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The Battle of Life. Charles Dickens

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 collar- bone, 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.′

′Really, Mr. Craggs,′ Snitchey began.

′Really, Mr. Snitchey, and Mr. Craggs, partners both,′ said the client, interrupting him; ′you know your duty to your clients, and you know well enough, I am sure, that it is no part of it to interfere in a mere love affair, which I am obliged to confide to you. I am not going to carry the young lady off, without her own consent. There′s nothing illegal in it. I never was Mr. Heathfield′s bosom friend. I violate no confidence of his. I love where he loves, and I mean to win where he would win, if I can.′

′He can′t, Mr. Craggs,′ said Snitchey, evidently anxious and discomfited. ′He can′t do it, sir. She dotes on Mr. Alfred.′

′Does she?′ returned the client.

′Mr. Craggs, she dotes on him, sir,′ persisted Snitchey.

′I didn′t live six weeks, some few months ago, in the Doctor′s house for nothing; and I doubted that soon,′ observed the client. ′She would have doted on him, if her sister could have brought it about; but I watched them. Marion avoided his name, avoided the subject: shrunk from the least allusion to it, with evident distress.′

′Why should she, Mr. Craggs, you know? Why should she, sir?′ inquired Snitchey.

′I don′t know why she should, though there are many likely reasons,′ said the client, smiling at the attention and perplexity expressed in Mr. Snitchey′s shining eye, and at his cautious way of carrying on the conversation, and making himself informed upon the subject; ′but I know she does. She was very young when she made the engagement - if it may be called one, I am not even sure of that - and has repented of it, perhaps. Perhaps - it seems a foppish thing to say, but upon my soul I don′t mean it in that light - she may have fallen in love with me, as I have fallen in love with her.′

′He, he! Mr. Alfred, her old playfellow too, you remember, Mr.

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