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younger brothers, labouring under domestic felicity: dining out three or four days in the week; while on the off-days, the husband fared sumptuously at his club, and the wife contented herself with a solitary chicken.
The split between John Woolston and his fellow-creatures, meanwhile, was becoming wider and wider. The influence of a contracted purse infected his whole nature, and he was growing narrow-minded and morose. The character of his wife remained undeteriorated, for, a stranger to luxury, a little discomfort was amply compensated by her happiness as a wife and mother ; and anxiety for her sick boy excluded all meaner cares. To accompany her children in their daily stroll on the sands, and indite to their father a bulletin of their health, was recreation enough for Maria; and that her bonnet was shabby, or her mutton chop tough and smoky, passed unobserved.
But it was not so with her husband. He missed his cheerful club his stall at the opera
- his Epsom and Ascot — prime sherry and fruity claret ; and was already beginning to fancy this work-a-day world a far less pleasant place than of yore.
There was but one of its inhabitants, however, to whom he felt disposed to confide his disappointment, the far-famed Roger Farmer, of whom he had been the favourite pupil ; a man who, having amassed in his profession a noble fortune, had exhibited the rare disinterestedness of declining one of the highest and most lucrative honours of the law. · But at the period of his marriage, Farmer, himself the type of celibacy, had assumed the privilege conveyed by nearly a score of years’ seniority, to assure him, in the plainest English, that the best of marriages was a risk; and one of doubtful advantage, an act of insanity. So far from accepting scruples of conscience as a justification of his folly, the old bachelor pleaded as earnestly as if he had been defending a case of breach of promise of marriage, that to honour
his father and his mother was a far more stringent duty than to sacrifice his prospects in life to a country miss; in atonement for having whispered in a ball-room sweet nonsense, to which she was nothing loth to listen.
These counsels, often repeated, and every time with less and less of the foreign aid of ornament, had at length provoked the wilful young lover into sarcastic retorts. And thus, the friendship between him and the man of whose understanding he thought most highly in the world, had cooled into estrangement; and now that the crisis of repentance predicted by the cynic had actually arrived, how was he to find courage for seeking his old friend, to acknowledge that the bloom had fallen from the roses of his Eden, and that he found himself encompassed by a hedge of thorns ? —
Yet Farmer, bitter as he sometimes was, would have afforded him the kindest as well as the best of counsel. Though firm enough to use the scalpel fearlessly, when occasion needed, no hand could deal more gently the healing unguent. He liked John Woolston as much as he was capable of liking anything not bound in vellum or printed by Elzevir ; and it would have afforded him real pleasure to find his former pupil seated once more by his fireside.
To the end of time, however, would Woolston, instigated by false pride and self-love, have kept aloof, but that, among the few briefs entrusted to him, there chanced to be one arising out of an anterior suit, in which Farmer had been concerned as senior counsel. And though the wealthy lawyer, content with the fine fortune he had amassed, declined all further business, his advice appeared of such moment to Woolston, to whom the trial was likely to afford a touchstone of professional credit, that he ventured to dispatch a letter to the oracle ; to “ Dear Farmer” him, as in their days of former friendship; and demand his opinion as frankly as he would have sought a sunbeam from the sun.
Within half-an-hour, the gaunt figure of Roger Farmer, not a whit or an hour the worse for the four intervening years, was deposited in Woolston's thread-bare arm-chair; entering into the details of the impending cause with a searching acuteness of intellect which imparted instantaneous light to all that was previously obscure. After diving into the vast ocean of his memory, the man learned in the law brought up the pearl. No one who listened to Farmer's perspicuous interpretation could dream of an
While business was discussed between them, not so much as the wink of an eyelash did the elder lawyer vouchsafe to any extraneous object. The dusty, disorderly room, so little in accordance with his pupil's former habits, was nonexistent to him. He saw nothing of the scattered papers, the mouldy inkstand, the cindery grate, the broken blind, or the ragged hearth rug. But when the last word was said and the last note taken, in re Rothley versus Barnstable,