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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Dallas uneasily and hesitating


'It

is easy to be happy at _that_ age.'

'Not for her. She had been very unhappy.'

'And got over it?'

'Yes; but not by virtue of her youth or childishness, as you suppose. She was one of those natures that are born with a great capacity for suffering, and she had begun to find it out early; and it was from the depths of unhappiness that she came out into clear and peaceful sunshine; with nothing to help her either in her external surroundings.'

'Couldn't you follow her steps and attain her experience?' asked Miss Frere mockingly.

Pitt rose up from the mat where he had been lying, laughed, and shook himself.

'As you will not go to drive,' he said, 'I believe I will go alone.'

But he went on horseback, and rode hard.

CHAPTER XXXV.

_ANTIQUITIES_.

As Pitt went off, Mrs. Dallas came on the verandah. 'You would not go to drive?' she said to Betty.

'It is so hot, dear Mrs. Dallas! I had what was much better than a drive--a good long talk.'

'What do you think of my boy?' asked the mother, with an accent of happy confidence in which there was

also a vibration of pride.

'He puzzles me. Has he not some peculiar opinions?'

'Have you found that out already?' said Mrs. Dallas, with a change of tone. 'That shows he must like you very much, Betty; my son is not given to letting himself out on those subjects. Even to me he very seldom speaks of them.'

'What subjects do you mean, dear Mrs. Dallas?' inquired the young lady softly.

'I mean,' said Mrs. Dallas uneasily and hesitating, 'some sort of religious questions. I told you he had had to do at one time with dissenting people, and I think their influence has been bad for him. I hoped in England he would forget all that, and become a true Churchman. What did he say?'

'Nothing about the Church, or about religion. I do not believe it would be easy for any one to influence him, Mrs. Dallas.'

'You can do it, Betty, if any one. I am hoping in you.'

The young lady, as I have intimated, was not averse to the task, all the rather that it promised some difficulty. All the rather, too, that she was stimulated by the idea of counter influence. She recalled more than once what Pitt had said of that 'young girl,' and tried to make out what had been in his tone at the time. No passion certainly; he had spoken easily and frankly; too easily to favour the supposition of any very deep feeling; and yet, not without a certain cadence of tenderness, and undoubtedly with the confidence of intimate knowledge. Undoubtedly, also, the influence of that young person, whatever its nature, had not died out. Miss Betty had little question in her own mind that she must have been one of the persons referred to and dreaded by Mrs. Dallas as dissenters; and the young lady determined to do what she could in the case. She had a definite point of resistance now, and felt stronger for the fray.

The fray, however, could not be immediately entered upon. Pitt departed to New York, avowedly to look up the Gainsboroughs. And there, as two years before, he spent unwearied pains in pursuit of his object; also, as then, in vain. He returned after more than a week of absence, a baffled man. His arrival was just in time to allow him to sit down to dinner with the family; so that Betty heard his report.


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