“The fellow is merely a cheap, loafing sort—here to-day, there to-morrow,” said Briggs. “I investigated him thoroughly.”
Until then Miss Kilgour had always had a high opinion of Peter Briggs’s acumen. She promptly revised that estimate, reflecting that age is bound to dull a person’s senses and cloud his judgment.
THE HONORABLE LION CONFERS WITH COLONEL TIGER
All his people in the offices of the Honorable Archer Converse noticed that the chief was not amiable that day. His usual dignified composure was wholly lacking. He gave off orders fretfully, he slapped papers about on his desk when he worked there; every now and then he glanced up at the portrait of his distinguished father and muttered under his breath. He had called for more documents relating to state health statistics, reports on water systems, and had despatched a clerk to the capital city to secure certain additional facts, figures, and literature. The junior members of his law firm knew that he had taken much to heart the case of the citizens of Danburg, who had been blocked in their honest efforts to build a water system and who now charged various high interests with conspiracy. The litigation was important—the issues revolutionary. But the juniors had never seen the chief fussed up by any law case before.
Then something really did happen!
The three citizens of Danburg who had occasionally conferred with him came into his office and lined up in front of him. Mr. Davis scratched his chin and blinked meekly, Mr. Erskine exhibited his nervousness by running his fingers around inside his collar, and Mr. Owen fairly oozed unspoken apology.
“Look here, gentlemen,” snapped Mr. Converse, “I’m not ready for you. I told you not to come until next week. I have an immense mass of material to study. You’re only wasting time—mine and yours—coming here to-day.”
“Well, you see, your honor,” stammered Davis, “we came to-day so as to save you more trouble and work.”
“Work!” echoed Mr. Converse, seizing the arms of his chair and shoving an astonished face forward.
“Why—why—you see we’ve decided not to push this case any further. And whatever is owing to you—name the sum.” He did not relish the glow which was coming into the attorney’s eyes, nor the grim wrinkles settling about the thin lips. “So that there won’t be any hard feelings, in any way,” Davis hastened to say.
“What has happened to you men all of a sudden?” demanded the lawyer. “Explain! Speak up!”
Davis’s face was red, and he found much difficulty in replying.
“Well—you see—you know—if you get into law you never know when you’re going to get out. We feel that this case is bound to drag! It’s an awful big case—and they’ve got lots of money to fight us.”
“I told you I’d take your case for bare expenses and court fees,” stormed the lawyer. “It’s a case I wanted to prosecute.”