Petrick prosecuted his inquiries elsewhere; and the upshot of his labors was, briefly, that a comparison of dates and places showed irrefutably that his poor wife`s assertion could not possibly have foundation in fact. The young Marquis of her tender passion—a highly moral and brightminded nobleman—had gone abroad the year before Annetta`s, marriage, and had not returned until after her death.
The young girl`s love for him had been a delicate ideal dream—no more.Timothy went home, and the boy ran out to meet him; whereupon a strangely dismal feeling of discontent took possession of his soul. After all, then, there was nothing but plebeian blood in the veins of the heir to his name and estates; he was not to be succeeded by a noble-natured line. To be sure, Rupert was his son; but that glory and halo he believed him to have inherited from the ages, outshining that of his brother`s children, had departed from Rupert`s brow forever; he could no longer read history in the boy`s face and centuries of domination in his eyes.His manner towards his son grew colder and colder from that day forward; and it was with bitterness of heart that he discerned the characteristic features of the Petricks unfolding themselves by degrees. Instead of the elegant knife-edged nose, so typical of the Dukes of South- westerland, there began to appear on his face the broad nostril and hollow bridge of his grandfather Timothy. No illustrious line of politicians was promised a continuator in that graying blue eye, for it was acquiring the expression of the orb of a particularly objectionable cousin of his own; and, instead of the mouth-curves which had thrilled Parliamentary audiences in speeches now bound in calf in every well- ordered library, there was the bull-lip of that very uncle of his who had had the misfortune with the signature of a gentleman`s will, and had been transported for life in consequence.
To think how he himself, too, had sinned in this same matter of a will for this mere fleshly reproduction of a wretched old uncle whose very name he wished to forget! The boy`s Christian name, even, was an imposture and an irony, for it implied hereditary force and brilliancy to which he plainly would never attain! The consolation of real son- ship was always left him certainly; but he could not help groaning to himself, “Why cannot a son be one`s own and somebody else`s likewise?”The Marquis was shortly afterwards in the neighborhood of Staple- ford, and Timothy Petrick met him, and eyed his noble countenance admiringly. The next day, when Petrick was in his study, somebody knocked at the door.“Who`s there?”“Rupert.”“I`ll Rupert thee, you young impostor! Say, only a poor commonplace Petrick!” his father grunted. “Why didn`t you have a voice like the Marquis I saw yesterday?” he continued, as the lad came in. “Why haven`t you his looks, and a way of commanding as if you`d done it for centuries—hey?”“Why? How can you expect it, father, when I`m not related to him?” “Ugh! Then you ought to be!” growled his father.
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