Mr. Meeson's Will eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 249 pages of information about Mr. Meeson's Will.
would also be before the Court.  Could it be still maintained that the two were so identical and inseparable that the disabilities attaching to a document must necessarily attach to the person?  In my opinion, certainly not.  Or, to take another case, let us suppose that the will had been tattooed upon the leg of a person, and, under similar circumstances, the leg were cut off and produced before the Court, either in a flesh or a mummified condition; could it then be seriously advanced that because the inscribed leg—­standing on the table before the Court—­had once belonged to the witness sitting in the witness-box, therefore it was not competent for the witness to give evidence on account of his or her documentary attributes?  Certainly it could not.  Therefore, it seems to me that that which is separable must, for the purpose of law, be taken as already separated, and that the will on the back of this witness must be looked upon as though it were in the hands at this moment, of the officers of the Court, and consequently I overrule the objection.”

“Will your Lordship take a note of your Lordship’s decision?” asked the Attorney-General in view of an appeal.

“Certainly, Mr. Attorney.  Let this witness be sworn.”



Accordingly, Augusta was sworn, and Eustace observed that when she removed her veil to kiss the Book the sight of her sweet face produced no small effect upon the crowded court.

Then James began his examination in chief, and, following the lines which he had laid down in his opening speech, led her slowly, whilst allowing her to tell her own story as much as possible, to the time of the tattooing of the will on Kerguelen Land.  All along, the history had evidently interested everybody in the court—­not excepting the Judge—­intensely; but now the excitement rose to boiling point.

“Well,” said James, “tell his Lordship exactly how it came to pass that the will of Mr. Meeson was tattooed upon your shoulders.”

In quiet but dramatic language Augusta accordingly narrated every detail, from the time when Meeson confided to her his remorse at having disinherited his nephew up to the execution of the will at her suggestion by the sailor upon her own shoulders.

“And now, Miss Smithers,” said James, when she had done, “I am very sorry to have to do so; but I must ask you to exhibit the document to the Court.”

Poor Augusta coloured and her eyes filled with tears, as she slowly undid the dust-cloak which hid her shoulders (for, of course, she had come in low dress).  The Judge, looking up sharply, observed her natural distress.

“If you prefer it, Miss Smithers,” said his Lordship, courteously, “I will order the court to be cleared of every-one except those who are actually engaged in the case.”

At these ominous words a shudder of disgust passed through the densely-packed ranks.  It would indeed, they felt, after all their striving, be hard if they were deprived of the sight of the will; and they stared at her despairingly, to see what she would answer.

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Mr. Meeson's Will from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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