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very brain was whirling like that of a drunken man, had it not been for an occurrence that caused him forever after to bless the name of Fiddlestick, Q.C., as the name of an eminent counsel is not often blessed in this ungrateful world. For Fiddlestick, Q.C., who, it will be remembered, was one of the leaders for the defendants, had been watching his unfortunate antagonist, till, realizing how sorry was his plight, a sense of pity filled his learned breast. Perhaps he may have remembered some occasion, in the dim and distant corner of the past, when he had suffered from a similar access of frantic terror, or perhaps he may have been sorry to think that a young man should lose such an unrivalled opportunity of making a name. Anyhow, he did a noble act. As it happened, he was sitting at the right-hand corner of the queen's counsel seats, and piled up on the desk before him was a tremendous mass of law reports which his clerk had arranged there, containing cases to which it might become necessary to refer. Now, in the presence of these law reports, Mr. Fiddlestick, in the goodness of his heart, saw an opportunity of creating a diversion, and he created it with a vengeance. For, throwing his weight suddenly forward as though by accident, or in a movement of impatience, he brought his bent arm against the pile with such force that he sent every book, and there must have been more than twenty of them, over the edge of the desk, right on to the head and shoulders of his choleric client, Mr. Addison, who was sitting immediately beneath, on the solicitor's bench.
Down went the books with a crash and a bang, and, carried away by their weight, down went Mr. Addison on to his nose among them—a contingency that Fiddlestick, Q.C., by the way, had not foreseen, for he had overlooked the fact of his client's vicinity.
The judge made an awful face, and then, realizing the ludicrous nature of the scene, his features relaxed into a smile. He bounded up off the floor, books slipping off his back in every direction, and, holding his nose (which was injured) with one hand, came skipping right at his learned adviser.
"You did it on purpose!" he almost shouted, quite forgetting where he was; "just let me get at him, I'll have his wig off!" and then, without waiting for any more, the entire audience burst out into a roar of laughter, which, however unseemly, was perfectly reasonable; during which Mr. Fiddlestick could be seen apologizing in dumb show, with a bland smile upon his countenance, while Mr. News and Mr. Roscoe between them dragged the outraged Addison to his seat, and proffered him handkerchiefs to wipe his bleeding nose. James saw the whole thing, and, forgetting his position, laughed too; and, for some mysterious reason, with the laugh his nervousness passed away.
The usher shouted "Silence!" with tremendous energy, and before the sound had died away James was addressing the court in a clear and vigorous voice, conscious that he was a thorough master of his case, and the words to state it in would not fail him. Fiddlestick, Q.C., had saved him!
'May it please your lordship," he began, "the details of this case are of as remarkable an order as any that to my knowledge have been brought before the court. The plaintiff, Eustace Meeson, is the sole next of kin of Jonathan Meeson, Esquire, the late head of the well-known Birmingham publishing firm of Meeson, Addison, & Roscoe. Under a will, bearing date the 8th day of May, 1880, the plaintiff was left sole heir to the great wealth of his uncle—that is, with the exception of some legacies. Under a second will, now relied on by the defendants, and dated the 10th November, 1885, the plaintiff was entirely disinherited, and the present defendants, together with some six or eight legatees, were constituted the sole beneficiaries. On or about the 22d December, 1885, however, the testator executed a third testamentary document, under which the plaintiff takes the entire property, and this is the document now propounded. This testamentary document, or, rather, will-for I submit that it is in every sense a properly executed will-is tattooed upon the shoulders-" (Sensation in court)—"is tattooed upon the shoulders of a young lady, Miss Augusta Smithers, who will presently be called before your lordship; and to prevent any misunderstanding, I may as well at once state that since this event, this lady has become engaged to be married to the plaintiff. (Renewed sensation.)
"Such, my lord, are the main outlines of the case that I have to present for the consideration of the court, which I think your lordship will understand is
of so remarkable and unprecedented a nature that I must crave your lordship's indulgence if I proceed to open it at some length, beginning the history at its commencement."
By this time James Short had completely recovered his nerve, and was, indeed, almost oblivious of the fact that there was anybody present in the court, except the learned judge and himself. Going back to the beginning, he detailed the early history of the relationship between Eustace Meeson and his uncle, the publisher, with which this record has nothing to do. Thence he passed to the history of Augusta's relation with the firm of Meeson & Co., which, as nearly everybody in the court, not excepting the judge, had read "Jemima's Vow," was very interesting to its auditors. Then he went on to the scene between Augusta and the publisher, and detailed how Eustace had interfered, which interference had led to a violent quarrel, resulting in the young man's disinheritance. Passing on, he detailed how the publisher and the publishee had taken passages in the same vessel, and the tragic occurrences which followed down to Augusta's final rescue and arrival in England, and finally ended his spirited opening by appealing to the court not to allow its mind to be influenced by the fact that since these events the two chief actors had become engaged to be married, which struck him, he said, as a very fitting climax to so romantic a story.
At last he ceased, and amid a little buzz of applause, for the speech had really been a very fine one, sat
down. As he did so he glanced at the clock. He had been on his legs for nearly two hours, and yet it seemed to him but a very little while. In another moment he was up again, and had called his first witness-Eustace Meeson.
Eustace's evidence was of a rather formal order, and was necessarily limited to an account of the relations between his uncle and himself, and between himself and Augusta. Such as it was, however, he gave it very well, and with a complete openness that appeared to produce a favorable impression on the court.
Then, Fiddlestick, Q.C., rose to cross-examine, devoting his efforts to trying to make Eustace admit that his behavior had been of a nature to amply justify his uncle's behavior. But there was not very much to be made out of it. Eustace detailed all that had passed freely enough, and it simply amounted to the fact that there had been angry words between the two as regards the treatment that Augusta had met with at the hands of the firm. In short, Fiddlestick could not do anything with him, and, after ten minutes of it, sat down without having advanced his case to any appreciable extent. Then several of the other counsel asked a question or two apiece, after which Eustace was told to stand down, and Lady Holmhurst was called. Lady Holmhurst's evidence was very short, merely amounting to the fact that she had seen Augusta's shoulders on board the Kangaroo, and that there was not then a sign of tattoo marks upon them, and when she saw them again in London they were tattooed. No at