"Speaking of relationships," said the Parson at a certain dinner-party,
"our legislators are getting the marriage law into a frightful tangle,
Here, for example, is a puzzling case that has come under my notice. Two
brothers married two sisters. One man died and the other man's wife also
died. Then the survivors married."
"The man married his deceased wife's sister under the recent Act?" put
in the Lawyer.
"Exactly. And therefore, under the civil law, he is legally married and
his child is legitimate. But, you see, the man is the woman's deceased
husband's brother, and therefore, also under the civil law, she is not
married to him and her child is illegitimate."
"He is married to her and she is not married to him!" said the Doctor.
"Quite so. And the child is the legitimate son of his father, but the
illegitimate son of his mother."
"Undoubtedly 'the law is a hass,'" the Artist exclaimed, "if I may be
permitted to say so," he added, with a bow to the Lawyer.
"Certainly," was the reply. "We lawyers try our best to break in the
beast to the service of man. Our legislators are responsible for the
"And this reminds me," went on the Parson, "of a man in my parish who
married the sister of his widow. This man--"
"Stop a moment, sir," said the Professor. "Married the sister of his
widow? Do you marry dead men in your parish?"
"No; but I will explain that later. Well, this man has a sister of his
own. Their names are Stephen Brown and Jane Brown. Last week a young
fellow turned up whom Stephen introduced to me as his nephew. Naturally,
I spoke of Jane as his aunt, but, to my astonishment, the youth
corrected me, assuring me that, though he was the nephew of Stephen, he
was not the nephew of Jane, the sister of Stephen. This perplexed me a
good deal, but it is quite correct."
The Lawyer was the first to get at the heart of the mystery. What was
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