Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

cast off the plain attire, and not only the attire, but the sect which in thy adversity thou didst embrace the tenets of? Ask thy own heart, and reply if thou wilt, but I press thee not so to do; for the truth would be painful, and a lie, thou knowest, I do utterly abhor.”

I felt that Susannah spoke the truth, and I would not deny it. I sat down by her. « Susannah," said I, “it is not very easy to change at once. I have mixed for years in the world, with you I have been but a few months. I will not deny but that the feelings you have expressed have risen in my heart, but I will try to repress them; at least, for your sake, Susannah, I would try to repress them, for I value your opinion more than that of the whole world. You have the power to do with me as you please :—will you exert that power ?”

“ Answer me, Japhet,” replied Susannah. “ The faith which is not built upon a more solid foundation than to win the favour of an erring being like myself is but weak; that power over thee which thou expectest will fix thee in the right path, may soon be lost, and what is then to direct thee? If no purer motives than earthly affection are to be thy stay, most surely thou wilt fall. But no more of this; thou hast a duty to perform, which is to go to thy earthly father, and seek his blessing. Nay more, I would that thou shouldest once more enter into the world ; there thou mayest decide. Shouldest thou return to us, thy friends will rejoice, and not one of them will be more joyful than Susannah Temple. Fare thee well, Japhet, mayest thou prove superior to temptation. I will pray for thee-earnestly I will pray for thee, Japhet,” continued Susannah, with a quivering of her lips and broken voice, and she left the room.

I went up stairs, and found that all was ready, and I took leave of Mr. and Mrs. Cophagus, both of whom expressed their hopes that I would not leave them for ever. “Oh, no," replied I, “I should indeed be base, if I did." I left them, and with Ephraim following with my portmanteau, I quitted the house. I had gone about twenty yards when I recollected that I had left on the table the newspaper with the direction whom to apply to in the advertisement, and desiring Ephraim to proceed, I returned back. When I entered the parlour, Susannah Temple was resting her face in her hands and weeping bitterly. The opening of the door made her start up; she perceived that it was me, and she turned away. “I beg your pardon, I left the newspaper,” said I, stammering. I was about to throw myself at her feet, declare my sincere affection, and give up all idea of finding my father until we were married, when she, without saying a word, passed quickly by me and hastened out of the room. “ She loves me then," thought I; “thank God :-I will not go yet, I will speak to her first.” I sat down, quite overpowered with contending feelings. The paper was in my hand, the paragraph was again read, and I thought but of my father.

In half an hour I had shaken hands with Timothy and quitted the town of Reading. How I arrived in London, that is to say, what passed or what we passed, I know not; my mind was in such a state of excitement. I hardly know how to express the state that I was in. It was a sort of mental whirling which blinded me-round and round-from my father and the expected meeting, then to Susannah,

my departure and her tears--castle building of every description: After the coach stopped, there I remained fixed on the top of it, not aware that we were in London until the coachman asked me whether the spirit did not move me to get down. I recollected myself, and calling a hackney-coach, gave orders to be driven to the Piazza, Covent Garden.

“ Piazza, Common Garden," said the waterman, “ why that ban't an 'otel for the like o' you, master. They'll torment you to death, them young chaps.”

I had forgotten that I was dressed as a Quaker. “ Tell the coachman to stop at the first cloth warehouse where they have ready-made cloaks," said I. The man did so; I went out and purchased a roquelaure, which enveloped my whole person. I then stopped at a hatter's, and purchased a hat according to the mode. “ Now drive to the Piazza," said I, entering the coach. I know not why, but I was resolved to go to that hotel. It was the one I had stayed at when I first arrived in London, and I wished to see it again. When the hackney coach stopped, I asked the waiter who came out whether he had apartments, and answering me in the affirmative, I followed him, and was shown into the same rooms I had previously occupied. “ These will do,” said I, “ now let me have something to eat, and send for a good tailor.” The waiter offered to remove my cloak, but I refused, saying that I was cold. He left the room, and I threw myself on the sofa, running over all the scenes which had passed in that room with Carbonnell, Harcourt, and others. My thoughts were broken in upon by the arrival of the tailor. “ Stop a moment,” said 1, 5 and let him come in when I ring.” So ashamed was I of my Quaker's dress, that I threw off my coat and waistcoat, and put on my cloak again before I rang the bell for the tailor to come up. Mr. - " said I, “I must have a suit of clothes ready by tomorrow at ten o'clock.”

