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24. CHAPTER XXIV: THE GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY HOTEL (continued)
'It's not all the same thing to me,' said Clara. 'I don't know when I may see my cousin again. I should think it very bad of you, Will, if you went away this evening.'
'I'll go out just for half an hour,' said he, 'and be back to dinner.'
'We dine at seven,' said the captain. Then Belton took his hat and left the two lovers together.
'Your cousin seems to be a rather surly sort of gentleman.' Those were the first words which Captain Aylmer spoke when he was alone with the lady of his love. Nor was he demonstrative of his affection by any of the usual signs of regard which are permitted to accepted lovers. He did not offer to kiss her, nor did he attempt to take her hand with a warmer pressure now that he was alone with her. He probably might have gone through some such ceremony had he first met Clara in a position propitious to such purposes; but, as it was, he had been a little ruffled by Will Belton's want of good breeding, and had probably forgotten that any such privileges might have been his. I wonder whether any remembrance flashed across Clara's mind at this moment of her Cousin Will's great iniquity in the sitting-room at Belton Castle. She thought of it very often, and may possibly have thought of it now.
'I don't believe that he is surly, Frederic,' she said. 'He may, perhaps, be out of humour.'
'And why should he be out of humour with me? I only suggested to him that it might suit him to live at Belton instead of at that farm of his, down in Norfolk.'
'He is very fond of Plaistow, I fancy.'
'But that's no reason why he should be cross with me. I don't envy him his taste, that's all. If he can't understand that he, with his name, ought to live on the family property which belongs to him, it isn't likely that anything that I can say will open his eyes upon the subject.'
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