As soon as I was on the sofa, wrapped up in one of the dressing-gowns of Mr Cophagus, he told me that the clothes in which I had been picked up were all in tatters, and asked me whether I would like to have others made according to the usual fashion, or like those with whom I should, he trusted, in future reside. I had already debated this matter in my mind. Return to the world I had resolved not to do; to follow up the object of my search appeared to me only to involve me in difficulties; and what were the intentions of Cophagus with regard to me, I knew not. I was hesitating, for I knew not what answer to give, when I perceived the pensive, deep blue eye of Susannah fixed upon me, watching attentively, if not eagerly, for my response.
It decided the point. “If,” replied I, “you do not think that I should disgrace you, I should wish to wear the dress of the Society of Friends, although not yet one of your body.”
“But soon to be, I trust,” replied Mrs Cophagus.
“Alas!” replied I, “I am an outcast;” and I looked at Susannah Temple.
“Not so, Japhet Newland,” replied she, mildly; “I am pleased that thou hast of thy own accord rejected vain attire. I trust that thou wilt not find that thou art without friends.”
“While I am with you,” replied I, addressing myself to them all, “I consider it my duty to conform to your manners in every way, but by-and-bye, when I resume my search—”
“And why shouldst thou resume a search which must prove unavailing, and but leads thee into error and misfortune? I am but young, Japhet Newland, and not perhaps so able to advise, yet doth it appear to me, that the search can only be availing when made by those who left thee. When they wish for you, they will seek thee, but thy seeking them is vain and fruitless.”
“But,” replied I, “recollect that inquiries have already been made at the Foundling, and those who inquired have been sent away disappointed—they will enquire no more.”
“And is a parent’s love so trifling, that one disappointment will drive him from seeking of his child? No, no, Japhet; if thou art yearned for, thou wilt be found, and fresh inquiries will be made; but thy search is unavailing, and already hast thou lost much time.”
“True, Susannah, thy advice is good,” replied Mrs Cophagus; “in following a shadow Japhet hath much neglected the substance; it is time that thou shouldst settle thyself, and earn thy livelihood.”
“And do thy duty in that path of life to which it hath pleased God to call thee,” continued Susannah, who with Mrs Cophagus walked out of the room.