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posing, for instance, that your young lady is not allowed to give evidence?"
“I think," said a stout gentleman behind, who wore upon his countenance the very sweetest and most infantile smile that Eustace had ever seen; breaking in rather hastily, as though he was afraid that his learned leader was showing too much of his hand, “I think that the case is one that, looked at from either point of view, will bear settlement better than fighting-eh, Fiddlestick? But then, I'm a man of peace," and again he smiled most seductively at James.
“What are your terms?” asked James.
The eminent counsel on the front bench turned round and stuck their wigs together like a lot of whiteheaded crows over a bone, and the slightly less eminent but still highly distinguished junior on the second bench craned forward to listen.
“They are going to settle it,” Eustace heard the barrister who was reporting for the Times say to his assistant.
“They always do settle every case of public interest,” grunted the long man in answer; “we shan't see the will now.
Well, I shall get an introduction to Miss Smithers, and ask her to show it to me. I take a great interest in tattooing.”
Meanwhile, Fiddlestick, Q.C., had been writing something on a strip of paper and handed it to his leader, the Attorney-General (who, Mr. James Short saw with respectful admiration, had 500 guineas marked
upon his brief). He nodded carelessly, and passed it on to his junior, who gave it in turn to the SolicitorGeneral and Playford, Q.C. When it had gone the rounds, Mr. News took it and showed it to his two privileged clients, Messrs. Addison and Roscoe. Addison was a choleric-looking, fat-faced man.
Roscoe was sallow, and had a thin, straggly black beard. When they looked at it, Addison groaned fiercely as a wounded bull and Roscoe sighed, and that sigh and groan told Augusta---who, woman-like, had all her wits about her, and was watching every act of the drama—more than they were meant to do. They told her that these gentlemen were doing something that they did not like, and doing it because they evidently believed that they had no other course open to them. Then Mr. News gave the paper to Mr. John Short, who glanced at it and handed it on to his brother, and Eustace read it over his shoulder.
It was very short, and ran thus:“Terms offered: Half the property, and defendants pay all costs.”
“Well, Short,” said Eustace, “what do you say?shall we take it?"
James removed his wig, and thoughtfully rubbed his bald head. “It is a very difficult position to be
. put in,” he said. “Of course, a million is a large sum of money; but there are two at stake. My own view is that we had better fight the case out; though, of course, this is a certainty, and the result of the case is not.”
“I am inclined to settle," said Eustace; “not because of the case, for I believe in it, but because of Augusta—of Miss Smithers: you see she will have to show the tattooing again, and that sort of thing is very unpleasant for a lady.”
“Oh, as to that,” said James loftily, “at present she must remember that she is not a lady, but a legal document. However, let us ask her.”
“Now, Augusta, what shall we do?” said Eustace, when he had explained the offer; "you see, if we take the offer you will be spared a very disagreeable time. You must make up your mind quickly, for the Judge will be here in a minute.”
"Oh, never mind me," said Augusta hurriedly; “I am used to disagreeables. No, I shall fight. I tell you they are afraid of you. I can see it in the face of that horrid Mr. Addison. Just now he positively glared at me and ground his teeth, and he would not do so if he thought that he was going to win. No, dear; I shall fight it out now.”
“Very well,” said Eustace, and he took a pencil and wrote “Declined with thanks” at the foot of the offer.
Just at that moment there came a dull roar from the passage beyond. The doors of the court were being opened. Another second, and in rushed and struggled a hideous sea of barristers. Heavens, how they fought and kicked! A maddened herd of buffaloes could not have behaved more desperately. On rushed the white wave of wigs, bearing the strong men who held the door before them like wreckage on a breaker. On they came, and in forty seconds the court was crowded to its utmost capacity, and still there were hundreds of white-wigged men behind. It was a fearful scene.
“Good gracious!" thought Augusta to herself, “how on earth do they all get a living?" a question that many of them would have found it hard enough to
Then suddenly an old gentleman near her, whom she discovered to be the usher, jumped up and called “Silence!” in commanding accents, without producing much effect, however, on the palpitating mass of humanity in front. Then in came the officers of the Court; and a moment afterwards everybody rose as the Judge entered, and, looking, as Augusta thought, very cross when he saw the crowded condition of the court, bowed to the Bar and took his seat.
JAMES BREAKS DOWN.
THE Registrar, not Augusta's dear Doctor Probate, but another Registrar, rose and called on the case of Meeson v. Addison and Another, and in an instant the wretched James Short was on his legs to open the case.
“What is that gentleman's name?” Augusta heard the Judge ask of the clerk, after making two or three frantic efforts to attract his attention--a proceeding that the position of his desk rendered very difficult.
“Short, my Lord.”
“Do you appear alone for the plaintiff, Mr. Short?" asked the Judge, with emphasis.
“Yes, my Lord; I do," answered James, and as he said it every pair of eyes in that crowded assembly fixed themselves upon him, and a sort of audible smile seemed to run round the court. The thing not unnaturally struck the professional mind as ludicrous and without precedent.
“And who appears for the defendants?”
"I understand, my Lord,” said the learned AttorneyGeneral, “that all my learned friends on these two benches appear, together with myself, for one or other