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10. CHAPTER X: SHOWING HOW CAPTAIN AYLMER KEPT HIS PROMISE (continued)
As regarded herself, she was quite equal to the occasion; but had she known more of the inner feelings of men and women in general, she would have been slower to show her own. What is there that any man desires any man or any woman that does not lose half its value when it is found to be easy of access and easy of possession? Wine is valued by its price, not its flavour. Open your doors freely to Jones and Smith, and Jones and Smith will not care to enter them. Shut your doors obdurately against the same gentlemen, and they will use all their little diplomacy to effect an entrance. Captain Aylmer, when he heard the hearty tone of the girl's answer, already began almost to doubt whether it was wise on his part to devote the innermost bin of his cellar to wine that was so cheap.
Not that he had any idea of receding. Principle, if not love, prevented that. 'Then the question about the house is decided,' he said, giving his hand to Clara as he spoke.
'I don't care a bit about the house now,' she answered.
'I am thinking so much more of you of you and of myself. What does an old house matter?'
'It's in very good repair,' said Captain Aylmer.
'You must not laugh at me,' she said; and in truth he was not laughing at her. 'What I mean is that anything about a house is indifferent to me now. It is as though I had got all that I want in the world. Is it wrong of me to say so?'
'Oh, dear, no not wrong at all. How can it be wrong?' He did not tell her that he also had got all he wanted; but his lack of enthusiasm in this respect did not surprise her, or at first even vex her. She had always known him to be a man careful of his words knowing their value not speaking with hurried rashness as would her dear cousin Will. And she doubted whether, after all, such hurried words mean as much as words which are slower and calmer. After all his heat in love and consequent disappointment, Will Belton had left her apparently well contented. His fervour had been short-lived. She loved her cousin dearly, and was so very glad that his fervour had been short-lived!
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