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8. CHAPTER VIII: CAPTAIN AYLMER MEETS HIS CONSTITUENTS (continued)
The business was put on foot at once, and with some little flourishing at the commencement, Captain Aylmer made his speech the same speech which we have all heard and read so often, specially adapted to the meridian of Perivale. He was a Conservative, and of course he told his hearers that a good time was coming; that he and his family were really about to buckle themselves to the work, and that Perivale would hear things that would surprise it. The malt tax was to go, and the farmers were to have free trade in beer the arguments from the other side having come beautifully round in their appointed circle and old England was to be old England once again. He did the thing tolerably well, as such gentlemen usually do, and Perivale was contented with its Member, with the exception of one Perivalian. To Mrs Winterfield, sitting up there and listening with all her ears, it seemed that he had hitherto omitted all allusion to any subject that was worthy of mention. At last he said some word about the marriage and divorce court, condemning the iniquity of the present law, to which Perivale had opposed itself violently by petition and general meetings; and upon hearing this Mrs Winterfield had thumped with her umbrella, and faintly cheered him with her weak old voice. But the surrounding Perivalians had heard the cheer, and it was repeated backward and forwards through the room, till the Member's aunt thought that it might be her nephew's mission to annul that godless Act of Parliament and restore the matrimonial bonds of England to their old rigidity. When Captain Aylmer came out to hand her up to her little carriage, she patted him, and thanked him, and encouraged him; and on her way home she congratulated herself to Clara that she should have such a nephew to leave behind in her place.
Captain Aylmer was dining with the Mayor on that evening, and Mrs Winterfield was therefore able to indulge herself in talking about him. 'I don't see much of young men, of course,' she said; 'but I do not even hear of any that are like him.' Again Clara thought of her cousin Will. Will was not at all like Frederic Aylmer; but was he not better? And yet, as she thought thus, she remembered that she had refused her cousin Will because she loved that very Frederic Aylmer whom her mind was thus condemning.
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