Anthony Trollope: The Belton Estate


He was a heavy man, over seventy years of age, much afflicted with gout, and given to no pursuit on earth which was available for his comfort. He had been a hunting man, and he had shot also; but not with that energy which induces a sportsman to carry on those amusements in opposition to the impediments of age. He had been, and still was, a county magistrate; but he had never been very successful in the justice-room, and now seldom troubled the county with his judicial incompetence. He had been fond of good dinners and good wine, and still, on occasions, would make attempts at enjoyment in that line; but the gout and Lady Aylmer together were too many for him, and he had but small opportunity for filling up the blanks of his existence out of the kitchen or cellar. He was a big man, with a broad chest, and a red face, and a quantity of white hair and was much given to abusing his servants. He took some pleasure in standing, with two sticks, on the top of the steps before his own front door, and railing at any one who came in his way. But he could not do this when Lady Aylmer was by; and his dependents, knowing his habits, had fallen into an ill-natured way of deserting the side of the house which he frequented. With his eldest son, Anthony Aylmer, he was not on very good terms; and though there was no positive quarrel, the heir did not often come to Aylmer Park. Of his son Frederic he was proud and the best days of his life were probably those which Captain Aylmer spent at the house. The table was then somewhat more generously spread, and this was an excuse for having up the special port in which he delighted. Altogether his life was not very attractive; and though he bad been born to a baronetcy, and eight thousand a-year, and the possession of Aylmer Park, I do not think that he was, or had been, a happy man.

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