Mr. John Short was within, and Eustace was ushered into his presence. To all appearance he was consulting a voluminous mass of correspondence written on large sheets of brief paper; but when he looked at it closely, it seemed to Eustace that the edges of the paper were very yellow, and the ink was much faded. This, however, was not to be wondered at, seeing that Mr. John Short had taken them over with the other fixtures of the office.
SHORT ON LEGAL ETIQUETTE.
“Well, Meeson, what is it? Have you come to ask me to lunch?” asked Mr. John Short. “Do you know I actually thought that you might have been a client.”
“Well, by Jove, old fellow, and so I am,” answered Eustace. “I have been to your brother, and he has sent me on to you, because he says that it is not the etiquette of the profession to see a client unless a solicitor is present, so he has referred me to you.”
“Perfectly right, perfectly right of my brother James, Meeson. Considering how small are his opportunities of becoming cognizant with the practice of his profession, it is extraordinary how well he is acquainted with its theory. And now, what is the point?”
“Well, do you know, Short, as the point is rather a long one, and as your brother said that he should expect us at two precisely, I think that we had better take the ’bus back to the Temple, when I can tell the yarn to both of you at once.”
“Very well. I do not, as a general rule, like leaving my office at this time of day, as it is apt to put clients to inconvenience, especially such of them as come from a distance. But I will make an exception for you, Meeson. William,” he went on, to the counterpart of the Pump-court infant, “if anyone calls to see me, will you be so good as to tell them that I am engaged in an important conference at the chambers of Mr. Short, in Pump-court, but that I hope to be back by half-past three?”
“Yes, Sir,” said William, as he shut the door behind them: “certainly, Sir.” And then, having placed the musty documents upon the shelf, whence they could be fetched down without difficulty on the slightest sign of a client, that ingenious youth, with singular confidence that nobody would be inconvenienced thereby, put a notice on the door to the effect that he would be back immediately, and adjourned to indulge in the passionately exhilarating game of “chuck farthing” with various other small clerks of his acquaintance.
In due course, Eustace and his legal adviser arrived at Pump-court, and, oh! how the heart of James, the barrister, swelled with pride when, for the first time in his career, he saw a real solicitor enter his chambers accompanied by a real client. He would, indeed, have preferred it if the solicitor had not happened to be his twin-brother, and the client had been some other than his intimate friend; but still it was a blessed sight—a very-blessed sight!