Over for the day? we asked him. No, he said, over for good.
Over for good!
When we heard this unaccountable answer, we looked at one another quite lost in amazement. Could it be possible that the will had set things right at last and that Richard and Ada were going to be rich? It seemed too good to be true. Alas it was!
Our suspense was short, for a break-up soon took place in the crowd, and the people came streaming out looking flushed and hot and bringing a quantity of bad air with them. Still they were all exceedingly amused and were more like people coming out from a farce or a juggler than from a court of justice. We stood aside, watching for any countenance we knew, and presently great bundles of paper began to be carried out--bundles in bags, bundles too large to be got into any bags, immense masses of papers of all shapes and no shapes, which the bearers staggered under, and threw down for the time being, anyhow, on the Hall pavement, while they went back to bring out more. Even these clerks were laughing. We glanced at the papers, and seeing Jarndyce and Jarndyce everywhere, asked an official-looking person who was standing in the midst of them whether the cause was over. Yes, he said, it was all up with it at last, and burst out laughing too.
At this juncture we perceived Mr. Kenge coming out of court with an affable dignity upon him, listening to Mr. Vholes, who was deferential and carried his own bag. Mr. Vholes was the first to see us. "Here is Miss Summerson, sir," he said. "And Mr. Woodcourt."
"Oh, indeed! Yes. Truly!" said Mr. Kenge, raising his hat to me with polished politeness. "How do you do? Glad to see you. Mr. Jarndyce is not here?"
No. He never came there, I reminded him.
"Really," returned Mr. Kenge, "it is as well that he is NOT here to-day, for his--shall I say, in my good friend's absence, his indomitable singularity of opinion?--might have been strengthened, perhaps; not reasonably, but might have been strengthened."
"Pray what has been done to-day?" asked Allan.
"I beg your pardon?" said Mr. Kenge with excessive urbanity.
"What has been done to-day?"
"What has been done," repeated Mr. Kenge. "Quite so. Yes. Why, not much has been done; not much. We have been checked--brought up suddenly, I would say--upon the--shall I term it threshold?"
"Is this will considered a genuine document, sir?" said Allan. "Will you tell us that?"
"Most certainly, if I could," said Mr. Kenge; "but we have not gone into that, we have not gone into that."
"We have not gone into that," repeated Mr. Vholes as if his low inward voice were an echo.
"You are to reflect, Mr. Woodcourt," observed Mr. Kenge, using his silver trowel persuasively and smoothingly, "that this has been a great cause, that this has been a protracted cause, that this has been a complex cause. Jarndyce and Jarndyce has been termed, not inaptly, a monument of Chancery practice."
"And patience has sat upon it a long time," said Allan.
"Very well indeed, sir," returned Mr. Kenge with a certain condeseending laugh he had. "Very well! You are further to reflect, Mr. Woodcourt," becoming dignified almost to severity, "that on the numerous difficulties, contingencies, masterly fictions, and forms of procedure in this great cause, there has been expended study, ability, eloquence, knowledge, intellect, Mr. Woodcourt, high intellect. For many years, the--a--I would say the flower of the bar, and the--a--I would presume to add, the matured autumnal fruits of the woolsack--have been lavished upon Jarndyce and Jarndyce. If the public have the benefit, and if the country have the adornment, of this great grasp, it must be paid for in money or money's worth, sir."
"Mr. Kenge," said Allan, appearing enlightened all in a moment. "Excuse me, our time presses. Do I understand that the whole estate is found to have been absorbed in costs?"
"Hem! I believe so," returned Mr. Kenge. "Mr. Vholes, what do YOU say?"
"I believe so," said Mr.