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Arthur Leland
by [?]

ARTHUR LELAND was a young lawyer of some twenty-seven years of age. His office stood a stone’s throw from the court-house, in a thriving town in the West. Arthur had taken a full course in a Northern college, both in the collegiate and law department, and with some honour. During his course he had managed to read an amazing amount of English literature, and no man was readier or had a keener taste in such things than he. He had a pleasing personal appearance, a fluent and persuasive manner, an unblemished character. Every morning he came to his office from one of the most pleasant little cottage homes in the world; and if you had opened the little front gate, and gone up through the shrubbery to the house, you would have seen a Mrs. Leland, somewhere in-doors, and she as intelligent and pleasant a lady as you ever saw. You would have seen, moreover, tumbling about the grass, or up to the eyes in some mischief, as noble-looking a little fellow of some three years old as you could well have wished for your own son.

This all looks well enough, but there is something wrong. Not in the house. No; it is as pleasant a cottage as you could wish–plenty of garden, peas and honeysuckles climbing up everywhere, green grass, white paint, Venetian blinds, comfortable furniture.

Not in Willie, the little scamp. No; rosy, healthy, good head, intelligent eyes, a fine specimen he was of an only son. Full of mischief, of course, he was. Overflowing with uproar and questions and mischief. Mustachios of egg or butter-milk or molasses after each meal, as a matter of course. Cut fingers, bumped forehead, torn clothes, all day long. Yet a more affectionate, easily-managed child never was.

The mischief was not in Lucy, the Mrs. Leland. I assure you it was not. Leland knew, to his heart’s core, that a lovelier, more prudent, sensible, intelligent wife it was impossible to exist. Thrifty, loving, lady-like, right and true throughout.

Where was this mischief? Look at Leland. He is in perpetual motion. Reading, writing, walking the streets, he is always fast, in dead earnest. Somewhat too fast. There is a certain slowness about your strong man. You never associate the idea of mental depth and power with your quick-stepping man. You cannot conceive of a Roman emperor or a Daniel Webster as a slight, swift man. The bearing of a man’s body is the outward emblem of the bearing of his soul. Leland is rather slight, rather swift. He meets you in his rapid walk. He stops, grasps your hand, asks cordially after your health. There is an open, warm feeling in the man. No hypocrisy whatever. Yet he talks too fast. He don’t give you half a chance to answer one of his rapid questions, before he is asking another totally different. He is not at ease. He keeps you from being at ease. You feel it specially in his house. He is too cordial, too full of effort to make your visit pleasant to you. You like him, yet you don’t feel altogether at home with him. You are glad when he leaves you to his more composed wife. You never knew or heard of his saying or doing anything wrong or even unbecoming. You look upon him as a peculiar sort of man–well, somehow–but! He is at the bar defending that woman, who sits by him, dressed in mourning–some chancery case. Or it is a criminal case, and it is the widow’s only son that Leland is defending. If you had been in his office for the last week, you would have acknowledged that he has studied the case, has prepared himself on it as thoroughly as a man can. He is an ambitious man. He intensely desires to make for himself a fortune and a position. His address to the judge, or to the jury, as the case may be, is a good one. Yet, somehow, he does not convince. He himself is carried away by his own earnestness, but he does not carry away with him his hearers. His remarks are interesting. People listen to him from first to last closely. Yet his arguing does not, somehow, convince. His pathos does not, somehow, melt. He is the sort of man that people think of for the Legislature. No man ever thinks of him in connexion with the Supreme Bench or Senate.