Anthony Trollope: The Belton Estate


WE will now follow the other message which was sent down into Norfolk, and which did not get into Belton's hands till the Monday morning. He was sitting with his sister at breakfast, and was prepared for hunting, when the paper was brought into the room. Telegraphic messages were not very common at Plaistow Hall, and on the arrival of any that had as yet reached that house, something of that awe had been felt with which such missives were always accompanied in their earliest days. 'A telegruff message, mum, for Mr William,' said the maid, looking at her mistress with eyes opened wide, as she handed the important bit of paper to her master. Will opened it rapidly, laying down the knife and fork with which he was about to operate upon a ham before him. He was dressed in boots and breeches, and a scarlet coat in which garb he was, in his sister's eyes, the most handsome man in Norfolk.

'Oh, Mary!' he exclaimed.

'What is it, Will?'

'Mr Amedroz is dead.'

Miss Belton put out her hand for the paper before she spoke again, as though she could better appreciate the truth of what she heard when reading it herself on the telegraph slip than she had done from her brother's words. 'How sudden! how terribly sudden!' she said.

'Sudden indeed. When I left him he was not well, certainly, but I should have said that he might have lived for twenty years. Poor old man! I can hardly say why it was so, but I had taken a liking to him.'

'You take a liking to everybody, Will.'

'No I don't. I know people I don't like.' Will Belton as he said this was thinking of Captain Aylmer, and he pressed the heel of his boot hard against the floor.

'And Mr Amedroz is dead! It seems to be so terribly sudden. What will she do, Will?'

'That's what I'm thinking about.'

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