Chapter 197738072

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Chapter NumberXLIII
Chapter TitleFREEBENCH.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article197738072
Full Date1880-03-27
Page Number1
Corrections0
Word Count3584
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)
Trove TitleFreebench. A Tale of South African Life
article text

FREEBENCH ;

A TALE OF SOUTH AFRICAN LIFE.

CHAPTER XLIII. FBHBBH2VCH.

BY COPIA FAXDI, S.C.L. (Author of" Twelve True Tales of the Law.")

Harry had borrowed a coat from his lawyer, so as not to appear in Court in a foreign uniform, which should indicate a flagrant breach of the foreign Enlistment Act, and dressed in this coat and with a cotton shirt and an old pair of moleskins, he stood for a moment with Mrs. Lovelace and Phyllis at the door of the Courthouse, while some of the people concerned were coming in. At this moment who should oome ap the steps but Smiley. Catching eight of Harry he stood for a moment on the middle step, as if p&raljzed, and tnrned very pale; then his eyebrows began to more about and his eyelids to bliak, and his hands to twitch worse than Harry had ever seen them, and Harry burst oat laughing. He could not help it. Smiley then seemed to collect himself, and mounting the remaining step saluted the ladies respectfully, and then Harry. " Mr. Holroyd," he said, " believe me, in spite of the position of apparent hostility which has been forced upon me, no one rejoices more than myself at your marvellous reappearance—I had almost said your miraculous resurrection." < u Go and be hanged for a'lying hypocrite and humbug!" said Harry, kicking him down the steps again. Just as Smiley was sent flying down the steps, the portly figure of a good-natured-looking gentleman, in a blue cloth jacket and gilt buttons, was turning the corner to come up, and Smiley cannoned against him in a manner which somewhat impeded his breathiBg. The gentleman was none other than Mr. Justice Williams, who was trying the case. ** Now, my good man," said the Judge, puffing, " I dare say you are very well suited by nature for the profession of an acrobat, but this is hardly the place to practise it." " It was not my fault," my Lord," said Smiley. " This man kicked me down the steps." u Didhe? n said the Judge; "and what had you been doing to deserve it ?" " Nothing, my Lord; this man is the husband of the defendant in the suit. He has come to life again." " So it seems," said the Judge. " Now, my good fellow," Baid he, turning to Harry, " the next time you come to life again, just see that I am not coming up the stairs, will you ?" There was a little titter among some of the Jurymen who were waiting to go in. " Queer old card that," said one. " Just like old Williams," said another. And in three minntes more the Judge had taken his seat, and the Jurymen had answered to their names, upon which Mr. Leftpoint rose, and said that, before the case was gone on with, his client, Mr. Smiley, wished to complain of a gross contempt of Court, which had been committed in its immediate precincts. A person now sitting in Court, by the side of the defendant, had kicked Mr. Smiley down the steps as he was coming to the trial of a case in which he was plaintiff. "Yes," said the Jjdge, "Mr. Smiley has already mentioned it to me. He says the gentleman is the defendant's husband come to life again,"

