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suggesting last night, and allow him a weekly sum."
"A-hem! hem! Gammon"-said Quirk, sitting down, thrusting his hands into his waistcoat pockets, and looking very earnestly at Gammon.
"Well, then," replied that gentleman, shrugging his shoulders, in answer to the mute appeal-" write and say you won't 'tis soon done, and so the matter ends."
"Why, Gammon, you see, if he goes abroad," said Quirk, after a long pause" we lose him for ever."
"Pho!-go abroad? He's too much for you, Mr Quirk—he is, indeed, ha, ha!"
"You're fond of a laugh at my expense, Gammon; it's quite pleasantyou can't think how I like it!”
"I beg your pardon, Mr Quirkbut you really misunderstand me; I was laughing only at the absurd inconsistency of the fellow he's a most transparent fool, and takes us for such. Go abroad! Ridiculous pretence !In his precious postscript he undoes all-he says he is only often thinking of going-pshaw!-That the wretch is in great distress, is very probable but it must go hard with him before he either commits suicide or goes abroad, I warrant him; I've no fears on that score-but there is a point in the letter that may be worth considering-I mean the fellow's hint about borrowing money on his prospects.”
"Yes, to be sure the very thing that struck me." [Gammon faintly smiled.] "I never thought much about the other part of the letter-all stuff about going abroad-pho!-But, to be sure, if he's trying to raise money, he may get into keen hands-Do you really think he has ?"
"Oh no-of course its only a little lie of his or he must have found out some greater fool than himself, which I had not supposed possible. But however that may be, I really think, Mr Quirk, its high time that we should take some decided step."
"Well,—yes, it may Quirk, slowly—" and I must say that Mortmain encouraged me a good deal the day before yesterday."
"Well, and you know what Mr Frank pledge "
"Oh, as to Frank pledge-hem!" "What of Mr Frank pledge, Mr Quirk?" enquired Gammon, rather tartly.
"There! There!-Always the way -but what does it signify?-Come, come, Gammon, we know each other too well to quarrel!—I don't mean any thing disrespectful to Mr Frank pledge, but when Mortmain has been one's conveyancer these thirty-three years, and never once-hem !-but, however, he tells me that we are standing on sure ground, or that he don't know what sure ground is, and sees no objection to our even taking preliminary steps in the matter, which indeed I begin to think it high time to do!-And as for securing ourselves in respect of any advances to Titmouse-he suggests our taking a bond, conditioned—say, for the payment of £500 or £1000 on demand, under cover of which one might advance him, you know, just such sums as, and when we pleased; one could stop when one thought fit; one could begin with three or four pounde a-week, and increase as his prospects improved-eh!”
"You know I've no objection to such an arrangement; but consider, Mr Quirk, we must have patience; it will take a long while to get our verdict, you know, and perhaps as long to secure it afterwards; and this horrid little wretch all the while on our hands; what the deuce to do with him, I really don't know!"
"Humph, humph!" grunted Quirk, looking very earnestly and uneasily at Gammon.
"And what I chiefly fear is this,suppose he should get dissatisfied with the amount of our advances, and, knowing the state and prospects of the cause, should turn restive?
"Ay, confound it, Gammon, all that should be looked to, shouldn't it ?" interrupted Quirk, with an exceedingly chagrined air.
"To be sure," continued Gammon, thoughtfully; "by that time he may have got substantial friends about him, whom he could persuade to become security to us for further and past advances."
"Nay, now you name the thing, Gammon; it was what I was thinking of only the other day :" he dropped his voice "Isn't there one or two of our own clients, hem!".
"Why, certainly, there's old Fang; I don't think it impossible he might be induced to do a little usury—it's all he lives for, Mr Quirk; and the se
curity is good in reality, though perhaps not exactly marketable."
"Nay; but, on second thoughts, why not do it ourselves, if any thing can be made of it?"
"That, however, will be for future consideration. In the mean time, we'd better send for Titmouse, and manage him a little more-discreetly, eh? We did not exactly hit it off last time, did we, Mr Quirk?" said Gammon, smiling rather sarcastically. "We must keep him at Tag-rag's, if the thing can be done, for the present, at all events."
"To be sure; he couldn't then come buzzing about us, like a gad-fly; he'd drive us mad in a week, I'm sure.'
"Oh, I'd rather give up every thing than submit to it. It can't be difficult for us, I should think, to bind him to our own terms-to put a bridle in the ass's mouth? Let us say that we insist on his signing an undertaking to act implicitly according to our directions in every thing."
"Ay, to be sure; on pain of our instantly turning him to the right. about. I fancy it will do, now!"
