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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Dallas let fall her needles and her yarn and rose hurriedly


'Is

the standard of morals lower here?' inquired the younger lady, demurely.

'I am not speaking of _morals_, in the usual sense. Of course, that-- But there is a little too much freedom here. And besides,--I wanted Pitt to be a true Church of England man.'

'Isn't he that?'

'Oh yes, I have no doubt he is now; but he had formed some associations I was afraid of. With my son's peculiar character, I thought there might be danger. I rely on you, Betty,' said Mrs. Dallas, smiling, 'to remove the last vestige.'

The young lady gave a glance of quick, keen curiosity and understanding, in which sparkled a little amusement. 'What can I do?' she asked demurely.

'Bewitch him, as you do everybody.'

'Bewitch him, and hand him over to you!' she remarked.

'No,' said Mrs. Dallas; 'not necessarily. You must see him, before you can know what you would like to do with him.'

'Do I understand, then? He is supposed to be in some danger of lapsing from the true faith'--

'Oh, no, my dear! I did not say that. I meant only, if he had stayed in America. It seems to me there is a general loosening of all bonds here. Boys and girls do their own way.'

'Was it only the

general spirit of the air, Mrs. Dallas, or was it a particular influence, that you feared?'

'Well--both,' said Mrs. Dallas, again applying her knitting-needle under her cap.

The younger lady was silent a few minutes; going on with her embroidery.

'This is getting to be very interesting,' she remarked.

'It is very interesting to me,' replied the mother, with a thoughtful look. 'For, as I told you, Pitt is a very fast friend, and persistent in all his likings and dislikings. Here he had none but the company of dissenters; and I did not want him to get _in_ with people of that persuasion.'

'Is there much society about here? I fancied not.'

'No society, for him. Country people--farmers--people of that stamp. Nothing else.'

'I should have thought, dear Mrs. Dallas, that _you_ would have been quite a sufficient counteraction to temptation from such a source?'

Mrs. Dallas hesitated. 'Boys will be boys,' she said.

'But he is not a boy now?'

'He is twenty-four.'

'Not a boy, certainly. But do you know, that is an age when men are very hard to manage? It is easier earlier, or later.'

'Not difficult to you at any time,' said the other flatteringly.

The conversation dropped there; at least there came an interval of quiet working on the young lady's part, and of rather listless knitting on the part of the mother, whose eyes went wistfully to the window without seeing anything. And this lasted till a step was heard at the front door. Mrs. Dallas let fall her needles and her yarn and rose hurriedly, crying out, 'That is not Mr. Dallas!' and so speaking, rushed into the hall.


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