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ST. GEORGE'S, HANOVER SQUARE.
THE Court broke up in confusion, and Augusta, now that the strain was over, noticed with amusement that the dark array of learned counsel who had been fighting with all their strength to win the case for their clients did not seem to be particularly distressed at the reverse that they had suffered, but chatted away gaily as they tied up their papers with scraps of red tape. She did not, perhaps, quite realise that, having done their best and earned their little fees, they did not feel called on to be heart-broken because the Court declined to take the view they were paid to support. But it was a very different matter with Messrs. Addison and Roscoe, who had just seen two millions of money slip from their avaricious grasp. They were rich men already; but that fact did not gild the pill, for the possession of money does not detract from the desire for the acquisition of more. Mr. Addison was purple with fury, and Mr. Roscoe hid his saturnine face in his hands and groaned. Just then the Attorney-General rose, and seeing James Short coming forward to speak to his clients, stopped him and shook hands with him warmly.
"Let me congratulate you, my dear fellow," he said. "I never saw a case better done. It was a perfect pleasure to me, and I am very glad that the Judge thought fit to compliment you-a most unusual thing, by the way. I can only say that I hope that I may have the good fortune to have you as my junior sometimes in the future. By the way, if you have no other engagement I wish that you would call round at my chambers to-morrow about twelve."
Mr. Addison, who was close by, overheard this little speech, and a new light broke upon him. With a bound, he plunged between James and the Attorney-General.
"I see what it is now," he said, in a voice shaking with wrath. "I've been sold! I am a victim to collusion. You've had five hundred of my money, confound you!" he shouted, almost shaking his fist in the face of his learned and dignified adviser; "and now you are congratulating this man!" and he pointed his finger at James. "You've been bribed to betray me, sir! You are a rascal!—yes, a rascal!”
At this point the learned Attorney-General, forgetting his learning and the exceeding augustness of his position, actually reverted to those first principles of human nature of which the Judge had spoken, and doubled his fist. Indeed, had not Mr. News, utterly aghast at such a sight, rushed up and dragged his infuriated client. back, there is no knowing what scandalous thing might have happened.
But somehow Mr. Addison was got rid of, and every
body melted away, leaving the ushers to go round and collect the blotting-paper and pens which strewed the empty court.
"And now, good people," said Lady Holmhurst, "I think that the best thing we can do is all to go home and rest before dinner. I ordered it at seven, and it is half-past five. I hope that you will come too, Mr. Short, and bring your brother with you; for I am sure that both of you deserve your dinner, if ever anybody did."
And so they all went, and a very pleasant dinner they had, as well they might. At last, however, it came to an end, and the legal twins departed, beaming like stars with happiness and champagne. And then Lady Holmhurst went also, and left Eustace and Augusta alone.
"Life is a queer thing," said Eustace; "this morning I was a publisher's reader at £180 a year; and now, to-night, if this verdict holds, it seems that I am one of the wealthiest men in England."
"Yes, dear," said Augusta, "and with all the world at your feet, for life is full of opportunities to the rich. You have a great future before you, Eustace; I really am ashamed to marry so rich a man.”
"My darling!" he said, putting his arm round her; "whatever I have I owe to you. Do you know, there is only one thing that I fear about all this money, if it really comes to us: and it is, that you will be so taken up with what pleasure-seeking people call social duties,
and the distribution of it, that you will give up your writing. So many women are like this. Whatever ability they have seems to vanish utterly away upon their wedding-day. They say afterwards that they have no time, but I often think it is because they do not choose to make time."
"Yes," answered Augusta; "but then they do not really love their work, whatever it may be. Those who really love their art as I love mine, with heart and soul and strength, will not be so easily checked. Of course, distractions and cares come with marriage; but, on the other hand, if one marries happily, there come quiet of mind and cessation from ceaseless restlessness which is so fatal to good work. You need not fear, Eustace; if I can, I will show the world that you have not married a dullard; and if I can't-why, my dear, it will be because I am one."
"That comes very nicely from the author of 'Jemima's Vow," "" said Eustace, with sarcasm. "Really, my dear, what between your fame as a writer and as the heroine of the shipwreck and of the great will case, I think that I had better take a back seat at once, for I shall certainly be known as the husband of the beautiful and gifted Mrs. Meeson
"Oh no," answered Augusta; "don't be afraid; nobody would dream of speaking slightingly of the owner of two millions of money."
"Well, never mind chaffing about the money," said
Eustace; "we haven't got it yet, for one thing. I have
got something to ask you."
"I must be going to bed," said Augusta firmly.
"No-nonsense!" said Eustace.
going," and he caught her by the arm.
"You are not
"Unhand me, sir!" said Augusta, with majesty. "Now what do you want, you silly boy?"
"I want to know if you will marry me next week." "Next week? Good gracious! No," said Augusta. "Why, I have not got my things; and, for the matter of that, I am sure I do not know where the money is coming from to pay for them."
"Things!" said Eustace, with fine contempt. "You managed to live on Kerguelen Land without things, so I don't see why you can't get married without themthough, for the matter of that, I will get anything you want in six hours. I never did hear such nonsense as women talk about 'things.' Listen, dear. For heaven's sake let's get married and have a little quiet! I can assure you that if you do not, your life won't be worth having after this. You will be hunted like a wild thing, and interviewed, and painted, and worried to death; whereas, if you get married-well, it will be better for us in a quiet way, you know."
"Well, there is something in that," said Augusta. "But supposing that there should be an appeal, and the decision should be reversed, what would happen. then?"
"Well, then we should have to work for our living