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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Dallas had her own views of things


went into the breakfast-room when he got home, which was also the common sitting-room and where he found, as he expected, his mother alone. She looked anxious; which was not a usual thing with Mrs. Dallas.

'Pitt, my dear!--out all this time? Are you not very hot?'

'I do not know, mother; I think not. I have not thought about the heat, I believe.'

He had kept the honeysuckle sprays in his hand all this while, and he now went forward to stick them in the huge jar which occupied the fireplace, and which was full of green branches. Turning when he had done this, he did not draw up a chair, but threw himself down upon the rug at his mother's feet, so that he could lay back his head upon her knees. Presently he put up his two hands behind him and found her hands, which he gently drew down and laid on each side of his head, holding them there in caressing fashion. Caresses were never the order of the day in this family; rarely exchanged even between mother and son, who yet were devoted faithfully to each other. The action moved Mrs. Dallas greatly; she bent down over him and kissed her son's brow, and then loosening one of her hands thrust it fondly among the thick brown wavy locks of hair that were such a pride to her. She admired him unqualifiedly, with that blissful delight in him which a good mother gives to her son, if his bodily and mental properties will anyway allow of it.

Mrs. Dallas's pride in this son had always been satisfied and unalloyed; all the more now was the chagrin she felt at the first jar to this satisfaction. Her face showed both feelings, the pride and the trouble, but for a time she kept silence. She was burning to discuss further with him the subject of the morning; devoured with restless curiosity as to how it could ever have got such a lodgment in Pitt's mind; at the same time she did not know how to touch it, and was afraid of touching it wrong. Her husband's counsel, _not to talk_, she did not indeed forget; but Mrs. Dallas had her own views of things, and did not always take her husband's advice. She was not minded to follow it now, but she was uncertain how best to begin. Pitt was busy with his own thoughts.

'I have invited somebody to come and make your holiday pass pleasantly,' Mrs. Dallas said at last, beginning far away from the burden of her thoughts.

'Somebody?--whom?' asked Pitt a little eagerly, but without changing his attitude.

'Miss Betty Frere.'

'Who is she, that she should put her hand on my holiday? I do not want any hands but yours, mother. How often I have wanted them!'

'But Miss Frere _will_ make your time pass more pleasantly, my boy. Miss Frere is one of the most admired women who have appeared in Washington this year. She is a sort of cousin of your father's, too; distant, but enough to make a connection. You will see for yourself what she is.'

'Where did you find her out?'

'In Washington, last winter.'

'And she is coming?'

'She said she would come. I asked her to come and help me make the time pass pleasantly for you.'

'Which means, that I must help you make the time pass pleasantly for her.'

'That will be easy.'

'I don't know; and _you_ do not know. When is she coming?'

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