"And, now, Mr Quirk," said Gammon, with as much of peremptoriness in his tone as he could venture upon to Mr Quirk, "you really must do me the favour to leave the management of this little wretch to me. You see, he seems to have taken-Heaven save the mark!—a fancy to me, poor fellow! and—and--it must be owned, we miscarried sadly, the other night, on a certain grand occasion-eh?
Quirk shook his head dissentingly. "Well, then," continued Gammon, "one thing I am determined on: one or the other of us, Mr Quirk, shall undertake Titmouse, solely and singly. Pray, for Heaven's sake, tackle him yourself a disagreeable duty! You know, my dear sir, how invariably I leave every thing of real importance and difficulty to your very superior tact and experience."
"Come, come, Gammon, that's a
drop of sweet oil."
Quirk might well say so, for he felt its softening, smoothing effects already.
"Upon my word and honour, Mr Quirk, I'm in earnest. Pshaw-and you must know it. I know you too well, my dear sir, to attempt to "
"Certainly, I must say, those must
get up very early that can find Caleb Quirk napping,"-Gammon felt at that moment that for several years he must have been a very early riser. And so the matter was arranged in the manner which Gammon had wished and determined upon, i. e. that Mr Titmouse should be left entirely to his management; and, after some little discussion as to the time and manner of the meditated advances, the partners parted. On entering his own room, Quirk closing his door, stood leaning against the side of the window, with his hands in his pockets, and his eyes instinctively resting on his banker's book, which lay on the table. He was in a very brown study; the subject on which his thoughts were busied being the prudence or imprudence of leaving Titmouse thus in the hands of Gammon. It might be all very well for Quirk to assert his self-confidence when in Gammon's presence, but he did not really feel it. He never left Gammon after any little difference of opinion, however friendly, without a secret suspicion that somehow or another Gammon had been too much for him, and always gained his purposes, without giving Quirk any handle of dissatisfaction. In fact, Quirk was thoroughly afraid of Gammon, and Gammon knew it. In the present instance, an undefinable but increasing suspicion and dissatisfaction forced him presently back again into Gammon's room.
"I say, Gammon, you understand, eh ?-Fair play, you know," he commenced, with a sly embarrassed air, ill concealed under a forced smile.
"Pray, Mr Quirk, what may be your meaning?" enquired Gammon, with unusual tartness, with an astonished air, and blushing violently," which was not surprising; for ever since Quirk had quitted him, Gammon's thoughts had been occupied with only one question, viz. how he should go to work with Titmouse to satisfy him that he (Gammon) was the only member of the firm that had a real disinterested regard for him, and so acquire a valuable control over him. Thus occupied, the observation of Quirk had completely taken Gammon aback; and he lost his presence of mind, of course his temper quickly following. "Will you favour me, Mr Quirk, with an explanation of your
extraordinarily absurd and offensive observation?" said he, reddening more and more as he looked at Mr Quirk. "You're a queer hand, Gammon," replied Quirk, with almost an equally surprised and embarrassed air, for he could not resist a sort of conviction that Gammon had fathomed what had been passing in his mind.
"What did you mean, Mr Quirk, by your singular observation just now?" said Gammon calmly, having recovered his presence of mind.
"Mean? Why, that we're both queer hands, Gammon, ha, ha, ha!" answered Quirk, with an anxious laugh.
"I shall leave Titmouse entirely entirely, Mr Quirk, in your hands; I will have nothing whatever to do with him. I am quite sick of him and his affairs already; I cannot bring myself to undertake such an affair, and that was what I was thinking of, when".
"Eh? indeed! Well, to be sure! Only think!" said Quirk, dropping his voice, looking to see that the two doors were shut, and resuming the chair which he had lately quitted, "What do you think has been occuring to me in my own room, just now? Whether it would suit us better to throw this monkey overboard, put ourselves confidentially in communication with the party in possession, and tell him that hem! hem!-for a-eh? You understand? a con-si-de-ra-tion -a suitable con-si-de-ra- tion."
"Mr Quirk! Heavens!" Gammon was really amazed.
"Well? You needn't open your eyes so very wide, Mr Gammon-why shouldn't it be done? You know we shouldn't be satisfied with a trifle, of course. But suppose he'd agree to buy our silence with four or five thou sand pounds, really, it's well worth considering! Upon my soul, Gammon, it is a hard thing on him; no fault of his, and it is very hard for him to turn out, and for such a―eugh! --such a wretch as Titmouse; you'd feel it yourself, Gammon, if you were
in his place, and I'm sure you'd think that four or five thous
"But is not Titmouse our POOR NEIGHBOUR?" said Gammon, with a sly smile.
"Why, that's only one way of looking at it, Gammon! Perhaps the man we are going to eject does a vast deal of good with the property; certainly he bears a very high name in the county and fancy Titmouse with ten thousand a-year!"
