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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

And what is the use of earthquakes


'I

know!' said Betty; 'that is what nobody says whose knowledge is small. It takes a good deal of knowing to perceive how much one does _not_ know.'

'That is true.'

'And what becomes of all these riches when you are gone away?'

'They remain in seclusion. I must pack them up to-day. It is a job I have reserved to the last, for I like to have them about while I am here.'

He began as he spoke to put away some little articles, and got out paper to wrap up others.

'And how came you by all these tastes? Mr. and Mrs. Dallas do not share them, I think.'

'No. Impossible to say. Inherited from some forgotten ancestor, perhaps.'

'Were there ever any Independents or Puritans among your ancestors?'

'No!' said Pitt, with a laughing look at her. 'The record is clean, I believe, on both sides of the house. My mother has not that on her conscience.'

'But you sympathize with such supposititious ancestors?'

'Why do you say so?'

'Mr. Pitt,' said Betty, sitting down and folding her hands seriously in her lap, 'I wish you would let me ask you one thing.'

'Ask it certainly,' said he.

style="text-align: justify;">'But it is really not my business; only, I am puzzled, and interested, and do not know what to think. You will not be displeased?'

'I think I can answer for that.'

'Then do tell me why, when you are just going away and cannot carry it on, you should have done what you did last night?'

'As I am just going away, don't you see, it was my only chance.'

'But I do not understand why you did it. You knew it would be something like an earthquake; and what is the use of earthquakes?'

'You remember the Eastern theory--Burmese, is it? or Siamese?--according to which the world rests on the heads of four elephants; when one of the elephants shakes his head, there is an earthquake. But must not the elephant therefore move his head?'

'But the world does not rest on _your_ head.'

'I do not forget that,' said Pitt gravely. 'Not the world, but a small piece of it does rest on my head, as on that of every other human creature. On the right position and right movement of every one of us depends more than we know. What we have to do is to keep straight and go straight.'

'But did you think it was _duty_ to do what you did last night?'

'I did it in that faith.'

'I wish you would explain to me!' cried the lady. 'I cannot understand. I believe you, of course; but _why_ did you think it duty? It just raised a storm; you know it did; they did not like it; and it would only make them more opposed to your new principles. I do not see how it could do any good.'


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