The Belton Estate, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter III

Will Belton

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.

He arrived about five o’clock in a gig from Taunton. Five was the ordinary dinner hour at Belton, but it had been postponed till six on this day, in the hope that the cousin might make his appearance at any rate by that hour. Mr Amedroz had uttered various complaints as to the visitor’s heartlessness in not having written to name the hour of his arrival, and was manifestly intending to make the most of the grievance should he not present himself before six but this indulgence was cut short by the sound of the gig wheels. Mr Amedroz and his daughter were sitting in a small drawing-room which looked out to the front of the house, and he, seated in his accustomed chair near the window, could see the arrival. For a moment or two he remained quiet in his chair, as though he would not allow so insignificant a thing as his cousin’s coming to ruffle him but he could not maintain this dignified indifference, and before Belton was out of the gig he had shuffled out into the hall.

Clara followed her father almost unconsciously, and soon found herself shaking hands with a big man, over six feet high, broad in the shoulders, large limbed, with bright quick grey eyes, a large mouth, teeth almost too perfect and a well-formed nose, with thick short brown hair and small whiskers which came half-way down his cheeks a decidedly handsome man with a florid face, but still, perhaps, with something of the promised roughness of the farmer. But a more good-humoured looking countenance Clara felt at once that she had never beheld.

‘And you are the little girl that I remember when I was a boy at Mr Folliott’s?’ he said. His voice was clear, and rather loud, but it sounded very pleasant in that sad old house.

‘Yes; I am the little girl,’ said Clara smiling.

‘Dear, dear! and that’s twenty years ago now,’ said he.

‘But you oughtn’t to remind me of that, Mr Belton.’

‘Oughtn’t I? Why not?’

‘Because it shows how very old I am.’

‘Ah, yes to be sure. But there’s nobody here that signifies. How well I remember this room and the old tower out there. It isn’t changed a bit!’

‘Not to the outward eye, perhaps,’ said the squire.

‘That’s what I mean. So they’re making hay still. Our hay has been all up these three weeks. I didn’t know you ever meadowed the park.’ Here he trod with dreadful severity upon the corns of Mr Amedroz, but he did not perceive it. And when the squire muttered something about a tenant, and the inconvenience of keeping land in his own hands, Belton would have gone on with the subject had not Clara changed the conversation. The squire complained bitterly of this to Clara when they were alone, saying that it was very heartless.

She had a little scheme of her own a plan arranged for the saying of a few words to her cousin on the earliest opportunity of their being alone together and she contrived that this should take place within half an hour after his arrival, as he went through the hall up to his room. ‘Mr Belton,’ she said, ‘I’m sure you will not take it amiss if I take a cousin’s privilege at once and explain to you something of our way of living here. My dear father is not very strong.’

‘He is much altered since I saw him last.’

‘Oh, yes. Think of all that he has had to bear! Well, Mr Belton, the fact is, that we are not so well off as we used to be, and are obliged to live in a very quiet way. You will not mind that?’

‘Who? I?’

‘I take it very kind of you, your coming all this way to see us’

‘I’d have come three times the distance.’

‘But you must put up with us as you find us, you know. The truth is we are very poor.’

‘Well, now that’s just what I wanted to know. One couldn’t write and ask such a question; but I was sure I should find out if I came.’

‘You’ve found it out already, you see.’

‘As for being poor, it’s a thing I don’t think very much about not for young people. But it isn’t comfortable when a man gets old. Now what I want to know is this; can’t something be done?’

‘The only thing to do is to be very kind to him. He has had to let the park to Mr Stovey, and he doesn’t like talking about it.’

‘But if it isn’t talked about, how can it be mended?’

‘It can’t be mended.’

‘We’ll see about that. But I’ll be kind to him; you see if I ain’t. And I’ll tell you what, I’ll be kind to you too, if you’ll let me. You have got no brother now.’

‘No,’ said Clara; ‘I have got no brother now.’ Belton was looking full into her face, and saw that her eyes had become clouded with tears.

