I made my father a profound bow, and was quitting the room.
“Stop, sir,” said the general. “Stop one moment, if you please.”
“Why did you put me out of temper? Answer me that.”
“Allow me to observe, sir, that I did not put you out of temper; and what is more, that I never lost my own temper during the insult and injury which I so undeservedly and unexpectedly have received.”
“But that very keeping your temper made me more angry, sir.”
“That is very possible; but surely I was not to blame. The greatest proof of a perfect gentleman is, that he is able to command his temper, and I wished you to acknowledge that I was not without such pretensions.”
“That is as much as to say that your father is no gentleman; and this, I presume, is a specimen of your filial duty,” replied the general, warmly.
“Far from it, sir; there are many gentlemen who, unfortunately, cannot command their tempers, and are more to be pitied than blamed for it; but, sir, when such happens to be the case, they invariably redeem their error, and amply so, by expressing their sorrow, and offering an apology.”
“That is as much as to say, that you expect me to apologise to you.”
“Allow me, sir, to ask you, did you ever know a De Benyon submit to an insult?”
“No, sir, I trust not.”
“Then, sir, those whose feelings of pride will not allow them to submit to an insult ought never to insult others. If, in the warmth of the moment, they have done so, that pride should immediately induce them to offer an apology, not only due to the party, but to their own characters. There is no disgrace in making an apology when we are in error, but there is a great disgrace in withholding such an act of common justice and reparation.”
“I presume I am to infer from all this, that you expect an apology from me?”
“General De Benyon, as far as I am concerned, that is now of little importance; we part, and shall probably never meet again; if you think that it would make you feel more comfortable, I am willing to receive it.”
“I must suppose by that observation, that you fully expect it, and otherwise will not stay?”