from which it would be imprudent for me to select a husband for my daughter, who is a weak young woman with a large fortune. In any other capacity I am perfectly prepared to like you. As a son-in-law, I abominate you.'
Morris Townsend listened respectfully.
'I don't think Miss Sloper is a weak woman,' he presently said.
'Of course you must defend her - it's the least you can do. But I have known my child twenty years, and you have known her six weeks. Even if she were not weak, however, you would still be a penniless man.'
'Ah, yes; that is my weakness! And therefore, you mean, I am mercenary - I only want your daughter's money.'
'I don't say that. I am not obliged to say it; and to say it, save under stress of compulsion, would be very bad taste. I say simply that you belong to the wrong category.'
'But your daughter doesn't marry a category,' Townsend urged, with his handsome smile. 'She marries an individual - an individual whom she is so good as to say she loves.'
'An individual who offers so little in return.' 'Is it possible to offer more than the most tender affection and a life-long devotion?' the young man demanded.
'It depends how we take it. It is possible to offer a few things besides, and not only is it possible, but it is the custom. A life-long devotion is measured after the fact; and meanwhile it is usual in these cases to give a few material securities. What are yours? A very handsome face and figure, and a very good manner. They are excellent as far as they go, but they don't go far enough.'
'There is one thing you should add to them,' said Morris - 'the word of a gentleman.'
'The word of a gentleman that you will always love Catherine? You must be a fine gentleman to be sure of that.'
'The word of a gentleman that I am not mercenary; that my affection for Miss Sloper is as pure and disinterested a sentiment as was ever lodged in a human breast. I care no more for her fortune than for the ashes in that grate.'
'I take note - I take note,' said the Doctor. 'But having done so, I turn to our category again. Even with that solemn vow on your lips, you take your place in it. There is nothing against you but an accident, if you will; but, with my thirty years' medical practice, I have seen that accidents may have far-reaching consequences.'
Morris smoothed his hat - it was already remarkably glossy - and continued to display a self-control which, as the Doctor was obliged to admit, was extremely creditable to him. But his disappointment was evidently keen.
'Is there nothing I can do to make you believe in me?'
If there were, I should be sorry to suggest it, for - don't you see? - I don't want to believe in you,' said the Doctor, smiling.
'I would go and dig in the fields.'
'That would be foolish.'
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