'Let us sit down on this bench. Fifteen hundred--h'm! And nothing more is to be hoped for?'
'Nothing. I should have thought men would wish to pay their debts, even after they had been bankrupt; but they tell us we can't expect anything more from these people.'
'You are thinking of Walter Scott, and that kind of thing'-- Jasper laughed. 'Oh, that's quite unbusinesslike; it would be setting a pernicious example nowadays. Well, and what's to be done?'
Marian had no answer for such a question. The tone of it was a new stab to her heart, which had suffered so many during the past half-year.
'Now, I'll ask you frankly,' Jasper went on, 'and I know you will reply in the same spirit: would it be wise for us to marry on this money?'
She looked into his face with painful earnestness.
'You mean,' he said, 'that it can't be spared for that purpose?'
What she really meant was uncertain even to herself. She had wished to hear how Jasper would receive the news, and thereby to direct her own course. Had he welcomed it as offering a possibility of their marriage, that would have gladdened her, though it would then have been necessary to show him all the difficulties by which she was beset; for some time they had not spoken of her father's position, and Jasper seemed willing to forget all about that complication of their troubles. But marriage did not occur to him, and he was evidently quite prepared to hear that she could no longer regard this money as her own to be freely disposed of. This was on one side a relief but on the other it confirmed her fears. She would rather have heard him plead with her to neglect her parents for the sake of being his wife. Love excuses everything, and his selfishness would have been easily lost sight of in the assurance that he still desired her.