I attempt to profit
by intelligence I receive, and throw a lady
In about three hours I had narrated the history of my life, up to the very day, almost as much detailed as it has been to the reader. “And now, Mr Masterton,” said I, as I wound up my narrative, “do you think that I deserve the title of rogue, which you applied to me when I came in?”
“Upon my word, Mr Newland, I hardly know what to say; but I like to tell the truth. To say that you have been quite honest, would not be correct—a rogue, to a certain degree, you have been, but you have been the rogue of circumstances. I can only say this, that there are greater rogues than you, whose characters are unblemished in the world—that most people in your peculiar situation would have been much greater rogues; and lastly, that rogue or not rogue, I have great pleasure in taking you by the hand, and will do all I possibly can to serve you—and that for your own sake. Your search after your parents I consider almost tantamount to a wild-goose chase; but still, as your happiness depends upon it, I suppose it must be carried on; but you must allow me time for reflection. I will consider what may be the most judicious method of proceeding. Can you dine tete-a-tete with me here on Friday, and we then will talk over the matter?”
“On Friday, sir; I am afraid that I am engaged to Lady Maelstrom; but that is of no consequence—I will write an excuse to her ladyship.”
“Lady Maelstrom! how very odd that you should bring up her name after our conversation.”
“Why so, my dear sir?”
“Why!” replied Mr Masterton, chuckling; “because—recollect, it is a secret, Mr Newland—I remember some twenty years ago, when she was a girl of eighteen, before she married, she had a little faux pas, and I was called in about a settlement, for the maintenance of the child.”
“Is it possible, sir?” replied I, anxiously.
“Yes, she was violently attached to a young officer, without money, but of good family; some say it was a private marriage, others, that he was—a rascal. It was all hushed up, but he was obliged by the friends, before he left for the West Indies, to sign a deed of maintenance, and I was the party called in. I never heard any more about it. The officer’s name was Warrender; he died of the yellow fever, I believe, and after his death she married Lord Maelstrom.”
“He is dead, then?” replied I mournfully.
“Well, that cannot affect you, my good fellow. On Friday, then, at six o’clock precisely. Good afternoon, Mr Newland.”