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It was done, and they were man and wife. Well, even the happiest marriage is always a good thing to get over. It was not a long drive back to Hanover Square, and the very first sight that greeted them on their arrival was the infant from the City (John's), accompanied by his brother, the infant from Pumpcourt (James's), who had, presumably, come to show him the way, or, more probably, because he thought that there would be eatables going—holding in his hand a legal-looking letter.
“ Marked immediate,' sir; so I thought that I had better serve it at once," said the first infant, handing the letter to John.
“What is it?" asked Eustace, nervously. He had grown to hate the sight of a lawyer's letter with a deadly hate.
“Notice of appeal, I expect,” said John. “Open it man,” said Eustace," and let's get it over." Accordingly, John did so, and read as follows:
“MEESON V. ADDISON AND ANOTHER. “DEAR SIR, -After consultation with our clients, Messrs. Addison and Roscoe, we are enabled to make you the following offer. If no account is required of the mesne profits—"
“That's a wrong term," said James, irritably. “Mesne profits refer to profits derived from real estate. Just like a solicitor to make such a blunder.”
“The term is perfectly appropriate,” replied his twin, with warmth. “There was some real estate, and, therefore, the term can properly be applied to the whole of the income.”
“For Heaven's sake, don't argue, but get on!” said Eustace. “Don't you see that I am on tenter-hooks?”
“My clients,” continued John,“ are ready to undertake that no appeal shall be presented in the recent case of Meeson v. Addison and Another. If, however, the plaintiff insists upon an account, the usual steps will be taken to bring the matter before a higher court.
Obediently, yours, “NEWS & News. “ John Short, Esq. "P.S. - An immediate reply will oblige."
“Well, Meeson, what do you say to that ?" said John; “but I beg your pardon, I forgot: perhaps you would like to take counsel's advice,” and he pointed to James, who was rubbing his bald head indignantly.
“Oh, no, I should not,” answered Eustace; "I've quite made up my mind. Let them stick to their mesne” (here James made a face); “well, then, to their middle or their intermediate or their anything else profits. No appeals for me, if I can avoid it. Send News a telegram.”
That,” began James, in his most solemn and legal tones, “is a view of the matter in which I am glad to be able to heartily coincide, although it seems to me that there are several points, which I will touch on one by one."
“Good gracious! no,” broke in Lady Holmhurst; “but I think it is rather mean of them, don't you, Mr. Short?"
James looked puzzled. “I do not quite take Lady Holmhurst's point,” he said, plaintively.
“Then you must be stupid,” said Eustace. “Don't you see the joke ?_mesne profits,' mean of them !"
“Ah,” said James, with satisfaction; “I perceive. Lady Holmhurst does not seem to be aware that although 'mesne' – a totally erroneous word — is pronounced ‘mean,’ it is spelt m-e-s-n-e.”
“I stand corrected,” said Lady Holmhurst, with a little courtesy. “I thought that Mr. James Short would take my ignorance into account, and understand what I mean!”
This feminine sally turned the laugh against the learned James, and then, the telegram to News & News having been despatched, they all went in to the wedding breakfast.
In a general way wedding breakfasts are not particularly lively affairs. There is a mock hilarity about them that does not tend to true cheerfulness, and those of the guests who are not occupied with graver thoughts are probably thinking of the dyspepsia that comes after. But this particular breakfast was an exception. For the first time since her husband's unfortunate death Lady Holmhurst seemed to have entirely recovered her spirits and was her old self, and a very charming self it was, so charming, indeed, that even James forgot his learning and the responsibilities of his noble profession, and talked like an ordinary Christian. Indeed, he even went so far as to pay her an elephantine compliment; but as it was three sentences long, and divided into points, it shall not be repeated here.
And then, at length, Dr. Probate rose to propose the bride's health ; and very nicely he did it, as might have been expected from a man with his extraordinary familiarity with matrimonial affairs. His speech was quite charming, and aptly sprinkled with classical quotations.
“I have often,” he ended, “heard it advanced that all men are in reality equally favored by the Fates in their passage through the world.
I have always doubted the truth of that assertion, and now I am convinced of its falsity. Mr. Eustace Meeson is a very excellent young man, and, if I may be allowed to say so, a very good-looking young man; but what, I would ask this assembled company, has Mr. Meeson done above the rest of men to justify his supreme good-fortune? Why should this young gentleman be picked out from the multitude of young gentlemen to inherit two millions of money, and to marry the most charming -- yes, the most charming, and the most talented, and the bravest young lady that I have ever met—a young lady who not only carries twenty fortunes on her face, but another fortune in her brain, and his fortune on her shoulders—and such a fortune, too, sir" and he bowed towards Eustace
“ 'Lovely Thais sits beside thee
Take the goods the gods provide thee.' I salute you, as all men must salute one so supremely favored. Humbly I salute you; humbly I pray that you may continually deserve the almost unparalleled good that it has pleased Providence to bestow upon you.”
And then Eustace rose and made his speech, and a very good speech it was, considering the trying cir
cumstances under which it was made. He told them how he had fallen in love with Augusta's sweet face the very first time that he had set eyes upon it in the office of his uncle at Birmingham. He told them what he had felt when, after getting some work in London, he had returned to Birmingham to find his lady-love flown, and of what he had endured when he heard that she was among the drowned on board the Kangaroo. Then he came to the happy day of the return, and to that still happier day when he discovered that he had not loved her in vain, finally ending thus
“Dr. Probate has said that I am a supremely fortunate man, and I admit the truth of his remark. I am, indeed, fortunate above my deserts, so fortunate that I feel afraid. When I turn and see my beloved wife sitting at my side, I feel afraid lest I should after all be dreaming a dream, and awake to find nothing but emptiness. And then, on the other hand, is this colossal wealth, which has come to me through her, and there again I feel afraid. But, please Heaven, I hope with her help to do some good with it, and remembering always that it is a great trust that has been placed in my hands. And she also is a trust and a far more inestimable one, and as I deal with her so may I be dealt with here and hereafter.” Then, by an afterthought, he proposed the health of the legal twins, who had so nobly borne the brunt of the affray singlehanded, and disconcerted the attorney-general and all his learned host.