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30. CHAPTER XXX: MARY BELTON (continued)
'Something that I could love very dearly. You are a little taller than what Will said; but then a gentleman is never a judge of a lady's height. And he said you were thin.'
'I am not very fat.'
'No; not very fat; but neither are you thin. Of course, you know, I have thought a great deal about you. It seems as though you had come to be so very near to us; and blood is thicker than water, is it not? If cousins are not friends, who can be?'
In the course of that evening they became very confidential together, and Clara thought that she could love Mary Belton better than any woman that she had ever known. Of course they were talking about William, and Clara was at first in constant fear lest some word should be said on her lover's behalf some word which would drive her to declare that she would not admit him as a lover; but Mary abstained from the subject with marvellous care and tact. Though she was talking through the whole evening of her brother, she so spoke of him as almost to make Clara believe that she could not have heard of that episode in his life. Mrs Askerton would have dashed at the subject at once; but then, as Clara told herself, Mary Bolton was better than Mrs Askerton.
A few words were said about the estate, and they originated in Clara's declaration that Mary would have to be regarded as the mistress of the house to which they were going. 'I cannot agree to that,' said Mary.
'But the house is William's, you know,' said Clara.
'He says not.'
'But of course that must be nonsense, Mary.'
'It is very evident that you know nothing of Plaistow ways, or you would not say that anything coming from William was nonsense. We are accustomed to regard all his words as law, and when he says that a thing is to be so, it always is so.'
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