"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
"Certainly," was the reply.
"We lawyers try our best to break in the beast to the service of
Our legislators are responsible for the breed."
"And this reminds me," went on the Parson, "of a
man in my parish who married the sister of his widow. This
"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
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 his solution?