Japhet, in Search of a Father eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 546 pages of information about Japhet, in Search of a Father.

“It was very kind of you, Harcourt.”

“Do not say that, I beg.  It was thus that I formed an acquaintance with Lady de Clare and her daughter, whose early history, as Fleta, I had obtained from you, but who I little imagined to be the little girl that you had so generously protected; for it was not until after I had deserted you, that you had discovered her parentage.  The extreme interest relative to you evinced by both the mother and the daughter surprised me.  They had heard of my name from you, but not of our quarrel.  They urged me, and thanked me for proposing, to follow you and find you out:  I did make every attempt.  I went to Brentford, inquired at all the public-houses, and of all the coachmen who went down the road, but could obtain no information, except that at one public-house, a gentleman stopped with a portmanteau, and soon afterwards went away with it on his shoulders.  I returned to Richmond with the tidings of my ill-success about a week after I had first called there.  Cecilia was much affected and cried very bitterly.  I could not help asking Lady de Clare why she took such a strong interest in your fortunes.  ‘Who ought,’ replied Cecilia, ‘if his poor Fleta does not?’ ’Good Heavens!  Miss de Clare, are you the little Fleta whom he found with the gipsies, and talked to me so much about?’ ‘Did you not know it?’ said Lady de Clare.  I then explained to her all that had latterly passed between us, and they in return communicated your events and dangers in Ireland.  Thus was an intimacy formed, and ever since I have been constantly welcome at their house.  I did not, however, abandon my enquiries for many months, when I thought it was useless, and I had to console poor Cecilia, who constantly mourned for you.  And now, Japhet, I must make my story short:  I could not help admiring a young person who showed so much attachment and gratitude joined to such personal attractions, but she was an heiress and I was a younger brother.  Still Lady de Clare insisted upon my coming to the house, and I was undecided how to act when the unfortunate death of my elder brother put me in a situation to aspire to her hand.  After that my visits were more frequent, and I was tacitly received as a suitor by Lady de Clare, and had no reason to complain of the treatment I received from Cecilia.  Such was the position of affairs until the day on which you broke in upon us so unexpectedly, and at the very moment that you came in, I had, with the sanction of her mother, made an offer to Cecilia, and was anxiously awaiting an answer from her own dear lips.  Can you therefore be surprised, Japhet, at there being a degree of constraint on all sides at the interruption occasioned by the presence of one who had long been considered lost to us?  Or that a young person just deciding upon the most important step of her life should feel confused and agitated at the entrance of a third party, however dear he might be to her as a brother and benefactor?”

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Japhet, in Search of a Father from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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