“I think, my young acquaintance, you appear to be interested for these relations of mine; or at least for one of them.”
“I certainly am, sir; and so is everyone who is acquainted with her.”
“Well, I am glad to hear that there is one good out of the three. I have been put in a passion—no wonder; and I have said more than should be repeated. Were it known that these girls had been sent out to me in this way, the laugh would be raised against me, as it is known that I am not very partial to women; and it would also be of serious injury to them and their prospects. I have determined upon receiving them, for the best of all possible reasons—I can’t help myself. You will, therefore, add to the obligations of this day, by saying nothing about what has been made known to you.”
“Most certainly, sir; I will pledge you my honour, if it is requested.”
“When I say not mention it, I mean to other parties; but to the girls, I must request you to state the facts. I will not have them come here, pawing and fondling, and wheedling me as an old bachelor, with a few lacs of rupees to be coaxed out of. It would make me sick; I detest women and their ways. Now, if they are informed of the real state of the case, that they are here only on sufferance; that I neither wished nor want them; and that I have been imposed upon by their scoundrel of a father, I may keep them at the other end of the bungalow, and not be annoyed with their company; until, upon plea of bad health, or some other excuse, I can pay their passage back again.”
“Could you not state these facts yourself, sir?”
“No, I never meddle with women; besides, it is better that they should know it before they come here. If you will promise me what I now request, why, I will consent to give them house-room; if not, they may stay where they are. It will be but a few days’ laugh at me, or abuse of me, I care little which.”
“Well, sir, unpleasant as this intelligence must be, their present suspense is still more so. You will allow me to disclose it in as delicate a manner as possible.”
“You may be as refined as you please, provided that you tell the exact truth, which I am convinced that you will, by your countenance.”
“Then, I will take my leave, sir,” replied Newton.
“Fare you well, my dear sir; recollect that my house is your home; and although not fond of the society of women, I shall be delighted with yours. The young ladies may be brought on shore to the hotel, and I will send a carriage for them. Good-bye,—What is your name?”
“Good-bye, then, Mr Forster, for the present;” and the colonel quitted the room.