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De Benyon, had hung up your child at the gates of the Foundling Hospital—that you had again met your wife, married to another, and had been an accomplice in concealing her capital offence of bigamy, and had had meetings with her, although she belonged to another. I say meetings, for you did meet her, to receive her directions about me. I am charitable, and suspect nothing—others will not be so. Then, after her death, you come home, and inquire about your son. His identity is established,-and what then? not only you do not take him by the hand, in common civility, I might say, but you first try to turn him out of the house, and then give him in charge of the police: and then you will have to state for what. Perhaps you will answer me that question, for I really do not know."
By this time my honoured father's wrath had to a certain degree subsided; he heard all I had to say, and he felt how very ridiculous would have been his intended proceedings, and, as his wrath subsided, so did his pain increase ; he had seriously injured his leg, and it was swelling rapidly-the bandages tightened in consequence, and he was suffering under the acutest pain. “Oh, oh !” groaned he.
“My dear father, can I assist you?” “Ring the bell, sir.”
“ There is no occasion to summon assistance while I am here, my dear general. I can attend you professionally, and if you will allow me, will soon relieve your pain. Your leg has swollen from exertion, and the bandages must be loosened.”
He made no reply, but his features were distorted with extreme pain. I went to him, and proceeded to unloose the bandages, which gave him considerable relief. I then replaced them, secundem artem, and with great tenderness, and going to the sideboard, took the lotion which was standing there with the other bottles, and wetted the bandages. In a few minutes he was quite relieved. “Perhaps, sir,” said I, “ you had better try to sleep a little. I will take a book, and shall have great pleasure in watching by your side."
Exhausted with pain and violence, the general made no reply ; he fell back on the sof, and, in a short time, he snored most comfortably. “I have conquered you,” thought I, as I watched him as he lay asleep. “ If I have not yet, I will, that I am resolved." I walked gently to the door, unlocked it, and opening it without waking him, ordered some broth to be brought up immediately, saying that the general was asleep, and that I would wait for it outside. I accomplished this little manœuvre, and reclosed the door without waking my father, and then I took my seat in the chair, and resumed my book, having placed the broth on the side of the fire-grate to keep it warm. In about an hour he awoke, and looked around him.
“Do you want any thing, my dearest father?" inquired I.
The general appeared undecided as to whether to re-commence hostilities, but at last he said, " I wish the attendance of my servants,
“ The attendance of a servant never can be equal to that of your own son, general,” replied I, going to the fire, and taking the basin of broth, which I replaced upon the tray which contained the et ceteras on a napkin. “I expected you would require your broth, and I have had it ready for you."
" It was what I did require, sir, I must acknowledge,” replied my father, and without further remark he finished the broth.
I removed the tray, and then went for the lotion, and wetted the bandages on his leg. “Is there any thing else I can do for you, sir ?” said I.
“ Nothing-I am very comfortable."
“ Then, sir,” replied I, “I will now take my leave. You have desired me to quit your presence for ever; and you attempted force. I resisted that, because I would not allow you to have the painful remembrance that you had injured one who had strong claims upon you, and had never injured you. I resented it also, because I wished to prove to you that I was a De Benyon, and had spirit to resist an insult. But, general, if you imagine that I have come here with a determination of forcing myself upon you, you are much mistaken. I am too proud, and happily am independent by my own exertions, so as not to require your assistance. Had you received me kindly, believe me, you would have found a grateful and affectionate heart to have met that kindness. You would have found a son, whose sole object through life has been to discover a father, after whom he has yearned, who would have been delighted to have administered to his wants, to have yielded to his wishes, to have soothed him in his pain, and to have watched him in his sickness. Deserted as I have been for so many years, I trust that I have not disgraced you, General De Benyon; and if ever I have done wrong, it has been from a wish to discover you. I can appeal to Lord Windermear for the truth of that assertion. Allow me to say, that it is a very severe trial- an ordeal which few pass through with safety—to be thrown as I have been upon the world, with no friend, no parent to assist or to advise me, to have to bear up against the contingency of being of unacknowledged and perhaps disgraceful birth. It is harder still, when I expected to find my dearest wishes realized, that without any other cause than that of my features resembling those of my mother, I am to be again cast away. One thing, General De Benyon, I request, and I trust it will not be denied, which is, that I may assume the name which I am entitled to. I pledge you that I never will disgrace it. And now, sir, asking and expecting no more, I take my leave, and you may be assured, that neither poverty, privation, nor affliction of any kind, will ever induce me to again intrude into your presence. General De Benyon, farewell for ever."
