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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Pitt had drooped his head a little


'What

has money to do with teaching people?' Miss Frere asked. It was the first word she had spoken; she spoke it seriously, not mockingly. The question brought his eyes round to her.

'Do you ask that?' said he. 'Every unreasoning, ignorant creature of humanity understands it. The love that would win them for heaven would also help them on earth; and if they do not see the one thing, they do not believe in the other.'

'Then-- But-- What do you propose?'

'It is simple enough,' he said.

'It is too simple for Betty and me,' said his mother. 'I would be obliged to you, Pitt, to answer her.'

The young man's countenance changed; a shadow fell over it which raised Miss Frere's sympathy. He went into the house, however, for a Bible, and coming back with it sat down and read quietly and steadfastly the beautiful words in Isaiah:

'"To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke. ... To deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house; when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh."'

'It would take a good deal of money, certainly,' said Miss Frere, 'to do all that; indeed, I hardly think

all the fortunes in the world would be sufficient.'

Pitt made no answer. He sat looking down at the page from which he had been reading.

'Nobody is required to do more than his part of the work,' said Mrs. Dallas. 'If Pitt will be contented with that'--

'What is my part of it, mother?'

'Why, your share; what you can do properly and comfortably, without any fanaticism of sacrifice.'

'Must I not do all I can?'

'No, not all you _can_. You _could_ spend your whole fortune in it.'

'I was thinking, easily,' observed Miss Frere.

'What is the Bible rule? "When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him"--"that ye break every yoke." And, "he that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise."'

'You can find Scripture to quote for everything, said Mrs. Dallas, rising in anger; 'that is the way Methodists and fanatics always do, as I have heard. But I can tell you one thing, Pitt, which you may not have taken into account; if you persist in this foolishness, your father, I know, will take care that the fortune you have to throw away shall not be large!'

With these words she swept into the house. The two left behind were for some moments very still. Pitt had drooped his head a little, and rested his brow in his hand; Miss Betty watched him. Her dismay and dislike of Pitt's disclosures were scarcely less than his mother's, but different. Disappointed pride was not here in question. That he should give up a splendid and opulent career did not much trouble her. In the first place, he might modify his present views; in the second place, if he did not, if he lived up to his principles, there was something in her which half recognised the beauty and dignity and truth of such a life. But in either case, alas, alas! how far was he drifted away out of her sphere, and beyond her reach? For the present, at least, his mind was utterly taken up by this one great subject; there was no room in it left for light things; love skirmishes could not be carried on over the ground he now occupied; he was wholly absorbed in his new decisions and experiences, and likely to be engaged with the consequences of them. Betty was sorry for him just now, for she saw that he felt pain; and at the same time she admired him more than ever. His face was more sweet, she thought, and yet more strong, than she had ever seen it; his manner to his mother was perfect. So had not been her manner towards him. He had been gentle, steadfast, and true, manly and tender. 'Happy will be the woman that will share his life, whatever it be!' thought Betty, with some constriction of heart; but to bring herself into that favoured place she saw little chance now. She longed to say a word of some sort that might sound like sympathy or intelligence; but she could not find it, and wisely held her peace.


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