"Mr Quirk, Mr Quirk, it's not to be thought of for a moment-not for a moment," interrupted Gammon, seriously, and even somewhat peremptcrily—“nothing should persuade me to be any party to such"
At this moment Snap burst into the room with a heated appearance, and a chagrined air
"Pitch v. Grub."
[This was a little pet action of poor Snap's: it was for slander uttered by the defendant, a green-grocer, against the plaintiff, charging the plaintiff with having the mange, on account of which a lady refused to marry him.]
“Pitch v. Grub, just been tried at Guildhall. Witness bang up to the mark-words and damages proved; slapping speech from Sergeant Shout. Verdict for plaintiff, one farthing; and Lord Lumpington said, as the jury had given plaintiff one farthing for damages, he would give him another for costs, and that would make a halfpenny; on which the defendant's attorney tendered me-a halfpenny on the spot. Laughter in court-move for new trial first day of next term, and tip his lordship a rattler in the next Sunday's Flash."
"Mr Quirk, once for all, if these kind of actions are to go on, I'll leave the firm, come what will." [It flickered across his mind that Titmouse would be a capital client to start with on his own account.] "I protest our names will quite stink in the profession."
“Good, Mr Gammon, good!" interposed Snap, warmly; "your little action for the usury penalties the other day came off so uncommon well!"
* I suppose myself to be alluding here to a very oppressive statute, passed to clip the wings of such gentlemen as Mr Snap, by which it is enacted that, in actions for slander, if the jury find a verdict under forty shillings, e. g., as in the case in the text, for one farthing, the plaintiff shall be entitled to recover from the defendant only as much costs as damages, i. e., another farthing; a provision which has made many a poor pettifogger sneak out of court with a flea in his ear.
"Let me tell you, Mr Suap," interrupted Gammon, reddening
"Pho! Come! Can't be helpedfortune of the war,"-interrupted the head of the firm.-" Is Pitch solvent? -of course we've security for costs out of pocket."
Now, the fact was, that poor Snap had picked up Pitch at one of the police offices, and, in his zeal for business, had undertaken his case on pure speculation, relying on the apparent strength of the plaintiff's case-Pitch being only a waterman attached to a coach-stand. When, therefore, the very ominous question of Mr Quirk met Snap's ear, he suddenly happened (at least, he thought so) to hear himself called for from the clerks' room, and bolted out of Mr Gammon's room rather unceremoniously.
"Snap will be the ruin of the firm, Mr Quirk," said Gammon, with an air of disgust. "But I really must get on with the brief I'm drawing; so, Mr Quirk, we can talk about Titmouse to-morrow!"
The brief he was drawing up was for a defendant who was going to nonsuit the plaintiff, (a man with a large family, who had kindly lent the defendant a considerable sum of money,) solely because of the want of a stamp.
Quirk differed in opinion with Gammon, and, as he resumed his seat at his desk, he could not help writing the words, "Quirk and Snap," and thinking how well such a firm would sound and work-for Snap was verily a chip of the old block !
There will probably never be wanting those who will join in abusing and ridiculing attorneys and solicitors. Why? In almost every action at law, or suit in equity, or proceeding which may, or may not, lead to one, each client conceives a natural dislike for his opponent's attorney or solicitor. If the plaintiff succeeds, he hates the defendant's attorney for putting him (the said plaintiff) to so much expense, and causing him so much vexation and danger; and, when he comes to settle with his own attorney, there is not a little heart-burning in looking at his bill of costs, however reasonable. If the plaintiff fails, of course it is through the ignorance and unskilfulness of his attorney or solicitor; and he hates almost equally his own and his opponent's attorney. Precisely so is it with a successful or unsuccessful de
fendant. In fact, an attorney or solicitor is almost always obliged to be acting adversely to some one of whom he at once makes an enemy, for an attorney's weapons must necessarily be pointed almost invariably at our pockets! He is necessarily, also, called into action in cases when all the worst passions of our nature—our hatred and revenge, and our self-interest-are set in motion. Consider the mischief that might be constantly done on a grand scale in society, if the vast majority of attorneys and solicitors were not honourable and able men! Conceive them, for a moment, disposed every where to sir up litiga tion, by availing themselves of their perfect acquaintance with almost all men's circumstances-artfully inflaming irritable and vindictive clients, kindling, instead of stifling, family dissensions, and fomenting public strifewhy, were they to do only a hundredth part of what it is thus in their power to do, our courts of justice would soon be doubled, together with the number of our judges, counsel, and attorneys.
