It may be remarked, and with a great deal of truth, that the chapters of a novel bear a certain resemblance to those pleasing illusions known as dissolving views, where one scene glides almost imperceptibly into another. The reader has been gazing mentally on woods, landscapes and water in the South of England, when lo! in the twinkling of an eye, the busy haunts of men in the world’s great capitol, London, stands unveiled before him. It must, however, be admitted that, so far as scenic effect is concerned, the change is at times less pleasing than the one just fading from view. Yet if we wish to realize the plot of the story, the dark and uncertain shades of the picture should be looked on, from time to time, as they present themselves.
On a door, which stood partially open, in the last of a row of gloomy looking houses situated in one of those dark and narrow paved courts leading from Chancery Lane to Lincoln Inn Field’s, was painted in black letters on a white ground—“Ralph Coleman, Attorney-at-Law.”
In the ill lit passage to the right was a door that opened into the front office, where, seated at an old-fashioned desk, was a youth, tall, thin and pale, busily engaged engrossing some legal documents. A short, quick step was heard coming up the Court, the handle turned, the door opened, and a man about the middle height with a slight tendency to be corpulent, and about thirty-five years of age, entered. “Are those papers ready,” enquired Mr. Coleman of the young clerk, who had ceased writing on the entrance of his employer.
“I am finishing the last one now,” was the ready reply.
“Good; and my letters?”