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6. CHAPTER VI: SAFE AGAINST LOVE-MAKING ONCE AGAIN
For a considerable time Belton stood under the porch of the house, thinking of what had happened to him, and endeavouring to steady himself under the blow which he had received. I do not know that he had been sanguine of success. Probably he had made to himself no assurances on the subject. But he was a man to whom failure, of itself, was intolerable. In any other event of life he would have told himself that he would not fail that he would persevere and conquer. He could imagine no other position as to which he could at once have been assured of failure, in any project on which he had set his heart. But as to this project it was so. He had been told that she could not love him that she could never love him and he had believed her. He had made his attempt and had failed; and, as he thought of this, standing under the porch, he became convinced that life for him was altogether changed, and that he who had been so happy must now be a wretched man.
He was still standing there when Mr Amedroz came down into the hall, dressed for dinner, and saw his figure through the open doors. 'Will,' he said, coming up to him, 'it only wants five minutes to dinner.' Belton started and shook himself, as though he were shaking off a lethargy, and declared that he was quite ready. Then he remembered that he would be expected to dress, and rushed upstairs, three steps at a time, to his own room. When he came down, Clara and her father were already in the dining-room, and he joined them there.
Mr Amedroz, though he was not very quick in reading facts from the manners of those with whom he lived, had felt assured that things had gone wrong between Belton and his daughter. He had not as yet had a minute in which to speak to Clara, but he was certain that it was so. Indeed, it was impossible not to read terrible disappointment and deep grief in the young man's manner. He made no attempt to conceal it, though he did not speak of it. Through the whole evening, though he was alone for a while with the squire, and alone also for a time with Clara, he never mentioned or alluded to the subject of his rejection. But he bore himself as though he knew and they knew as though all the world knew that he had been rejected. And yet he did not remain silent. He talked of his property and of his plans, and explained how things were to be done in his absence. Once only was there something like an allusion made to his sorrow. 'But you will be here at Christmas?' said Mr Amedroz, in answer to something which Belton had said as to work to be done in his absence. 'I do not know how that may be now,' said Belton. And then they had all been silent.
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