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the advantage, the priceless advantage, of a unique advertisement."
* Very well, John; let it be so," said James, with magnanimity. “Your checks for fees will be duly returned; but it must be understood that they are to be presented.”
“Not at the bank,” said John, hastily. “I have recently had to oblige a client,” he added by way of explanation to Eustace, “and my balance is rather low."
“No,” said James ; “I quite understand. I was going to say "are to be presented to my clerk.'”
And with this solemn farce the conference came to an end.
HOW AUGUSTA WAS FILED.
That very afternoon Eustace returned to Lady Holmhurst's house in Hanover Square, to tell his dear Augusta that she must attend on the following morning to be filed in the registry at Somerset House. As may be imagined, though willing to go any reasonable length to oblige her new-found lover, Augusta not unnaturally resisted this course violently, and was supported in her resistance by her friend Lady Holmhurst, who, however, presently left the room, leaving them to settle it as they liked.
“I do think that it is a little hard,” said Augusta, with a stamp of her foot, “ that, after all that I have gone through, I should be taken off to have my unfortunate back stared at by a doctor some one or other, and then be shut up with a lot of musty old wills in a registry.”
“Well, my dearest girl,” said Eustace, “either it must be done or else the whole thing must be given up. Mr. John Short declares that it is absolutely necessary that the document should be placed in the custody of the officer of the court."
“But how am I going to live in a cupboard, or in an iron safe with a lot of wills ?" asked Augusta, feeling very cross indeed.
“I don't know, I am sure,” said Eustace; “Mr. John Short says that that is a matter which the learned doctor will have to settle. His own opinion is that the learned doctor-confound him !—will order that you should accompany him about wherever he goes till the trial comes off, for, you see, in that way you would never be out of the custody of an officer of the court. But,” went on Eustace, gloomily, “all I can
. tell him, if he makes that order, is, that if he takes you about with him he will have to take me too."
“Why?” said Augusta.
“ Why? Because I don't trust him—that's why. Old ? oh, yes; I dare say he is old. And, besides, just think: this learned gentleman has practised for twenty years in the Divorce Court! Now, I ask you, what can you expect from a gentleman, however learned, who has practised for twenty years in the Divorce Court? I know him,” went on Eustace, vindictively—“I know him. He will fall in love with you himself. Why, he would be an old duffer if he didn't."
'Really,” said Augusta, bursting out laughing, “you are too ridiculous, Eustace."
“I don't know about being ridiculous, Augusta ; but if you think I am going to let you be marched about by that learned doctor without my being there to look after you, you are mistaken. Why, of course he would fall in love with you; nobody could be near you couple of days without doing so." “Do
you think so ?” said Augusta, looking at him so sweetly that a wave of happiness passed through him.
“Yes, I do,” he answered, and thus the conversation came to an end and was not resumed till dinner-time.
On the following morning at eleven o'clock, Eustace, who had managed to get a few days' leave from his employers, arrived with Mr. John Short to take Augusta and Lady Holmhurst—who was going to chaperon her—to Somerset House, whither, notwithstanding her objections of the previous day, she had at last consented to go.
Mr. Short was introduced, and much impressed both the ladies by the extraordinary air of learning and command which was stamped upon his countenance. He wanted to inspect the will at once; but Augusta struck at this, saying that it would be quite enough to have her shoulders stared at once that day. With a sigh and a shake of the head at her unreasonableness, Mr. John Short submitted, and then the carriage came round and they were all driven off to Somerset House. Presently they were there, and after threading innumerable chilly passages, reached a dismal room with an almanac, a dirty deal table, and a few chairs in it, wherein were congregated several solicitors' clerks, waiting their turn to appear before the registrar. Here they waited for half an hour or more, to Augusta's considerable discomfort, for she soon found that she was an object of curiosity and closest attention to the solicitors' clerks, who never took their eyes off her. Presently she discovered the reason, for, having remarkably quick ears, she overheard one of the solicitors' clerks, a callow little man with yellow hair and an enormous diamond pin, whose appearance somehow reminded her of a new-born chicken, tell another, who was evidently of the Jewish faith, that she (Augusta) was the respondent in the famous divorce case of Jones v. Jones, and was going to appear before the registrar to submit herself to cross-examination in some matter connected with a grant of alimony. Now, as all London was talking about the alleged iniquities of the Mrs. Jones in question, whose moral turpitude was only equalled by her beauty, Augusta did not feel best pleased, although she perceived that she instantly became an object of heartfelt admiration to the clerks.
Presently, however, somebody poked his head through the door, which he opened just wide enough to admit it, and bawling out, “Short, Re Meeson," vanished as abruptly as he had come.
“Now, Lady Holmhurst, if you please,” said Mr. John Short, "allow me to show the way, if you will
, kindly follow with the will—this way, please.
In another minute, the unfortunate "will" found herself in a large and lofty room, at the top of which, with his back to the light, sat a most agreeable-looking middle-aged gentleman, who, as they advanced, rose with a politeness that one does not generally expect from officials on a fixed salary, and, bowing, asked them to be seated.
“Well, what can I do for you? Mr.—ah! Mr.—” and he put on his eyeglasses and referred to his notes —“Mr. Short-you wish to file a will, I understand;