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THE specimen which was given in the last
chapter of this narrative of Gilbert Penmore's
failure to make a favourable impression on the
fraternity of attorneys, was by no means an
isolated one. He was not the man for them.
They did not understand what was in him, it
came out so grudgingly, as it seemed to them.
There were plenty of lawyers of much less
ability to whom the attorneys would take their
work in preference, and Penmore would see
himself passed over continually, while others of
much less knowledge and discernment, but glib
of utterance, were full of business.

It is half the battle in this profession of the
law, as in not a few others, to have a reputation
for being extraordinarily busy. The awful truth
fresh confirmations of which come before us
dailythat "to him that hath shall be given,"
seems to be powerfully illustrated in a case of
this kind. It is a fact that the man who has
already much to do receives even more and more
employment continually. Everything in the
shape of business comes his way. He is invited,
nay implored, to undertake what he really has
not time to do justice to, while the very excuses
which he makes, the mere announcement that he
has already more to do than he can attend to
properly, only makes his employers more and more
anxious to secure his much-coveted services.

"I understand," says somebody who knows,
"that Scruncher the dentist is obliged to retire
from his operating-room six times daily, in order
to empty his pockets of the inconvenient weight
of guineas which accumulate in them." Away
rushes any one who hears the announcement, to
be tortured forthwith by Scruncher. " Chalkey
the artist," says somebody else, " has commissions,
I am told, which will occupy him for the
next seven years at least," and off darts the
art-patron to make sure of Chalkey's services during
that eighth year which is still to let.

But our young lawyer had other things to
trouble him besides professional neglect.
Vexations of a more domestic sort were not wanting;
and, as if those words which we have quoted
above were true of what troubles us as well as
of what brings us profit, accumulation of
domestic perplexity came upon our friend in
addition to his professional difficulties, and as if
these last were not enough.

It was one of the leading features of Miss
Carrington's peculiar character that her moral
vision was somewhat oblique in the matter of
truth. Not only was she in the habit of
"embroidering," or in other words decorating what
professed to be fact with fictitious ornamentation,
she went beyond this, and would sometimes
even deal in fiction such as had no
foundation whatever in fact, the fruit of a powerful
imagination only. Indeed, so powerful was this
lady's imagination, that after any idea had been
presented to her by that function two or three
times, she would get to think that it really was
something more than a fancy of her mind, and
would speak of it as nothing less than a reality. .

To what extent this lady believed that
Gilbert Penmore had once been in love with her, it
would be difficult to say. She certainly went on
as if he had, as was shown in the matter of the
photograph, nor did she let slip any opportunity
of impressing this fiction on the mind of her
hostess, always taking a tone as if she conceded
to Gabrielle the right to associate, indeed, with
her husband, and to live in the house, but as if
she were the person who really understood him,
and whose life should, by right, have been
associated with his. She was a woman, not a mere
girl like Gabrielle. She would have understood
his character, entered into his thoughts and his
ambition, and would, in short, have been in all
respects the right person for him.

Now of course it was not likely that Miss
Carrington would put all this into words. Yet
she managed somehow or other to insinuate it
all, by dark hints, and gestures, and covert
allusions. Gabrielle knew that this woman was
vapouring and talking nonsense. She knew that
when her husband first came over to England he
had passed a few days at the house of Miss
Carrington's father, who was since dead, that he had
spent the time almost entirely in fishing, and
that no idea of Miss Carrington, except in the
light of a somewhat disagreeable young woman,
had so much as entered his head. And yet,
though she knew all this, and knew that the
image of his dear West Indian had never for a
moment been supplanted in his mind by that of any
other woman, still the preposterous conduct of
this lady in asserting a sort of tone of superiority
over her, and of proprietorship in her own Gilbert,
did, at times, annoy and irritate her vastly.