“Nay, nay—indeed, Japhet, you exact too much—it is not seemly.”
“Then I won’t go.”
“Recollect about thy father.”
“It is you who detain me, Susannah.”
“I must not injure thee with thy father, Japhet, it were no proof of my affection—but, indeed, you are self-willed.”
“God bless you, Susannah,” said I, as I gained the contested point, and hastened to the carriage.
My father was a little out of humour when I returned, and questioned me rather sharply as to where I had been. I half pacified him by delivering Lord Windermear’s polite message; but he continued his interrogations, and although I had pointed out to him that a De Benyon would never be guilty of an untruth, I am afraid I told some half dozen on this occasion; but I consoled myself with the reflection, that, in the code of honour of a fashionable man, he is bound, if necessary, to tell falsehoods where a lady is concerned; so I said I had driven through the streets looking at the houses, and had twice stopped and had gone in to examine them. My father supposed that I had been looking out for a house for him, and was satisfied. Fortunately they were job horses; had they been his own I should have been in a severe scrape. Horses are the only part of an establishment for which the gentlemen have any consideration, and on which ladies have no mercy.
I had promised the next day to dine with Mr Masterton. My father had taken a great aversion to this old gentleman until I had narrated the events of my life, in which he had played such a conspicuous and friendly part. Then, to do my father justice, his heart warmed towards him.
“My dear sir, I have promised to dine out to-day.”
“With whom, Japhet?”
“Why, sir, to tell you the truth, with that ‘old thief of a lawyer.’”
“I am very much shocked at your using such an expression towards one who has been such a sincere friend, Japhet; and you will oblige me, sir, by not doing so again in my presence.”
“I really beg your pardon, general,” replied I, “but I thought to please you.”
“Please me! what do you think of me? please me, sir, by showing yourself ungrateful?—I am ashamed of you, sir.”
“My dear father, I borrowed the expression from you. You called Mr Masterton ‘an old thief of a lawyer’ to his face: he complained to me of the language before I had the pleasure of meeting you. I feel, and always shall feel, the highest respect, love, and gratitude towards him. Have I your permission to go?”
“Yes, Japhet,” replied my father, looking very grave, “and do me the favour to apologise for me to Mr Masterton for my having used such an expression in my unfortunate warmth of temper—I am ashamed of myself.”
“My dearest father, no man need be ashamed who is so ready to make honourable reparation:—we are all a little out of temper at times.”
“You have been a kind friend to me, Japhet, as well as a good son,” replied my father, with some emotion. “Don’t forget the apology at all events: I shall be unhappy until it be made.”