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practice,” as he glanced at the solitary brief, “I should be the last to wish to turn away work. Let me suggest that you should go and consult my brother John, in the Poultry. I believe business is rather slack with him just now, so I think it probable that you will find him disengaged. Indeed, I dare say that I may go so far as to make an appointment for him here—let us say in an hour's time. Stop! I will consult my clerk!"
« Dick !" The infant appeared. “I believe that I have no appointment for this morn
No, sir,” said Dick, with a twinkle in his eye. “One moment, sir; I will consult the book," and he vanished, to return presently with the information that Mr. Short's time was not under any contribution that day.
“Very good," said Mr. Short; "then make an entry of an appointment with Mr. John Short and Mr. Meeson, at two precisely.”
"Yes, sir,” said Dick, departing to the unaccustomed task.
As soon as Eustace had departed from Tweedledum to Tweedledee, or, in other words, from James, barrister, to John, solicitor, Dick was again summoned and bade go to a certain Mr. Thomson on the next floor. Mr. Thomson had an excellent library, which had come to him by will. On the strength of this bequest he had become a barrister-at-law, and the object of Dick's visit was to request the loan of the eighth volume of
the statues revised, containing the Wills Act of 1 Vic., cap. 26, “Brown on Probate,” “ Dixon on Probate," and “ Powles on Brown,” to the study of which valuable books Mr. James Short devoted himself earnestly while awaiting his client's return.
Meanwhile, Eustace had made his way in a twopenny 'bus to one of those busy courts in the City where Mr. John Short practised as a solicitor. Mr. Short's office was, Eustace discovered by referring to a notice board, on the seventh floor of one of the tallest houses he had ever seen. However, up he went with a stout heart, and, after some five minutes of a struggle, that reminded him forcibly of climbing the ladders of a Cornish mine, he arrived at a little door right at the very top of the house on which was painted “Mr. John Short, Solicitor.” Eustace knocked, and the door was opened by a small boy, so like the small boy he had seen at Mr. James Short's chambers at the Temple that he fairly started. Afterwards the mystery was explained. Like their masters, the two small boys were brothers.
Mr. John Short was within, and Eustace was ushered into his presence. To all appearances he was consulting a voluminous mass of correspondence written on large sheets of brief paper; but when he looked at it closely, it seemed to Eustace that the edges of the paper were very yellow, and that the ink was much faded. This, however, was not to be wondered at, seeing that Mr. John Short had taken them over with the other fixtures of the office.
SHORT ON LEGAL ETIQUETTE.
“WELL, Meeson, what is it? Have you come to ask me to lunch ?" asked Mr. John Short. “Do you know I actually thought that you might have been a client.”
Well, by Jove, old fellow, and so I am,” answered Eustace. “I have been to your brother, and he has sent me on to you, because he says that it is not the etiquette of the profession to see a client unless a solicitor is present, so he has referred me to you."
Perfectly right; perfectly right of my brother James, Meeson. Considering how small are his opportunities of becoming cognizant with the practice of his profession, it is extraordinary how well he is acquainted with its theory. And now, what is the point ?"
“Well, do you know, Short, as the point is rather a long one, and as your brother said that he should expect us at two precisely, I think that we had better take the 'bus back to the Temple, when I can tell the yarn to both of you at once."
“Very well. I do not, as a general rule, like leaving my office at this time of day, as it is apt to put clients to inconvenience, especially such of them as come from a distance. But I will make an exception for you, Meeson. William,” he went on, to the counterpart of
the Pump-court infant, "if any one calls to see me, will you be so good as to tell them that I am engaged in an important conference at the chambers of Mr. Short, in Pump-court, but that I hope to be back by half-past three ?”
“Yes, sir,” said William, as he shut the door behind them ; “certainly, sir.” And then, having replaced the musty documents upon the shelf, whence they could be fetched down without difficulty on the slightest sign of a client, that ingenuous youth, with singular confidence that nobody would be inconvenienced thereby, put a notice on the door to the effect that he would be back immediately, and adjourned to indulge in the passionately exhilarating game of “chuck farthing” with various other small clerks of his acquaintance.
In due course, Eustace and his legal adviser arrived at Pump-court, and, oh! how the heart of James, the barrister, swelled with pride when, for the first time in his career, he saw a real solicitor enter his chambers accompanied by a real client. He would, indeed, have preferred it if the solicitor had not happened to be his twin brother, and the client had been some other than his intimate friend; but still it was a blessed sight-a very blessed sight!
“Will you be seated, gentlemen ?” he said, with much dignity.
“And now, Meeson, I suppose that you have explained to my brother the matter on which you require
“No, I haven't,” said Eustace; “I thought that I might as well explain it to you both together, eh ?"!
“Hum !” said James; “it is not quite regular. According to the etiquette of the profession to which I have the honor to belong, it is not customary that matters should be so dealt with. It is usual that papers should be presented; but that I will overlook, as the point appears to be pressing."
“That's right,” said Eustace. “Well, I have come about a will.”
“So I understood,” said James; “ but what will, and where is it?"
“Well, it's a will in my favor, and it is tattooed on a lady's back.”
The twins simultaneously rose from their chairs, and looked at Eustace with such a ridiculous identity of movement and expression that he fairly burst out laughing
"I presume, Meeson, that this is not a hoax," said James, severely. “I presume that you know too well what is due to learned counsel to attempt to make one of their body the victim of a practical joke?”
“ Surely, Meeson,” added John, “you have sufficient respect for the dignity of the law not to tamper with it in any such way as my brother has indicated ?”
Oh, certainly not. I assure you it is all square. It is a true bill, or rather a true will."
“Proceed,” said James, resuming his seat. “This is evidently a case of an unusual nature.”
When he had finished John looked at James rather