And now Mrs. O'Hara was there, telling him that she knew of all! Not for a moment did he remain ignorant of the meaning of her communication. And now the arguments to be used against him in reference to the marriage would be stronger than ever. A silly, painful smile came across his handsome face as he attempted to welcome her, and moved a chair for her accommodation. "I am so sorry that you have had the trouble of coming over," he said.
"That is nothing. When will you make my child your wife?" How was he to answer this? In the midst of his difficulties he had brought himself to one determination. He had resolved that under no pressure would he marry the daughter of O'Hara, the galley-slave. As far as that, he had seen his way. Should he now at once speak of the galley-slave, and, with expressions of regret, decline the alliance on that reason? Having dishonoured this woman's daughter should he shelter himself behind the dishonour of her husband? That he meant to do so ultimately is true; but at the present moment such a task would have required a harder heart than his. She rose from her chair and stood close over him as she repeated her demand, "When will you make my child your wife?"
"You do not want me to answer you at this moment?"
"Yes;--at this moment. Why not answer me at once? She has told me all. Mr. Neville, you must think not only of her, but of your child also."
"I hope not that," he said.
"I tell you that it is so. Now answer me. When shall my Kate become your wife?"
He still knew that any such consummation as that was quite out of the question. The mother herself as she was now present to him, seemed to be a woman very different from the quiet, handsome, high-spirited, but low-voiced widow whom he had known, or thought that he had known, at Ardkill. Of her as she had there appeared to him he had not been ashamed to think as one who might at some future time be personally related to himself. He had recognized her as a lady whose outward trappings, poor though they might be, were suited to the seclusion in which she lived. But now, although it was only to Ennis that she had come from her nest among the rocks, she seemed to be unfitted for even so much intercourse with the world as that. And in the demand which she reiterated over him she hardly spoke as a lady would speak. Would not all they who were connected with him at home have a right to complain if he were to bring such a woman with him to England as the mother of his wife. "I can't answer such a question as that on the spur of the moment," he said.