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30. CHAPTER XXX: MARY BELTON
It was about the middle of the pleasant month of May when Clara Amedroz again made that often repeated journey to Taunton, with the object of meeting Mary Belton. She had transferred herself and her own peculiar belongings back from the cottage to the house, and had again established herself there so that she might welcome her new friend. But she was not satisfied with simply receiving her guest at Belton, and therefore she made the journey to Taunton, and settled herself for the night at the inn. She was careful to get a bedroom for an 'invalid lady', close to the sitting-room, and before she went down to the station she saw that the cloth was laid for tea, and that the tea parlour had been made to look as pleasant as was possible with an inn parlour.
She was very nervous as she stood upon the platform waiting for the new comer to show herself. She knew that Mary was a cripple, but did not know how far her cousin was disfigured by her infirmity; and when she saw a pale-faced little woman, somewhat melancholy, but yet pretty withal, with soft, clear eyes, and only so much appearance of a stoop as to soften the hearts of those who saw her, Clara was agreeably surprised, and felt herself to be suddenly relieved of an unpleasant weight. She could talk to the woman she saw there, as to any other woman, without the painful necessity of treating her always as an invalid. 'I think you are Miss Belton?' she said, holding out her hand. The likeness between Mary and her brother was too great to allow of Clara being mistaken.
'And you are Clara Amedroz? It is so good of you to come to meet me!'
'I thought you would be dull in a strange town by yourself.'
'It will be much nicer to have you with me.'
Then they went together up to the inn; and when they had taken their bonnets off, Mary Belton kissed her cousin. 'You are very nearly what I fancied you,' said Mary.
'Am I? I hope you fancied me to be something that you could like.'
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