Abbildungen der Seite

mostly plagiarised from the Book of Genesis and the Egyptian Novelists of the Ancient Empire 1; at least so I'm told in minor literary circles 2. The next- " but at this moment Mr. John Short was interrupted by the approach of a rather good-looking man, who wore an eye-glass continually fixed in his right eye. He was Mr. News, of the great firm News and News, who were conducting the case on behalf of the defendants.

"Mr. Short, I believe?" said Mr. News, contemplating his opponent's youthful form with pity, not unmixed with compassion.


"Um, Mr. Short, I have been consulting with my clients and—um, the Attorney and Solicitor-General and Mr. Fiddlestick and we, are quite willing to admit that there are circumstances of doubt in this case which would justify us in making an offer of settlement 3.

"Before I can enter into that, Mr. News," said John, with great dig'nity, "I must request' the presence of my counsel."

"Oh, certainly," said Mr. News, and accordingly James was sum'moned from his elevated perch 4, where he was once more going through his notes and the heads of his opening speech 5, although he already knew his brief-which, to do it justice, had been prepared with extraordinary care and elaboration—almost by heart, and next moment, for the first time in his life, found himself in consultation with an Attorney and a Solicitor-General.

"Look here, Short," said the first of these great men, addressing James as though he had known him intimately for years, though, as a

1) To plagiarise is to copy. John does not seem to have lucid ideas about the sources from which Telly could take the subject-matter of his


2) Minor literary circles are not first-rate, and the information to be got from them not quite reliable.

3) He wanted to arrange the matter amicably without waiting for the decision of the Court. (Dutch: de zaak in der minne schikken.)

4) A perch is a pole adjusted at some distance from the ground for birds to rest on, and, in a fig. sense, any elevated resting-place or seat. 5) The heads of a speech are the sub-divisions, the various subjects going to be treated in succession.

6) His brief is the abstract of the evidence, carefully prepared beforehand, in order to enable him to plead his case effectually.

Mr. Meeson's Will.


matter of fact, he had only that moment ascertained' his name from Mr. Fiddlestick, who was himself obliged to refer to Bean before he could be sure of it-"look here, Short: don't you think that we can settle this business? You've got a strongish 1 case; but there are some ugly things against you, as no doubt you know."

"I don't quite admit that," said James.


"Of course-of course," said Mr. Attorney; "but still, in my judgment, if you will not be offended at my expressing it, you are not quite on firm ground. Supposing, 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 2 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 hand3, "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 5 ?" asked James.

The eminent counsel on the front bench turned round and stuck their wigs together like a lot of white-headed crows over a bone, and the slightly less eminent but still highly distinguished junior on the second bench craned forward to listen.


1) Strongish is a diminutive of strong; it means somewhat strong. 2) Infantile is characteristic of an infant; childish.

3) Hand as a term used in playing at cards, denotes the number of cards a player has received from the dealer. When a person shows too much of his hand, his playing is not careful enough, and he gives his adversary an opportunity to guess what cards he has. In a fig. sense it means to expose a thing so much that the other party may profit by the expo'sure.

4) He wanted to emphasize the fact that he did not like fighting, which was hardly necessary, taking his appearance into consideration. (Dutch: Maar ik ben dan ook een vreedzaam man.)

5) Terms is synonymous with conditions. He meant, on what conditions do you wish to make a settlement?

6) They put their white-wigged heads together in consultation.

7) They reached forward their heads in the same way as a crane (kraanvogel) with its long neck would do.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

"They are going to settle it," Eustace heard the barrister who was report'ing for the Times say to his assist'ant.

"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 1, the Attorney-General (who, Mr. James Short saw with respectful admiration, had 500 guineas marked upon his brief 2). He nodded carelessly, and passed it on to his junior, who gave it in turn to the Solicitor-General 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 3, fat-faced man. Roscoe was sallow, and had a thin, straggly black beard 4. 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 5, 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?"

1) The leader is the chief, the leading counsel of a number employed by the same party.

2) It is customary to mark the amount of the fee on the brief. See also p. 152, note 8.

3) A choleric-looking man makes the impression of one who is apt to take offence, who is easily irritated and soon becomes angry.

4) His face was sallow, i. e. of a pale, yellowish, sickly colour, and his beard straggly or straggling, i. e. not full; the hair did not grow closely together. Comp.: straggling bushes (verspreid groeiende struiken). 5) To have all one's wits about one is to be fully alive to what is going on, to be attentive and observant of every detail. (Dutch: al zijn zinnen bij elkaar hebben.)

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 1; 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 2 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 3 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 "DeIclined 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 4. On they came, and in forty seconds 5 the court was

1) To fight a thing out is to fight till it is settled, to fight to the end. 2) To make up one's mind is to come to a decision.

3) He really, in all certainty, looked at me angrily, with piercing eyes.

4) Like portions of a wrecked vessel, borne on a wave that breaks against a rock or against the shore.

5) Forty seconds is sometimes familiarly used to indicate an exceedingly short period of time. Comp.: Forty winks for a short sleep or nap.

crowded to its utmost capacity 1, 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 aswer.

Then suddenly an old gentleman near her, whom she discovered to be the usher 2, jumped up and called "Silence!" in commanding accents, without producing much effect, however, on the pălpitating mass of hūman'ity 3 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 5 and took his seat.

[ocr errors]



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 6.

"What is that gentleman's name?" Augusta heard the Judge ask

1) The capacity of a hall is its extent with respect to the number of persons it can contain. The meaning is, that the court could not possibly hold a single person more.

2) An usher, in general usage, is an officer who has charge of the door of a court or hall. One of the duties of the usher in a Court of law is to usher in the judge and the other officers, i. e. to announce their coming by calling out: Silence! Another of his duties is to keep order in the court, and to put a stop to any improper disturbance.

3) To palpitate indicates the violent throbbing, the excited movement of the heart. Here it is used in a fig. sense to denote the restless agitated condition of the crowd of barristers, eager with curiosity.

4) The officers of the Court are the registrar (griffier) and the clerks. 5) The Bar is here all the lawyers present, taken collectively.

6) To be on one's legs is colloquial for to speak, to address an assembly. He was going to make the introductory speech.

« ZurückWeiter »