I made my father a profound bow, and was quitting the room. “ Stop, sir,” said the general. “ Stop one moment, if you please.” I obeyed. “ Why did you put me out of temper? Answer me that."
“ Allow me to observe, sir, that I did not put you out of temper; and what is more, that I never lost my own temper during the insult and injury which I so undeservedly and unexpectedly have received."
“ But that very keeping your temper made me more angry, sir.” “ That is very possible; but surely I was not to blame. The greatest proof of a perfect gentleman is, that he is able to command his temper, and I wished you to acknowledge that I was not without such pretensions."
" That is as much as to say that your father is no gentleman; and this, I presume, is a specimen of your filial duty,” replied the general, warmly.
“ Far from it, sir; there are many gentlemen who, unfortunately, cannot command their tempers, and are more to be pitied than blamed for it: but, sir, when such happens to be the case, they invariably redeem their error, and amply so, by expressing their sorrow, and offering an apology."
“ That is as much as to say, that you expect me to apologize to you.”
“ Allow me, sir, to ask you, did you ever know a De Benyon submit to an insult ?"
“ No, sir, I trust not.”
“ Then, sir, those whose feelings of pride will not allow them to submit to an insult, ought never to insult others. If, in the warmth of the moment, they have done so, that pride should immediately induce them to offer an apology, not only due to the party, but to their own characters. There is no disgrace in making an apology when we are in error, but there is a great disgrace in withholding such an act of common justice and reparation."
“ I presume I am to infer from all this, that you expect an apology from me ?"
“General De Benyon, as far as I am concerned, that is now of little importance; we part, and shall probably never meet again; if you think that it would make you feel more comfortable, I am willing to receive it."
“I must suppose by that observation, that you fully expect it, and otherwise will not stay?"
“I never have had a thought of staying, general; you have told me that you have disinherited and discarded me for ever; no one with the feelings of a man would ever think of remaining after such a declaration."
“Upon what terms, then, sir, am I to understand that you will consent to remain with me, and forget all that has passed ?"
“My terms are simple, general; you must say that you retract what you have said, and are very sorry for having insulted me."
“And without I do that, you will never come here again ?”
“ Most decidedly not, sir. I shall always wish you well, pray for your happiness, be sorry at your death, and attend your funeral as chief mourner, although you disinherit me. That is my duty, in return for my having taken your name, and your having acknowledged that I am your son ; but live with you, or even see you occasionally, I will not, after what has passed this day, without you make me an apology."
“I was not aware that it was necessary for a father to apologise to his son."
“ If you wrong a stranger, you offer an apology; how much more is it due to a near relation ?"
“ But a parent has claims upon his own son, sir, for which he is bound to tender his duty."
“I grant it, in the ordinary course of things in this life ; but, General De Benyon, what claims have you as a parent upon me? A son in most cases is indebted to his parents for their care and attention in infancy-his education—his religious instruction-his choice of a profession, and his advancement in life, by their exertions and interest; and when they are called away, he has a reasonable expectation of their leaving him a portion of their substance. They have a heavy debt of gratitude to pay for what they have received, and they are further checked by the hopes of what they may hereafter receive. Up to this time, sir, I have not received the first, and this day I am told that I need not expect the last. Allow me to ask you, General De Benyon, upon what grounds you claim from me a filial duty ? certainly not for benefits received, or for benefits in expectation : but I feel that I am intruding, and therefore, sir, once more, with every wish for your happiness, I take my leave.”.
I went out, and had half closed the door after me, when the general cried out, “Stop--don't go-Japhet-my son—I was in a passion— I beg your pardon-don't mind what I said I'm a passionate old fool."