“ Impossible, sir."

“ Impossible !" said I, “ and you pretend to be a fashionable tailor. Leave the room.”

At this peremptory behaviour the tailor imagined that I must be somebody.

“ I will do my possible, sir, and if I can only get home in time to start the workmen, I think it may be managed. Of course you are aware of the expense of night work.”

“ I am only aware of this, that if I give an order I am accustomed to have it obeyed; I learnt that from my poor friend, Major Carbonnell.”

The tailor bowed low; there was magic in the name, although the man was dead.

“ Here have I been masquerading in a Quaker's dress, to please a puritannical young lady, and I am obliged to be off without any other clothes in my portmanteau ; so take my measure, and I expect the clothes at ten precisely." So saying, I threw off my roquelaure, and desired him to proceed. This accomplished, the tradesman took his leave. Shortly afterwards, the door opened, and as I lay wrapped up in my cloak on the sofa, in came the landlord and two waiters, each bearing a dish of my supper. I wished them at the devil; but I was still more surprised when the landlord made a low bow, saying, “ Happy to see you returned, Mr. Newland; you've been away some time another grand tour, I presume."

“ Yes, Mr..-- I have had a few adventures since I was last here," replied I, carelessly, “but I am not very well. You may leave the supper, and if I feel inclined, I will take a little by-and-bye,—no one need wait."

The landlord and waiter bowed and went out of the room. I turned the key of the door, put on my Quaker's coat, and made a hearty supper, for I had had nothing since breakfast. When I had finished, I returned to the sofa, and I could not help analyzing my own conduct. “ Alas,” thought I, “Susannah, how rightly did you judge me! I am not away from you more than eighteen hours, and here I am ashamed of the dress which I have so long worn, and been satisfied with, in your society. Truly did you say that I was full of pride, and would joyfully re-enter the world of vanity and vexation." And I thought of Susannah, and her tears after my supposed departure, and I felt angry and annoyed at my want of strength of mind and my worldly feelings.

I retired early to bed, and did not wake until late the next morning. When I rang the bell, the chambermaid brought in my clothes from the tailor's: I dressed, and I will not deny that I was pleased with the alteration. After breakfast I ordered a coach, and drove to No. 16, Throgmorton Court, Minories. The house was dirty outside, and the windows had not been cleaned apparently for years, and it was with some difficulty when I went in that I could decypher a tall; haggard-looking man seated at the desk.

“ Your pleasure, sir,” said he.
“ Am I speaking to the principal ?” replied I.
“ Yes, sir, my name is Chatfield.”

“ I come to you, sir, relative to an advertisement which appeared in the papers. I refer to this,” continued I, putting the newspaper down on the desk, and pointing to the advertisement.

“Oh, yes, very true: can you give us any information ?” “ Yes, sir, I can, and the most satisfactory."

“ Then, sir, I am sorry that you have had so much trouble, but you must call at Lincoln's Inn upon a lawyer of the name of Masterton ; the whole affair is now in his hands." ..“ Can you, sir, inform me who is the party that is inquiring after this young man?”

“ Why, yes; it is a General De Benyon, who has lately returned from the East Indies."

“ Good God! is it possible!” thought I; “ how strange that my own wild fancy should have settled upon him as my father!”

I hurried away; threw myself into the hackney-coach, and desired the man to drive to Lincoln's Inn. I hastened up to Mr. Masterton's rooms : he was fortunately at home, although he stood at the table with his hat and his great coat on, ready to go out.

“ My dear sir, have you forgotten me?” said I, in a voice choked with emotion, taking his hand and squeezing it with rapture..

“ By heavens, you are determined that I shall not forget you for some minutes, at least,” exclaimed he, wringing his hand with pain. “ Who the devil are you?”

Mr. Masterton could not see without his spectacles, and my subdued voice he had not recognised. He pulled them out, as I made no reply, and fixing them across his nose—“ Hah! why yes—it is Japhet, is it not ? "

* It is indeed, sir,” said I, offering my hand, which he shook warmly.

“ Not quite so hard, my dear fellow, this time," said the old lawyer ; “I acknowledge your vigour, and that is sufficient. I am very glad to see you, Japhet, I am indeed-you-you scamp-you ungrateful fellow, Sit down—sit down-first help me off with my great coat: I presume the advertisement has brought you into existence again. Well, it's all true; and you have at last found your father, or, rather, he has found you. And what's more strange, you hit upon the right person ; that is strange—very strange indeed.”

