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16. CHAPTER XVI: THE HEIR'S SECOND VISIT TO BELTON (continued)
'I wish I could go down to receive him,' said Mr Amedroz, plaintively. 'I hope he won't take it amiss.'
'You may be sure he won't do that.'
'Perhaps I can tomorrow.'
'Dear papa, you had better not think of it till the weather is milder.'
'Milder! how is it to get milder at this time of the year?'
'Of course he'll come up to you, papa.'
'He's very good. I know he's very good. No one also would do as much.'
Clara understood accurately what all this meant. Of course she was glad that her father should feel so kindly towards her cousin, and think so much of his coming; but every word said by the old man in praise of Will Belton implied an equal amount of dispraise as regarded Captain Aylmer, and contained a reproach against his daughter for having refused the former and accepted the latter.
Clara was in the ball when Belton arrived, and received him as he entered, enveloped in his damp great-coats. 'It is so good of you to come in such weather,' she said.
'Nice seasonable weather, I call it,' he said. It was the same comfortable, hearty, satisfactory voice which had done so much towards making his way for him on his first arrival at Belton Castle The voices to which Clara was most accustomed were querulous as though the world had been found by the owners of them to be but a bad place. But Belton's voice seemed to speak of cheery days and happy friends, and a general state of things which made life worth having. Nevertheless, forty-eight hours had not yet passed over his head since he was walking about London in such misery that he had almost cursed the hour in which be was born. His misery still remained with him, as black now as it had been then; and yet his voice was cheery. The sick birds, we are told, creep into holes, that they may die alone and unnoticed; and the wounded beasts hide themselves that their grief may not be seen of their fellows. A man has the same instinct to conceal the weakness of his sufferings; but, if he be a man, he hides it in his own heart, keeping it for solitude and the watches of the night, while to the outer world he carries a face on which his care has made no marks.
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