"Let the consequences be what they may?"
"A man should keep his word certainly. And I know no promise so solemn as that made to a woman when followed by conduct such as yours has been."
"And what will people say then as to my conduct to the family? How will they look on me when I bring home the daughter of that scoundrel?"
"You should have thought of that before."
"But I was not told. Do you not see that I was deceived there. Mrs. O'Hara clearly said that the man was dead. And she told me nothing of the galleys."
"How could she tell you that?"
"But if she has deceived me, how can I be expected to keep my promise? I love the girl dearly. If I could change places with you, I would do so this very minute, and take her away with me, and she should certainly be my wife. If it were only myself, I would give up all to her. I would, by heaven. But I cannot sacrifice the family. As to solemn promises, did I not swear to my uncle that I would not disgrace the family by such a marriage? Almost the last word that I spoke to him was that. Am I to be untrue to him? There are times in which it seems impossible that a man should do right."
"There are times in which a man may be too blind to see the right," said Jack,--sparing his brother in that he did not remind him that those dilemmas always come from original wrong-doing.
"I think I am resolved not to marry her," said Fred.
"If I were in your place I think I should marry her," said Jack;--"but I will not speak with certainty even of myself."
"I shall not. But I will be true to her all the same. You may be sure that I shall not marry at all." Then he recurred to his old scheme. "If I can find any mode of marrying her in some foreign country, so that her son and mine shall not be the legitimate heir to the title and estates, I would go there at once with her, though it were to the further end of the world. You can understand now what I mean when I say that I do not know how to begin." Jack acknowledged that in that matter he did understand his brother. It is always hard for a man to commence any new duty when he knows that he has a millstone round his neck which will probably make that duty impracticable at last.