As he uttered this in broken sentences, I returned to him. He held out his hand. “ Forgive me, boy—forgive your father.” I knelt down and kissed his hand; he drew me towards him, and I wept upon his bosom.
It was some time before we were sufficiently composed to enter into conversation, and then I tried my utmost to please him. Still there was naturally a restraint on both sides, but I was so particular and devoted in my attentions, so careful of giving offence, that when he complained of weariness, and a wish to retire, he stipulated that I should be with him to breakfast on the next morning.
I hastened to Mr. Masterton, although it was late, to communicate to him all that had passed; he heard me with great interest. “Japhet,” said he, “you have done well-it is the proudest day of your life. You have completely mastered him. The royal Bengal tiger is tamed. I wish you joy, my dear fellow. Now I trust that all will be well. But keep your own counsel, do not let this be known at Reading. Let them still imagine that your father is as passionate as ever, which he will be, by-the-bye, with everybody else. You have still to follow up your success, and leave me to help you in other matters.”
I returned home to the Piazza, and, thankful to Heaven for the events of the day, I soon fell fast asleep, and dreamt of Susannah Temple. The next morning I was early at the Adelphi Hotel; my father had not yet risen, but the native servants who passed in and out, attending upon him, and who took care to give me a wide berth, had informed him that “ Burra Saib's” son was come, and he sent for me. His leg was very painful and uncomfortable, and the surgeon had not yet made his appearance. I arranged it as before, and he then dressed, and came out to breakfast. I had said nothing before the servants, but as soon as he was comfortable on the sofa I took his
hand, and kissed it, saying, “ Good morning, my dear father; I hope you do not repent of your kindness to me yesterday?"
“ No, no; God bless you, boy. I've been thinking of you all night.”
“ All's right,” thought I; "and I trust to be able to keep it so.”
I shall pass over a fortnight, during which I was in constant attendance upon my father. At times he would fly out in a most violent manner, but I invariably kept my temper, and when it was all over, would laugh at him, generally repeating and acting all which he had said and done during his paroxysm. I found this rather dangerous ground at first, but by degrees he became used to it, and it was wonderful how it acted as a check upon him. He would not at first believe but that I exaggerated when the picture was held up to his view and he was again calm. My father was not naturally a badtempered man, but having been living among a servile race, and holding high command in the army, he had gradually acquired a habit of authority and an impatience of contradiction which was unbearable to all around. Those who were high-spirited and sensitive shunned him; the servile and the base continued with him for their own interests, but trembled at his wrath. I had during the time narrated to my father the events of my life, and, I am happy to say, had, by attention and kindness joined with firmness and good temper, acquired a dominion over him. I had at his request removed to the hotel, and lived with him altogether. His leg was rapidly arriving at a state of convalescence, and he now talked of taking a house and setting up his establishment in London. I had seen but little of Mr. Masterton during this time, as I had remained in doors in attendance upon the general. I had written once to Mr. Cophagus, stating how I was occupied, but saying nothing about our reconciliation. One morning Mr. Masterton called upon us, and after a little conversation with the general, he told me that he had persuaded Mr. Cophagus to leave Reading and come to London, and that Susannah Temple was to come with them.
“On a visit ?" inquired I.
“ No, not on a visit. I have seen Cophagus, and he is determined to cut the Quakers, and reside in London altogether."
“ What I does he intend to return to the pomps and vanities of this wicked world ?"
“ Yes, I believe so, and his wife will join him. She has no objection to decorate her pretty person.”
“I never thought that she had – but Susannah Temple- " .
“ When Susannah is away from her friends, when she finds that her sister and brother-in-law no longer wear the dress, and when she is constantly in your company, to all which please to add the effect I trust of my serious admonitions, she will soon do as others do, or she is no woman. This is all my plan, and leave it to me—only play your part by seeing as much of her as you can.
“ You need not fear that,” replied I.
“ Does your father know of your attachment ?” inquired Mr. Masterton.
“ No, I passed her over without mentioning her name," replied I.