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The Battle of Life. Charles Dickens

Here, sometimes, they would linger, of a fine evening, at the window of their council-chamber overlooking the old battle-ground, and wonder (but that was generally at assize time, when much business had made them sentimental) at the folly of mankind, who couldn′t always be at peace with one another and go to law comfortably. Here, days, and weeks, and months, and years, passed over them: their calendar, the gradually diminishing number of brass nails in the leathern chairs, and the increasing bulk of papers on the tables. Here, nearly three years′ flight had thinned the one and swelled the other, since the breakfast in the orchard; when they sat together in consultation at night.

Not alone; but, with a man of about thirty, or that time of life, negligently dressed, and somewhat haggard in the face, but well- made, well-attired, and well-looking, who sat in the armchair of state, with one hand in his breast, and the other in his dishevelled hair, pondering moodily. Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs sat opposite each other at a neighbouring desk. One of the fireproof boxes, unpadlocked and opened, was upon it; a part of its contents lay strewn upon the table, and the rest was then in course of passing through the hands of Mr. Snitchey; who brought it to the candle, document by document; looked at every paper singly, as he produced it; shook his head, and handed it to Mr. Craggs; who looked it over also, shook his head, and laid it down. Sometimes, they would stop, and shaking their heads in concert, look towards the abstracted client. And the name on the box being Michael Warden, Esquire, we may conclude from these premises that the name and the box were both his, and that the affairs of Michael Warden, Esquire, were in a bad way.

′That′s all,′ said Mr. Snitchey, turning up the last paper. ′Really there′s no other resource. No other resource.′

′All lost, spent, wasted, pawned, borrowed, and sold, eh?′ said the client, looking up.

′All,′ returned Mr. Snitchey.

′Nothing else to be done, you say?′

′Nothing at all.′

The client bit his nails, and pondered again.

′And I am not even personally safe in England? You hold to that, do you?′

′In no part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,′ replied Mr. Snitchey.

′A mere prodigal son with no father to go back to, no swine to keep, and no husks to share with them? Eh?′ pursued the client, rocking one leg over the other, and searching the ground with his eyes.

Mr. Snitchey coughed, as if to deprecate the being supposed to participate in any figurative illustration of a legal position. Mr. Craggs, as if to express that it was a partnership view of the subject, also coughed.

′Ruined at thirty!′ said the client. ′Humph!′

′Not ruined, Mr. Warden,′ returned Snitchey. ′Not so bad as that. You have done a good deal towards it, I must say, but you are not ruined. A little nursing - ′

′A little Devil,′ said the client.

′Mr. Craggs,′ said Snitchey, ′will you oblige me with a pinch of snuff? Thank you, sir.′

As the imperturbable lawyer applied it to his nose with great apparent relish and a perfect absorption of his attention in the proceeding, the client gradually broke into a smile, and, looking up, said:

′You talk of nursing. How long nursing?′

′How long nursing?′ repeated Snitchey, dusting the snuff from his fingers, and making a slow calculation in his mind. ′For your involved estate, sir? In good hands? S. and C.′s, say? Six or seven years.

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