Anthony Trollope: The Belton Estate


Captain Aylmer had never before this knelt to Clara Amedroz. Such kneeling on the part of lovers used to be the fashion because lovers in those days held in higher value than they do now that which they asked their ladies to give or because they pretended to do so. The forms at least of supplication were used; whereas in these wiser days Augustus simply suggests to Caroline that they two might as well make fools of themselves together and so the thing is settled without the need of much prayer. Captain Aylmer's engagement had been originally made somewhat after this fashion. He had not, indeed, spoken of the thing contemplated as a folly, not being a man given to little waggeries of that nature; but he had been calm, unenthusiastic, and reasonable. He bad not attempted to evince any passion, and would have been quite content that Clara should believe that he married as much from obedience to his aunt as from love for herself, had he not found that Clara would not take him at all under such a conviction. But though she had declined to come to him after that fashion though something more than that had been needed still she had been won easily, and, therefore, lightly prized. I fear that it is so with everything that we value with our horses, our houses, our wines, and, above all, with our women. Where is the man who has heart and soul big enough to love a woman with increased force of passion because she has at once recognized in him all that she has herself desired? Captain Aylmer having won his spurs easily, had taken no care in buckling them, and now found, to his surprise, that he was like to lose them. He had told himself that he would only be too glad to shuffle his feet free of their bondage; but now that they were going from him, he began to find that they were very necessary for the road that he was to travel. 'Clara,' he said, kneeling by her side,' you are more to me than my mother; ten times more!'

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