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“ Then I won't go."
“ I must not injure thee with thy father, Japhet, it were no proof of my affection—but, indeed, you are self-willed.”
“ God bless you, Susannah,” said I, as I gained the contested point, and hastened to the carriage.
My father was a little out of humour when I returned, and questioned me rather sharply as to where I had been. I half pacified him by delivering Lord Windermear's polite message ; but he continued his interrogations, and although I had pointed out to him that a De Benyon would never be guilty of an untruth, I am afraid I told some half dozen on this occasion; but I consoled myself with the reflection, that, in the code of honour of a fashionable man, he is bound, if necessary, to tell falsehoods where a lady is concerned ; so I said that I had driven through the streets looking at the houses, and had twice stopped and had gone in to examine them. My father supposed that I had been looking out for a house for him, and was satisfied. Fortunately they were job horses ; had they been his own I should have been in a severe scrape. Horses are the only part of an establishment which the gentlemen have any consideration for, and on which ladies have no mercy.
I had promised the next day to dine with Mr. Masterton. My father had taken a great aversion to this old gentleman until I had narrated the events of my life, in which he had played such a conspicuous and friendly part. Then, to do my father justice, his heart warmed towards him.
“ My dear sir, I have promised to dine out to-day.” “ With whom, Japhet?”
“ Why, sir, to tell you the truth, with that old thief of a lawyer.""
“I am very much shocked at your using such an expression towards one who has been such a sincere friend, Japhet ; and you will oblige me, sir, by not doing so again in my presence.”
“ I really beg your pardon, general,” replied I, “but I thought to please you."
“ Please me! what do you think of me? please me, sir, by showing yourself ungrateful !- I'm ashamed of you, sir."
“ My dear father, I borrowed the expression from you. You called Mr. Masterton • an old thief of a lawyer' to his face: he complained to me of the language before I had the pleasure of meeting you. I feel, and always shall feel, the highest respect, love, and gratitude towards him. Have I your permission to go ?”
“Yes, Japhet,” replied my father, looking very grave, “ and do me the favour to apologise for me to Mr. Masterton for my having used such an expression in my unfortunate warmth of temper-I am ashamed of myself.”
“ My dearest father, no man need be ashamed who is so ready to make honourable reparation :-we are all a little out of temper at times."
“ You have been a kind friend to me, Japhet, as well as a good
son," replied my father with some emotion. “ Don't forget the apology at all events : I shall be unhappy until it be made."
I arrived at Mr. Masterton's, and walked into his room, when whom should I find in company with him but Harcourt.
“ Japhet, I'm glad to see you: allow me to introduce you to Mr. Harcourt—Mr. De Benyon," and the old gentleman grinned maliciously; but I was not to be taken aback.
“ Harcourt,” said I, extending my hand, “ I have to apologise to you for a rude reception and for unjust suspicions, but I was vexed at thie time-if you will admit that as an excuse.”
“My dear Japhet,” replied Harcourt, taking my hand and shaking it warmly, “ I have to apologise to you for much more unworthy behaviour, and it will be a great relief to my mind if you will once more enrol me in the list of your friends."
“ And now, Mr. Masterton," said I, “as apologies appear to be the order of the day, I bring you one from the general, who has requested me to make one to you for having called you an old thief of a lawyer, of which he was totally ignorant until I reminded him of it to-day.”
Harcourt burst into a laugh.
“ Well, Japhet, you may tell your old tiger that I did not feel particularly affronted, as I took his expression professionally and not personally, and if he meant it in that sense, he was not far wrong. Japhet, to-morrow is Sunday; do you go to meeting or to church ?”
“ I believe, sir, that I shall go to church.”
“ Well, then, come with me :—be here at half-past two--we will go to evening service at St. James's.
“ I have received many invitations, but I never yet received an invitation to go to church,” replied I.
“ You will hear an extra lesson of the day-a portion of Susannah and the Elders."
I took the equivoque, which was incomprehensible to Harcourt: I hardly need say, that the latter and I were on the best terms. When we separated, Harcourt requested leave to call upon me the next morning, and Mr. Masterton said that he should also pay his respects to the tiger, as he invariably called my most honoured parent.
