Anthony Trollope: The Belton Estate


Clara Amedroz had made one great mistake about her cousin, Will Belton, when she came to the conclusion that she might accept his proffered friendship without any apprehension that the friend would become a lover; and she made another, equally great, when she convinced herself that his love had been as short-lived as it had been eager. Throughout his journey back to Plaistow, he bad thought of nothing else but his love, and had resolved to persevere, telling himself sometimes that he might perhaps be successful, and feeling sure at other times that he would encounter renewed sorrow and permanent disappointment but equally resolved in either mood that he would persevere. Not to persevere in pursuit of any desired object let the object be what it might was, to his thinking, unmanly, weak, and destructive of self-respect. He would sometimes say of himself, joking with other men, that if he did not succeed in this or that thing, he could never speak to himself again. To no man did he talk of his love in such a strain as this; but there was a woman to whom he spoke of it; and though he could not joke on such a matter, the purport of what he said showed the same feeling. To be finally rejected, and to put up with such rejection, would make him almost contemptible in his own eyes.

This woman was his sister, Mary Belton. Something has been already said of this lady, which the reader may perhaps remember. She was a year or two older than her brother, with whom she always lived, but she had none of those properties of youth which belonged to him in such abundance. She was, indeed, a poor cripple, unable to walk beyond the limits of her own garden, feeble in health, dwarfed in stature, robbed of all the ordinary enjoyments of life by physical deficiencies, which made even the task of living a burden to her. To eat was a pain, or at best a trouble. Sleep would not comfort her in bed, and weariness during the day made it necessary that the hours passed in bed should be very long. She was one of those whose lot in life drives us to marvel at the inequalities of human destiny, and to inquire curiously within ourselves whether future compensation is to be given.

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