HomeCharles DickensThe Battle of Life

The Battle of Life. Charles Dickens

′That′s the thimble, is it, young woman?′ said Mr. Snitchey, diverting himself at her expense. ′And what does the thimble say?′

′It says,′ replied Clemency, reading slowly round as if it were a tower, ′For-get and For-give.′

Snitchey and Craggs laughed heartily. ′So new!′ said Snitchey. ′So easy!′ said Craggs. ′Such a knowledge of human nature in it!′ said Snitchey. ′So applicable to the affairs of life!′ said Craggs.

′And the nutmeg-grater?′ inquired the head of the Firm.

′The grater says,′ returned Clemency, ′Do as you - wold - be - done by.′

′Do, or you′ll be done brown, you mean,′ said Mr. Snitchey.

′I don′t understand,′ retorted Clemency, shaking her head vaguely. ′I an′t no lawyer.′

′I am afraid that if she was, Doctor,′ said Mr. Snitchey, turning to him suddenly, as if to anticipate any effect that might otherwise be consequent on this retort, ′she′d find it to be the golden rule of half her clients. They are serious enough in that - whimsical as your world is - and lay the blame on us afterwards. We, in our profession, are little else than mirrors after all, Mr. Alfred; but, we are generally consulted by angry and quarrelsome people who are not in their best looks, and it′s rather hard to quarrel with us if we reflect unpleasant aspects. I think,′ said Mr. Snitchey, ′that I speak for Self and Craggs?′

′Decidedly,′ said Craggs.

′And so, if Mr. Britain will oblige us with a mouthful of ink,′ said Mr. Snitchey, returning to the papers, ′we′ll sign, seal, and deliver as soon as possible, or the coach will be coming past before we know where we are.′

If one might judge from his appearance, there was every probability of the coach coming past before Mr. Britain knew where HE was; for he stood in a state of abstraction, mentally balancing the Doctor against the lawyers, and the lawyers against the Doctor, and their clients against both, and engaged in feeble attempts to make the thimble and nutmeg-grater (a new idea to him) square with anybody′s system of philosophy; and, in short, bewildering himself as much as ever his great namesake has done with theories and schools. But, Clemency, who was his good Genius - though he had the meanest possible opinion of her understanding, by reason of her seldom troubling herself with abstract speculations, and being always at hand to do the right thing at the right time - having produced the ink in a twinkling, tendered him the further service of recalling him to himself by the application of her elbows; with which gentle flappers she so jogged his memory, in a more literal construction of that phrase than usual, that he soon became quite fresh and brisk.

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