“They never would be so cruel, Timothy,” replied I.
“But still it is evident that Mr Masterton is concerned in it,” observed Timothy.
“Why so?” inquired I.
“How otherwise should it appear in the Reading newspaper? He must have examined the postmark of my letter.”
To explain this, I must remind the reader that Timothy had promised to write to Mr Masterton when he found me; and he requested my permission shortly after we had met again. I consented to his keeping his word, but restricted him to saying any more than “that he had found me, and that I was well and happy.” There was no address in the letter as a clue to Mr Masterton as to where I might be, and it could only have been from the postmark that he could have formed any idea. Timothy’s surmise was therefore very probable; but I would not believe that Mr Masterton would consent to the insertion of that portion of the advertisement, if there was no foundation for it.
“What will you do, Japhet?”
“Do,” replied I, recovering from my reverie, for the information had again roused up all my dormant feelings—“Do,” replied I, “why, I shall set off for town this very morning.”
“In that dress, Japhet?”
“I suppose I must,” replied I, “for I have no time to procure another;” and all my former ideas of fashion and appearance were roused, and in full activity—my pride recovered its ascendency.
“Well,” replied Timothy, “I hope you will find your father all that you could wish.”
“I’m sure of it, Tim—I’m sure of it,” replied I; “you must run and take a place in the first coach.”
“But you are not going without seeing Mr and Mrs Cophagus, and—Miss Temple,” continued Tim, laying an emphasis upon the latter name.
“Of course not,” replied I, colouring deeply. “I will go at once. Give me the newspaper, Tim.”
I took the newspaper, and hastened to the house of Mr Cophagus. I found them all three sitting in the breakfast parlour, Mr Cophagus, as usual, reading, with his spectacles on his nose, and the ladies at work. “What is the matter, friend Japhet?” exclaimed Mr Cophagus, as I burst into the room, my countenance lighted up with excitement. “Read that, sir!” said I to Mr Cophagus. Mr Cophagus read it. “Hum—bad news—lose Japhet—man of fashion—and so on,” said Cophagus, pointing out the paragraph to his wife, as he handed over the paper.
In the meantime I watched the countenance of Susannah—a slight emotion, but instantly checked, was visible at Mr Cophagus’s remark. She then remained quiet until her sister, who had read the paragraph, handed the paper to her. “I give thee joy, Japhet, at the prospect of finding out thy parent,” said Mrs Cophagus. “I trust thou wilt find in him one who is to be esteemed as a man. When departest thou?”
“Immediately,” replied I.
“I cannot blame thee—the ties of nature are ever powerful. I trust that thou wilt write to us, and that we soon shall see thee return.”