“Don’t you know that their attorneys have noticed us that they have withdrawn the suit?”

Mr. Harding explained to the lawyer that he knew nothing of this, although he had heard in a round- about way that such an intention had been talked of; and he also at length succeeded in making Sir Abraham understand that even this did not satisfy him. The attorney-general stood up, put his hands into his breeches’ pockets, and raised his eyebrows, as Mr. Harding proceeded to detail the grievance from which he now wished to rid himself.

“I know I have no right to trouble you personally with this matter, but as it is of most vital importance to me, as all my happiness is concerned in it, I thought I might venture to seek your own advice.”

Sir Abraham bowed, and declared his clients were entitled to the best advice he could give them; particularly a client so respectable in every way as the Warden of Barchester Hospital.

“A spoken word, Sir Abraham, is often of more value than volumes of written advice. The truth is, I am ill satisfied with this matter as it stands at present. I do see—I cannot help seeing, that the affairs of the hospital are not arranged according to the will of the founder.”

“None of such institutions are, Mr. Harding, nor can they be; the altered circumstances in which we live do not admit of it.”

“Quite true—that is quite true; but I can’t see that those altered circumstances give me a right to eight hundred a year. I don’t know whether I ever read John Hiram’s will, but were I to read it now I could not understand it. What I want you, Sir Abraham, to tell me, is this—am I, as warden, legally and distinctly entitled to the proceeds of the property, after the due maintenance of the twelve bedesmen?”

Sir Abraham declared that he couldn’t exactly say in so many words that Mr. Harding was legally entitled to, &c., &c., &c., and ended in expressing a strong opinion that it would be madness to raise any further question on the matter, as the suit was to be,—nay, was, abandoned.

Mr. Harding, seated in his chair, began to play a slow tune on an imaginary violoncello.

“Nay, my dear sir,” continued the attorney-general, “there is no further ground for any question; I don’t see that you have the power of raising it.”

“I can resign,” said Mr. Harding, slowly playing away with his right hand, as though the bow were beneath the chair in which he was sitting.

“What! throw it up altogether?” said the attorney-general, gazing with utter astonishment at his client.

“Did you see those articles in the Jupiter?” said Mr. Harding, piteously, appealing to the sympathy of the lawyer.

Sir Abraham said he had seen them. This poor little clergyman, cowed into such an act of extreme weakness by a newspaper article, was to Sir Abraham so contemptible an object, that he hardly knew how to talk to him as to a rational being.

“Hadn’t you better wait,” said he, “till Dr. Grantly is in town with you? Wouldn’t it be better to postpone any serious step till you can consult with him?”

Mr. Harding declared vehemently that he could not wait, and Sir Abraham began seriously to doubt his sanity.

“Of course,” said the latter, “if you have private means sufficient for your wants, and if this——”

“I haven’t a sixpence, Sir Abraham,” said the warden.

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