That can hardly be, my Lord, because Mr. Holroyd's death has been proved in Court, and the widow has administered." " Well, if you have any complaint against a dead body, Mr. Leftpoint, just take it before the Magistrate. (Boars of laughter.) I do not fdel inclined to treat this as a contempt of Court. Tou eee, you have been making love to Che widow, and tkru the husband comes to life again, and kickB you down stairs—(laughter) —exactly what would be expected. (Laughter.) You have quite sufficient remedy before the Magistrate or by actiou: and now go on with the case. You have not closed your case for the defence, Mr. Parry; have you any more witnessfs ?" " Yes, my Lord—the gentleman who has come alive again. But first 1 will ask your Lordship to &ek the defendant, who has been sworn, whether gentleman sitting by her side is her husband." The Judge put the question, and Phyllis stood np and blushed a little and^answered in the affirmative. Mr, Parry then called Henry Holroyd, who was sworn, and, in answer to questions, deposed that he was the husband of the defendant, whom he married in England before coming out to South Africa, and that while in England be had served four yeais under articles to his father, a solicitor, of the firm of Holroyd and Phillips; after which the following examinatiou took place. " Do you know the estate called Earlstowe, lately belonging to your wife's father?" " 1 do. It is a tenement of the manor of Thurgoland, and held according to the custom of the manor/' " Are you yourself acquainted with the customs of the manor " Yes; my father is steward, and I have had to prepare the entries for the Court Boll under him, and have also been deputy-steward myself, and have held Court in that capacity. I have also served the office of teeve of the manor." " When a tenant of the manor dies intestate, leaving a widow without male issue, what is the custom as to inheritance and the widow's righ's ?" " The widow takes freebench of the whole during widowhood, and the female heir is only admitted subject to the widow's right." Mr. Parry sat down and Mr. Leftpoint rose. " You are not a tenant of the manor yourself, Mr. Holroyd " Yes; I am joint-tenant of one of the largest tenements." A wealthy man, in fact ?" " As trustee for another." " How maDy times within your knowledge has a tenant of the manor died intestate, leaving only female issue and a widow who has takeu fret bench of the whole?" " As clerk to my father and as deputy-steward I |have dealt with three tenements where that happened." " Is the custom of the manor written or printed ?" " No; the custom of the manor ao a whole is to be gathered from the Court Roll and the traditions of the manor; but we have a Custorrary Book or Manual io Latin, in which entries h-ive been made concerning the customs froru time to time ty successive stewards as a guide to those who should come after them." " Aud pray do you remember what this Latin took says on the custom which you were now speildog of?'' "Yes; it says— Qwl s-i de-si'ntf/in*, nepns et }...-. / r : J>'a Into (totelii,' f/i(n! ca^ta et • , It: r Leftpoint eat down. " The defendant's case, my Lord," said Mr Wiiylit Pairv. Need we go on V said the Judge. " Your right to payment depends on the <2efendanl's right to the possession of a tenement which she has no claim to possess.* '* We will take a nonsuit, my Lord," said Leftpoiut. Mr. "Wright Parry had no objection ; and all the player® in the judicial drama left the Court- Harry, as he passed out by the side of Phyllis, received many congratulations both on his safe return and on his legal victory ; and when they emerged into the public garden which surrounds the Court-house, Mrs. Lovelace told Harry that her school was in vacation, and she could £ad him room at her house, where his wife was staying. So he went to the schoolhoase and had a long talk with Phyllis, interspersed with many caresses, and afterwards a consultation with the faithful Tambooti. CHAPTER XLIY. •WHAT HARBT GA1HEI) BT 13EIMG KILLED. The nest day Harry called at the Post-Office and made a lew enquiries at the Bank, the result of which was that he went to see his lawyer. " I find Sir," said Harry, " that while I was at the fort and at the Kafir Hospital at Umipaslela's my mother sent me out orders for cooney, and Smiley got the letters at the Post- Office, and went to the Bask with the evidence that my wife was appointed to administer, and presented the orders as if signed by her, and drew the money. He was not her agent, and she knew nothing of it." " You need not dream of getting the money back," said Mr. "Wright Parry. " Smiley has to-day surrendered his estate for the benefit of bis creditors, and that estate consists of a few ii recoverable debts, including the money lent to your wife, a silver watch, and a portrait of his grandmother, who was a maid of honour. He will not be able to pay the costs of the action, so I shall have to look to you. But we will presecute him, and it will serve him right. A couple of years in the brickyard will do him good. Just come in in the afternoon, will you ?" The news of Harry's discovery created much astonishment when he returned aud told it to Mrs. Lovelace and Phyllis. " And what will be done to him for this ?" asked Phyllis. " Convict him and send him to gaol, I suppose," said Harry; "simplest thing in the world." " Ob, Harry!" cried Phyllis, " bow foolish and weak and wicked I have been to let that man come near me; but I was so very, very wretched, and I had no other friend." "Your position was very trying, my beauty," said Harry, kissing ber, "and it was partly my fault that it was so. But, however deserted you may feel, it is better to have no friend at all than a rascal. If you wait patiently, God will raise np a proper friend for you." " Oh! I shall never forgive myself," said Phyllis," and after so many warnings, too. But I pitied the man for the very misfortune which made jou despise him.''

