“I never had a thought of staying, general; you have told me that you have disinherited and discarded me for ever; no one with the feelings of a man would ever think of remaining after such a declaration.”
“Upon what terms, then, sir, am I to understand that you will consent to remain with me, and forget all that has passed?”
“My terms are simple, general; you must say that you retract what you have said, and are very sorry for having insulted me.”
“And without I do that, you will never come here again?”
“Most decidedly not, sir. I shall always wish you well, pray for your happiness, be sorry at your death, and attend your funeral as chief mourner, although you disinherit me. That is my duty, in return for my having taken your name, and your having acknowledged that I am your son; but live with you, or even see you occasionally, I will not, after what has passed this day, without you make me an apology.”
“I was not aware that it was necessary for a father to apologise to his son.”
“If you wrong a stranger, you offer an apology; how much more is it due to a near relation?”
“But a parent has claims upon his own son, sir, for which he is bound to tender his duty.”
“I grant it, in the ordinary course of things in this life; but, General De Benyon, what claims have you as a parent upon me? A son in most cases is indebted to his parents for their care and attention in infancy—his education—his religious instruction—his choice of a profession, and his advancement in life, by their exertions and interest; and when they are called away, he has a reasonable expectation of their leaving him a portion of their substance. They have a heavy debt of gratitude to pay for what they have received, and they are further checked by the hopes of what they may hereafter receive. Up to this time, sir, I have not received the first, and this day I am told that I need not expect the last. Allow me to ask you, General De Benyon, upon what grounds you claim from me a filial duty? certainly not for benefits received, or for benefits in expectation; but I feel that I am intruding, and therefore, sir, once more, with every wish for your happiness, I take my leave.”
I went out, and had half closed the door after me, when the general cried out, “Stop—don’t go—Japhet—my son—I was in a passion—I beg your pardon—don’t mind what I said—I’m a passionate old fool.”
As he uttered this in broken sentences, I returned to him. He held out his hand. “Forgive me, boy—forgive your father.” I knelt down and kissed his hand; he drew me towards him, and I wept upon his bosom.
Father still dutifully
submissive at home—Abroad, I am splitting
a straw in arguments with Susannah about straw bonnets—The rest
of the Chapter contains coquetry, courting, and costumes.