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"It is exactly as you dic'tāted 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 sălary 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 man. Good morning, No. 7; good morning.”


Next he crossed a côurtyard where, by slipping stealthily round a corner, he came upon a jolly little ĕrrand boy, who was enjoy'ing a solitary game of marbles.

Whack 2 came his cane across' the seat of that ĕrrand boy's trousers, and in another minute (pron. minit) 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 fain3 to cease his troŭbling, being too ex(h)aust'ed to continue his destroy'ing côurse. 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' 5, quickly restored' him, however; and, jumping into a cab, he drove pōst haste to his lawyers, Messrs. Todd & James.

"Is Mr. Todd in?" he said to the mănaging clèrk, 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

1) To bring an action against one is to prosecute him before a côurt of law. M. would not care if a complaint was lodged against him, because he was willing to pay his clerk what was legally due to him. If a servant is dismissed', the employ'er is bound to pay a month's wages. 2) To whack or thwack means to administer sharp blows.

3) Fain really means glad, pleased; it also occurs in the sense of constrained', as in the text. Compare He would fain (gaarne) have done it, with He was fain (moest) to do it.

4) Allusion to, There the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest (Job 3, 17).

5) Pron. res'tōrănt, or in the French way.

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.

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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 vănished.

Almost simultaneously with his departure an old lady was uncĕremoniously bundled out of an inner room, clutching feebly at a ret'icule full of papers and proclaim'ing loudly that her head was going round and round. The poor old sōul was just àltering her will for the eighteenth time in favour of a bran new chărity, highly recommended by Royalty 3), and to be suddenly shot from the revēred 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 enthūsiastically, greeted by Mr. Todd himself. Mr. Todd was a nervouslooking, jumpy little man, who spoke in jerks and gushes5 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

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Here he suddenly jumped and dried up again, for Mr. Meeson, without the slightest wàrning, ejaculated: "Curse your Christian

1) He suddenly snatched up his hat.

2) She was unceremoniously sent away; thrown out like a parcel of things bound together.

3) Royalty here stands for the royal family or members of it. 4) A jumpy man is excitable, restless, trembling nervously.

5) A jerk is a short abrupt' motion; a gush is a răpid flow. T. talked on for a moment and then stopped suddenly; he spoke by jumps and


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 1 aren't accustomed to be kept standing about just like office-boys 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 heärty old middle-age's kind of vigour-

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Here he stopped more suddenly even than usual, for Mr. Meeson fixed him with his săvage 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 Jove3! why should I not have my own resident solicitor 4? I could get a sharp hand with a dămaged chăracter for about £ 300 a year, and I pay that old Todd quite £ 2000. There is a vācant 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 5,". and he chuckled at the idea. Just then Mr. Todd returned' with the will, and before he could begin to make any explanations his employ'er cut him short with a sharp order to read the gist of it.


1) People con'stituted, fashioned like myself. Comp.: A coat of an old-fashioned cut (shape, form).

2) Don't for doesn't, often used by careless or badly educated speakers. 3) By Jove! is an exclamation to express' surprise', applause', appro


4) A solicitor conducts or manages legal business in all courts of law. M. wants to have such a legal practitioner regularly in his employment, to reside on the premises, as it were, in order to have him always at hand to draw up agreements and do other work of the kind. He wants a sharp hand, i. e. an acute', rather unscrupulous one with a damaged character, i. e. with a bad reputation, because he can get such a one cheap and make him do whatever he likes.

5) Really and for a good reason, you may be sure of it. Comp.: he (the devil) would have roared to lusty purpose (Chris(t)mas Cărol). 6) The gist of a matter is the most important part of it. It is an older form of the French gîte, connected with gésir, to lie. Comp. the French proverb C'est là que gît le lièvre, meaning, There is the main point of the difficulty.

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 pŭblishing house, and his pălace, with the paintings and other valuable contents', known as Pompadour Hall, to his nephew, Eustace H. Meeson.

"Very well," he said, when the reading was finished 1; "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 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 malig'nity that almost frightened jerky little Mr. Todd.

"Now then," he said grimly, "there's an end of the old love; so let's on 2 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 personal3, 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 nephew-and 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!"

1) Finished is an adjective here, meaning over. The lawyer has finished reading.

2) Let's on with for let us pass on to, begin with.

Note that we say

3) Real property, real estate or realty is property consisting in land with whatever may be annexed to it (vaste, onroerende goederen). Personal property, personal estate or personalty is made up of things of a mövable nature (roerende goederen).

4) Do you intend to cut him out of your will entirely, not to leave him anything at all?

"Indeed, Mr. Todd, is it? Well, now may I ask you: am I leaving this property or are you? Don't trouble yourself to answer that, however, but just attend'. Either you draw up that will at once, while I wait, or you say good-bye to about £ 2000 a year; for that's what Meeson's business is wòrth, I reckon. Now you take your choice."

Mr. Todd did take his choice. In under an hour the will, which was very short, was drawn and engrōssed1.

"Now then," said Meeson, address'ing himself to Mr. Todd and the mănaging clèrk, as he took the quill between his fingers to sign, "do you two bear in mind that at the moment I execute 2 this will I am of sound mind, memory, and understanding. There you are 3; now do you two witness."

It was night, and King Căpital, in the shape of Mr. Meeson, sat alone at dinner in his palatial dining-room at Pompadour. Dinner was over. The powdered footmen had depart'ed with stately tread, and the head butler was just placing the decănters of richly coloured wine before this solitary lord of all. The dinner had been a mělancholy failure. Dish after dish, the cost of any one of which would have fed a poor child for a month, had been brought up and handed to the master only to be found fault with and sent away. On that night Mr. Meeson had no appetite.

1) Engrossing is the legal term for copying a document in fair and clearly legible characters.

2) To execute a will or any other legal document is to sign it, i. e. to do that which is necessary to make it vălid. M. wanted emphatically to call the solicitor's and the clerk's attention to the fact, that he was fully aware of what he was doing.

3) There you are is a colloquial expression for, There it is, Now it is ready.

4) One of the many household duties of a footman is waiting upon the family and g(u)ests at dinner. M's footmen wore old-fashioned liveries, including wigs sprinkled with powder. The head-butler, their superintendent, alone remained in the room to perform' one of his principal duties at dinner, viz. to serve his master with wine.

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