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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Pitt threw himself into a chair near her


Miss Betty found the days pass with almost as much charm as fleetness. How fleet they were she did not bear to think. She found herself recognising Pitt's step, distinguishing his voice in the distance, and watching for the one and the other. Why not? He was so pleasant as a companion. But she found herself also starting when he appeared suddenly, thrilled at the unexpected sound of his voice, and conscious of quickened pulses when he came into the room. Betty did not like these signs in herself; at the same time, that which had wrought the spell continued to work, and the spell was not broken. In justice to the young lady, I must say that there was not the slightest outward token of it. Betty was as utterly calm and careless in her manner as Pitt himself; so that even Mrs. Dallas--and a woman in those matters sees far--could not tell whether either or both of the young people had a liking for the other more than the social good-fellowship which was frank and apparent. It might be, and she confessed also to herself that it might not be.

'You must give that fellow time,' said her husband. Which Mrs. Dallas knew, if she had not been so much in a hurry.

'If he met those Gainsboroughs by chance, I would not answer for anything,' she said.

'How should he meet them? They are probably as poor as rats, and have drawn into some corner, out of the way. He will never see them.'

style="text-align: justify;">'Pitt is so persistent!' said Mrs. Dallas uneasily.

'He'll be back in England in a few weeks.'

'But when he comes again!'

'He shall not come again. We will go over to see him ourselves next year.'

'That is a very good thought,' said Mrs. Dallas.

And, comforted by this thought and the plans she presently began to weave in with it, she looked now with much more equanimity than Betty herself towards the end of Pitt's visit. Mrs. Dallas, however, was not to get off without another shock to her nerves.

It was early in September, and the weather of that sultry, hot, and moist character which we have learned to look for in connection with the first half of that month. Miss Frere's embroidery went languidly; possibly there might have been more reasons than one for the slow and spiritless movement of her fingers, which was quite contrary to their normal habit. Mrs. Dallas, sitting at a little distance on the verandah, was near enough to hear and observe what went on when Pitt came upon the scene, and far enough to be separated from the conversation unless she chose to mix in it. By and by he came, looking thoughtful, as Betty saw, though she hardly seemed to notice his approach. There was no token in her quiet manner of the quickened pulses of which she was immediately conscious. Something like a tremulous thrill ran through her nerves; it vexed her to be so little mistress of them, yet the pleasure of the thrill at the moment was more than the pain. Pitt threw himself into a chair near her, and for a few moments watched the play of her needle. Betty's eyelashes never stirred. But the silence lasted too long. Nerves would not bear it.

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