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- Self-Raised - 2/128 -
would need during the day; put the others carefully away; tied up his documents; took up his hat and gloves, and set out for his daily business at the City Hall.
In the ante-chamber of the Orphans' Court Room he met old Wiseman, who clapped him on the shoulder, exclaiming:
"How are you this morning, old fellow? All right, eh?"
"Thank you, I am quite well again," replied Ishmael.
"Ah ha! nothing like good brandy to get one up out of a fit of exhaustion."
"Ah!" exclaimed Ishmael, with a shudder.
"Well, and have you thought over what we were talking of yesterday?"
"It was--" Ishmael began, and then hesitated.
"It was about your going into partnership with me."
"Oh, yes! so it was! but I have not had time to think of it yet."
"Well, think over it today, will you, and then after the court has adjourned come to my chambers and talk the matter over with me. Will you?"
"Thank you, yes, certainly."
"Ah, well! I will not keep you any longer, for I see that you are in a hurry."
"It is because I have an appointment at ten," said Ishmael courteously.
"Certainly; and appointments must be kept. Good morning."
"Good morning, Mr. Wiseman."
"Mind, you are to come to my chambers after the court has adjourned."
"I will remember and come," said Ishmael.
And each went his way.
Ishmael had not yet seriously thought of Lawyer Wiseman's proposal. This forenoon, however, in the intervals of his professional business, he reflected on it.
The proposed partnership was unquestionably a highly advantageous one, in a worldly point of view. Lawyer Wiseman was undoubtedly the best lawyer and commanded the largest practice at the Washington bar, with one single exception--that of the brilliant young barrister whom he proposed to associate with himself. Together, they would be invincible, carrying everything before them; and Ishmael's fortune would be rapidly made.
So far the offer was a very tempting one; yet the more Ishmael reflected on it the more determined he became to refuse it; because, in fact, his conscience would not permit him to enter into partnership with Lawyer Wiseman, for the following reasons: Lawyer Wiseman, a man of unimpeachable integrity in his private life, declined to carry moral responsibility into his professional business. He was indiscriminate in his acceptation of briefs. It mattered not whether the case presented to him was a case of injustice, cruelty, or oppression, so that it was a case for law, with a wealthy client to back it. The only question with Lawyer Wiseman being the amount of the retaining fee. If his client liberally anointed Lawyer Wiseman's eyes with golden ointment, Lawyer Wiseman would undertake to see and make the judge and jury see anything and everything that his client wished! With such a man as this, therefore, whatever the professional advantages of the association might be, Ishmael could not enter into partnership.
And so when the court had adjourned Ishmael walked over to the chambers of Mr. Wiseman on Louisiana Avenue, and in an interview with the old lawyer courteously declined his offer.
This considerably astonished Mr. Wiseman, who pressed Ishmael for the reasons of his strange refusal.
And Ishmael, being urged, at length candidly confessed them.
Instead of being angry, as might have been expected, the old lawyer was simply amused. He laughed at his young friend's scruples, and assured him that experience would cure them. And the interview having been brought to a close, they shook hands and parted amicably.
Ishmael hurried home to dine and spend the evening with the family.
On the Monday following, at the order of Judge Merlin, preparations were commenced for shutting up the town house and leaving Washington for Tanglewood; for the judge swore that, let anyone whatever get married, or christened, stay in the city another week he could not, without decomposing, for that his soul had already left his body and preceded him to Tanglewood, whither he must immediately follow it.
Oh, but Bee had plenty of work to look after that week--the packing up of all the children's clothes, and of all the household effects-- such as silver plate, cut-glass, fine china, cutlery, etc., that were to be sent forward to Tanglewood.
She would have had to overlook the packing of the books also, but that Ishmael insisted on relieving her of that task, by doing it all with his own hands, as indeed he preferred to do it, for his love of books was almost--tender. It was curious to see him carefully straighten the leaves and brush the cover and edges of an old book, as conscientiously as he would have doctored a hurt child. They were friends and he was fond of them.
Ishmael continued steadily in the performance of all his duties, yet that he was still suffering very much might be observed in the abiding paleness and wasting thinness of his face, and in a certain languor and weariness in all his movements.
Bee in the midst of her multifarious cares did not forget his interests; she took pains to have his favorite dishes appear on the table in order to tempt him to take food. But, observing that he still ate little or nothing, while he daily lost flesh, she took an opportunity of saying to him in the library:
"Ishmael, you know I am a right good little doctress; I have had so much experience in nursing father and mother and the children; so I know what I am talking about, when I tell you that you need a tonic."
"Oh, Bee! if you did but really know, little sister!"
"I do know, Ishmael, I know it all!" she said gently.
"'Out of the heart are the issues of life!' Bee, mine has received a paralyzing blow."
"I know it, dear Ishmael; I know it; but let your great mind sustain that stricken heart until it recovers the blow. And in the meantime try to get up your strength. You must have more food and more rest, and in order to secure them you must take a tonic in the morning to give you an appetite, and a sedative at night to give you sleep. That was the way we saved mamma after little Mary died, or, indeed, I think she would have followed her."
Ishmael smiled a very wan smile as he answered:
"Indeed, I am ashamed of this utter weakness, Bee."
"Why should you be? Has Providence given you any immunity from the common lot? We must take our human nature as it is given to us and do the best we can with it, I think."
"What a wise little woman you are, Bee."
"That's because I have got a good memory. The wisdom was second- handed, Ishmael, being just what I heard you yourself say when you were defending Featherstonehaugh:
"'There's nothing original in me Excepting original sin.'"
"And, now, will you follow my advice?"
"To the letter, dear Bee, whenever you are so good as to advise me. Ah, Bee, you seem to comprise in yourself all that that I have missed of family affection, and to compensate me for the unknown love of her mother, sister, friend."
"Do I, Ishmael? Oh, I wish that I really did!" said Bee, impulsively; and then she blushed deeply at suddenly apprehending the construction that might he put upon her words.
But Ishmael answered those words in the spirit in which they were uttered:
"Believe me, dearest Bee, you do. If I never feel the want of home affections it is because I have them all in you. My heart finds rest in you, Bee. But oh, little sister, what can I ever render to you for all the good you have done me from my childhood up?"
"Render yourself good and wise and great, Ishmael, and I shall be sufficiently happy in watching your upward progress," said Bee.
And quietly putting down on the table a bunch of grapes that she had brought, she withdrew from the office.
HERMAN AND ISHMAEL.
With a deep groan he cried--"Oh, gifted one, I am thy father! Hate me not, my son!" --_Anon_.
Nor are my mother's wrongs forgot;
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