Anthony Trollope: The Belton Estate


Clara wrote her letter to the lawyer, returning the cheque, before she would allow herself a moment to dwell upon the news of her cousin's arrival. She felt that it was necessary to do that before she should even see her cousin thus providing against any difficulty which might arise from adverse advice on his part; and as soon as the letter was written she sent it to the post-office in the village. She would do almost any. thing that Will might tell her to do, but Captain Aylmer's money she would not take, even though Will might so direct her. They would tell her, no doubt, among them, that the money was her own that she might take it without owing any thanks for it to Captain Aylmer. But she knew better than that as she told herself over and over again. Her aunt had left her nothing, and nothing would she have from Captain Aylmer unless she had all that Captain Aylmer had to give, after the fashion in which women best love to take such gifts.

Then, when she had done that, she was able to think of her cousin's visit. 'I knew he would come,' she said to herself, as she sat herself in one of the old chairs in the hall, with a large shawl wrapped round her shoulders. She had just been to the front door, with the nominal purpose of dispatching her messenger thence to the post-office; but she had stood for a minute or two under the portico, looking in the direction by which Belton would come from Redicote, expecting, or rather hoping, that she might see his figure or hear the sound of his gig. But she saw nothing and heard nothing, and so returned into the hall, slowly shutting the door. 'I knew that he would come,' she said, repeating to herself the same words over and over again. Yet when Mrs Askerton had told her that he would do this thing which he had now done, she had expressed herself as almost frightened by the idea. 'God forbid,' she had said. Nevertheless now that he was there at Redicote, she assured herself that his coming was a thing of which she had been certain; and she took a joy in the knowledge of his nearness to her which she did not attempt to define to herself. Had he not said that he would be a brother to her, and was it not a brother's part to go to a sister in affliction? 'I knew that he would come. I was sure of it. He is so true.' As to Captain Aylmer's not coming she said nothing, even to herself; but she felt that she had been equally sure on that subject. Of course, Captain Aylmer would not come! He had sent her seventy-five pounds in lieu of coming, and in doing so was true to his character. Both men were doing exactly that which was to have been expected of them. So at least Clara Amedroz now assured herself. She did not ask herself how it was that she had come to love the thinner and the meaner of the two men, but she knew well that such had been her fate.

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