MEESON V. ADDISON AND ANOTHER.
The most wearisome times go by at last if only one lives to see the end of them, and so it came to pass that at length on one fine morning about a quarter to ten of the Law Courts’ clock, that projects its ghastly hideousness upon unoffending Fleet-street, Augusta, accompanied by Eustace, Lady Holmhurst, and Mrs. Thomas, the wife of Captain Thomas, who had come up from visiting her relatives in the Eastern counties in order to give evidence, found herself standing in the big entrance to the new Law Courts, feeling as though she would give five years of her life to be anywhere else.
“This way, my dear,” said Eustace; “Mr. John Short said that he would meet us by the statue in the hall.” Accordingly they passed into the archway by the oak stand where the cause-lists are displayed. Augusta glanced at them as she went, and the first thing that her eyes fell on was “Probate and Divorce Division Court I., at 10.30, Meeson v. Addison and Another,” and the sight made her feel ill. In another moment they had passed a policeman of gigantic size, “monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens,” who watches and wards the folding-doors through which so much human learning, wretchedness, and worry pass day by day, and were standing in the long, but narrow and ill-proportioned hall which appears to have been the best thing that the architectural talent of the nineteenth century was capable of producing.
To the right of the door on entering is a statue of the architect of a pile of which England has certainly no cause to feel proud, and here, a black bag full of papers in his hand, stood Mr. John Short, wearing that air of excitement upon his countenance which is so commonly to be seen in the law courts.
“Here you are,” he said, “I was beginning to be afraid that you would be late. We are first on the list, you know; the judge fixed it specially to suit the convenience of the Attorney-General. He’s on the other side, you know,” he added, with a sigh. “I’m sure I don’t know how poor James will get on. There are more than twenty counsel against him, for all the legatees under the former will are represented. At any rate, he is well up in his facts, and there does not seem to me to be very much law in the case.”
Meanwhile, they had been proceeding up the long hall till they came to a poky little staircase which had just been dug out in the wall, the necessity for a staircase at that end of the hall, whereby the court floor could be reached having, to all appearance, originally escaped the attention of the architect. On getting to the top of the staircase they turned to the left and then to the left again. If they had had any doubt as to which road they should take it would have been speedily decided by the long string of wigs which were streaming away in the direction of Divorce Court No. 1. Thicker and thicker grew the wigs; it was