“ Where is he, sir?” interrupted I, “ where is he-take me to him.”

“ No, rather be excused,” replied Mr. Masterton, “ for he is gone to Ireland, so you must wait.”

“ Wait, sir, oh no-I must follow him.”

“ That will only do harm ; for he is rather a queer sort of old gentleman, and although he acknowledges that he left you as Japhet and has searched for you, yet he is so afraid of somebody else's brat being put upon him that he insists upon most undeniable proofs. Now we cannot trace you from the hospital unless we can find that fellow Cophagus, and we have made every search after him, and no one can tell where he is.”

“ But I left him but yesterday morning, sir," replied I, “and Timothy as well."

« Good—very good; we must send for him or go to him; besides, he has the packet intrusted to the care of Miss Maitland, to whom he was executor, which proves the marriage of your father. Very strange

- very strange indeed, that you should have hit upon it as you did almost supernatural. However, all right now, my dear boy, and I congratulate you. Your father is a very strange person : he has lived like a despot among slaves all his life, and will not be thwarted, I can tell you. If you say a word in contradiction he'll disinherit you :terrible old tiger, I must say. If it had not been for your sake, I should have done with him long ago. He seems to think the world ought to be at his feet. Depend upon it, Japhet, there is no hurry about seeing him ;and see him you shall not, until we have every proof of your identity ready to produce to him. I hope you have the bump of veneration strong, Japhet, and plenty of filial duty, or you will be kicked out of the house in a week. D-n me, if he didn't call me an old thief of a lawyer."

“ Indeed, sir," replied I, laughing ; “I must apologize to you for my father's conduct.”

** Never mind, Japhet ; I don't care about a trifle ; but why don't you ask after your friends ?"

“ I have longed so to do, sir," replied I. « Lord Windermear ". “ Is quite well, and will be most happy to see you.” “ Lady de Clare, and her daughter

“ Lady de Clare has entered into society again, and her daughter, as you call her—your Fleta, alias Cecilia de Clare—is the belle of the metropolis. But now, sir, as I have answered all your interrogatories, and satisfied you upon the most essential points, will you favour me with a narrative of your adventures, (for adventures I am sure you must have had,) since you ran away from us all in that ungrateful manner.”

“ Most certainly, sir, I will; and as you say, I have had adventures. But it really will be a long story.”

“ Then we'll dine here, and pass the evening together-so that's settled.”

I dismissed the coach, while Mr. Masterton gave his orders for dinner, and we then turned the key of the door to avoid intrusion, and I commenced. It was nearly dinner time before I had finished my story.

“ Well, you really appear to be born for getting into scrapes, and getting out of them again in a miraculous way,” observed Mr. Masterton. “ Your life would make a novel.”

“ It would indeed, sir," replied I. “I only hope, like all novels, it will wind up well."

“ So do I ; but dinner's ready, Japhet, and after dinner we'll talk the matter over again, for there are some points upon which I require some explanation.”

We sat down to dinner, and when we had finished, and the table had been cleared, we drew to the fire, with our bottle of wine. Mr. Masterton stirred the fire, called for his slippers, and then crossing his legs over the fender, resumed the subject.

Japhet, I consider it most fortunate that we have met, previous to your introduction to your father. You have so far to congratulate yourself, that your family is undeniably good, there - being, as you know, an Irish peerage in it; of which, however, you have no chance, as the present earl has a numerous offspring. You are also fortunate as far as money is concerned, as I have every reason to believe that your father is a very rich man, and of course you are his only child ; but I must now prepare you to meet with a very different person than perhaps the fond anticipations of youth may have led you to expect. Your father has no paternal feelings that I can discover; he has wealth, and he wishes to leave it—he has therefore sought you out. But he is despotic, violent, and absurd; the least opposition to his will makes him furious, and I am sorry to add, that I am afraid that he is very mean. He suffered severely when young from poverty, and his own father was almost as authoritative and unforgiving as himself. And now I will state how it was that you were left at the Asylum when an infant. Your grandfather had procured for your father a commission in the army, and soon afterwards procured him a lieutenancy. He ordered him to marry a young lady of large fortune, whom he had never seen, and sent for him for that purpose. I understand that she was very beautiful, and had your father seen her, it

« FöregåendeFortsätt »