Anthony Trollope: The Belton Estate


Miss Aylmer, who was the eldest of the younger generation, and who was now gently descending from her fortieth year, lacked the strength of her mother's character, but admired her mother's ways, and followed Lady Aylmer in all things at a distance. She was very good as indeed was Lady Aylmer entertaining a high idea of duty, and aware that her own life admitted of but little self- indulgence. She had no pleasures, she incurred no expenses ; and was quite alive to the fact that as Aylmer Park required a regiment of lazy, gormandizing servants to maintain its position in the county, the Aylmers themselves should not be lazy, and should not gormandize. No one was more careful with her few shillings than Miss Aylmer. She had, indeed, abandoned a life's correspondence with an old friend because she would not pay the postage on letters to Italy. She knew that it was for the honour of the family that one of her brothers should sit in Parliament, and was quite willing to deny herself a new dress because sacrifices must be made to lessen electioneering expenses. She knew that it was her lot to be driven about slowly in a carriage with a livery servant before her and another behind her, and then eat a dinner which the cook-maid would despise. She was aware that it was her duty to be snubbed by her mother, and to encounter her father's ill-temper, and to submit to her brother's indifference, and to have, so to say, the slightest possible modicum of personal individuality. She knew that she had never attracted a man's love, and might hardly hope to make friends for the comfort of her coming age. But still she was contented, and felt that she had consolation for it all in the fact that she was am. Aylmer. She read many novels, and it cannot but be supposed that something of regret would steal over her as she remembered that nothing of the romance of life had ever, or could ever, come in her way. She wept over the loves of many women, though she had never been happy or unhappy in her own. She read of gaiety, though she never encountered it, and must have known that the world elsewhere was less dull than it was at Aylmer Park. But she took her life as it came, without a complaint, and prayed that God would make her humble in the high position to which it had pleased Him to call her. She hated Radicals, and thought that Essays and Reviews, and Bishop Colenso, came direct from the Evil One. She taught the little children in the parish, being specially urgent to them always to courtesy when they saw any of the family and was as ignorant, meek, and stupid a poor woman as you shall find anywhere in Europe.

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