“It may be very odd, sir; but, as I am very well known in London, at the west end, perhaps we have met there. Lord Windermear’s perhaps—Lady Maelstrom’s?”—and I continued mentioning about a dozen of the most fashionable names. “At all events, you appear to have the advantage of me; but I trust you will excuse my want of memory, as my acquaintance is very extensive.”
“I see—quite a mistake—same name, not same person—beg pardon, sir—apologies—and so on,” replied the apothecary, drawing in a long sigh.
I turn lawyer.
I watched the countenance of the agent, who appeared at last to be satisfied that there had been some mistake; at least he became more communicative, and as I no longer put any questions to him relative to Sir Henry, we had a long conversation. I spoke to him about the De Benyons, making every inquiry that I could think of. He informed me that the deceased earl, the father of the present, had many sons, who were some of them married, and that the family was extensive. He appeared to know them all, the professions which they had been brought up to, and their careers in life. I treasured up his information, and, as soon as I had an opportunity, wrote down all which he had told me. On our arrival at Holyhead, the weather was very boisterous, and the packet was to depart immediately. Mr M’Dermott stated his intentions to go over, but Mr Cophagus and the professor declined, and, anxious as I was to proceed, I did not wish to be any longer in company with the agent, and, therefore, also declined going on board. Mr M’Dermott called for a glass of brandy and water, drank it off in haste, and then, followed by the porter, with his luggage, went down to embark.
As soon as he was gone, I burst into a fit of laughter. “Well, Mr Cophagus, acknowledge that it is possible to persuade a man out of his senses. You knew me, and you were perfectly right in asserting that I was Japhet, yet did I persuade you at last that you were mistaken. But I will explain to you why I did so.”
“All right,” said the apothecary, taking my proffered hand, “thought so—no mistake—handsome fellow—so you are—Japhet Newland—my apprentice—and so on.”
“Yes, sir,” replied I, laughing, “I am Japhet Newland.” (I turned round, hearing a noise, the door had been opened, and Mr M’Dermott had just stepped in; he had returned for an umbrella, which he had forgotten; he looked at me, at Mr Cophagus, who still held my hand in his, turned short round, said nothing, and walked out.) “This is unfortunate,” observed I, “my reason for not avowing myself, was to deceive that very person, and now I have made the avowal to his face; however, it cannot be helped.”
I sat down with my old master, and as I knew that I could confide in him, gave him an outline of my life, and stated my present intentions.
“I see, Japhet, I see—done mischief—sorry for it—can’t be help’d—do all I can—um—what’s to be done?—be your friend—always like you—help all I can—and so on.”