Anthony Trollope: The Belton Estate


Lady Aylmer was more fortunate. She had occupations of which her husband knew nothing, and for which he was altogether unfit. Though she could not succeed in making retrenchments, the could and did succeed in keeping the household books. Sir Anthony could only blow up the servants when they were thoughtless enough to come in his way, and in doing that was restricted by his wife's presence. But Lady Aylmer could get at them day and night. She had no gout to impede her progress about the house and grounds, and could make her way to places which the master never saw; and then she wrote many letters daily, whereas Sir Anthony hardly ever took a pen in his hand. And she knew the cottages of all the poor about the place, and knew also all their sins of omission and commission. She was driven out, too, every day, summer and winter, wet and dry, and consumed enormous packets of wool and worsted, which were sent to her monthly from York. And she had a companion in her daughter, whereas Sir Anthony had no companion. Wherever Lady Aylmer went, Miss Aylmer went with her, and relieved what might otherwise have been the tedium of her life. She had been a beauty on a large scale, and was still aware that she had much in her personal appearance which justified pride. She carried herself uprightly, with a commanding nose and broad forehead; and though the graces of her own hair had given way to a front, there was something even in the front which added to her dignity, if it did not make her a handsome woman.

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