Chapter 174513264

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Chapter NumberXLIII
Chapter TitleCUNNING.
Chapter Url
Full Date1892-06-11
Page Number1
Word Count2161
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)
Trove TitleThe Devil's Own. An Australian Story
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Friends, countrymen, I take The liberty to warn ye About that universal sourge, A rascally attorney.

“ I’H take him by tho scruff of the neok and put him out of tho window, if ho won't give them up.” 11 I think you will have to catch the fellow by bis own net. Those second rate lawyers—-if he is one at all—are tho very devil for cunning.” The speakers are Sholto Forth and Qustave Lagrange, who are standing cn the pavement near the gates of Burlington House. They are deep in earnest conver sation on some subject of importance or they would not bear sc amiably the bumps and thumps of the busy crowd that is passing them. Gustave-having spent endless money and trouble upon a fruitless search for tho leather cAso that was stolon, has thought it best to make a clean breast of the whole affair to the only man who, ho knows, will advise him honestly on the subject—ho is not disappointed, indeed ho is rewarded for his trouble when Forth on his part is equally open detailing Sir Hubert’s anxiety about the box ; bis conclusion that it had been stolen by Gustave; also tho letter to Mrs. Annoylayo concerning tho papers from a certain lawyer ; hence the con versation thht morning between the two men. They have each looked upon tho other as a superior kind of man, in his own phase of life—admiration and re spect with a tinge of pity, has begot friendship on the part of Gustavo for his follow worker in the baronet’s vineyard. w We must take the bull by the horns,” said Forth. “It is no good beating about tho bush, or tho whole thing may slip through oar fingers. Gustavo meet me at one o’clock to-day sharp, don’t 'keep me waiting—at' Charing Cross.” In one of the dingiest of dingy allies in the neighbourhood of Lincoln's Inn, is a small neat of offices, though they scarcely deserve tho. name of offices, being merely a collection of single rooms of the dirtest description,—ink stained, grubby looking boarded floors, smoky faded walls, grimy cobwebby windows, in truth there is, nothing clean about these dens—except the small brass plate on a very few <jf tho doors and printed names on the wall at tho entrance of some of the aforesaid offices —there is a reason for this sign of soap and water—for spiders must live and if their webs are too dark to be | s?en there is no inducement for the flies to bo caught. There have been several attempts to pull the haunt down, bat no one has b en enterprising enough to undertake such a scheme, or braive enough to tackle such a community, so there it remains. In one of theso dismal rooms sits 'a man—cadaverous and haggard looking in the extreme, the deep set eyes as as a ferret’s, winder restlessly to and fro. with an uneasy terrified look, nob that he is given to foarof-any kind—the expression of his face is simply the index of his mind— Do somebody—to Have somebody in his claws—a shark socking whom ho may devour.—as his eyes look about tho don, with its deal table and bare look. The man glares about him in evident ] disgust as If he would like to take some thing or somebody by tho throat—tipping bock his chair and gnawing viciously at the old stump of a pen already gnawed away. “And the follow ’ haggles about two thousand ! Why it is dirt cheap I two thousand for tho title of “Barroinito” and to mention the adjoining estates given in as the saying is. “No no, not for Jo, not if I knows it, not for Joseph,” he attempted to sing with a croak. “Two thousand down in sovereigns or notes,none of yer I.O.U’s. or your promises to pay. No ! no that arrangement is only for fools—idiots that feel a pleasure in being gulled—nob for. Joseph Skinner, I was I not born yesterday Mr. Forteacue, that’s year name I think, not a bad name by any means bat I would rather my own if brains word weighed in tho balance. If | you had lived in .this part of the world j tny good fellow, as long as I have, you j would have learnt something more than two and two make four. I expect ho will be here to-day. Ho had bettor look sharp, there’s lots of others that would go in for such a prize. I’ll just have a look j through them, its feeding time, no one is about the 'place is as quiet as a church in week days.’.’ He crossed the room to a good sized cupboard, unlocked it, and from the under 1 part lie dragged forth by tho straps a leather case which ho was about to open when a sharp rap at the door, followed by a quick entrance of a stranger, gave him time only to fling his great mat care lessly over on the chair near him. “Good morning I think this is Mr. Joseph Skinner’s office is it nob” said Mr. Forth’s clear voice, “Right you are sir, I am Joseph Skin ner at your service. Take a seat, sir, 1 take a seat” said the lawyer politely, counting upon a new client. He took tho case off the chair, coat and all, and kicking it out of the way as if it was of no importance/be handed the chair j to the visitor regretting to himself that he hadn’t been allowed time to bustle away the case to its middle quarters and turn the key, but that would have created suspicion. “ I believe you wrote this letter to Mrs. Anneylnye, Mr, Skinner,” said Mr. Forth, showing-.! letter ho bold in his I hand. “ I did, sir—right you are—that is my signature. Are ymu related to the lady, may I ask,” said the lawyer, “ Oh no, my name. is Forth, I am only acting asa friend. I see by this letter that for the sum of two thousand pounds you will hand up certain papers. Does that include the box and its wholp contend!” “Yes. I think I could do that though it is preefcus little, I shan’t make much outof trarhactipn, Whatmy client stipu lated for two thousand down for the i -papers but vo* shall -have-the lot, thorp’s some valuable Jewellery in thp case.” M Two thousand is a ‘large sum,” said Mr. Forth, as/if deliberating, “You will give it up for that amount now if 1 pay the money—for nothing less, eh?” “Oouldn’t/couldp’t, titles and estates, to say nothing of the diamonds, is not to bad for the asking. I think I have Ifcen asking too littTe sir, I have really.” ; At this moment someone outside gave & firm and decided i'ahem,” as if clearing ] lus throat or wishing .to attract atten tion, ?, " Is anyone outside; is he a friend of yours,” said the* lawye.r, A shadow of doubt coming oyer His face, as he ffdgotted about in his chair. “Won’t no walk in?” ‘ . “ No; he is all right, thank you—wait* tog for me. Isuppose you ymuld not

