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The Leavenworth Case

19. In My Office
"Something between an hindrance and a help."
Wordsworth.
THE next day as, with nerves unstrung and an exhausted brain, I entered my office, I was
greeted by the announcement:
"A gentleman, sir, in your private room--been waiting some time, very impatient."
Weary, in no mood to hold consultation with clients new or old, I advanced with anything
but an eager step towards my room, when, upon opening the door, I saw--Mr. Clavering.
Too much astounded for the moment to speak, I bowed to him silently, whereupon he
approached me with the air and dignity of a highly bred gentleman, and presented his
card, on which I saw written, in free and handsome characters, his whole name, Henry
Ritchie Clavering. After this introduction of himself, he apologized for making so
unceremonious a call, saying, in excuse, that he was a stranger in town; that his business
was one of great urgency; that he had casually heard honorable mention of me as a
lawyer and a gentleman, and so had ventured to seek this interview on behalf of a friend
who was so unfortunately situated as to require the opinion and advice of a lawyer upon a
question which not only involved an extraordinary state of facts, but was of a nature
peculiarly embarrassing to him, owing to his ignorance of American laws, and the legal
bearing of these facts upon the same.
Having thus secured my attention, and awakened my curiosity, he asked me if I would
permit him to relate his story. Recovering in a measure from my astonishment, and
subduing the extreme repulsion, almost horror, I felt for the man, I signified my assent; at
which he drew from his pocket a memorandum-book from which he read in substance as
follows:
"An Englishman travelling in this country meets, at a fashionable watering-place, an
American girl, with whom he falls deeply in love, and whom, after a few days, he desires
to marry. Knowing his position to be good, his fortune ample, and his intentions highly
honorable, he offers her his hand, and is accepted. But a decided opposition arising in the
family to the match, he is compelled to disguise his sentiments, though the engagement
remained unbroken. While matters were in this uncertain condition, he received advices
from England demanding his instant return, and, alarmed at the prospect of a protracted
absence from the object of his affections, he writes to the lady, informing her of the
circumstances, and proposing a secret marriage. She consents with stipulations; the first
of which is, that he should leave her instantly upon the conclusion of the ceremony, and
the second, that he should intrust the public declaration of the marriage to her. It was not
precisely what he wished, but anything which served to make her his own was acceptable
at such a crisis. He readily enters into the plans proposed. Meeting the lady at a
parsonage, some twenty miles from the watering-place at which she was staying, he
 
 
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