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|The Battle of Life||Charles Dickens|
Part The Second
|Page 4 of 24||
Mr. Snitchey stopped and stared at him. Mr. Craggs also stared.
'I am not only deep in debt,' said the client, 'but I am deep in - '
'Not in love!' cried Snitchey.
'Yes!' said the client, falling back in his chair, and surveying the Firm with his hands in his pockets. 'Deep in love.'
'And not with an heiress, sir?' said Snitchey.
'Not with an heiress.'
'Nor a rich lady?'
'Nor a rich lady that I know of - except in beauty and merit.'
'A single lady, I trust?' said Mr. Snitchey, with great expression.
'It's not one of Dr. Jeddler's daughters?' said Snitchey, suddenly squaring his elbows on his knees, and advancing his face at least a yard.
'Yes!' returned the client.
'Not his younger daughter?' said Snitchey.
'Yes!' returned the client.
'Mr. Craggs,' said Snitchey, much relieved, 'will you oblige me with another pinch of snuff? Thank you! I am happy to say it don't signify, Mr. Warden; she's engaged, sir, she's bespoke. My partner can corroborate me. We know the fact.'
'We know the fact,' repeated Craggs.
'Why, so do I perhaps,' returned the client quietly. 'What of that! Are you men of the world, and did you never hear of a woman changing her mind?'
'There certainly have been actions for breach,' said Mr. Snitchey, 'brought against both spinsters and widows, but, in the majority of cases - '
'Cases!' interposed the client, impatiently. 'Don't talk to me of cases. The general precedent is in a much larger volume than any of your law books. Besides, do you think I have lived six weeks in the Doctor's house for nothing?'
'I think, sir,' observed Mr. Snitchey, gravely addressing himself to his partner, 'that of all the scrapes Mr. Warden's horses have brought him into at one time and another - and they have been pretty numerous, and pretty expensive, as none know better than himself, and you, and I - the worst scrape may turn out to be, if he talks in this way, this having ever been left by one of them at the Doctor's garden wall, with three broken ribs, a snapped collarbone, and the Lord knows how many bruises. We didn't think so much of it, at the time when we knew he was going on well under the Doctor's hands and roof; but it looks bad now, sir. Bad? It looks very bad. Doctor Jeddler too - our client, Mr. Craggs.'
'Mr. Alfred Heathfield too - a sort of client, Mr. Snitchey,' said Craggs.
'Mr. Michael Warden too, a kind of client,' said the careless visitor, 'and no bad one either: having played the fool for ten or twelve years. However, Mr. Michael Warden has sown his wild oats now - there's their crop, in that box; and he means to repent and be wise. And in proof of it, Mr. Michael Warden means, if he can, to marry Marion, the Doctor's lovely daughter, and to carry her away with him.'
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|The Battle of Life
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