« ZurückWeiter »
Off you go! and remember you need not send to me for a character. Now then-double quick!"
The unfortunate departed, feebly remonstrating, and Meeson, having glared round at the other clerks and warned them that unless they were careful-very careful--they would soon follow in his tracks, proceeded on his path of devastation. Presently he met an editor, No. 7
it was, who was bringing him an agreement to sign. He snatched it from him and glanced through it.
“What do you mean by bringing me a thing like this?” he said; "it's all wrong."
“It is exactly as you dictated it to me yesterday, sir," said the editor indignantly.
“What, do you dare to contradict me?" roared Meeson. “Look here, No. 7, you and I had better part. Now, no words; your salary will be paid to you till the end of the month, and if you would like to bring an action for wrongful dismissal, why, I'm your
Good morning, No. 7; good morning.” Next he crossed a courtyard where, by slipping stealthily round a corner, he came upon a jolly little errand boy, who was enjoying a solitary game of marbles.
Whack came his cane across the seat of that errand boy's trousers, and in another minute he had followed the editor and the sandwich-devouring clerk.
And so the merry game went on for half-an-hour or more, till at last Mr. Meeson was fain to cease his
Mr. Meeson's Will,
troubling, being too exhausted to continue his destroying course. But next morning there was promotion going on in the great publishing house: eleven vacancies had to be filled.
A couple of glasses of brown sherry and a few sandwiches, which he hastily swallowed at a neighbouring restaurant, quickly restored him, however; and, jumping into a cab, he drove post haste to his lawyers', Messrs. Todd & James.
"Is Mr. Todd in?” he said to the managing clerk, who came forward bowing obsequiously to the richest man in Birmingham.
“Mr. Todd will be disengaged in a few minutes, sir," he said. “May I offer you the Times.”
“Damn the Times !” was the polite answer; “I don't come here to read newspapers. Tell Mr. Todd that I must see him at once, or else I shall go elsewhere."
“I am much afraid, sir"----- began the managing clerk.
Mr. Meeson jumped up and grabbed his hat. “Now then, which is it to be?” he said.
“Oh, certainly, sir; pray be seated,” answered the manager in great alarm-Meeson's business was not a thing to be lightly lost. "I will see Mr. Todd instantly,” and he vanished.
Almost simultaneously with his departure an old lady was unceremoniously bundled out of an inner room, clutching feebly at a reticule full of papers and
proclaiming loudly that her head was going round and round. The poor old soul was just altering her will for the eighteenth time in favour of a bran new charity, highly recommended by Royalty; and to be suddenly shot from the revered presence of her lawyer into the outer darkness of the clerk's office, was really too much for her.
In another minute, Mr. Meeson was being warmly, even enthusiastically, greeted by Mr. Todd himself. Mr. Todd was a nervous-looking, jumpy little man, who spoke in jerks and gushes in such a way as to remind one of a fire-hose through which water was being pumped intermittently.
“How do you do, my dear sir? Delighted to have this pleasure,” he began with a sudden gush, and then suddenly dried up as he noticed the ominous expression on the great man's brow. “I am sure I am very sorry that you were kept waiting, my dear sir; but I was at the moment engaged with an excellent and most Christian testator
Here he suddenly jumped and dried up again, for Mr. Meeson, without the slightest warning, ejaculated: “Curse your Christian testator! And look here, Todd, just you see that it does not happen again. I'm a Christian testator, too; and Christians of my cut aren't accustomed to be kept standing about just like officeboys or authors. See that it don't happen again, Todd.”
“I am sure I am exceedingly grieved. Circumstances
“Oh, never mind all that—I want my will."
“Will—will—- Forgive me—a little confused, that's all. Your manner is so full of hearty old middleage's kind of vigour-"
Here he stopped more suddenly even than usual, for Mr. Meeson fixed him with his savage eye, and then jerked himself out of the room to look for the document in question.
“Little idiot!" muttered Meeson; “I'll give him the sack, too, if he isn't more careful. By Jove! why should I not have my own resident solicitor? I could get a sharp hand with a damaged character for about £300 a year, and I pay that old Todd quite £2000. There is a vacant place in the Hutches that I could turn into an office. Hang me, if I don't do it. I will make that little chirping grasshopper jump to some purpose, I'll warrant,” and he chuckled at the idea.
Just then Mr. Todd returned with the will, and before he could begin to make any explanations his employer cut him short with a sharp order to read the gist of it.
This the lawyer went on to do. It was very short, and, with the exception of a few legacies, amounting in all to about twenty thousand pounds, bequeathed the testator's vast fortune and estates, including his (by far the largest) interest in the great publishing house, and his palace, with the paintings and other valuable
I contents, known as Pompadour Hall, to his nephew, Eustace H. Meeson.
“Very well,” he said, when the reading was finished; “now give it to me.”
Mr. Todd obeyed, and handed the document to his patron, who deliberately rent it into fragments with his
strong fingers, and then completed its destruction by 1 tearing it with his big white teeth. This done, he
mixed the little pieces up, threw them on the floor, and stamped upon them with an air of malignity that almost frightened jerky little Mr. Todd.
“Now then," he said grimly, “there's an end of the old love; so let's on with the new.
Take your pen and receive my instructions for my will."
Mr. Todd did as he was told.
“I leave all my property, real and personal, to be divided in equal shares between my two partners, Alfred Tom Addison and Cecil Spooner Roscoe. There, that's short and sweet, and, one way and another, it means a couple of millions."
“Good Heavens! sir," jerked out Mr. Todd. “Why, do you mean to quite cut out your nephewand the other legatees?” he added, by way of an afterthought.
“Of course I do; that is, as regards my nephew. The legatees may stand as before.”
“Well, all I have to say,” went on the little man, astonished into honesty, “is that it is the most shameful thing I ever heard of!”
“Indeed, Mr. Todd, is it? Well, now may I ask