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Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 98, 1890.05.10   By:

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MAY 10, 1890.


( A Fancy Sketch of the Possible. )

It was the first day under the operation of the new Act. Everyone was a little nervous about the outcome, and JOHN JONES, the Barrister, was no exception to the general rule. At three o'clock he was in the full swing of an impassioned appeal to the Jury.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. JONES," said the Judge, glancing at the clock, "but I am afraid I must interrupt you. I cannot hear you any longer."

"But, my Lord, I have not touched upon a third of the case. I can assure you my remarks shall be as brief as possible."

"That is not the point, Mr. JONES," replied his Lordship. "I am following your argument with the liveliest interest, and I am sure that all you would wish to say would be of the greatest possible service to your client; but unfortunately I happen to know that you prepare your cases in the early hours of the morning. Now, you know the law as well I do. If you have not been at work to day for eight hours, of course I shall be happy to hear; but if you have "

"As your Lordship pleases," said poor JONES, and he gathered up his papers, and left the Court.

"Just in time, Sir," observed the attendant in the robing room, as he put the Barrister's wig in its box, and assisted him to divest himself of his gown. "Had you come five minutes later, we should have gone."

"Really! How would that have suited silk and stuff?"

"Caused a fearful row, I am afraid, Sir. But we daren't exceed the eight hours' limit, and we must keep two or three of them for some work we have in the evening."

When JONES found himself in the Strand he noticed that the traffic was considerably less than usual. The omnibuses were few and far between, and he did not see a cab in any direction.

"Yes, Sir," replied a policeman, who was removing his band of office, preparatory to going home; "you won't find many. Eight hours' limit, Sir. Good day, Sir. I am off myself."

The boats had ceased running; there were no trams. To pass the time he thought he would call upon the Editor, whose rooms were in Fleet Street.

"I hope I am not interrupting you," he said, as he entered the sanctum.

"Interrupting me! Why, I am delighted to see you. We have nothing to do. Mustn't exceed the eight hours, and they were up at two o'clock. But how did you get in?"

"Oh, the Publisher opened the door, and then returned to a rubber of whist he was playing with the Reader, the Manager, and the Head of the Advertisement Department. I was introduced to them all. Then I watched a tug of war going on in the composing room between the Compositors on the one side, and the Machinists and Foundry men on the other, and came up here."

"Very glad to see you, my dear fellow!" and the Editor once again shook hands.

A little later JONES entered a restaurant, but he was refused dinner. The eight hours' limit had cleared off the cooks and the waiters. Half starving, he purchased a stall for the theatre. For a while his thoughts were distracted by the excellence of the performance. Suddenly, in the most interesting part of the play, the curtain was prematurely dropped.

"Very sorry," said the Stage Manager, addressing the audience from behind the footlights, "but, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have no option. We had a rehearsal this morning of the new piece, and, taking this into consideration, our limit is reached. I may seize this opportunity for regretfully announcing that as two performances take more than eight hours, the customary Saturday Matinée will for the future be discontinued."

The orchestra played a few bars of the National Anthem, and the theatre cleared. JONES strolled on to the Embankment, and, the evening being pleasant, took a seat. Beside him was a student reading for examination, a clergyman thinking out a sermon, and an artist taking a rough sketch. JONES took out a brief himself and opened it.

"It's no business of mine," said a policeman off duty, who happened to be passing, "but you gents will get yourselves into trouble if you exceed the limit... Continue reading book >>

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