“That you may judge for yourself, my dear fellow, for I asked him to join us, I must say, more out of compliment to Lord Windermear than anything else; for I am afraid that, even I could never make a gentleman of him. But take Harcourt with you to your room, and by the time you have washed your hands, I will have dinner on the table. I took the liberty of desiring your valet to show me in about ten minutes ago. He’s a shrewd fellow that of your’s—where did you pick him up?”
“By mere accident,” replied I; “come, Mr Harcourt.”
On our return, we found the real Simon Pure, Mr Estcourt, sitting with the major, who introduced us, and dinner being served, we sat down to table.
Mr Estcourt was a young man, about my own age, but not so tall by two or three inches. His features were prominent, but harsh; and when I saw him, I was not at all surprised at Lord Windermear’s expressions of satisfaction, when he suppossd that I was his nephew. His countenance was dogged and sullen, and he spoke little; he appeared to place an immense value upon birth, and hardly deigned to listen, except the aristocracy were the subject of discourse. I treated him with marked deference, that I might form an acquaintance, and found before we parted that night, that I had succeeded. Our dinner was excellent, and we were all, except Mr Estcourt, in high good humour. We sat late—too late to go to the theatre, and promising to meet the next day at noon, Harcourt and the Major took their leave.
Mr Estcourt had indulged rather too much, and, after their departure, became communicative. I plied the bottle and we sat up for more than an hour; he talked of nothing but his family and his expectations. I took this opportunity of discovering what his feelings were likely to be when he was made acquainted with the important secret which was in my possession. I put a case somewhat similar, and asked him whether in such circumstances he would waive his right for a time, to save the honour of his family.
“No, by G—d!” replied he, “I never would. What! give up even for a day my right—conceal my true rank for the sake of relatives? never—nothing would induce me.”
I was satisfied, and then casually asked him if he had written to Lord Windermear to inform him of his arrival.
“No,” replied he; “I shall write to-morrow.” He soon after retired to his own apartment, and I rang for Timothy.
“Good heavens, sir!” cried Timothy, “what is all this—and what are you about? I am frightened out of my wits. Why, sir, our money will not last two months.”
“I do not expect it will last much longer, Tim; but it cannot be helped. Into society I must get—and to do so, must pay for it.”
“But, sir, putting the expense aside, what are we to do about this Mr Estcourt? All must be found out.”
“I intend that it shall be found out, Tim,” replied I; “but not yet. He will write to his uncle to-morrow; you must obtain the letter, for it must not go. I must first have time to establish myself, and then Lord Windermear may find out his error as soon as he pleases.”