Anthony Trollope: The Belton Estate


In course of post there came an answer from Lady Aylmer, naming a day for Clara's journey to Yorkshire, and also a letter from Captain Aylmer, in, which he stated that he would meet her in London and convey her down to Aylmer Park. 'The House is sitting,' he said, 'and therefore I shall be a little troubled about my time; but I cannot allow that your first meeting with my mother should take place in my absence.' This was all very well, but at the end of the letter there was a word of caution that was not so well. 'I am sure, my dear Clara, that you will remember how much is due to my mother's age, and character, and position. Nothing will be wanted to the happiness of our marriage, if you can succeed in gaining her affection, and therefore I make it my first request to you, that you should endeavour to win her good opinion.' There was nothing perhaps really amiss, certainly nothing unreasonable, in such words from a future husband to his future wife; but Clara, as she read them, shook her head and pressed her foot against the ground in anger. It would not do. Sorrow would come and trouble and disappointment. She did not say so, even to herself in words; but the words, though not spoken, were audible enough to herself. She could not, would not, bend to Lady Aylmer, and she knew that trouble would come of this visit.

I fear that many ladies will condemn Miss Amedroz when I tell them that she showed this letter to her Cousin Will. It does not promise well for any of the parties concerned when a young woman with two lovers can bring herself to show the love-letters of him to whom she is engaged to the other lover whom she has refused! But I have two excuses to put forward in Clara's defence. In the first place, Captain Aylmer's love-letters were not in truth love-letters, but were letters of business; and in the next place, Clara was teaching herself to regard Will Belton as her brother, and to forget that he had ever assumed the part of a lover.

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