‘I will be your brother,’ said he. ‘You see if I don’t. When I say a thing I mean it. I will be your brother.’ And he took her hand, caressing it, and showing her that he was not in the least afraid of her. He was blunt in his bearing, saying things which her father would have called indelicate and heartless, as though they gave him no effort, and placing himself at once almost in a position of ascendency. This Clara had not intended. She had thought that her farmer cousin, in spite of the superiority of his prospects as heir to the property, would have acceded to her little hints with silent acquiescence; but instead of this he seemed prepared to take upon himself the chief part in the play that was to be acted between them. ‘Shall it be so?’ he said, still holding her hand.

‘You are very kind.’

‘I will be more than kind; I will love you dearly if you will let me. You don’t suppose that I have looked you up here for nothing. Blood is thicker than water, and you have nobody now so near to you as I am. I don’t see why you should be so poor, as the debts have been paid.’

‘Papa has had to borrow money on his life interest in the place.’

‘That’s the mischief! Never mind. We’ll see if we can’t do something. And in the meantime don’t make a stranger of me. Anything does for me. Lord bless you! if you were to see how I rough it sometimes! I can eat beans and bacon with any one; and what’s more, I can go without ’em if I can’t get ’em.’

‘We’d better get ready for dinner now. I always dress, because papa likes to see it.’ This she said as a hint to her cousin that he would be expected to change his coat, for her father would have been annoyed had his guest sat down to dinner without such ceremony. Will Belton was not very good at taking hints; but he did understand this, and made the necessary change in his apparel.

The evening was long and dull, and nothing occurred worthy of remark except the surprise manifested by Mr Amedroz when Belton called his daughter by her Christian name. This he did without the slightest hesitation, as though it were the most natural thing in the world for him to do. She was his cousin, and cousins of course addressed each other in that way. Clara’s quick eye immediately saw her father’s slight gesture of dismay, but Belton caught nothing of this. The squire took an early opportunity of calling him Mr Belton with some little peculiarity of expression; but this was altogether lost on Will, who five times in the next five minutes addressed ‘Clara’ as though they were already on the most intimate terms. She would have answered him in the same way, and would have called him Will, had she not been afraid of offending her father.

Mr Amedroz had declared his purpose of coming down to breakfast during the period of his cousin’s visit, and at half-past nine he was in the parlour. Clara had been there some time, but had not seen her cousin. He entered the room immediately after her father, bringing his hat with him in his hand, and wiping the drops of perspiration from his brow. ‘You have been out, Mr Belton,’ said the squire.

‘All round the place, sir. Six o’clock doesn’t often find me in bed, summer or winter. What’s the use of laying in bed when one has had enough of sleep?’

‘But that’s just the question,’ said Clara; ‘whether one has had enough at six o’clock.’

‘Women want more than men, of course. A man, if he means to do any good with land, must be out early. The grass will grow of itself at nights, but it wants looking after as soon as the daylight comes.’

‘I don’t know that it would do much good to the grass here,’ said the squire, mournfully.

‘As much here as anywhere. And indeed I’ve got something to say about that.’ He had now seated himself at the breakfast-table, and was playing with his knife and fork. ‘I think, sir, you’re hardly making the best you can out of the park.’

‘We won’t mind talking about it, if you please,’ said the squire.

‘Well; of course I won’t, if you don’t like it; but upon my word you ought to look about you; you ought indeed.’

‘In what way do you mean?’ said Clara.

‘If your father doesn’t like to keep the land in his own hands, he should let it to some one who would put stock in it not go on cutting it year after year and putting nothing back, as this fellow will do. I’ve been talking to Stovey, and that’s just what he means.’

‘Nobody here has got money to put stock on the land,’ said the squire, angrily.

‘Then you should look for somebody somewhere else. That’s all. I’ll tell you what now, Mr Amedroz, I’ll do it myself.’ By this time he had helped himself to two large slices of cold mutton, and was eating his breakfast and talking with an equal amount of energy for either occupation.

‘That’s out of the question,’ said the squire.

