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.

He was dead.  Had then Melchior committed murder, and was obliged to fly the country?  This appeared to me to be the most probable, when I collected the facts in my possession; and yet I could not believe it, for except that system of deceit necessary to carry on his various professions, I never found anything in Melchior’s conduct which could be considered as criminal.  On the contrary, he was kind, generous, and upright in his private dealings, and in many points, proved that he had a good heart.  He was a riddle of inconsistency it was certain; professionally he would cheat anybody, and disregard all truth and honesty; but, in his private character, he was scrupulously honest, and, with the exception of the assertion relative to Fleta’s birth and parentage, he had never told me a lie, that I could discover.  I was summing up all these reflections in my mind, when Melchior again came up to me, and desiring the little girl to go away, he said, “Japhet, I have resolved to grant your request with respect to Fleta, but it must be on conditions.”

“Let me hear them.”

“First, then, Japhet, as you always have been honest and confiding with me, tell me now what are your intentions.  Do you mean to follow up the profession which you learnt under me, or what do you intend to do?”

“Honestly, then, Melchior, I do not intend to follow up that profession, unless driven to it by necessity.  I intend to seek my father.”

“And if driven to it by necessity, do you intend that Fleta shall aid you by her acquirements?  In short, do you mean to take her with you as a speculation, to make the most of her, to let her sink, when she arrives at the age of woman, into vice and misery?”

“I wonder at your asking me that question, Melchior; it is the first act of injustice I have received at your hands.  No; if obliged to follow up the profession, I will not allow Fleta so to do.  I would sooner that she were in her grave.  It is to rescue her from that very vice and misery, to take her out of a society in which she never ought to have been placed, that I take her with me.”

“And this upon your honour?”

“Yes, upon my honour.  I love her as my sister, and cannot help indulging in the hope that in seeking my father, I may chance to stumble upon her’s.”

Melchior bit his lips.  “There is another promise I must exact from you, Japhet, which is, that to a direction which I will give you, every six months you will inclose an address where you may be heard of, and also intelligence as to Fleta’s welfare and health.”

“To that I gave my cheerful promise:  but, Melchior, you appear to have taken, all at once, a strange interest in this little girl.”

“I wish you now to think that I do take an interest in her, provided you seek not to inquire the why and the wherefore.  Will you accept of funds for her maintenance?”

“Not without necessity compels me; and then I should be glad to find, when I can no longer help her, that you are still her friend.”

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