The American Senator
19. Who Valued The Geese?
Before the time had come for the visit to Rufford Hall Mr. Gotobed had called
upon Bearside the attorney and had learned as much as Mr. Bearside chose to
tell him of the facts of the case. This took place on the Saturday morning and the
interview was on the whole satisfactory to the Senator. But then having a theory
of his own in his head, and being fond of ventilating his own theories, he
explained thoroughly to the man the story which he wished to hear before the
man was called upon to tell his story. Mr. Bearside of course told it accordingly.
Goarly was a very poor man, and very ignorant; was perhaps not altogether so
good a member of society as he might have been; but no doubt he had a strong
case against the lord. The lord, so said Mr. Bearside, had fallen into a way of
paying a certain recompense in certain cases for crops damaged by game; and
having in this way laid down a rule for himself did not choose to have that rule
disturbed. "Just feudalism!" said the indignant Senator. "No better, nor yet no
worse than that, sir," said the attorney who did not in the least know what
feudalism was. "The strong hand backed by the strong rank and the strong purse
determined to have its own way!" continued the Senator. "A most determined
man is his lordship," said the attorney. Then the Senator expressed his hope that
Mr. Bearside would be able to see the poor man through it, and Mr. Bearside
explained to the Senator that the poor man was a very poor man indeed, who
had been so unfortunate with his land that he was hardly able to provide bread
for himself and his children. He went so far as to insinuate that he was taking up
this matter himself solely on the score of charity, adding that as he could not of
course afford to be money out of pocket for expenses of witnesses, etc, he did
not quite see how he was to proceed. Then the Senator made certain promises.
He was, he said, going back to London in the course of next week, but he did not
mind making himself responsible to the extent of fifty dollars if the thing were
carried on, bona fide, to a conclusion. Mr. Bearside declared that it would of
course be bona fide, and asked the Senator for his address. Would Mr. Gotobed
object to putting his name to a little docket certifying to the amount promised? Mr.
Gotobed gave an address, but thought that in such a matter as that his word
might be trusted. If it were not trusted then the offer might fall to the ground. Mr.
Bearside was profuse in his apologies and declared that the gentleman's word
was as good as his bond.
Mr. Gotobed made no secret of his doings. Perhaps he had a feeling that he
could not justify himself in so strange a proceeding without absolute candour. He
saw Mr. Mainwaring in the street as he left Bearside's office and told him all
about it. "I just want, sir, to see what'll come of it"
"You'll lose your fifty dollars, Mr. Gotobed, and only cause a little vexation to a
high-spirited young nobleman."