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“Dear Will! Dearest WIII !”
“ Better than all the world put togeth“ Am I dearest ?” " Are you not sure of it ?”
“ Then,” said he, holding her tight in his “ But I like you to tell me so. I like to arms, “ show me that you love me. And feel that you are not ashamed to own it. You as he made his request he was quick to exought to say it a few times to me, as I have plain to her what, according to his ideas, said it so very often to you.”
was the becoming mode by which lovers “ You'll hear enough of it before you've might show their love. I wonder whether done with me.”
it ever oc“urred to Clara, as she thought of " I shall never have heard enough of it. it all before she went to bed that night, that Oh, heavens, only think, when I was com- Captain Aylmer and William Belion were ing down in the train last night I was in very different in their manners.
And it so, such a bad way.”
I must wonder further whether she most " And are you in a good way now?' approved the manners of the patient man
“ Yes; in a very good way. I shall crow or the man who was impatient. over Mary so when I get home.”
“ And what has poor Mary done?” “ Never mind."
“ I dare say she knows what is good for you better than you know yourself. I suppose she has told you that you might do a great deal better than trouble yourself with ABOUT two months after the scene dea wife.”
scribed in the last chapter, when the full “ Never mind what she has told me. It
summer had arrived, Clara received two is settled now;- is it not?”
letters from the two lovers, the history of I hope so, Will.”
| whose loves have just been told, and these “But not quite settled as yet. When shall be submitted to the reader, as they will shall it be? That is the next question.”
serve to explain the manner in which the But to that question Clara positively re- two men proposed to arrange their affairs. fused to make any reply that her lover We will first have Captain Aylmer's letter, would consider to be satisfactory. He con- which was the first read; Clara kept the tinued to press her till she was at last driven latter for the last, as children always keep to remind him how very short a time it was their sweetest morsels. since her father had been among them; and then he was very angry with himself, and de
“ Aylmer Park, August, 186—. clared himself to be a brute. Anything but that,” she said. “ You are the kindest MY DEAR Miss AMEDROZ, and the best of men ; but at the same time " I heard before leaving London that vou the most impatient.”
i are engaged to marry your cousin Mr. Wil" That's what Mary says; but what's the liam Belton, and I think that perhaps you good of waiting ? She wanted me to wait may be satisfied to have a line from me to to-day."
let you know that I quite approve of the " And as you would not, you have fallen marriage.” “ I do not care very much for his into a trap out of which you can never es- approval or disapproval,” said Clira as she cape.
What will they read this. " No doubt it will be the best think of us?”
thing you can do, especially as it will heal “ I shouldn't wonder if they didn't think all the sores arising from the entail.” “ There something near the truth."
never was any sore,” said Clara. “ Whatover they think, we will go back. I give my compliments to Mr. Belton, and It is ever so much past nine.”
offer hin mv congratulations, and tell him “Before you stir, Clara, tell me one thing. that I wish him all happine's in th married Are you really happy?”
· Married fidilestick !” said Clara. Very happy ?
In this she was unreasonable ; but the eupho“ And are you glad that this has been nious platitu les of Captain Avlmer were so done?'
unlike the vehement protestations of Mr. " Very glad. Will that satisfy you?” Belton that she must be excu-eil if by this “ And you do love me?”
this time she had come to entertain some“I do — I do — I do. Can I say more thing of an unreasonable aversion for the than that?”
former. “ More than anybody else in the world ?"| " I hope you will not receive my news THIRD SERIES. ' LIVING AGE.
with perfect indifference when I tell you and with heartfelt wishes for your future that I also am going to be married. The happiness. Believe me to be always lady is one whom I have known for a long “ Most faithfully and sincerely yours, time, and have always esteemed very high
FREDERIC F. AYLMER." ly. She is Lady Emily Tagmaggert, the youngest daughter of the Earl of Mull.”
