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man should conjure before his brain the shapes of those with some of whom he appears to have dealt harshly during his life. Nor do I consider it in any way impossible that when he felt his end approaching he should have wished to reverse the sentence of his anger, and restore to his nephew, whose only offence had been a somewhat indiscreet use of the language of truth, the inheritance to vast wealth of which he had deprived him. Such a course strikes me as being a most natural and proper one, and perfectly in accordance with the first principles of human nature. The whole tale is undoubtedly of a wild and romantic order, and once again illustrates the saying that truth is stranger than fiction. But I have no choice but to accept the fact that the deceased did, by means of tattooing, carried out by his order, legally execute his true last will in favor of his next of kin, Eustace H. Meeson, upon the shoulders of Augusta Smithers, on or about the 22d day of December, 1885. This being so, I pronounce for the will propounded by the plain
I tiff, and there will be a grant as prayed.”
“With costs, my lord ?” asked James, rising.
“No; I am not inclined to go that length. This litigation has arisen through the testator's own act, and the estate must bear the burden."
“If your lordship pleases,” said James, and sat down.
“Mr. Short,” said the judge, clearing his throat, “I do not often speak in such a sense, but I do feel called upon to compliment you upon the way in which you
have, single-handed, conducted this case—in some ways one of the strangest and most important that has ever come before me—having for your opponents so formidable an array of learned gentlemen. The performance would have been creditable to anybody of greater experience and longer years; as it is, I believe it to be unprecedented.”
James turned color, bowed, and sat down, knowing that he was a made man, and that it would be his own fault if his future career at the bar was not now one of almost unexampled prosperity.
ST. GEORGE'S, HANOVER SQUARE. The court broke up in confusion, and Augusta, now that the strain was over, noticed with amusement that the dark array of learned counsel who had been fighting with all their strength to win the case of their clients did not seem to be particularly distressed at the reverse that they had suffered, but chatted away gayly as they tied up their papers with scraps of red tape. She did not, perhaps, quite realize that, having done their best and earned their little fees, they did not feel called on to be heartbroken because the court declined to take the view they were paid to support. But it was a very different matter with Messrs. Addison and Roscoe, who had just seen two millions of money slip from their avaricious grasp. They were rich men already; but that fact did not gild the pill, for the possession of money does not detract from the desire for the acquisition of more. Mr. Addison was purple with fury, and Mr. Roscoe hid his saturnine face in his hands and groaned. Just then the attorney-general rose, and seeing James Short coming forward to speak to his clients, stopped him, and shook hands with him warmly.
“Let me congratulate you, my dear fellow,” he said.
“I never saw a case better done. It was a perfect pleasure to me, and I am very glad that the judge thought fit to compliment you—a most unusual thing, by the way. I can only say that I hope that I may have the pleasure of having you as my junior sometimes in the future. By the way, if
have no other engagement I wish that you would call round at my chambers to-morrow about twelve."
Mr. Addison, who was close by, overheard this little speech, and a new light broke upon him. With a bound he plunged between James and the attorneygeneral.
“ I see what it is now,” he said, in a voice shaking with wrath. " I've been sold. I am a victim to collusion. You've had five hundred of my money, confound you !” he shouted, almost shaking his fist in the face of his learned and dignified adviser; "and now you are congratulating this man,” and he pointed his finger at James.
“You've been bribed to betray me, sir. You are a rascal! yes, a rascal !"
At this point the learned attorney-general, forgetting his learning and the exceeding augustness of his position, actually reverted to those first principles of human nature of which the judge had spoken, and doubled his fist. Indeed, had not Mr. News, utterly aghast at such a sight, rushed up and dragged his infuriated client back, there is no knowing what scandalous thing might not have happened.
But somehow he was got rid of, and everybody melted away, leaving the ushers to go round and collect the blotting-paper and pens which strewed the empty court.
“And now, good people,” said Lady Holmhurst,“I think that the best thing that we can do is all to go honie and rest before dinner. I ordered it at seven, and it is half-past five. I hope that you will come, too, Mr. Short, and bring your brother with you, for I am sure that you, both of you, deserve your dinner, if ever
, anybody did.”
And so they all went, and a very jolly dinner they had, as well they might. At last, however, it came to an end, and the legal twins departed, beaming like stars with happiness and champagne. And then Lady IIolmhurst departed also, and left Eustace and Augusta alone.
“Life is a queer thing,” said Eustace; “here this morning I was a publisher's reader at £180 a year; and now, to-night, if this verdict holds, it seems that I am one of the wealthiest men in England.”
“Yes, dear,” said Augusta, “and with all the world at your feet, for life is full of opportunities to the rich. You have a great future before you, Eustace; I really am ashamed to marry so rich a man.”
“My darling!” he said, putting his arm round her; “whatever I have I owe to you. Do you know there is only one thing that I fear about all this money, if it really comes to us; and that is that you will be so taken up with what pleasure-seeking people call social duties, and the distribution of it, that you will give up your writing. So many women are like that. Whatever ability they have seems to vanish utterly away