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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

And as his mother accompanied him


There

was a little bustle, a smothered word or two, and then a significant silence; which lasted long enough to let the watcher left behind in the drawing-room conclude on the very deep relations subsisting between mother and son. Steps were heard moving at length, but they moved and stopped; there was lingering, and slow progress; and words were spoken, broken questions from Mrs. Dallas and brief responses in a stronger voice that was low-pitched and pleasant. The figures appeared in the doorway at last, but even there lingered still. The mother and son were looking into one another's faces and speaking those absorbed little utterances of first meeting which are insignificant enough, if they were not weighted with such a burden of feeling. Miss Betty, sitting at her embroidery, cast successive rapid glances of curiosity and interest at the new-comer. His voice had already made her pulses quicken a little, for the tone of it touched her fancy. The first glance showed him tall and straight; the second caught a smile which was both merry and sweet; a third saw that the level brows expressed character; and then the two people turned their faces towards her and came into the room, and Mrs. Dallas presented her son.

The young lady rose and made a reverence, according to the more stately and more elegant fashion of the day. The gentleman's obeisance was profound in its demonstration of respect. Immediately after, however, he turned to his mother again; a

look of affectionate joy shining upon her out of his eyes and smile.

'Two years!' she was exclaiming. 'Pitt, how you have changed!'

'Have I? I think not much.'

'No, in one way not much. I see you are your old self. But two years have made you older.'

'So they should.'

'Somehow I had not expected it,' said the mother, passing her hand across her eyes with a gesture a little as if there were tears in them. 'I thought I should see _my_ boy again--and he is gone.'

'Not at all!' said Pitt, laughing. 'Mistaken, mother. There is all of him here that there ever was. The difference is, that now there is something more.'

'What?' she asked.

'A little more experience--a little more knowledge--let us hope, a little more wisdom.'

'There is more than that,' said the mother, looking at him fondly.

'What?'

'It is the difference I might have looked for,' she said, 'only, somehow, I had not looked for it.' And the swift passage of her hand across her eyes gave again the same testimony of a few minutes before. Her son rose hereupon and proposed to withdraw to his room; and as his mother accompanied him, Miss Betty noticed how his arm was thrown


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