But not all of this body of honourable and valuable men are entitled to this tribute of praise. There are a few QUIRKS, several GAMMONS, and many SNAPS, in the profession of the law-men whose characters and doings often make fools visit the sins of individuals upon the whole species; nay, there are far worse, as I have heardbut I must return to my narrative.
On Friday night, the 28th July 182-, the state of Mr Titmouse's affairs was this: he owed his landlady £1, 9s.; his washerwoman, 6s.; his tailor, 1, Ss.-in all, three guineas; besides 10s. to Huckaback, (for Tittlebat's notion was, that on re-payment at any time of 10s., Huckaback would be bound to deliver up to him the document or voucher which he had given him,) and a weekly accruing rent of 7s. to his landlady, besides some very small sums for washing, tea, bread, and butter, &c. To meet these serious liabilities, he had-not one farthing.
On returning to his lodgings that night, he found a line from Thumbscrew, his landlady's broker, informing him that, unless by ten o'clock on the next morning his arrears of rent were paid, he should distrain, and she would also give him notice to quit at the end of the week: that nothing
could induce her to give him further time. He sat down in dismay on reading this threatening document; and, in sitting down, his eye fell on a bit of paper lying on the floor, which must have been thrust under the door. From the marks on it, it was evident that he must have trod upon it in entering. It proved to be a summons from the Court of Requests, for £1, 8s. due to Job Cox, his tailor. He deposited it mechanically on the table; and for a minute he dared hardly breathe.
This seemed something really like a crisis.
After a silent agony of half an hour's duration, he rose trembling from his chair, blew out his candle, and, in a few minutes' time, might have been seen standing with a pale and troubled face before the window of old Balls, the pawnbroker, peering through the suspended articles-watches, sugartongs, rings, brooches, spoons, pins, bracelets, knives and forks, seals, chains, &c.-to see whether any one else than old Balls were within. Having at length watched out a very pale and wretched-looking woman, Titmouse entered to take her place; and after interchanging a few faltering words with the white-haired and hardhearted old pawnbroker, produced his guard-chain, his breast-pin, and his ring, and obtained three pounds two shillings and sixpence, on the security of them. With this sum he slunk out of the shop, and calling on Cox, his tailor, paid his trembling old creditor the full amount of his claim (£1, 8s.) together with 4s., the expense of the summons-simply asking for a receipt, without uttering another word, for he felt almost choked. In the same way he dealt with Mrs Squallop, his landlady-not uttering one word in reply to her profuse and voluble apologies, but pressing his lips between his teeth till the blood came from them, while his heart seemed bursting within him. Then he walked up stairs, with a desperate air-with eighteenpence in his pocket-all his ornaments gone-his washerwoman yet unpaid his rent going on-several other little matters unsettled; and the 10th of August approaching, when he expected to be dismissed penniless from Mr Tag-rag's, and thrown on his own resources for subsistence. When he had regained his room, and, having shut the door, had re-seated
himself at his table, he felt for a moment as if he could have yelled. Starvation and Despair, two fiends, seem. ed sitting beside him in shadowy ghastliness, chilling and palsying him
petrifying his heart within him. WHAT WAS HE TO DO? Why had he been born? Why was he so much more persecuted and miserable than any one else? Visions of his ring, his breastpin, his studs, stuck in a bit of card, with their price written above them, and hanging exposed to his view in old Balls' window, almost frenzied him. Thoughts such as these at length began to suggest others of a dreadful nature. The means were at that instant within his reach. A sharp knock at the door startled him out of the stupor into which he was sinking. He listened for a moment, as if he were not certain that the sound was a real one. There seemed a ton weight upon his heart, which a mighty sigh could lift for an instant, but not remove; and he was in the act of heaving a second such sigh, as he languidly opened the door-expecting to encounter Mr Thumbscrew, or some of his myrmiɖons, who might not know of his recent settlement with his landlady.
"Yes," replied Titmouse, sadly. "Are you Mr Titmouse?" "Yes," he replied, more faintly than before.
"Oh-I have brought you, sir, a letter from Mr Gammon, of the firm of Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, solicitors, Saffron Hill," said the stranger, unconscious that his words shot a flash of light into a little abyss of sorrow before him. "He begged me to give this letter into your own hands, and said he hoped you'd send him an answer by the first morning's post."
"Yes-oh-I see-certainly-to be sure-with pleasure-how is Mr Gammon?-uncommon kind of him-very humble respects to him-take care to answer it"-stammered Titmouse, in a breath, hardly knowing whether he was standing on his head or his heels, and not quite certain where he was.
“Good evening, sir," replied the stranger, evidently a little surprised at Titmouse's manner, and withdrew. Titmouse shut his door. With prodigious trepidation of hand and flutter of spirits, he opened the letter-an