object to toll roe bow this case came into your possession 7 You see it has been missing for years, at least the papers, and only lately discovered, 1 * said Mr. Forth. 11 That 1 cannot tell you, in fact I think my letter strictly forbade any questions concerning the box or papers. It came into the possession of a client of mine, and ho being a poor man, wanted to make a little money out of it. It was a present to him I may siy," said the lawyer. “ You have it here in this very room, ready to deliver." ** Certainly, certainly; but I must have tbo monvy first," said the lawyer, eagerly rising os he spoke. "Then now, listen tome, Mr. Skinner." “ Do you know that the box in question is stolen goods; that it was stolen from the platform of the Victoria Station on such a date, and that ns a receiver of stolen goods you are liable to severe punishment. Now I have the person from whom your friend stole 'the box with me outside—come in," to Gustave. “ That's the box you lost ; at any rate the part visible is enough to recognise it." “ Yes; after I bad brought it to J London it was stolen from mo." j 11 It is false ; it is lies ; 1*11 not believe it; let me send for my client, ho can ex plain. It’s a dodge to get the box for nothing, but I’ll bo even with you yet," said the lawyer furiously. “ Possession is nine points of the law, ah, ah. Suppose I turn the tables and have you in chokey for—" “ Come, come, my friend, don’t waste , unnecessary words, 1 will give you just five minutes, and if you don’t deliver up, that box to the person from whom it was stolen, I have a policeman waiting at tho bottom of the stairs, I’ve only to say the word and a warrant will be handed to you at once. I won't waste any time about it. It is for you to take proceedings if you find that our possession is unlaw ful. There’s my address; there’s my lawyer’s address; you can no as yea think fit." The lawyer was black with rage. “How do I know the case is yoars,” he said sulkily. “I don’t even know your name." “ Hero is my card,” said Gustavo, “ on the tape round the box is my name : also my name is tied to the strap on a label." “ I refuse to give it up," said the lawyer defiantly. “ It is not mine to give." “ Very well, just as you.please, time is nearly up," said Forth rising, and going towards Gustave. “ Well, let me send for my client, he don’t live far off. He’ll explain matters," said Skinner. “ Yea ; I don’t mind waiting too minutes, in tho meantime wo shall require possession of tho cos*. I see you have it there," said Sholto Forth in a light tone. “ I shall remain till you return, don’t be long.” “ Oh, I am not going; I shall get my neighbor’s boy to| take a note ; my client will bo here in no time.” He scribbled off a note hastily, which ho not only stuck down with the gam on tho envelope, but scaled it with sealing wax. “Tell your friend, to come at once. I wish no delay. Tell him if ho don’t come quick tho box will bo gone," said Mr. Forth jokingly, watching tho slow sealing process with the light of a tallow candle. “ No fear of that," said tho lawyer gaining courage, as he left the room and tapped at the door of the next, returning almost immediately. Half an hoar, an hoar, passed away. Forth was getting impatient “ I cannot wait much longer," he said, looking at his watch. A note was brought, which the lawyer read over and over with darkened brows and angry interjections. “Tho man’s a fool; pressing business; can’t come ; ahull institute proceedings—evi dently impostors.’’ “ Como, come, we have hod enough of this, You will bo kind enough to hand over that bos at once or wo con make you ; a warrant and you’ll bo in gaol be* fore nn hour is over. “ Touch it if you dare," said the lawyer furiously. “ Bo it on your head if you do so, you will bo in gaol first, good sir.” “ Then, I dare," said Forth, seizing the lawyer by thecollor, he swung him out of; tho way of the box, and against the wall heavily, whilst ho motioned Gustavo to take the cose, and leave the room. It was the* work of a moment; the man remained where ho was left on the floor protending to be unable to rise— insensible. Meanwhile Forth sat down at ! the table, and on a sheet of foolsdap a statement (hat tho box. had been stolen from Gustave Lagrange, and that this day he, Sholto Forth, had, acting for the owners of the box, taken it from (ho custody, or possession, of Joseph Skinner, the unlawful possessor of it. Leaving this on the table he left the room, pulling Gustavo down stairs, where they tipped the policeman for doing duty as sentinel for the time, took a cab, and drove away quickly to the rooms of Mr. Forth, at GustaWs expressed wish that the box might be in such safe quarters.