Lady de Clare rose in haste, so did Cecilia, and so did a third person, whom I had not expected to have met—Harcourt. “Mr Newland,” exclaimed Lady de Clare, “this is indeed unexpected.” Cecilia also came forward, blushing to the forehead. Harcourt held back, as if waiting for the advances to be made on my side. On the whole, I never felt more awkwardly, and I believe my feelings were reciprocated by the whole party. I was evidently de trop.
“Do you know Mr Harcourt?” at last said Lady de Clare.
“If it is the Mr Harcourt I once knew,” replied I, “I certainly do.”
“Believe me it is the same, Newland,” said Harcourt, coming to me and offering his hand, which I took with pleasure.
“It is a long while since we met,” observed Cecilia, who felt it necessary to say something, but, at the same time, did not like to enter upon my affairs before Harcourt.
“It is, Miss de Clare,” replied I, for I was not exactly pleased at my reception; “but I have been fortunate since I had the pleasure of seeing you last.”
Cecilia and her mother looked earnestly, as much as to say, “in what?”—but did not like to ask the question.
“There is no one present who is not well acquainted with my history,” observed I, “that is, until the time that I left you and Lady de Clare, and I have no wish to create mystery. I have at last discovered my father.”
“I hope we are to congratulate you, Mr Newland,” said Lady de Clare.
“As far as respectability and family are concerned, I certainly have no reason to be ashamed,” replied I. “He is the brother of an earl, and a general in the army. His name I will not mention until I have seen him, and I am formally and openly acknowledged. I have also the advantage of being an only son, and if I am not disinherited, heir to considerable property,” continued I, smiling sarcastically. “Perhaps I may now be better received than I have been as Japhet Newland the Foundling: but, Lady de Clare, I am afraid that I have intruded unseasonably, and will now take my leave. Good morning;” and without waiting for a reply, I made a hasty retreat, and gained the door.
Flushed with indignation, I had nearly gained the bottom of the stairs, when I heard a light footstep behind me, and my arm was caught by Cecilia de Clare. I turned round, and she looked me reproachfully in the face, as the tear stood in her eye.
“What have we done, Japhet, that you should treat us in this manner?” said she, with emotion.
“Miss de Clare,” replied I, “I have no reproaches to make. I perceived that my presence was not welcome, and I would no further intrude.”
“Are you then so proud, now that you have found out that you are well born, Japhet?”
“I am much too proud to intrude where I am not wished for, Miss de Clare. As Japhet Newland, I came here to see the Fleta of former days. When I assume my real name, I shall always be most happy of an introduction to the daughter of Lady de Clare.”