‘I don’t see why it should be out of the question. It would be better for you and better for me too, if this place is ever to be mine.’ On hearing this the squire winced, but said nothing. This terrible fellow was so vehemently outspoken that the poor old man was absolutely unable to keep pace with him even to the repeating of his wish that the matter should be talked of no further. ‘I’ll tell you what I’ll do, now,’ continued Belton. ‘There’s altogether, outside the palings and in, about a hundred and fifty acres of it. I’ll give you one pound two and sixpence an acre, and I won’t cut an acre of grass inside the park no, nor much of it outside either only just enough to give me a little fodder for the cattle in winter.’

‘And give up Plaistow Hall?’ asked Clara.

‘Lord love you, no. I’ve a matter of nine hundred acres on hand there, and most of it under the plough. I’ve counted it up, and it would just cost me a thousand pounds to stock this place. I should come and look at it twice a year or so, and I should see my money home again, if I didn’t get any profit out of it.’

Mr Amedroz was astonished. The man had only been in his house one night, and was proposing to take all his troubles off his hands. He did not relish the proposition at all. He did not like to be accused of not doing as well for himself as others could do for him. He did not wish to make any change although he remembered at the moment his anger with Farmer Stovey respecting the haycarts. He did not desire that the heir should have any immediate interest in the place. But he was not strong enough to meet the proposition with a direct negative. ‘I couldn’t get rid of Stovey in that way,’ he said, plaintively. I’ve settled it all with Stovey already,’ said Belton. ‘He’ll be glad enough to walk off with a twenty-pound note, which I’ll give him. He can’t make money out of the place. He hasn’t got means to stock it, and then see the wages that hay-making runs away with! He’d lose by it even at what he’s paying, and he knows it. There won’t be any difficulty about Stovey.’

By twelve o’clock on that day Mr Stovey had been brought into the house, and had resigned the land. It had been let to Mr William Belton at an increased rental a rental increased by nearly forty pounds per annum and that gentleman had already made many of his arrangements for entering upon his tenancy. The twenty pounds had already been paid to Stovey, and the transaction was complete. Mr Amedroz sat in his chair bewildered, dismayed and, as he himself declared shocked, quite shocked, at the precipitancy of the young man. It might be for the best. He didn’t know. He didn’t feel at all sure. But such hurrying in such a matter was, under all the circumstances of the family, to say the least of it, very indelicate. He was angry with himself for having yielded, and angry with Clara for having allowed him to do so. ‘It doesn’t signify much,’ he said, at last. ‘Of course he’ll have it all to himself before long.’

‘But, papa, it really seems to be a much better arrangement for you. You’ll get more money’

‘Money is not everything, my dear.’

‘But you’d sooner have Mr Belton, our own cousin, about the place, than Mr Stovey.’

‘I don’t know. We shall see. The thing is done now, and there is no use in complaining. I must say he hasn’t shown a great deal of delicacy.’

On that afternoon Belton asked Clara to go out with him, and walk round the place. He had been again about the grounds, and had made plans, and counted up capabilities, and calculated his profit and losses. ‘If you don’t dislike scrambling about,’ said he, ‘I’ll show you everything that I intend to do.’

‘But I can’t have any changes made, Mr Belton,’ said Mr Amedroz, with some affectation of dignity in his manner. ‘I won’t have the fences moved, or anything of that kind.’

‘Nothing shall be done, sir, that you don’t approve. I’ll just manage it all as if I was acting as your own bailiff.’ ‘Son,’ he was going to say, but he remembered the fate of his cousin Charles just in time to prevent the use of the painful word.

‘I don’t want to have anything done,’ said Mr Amedroz.

‘Then nothing shall be done. We’ll just mend a fence or two, to keep in the cattle, and leave other things as they are. But perhaps Clara will walk out with me all the same.’

Clara was quite ready to walk out, and had already tied on her hat and taken her parasol.

‘Your father is a little nervous,’ said he, as soon as they were beyond hearing of the house.

‘Can you wonder at it, when you remember all that he has suffered.’

