“I am inclined to settle,” said Eustace; “not because of the case, for I believe in it, but because of Augusta—of Miss Smithers: you see she will have to show the tattooing again, and that sort of thing is very unpleasant for a lady.”
“Oh, as to that,” said James loftily, “at present she must remember that she is not a lady, but a legal document. However, let us ask her.”
“Now, Augusta, what shall we do?” said Eustace, when he had explained the offer; “you see, if we take the offer you will be spared a very disagreeable time. You must make up your mind quick, for the Judge will be here in a minute.”
“Oh, never mind me,” said Augusta, quickly; “I am used to disagreeables. No, I shall fight, I tell you they are afraid of you. I can see it in the face of that horrid Mr. Addison. Just now he positively glared at me and ground his teeth, and he would not do that if he thought that he was going to win. No, dear; I shall fight it out now.”
“Very well,” said Eustace, and he took a pencil and wrote, “Declined with thanks,” at the foot of the offer.
Just at that moment there came a dull roar from the passage beyond. The doors of the court were being opened. Another second, and in rushed and struggled a hideous sea of barristers. Heavens, how they fought and kicked! A maddened herd of buffaloes could not have behaved more desperately. On rushed the white wave of wigs, bearing the strong men who hold the door before them like wreckage on a breaker. On they came and in forty seconds the court was crowded to its utmost capacity, and still there were hundreds of white wigged men behind. It was a fearful scene.
“Good gracious!” thought Augusta to herself, “how on earth do they all get a living?” a question that many of them would have found it hard enough to answer.
Then suddenly an old gentleman near her, whom she discovered to be the usher, jumped up and called “Silence!” in commanding accents, without producing much effect, however, on the palpitating mass of humanity in front. Then in came the officers of the Court; and a moment afterwards, everybody rose as the Judge entered, and, looking, as Augusta thought, very cross when he saw the crowded condition of the court, bowed to the bar and took his seat.
JAMES BREAKS DOWN.
The Registrar, not Augusta’s dear doctor Probate, but another Registrar, rose and called on the case of Meeson v. Addison, and Another, and in an instant the wretched James Short was on his legs to open the case.
“What is that gentleman’s name?” Augusta heard the Judge ask of the clerk, after making two or three frantic efforts to attract his attention—a proceeding that the position of his desk rendered very difficult.
“Short, my Lord.”
“Do you appear alone for the plaintiff, Mr. Short?” asked the Judge, with emphasis.