“What else did my wife say?”
“Oh! Well, among other things, she wondered if it would be possible to get an injunction against the court to prevent him from depriving her of her only means of support. She says everybody is getting injunctions these days and—”
“Bosh!” said Smilk, but not with conviction. An anxious, inquiring gleam lurked in his eyes.
Mr. Yollop continued:
“I told her it was ridiculous,—and it is. Then she said she was going to see your lawyer and ask him to put her on the witness stand to testify that you are a good, loyal, hard-working husband and that your children ought to have a father’s hand over them, and a lot more like that.”
“She tried that once before and the court wouldn’t let her testify,” said Smilk. “But anyhow, I’ll tell my lawyer to kick her out of the office if she comes around there offering to commit perjury.”
“I rather fancy she has considered that angle, Cassius. She says if she isn’t allowed to testify, she’s going to attempt suicide right there in the court-room.”
“By gum, she’s a mean woman,” groaned Smilk.
“I’m obliged to agree with you,” said Mr. Yollop, compressing his lips as a far-away look came into his eyes. “If I live to be a thousand years old, I’ll never forget the way she talked to me when I finally succeeded in telling her I was busy and she would have to excuse me. It was something appalling.”
“Course. I suppose I got myself to blame,” lamented Cassius ruefully. “I don’t know how many times I come near to doin’ it and didn’t because I was so darned chicken-hearted.”
“I have decided, Cash, that you ought to go up for life,—or for thirty years, at least. So when I go on the stand I intend to do everything in my power to secure the maximum for you. At first, I was reluctant to aid you in your efforts to lead a life of ease and enjoyment but recent events have convinced me that you are entitled to all that the law can give you.”
“It won’t do much good if she’s to set there in the Courtroom, snivelling and lookin’ heart-broke, with a pack of half-starved kids hangin’ on to her. Like as not, she won’t give ’em anything to eat for two or three days so’s they’ll look the part. I remember two of them kids fairly well. The Lord knows I used to take all kinds of risks to provide clothes and all sorts of luxuries for them,—and for her too. I used to give ’em bicycles and skates and gold watches,—yes, sir, we had Christmas regularly once a month. And she never was without fur neck-pieces and muffs and silk stockings and everything. The trouble with that woman is, she can’t stand poverty. She just keeps on hopin’ for the day to come when she can wear all sorts of finery and jewels again, even if I do have to go to the penitentiary for it. All this comes of bein’ too good a provider, Bill. You spoil ’em.”
Mr. Yollop was thinking, so Cassius, after waiting a moment, scratched his head and ventured: