ns of the prolix document. Five clerks with rows of hungry teeth, bright, mocking eyes, and curly heads, lifted their noses towards the door, after crying all together in a singing tone, "Come in!"
Boucard kept his face buried in a pile of papers--/broutilles/ (odds and ends) in French law jargon--and went on drawing out the bill of costs on which he was busy.
The office was a large room furnished with the traditional stool which is to be seen in all these dens of law-quibbling. The stove-pipe crossed the room diagonally to the chimney of a bricked-up fireplace; on the marble chimney-piece were several chunks of bread, triangles of Brie cheese, pork cutlets, glasses, bottles, and the head clerk's cup of chocolate. The smell of these dainties blended so completely with that of the immoderately overheated stove and the odor peculiar to offices and old papers, that the trail of a fox would not have been perceptible. The floor was covered with mud and snow, brought in by the clerks. Near the window stood th
A legally dead hero of Napoleon's wars asks a Parisian lawyer to sue his re-married wife to regain his fortune. The lawyer comes to believe the man is who he says he is, and the legal wrangling begins. French law is almost as bizarre as American law (at least M. Chabert didn't have to worry about offending the religious feelings of a corporation). The story becomes less a legal argument than a struggle between extortion, trickery, kindness, and honor.
The story starts slowly with banter among clerks in a law office, and develops slowly, but the characters are excellent, and the ending is quietly sad.