" Esteem !” said Clara, as she finished Why Clara should immediately have con- the letter. “I wonder
which he esteems ceived a feeling of supreme contempt for the most, me or Lady Emily Tagmaggert. Lady Emily Tagmaggert, and assured herself He will never get beyond esteem with any that her ladyship was a thin, dry, cross old
one." maid with a red nose, I cannot explain ; but I do know that such were her thoughts, al- follows :
The letter which was last read was as most instantaneously, in reference to Captain Aylmer's future bride. “ Lady Emily is a very intimate friend of my sister's; and
“ Plaistow, August, 186—. you, who know how our family cling to- “ DEAREST CLARA, gether, will feel how thankful 'I must be “I don't think I shall ever get done, and when I tell you that my mother quite ap- I am coming to hate farming. It is awful proves of the engagement. I suppose we lonely here, too; and I pass all my evenshall be married early in the spring. We ings by myself, wondering why I should be shall probably spend some months every doomed to this kind of thing, while you and year at Perivale, and I hope that we may Mary are comfortable together at Belton. look forward to the pleasure of seeing you We have begun with the wheat, and as soon some time as guest beneath our roof.” On as that is safe I shall cut and run. I shall reading this Clara shuddered, and made leave the barley to Bunce. Bunce knows as some inward protestation which seemed to much about it as I do, — and as for remainimply that she had no wish whatever to re- ing here all the summer, it's out of the visit the dull streets of the little town with question. which she had been so well acquainted. “I My own dear, darling love, of course I hope she'll be good to poor Mr. Possitt," don't intend to urge you to do anything said Clara, “and give him port wine on that you don't like; but upon my honour I Sundays.”
don't see the force of what you say.
You “I have one more thing that I ought to know I have as much respect for your say. You will remember that I intended to father's memory as anybody, but what harm pay my aunt's legacy immediately after her can it do to him that we should be married death, but that I was prevented by circum- at once? Don't you think he would have stances which I could not control. I have wished it himself? It can be ever so quiet. paid it now into Mr. Green's hands on your so long as it's done, I don't care a straw account, together with the sum of £59 185. how it's done. Indeed for the matter of that 3d., which is due upon it as interest at the I always think it would be best just to walk rate of five per cent. I hope that this may be to church and to walk home again without satisfactory.” “ It is not satisfactory at all,” saying anything to anybody. I hate fuss and said Clara, putting down the letter, and re- nonsense, and really I don't think anybody solving that Will Belton should be instructed would have a right to say anything if we to repay the money instantly. It may, how- were to do it at once in that sort of way. I ever, be explained here that in this matter have had a bad time of it for the last Clara was doomed to be disappointed; and twelve months. You must allow that, and that she was forced, by Mr. Green's argu- I think that I ought to be rewarded. ments, to receive the money.
“ Then it " As for living, you shall have your shall go to the hospital at Perivale,” she de- choice. Indeed you shall live anywhere clared when those arguments were used. As you please;— at Timbuctoo if you like it. to that, Mr. Green was quite indifferent, I don't want to give up Plastow, because but I do not think that the legacy which my father and grandfather farmed the land troubled
Aunt Winterfield so much on themselves; but I am quite prepared not to her dying bed was ultimately applied to so live here. I don't think it would suit you, worthy a purpose.
because it has so much of the farm-house “ And now, my dear Miss Amedroz," con- about it. Only I should like you sometimes tinued the letter," I will say farewell, with to come and look at the old place. What I many assurances of my unaltered esteem, should like would be to pull down the house my life.
you so well!
at Belton and build another. But you | ing-place. It would be her duty to be musn't propose to put it off till that's done, proud for him, and therefore, for his sake, as I should never have the heart to do it. she would beg that their home might be in If you think that would suit you, I'll Somerselshire. make up my mind to live at Belton for a “Mary,” she said to her cousin soon afterconstancy; and then I'd go in for a lot of wards, “ Will sends his love to you." cattle, and don't doubt I'd make a fortune. “ And what else does he
?” I'm almost sick of looking at the straight "I couldn't tell
„you everything. You ridges in the big square fields every day of shouldn't expect it.'
“I don't expect it; but perhaps there “ Give my love to Mary. I hope she may be something to be told.” fights my battle for me. Pray think of all Nothing that I need tell, — specially. this, and relent if you can. I do so long to You, who know him so well, can imagine have an end of this purgatory. If there was what he would say." any use, I wouldn't say a word; but there's “ Dear Will! I am sure he would mean no good in being tortured, when there is no to write what was pleasant.” use. God bless you, dearest love. I do love Then the matter would have dropped bad
Clara been so minded, but she, in truth, “ Yours most affectionately,
was anxious to be forced to talk about the
letter. She wished to be urged by Mary “ W. BELTON.”
