"It's very easy to preach, Jack. You were always good at that. But here I am, and what am I to do? How am I to begin? Everybody says that I am to change nothing. The tenants will pay their rents, and Burnaby will look after things outside, and Mrs. Bunce will look after the things inside, and I may sit down and read a novel. When the gloom of my uncle's death has passed away, I suppose I shall buy a few more horses and perhaps begin to make a row about the pheasants. I don't know what else there is to do."
"You'll find that there are duties."
"I suppose I shall. Something is expected of me. I am to keep up the honour of the family; but it really seems to me that the best way of doing so would be to sit in my uncle's arm chair and go to sleep as he did."
"As a first step in doing something you should get a wife for yourself. If once you had a settled home, things would arrange themselves round you very easily."
"Ah, yes;--a wife. You know, Jack, I told you about that girl in County Clare."
"You must let nothing of that kind stand in your way."
"Those are your ideas of high moral grandeur! Just now my own personal conduct was to be all in all to me, and the rank nothing. Now I am to desert a girl I love because I am an English peer."
"What has passed between you and the young lady, of course I do not know."
"I may as well tell you the whole truth," said Fred. And he told it. He told it honestly,--almost honestly. It is very hard for a man to tell a story truly against himself, but he intended to tell the whole truth. "Now what must I do? Would you have me marry her?" Jack Neville paused for a long time. "At any rate you can say yes, or no."
"It is very hard to say yes, or no."
"I can marry no one else. I can see my way so far. You had better tell Sophie Mellerby everything, and then a son of yours shall be the future Earl."
"We are both of us young as yet, Fred, and need not think of that. If you do mean to marry Miss O'Hara you should lose not a day;--not a day."
"But what if I don't. You are always very ready with advice, but you have given me none as yet."
"How can I advise you? I should have heard the very words in which you made your promise before I could dare to say whether it should be kept or broken. As a rule a man should keep his word."