In pursuance of my promise to Mr Masterton, I called upon Harcourt the next morning, and after stating my intention to go down for a day or two into the country to see a little girl who was under my care, I said to him, “Harcourt, as long as we were only town acquaintances, mixing in society, and under no peculiar obligation to each other, I did not think it worth while to undeceive you on a point in which Major Carbonnell was deceived himself, and has deceived others; but now that you have offered to introduce me into the bosom of your family, I cannot allow you to remain in error. It is generally supposed that I am about to enter into a large property when I come of age; now, so far from that being the case, I have nothing in the world but a bare competence, and the friendship of Lord Windermear. In fact, I am a deserted child, ignorant of my parents, and most anxious to discover them, as I have every reason to suppose that I am of no mean birth. I tell you this candidly, and unless you renew the invitation, shall consider that it has not been given.”
Harcourt remained a short time without answering. “You really have astonished me, Newland; but,” continued he, extending his hand, “I admire—I respect you, and I feel that I shall like you better. With ten thousand pounds a-year, you were above me—now we are but equals. I, as a younger brother, have but a bare competence, as well as you; and as for parents—for the benefit I now derive from them, I might as well have none. Not but my father is a worthy, fine old gentleman, but the estates are entailed; he is obliged to keep up his position in society, and he has a large family to provide for, and he can do no more. You have indeed an uncommon moral courage to have made this confession. Do you wish it to be kept a secret?”
“On the contrary, I wish the truth to be known.”
“I am glad that you say so, as I have mentioned you as a young man of large fortune to my father, but I feel convinced, when I tell him this conversation, he will be much more pleased in taking you by the hand, than if you were to come down and propose to one of my sisters. I repeat the invitation with double the pleasure that I gave it at first.”
“I thank you, Harcourt,” replied I; “some day I will tell you more. I must not expect, however, that everybody will prove themselves as noble in ideas as yourself.”
“Perhaps not, but never mind that. On Friday next then, we start.”
“Agreed.” I shook hands and left him.
I try back to recover
the lost scent, and discover to my
astonishment, that I have been transported for forgery.