to do that which Will urged her to do;
or, at least, to learn whether Mary thought She kissed the letter twice, pressed it to that her brother's wish might be gratified her bosom, and then sat silent for half an without impropriety. Don't
think we hour thinking of it; - of it, and the man ought to live here ? ” she said. who wrote it, and of the man who had writ
“ By all means,
both like it.” ten the other letter. She could not but re- “ He is so good, — so unselfish, that he member how that other man had thought to will only ask me to do what I like best.” treat her, when it was his intention and her “ And which would you like best? intention that they two should join their “I think he ought to live here because it lots together; — how cold he had been; is the old family property. I confess that how fuil of caution and counsel ; how he the name goes for something with me. He had preached to her himself, and threatened says that he would build a new house.” her with the preaching of his mother; how « Does he think he could have it ready by manifestly he had purposed to make her life the time you are married ?” a sacrifice to his life ; how he had premed- “ Ah;— that is just the difficulty. Periated her incarceration at Perivale, while haps, after all, you had better read his lethe should be living a bachelor's life in Lon- ter. I don't know why I should not show don! Will Belton's ideas of married life it to you. It will only tell you what you were very different. Only come to me know already, — that he is the most generat once, — now, immediately, and every- ous fellow in all the world.” Then Mary thing else shall be disposed just as you read the letter. " What am I to say to please. This was his offer. What he pro- him ? ” Clara asked. “It seems so hard to posed to give, or rather his willingness refuse anything to one who is so true, and to be thus generous, was very sweet to her; good, and generous." but it was not half so sweet as his impa- " It is hard.” tience in demanding his reward. How she." But you see my poor dear father's death doted on him because he considered his has been so recent." present state to be a purgatory! How “I hardly know," said Mary “how the could she refuse anything she could give to world feels about such things.” one who desired her gifts so strongly ? “I think we ought to wait at least twelve
As for her future residence, it would be a months,” said Clara,” very sadly. matter of indifference to her where she “ Poor Will! He will be broken-hearted should live, so long as she might live with a dozen times before that. But then, when
but for him, — she felt that but one his happiness does come, he will be all the spot in the world was fit for him. He was happier." Clara, when she heard this, alBelton of Belton, and it would not be most hated her cousin Mary, — not for her becoming that he should live elsewhere. own sake, but on Will's account. Will Of course she would go with him to Plais- trusted so implicitly to his sister, and yet tow Hall as often as he might wish it; but she could not make a better fight for him Belton Castle should be his permanent rest- than this! It almost seemed that Mary was
indifferent to her brother's happiness. Had may have anything he chooses to ask for, if Will been her brother, Clara thought, and he'll only ask hard enough.” had any girl asked her advice under similar And they were married in the autumn, if circumstances, she was sure that she would not actually in the summer. With what have answered in a different way. She precise words Clara answered her lover's would have told such girl that her first duty letter I will not say; but her answer was of was owing to the man who was to be her such a nature that he found himself comhusband, and would not have said a word pelled to leave Plaistow, even before the to her about the feeling of the world. Af- wheat was garnered. Great confidence ter all, what did the feeling of the world was placed in Bunce on that occasion, and signify to them, who were going to be all I have reason to believe that it was not the world to each other?
misplaced. They were married in SeptemOn that afternoon she went up to Mrs. ber;- yes, in September, although that letAskerton's, and succeeded in getting ad- ter of Will's was written in August, and by vice from her also, though she did not show the beginning of October they had returned Will's letter to that lady; “Of course, I from their wedding trip to Plaistow. Clara know what he says,” said Mrs. Askerton. insisted that she should be taken to Plais“Unless I have mistaken the man, he wants tow, and was very anxious when there to to be married to-morrow."
learn all the particulars of the farm. She “ He is not so bad as that,” said Clara. put down in a little book how many acres
“ Then the next day, or the day after. Of there were in each field, and what was the course he is impatient, and does not see any average produce of the land. She made inearthly reason why his impatience should not quiry about four-crop rotation, and endeavbe gratified.”
oured, with Bunce, to go into the great sub"He is impatient."
ject of stall-feeding.
But Belton did not " And I suppose you hesitate because of give her as much encouragement as he your father's death."
might have done. 6 We'll come here for " It seems but the other day; - does it the shooting next year,” he said ; " that is, not?” said Clara.
if there is nothing to prevent us.” Everything seems but the other day to “I hope there'll be nothing to prevent
It was but the other day that I my- us." self was married.”
“ There might be, perhaps; but we'll al* And, of course, though I would do any ways come if there is not. For the rest of thing I could that he would ask me to it, i'll leave it to Bunce, and just run over do
once or twice in the year. It would not be * But would you do anything ?” a nice place for you to live at long."
Anything that was not wrong I would. “I like it of all things. I am quite interWhy should I not, when he is so good to ested about the farm."
