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2. CHAPTER II: THE HEIR PROPOSES TO VISIT HIS COUSIN (continued)
Clara read the letter very slowly, so that she might make herself sure of its tone and bearing before she was called upon by her father to express her feeling respecting it. She knew that she would be expected to abuse it violently, and to accuse the writer of vulgarity, insolence, and cruelty, but she had already learned that she must not allow herself to accede to all her father's fantasies. For his sake, and for his protection, it was necessary that she should differ from him, and even contradict him. Were she not to do so, he would fall into a state of wailing and complaining that would exaggerate itself almost to idiotcy. And it was imperative that she herself should exercise her own opinion on many points, almost without reference to him. She alone knew how utterly destitute she would be when he should die. He, in the first days of his agony, had sobbed forth his remorse as to her ruin; but, even when doing so, he had comforted himself with the remembrance of Miss Winterfield's money and Mrs Winterfield's affection for his daughter. And the aunt, when she had declared her purpose to Clara, had told herself that the provision made for Clara by her father was sufficient. To neither of them had Clara told her own position. She could not inform her aunt that her father had given up to the poor reprobate who had destroyed himself all that had been intended for her. Had she done so she would have been asking her aunt for charity. Nor would she bring herself to add to her father's misery, by destroying the hopes which still supported him. She never spoke of her own position in regard to money, but she knew that it had become her duty to live a wary, watchful life, taking much upon herself in their impoverished household, and holding her own opinion against her father's when her doing so became expedient. So she finished the letter in silence, and did not speak at the moment when the movement of her eyes declared that she had completed the task.
'Well?' said he.
'I do not think my cousin means badly.'
'You don't! I do, then. I think he means very badly. What business has he to write to me, talking of his position?'
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