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Raromi, or, The Maori Chief's Heir

Chapter XXV. Good News

page 170

Chapter XXV. Good News.

Scotty and Falconer had accepted Mr. Morgan's invitation with great pleasure. They were delighted and greatly impressed by the merchant's easy manner and evident goodness of heart. The young men knew what society was, and having been excluded from it for so long made them the more anxious to accept the invitation, the more eager to taste again the sweets of civilized society.

As they thought the matter over the next day at work, their illusions were dispelled. Our heroes had hardly any clothes—evening clothes was out of the question. And the small sum they had borrowed was to supply present necessities.

A note was sent to Mr. Jarvey, begging him to make excuses for them to Mr. Morgan, whose kindness they greatly appreciated, but whose invitation they could not accept. Mr. Morgan was closeted with Mr. Jarvey when the note reached the latter.

'These young men won't come to my house, Mr, Jarvey; what is the meaning of it?'

page 171

'Humph!' muttered the clerk; 'I see it all.'

'Then pray tell me what it means.'

'The young men know how they should be dressed to meet ladies—according to rule—and to be dressed thus is more than they can afford.'

'I see. Then send the boy to the Alert, and let him ask Mr. Fal—Morpeth—'

'You must say Falconer, sir, for the moment.'

'Yes; let him ask Mr. Falconer to step up and see me. Stay; send a note, and say I have important news for him—only that.'

'I'm very glad to see you, Mr. Harold,' exclaimed Mr. Jarvey, when the former appeared. 'You feel all right now—quite recovered?'

'As well as ever, thanks, and in just the trim for work; though just a little down for the moment'

'Come with me at once, please; Mr. Morgan is anxious to see you.'

'To see me!'

Yes; something to tell you. God bless the lad!' said the faithful old man, when, having ushered the young man into Mr. Morgan's room, he retired.

'Good day, Mr. Morgan. I hope you will not think us indifferent to your kindness—to your kind invitation—but—'

'Say no more, Mr. Falconer. I appreciate your delicacy. I didn't think for the moment that your position is a difficult one. Just now I want you, for I have some good news for you. Let that cheer you, my young friend.'

'Good news for me!' said Falconer, looking astounded.

'Indeed I have. Please give me your close attention, page 172 and don't be offended at a few direct questions; I must put them, for I act in a judicial capacity.

'Your correct name is Harold Morpeth, is it not?'

'It is.'

'Hence Falconer is only an assumed name?'

'It is an assumed name. When I went to New Zealand, feeling disgraced and ruined, I took my mother's name—Falconer.'

'Your father was Mr. J. B. Morpeth, the well-known Liverpool merchant?'

'He was.'

'He fell into misfortune, did he not?'

'He did, and was utterly ruined. It killed him. That was why I ran from England, to hide myself where I was utterly unknown.'

'Not long since, Mr. Morpeth—for I must now always give you your right name—Mr. Jarvey received a letter from Liverpool. This letter was from Mr. Bowster, the lawyer charged with settling your father's private affairs. It was to 'the effect, in two words, that an outstanding asset of some value had just come to light—clearly belonging to your father. This lawyer, acting for your father's heirs, has already recovered part of this money.

'Mr. Bowster, having Mr. Jarvey's address, wrote to him, wishing him to advertise for you out here, as it was known you were in one of these colonies.

'Your sudden appearance—and to Mr. Jarvey—puts matters at once on a right footing. Upon certain formalities being carried out, I can advance you £800 at once. And Mr. Bowster believes you may reckon on a similar amount a few months later.'

page 173

Falconer grasped Mr. Morgan's offered hand and wrung it heartily. His voice, though, quivered at first, as he expressed his hearty thanks for Mr. Morgan's ready and careful attention to his affairs; adding,' This comes, Mr. Morgan, most opportunely to my rescue. When the little Kahawai went down she took my all of worldly possessions—except some land yonder—with her. I now see a way out of my difficulties—how to become a merchant on my own account.'

Mr. Morgan now entered critically into Falconer's position, into his aims and wishes, discussing them with an expressed intention of helping him as much as possible.

The old merchant and his new acquaintance became greatly interested in each other. The sitting was prolonged, for Mr. Morgan advised Falconer strongly to set up in New Zealand, and began at once to explain the difficulties and necessities of the Sydney market.

'Come in, Linton,' cried Mr. Morgan, as a gentleman who had just opened the door was about to retire. 'Let me introduce a friend from New Zealand. You ought to know each other.'

Mr. Linton and Falconer fell at once into conversation; and drifting to New Zealand became so occupied with it, and with each other, that Mr. Morgan had to remind them of the hour.

Falconer rose, begging Mr. Morgan to excuse him; but the merchant detained him; and in a few minutes he found himself snugly installed in Mr. Morgan's sanctum, dining with Mr. Linton, and chatting familiarly as with an old friend.

'I'm a sailor', said Mr. Linton; 'I was so from choice.'

page 174

'I am one from both necessity and choice,' added Falconer. 'I found myself suddenly obliged to earn a living, and I chose a manly way of doing it.

'But you are a merchant?' queried Falconer.

'And so are you,' added Mr. Linton, with a laugh.

'Yes; of two hours' standing. Mr. Morgan has just inducted me, so to speak.'

'He's a good one at that He took me in hand once like that, or else I know not where I should be at this moment'

'Somewhere, Linton, doing your duty like a man, no doubt—that's the great point.'

'The day is wearing fast,' said Mr. Linton, at last; 'I purpose taking Mr. Falconer to Rose Farm with me. A few days there will do him good.'

'It will. I advise you to go, Mr. Morpeth.'

'Morpeth!' exclaimed Mr. Linton.

'Don't be too curious just now, Linton,' added the old merchant; 'Mr. Morpeth will explain matters when you have his confidence.'17

'Can you find room for another?' asked Harold.

'Certainly; but who?'

'My companion and closest friend, Scott'

'I'll go down with you and pick him up, and we'll drive off at once.'

Scotty was astounded to see his friend step out of a smart buggy, and still more surprised when he found he was to start at once to pay a visit up the country to people of whom he had never heard. But he was equal to the occasion, and the two friends started with light hearts in quest of health and up-country adventures.

17 Mr. Morgan has just revealed to both the reader and Mr. Linton another identity that the protagonist upholds. His Christian name is Harold Morpeth, which is how Mr. Morpeth identifies him, as they were associates back in England. On this page he is referred to as both Falconer and Mr. Morpeth. As outlined in the introduction, Falconer’s identity progression is aligned with his teetotalism, hard work and upward social mobility, so it is no surprise that he is identified as a merchant of two hours’ standing on the very same page that he is identified as Mr. Morpeth or Harold, not Raromi or Falconer.