" You'd get very sick of it if you were · Then write to him, my dear, and tell here in the winter. The truth is that if him that it shall be as he wishes it. Be- you farm well, you must farm ugly. The lieve me, the days of Jacob are over. Men picturesque nooks and corners have all to don't understand waiting now, and it's al- be turned inside out, and the hedgerows ways as well to catch your fish when you must be abolished, because we want the
sunshine. Now, down at Belton, just about "You don't suppose I have any thought the house, we won't mind farming well, but of that kind ?"
will stick to the picturesque." “I am sure you have not ; and I'm The new house was immediately comsure that he deserves no such thought; – menced at Belton, and was made to probut the higher that are his deserts, the ceed with all imaginable alacrity. It was greater should be his reward. If I were supposed at one time, at least Belton you, I should think of nothing but him, and himself said that he so supposed, — that the Í should do exactly as he would have me.” building would be ready for occupation at Clara kissed her friend as she parted from the end of the first summer ; but this was 'her, and again resolved that all that wo- not found to be possible.
“We must put it man’s sins should be forgiven her. A wo- off till May, atter all,” said Belton, as he man who could give such excellent advice was walking round the unfinished building deserved that every sin should be forgiven with Colonel Askerton. “It's an awful her. “ They'll be married yet before the bore, but there's no getting people really to summer is over,” Mrs. Askerton said to her pull out in this country ” husband that afternoon.
** I believe a man “I think they've pulled out pretty well.
Of course you couldn't have gone into a or rather how it had been revived, - it would damp house for the winter.”
be bootless here to say. But old alliances, “ Other people can get a house built such as that which had existed between the within twelve months. Look what they do Aylmer and the Amedroz family, do not alin London."
low themselves to die out easily, and it is “ And other people with their wives and well for us all that they should be longchildren die in consequence of colds and lived. So Captain Aylmer brought his bride sore throats and other evils of that nature. to Belton Park, and a small faited calf was I wouldn't go into a new house, I know, till killed, and the Askertons came to dinner, I was quite sure it was dry.”
on which occasion Captain Aylmer beAs Will at this time was hardly ten months haved very well, though we may, imagine married, he was not as yet justified in think- that he must have had some misgivings on ing about his own wife and children ; but the score of his young wife. The Askertons he had already found it expedient to make came to dinner, and the old rector, and the arrangements for the autumn, which would squire from a neighbouring parish; and prevent that annual visit to Plaistow which everything was very handsome and very Clara had contemplated, and which he had dull. Captain Aylmer was much pleased regarded with his characteristic prudence with his visit, and declared to Lady Emily as being subject to possible impediments. that marriage had greatly improved Mr. He was to be absent himself for the first William Belton. Now Will had been very week in September, but was to return im- dull the whole evening, and very unlike the mediately after that. This he did; and be fiery, violent, unreasonable man whom Capfore the end of that month he was justified tain Aylmer remembered to have met at the in talking of his wife and family: "I sup- station hotel of the Great Northern Railway. pose it wouldn't have done to have been I was as sure of it as possible,” Clara moving now, - under all the circumstan- said to her husband that night. ces,” he said to his friend, Mrs. Askerton, “ Sure of what, my dear?”. as he still grumbled about the unfinished " That she would have a red nose." house.
" Who has got a red nose ?”. “I don't think it would have done at all, “ Don't be stupid, Will. Who should under all the circumstances,” said Mrs. Ask- have it but Lady Emily ? ” erton.
Upon my word I didn't observe it." But in the following spring or early sum- “ You never observe anything, Will; do mer they did get into the new house; and a you? But don't you think she is very very nice house it was, as will, I think, be plain ?” believed by those who have known Mr. “ Upon my word I don't know. She isn't William Belton. And when they were well as handsome as some people.” settled, at which time little Will Belton was “ Don't be a fool, Will. How old do you some seven or eight months old, — little suppose her to be ?” Will, for whom great bonfires had been lit, • How old ? Let me see. Thirty, peras though his birth in those parts was a haps.” matter not to be regarded lightly; for was “ If she's not over forty, I'll consent to he not the first Belion of Belton who had change noses with her.” been born there for more than a century ? • No; — we won't do that; not if I know – when that time came, visitors appeared it.” at the new Belton Castle, visitors of impor- “I cannot conceive why any man should tance, who were entitled to, and who re- marry such a woman as that. Not but ceived, great consideration. These were what she's a very good woman, I dare say; no less than Captain Aylmer, member for only what can a man get by it ? To be sure Perivale, and his newly-married bride, Lady there's the title, if that's worth anything." Emily Aylmer, née Tagmaggert. They But Will Belton was never good for were then just married, and had come much conversation at this hour, and was too down to Belton Castle immediately after fast asleep to make any rejoinder to the their honeymoon trip. How it had come last remark. to pass that such friendship had sprung up, —