Page images
PDF
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

8. Vi'o-la-ted, broken, transgressed. . 36. Mi-nor'i-ty. under twenty -one years of

[ocr errors]

1. In one of those low, one-story, unpainted houses which succeeded the log-houses in Vermont* as the second generation of human habitations, lay a sick woman. She knew, and all her friends knew, that when she left that room, it would be in her winding-sheet for the grave; yet her face and her spirit were calm; and the tones of her voice, like those of the dying swan, were sweeter than those of life.

2. In faith and hope, she had taken an affectionate leave of all her children, save one, — her eldest son, — a mother's hope and a mother's pride. By great economy and unwearied industry, this son had been sent to college. He was notified of her ilhjess, but did not reach home till the day before her death.

3. On his arrival, he hastened to her room, and was left alone with her. Long and tearful was their conversation. Sweet and tender was this last interview between a mother and son, who had ever reposed the most implicit confidence in each other.

4. "You know, my son," said she, "that it has always been my most earnest wish and prayer that you should be a preacher of the Gospel, and thus a benefactor to .the souls of men. In choosing the law, you are aware, you have greatly disappointed these hopes."

[ocr errors][merged small]

THE YOUNG LAWYER. - Todd.

* Ver-ment', the most northwestern of the New England States.

5. "I know it, dear mother; and I have done it because I dare not undertake a work so sacred as the ministry, conscious as I am that I • am not qualified in mind, or body, or spirit for the work. If I durst do it, for your sake, if for no other reason, I would do it."

6. "In God's time, my dear son, in God's time, I trust you will. I neither urge it, nor blame you. But promise me now that you will never undertake any cause which you think is unjust, and that you will never aid in screening wrong from

. coming to light and punishment.";

7. The son said something about every man's having the right to have his case presented irr"the best light he could.

8. "I know what you mean," said she; "but I know that, if a- man has violated the laws, he has no right to be shielded from punishment. If he has confessions and explanations to offer, it is well; but for you to plead his case, and, for money, shield him from the demands of law, seems to me no better than if, for money, you should conceal him from the officers of justice, under the plea that every man'has a right to get clear of the law if he can.

9. "But I am weak and can not talk, my son; and yet, if you will give me this solemn promise, it seems as if I should die easier. But you must do as you think best."

10. The young man bent over his dying mother, and, with much emotion, gave her the promise she desired. Tender was- the last kiss she gave him, warm the thanks which she expressed, and sweet the smile which she wore, and which 'was left on her countenance after her spirit had gone up to

meet the smiles of the Redeemer.

11. At the close of his professional studies the young man left the shadows of the Green Mountains ;* and, in a more sunny clime, in a large and thriving village, he opened his office as an attorney at law. He kept his office neat and in

* Green Mountains, a range of mountains in Vermont, extending through the whole length of the State. Their highest summits are Kiliington Peak, Camel's Rump, and Mansfield.

order, and his books were well studied; but no business came. People spoke well of him and admired the young man; but still, unless he could have business, their sympathy would avail nothing.

12. After waiting till "hope deferred made the heart sick," one bright morning a coarse-looking young man was seen coming toward the office. How the heart of the young lawyer bounded at the sight of his first client! What success, and cases, and fees danced in the vision in a moment!

13. "Are you the lawyer?" said the fellow, hastily taking off his hat .

14. "Yes, sir; that's my profession. What can I do for you?"

15. "Why, something of a job, I reckon. The fact is, I've got into a little trouble, and want a bit of help." And he took out a five-dollar bill, and laid it on the table.

16. But the young lawyer made no motion toward taking it. "Why don't you take it?" said he. "I don't call it Day, but to begin with, — a kind of wedge, — what do you call it?"

17. "Retaining fee,* I presume you mean."

18. "Just so j and, by your taking it, you are my lawyer. So take it."

19. "Not quite so fast, if you please. State your case; and then I will tell you whether or not I will take the retaining

fee."

20. The coarse fellow stared. "Why, the case is simply this. Last spring, I was doing a little business by way of selling meat. So I bought a yoke of oxen of old Major Farna* worth. I was to have them for one hundred dollars."

21. "Very well; — what became of the oxen?"

22. "Butchered, and sold out, to be sure."

23. "By you?" asked the young attorney,

24. "Yes," replied the fellow.

25. "Well, where's the trouble?"

* Retaining fee, a fee given to a lawyer to. secure hte services, or to prevent bis act log in favor of the opposite party.

26. "Why, they say that, as I only gave my note for them, I need not pay it; and I want you to help me get clear of it."

27. "How do you expect me to clear you?"

28. "Plain as day, man; just say, 'Gentlemen of the jury, this young man was not of age when he gave Major Farnsworth the note; and therefore, in law, the note is good fof nothing,' — that's all!"

29. "And was it really so?"

30. "Exactly," replied the young swindler.

31. "How came Major Farnsworth to let you have the oxen?"

32. "O, the simple old man never suspected that I was under age."

33. "What did you get for the oxen in selling them out?"

34. "Why, about one hundred and forty dollars. They were noble fellows!"

35. "And so you want I should help you cheat that honest old man out of those oxen, simply because the law, this human imperfection, gives you the opportunity to do it! No, sir; put up your retaining fee. If I wanted to help you to the State's prison, I could take no course so sure to effect it as the one you now propose.

36. "Depend upon it, the lawyer who does help you will be your worst enemy. Plead minority! No; go, sir, and pay for your oxen, honestly, and live and act on the principle that, let what will come, you will be an honest man."

37. The dishonest fellow snatched up his bill, and, muttering something about Squire Snapall, left the office.

38. So he lost his fee and his first case. He felt poor and discouraged when left alone in his office; but he felt that he had done right. His mother's voice seemed to whisper, "Right, my son, right."

39. The next day, the young lawyer called upon old Major Farnsworth, and saw a pile of bills lying on the table. "Why, you seem to have a full purse to-day, Major."

40. "These bills I have received for a yoke of oxen. I expected to lose the debt; but a kind Providence has interposed in my behalf."

41. The young lawyer said nothing; but his mother's voice seemed to come again, " Right, my son, right."

42. Some days after this, a man called in the evening, and. si<ked the young man to defend him in a trial just coming on.

43. "What is your case?" said the lawyer.

44. "They accuse me of stealing a bee-hive," said he.

45. "A bee-hive! Surely that could not be worth much!"

46. "No; but the bees and the honey were in it."

47. "Then you really did steal it?"

48. u Squire, are you alone, — nobody to hear?"

49. "I am all alone."

50. "Are you bound by oath to keep the secrets of your clients?"

51. "Certainly I am."

52. "Well, then, betwixt you and me, I did have a dab at that honey. There was more than seventy pounds! But you can clear me."

53. ".How can I, if you are guilty of the theft?"

54. "Why, Harry Hazen has agreed to swear that I was with him, fishing, at Squanicook Pond that night."

55. "So, by perjury, you hope to escape punishment. What can you afford to pay a lawyer who will do his best?"

56. The man took out twenty dollars. It was a great temptation. The young lawyer hesitated for a moment, — but only for a moment. "No, sir; I will not undertake your case," said he; "I will not try to shield a man,whom I know to be a villain, from the punishment which he deserves. I will starve first."

57. The man bolted out of the door, and made his way over to Snapall's office. The poor lawyer sat down, alone and disheartened. He had only a few dollars left; and what to do when these were gone he knew not. In a few moments, the flush and burning of the face were gone, as if he. had been

A A

« PreviousContinue »