‘I don’t wonder at it in the least; and I don’t wonder at his disliking me either.’

‘I don’t think he dislikes you, Mr Belton.’

‘Oh, but he does. Of course he does. I’m the heir to the place instead of you. It is natural that he should dislike me. But I’ll live it down. You see if I don’t. I’ll make him so fond of me, he’ll always want to have me here. I don’t mind a little dislike to begin with.’

‘You’re a wonderful man, Mr Belton.’

‘I wish you wouldn’t call me Mr Belton. But of course you must do as you please about that. If I can make him call me Will, I suppose you’ll call me so too.’

‘Oh, yes; then I will.’

‘It don’t much matter what a person is called; does it! Only one likes to be friendly with one’s friends. I suppose you don’t like my calling you Clara.’

‘Now you’ve begun you had better go on.’

‘I mean to. I make it a rule never to go back in the world. Your father is half sorry that he has agreed about the place; but I shan’t let him off now. And I’ll tell you what. In spite of what he says, I’ll have it as different as possible before this time next year. ‘Why, there’s lots of timber that ought to come out of the plantation; and there’s places where the roots want stubbing up horribly. These things always pay for themselves if they are properly done. Any good done in the world always pays.’ Clara often remembered those words afterwards when she was thinking of her cousin’s character. Any good done in the world always pays!

‘But you mustn’t offend my father, even though it should do good,’ she said.

‘I understand,’ he answered. ‘I won’t tread on his toes. Where do you get your milk and butter?’

‘We buy them.’

‘From Stovey, I suppose.’

‘Yes; from Mr Stovey. It goes against the rent.’

‘And it ought to go against the grain too living in the country and paying for milk! I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you a cow. It shall be a little present from me to you.’ He said nothing of the more important present which this would entail upon him in the matter of the grass for the cow; but she understood the nature of the arrangement, and was anxious to prevent it.

‘Oh, Mr Belton, I think we’d better not attempt that,’ she said.

‘But we will attempt it. I’ve pledged myself to do nothing to oppose your father; but I’ve made no such promise as to you. We’ll have a cow before I’m many days older. What a pretty place this is! I do like these rocks so much, and it is such a comfort to be off the flat.’

‘It is pretty.’

‘Very pretty. You’ve no conception what an ugly place Plaistow is. The land isn’t actual fen now, but it was once. And it’s quite flat. And there is a great dike, twenty feet wide, oozing through it just oozing, you know; and lots of little dikes, at right angles with the big one. And the fields are all square. And there are no hedges and hardly a tree to be seen in the place.

‘What a picture you have drawn! I should commit suicide if I lived there.’

‘Not if you had so much to do as I have.’

‘And what is the house like?’

‘The house is good enough an old-fashioned manor-house, with high brick chimneys, and brick gables, tiled all over, and large square windows set in stone. The house is good enough, only it stands in the middle of a farm-yard. I said there were no trees, but there is an avenue.’

‘Come, that is something.’

‘It was an old family seat, and they used to have avenues in those days; but it doesn’t lead up to the present hail door. It comes sideways up to the farm. yard; so that the whole thing must have been different once, and there must have been a great court-yard. In Elizabeth’s time Plaistow Manor was rather a swell place, and belonged to some Roman Catholics who came to grief, and then the Howards got it. There’s a whole history about it, only I don’t care much about those things.’

‘And is it yours now?’

‘It’s between me and my uncle, and I pay him rent for his part. He’s a clergyman you know, and he has a living in Lincolnshire not far off.’

‘And do you live alone in that big house?’

‘There’s my sister. You’ve heard of Mary haven’t you?’

Then Clara remembered that there was a Miss Belton, a poor sickly creature, with a twisted spine and a hump back, as to whose welfare she ought to have made inquiries.

‘Oh yes; of course,’ said Clara. ‘I hope she’s better than she used to be when we heard of her.’

