A huge table, littered with old dingy volumes, and with dusty rolls of papers tied with red tape—a tall desk, with a faded and ink-bespattered covering of brown cloth—a lofty set of “pigeon holes,” nearly filled with documents of every description—and a set of chairs and stools in every state of dilapidation:—there was the ante-room of Joseph Rushton, Esq., Attorney-at-Law and Solicitor in Chancery.
No window panes ever had been seen so dirty as those which graced the windows—no rag-carpet so nearly resolved into its component elements, had ever decorated human dwelling—and perhaps no legal den, from the commencement of the world to that time, had ever diffused so unmistakeable an odor of parchment, law-calf, and ancient dust!
The apartment within the first was much smaller, and here Mr. Rushton held his more confidential interviews. Few persons entered it, however; and even Roundjacket would tap at the door before entering, and generally content himself with thrusting his head through the opening, and then retiring. Such was the lawyer’s office.
IN WHICH MR. ROUNDJACKET FLOURISHES HIS RULER.
Roundjacket was Mr. Rushton’s clerk—his “ancient clerk”—though the gentleman was not old. The reader has heard the lawyer say as much. Behold Mr. Roundjacket now, with his short, crisp hair, his cynical, yet authoritative face, his tight pantaloons, and his spotless shirt bosom—seated on his tall stool, and gesticulating persuasively. He brandishes a ruler in his right hand, his left holds a bundle of manuscript; he recites.
Mr. Rushton’s entrance does not attract his attention; he continues to brandish his ruler and to repeat his poem.
Mr. Rushton bestows an irate kick upon the leg of the stool.
“Hey!” says Roundjacket, turning his head.
“You are very busy, I see,” replies Mr. Rushton, with his cynical smile, “don’t let me interrupt you. No doubt perusing that great poem of yours, on the ‘Certiorari.’”
“Yes,” says Mr. Roundjacket, running his fingers through his hair, and causing it to stand erect, “I pride myself on this passage. Just listen”—
“I’d see your poem sunk first; yes, sir! burned—exterminated. I would see it in Chancery!” cried the lawyer, in the height of his wrath.
Mr. Roundjacket’s hand fell.
“No—no!” he said, with a reproachful expression, “you wouldn’t be so cruel, Judge!”
“I would!” said Mr. Rushton, with a snap.