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The Hypotheses Of Failure
by [?]

“You wish to state a hypothetical case?” said Lawyer Gooch.

“I was going to say that,” said the lady, sharply. “Now, suppose there is a woman who is all soul and heart and aspirations for a complete existence. This woman has a husband who is far below her in intellect, in taste–in everything. Bah! he is a brute. He despises literature. He sneers at the lofty thoughts of the world’s great thinkers. He thinks only of real estate and such sordid things. He is no mate for a woman with soul. We will say that this unfortunate wife one day meets with her ideal–a man with brain and heart and force. She loves him. Although this man feels the thrill of a new-found affinity he is too noble, too honourable to declare himself. He flies from the presence of his beloved. She flies after him, trampling, with superb indifference, upon the fetters with which an unenlightened social system would bind her. Now, what will a divorce cost? Eliza Ann Timmins, the poetess of Sycamore Gap, got one for three hundred and forty dollars. Can I–I mean can this lady I speak of get one that cheap?”

“Madam,” said Lawyer Gooch, “your last two or three sentences delight me with their intelligence and clearness. Can we not now abandon the hypothetical and come down to names and business?”

“I should say so,” exclaimed the lady, adopting the practical with admirable readiness. “Thomas R. Billings is the name of the low brute who stands between the happiness of his legal–his legal, but not his spiritual–wife and Henry K. Jessup, the noble man whom nature intended for her mate. I,” concluded the client, with an air of dramatic revelation, “am Mrs. Billings!”

“Gentlemen to see you, sir,” shouted Archibald, invading the room almost at a handspring. Lawyer Gooch arose from his chair.

“Mrs. Billings,” he said courteously, “allow me to conduct you into the adjoining office apartment for a few minutes. I am expecting a very wealthy old gentleman on business connected with a will. In a very short while I will join you, and continue our consultation.”

With his accustomed chivalrous manner, Lawyer Gooch ushered his soulful client into the remaining unoccupied room, and came out, closing the door with circumspection.

The next visitor introduced by Archibald was a thin, nervous, irritable-looking man of middle age, with a worried and apprehensive expression of countenance. He carried in one hand a small satchel, which he set down upon the floor beside the chair which the lawyer placed for him. His clothing was of good quality, but it was worn without regard to neatness or style, and appeared to be covered with the dust of travel.

“You make a specialty of divorce cases,” he said, in, an agitated but business-like tone.

“I may say,” began Lawyer Gooch, “that my practice has not altogether avoided–“

“I know you do,” interrupted client number three. “You needn’t tell me. I’ve heard all about you. I have a case to lay before you without necessarily disclosing any connection that I might have with it–that is–“

“You wish,” said Lawyer Gooch, “to state a hypothetical case.

“You may call it that. I am a plain man of business. I will be as brief as possible. We will first take up hypothetical woman. We will say she is married uncongenially. In many ways she is a superior woman. Physically she is considered to be handsome. She is devoted to what she calls literature–poetry and prose, and such stuff. Her husband is a plain man in the business walks of life. Their home has not been happy, although the husband has tried to make it so. Some time ago a man–a stranger–came to the peaceful town in which they lived and engaged in some real estate operations. This woman met him, and became unaccountably infatuated with him. Her attentions became so open that the man felt the community to be no safe place for him, so he left it. She abandoned husband and home, and followed him. She forsook her home, where she was provided with every comfort, to follow this man who had inspired her with such a strange affection. Is there anything more to be deplored,” concluded the client, in a trembling voice, “than the wrecking of a home by a woman’s uncalculating folly?”