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23. CHAPTER XXIII: THE LAST DAY AT BELTON (continued)
But in Belton's estimation the difficulty was not exactly over. Captain Aylmer would, of course, be in London that night, and it was a question with Will whether or no Clara was not bound in honour to tell the accursed beast, I am afraid Mr Belton called him in his soliloquies where she would lodge on the occasion. Or would it suffice that he, Will, should hand her over to the enemy at the station of the Great Northern Railway on the following morning? All the little intricacies of the question presented themselves to Will's imagination. How careful he would be with her, that the inn accommodation should suffice for her comfort! With what pleasure would he order a little dinner for them two, making something of a gentle fˆte of the occasion! How sedulously would he wait upon her with those little attentions, amounting almost to worship, with which such men as Will Belton are prone to treat all women in exceptionable circumstances, when the ordinary routine of life has been disturbed! If she had simply been his cousin, and if he had never regarded her otherwise, how happily could he have done all this! As things now were, if it was left to him to do, he should do it, with what patience and grace might be within his power; he would do it, though he would be mindful every moment of the bitterness of the transfer which he would so soon be obliged to make; but he doubted whether it would not be better for Clara's sake that the transfer should be made overnight. He would take her up to London, because in that way he could be useful; and then he would go away and hide himself. 'Has Captain Aylmer said where he would meet you?' he asked after a pause.
'Of course I must write and tell him.'
'And is he to come to you when you reach London?'
'He has said nothing about that. 'He will probably be at the House of Commons, or too busy somewhere to come to me then. But why do you ask? Do you wish to hurry through town?'
'Oh dear, no.'
'Or perhaps you have friends you want to see. Pray don't let me be in your way. I shall do very well, you know.'
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