Anthony Trollope: The Belton Estate


Mr Belton came to the castle, and nothing further had been said at the cottage about his coming. Clara had seen Mrs Askerton in the meantime frequently, but that lady had kept her promise almost to Clara's disappointment. For she though she had in truth disliked the proposition that her cousin could be coming with any special views with reference to herself had nevertheless sufficient curiosity about the stranger to wish to talk about him. Her father, indeed, mentioned Belton's name very frequently, saying something with reference to him every time he found himself in his daughter's presence. A dozen times he said that the man was heartless to come to the house at such a time, and he spoke of his cousin always as though the man were guilty of a gross injustice in being heir to the property. But not the less on that account did he fidget himself about the room in which Belton was to sleep, about the food that Belton was to eat, and especially about the wine that Belton was to drink. What was he to do for wine? The stock of wine in the cellars at Belton Castle was, no doubt, very low. The squire himself drank a glass or two of port daily, and had some remnant of his old treasures by him, which might perhaps last him his time; and occasionally there came small supplies of sherry from the grocer at Taunton; but Mr Amedroz pretended to think that Will Belton would want champagne and claret and he would continue to make these suggestions in spite of his own repeated complaints that the man was no better than an ordinary farmer. 'I've no doubt he'll like beer,' said Clara. 'Beer!' said her father, and then stopped himself, as though. he were lost in doubt whether it would best suit him to scorn his cousin for having so low a taste as that suggested on his behalf, or to ridicule his daughter's idea that the household difficulty admitted of so convenient a solution.

The day of the arrival at last came, and Clara certainly was in a twitter, although she had steadfastly resolved that she would be in no twitter at all. She had told her aunt by letter of the proposed visit, and Mrs Winterfield had expressed her approbation, saying that she hoped it would lead to good results. Of what good results could her aunt be thinking? The one probable good result would surely. be this that relations so nearly connected should know each other. Why should there be any fuss made about such a visit? But, nevertheless, Clara, though she made no outward fuss, knew that inwardly she was not as calm about the man's coming as she would have wished herself to be.

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