Harcourt, was with me very soon after breakfast, and after I had introduced him to my “ Governor,” we retired to talk without interruption.
“ I have much to say to you, De Benyon,” commenced Harcourt : “ first let me tell you, that after I rose from my bed, and discovered that you had disappeared, I resolved, if possible, to find you out and induce you to come back. Timothy, who looked very shy at me, would tell me nothing, but that the last that was heard of you was at Lady de Clare's, at Richmond. Having no other clue, I went down there, introduced myself, and, as they will tell you, candidly acknowledged that I had treated you ill. I then requested that they would give me any clue by which you might be found, for I had an opportunity of offering to you a situation which was at my father's disposal, and which any gentleman might have accepted, although it was not very lucrative.'
“ It was very kind of you, Harcourt”
“ Do not say that, I beg. It was thus that I formed an acquaintance with Lady de Clare and her daughter, whose early history, as Fleta, I had obtained from you, but who, I little imagined to be the little girl that you had so generously protected; for it was not until after I had deserted you that you had discovered her parentage. The extreme interest relative to you evinced by both the mother and daughter surprised me. They had heard of my name from you, but not of our quarrel. They urged me, and thanked me for proposing, to follow you and find you out: I did make every attempt. I went to Brentford, inquired at all the public-houses, and of all the coachmen who went down the road, but could obtain no information, except that at one public-house, a gentleman stopped with a portmanteau, and soon afterwards went away with it on his shoulders. I returned to Richmond with the tidings of my ill-success about a week after I had first called there. Cecilia was much affected and cried very bitterly. I could not help asking Lady de Clare why she took such a strong in-. terest in your fortunes.' "Who ought,' replied Cecilia, .if his poor Fleta does not ?'. Good Heavens ! Miss de Clare, are you the little Fleta whom he found with the gipsies, and talked to me so much about?' • Did you not know it?' said Lady de Clare. I then explained to her all that had latterly passed between us, and they in return communicated your events and dangers in Ireland. Thus was the intimacy formed, and ever since I have been constantly welcome at their house. I did not, however, abandon my inquiries for many months, when I thought it was useless, and I had to console poor Cecilia, who constantly mourned for you. And now, Japhet, I must make my story short: I could not help admiring a young person who showed so much attachment and gratitude joined to such personal attractions, but she was an heiress and I was a younger brother. Still Lady de Clare insisted upon my coming to the house, and I was undecided how to act when the unfortunate death of my elder brother put me in a situation to aspire to her hand. After that my visits were more frequent, and I was tacitly received as a suitor by Lady de Clare, and had no reason to complain of the treatment I received from Cecilia. Such was the position of affairs until the day on which you broke in upon us so unexpectedly, and at the very moment that you came in I had, with the sanction of her mother, made an offer to Cecilia, and was anxiously awaiting an answer from her own dear lips. Can you therefore be surprised, Japhet, at there being a degree of constraint on all sides at the interruption occasioned by the presence of one who had long been considered lost to us? Or that a young person just deciding upon the most important step of her life should feel confused and agitated at the entrance of a third party, however dear he might be to her as a brother and a benefactor.'
“I am perfectly satisfied, Harcourt,” replied I ; " and I will go there, and make my peace as soon as I can."
“ Indeed, Japhet, if you knew the distress of Cecilia you would pity her and love her more than ever. Her mother is also much annoyed. As soon as you were gone, they desired me to hasten after
you and bring you back. Cecilia had not yet given her answer : I requested it before my departure, but, I presume to stimulate me, she declared that she would give me no answer, until I reappeared with you. This is now three weeks ago, and I have not dared to go there. I had been trying all I could to see you again since you repulsed me at the Piazza, but without success, until I went to Mr. Masterton, and begged him to procure me an interview. I thank God it has succeeded."
“ Well, Harcourt, you shall see Cecilia to-morrow morning, if you please.”
“Japhet, what obligations I am under to you! Had it not been for you, I never should have known Cecilia ; and more, were it not for your kindness, I might perhaps lose her for ever."