‘She’ll never be better. But then she does not become much worse. I think she does grow a little weaker. She’s older than I am, you know two years older; but you would think she was quite an old woman to look at her.’ Then, for the next half-hour, they talked about Mary Belton as they visited every corner of the place. Belton still had an eye to business as he went on talking, and Clara remarked how many sticks he moved as he went, how many stones he kicked on one side, and how invariably he noted any defect in the fences. But still he talked of his sister, swearing that she was as good as gold, and at last wiping away the tears from his eyes as he described her maladies. ‘And yet I believe she is better off than any of us,’ he said, ‘because she is so good.’ Clara began to wish that she had called him Will from the beginning, because she liked him so much. He was just the man to have for a cousin a true loving cousin, stalwart, self-confident, with a grain or two of tyranny in his composition as becomes a man in relation to his intimate female relatives; and one, moreover, with whom she could trust herself to be familiar without any danger of love-making! She saw his character clearly, and told herself that she understood it perfectly. He wag a jewel of a cousin, and she must begin to call him Will as speedily as possible.

At last they came round in their walk to the gate leading into Colonel Askerton’s garden; and here in the garden, close to the gate, they found Mrs Askerton. I fancy that she had been watching for them, or at any rate watching for Clara, so that she might know how her friend was carrying herself with her cousin. She came at once to the wicket, and there she was introduced by Clara to Mr Belton. Mr Belton, as he made his bow, muttered something awkwardly, and seemed to lose his self-possession for the moment. Mrs Askerton was very gracious to him, and she knew well how to be both gracious and ungracious. She talked about the scenery, and the charms of the old place, and the dullness of the people around them, and the inexpediency of looking for society in country places; till after awhile Mr Belton was once more at his ease.

‘How is Colonel Askerton?’ asked Clara.

‘He’s indoors. Will you come and see him? He’s reading a French novel, as usual. It’s the only thing he ever does in summer. Do you ever read French novels, Mr Belton?’

‘I read very little at all, and when I do I read English.’

‘Ah, you’re a man who has a pursuit in life, no doubt.’

‘I should rather think so that is, if you mean, by a pursuit, earning my bread. A man has not much time for French novels with a thousand acres of land on his hands; even if he knew how to read French, which I don’t.’

‘But you’re not always at work on your farm?’

‘It’s pretty constant, Mrs Askerton. Then I shoot, and hunt.’

‘You’re a sportsman?’

‘All men living in the country are more or less.’

‘Colonel Askerton shoots a great deal. He has the shooting of Belton, you know. He’ll be delighted, I’m sure, to see you if you are here some time in September. But you, coming from Norfolk, would not care for partridge-shooting in Somersetshire.’

‘I don’t see why it shouldn’t be as good here as there.’

‘Colonel Askerton thinks he has got a fair head of game upon the place.’

‘I dare say. Game is easily kept if people knew how to set about it.’

‘Colonel Askerton has a very good keeper, and has gone to a great deal of expense since he has been here.’

‘I’m my own head-keeper,’ said Belton;’ and so I will be or rather should be, if I had this place.’

Something in the lady’s tone had grated against his feelings and offended him; or perhaps he thought that she assumed too many of the airs of proprietorship because the shooting of the place had been let to her husband for thirty pounds a year.

‘I hope you don’t mean to say you’ll turn us out,’ said Mrs Askerton, laughing.

‘I have no power to turn anybody out or in,’ said he. ‘I’ve got nothing to do with it.’

Clara, perceiving that matters were not going quite pleasantly between her old and new friend, thought it best to take her departure. Belton, as he went, lifted his hat from his head, and Clara could not keep herself from thinking that he was not only very handsome, but that he looked very much like a gentleman, in spite of his occupation as a farmer.

‘Bye-bye, Clara,’ said Mrs Askerton; ‘come down and see me tomorrow, there’s a dear. Don’t forget what a dull life I have of it.’ Clara said that she would come. And I shall be so happy to see Mr Belton if he will call before he leaves you.’ At this Belton again raised his hat from his head, and muttered some word or two of civility. But this, his latter muttering, was different from the first, for he had altogether regained his presence of mind.

