“Your secret will always be safe with me, Mr Newland; you have a right to demand it. I am glad to hear the sentiments which you have expressed; they are not founded, perhaps, upon the strictest code of morality; but there are many who profess more who do not act up to so much. Still, I wish you would think in what way I may be able to serve you, for your life at present is useless and unprofitable, and may tend to warp still more, ideas which are not quite so strict as they ought to be.”
“My lord, I have but one object in allowing the world to continue in their error relative to my means, which is, that it procures for me an entrance into that society in which I have a moral conviction that I shall find my father. I have but one pursuit, one end to attain, which is, to succeed in that search. I return you a thousand thanks for your kind expressions and good-will; but I cannot, at present, avail myself of them. I beg your lordship’s pardon, but did you ever meet the lady with the ear-rings?”
Lord Windermear smiled. “Really, Mr Newland, you are a very strange person; not content with finding out your own parents, you must also be searching after other people’s; not that I do not commend your conduct in this instance; but I’m afraid, in running after shadows, you are too indifferent to the substance.”
“Ah, my lord! it is very well for you to argue who have had a father and mother, and never felt the want of them; but if you knew how my heart yearns after my parents, you would not be surprised at my perseverance.”
“I am surprised at nothing in this world, Mr Newland; every one pursues happiness in his own way; your happiness appears to be centred in one feeling, and you are only acting as the world does in general; but recollect that the search after happiness ends in disappointment.”
“I grant it but too often does, my lord; but there is pleasure in the chase,” replied I.
“Well, go, and may you prosper. All I can say is this, Mr Newland, do not have that false pride not to apply to me when you need assistance. Recollect, it is much better to be under an obligation, if such you will consider it, than to do that which is wrong; and that it is a very false pride which would blush to accept a favour, and yet not blush to do what it ought to be ashamed of. Promise me, Mr Newland, that upon any reverse or exigence, you will apply to me.”
“I candidly acknowledge to your lordship, that I would rather be under an obligation to anyone but you; and I trust you will clearly appreciate my feelings. I have taken the liberty of refunding the one thousand pounds you were so kind as to place at my disposal as a loan. At the same time I will promise, that, if at any time I should require your assistance, I will again request leave to become your debtor.” I rose again to depart.
“Farewell, Newland; when I thought you had behaved ill, and I offered to better you, you only demanded my good opinion; you have it, and have it so firmly, that it will not easily be shaken.” His lordship then shook hands with me, and I took my leave.