by a solicitor."
“Oh, hang the etiquette of the profession!"
“My dear Meeson, if you came to me as a friend I should be happy to give you any legal information in my power, and I flatter myself that I know something of matters connected with probate. But you yourself have said that you come as a client, and in that case the personal relationship sinks into the background and is superseded by the official relationship. Under these circumstances it is evident that the etiquette of the profession intervenes, which overmastering force compels me to point out to you how improper and contrary to precedent it would be for me to listen to you without the presence of a properly qualified solicitor.”
“Oh, Lord !” gasped Eustace, "I had no idea that you were so particular; I thought that perhaps you would be glad of the job.”
Certainly-certainly! In the present state of my