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24. CHAPTER XXIV: THE GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY HOTEL (continued)
Captain Aylmer saw that the man was waxing angry, and made no further allusion either to the glories or deficiencies of Norfolk. As he could think of no other subject on which to speak at the spur of the moment, he sat himself down and took up a paper; Belton took up another, and so they remained till Clara made her appearance. That Captain Aylmer read his paper is probable enough. He was not a man easily disconcerted, and there was nothing in his present position to disconcert him. But I feel sure that Will Belton did not read a word. He was angry with this rival, whom he hated, and was angry with himself for showing his anger. He would have wished to appear to the best advantage before this man, or rather before Clara in this man's presence; and he knew that in Clara's absence be was making such a fool of himself that he would be unable to recover his prestige. He had serious thoughts within his own breast whether it would not be as well for him to get up from his seat and give Captain Aylmer a thoroughly good thrashing: 'Drop into him and punch his head,' as he himself would have expressed it. For the moment such an exercise would give him immense gratification. The final results would, no doubt, be disastrous; but then, all future results, as far as he could see them, were laden with disaster. He was still thinking of this, eyeing the man from under the newspaper, and telling himself that the feat would probably be too easy to afford much enjoyment, when Clara re-entered the room. Then he got up, acting on the spur of the moment got up quickly and suddenly, and began to bid her adieu.
'But you are going to dine here, Will?' she said.
'No; I think not.'
'You promised you would. You told me you had nothing to do to-night.' Then she turned to Captain Aylmer. 'You expect my cousin to dine with us today?'
'I ordered dinner for three,' said Captain Aylmer.
'Oh, very well; it's all the same thing to me,' said Will.
'And to me,' said Captain Aylmer.
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