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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Miss Fairbairn says she is very highly accomplished


'I

really can tell you little. She is a great favourite of my friend Miss Fairbairn; that is how I came to know her. She teaches in Mme. Duval's school. She is English, I believe. Miss Fairbairn says she is very highly accomplished; and I believe it is true.'

'Well, please introduce me. I am dying to know her.'

The introduction was made; the gentleman who had been talking to Miss Gainsborough withdrew; the two girls were left face to face.

Yes, what a face! thought Betty, as soon as it was turned upon her; and with every minute of their being together the feeling grew. Not like any face she had ever seen in her life, Betty decided; what the difference was it took longer to determine. Good features, with refinement in every line of them; a fair, delicate skin, matching the pale brown hair, Betty had seen as good repeatedly. What she had not seen was what attracted her. The brow, broad and intellectual, had a most beautiful repose upon it; and from under it looked forth upon Betty two glorious grey eyes, pure, grave, thoughtful, penetrating, sweet. Yet more than all the rest, perhaps, which struck Miss Frere, was an expression, in mouth and eyes both, which is seen on no faces but of those who have gone through discipline and have learned the habit of self-renunciation, endurance, and loving ministry.

The two girls sat down together at Betty's

instance.

'Will you forgive me?' she said. 'I am a stranger, but I do want to ask you a question or two. May I? and will you hear me patiently? I see you will.'

The other made a courteous, half smiling sign of assent, _not_ as if she were surprised. Betty noticed that.

'It is very bold, for a stranger,' she went on, making her observations while she spoke; 'but the thing is earnest with me, and I must seize my chance, if it _is_ a chance. It has happened,'--she lowered her voice somewhat and her words came slower,--'it has happened that I have been studying the subject of religion a good deal lately; it interests me; and I want to ask you, why did you sing that hymn?'

'That particular hymn?'

'No, no; I mean, why did you sing a hymn at all? It is not the usual thing, you know.'

'May I ask you a counter question? What should be the motive with which one sings, or does anything of the sort?'

'Motive? why, to please people, I suppose.'

'And you think my choice was not happy?'

'What does she ask me that for?' thought Betty; 'she knows, just as well as I do, what people thought of it. What is she up to?' But aloud she answered,--


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