“Do you know Sir Henry de Clare?”
“Sir Henry de Clare—of Mount Castle—is he not?”
“The same; I am going over to him. I am agent for his estates, among others. A very remarkable man. Have you ever seen his wife?”
“I really cannot tell,” replied I; “let me call to mind.”
I had somehow or another formed an idea, that Sir Henry de Clare and Melchior might be one and the same person; nothing was too absurd or improbable for my imagination, and I had now means of bringing home my suspicions. “I think,” continued I, “I recollect her—that is, she is a very tall, handsome woman, dark eyes and complexion.”
“The very same,” replied he.
My heart bounded at the information; it certainly was not any clue to my own parentage, but it was an object of my solicitude, and connected with the welfare of Fleta. “If I recollect right,” observed I, “there are some curious passages in the life of Sir Henry?”
“Nothing very particular,” observed the agent, looking out of the window.
“I thought that he had disappeared for some time.”
“Disappeared! he certainly did not live in Ireland, because he had quarrelled with his brother. He lived in England until his brother’s death.”
“How did his brother die, sir?”
“Killed by a fall when hunting,” replied the agent. “He was attempting to clear a stone wall, the horse fell back on him, and dislocated his spine. I was on the spot when the accident happened.”
I recollected the imperfect communication of Fleta, who had heard the gipsy say that “he was dead;” and also the word horse made use of, and I now felt convinced that I had found out Melchior. “Sir Henry, if I recollect right, has no family,” observed I.
“No; and I am afraid there is but little chance.”
“Had the late baronet, his elder brother, any family?”
“What, Sir William? No; or Sir Henry would not have come into the title.”
“He might have had daughters,” replied I.
“Very true; now I think of it, there was a girl, who died when young.”
“Is the widow of Sir William alive?”
“Yes; and a very fine woman she is; but she has left Ireland since her husband’s death.”
I did not venture to ask any more questions. Our conversation had roused Mr Cophagus and the other passenger; and as I had reflected how I should behave in case of recognition, I wished to be prepared for him. “You have had a good nap, sir,” said I, turning to him.
“Nap—yes—coach nap, bad—head sore—and so on. Why—bless me—Japhet—Japhet New—yes—it is.”
“Do you speak to me, sir?” inquired I, with a quiet air.
“Speak to you—yes—bad memory—hip! quite forgot—old master—shop in Smithfield—mad bull—and so on.”
“Really, sir,” replied I, “I am afraid you mistake me for some other person.”
Mr Cophagus looked very hard at me, and perceiving that there was no alteration in my countenance, exclaimed, “Very odd—same nose—same face—same age too—very odd—like as two pills—beg pardon—made a mistake—and so on.”