He began also to mingle a little with others, and to take an interest in their daily affairs. People affected to find him changed, and vastly for the better. “He’s had enough to sober him.” “It is well he has been warned, and heeds it.” “God will visit with judgments, until the thoughtless forbear,” and other profound and Christian remarks were made concerning him. As if Providence would cut off the best and most promising, for such indirect and uncertain good as might, or might not be produced in another less worthy!
A law-suit (to be skipped).
A young lover’s first kiss, a young hunter’s first deer, and a young lawyer’s first case, doubtless linger in their several memories, as events of moment.
Bart had tried his first case before a justice of the peace, been beaten, and was duly mortified. It is very likely he was on the wrong side, but he did not think so; and if he had thought so, he would not have been fully consoled. A poorer advocate than he could have convinced himself that he was right, and fail, as he did, to convince the court. It was a case of little importance to any but the parties. To them, every case is of the gravest moment. He acquitted himself creditably: showed that he understood the case, examined his witnesses, and presented it clearly.
Others came to him, and he advised with caution and prudence; and as Fall approached, he was in request in various small matters; men were surprised at the modesty of his deportment, and the gentleness of his speech. Instead of provoking his opponents, and answering back, as was to be expected of him, he was conciliating and forbearing.
A case finally arose, of unusual importance in the domestic tribunals; it attracted much attention, helped to bring him forward in a small way, and gained him much reputation among some persons whose esteem was enviable.
Old man Cole, “Old King Cole,” as the boys derisively called him, an inoffensive little man, with a weak, limp woman for a wife, and three or four weaker and limper children, had for many years vegetated on one corner of an hundred-and-sixty acres of woods, having made but a small clearing, and managed in some unknown way to live on it. His feeble condition exposed him to imposition, and he was the butt for the unthinking, and victim of the unscrupulous and unruly. For some years his land, a valuable tract, had been coveted by several greedy men, and especially by one Sam Ward. Failing to induce Cole to sell what right it was admitted he had, Ward, as was supposed, attempted to intimidate, and finally to annoy Cole to such an extent, that for peace and safety he would willingly part with his possession. He was one of the earliest settlers, had become attached to his land, and declined to be driven off.