Anthony Trollope: The Belton Estate


It is said of those who are small and crooked-backed in their bodies, that their minds are equally cross-grained and their tempers as ungainly as their stature. But no one had ever said this of Mary Belton. Her friends, indeed, were very few in number; but those who knew her well loved her as they knew her, and there were three or four persons in the world who were ready at all times to swear that she was faultless. It was the great happiness of her life that among those three or four her own brother was the foremost. Will Belton's love for his sister amounted almost to veneration, and his devotion to her was so great, that in all the affairs of his life he was prepared to make her comfort one of his first considerations. And she, knowing this, had come to fear that she might be an embargo on his prosperity, and a stumbling-block in the way of his success. It had occurred to her that he would have married earlier in life if she had not been, as it were, in his way; and she had threatened him playfully for she could be playful that he would leave him if he did not soon bring a mistress to Plaistow Hall. 'I will go to uncle Robert,' she had said. Now uncle Robert was the clergyman in Lincolnshire of whom mention has been made, and he was among those two or three who believed in Mary Belton with an implicit faith as was also his wife. ' I will go to uncle Robert, Will, and then you will be driven to get a wife.'

'If my sister ever leaves my house, whether there be a wife in it or not,' Will had answered, 'I will never put trust in any woman again.'

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