‘You didn’t seem to get on very well with my friend,’ said Clara, laughing, as soon as they had turned away from the cottage.

‘Well, no that is to say, not particularly well or particularly badly. At first I took her for somebody else I knew slightly ever so long ago, and I was thinking of that other person at the time.’

‘And what was the other person’s name?’

‘I can’t even remember that at the present moment.’

‘Mrs Askerton was a Miss Oliphant.’

‘That wasn’t the other lady’s name. But, independently of that, they can’t be the same. The other lady married a Mr Berdmore.’

‘A Mr Berdmore!’ Clara as she repeated the name felt convinced that she had heard it before, and that she had heard it in connexion with Mrs Askerton. She certainly had heard the name of Berdmore pronounced, or had seen it written, or had in some shape come across the name in Mrs Askerton’s presence; or at any rate somewhere on the premises occupied by that lady. More than this she could not remember; but the name, as she had now heard it from her cousin, became at once distinctly connected in her memory with her friends at the cottage.

‘Yes,’ said Belton; ‘a Berdmore. I knew more of him than of her, though for the matter of that, I knew very little of him either. She was a fast-going girl, and his friends were very sorry. But I think they are both dead or divorced, or that they have come to grief in some way.’

‘And is Mrs Askerton like the fast-going lady?’

‘In a certain way. Not that I remember what the fast-going lady was like; but there was something about this woman that put me in mind of the other. Vigo was her name; now I recollect it a Miss Vigo. It’s nine or ten years ago now, and I was little more than a boy.’

‘Her name was Oliphant.’

‘I don’t suppose they have anything to do with each other. What riled me was the way she talked of the shooting. People do when they take a little shooting. They pay some trumpery thirty or forty pounds a year, and then they seem to think that it’s almost the same as though they owned the property themselves. I’ve known a man talk of his manor because he had the shooting of a wood and a small farm round it. They are generally shop-keepers out of London, gin distillers, or brewers, or people like that.’

‘Why, Mr Belton, I didn’t think you could be so furious!

‘Can’t I? When my back’s up, it is up! But it isn’t up yet.’

‘And I hope it won’t be up while you remain in Somersetshire.’

‘I won’t answer for that. There’s Stovey’s empty cart standing just where it stood yesterday; and he promised he’d have it home before three today. My back will be up with him if he doesn’t mind himself.’

It was nearly six o’clock when they got back to the house, and Clara was surprised to find that she had been out three hours with her cousin. Certainly it had been very pleasant. The usual companion of her walks, when she had a companion, was Mrs Askerton; but Mrs Askerton did not like real walking. She would creep about the grounds for an hour or so, and even such companionship as that was better to Clara than absolute solitude; but now she had been carried about the place, getting over stiles and through gates, and wandering through the copses, till she was tired and hungry, and excited and happy. ‘Oh, papa,’ she said, ‘we have had such a walk!’

‘I thought we were to have dined at five,’ he replied, in a low wailing voice.

‘No, papa, indeed indeed you said six.’

‘That was for yesterday.’

‘You said we were to make it six while Mr Belton was here.’

‘Very well if it must be, I suppose it must be.’

‘You don’t mean on my account,’ said Will. ‘I’ll undertake to eat my dinner, sir, at any hour that you’ll undertake to give it me. If there’s a strong point about me at all, it is my appetite.’

Clara, when she went to her father’s room that evening, told him what Mr Belton had said about the shooting, knowing that her father’s feelings would agree with those which had been expressed by her cousin. Mr Amedroz of course made this an occasion for further grumbling, suggesting that Belton wanted to get the shooting for himself as he had got the farm. But, nevertheless, the effect which Clara had intended was produced, and before she left him he had absolutely proposed that the shooting and the land should go together.

‘I’m sure that Mr Belton doesn’t mean that at all,’ said Clara.

‘I don’t care what he means,’ said the squire.

‘And it wouldn’t do to treat Colonel Askerton in that way,’ said Clara.

‘I shall treat him just as I like,’ said the squire.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:43