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“There is grace in his lips.”

Let us look into the apartment of a young lawyer preparing
his first great case. The room is in the upper story
of a lodging-house, comfortable and respectable, but without
pretension to style or luxury of any sort. There is a forgotten
fire in the grate, that, thanks to the enduring quality
of anthracite, has not quite mouldered away. The apartment
has the aspect of a careless bachelor's, and a devout
student's. We will not impertinently explore drawers
of unfolded vests, and odd gloves, or mark articles of
apparel lying anywhere but where they should be. Sins of
omission and commission against order were the inconvenient
frailties of our friend. But these did not extend to his books
and papers. As some priests apply their religion to their
sacerdotal, and not at all to their secular life; so our young
lawyer was fastidiously orderly in his professional and literary
affairs. A moderate-sized book-case was filled with books
and lexicons in various languages, indicating the wide horizon
of his general culture, and a table at which he was sitting
was covered with law books, briefs, and notes, carefully
classed. There he sat, intently studying the points of his
case till two o'clock in the morning, occasionally pacing his
room, addressing the gentlemen of the jury in a voice that
startled from their slumbers the women lodgers in the neighboring
rooms, who, between their dreams and their fancies,
made out an alarming tale for the next morning's breakfast.


Page 53

After having put his law papers in his satchel with the
confidence which only a man very young in the profession
could entertain that there was not a chance against his
clients, he took a sheet of letter paper, and opened a drawer
containing his private correspondence. Therein was a file
of letters from the good old father at home, filled with wise
counsel, abundantly enforced with texts from the Old and
New Testaments. Beside these, there were letters written in
large round hand from little half-brothers—prodigious first
efforts—thanking “brother Archy” for presents of books,
and skates, etc., etc., etc., and a file of notes, delicate hair-strokes,
every margin and corner filled with the lingerings
of feminine love, and marked “From dear little Letty.”
The most bulky parcel was slipped into a morocco case, and
inscribed “Arthur Clifford, Abiit non Obiit.

Near this was a substantial file, written in a good, strong,
old-fashioned hand, inscribed “From my dear mother-friend,
Mrs. Clifford.” Tucked into the same parcel were
two or three notes in the ambitious chirography of a little
girl, marked “Dear little Alice.” Beside these last was an
unfiled letter, which Archibald Lisle opened, and answered
as follows:—

My Dear Mrs. Clifford:

“I am going into court to-morrow to advocate, for the
first time, a cause of importance, and to secure or lose for
my clients real estate in the upper part of the city, likely to
become of great value. I have explored titles a century
back, when this property was a waste rocky field—now, a
noble avenue bounds it. It was originally purchased by two
gentlemen of the names of Herbert and Copley, and, singular
enough, after various sales and transmissions, the controversy
is now between descendants of the original purchasers,
`Copley versus Herbert.' My clients, the Herberts, are an


Page 54
elderly gentleman, and two young ladies, who, though somewhat
decayed in fortune, are yet of unquestioned aristocracy.
Their progenitors belonged to the colonial gentry—there is
still a remnant of that Israel. Mr. Herbert—Walter Herbert,
Esq.—I have seen repeatedly. He is a fine old
fellow, tall, still erect, and robust, with thick hair of silver
sable, an eye like an eagle, and a heart of gold. The young
ladies are his nieces; one, a bright particular star, I have
seen once only; but, once seen, she is never to be forgotten.

“My friend, Frank Esterly, is devoted to these lovely
sisters, but which is the object of his pursuit I do not know,
nor am I quite sure he would dare to raise his hopes to either.
They are a constellation quite apart from the belles of the
city got up by boarding-schools, and French milliners. You
may wonder, my dear friend, that I dare take the responsibility
of a suit of such importance, and for such parties. I
have gone forward on the advice and recommendation of
Counselor Jones, and on the conviction that I am better
acquainted with the bearings of the case than another man can
be, having studied and prepared it with infinite pains; and
thus I have taken a bond of Fate, and made assurance doubly
sure. Besides my professional zeal, I have the romantic
aspiration of a champion of these fair dames; and to tell you
the whole truth, I should like to foil this Horace Copley.
He is an idle young man, with an immense inherited fortune,
and, I am told, is reckoned the first prize in the matrimonial
lottery of fashionable life here. He is an Apollo (in little) so
elaborately exquisite in his dress, and all his appointments,
that he is esteemed the glass of fashion. He is fastidious in
his preferences among women, and only demonstrative to
pretty married ladies, who are supposed to wear their bonds
lightly. I have a dislike to his genus, and I confess to a
personal pique against the man. I once dined in company
with him. Miss Grace Herbert was one of the party. He


