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The Battle of Life. Charles Dickens

Snitchey, peeping sharply into his blue bag, ′was wrong, Doctor Jeddler, and your philosophy is altogether wrong, depend upon it, as I have often told you. Nothing serious in life! What do you call law?′

′A joke,′ replied the Doctor.

′Did you ever go to law?′ asked Mr. Snitchey, looking out of the blue bag.

′Never,′ returned the Doctor.

′If you ever do,′ said Mr. Snitchey, ′perhaps you′ll alter that opinion.′

Craggs, who seemed to be represented by Snitchey, and to be conscious of little or no separate existence or personal individuality, offered a remark of his own in this place. It involved the only idea of which he did not stand seized and possessed in equal moieties with Snitchey; but, he had some partners in it among the wise men of the world.

′It′s made a great deal too easy,′ said Mr. Craggs.

′Law is?′ asked the Doctor.

′Yes,′ said Mr. Craggs, ′everything is. Everything appears to me to be made too easy, now-a-days. It′s the vice of these times. If the world is a joke (I am not prepared to say it isn′t), it ought to be made a very difficult joke to crack. It ought to be as hard a struggle, sir, as possible. That′s the intention. But, it′s being made far too easy. We are oiling the gates of life. They ought to be rusty. We shall have them beginning to turn, soon, with a smooth sound. Whereas they ought to grate upon their hinges, sir.′

Mr. Craggs seemed positively to grate upon his own hinges, as he delivered this opinion; to which he communicated immense effect - being a cold, hard, dry, man, dressed in grey and white, like a flint; with small twinkles in his eyes, as if something struck sparks out of them. The three natural kingdoms, indeed, had each a fanciful representative among this brotherhood of disputants; for Snitchey was like a magpie or raven (only not so sleek), and the Doctor had a streaked face like a winter-pippin, with here and there a dimple to express the peckings of the birds, and a very little bit of pigtail behind that stood for the stalk.

As the active figure of a handsome young man, dressed for a journey, and followed by a porter bearing several packages and baskets, entered the orchard at a brisk pace, and with an air of gaiety and hope that accorded well with the morning, these three drew together, like the brothers of the sister Fates, or like the Graces most effectually disguised, or like the three weird prophets on the heath, and greeted him.

′Happy returns, Alf!′ said the Doctor, lightly.

′A hundred happy returns of this auspicious day, Mr. Heathfield!′ said Snitchey, bowing low.

′Returns!′ Craggs murmured in a deep voice, all alone.

′Why, what a battery!′ exclaimed Alfred, stopping short, ′and one - two - three - all foreboders of no good, in the great sea before me. I am glad you are not the first I have met this morning: I should have taken it for a bad omen. But, Grace was the first - sweet, pleasant Grace - so I defy you all!′

′If you please, Mister, I was the first you know,′ said Clemency Newcome. ′She was walking out here, before sunrise, you remember. I was in the house.′

′That′s true! Clemency was the first,′ said Alfred. ′So I defy you with Clemency.′

′Ha, ha, ha, - for Self and Craggs,′ said Snitchey.

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