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A Unique Decision

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Asa Beeson served in the capacity of a jnstico of the peace in oneof the back connties of Missouri in the good old times preceding the war. fíis knowledge of law was extremely limited, and he wouldn't have known a mandamos from an alibi, but he póssessed i fine sense of justice, and his deoisions, though ometimes original, were usnally in favor of the light and for the promotion of peace and harmony. On one occasion he had on trial before bim a case entitled Hnnter versus Riggins, iu -which the canse of dispute was a line fence separating the farms of the contestants. Tbe plaintiff was a young widow and the defendant a bachelor, anda goodmany people, the squire among the nunabcr, feit that it would have been better for the happineas and prosperity of both i f they bad joined in matrimony rather than a legal battle that promised to last through years and bring no good resulta to either party in tbe end. The sqnire, observing the contestautB closely before the trial, was Bare he had discovered soniething beneath the snrface of their hearts which they were carefnlly concealing from the public and each other. When the case was called, there was an army of witnesses and a world of evidence, and all so conflicting that it would have reqnired a Solomon to have rendered a jnst decisión. Squire Beeson listened, cratched hisheadand looked coinpletely puzzled. "This is a case," he said, when the last witness had testified, "that stumps me, and I acknowledge that I'm beat. lve had lots o' cases a-fore this. an some of 'em was party bad mixed, but I ain't never had one tbat I couldn't figger out the right an the wrong of it. This, though, is different. Both sides aas proved eveiy p'int set up, an both has disproved everything proved by each other. The evidence is jest a standát all round, an I"ll be hanged if 40 Philadelphia lawyers could niake out which is right an which is wrong. ' ' The squire paused a moment, then resnmed: '"Now. as I understand this matter, the whole qaestion is, which of yon two parties owns a six foot strip of land lying between your two farms. Am I correct?" "You are," Riggins answered, and tbe widow uodded in the affirmative. "You are both agreed on that, "the qnire remarked, "so that p'int is settled. Now, another thing I understand ie this: The line between the two farms ■ has been surveyed and located a dozen tíaaies, first by one party, an then the other, an no two of them surveys has pat the line in the same place. Have I got the right understandin thar?" The plaintiff and defendant both nodded their assent. "All right," said the squire, "that ettles that p'int. Now, I believe this matter has been iu dispute a good inany years in the courts an oat, an that it bas been decided a dozen times one way an another, but that so far nobody has been satisfied,an nothin like a settlement has been reached. Is that correct?" The contestants exchanged a quick glance, then, turning their eyes back on the squire, uodded again. "Then," continued the squire. "how am I goin to decide this matter when the surveyors can't agree on the line, an the courts ain't never been able to agree on the ownership o' the land? An what good wonld it do if I decide when the one I decided agin would go right to work to git a new hearin?" Neithérof theinterested parties made any answer, and after a short pause the eqnire went on. '"it's well known to me. " he said. "that neither of you two ain't respon6ible for this lawin, because neither of yon started it. it was begun by your fathers 'way back yonder 3'ears ago, an it's come down to you with the land as a part o' your inheritance. I'm of the opinión that you are both sick o' the thing, an that in your hearts you wish you were done with it. But I can teil yon now you will never git done with it by lawin over it. Never in the world, for uo courts will ever settle on the ownership o' that six foot strip o' ground. Yet this matter can be settled, hu this court feels that it is her dnty to settle it. She don't presume to say who is right nor who is wrong nor whar the división line between the farms ou ght to be. That wouldn't settle nothin if she did. Thar is a better an a more sensible way o' gettin at this business. My decisión is that thar shan 't be no división line no more, an that the two farms ,hall be Consolidated into one." The contestants looked at the sqnire in amazement, and almost a minute passed in perfect silence. Finally .Riggins gasped: "Consolídate the two farms into one! How can that be uianaged?" "Jest as easy as fallin off a log. All you have to do ia to stan up yero afore me 'bout 10 seconds, an I'll have it Jixed. I'll make yóu man an wife, an then ther' won 't need to be no line between the farms. Come, that is my decisión. " "That we must marry?" Riggins asked. "Exactly, " the squire replied. "Snt - Mrg. Hunter- I" - Riecrins staiuinered. '"It's all nght with bothof you," the squire interrupted. "Í know it if you don't. Come, stan up, orl'll fine you for contempt. " The contestants exchanged a glance, and each saw what was in the heart of the othcr. They stood up, beaming with happiness, and were married. There was no apüeal from Squire Beeson's


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News