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27. CHAPTER XXVII: ONCE MORE BACK TO BELTON (continued)
'I know very well that in most things your opinion is better than mine. You've had advantages which I never had. But I've had more experience than you, my dear boy. It stands to reason that in some things I must have had more experience than you.' There was a tone of melancholy in the father's voice as he said this which quite touched his son, and which brought the two closer together out in the porch. 'Take my word for it,' continued Sir Anthony, 'that you are much better off as you are than you could be with a wife.'
'Do you mean to say that no man should marry?'
'No I don't mean to say that. An eldest son ought to marry, so that the property may have an heir. And poor men should marry, I suppose, as they want wives to do for them. And sometimes, no doubt, a man must marry when he has got to be very fond of a girl, and has compromised himself, and all that kind of thing. I would never advise any man to sully his honour.' As Sir Anthony said this he raised himself a little with his two sticks and spoke out in a bolder voice. The voice however, sank again as he descended from the realms of honour to those of prudence. 'But none of these cases are yours, Fred. To be sure you'll have the Perivale property; but that is not a family estate, and you'll be much better off by turning it into money. And in the way of comfort, you can be a great deal more comfortable without a wife than you can with one. What do you want a wife for? And then, as to Miss Amedroz for myself I must say that I like her uncommonly. She has been very pleasant in her ways with me. But somehow or another, I don't think you are so much in love with her but what you can do without her.' Hereupon he paused and looked his son full in the face. Fred had also been thinking of the matter in his own way, and asking himself the same question whether he was in truth so much in love with Clara that he could not live without her. 'Of course I don't know,' continued Sir Anthony, ' what has taken place just now between you and her, or what between her and your mother; but I suppose the whole thing might fall through without any further trouble to you or without anything unhandsome on your part?' But Captain Aylmer still said nothing. The whole thing might, no doubt, fall through, but he wished to be neither unjust nor ungenerous and he specially wished to avoid anything unhandsome. After a further pause of a few minutes, Sir Anthony went on again, pouring forth the words of experience. 'Of course marriage is all very well. I married rather early in life, and have always found your mother to be a most excellent woman. A better woman doesn't breathe. I'm as sure of that as I am of anything. But God bless me of course you can see. I can't call anything my own. I'm tied down here and I can't move. I've never got a shilling to spend, while all these lazy hounds about the place are eating me up. There isn't a clerk with a hundred a year in London that isn't better off than I am as regards ready money. And what comfort have I in a big house, and no end of gardens, and a place like this? What pleasures do I get out of it? That comes of marrying and keeping up one's name in the county respectably! What do I care for the county? D the county! I often wish that I'd been a younger son as you are.'
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