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The Solicitor
by [?]

The office was at its busiest, for it was Friday afternoon. John Blunt leant back in his comfortable chair and toyed with the key of the safe, while he tried to realize his new position. He, John Blunt, was junior partner in the great London firm of Macnaughton, Macnaughton, Macnaughton, Macnaughton & Macnaughton!

He closed his eyes, and his thoughts wandered back to the day when he had first entered the doors of the firm as one of two hundred and seventy-eight applicants for the post of office-boy. They had been interviewed in batches, and old Mr Sanderson, the senior partner, had taken the first batch.

“I like your face, my boy,” he had said heartily to John.

“And I like yours,” replied John, not to be outdone in politeness.

“Now I wonder if you can spell ‘mortgage’?”

“One ‘m’?” said John tentatively.

Mr Sanderson was delighted with the lad’s knowledge, and engaged him at once.

For three years John had done his duty faithfully. During this time he had saved the firm more than once by his readiness–particularly on one occasion, when he had called old Mr Sanderson’s attention to the fact that he had signed a letter to a firm of stockbrokers, “Your loving husband Macnaughton, Macnaughton, Macnaughton, Macnaughton & Macnaughton.” Mr Sanderson, always a little absentminded, corrected the error, and promised the boy his articles. Five years later John Blunt was a solicitor.

And now he was actually junior partner in the firm–the firm of which it was said in the City, “If a man has Macnaughton, Macnaughton, Macnaughton, Macnaughton & Macnaughton behind him, he is all right.” The City is always coining pithy little epigrams like this.

There was a knock at the door of the inquiry office and a prosperous-looking gentleman came in.

“Can I see Mr Macnaughton,” he said politely to the office-boy.

“There isn’t no Mr Macnaughton,” replied the latter. “They all died years ago.”

“Well, well, can I see one of the partners?”

“You can’t see Mr Sanderson, because he’s having his lunch,” said the boy. “Mr Thorpe hasn’t come back from lunch yet, Mr Peters has just gone out to lunch, Mr Williams is expected back from lunch every minute, Mr Gourlay went out to lunch an hour ago, Mr Beamish–“

“Tut, tut, isn’t anybody in?”

“Mr Blunt is in,” said the boy, and took up the telephone. “If you wait a moment I’ll see if he’s awake.”

Half an hour later Mr Masters was shown into John Blunt’s room.

“I’m sorry I was engaged,” said John. “A most important client. Now, what can I do for you, Mr–er–Masters?”

“I wish to make my will.”

“By all means,” said John cordially.

“I have only one child, to whom I intend to leave all my money.”

“Ha!” said John, with a frown. “This will be a lengthy and difficult business.”

“But you can do it?” asked Mr Masters anxiously. “They told me at the hairdresser’s that Macnaughton, Macnaughton, Macnaughton, Macnaughton & Macnaughton was the cleverest firm in London.”

“We can do it,” said John simply, “but it will require all our care; and I think it would be best if I were to come and stay with you for the week-end. We could go into it properly then.”

“Thank you,” said Mr Masters, clasping the other’s hand. “I was just going to suggest it. My motor-car is outside. Let us go at once.”

“I will follow you in a moment,” said John, and pausing only to snatch a handful of money from the safe for incidental expenses, and to tell the boy that he would be back on Monday, he picked up the well-filled week-end bag which he always kept ready, and hurried after the other.

Inside the car Mr Masters was confidential.

“My daughter,” he said, “comes of age to-morrow.”

“Oh, it’s a daughter?” said John, in surprise. “Is she pretty?”

“She is considered to be the prettiest girl in the county.”

“Really?” said John. He thought a moment, and added, “Can we stop at a post-office? I must send an important business telegram.” He took out a form and wrote: