Anthony Trollope: The Belton Estate


It was a terrible evening to Clara. She endeavoured to talk, but found it to be impossible. All the brightness of the last few days had disappeared, and the world seemed to her to be more sad and solemn than ever. She had no idea when she was refusing him that he would have taken it to heart as he had done. The question had come before her for decision so suddenly, that she had not, in fact, had time to think of this as she was making her answer. All she had done was to feel that she could not be to him what he wished her to be. And even as yet she had hardly asked herself why she must be so steadfast in her refusal. But she had refused him steadfastly, and she did not for a moment think of reducing the earnestness of her resolution. It seemed to be manifest to her, from his present manner, that he would never ask the question again; but she was sure, let it be asked ever so often, that it could not be answered in any other way.

Mr Amedroz, not knowing why it was so, became cross and querulous, and scolded his daughter. To Belton, also, he was captious, making little difficulties, and answering him with petulance. This the rejected lover took with most extreme patience, as though such a trifling annoyance had no effect in adding anything to his misery. He still held his purpose of going on the Saturday, and was still intent on work which was to be done before he went; but it seemed that he was satisfied to do everything now as a duty, and that the enjoyment of the thing, which had heretofore been so conspicuous, was over.

At last they separated, and Clara, as was her wont, went up to her father's room. 'Papa,' she said, 'what is all this about Mr Belton?'

'All what, my dear? what do you mean?'

'He has asked me to be to be his wife; and has told me that he came with your consent.'

'And why shouldn't he have my consent? What is there amiss with him? Why shouldn't you marry him if he likes you? You seemed, I thought, to be very fond of him.'

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