Page 55
was hovering about her with the expectation, no doubt, of
leading her to dinner. Our hostess assigned that honor to
me. She is a brilliant, most captivating young woman, and
I was just losing my shyness, forgetting my country-breeding
and myself, when a lady on my right hand said something
in a low tone to Copley. I heard only my name, and his
reply, `From New England; clever, I understand; but, as
you see, a vulgar fellow. His frock-coat at a dinner-party
betrays his style of life. He is the son of a mechanic.'
`Dear me!' exclaimed the young lady, `how odd of Mrs.
Jones to mix her company that way.' I had just filled my
glass with claret. My hand trembled, the ruddy wine
spilled over, and went rippling down Miss Herbert's lustrous
silk. I stammered apologies. I half rose from my chair,
dropped my knife and fork on the carpet, seized the unfortunate
young lady's embroidered handkerchief, and did all
that a bashful, blundering blockhead might to attract attention;
and, to crown my confusion, I met Copley's eye. I
shall never forget the supercilious sneer on his face. It was
in vain that Miss Herbert was gracious and kind, and ready
to laugh it off with a woman's ready wit. I could not recover
myself. I was mute through the remaining courses,
that seemed to me slow and solemn as a funeral procession,
and when the ladies withdrew, I made my escape. When I
came to myself I was thoroughly ashamed that Copley's impertinent
malice should have moved me. I am proud enough
of having my birth-right in New England, and God knows
how I honor my `mechanic' father, with, if I mistake not,
a juster and nobler pride of birth than that of all the
Howards. But, my dear Mrs. Clifford, there are atmospheric
influences under which we take the world's coin at
its own impress and estimate. I was young, and green, and
so took Copley's, but once out of his presence I recovered
my manhood, and trampled it under my feet. `Why then,'


Page 56
do you ask, `do you retain so vivid a memory of it?' I
confess it has left a scar, but I have graver grounds of
dislike to the man. When I come to Mapleton, we will talk
them over. In that dear rural district the cocks are crowing,
and I must to bed, to dream of to-morrow's fight. My
love to my `dainty spirit, Eye-bright.' Do not let her grow
out of her short dresses before I see her. Ah! I forget that
she has leaped over three years since we parted, and that
my `little Alice,' is now fourteen.”

The cause, Copley versus Herbert, was called, heard, and
decided the next day, and decided against Lisle's clients.
The contested property had passed through the hands of
tories and refugees, it was complicated with the disputes
preceding our Revolution, and entangled with the uncertain
legislation relating to confiscated property subsequent to it.
The modesty and faltering of the young advocate, in the
beginning of his argument, did not promise the admirable
clearness and precision with which he stated and maintained
the points of his case, and his mastery of the law and precedents
relating to it; and when he finished his plea,
crowning his success with the rare graces of courtesy and
candor, he sat down with the general belief of all the parties
in the crowded court-room—except Copley and his lawyer
—judge, jurors, and audience, that he had gained the victory.

But, alas! for the “glorious uncertainty of the law.”
The plaintiff's counsel produced evidence—which, with his
characteristic, and often inexplicable love of mystery, Copley
had concealed till now—of a transfer of the disputed property
by an uncle of Walter Herbert's to a relative of Copley's,
while they were both residing in England as tory refugees.
This vitiated Lisle's evidence, and overthrew the argument
based upon it.


Page 57

“It was a scurvy trick,” said Walter Herbert, “underground
work. Good fellows, when they know they hold
the honors, call out.”

“Pardon me,” said Copley, insinuating his way through
the friends that encircled Walter Herbert, “you must
exonerate me, sir. After we had agreed to refer the matter
to the adjustment of a legal tribunal, it was my lawyer's
duty to collect what evidence he could. I had nothing to
do with it, and I regret the stubbornness of unexpected facts
as much as you can.” When Copley first spoke, Mr. Herbert
started, as he might if a snake had crawled over his
foot, and then fixing his open, honest eye upon the young
man, he laughed in his throat a laugh peculiar to himself,
and expressing a true man's contempt of subterfuge.

Copley's cheek blanched, and his lip quivered, but he had
too much at stake to commit himself, and shrugging his
shoulder, he said quietly, “As you please, sir,” and withdrew.

“You were rather hard upon the young man,” said one
of Walter Herbert's friends to him.

“Tut, tut,” he replied, “I know him.”

“But,” urged his friend, “if your niece is the lucky girl
the world says, it will be all the same in the end. The
money will only be in the right hand instead of the left, or
vice versâ.

A black cloud came over Walter Herbert's clear brow,
and he turned uneasily away, when his eye met Archibald
Lisle's, and he pushed his way through the old cronies that
surrounded him to where the young man stood, pensive and
disappointed, and unheeding the compliments showered
upon him. “You have gained your fortune, my dear fellow,”
he said heartily, “if we have lost ours.” And then,
dropping his voice, added, “Come and take your tea with
us this evening, and you shall see we will hail your laurels,
though we have lost the battle.”