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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

'Have you found the Gainsboroughs


'Have

you found the Gainsboroughs?' his father asked.

'No, sir.'

'Where did you look?'

'Everywhere.'

'What have you done?' his mother asked.

'Everything.'

'I told you, I thought they were gone back to England.'

'If they are, there is no sign of it, and I do not believe it. I have spent hours and hours at the shipping offices, looking over the lists of passengers; and of one thing I am certain, they have not sailed from that port this year.'

'Not under the name by which you know them.'

'And not under any other. Colonel Gainsborough was not a man to hide his head under an alias. But they know nothing of any Colonel Gainsborough at the post office.'

'That is strange.'

'They never had many letters, you know, sir; and the colonel had given up his English paper. I think I know all the people that take the London _Times_ in New York; and he is not one of them.'

'He is gone home,' said Mr. Dallas comfortably.

'I can find that out when I go back to England; and I will.'

Miss Betty said nothing, and asked never

a word, but she lost none of all this. Pitt was becoming a problem to her. All this eagerness and painstaking would seem to look towards some very close relations between the young man and these missing people; yet Pitt showed no annoyance nor signs of trouble at missing them. Was it that he did not really care? was it that he had not accepted failure, and did not mean to fail? In either case, he must be a peculiar character, and in either case there was brought to light an uncommon strength of determination. There is hardly anything which women like better in the other sex than force of character. Not because it is a quality in which their own sex is apt to be lacking; on the contrary; but because it gives a woman what she wants in a man--something to lean upon, and somebody to look up to. Miss Betty found herself getting more and more interested in Pitt and in her charge concerning him; how it was to be executed she did not yet see; she must leave that to chance. Nothing could be forced here. Where liking begins to grow, there also begins fear.

She retreated to the verandah after dinner, with her embroidery. By and by Mrs. Dallas came there too. It was a pleasant place in the afternoon, for the sun was on the other side of the house, and the sea breeze swept this way, giving its saltness to the odours of rose and honeysuckle and mignonette. Mrs. Dallas sat down and took her knitting; then, before a word could be exchanged, they were joined by Pitt. That is, he came on the verandah; but for some time there was no talking. The ladies would not begin, and Pitt did not. His attention, wherever it might be, was not given to his companions; he sat thoughtful, and determinately silent. Mrs. Dallas's knitting needles clicked, Miss Betty's embroidering thread went noiselessly in and out. Bees hummed and flitted about the honeysuckle vines; there was a soft, sweet, luxurious atmosphere to the senses and to the mind. This went on for a while.

'Mr. Pitt,' said Miss Betty, 'you are giving me no help at all.'

He brought himself and his attention round to her at once, and asked how he could be of service.


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