" You have mistaken me, Phyllis. His rascality is the cause, and the contortion of his oountenance and of his hands is the effect. Nature has, so to speak, placarded the man with a certificate of his character, and &U we have to do is to take notice of it. Simplest thing Hulloa, what's that? A gun from the fort? Come along, Phill, and get your own letters this time. There is sure to be news. Au revoir, Mrs. Lovelace." " This is where they took me oS the postcart and took me to gaol," said Phyllis, as they reached the front of the Post-Office. " Oh ! so they did, my poor girl," said Harry. " You never told me; but I saw it from the lawyer's brief. It was a shame to take you from here, though, so publicly. But come and squeeze through these Kafirs and get to the window j they won't give the letters to me, you know." "Any letters for Mrs. Holroyd?" asked Harry ; " and if there are any for me," he continued, " you can hand them over to my widow and executrix." A little burst of laughter followed, and Phyllis got quite into good spirits again when three letters were handed over to ber. " Are you the gentleman who has come alive again?" said a pleasant-looking fellow, coming up to him as they walked away. "I am the resuscitated, and very much at, your service," said Harry. " "Would you mind giving me a few particulars for the Press ?" said the other. "With much pleasure," said Harry. "I know what you want; startling adventures— striking scenes in native warfare—Yon Schlickmann—the unconquered Krantz—rescue of a noble native—Kafir gratitude—a novel surgical operation—hairbreadth escape from the Boers— the drad alive again—the legal denouement—and the welcome home. Four chapters; a guinea a piece; dirt cheap; when do you want 'em ?" " Can you send me the first by "Wednesday noon for Thursday's issue ?" " Of course I con; and now for the name of your valuable organ." "Here is my card." " Bight," said Harry, walking away with Phyllis. "But you are not going to publish your joining the Boers, when it was against the - law,, are you ?" said Phyllis. " Might you not be sent to prison ?" "Oh, that's all right," said Harry. "I never heard of the proclamation at all, aud was in the Transvaal and under Boer law when I enlisted. Simplest thing in the world. Now let us go and read the letters." And they went and sat down under t&e shade of the big trees in the market-square, and Harry lit his pipe while Phyllis read the letters. "Here's one from Steppy," said Phyllis, sayugshe is married to a clergyman—a Mr. Blanksole. and ahe says Earlstowe is wholly at my disposal." "Of course it is," said Harry (puff, puff), " get a power of attorney and be admitted by your attorney (puff, puff) out of Court, in pur- 6uance of the statute fourth and fifth (puff) Victoria. Simplest thing in the world. Let me look at the letter. That one you are reading now is from my father (puff, puff). I "know his writing." "Then read it yourself, dear Harry," said Phyllis, handing it over to bim. Harry opened the letter and read it; but he had not got very far before tears began to obscure his eyes many times before he could finish reading. " It is very kind of the old man," said Harry,

