“It is indeed, sir,” said I, again offering my hand, which he shook warmly.
“Not quite so hard, my dear fellow, this time,” said the old lawyer; “I acknowledge your vigour, and that is sufficient. I am very glad to see you, Japhet, I am indeed—you—you scamp—you ungrateful fellow. Sit down—sit down—first help me off with my great coat: I presume the advertisement has brought you into existence again. Well, it’s all true; and you have at last found your father, or, rather, he has found you. And what’s more strange, you hit upon the right person; that is strange—very strange indeed.”
“Where is he, sir?” interrupted I, “where is he—take me to him.”
“No, rather be excused,” replied Mr Masterton, “for he is gone to Ireland, so you must wait.”
“Wait, sir, oh no—I must follow him.”
“That will only do harm; for he is rather a queer sort of an old gentleman, and although he acknowledges that he left you as Japhet and has searched for you, yet he is so afraid of somebody else’s brat being put upon him, that he insists upon most undeniable proofs. Now, we cannot trace you from the hospital unless we can find that fellow Cophagus, and we have made every search after him, and no one can tell where he is.”
“But I left him but yesterday morning, sir,” replied I.
“Good—very good; we must send for him or go to him; besides, he has the packet intrusted to the care of Miss Maitland, to whom he was executor, which proves the marriage of your father. Very strange—very strange indeed, that you should have hit upon it as you did—almost supernatural. However, all right now, my dear boy, and I congratulate you. Your father is a very strange person: he has lived like a despot among slaves all his life, and will not be thwarted, I can tell you. If you say a word in contradiction he’ll disinherit you:—terrible old tiger, I must say. If it had not been for your sake, I should have done with him long ago. He seems to think the world ought to be at his feet. Depend upon it, Japhet, there is no hurry about seeing him;—and see him you shall not, until we have every proof of your identity ready to produce to him. I hope you have the bump of veneration strong, Japhet, and plenty of filial duty, or you will be kicked out of the house in a week. D—n me, if he didn’t call me an old thief of a lawyer.”
“Indeed, sir,” replied I, laughing; “I must apologise to you for my father’s conduct.”
“Never mind, Japhet; I don’t care about a trifle; but why don’t you ask after your friends?”
“I have longed so to do, sir,” replied I. “Lord Windermear—”
“Is quite well, and will be most happy to see you.”
“Lady de Clare, and her daughter—”
“Lady de Clare has entered into society again, and her daughter, as you call her—your Fleta, alias Cecilia de Clare—is the belle of the metropolis. But now, sir, as I have answered all your interrogatories, and satisfied you upon the most essential points, will you favour me with a narrative of your adventures (for adventures I am sure you must have had) since you ran away from us all in that ungrateful manner.”