special clearness, let them remember that he has had much more experience than they have, and is probably meditating mischief.

Already during supper the thought that in Ellen at last he had found a woman whom he could love well enough to wish to live with and marry had flitted across his mind, and the more they had chatted the more reasons kept suggesting themselves for thinking that what might be folly in ordinary cases would not be folly in his.

He must marry some one; that was already settled. He could not marry a lady; that was absurd. He must marry a poor woman. Yes, but a fallen one? Was he not fallen himself? Ellen would fall no more. He had only to look at her to be sure of this. He could not live with her in sin, not for more than the shortest time that could elapse before their marriage; he no longer believed in the supernatural element of Christianity, but the Christian morality at any rate was indisputable. Besides, they might have children, and a stigma would rest upon them. Whom had he to consult but himself now? His father and mother never need know, and even if they did, they should be thankful to see him married to any woman who would make him happy as Ellen would. As for not being able to afford marriage, how did poor people do? Did not a good wife rather help matters than not? Where one could live two could do so, and if Ellen was three or four years older than he was - well, what was that?

Have you, gentle reader, ever loved at first sight? When you fell in love at first sight, how long, let me ask, did it take you to become ready to fling every other consideration to the winds except that of obtaining possession of the loved one? Or rather, how long would it have taken you if you had had no father or mother, nothing to lose in the way of money, position, friends, professional advancement, or what not, and if the object of your affections was as free from all these impedimenta as you were yourself?

If you were a young John Stuart Mill, perhaps it would have taken you some time, but suppose your nature was quixotic, impulsive, altruistic, guileless; suppose you were a hungry man starving for something to love and lean upon, for one whose burdens you might bear, and who might help you to bear yours. Suppose you were down on your luck, still stunned by a horrible shock, and this bright vista of a happy future floated suddenly before you, how long under these circumstances do you think you would reflect before you would decide on embracing what chance had thrown in your way?

It did not take my hero long, for before he got past the ham and beef shop near the top of Fetter Lane, he had told Ellen that she must come home with him and live with him till they could get married, which they would do upon the first day that the law allowed.

I think the devil must have chuckled and made tolerably sure of his game this time.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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