“ Not so, Harcourt; it was your own good feeling prompted you to find me out, which introduced you to Cecilia, and I wish you joy with all my heart. This is a strange world—who would have imagined that in little Fleta I was picking up a wife for a man whose life I nearly took away? I will ask my governor for his carriage to-morrow, and will call and take you up at your lodgings at two o'clock, if that hour will suit you. I will tell you all that has passed since I absconded, when we are at Lady de Clare's; one story will do for all.”
Harcourt then took his leave, and I returned to my father, with whom I found Lord Windermear.
“De Benyon, I am happy to see you again," said his lordship. “I have just been giving a very good character of you to the general ; I hope you will continue to deserve it."
“ I hope so too, my lord; I should be ungrateful, indeed, if I did not, after my father's kindness to me."
Mr. Masterton was then introduced: Lord Windermear shook hands with him, and after a short conversation took his leave.
“ Japhet," said Mr. Masterton aside, “ I have a little business with your father; get out of the room any way you think best.”
“ There are but two ways, my dear sir," replied I, “ the door or the windows : with your permission, I will select the former, as most agreeable;" so saying, I went to my own room. What passed between the general and Mr. Masterton I did not know until afterwards, but they were closeted upwards of an hour, when I was sent for by Mr. Masterton.
“Japhet, you said you would go with me to hear the new preacher ; we have no time to lose : so, general, I shall take my leave and run away with your son.”
I followed Mr. Masterton into his carriage, and we drove to the lodging of Mr. Cophagus. Susannah was all ready, and Mr. Masterton went up stairs and brought her down. A blush and a sweet smile illumined her features when she perceived me stowed away in the corner of the chariot. We drove off, and somehow or another our hands again met and did not separate until we arrived at the church door. Susannah had the same dress on as when she had accompanied me in my father's carriage. I went through the responses with her, reading out of the same book, and I never felt more inclined to be devout, for I was happy, and grateful to Heaven for my happiness. When the service was over, we were about to enter the carriage, when who should accost us but Harcourt.
“ You are surprised to see me here,” said he to Mr. Masterton, “ but I thought there must be something very attractive, that you should make an appointment with Japhet to go to this church, and as I am very fond of a good sermon, I determined to come and hear it."
Harcourt's ironical look told me all he would say.
“ Well,” replied Mr. Masterton, “ I hope you have been edifiednow get out of the way, and let us get into the carriage.”
“ To-morrow at two, De Benyon,” said Harcourt, taking another peep at Susannah.
“ Yes, punctually," replied I, as the carriage drove off.
“ And now, my dear child,” said Mr. Masterton to Susannah, as the carriage rolled along, “tell me, have you been disappointed, or do you agree with me? You have attended a meeting of your own persuasion this morning-you have now, for the first time, listened to the ritual of the Established Church. To which do you give the preference ?"
“ I will not deny, sir, that I think, in departing from the forms of worship, those of my persuasion did not do wisely. I would not venture to say thus much, but you support me in my judgment."
“ You have answered like a good, sensible girl, and have proved that you can think for yourself; but observe, my child, I have persuaded you for once, and once only, to enter our place of worship, that you might compare and judge for yourself; it now remains for you to decide as you please.”
“I would that some better qualified would decide for me," replied Susannah, gravely.
“ Your husband, Susannah," whispered I, “must take that responsiblity upon himself. Is he not the proper person ?"
Susannah slightly pressed my hand, which held hers, and said nothing. As soon as we had conveyed her home, Mr. Masterton offered to do me the same kindness, which I accepted.
“ Now, Japhet, I dare say that you would like to know what it was I had so particular to say to the old general this morning.”
“ Of course I would, sir, if it concerned me.”
“ It did concern you, for we had not been two minutes in conversation, before you were brought on the tapis; he spoke of you with tears in his eyes-of what a comfort you had been to him, and how happy you had made him; and that he could not bear you to be away from him for half an hour. On that hint I spake,' and observed, that he must not expect you to continue in retirement long, neither must he blame you, that when he had set up his establishment, and you were acknowledged, that you would be as great a favourite as you were before, and be unable, without giving offence, to refuse the numerous invitations which you would receive. In short, that it was nothing but right you should resume your position in society, and it was his duty to submit to it. The old governor did not appear to like my observations, and said he expected otherwise from you. I replied, that it was impossible to change our natures, and the other sex would naturally have attractions which you would not be able to