sobbing, " he says he ' always liked the boy,' and that I was the cleverest.of his sons, and he never wished me to leave, and he is sorry for you, and the share he meant for me is reserved for you. Oh, it is very kind both to you and to ms, Phyllis. I never knew he liked me so much before, and (half laughing through his tears) I am not quite sure that he knew it himself till be thought I was dead. I will write to the old man and thank him, and I think I should like some day to go back to him. And I want to see my mother, too. I had nothing but her picture to look at while I lay for two months half buried." And Phyllis kissed her still weeping husband msDy times, and held his hand in hers and looked at him, half crying herself. She quite forgot that they were in a public place; but it did not much matter, for the people who passed by thought no more than that they were two poor tools who had had bad news from Europe. •' If you would like to go back to your father and mother, you need not wait long," said Phyllis. " Look at this letter." "By Jove!" said Harry, "it's old Marshall; your father's attorney. Widow married again sole heir of your father; money sent out on account of distributive share; call at Mr. Wright Parry's. W ell done, old Marshall!" " "What shall we do ?" said Phyllis. " Why, go to Wright Parry's at once and draw the money, to be sure; simplest thing in the world," said Harry, apparently quite recovered. It was not far to go, and they went together. CHAPTER XLV-. BMILEY'S HALF-CA8TB WIFE. " I congratulate you, Mrs. Holroyd," said the lawyer, as the young couple entered the room; " no more borrowing your own money from Blinkeyes—eh? Just sign that, please, and there's my cheque for the amount, less the costs of the action. Aud cow,'' said he, turning to Harry, *' how about prosecuting that rascal ?" In my present posiiiou," said Harry, " it appears to me that aI am more than ever bonnd to do so: for I must either pay him back what he appears to have advanced for the maintenance of my wife, or else prove publicly that he stole that money from me." " How long will it take to do this ?" said Phyllis. " It will be about seven weeks to the next Criminal Sessions," said Mr. Parry. " While you • are waiting to prosecute Mr. Smiley, your father, whom you are so anxious to see, may be dead," said Phyllis. " I don't wish to return to him dishonoured," said Harry; " I don't care about punishing thu man so much, but it must be clearly shown that we owe him nothing." "Is that all you want?" said the liwyer. ""Will his written acknowledgment satisfy you ?'' " Quite," said Harry. " Then 111 send for the man. There he goes! Here, Usipego!" And Mr. tarry sent his Kafir to fetch " the blinking white man." Smiley was taken into another room, and the lawyer prepared a paper by which Hairy coudoiit d the stealing by Smiley of the two drafts, mentioning the dates and amounts, and his forgery of Mrs. Holroyd's signature as administratrix, and his embezzlement or stealing o: the procteds. Barry and Phyllis both signed it, and Mr. Pany took a pressed copy and went out to Srtitley, and shortly returned with a follacknow- Itagment of the offence, signed by Smiley himself. He took a pressed copy of this also, aud handed it to Harry. " Is Mr. Smiley in great distress ?" asked Phyllis. " Insolvent—and without a sixpence," said the lawyer; " and when he has gone through the Court, nobody will trust him in business again." " I should like to leave a £10 note for him clear of his creditors," said Earry ; " he was a civil sort of blackguard." " Then you bad better leave it to his half- Hottentot wife," said the legal gentleman; " she has remained unacknowledged for some time, but she is brought forward again now to be of service in accounting for property." " Mr. Smiley married'." exclaimed Phyllis " wliat a villain!" "Well, it is a mark of depravity !" said the lawyer laughirg; " I am married myself, and so is your husband!" " Was Smiley married when he proposed to my wife at Earlstowe, two years ago 'P asked Harry. " Did he do so ?" said Mr. Parry, much astonished. ''Yes; certainly he was married. I have seen the certificate in the hands of his attorney. He was married in Cape Colony six years a^o, where he was keeping a Kafir store, and selling rum to natives on the sly. You shall see the certificate yourself to-morrow, if you like, and also his own accounts making mention of his wife." " Mr. Party,' said Phyllis', " little more than two years ago, without any encouragement from me, but at the instigation of a woman who was bent on marrying my father, which she afterwards did, that man proposed to me. Now, if I had been so weak as to fall in love with him, and accept him, what would he have done with the other woman ?" " It is difficult to say, indeed," said Mr. Parry ; " but I suppose he would have pacified her by an allowance out of your money as long as it was possible, and then, if necessary, would have put an end to one or other of you. Never trust a man who twists and contracts bis fingers, to say nothing ot blinking." CHAPTER XLVI. THB FATTED CALF. It was a week before the steamer left, and Harry wrote his adventures in five columns for the Times of Natal, and he and Phyllis were feted on a small scale by several of the better sort of people, including Mr. Wright Parry and his wife. Then came the journey to the Port, and, in due course, the paper, which contained the last instalment of Harry's story, announced " Mr. and Mrs. Holroyd and one Kafir" among the homeward-bound passengers. A telegram from Madeira gave time for six days' expectation of the travellers, and at the end of that time Harry and his wife were made welcome at Salopsbury by both his parents and by his sisters, with whom he was as much a favourite as ever. The Salopsbury Chronicle reprinted the tale of his adventures from the colonial journal, and by the time Harry and Phyllis took possession of Earlstowe their names and doings were in everybody's mouth. Harry, much to the joy of his father, entered

himself of the Middle Temple, and hid fair to be a great acquisition to the county. Mistress of Earlstowe^and enjoying the affection of her handsome and. talented husband, Phyllis led a happy and an honoured life; and when I lAt heard of her . there was no likelihood that any lack of male issrie .should invite a resort to the more recondite customs of the manor contained in the Latin t»»Tin«T. Tambooti always attends his mistress when she goes abroad, carrying his Kafir stick : and his splendid head of crimped hair, his ostrich feather, and his naked feet are the admiration of the neighbourhood. Mr. Smiley, after his insolvency, beoime a member of a large evangelical congregation, and, contrary to the predictions of Mr. Wright Parry, returned to his business of an auctioneer, and became a fairly thriving man, and was held in high esteem by his new co-religionists. TUB BHD.