But within her own bosom there had been dreadful conflicts as to that duty. Lady Mary Quin had by no means slackened her activity. Lady Mary Quin had learned the exact condition of Kate O'Hara, and had sent the news to her friend with greedy rapidity. And in sending it Lady Mary Quin entertained no slightest doubt as to the duty of the present Earl of Scroope. According to her thinking it could not be the duty of an Earl of Scroope in any circumstances to marry a Kate O'Hara. There are women, who in regard to such troubles as now existed at Ardkill cottage, always think that the woman should be punished as the sinner and that the man should be assisted to escape. The hardness of heart of such women,--who in all other views of life are perhaps tender and soft-natured,--is one of the marvels of our social system. It is as though a certain line were drawn to include all women,--a line, but, alas, little more than a line,--by overstepping which, or rather by being known to have overstepped it, a woman ceases to be a woman in the estimation of her own sex. That the existence of this feeling has strong effect in saving women from passing the line, none of us can doubt.

That its general tendency may be good rather than evil, is possible. But the hardness necessary to preserve the rule, a hardness which must be exclusively feminine but which is seldom wanting, is a marvellous feature in the female character. Lady Mary Quin probably thought but little on the subject. The women in the cottage on the cliff, who were befriended by Father Marty, were to her dangerous scheming Roman Catholic adventurers. The proper triumph of Protestant virtue required that they should fail in their adventures. She had always known that there would be something disreputable heard of them sooner or later. When the wretched Captain came into the neighbourhood,--and she soon heard of his coming,--she was gratified by feeling that her convictions had been correct. When the sad tidings as to poor Kate reached her ears, she had "known that it would be so." That such a girl should be made Countess of Scroope in reward for her wickedness would be to her an event horrible, almost contrary to Divine Providence,--a testimony that the Evil One was being allowed peculiar power at the moment, and would no doubt have been used in her own circles to show the ruin that had been brought upon the country by Catholic emancipation. She did not for a moment doubt that the present Earl should be encouraged to break any promises of marriage to the making of which he might have been allured.

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