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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 432 pages of information about Japhet, in Search of a Father.

“And a very plausible reason, too,” replied I; “nor do I think I have any right—­I am sure I have no intention of doing as you propose.  Surely, people have a right to choose their acquaintance, and to cut me, if they think I have done wrong.  I am afraid, Captain Atkinson, you have mistaken me; I have punished Harcourt for his conduct towards me—­deserved punishment.  I had claims on him; but I have not upon the hundreds, whom, when in the zenith of my popularity, I myself, perhaps, was not over courteous to.  I cannot run the muck which you propose, nor do I consider that I shall help my character by so doing.  I may become notorious, but certainly, I shall not obtain that species of notoriety which will be of service to me.  No, no; I have done too much, I may say, already; and, although not so much to blame as the world imagines, yet my own conscience tells me, that by allowing it to suppose that I was what I was not, I have, to say the least, been a party to the fraud, and must take the consequence.  My situation now is very unpleasant, and I ought to retire, and, if possible, re-appear with real claims upon the public favour.  I have still friends, thank God! and influential friends.  I am offered a writership in India—­a commission in the army—­or to study the law.  Will you favour me with your opinion?”

“You pay me a compliment by asking my advice.  A writership in India is fourteen years’ transportation, returning with plenty to live on but no health to enjoy it.  In the army you might do well, and moreover, as an officer in the army, none dare refuse to go out with you.  At the same time, under your peculiar circumstances, I think if you were in a crack regiment you would, in all probability, have to fight one half the mess, and be put in Coventry by the other.  You must then exchange on half-pay, and your commission would be a great help to you.  As for the law—­I’d sooner see a brother of mine in his coffin.  There, you have my opinion.”

“Not a very encouraging one, at all events,” replied I, laughing; “but there is much truth in your observations.  To India I will not go, as it will interfere with the great object of my existence.”

“And pray, if it be no secret, may I ask what that is?”

“To find out who is my father.

Captain Atkinson looked very hard at me.  “I more than once,” said he, “have thought you a little cracked, but now I perceive you are mad—­downright mad; don’t be angry, I couldn’t help saying so, and if you wish me to give you satisfaction, I shall most unwillingly be obliged.”

“No, no, Atkinson, I believe you are not very far wrong, and I forgive you—­but to proceed.  The army, as you say, will give me a position in society, from my profession being that of a gentleman, but as I do not wish to take the advantage which you have suggested from the position, I shrink from putting myself into one which may lead to much mortification.  As for the law, although I do not exactly agree with you in your abhorrence of the profession, yet I must say, that I do not like the idea.  I have been rendered unfit for it by my life up to the present.  But I am permitted to select any other.”

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