`That is, I hope, to be said of most men, Mr. Blake. I am afraid it cannot truly be said of all. Have you any reason to suppose that the lost remembrance which Mr. Candy tried to recover -- while you were speaking to him just now -- was a remembrance which it was important to you that he should recall?'
In saying those words, he had touched, of his own accord, on the very point upon which I was anxious to consult him. The interest I felt in this strange man had impelled me, in the first instance, to give him the opportunity of speaking to me; reserving what I might have to say, on my side, in relation to his employer, until I was first satisfied that he was a person in whose delicacy and discretion I could trust. The little that he had said, thus far, had been sufficient to convince me that I was speaking to a gentleman. He had what I may venture to describe as the unsought self-possession, which is a sure sign of good breeding, not in England only, but everywhere else in the civilized world. Whatever the object which he had in view, in putting the question that he had just addressed to me, I felt no doubt that I was justified -- so far -- in answering him without reserve.
`I believe I have a strong interest,' I said, `in tracing the lost remembrance which Mr. Candy was unable to recall. May I ask whether you can suggest to me any method by which I might assist his memory?'
Ezra Jennings looked at me, with a sudden flash of interest in his dreamy brown eyes.
`Mr. Candy's memory is beyond the reach of assistance,' he said. `I have tried to help it often enough since his recovery, to be able to speak positively on that point.'
This disappointed me; and I owned it.
`I confess you led me to hope for a less discouraging answer than that,' I said.
Ezra Jennings smiled. `It may not, perhaps, be a final answer, Mr. Blake. It may be possible to trace Mr. Candy's lost recollection, without the necessity of appealing to Mr. Candy himself.'
`Indeed? Is it an indiscretion, on my part, to ask -- how?'
`By no means. My only difficulty in answering your question, is the difficulty of explaining myself. May I trust to your patience, if I refer once more to Mr. Candy's illness: and if I speak of it this time without sparing you certain professional details?'
`Pray go on! You have interested me already in hearing the details.'
My eagerness seemed to amuse -- perhaps, I might rather say, to please him. He smiled again. We had by this time left the last houses in the town behind us. Ezra Jennings stopped for a moment, and picked some wild flowers from the hedge by the road-side. `How beautiful they are!' he said, simply, showing his little nosegay to me. `And how few people in England seem to admire them as they deserve!'
`You have not always been in England?' I said.
`No. I was born, and partly brought up, in one of our colonies. My father was an Englishman; but my mother -- We are straying away from our subject, Mr. Blake; and it is my fault. The truth is, I have associations with these modest little hedgeside flowers -- It doesn't matter; we were speaking of Mr. Candy. To Mr. Candy let us return.'
Connecting the few words about himself which thus reluctantly escaped him, with the melancholy view of life which led him to place the conditions of human happiness in complete oblivion of the past, I felt satisfied that the story which I had read in his face was, in two particulars at least, the story that it really told. He had suffered as few men suffer; and there was the mixture of some foreign race in his English blood.
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