“Ho! Did you? And never once mentioned my steam plough. I tell you when I heard all the rubbish your feller spoke I’d have given the case against him myself. It wasn’t my case at all. My case is that I’m a hard-working woman, who’s made herself a good position by being a bit smarter than other folk. I have a gentleman friend who cares for me straight and solid for fifteen years, and when he dies he leaves me his farm and everything he’s got. I sell the farm, and get good money for it, which I don’t spend on motor-cars like some folk, but on more improvements on my own farm. I make my property more valuable, and I’ve got to pay for it, if you please. Why, they should ought to pay me. What’s farming coming to, I’d like to know, if we’ve got to pay for bettering ourselves? The Government ud like to see all farmers in the workhouse—and there we’ll soon be, if they go on at this rate. And it’s the disrespectfulness to Poor Arthur, too—he left Donkey Street to me—not a bit to me and the rest to them. But there they go, wanting to take most of it in Death Duty. The best Death Duty I know is to do what the dead ask us and not what they’d turn in their graves if they knew of. And poor Arthur who did everything in the world for me, even down to marrying my sister Ellen ...”
Edward Huxtable managed to escape.
“Drat that woman,” he said to himself—“she’s a terror. However, I suppose I’ve got to be thankful she didn’t try to get any of that off her chest in Court—she’s quite capable of it. Damn it all! She’s a monstrosity—and going to be married too ... well, there are some heroes left in the world.”
Bertie was waiting for Joanna outside the Law Courts. In the stillness of the August evening and the yellow dusty sunshine, he looked almost contemplative, standing there with bowed head, looking down at his hands which were folded on his stick, while one or two pigeons strutted about at his feet. Joanna’s heart melted at the sight of him. She went up to him, and touched his arm.
“Hullo, ole girl. So here you are. How did it go off?”
“Damn! That’s bad.”
She saw that he was vexed, and a sharp touch of sorrow was added to her sense of outrage and disappointment.
“Yes, it was given against me. It’s all that Edward Huxtable’s fault. Would you believe me, but he never made out a proper case for me at all, but just a lawyer’s mess, what the judge was quite right not to hold with.”
“Have you lost much money?”
“A proper lot—but I shan’t let Edward Huxtable get any of it. If he wants his fees he’ll just about have to bring another action.”
“Don’t be a fool, Joanna—you’ll have to pay the costs if they’ve been given against you. You’ll only land yourself in a worse hole by making a fuss.”
They were walking westward towards the theatres and the restaurants. Joanna felt that Bertie was angry with her—he was angry with her for losing her case, just as she was angry with Edward Huxtable. This was too much—the tears rose in her eyes.