“I never viewed it in that light, certainly, sir,” observed I. “I merely perceived that I was considered intrusive, and finding in the company one who had treated me ill, and had been my antagonist in the field, I naturally supposed that he had prejudiced them against me. I hope I may be wrong; but I have seen so much of the world, young as I am, that I have become very suspicious.”
“Then discard suspicion as fast as you can, it will only make you unhappy, and not prevent your being deceived. If you are suspicious, you will have the constant fear of deception hanging over you, which poisons existence.”
After these remarks I remained silent for some time; I was analysing my own feelings, and I felt that I had acted in a very absurd manner. The fact was, that one of my castle buildings had been, that I was to marry Fleta as soon as I had found my own father, and this it was which had actuated me, almost without my knowing it. I felt jealous of Harcourt, and that, without being in love with Miss de Clare, but actually passionately fond of another person; I felt as if I could have married her without loving her, and that I could give up Susannah Temple, whom I did love, rather than that a being whom I considered as almost of my own creation, should herself presume to fall in love, or that another should dare to love her, until I had made up my mind whether I should take her myself: and this after so long an absence, and their having given up all hopes of ever seeing me again. The reader may smile at the absurdity, still more at the selfishness of this feeling; so did I, when I had reflected upon it, and I despised myself for my vanity and folly.
“What are you thinking of, Japhet?” observed Mr Masterton, tired with my long abstraction.
“That I have been making a most egregious fool of myself, sir,” replied I, “with respect to the De Clares.”
“I did not say so, Japhet; but, to tell you the truth, I thought something very like it. Now tell me, were you not jealous at finding her in company with Harcourt?”