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4. CHAPTER IV: SAFE AGAINST LOVE-MAKING
A DEAR cousin, and safe against love-making! This was Clara's verdict respecting Will Belton, as she lay thinking of him in bed that night. Why that warranty against love-making should be a virtue in her eyes I cannot, perhaps, explain. But all young ladies are apt to talk to themselves in such phrases about gentlemen with whom they are thrown into chance intimacy as though love-making were in itself a thing injurious and antagonistic to happiness, instead of being, as it is, the very salt of life. Safe against love-making! And yet Mrs Askerton, her friend, had spoken of the probability of such love-making as being the great advantage of his coming. And there could not be a second opinion as to the expediency of a match between her and her cousin in a worldly point of view. Clara, moreover, had already perceived that he was a man fit to guide a wife, very good- humoured and good-tempered also, anxious to give pleasure to others, a man of energy and forethought, who would be sure to do well in the world and hold his head always high among his fellows as good a husband as a girl could have. Nevertheless, she congratulated herself in that she felt satisfied that he was safe against love-making! Might it be possible that the pressing of hands at Taunton had been so tender, and those last words spoken with Captain Aylmer so soft, that on his account she felt delighted to think that her cousin was warranted not to make love?
And what did Will Belton think about his cousin, insured as he was thus supposed to be against the dangers of love? He, also, lay awake for awhile that night, thinking over his new friendship. Or rather he thought of it walking about his room, and looking out at the bright harvest moon for with him to be in bed was to be asleep. He sat himself down, and he walked about, and he leaned out of the window into the cool night air; and he made some comparisons in his mind, and certain calculations; and he thought of his present home, and of his sister, and of his future prospects as they were concerned with the old place at which he was now staying; and he portrayed to himself, in his mind, Clara's head and face and figure and feet and he resolved that she should be his wife. He had never seen a girl who seemed to suit him so well. Though he had only been with her for a day, he swore to himself that he knew he could love her. Nay he swore to himself that he did love her. Then when he had quite made up his mind, he tumbled into his bed and was asleep in five minutes.
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