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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Dallas understood enough already

style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER XL.


The winter passed. In the spring Betty received a letter from Mrs. Dallas, part of which ran as follows:--

'My husband and I have a new plan on foot; we have been meditating it all winter, so it ought to be ripe now. We are going over to spend the summer in England. My son talked of making us a visit again this year, and we decided it was better we should go to him. Time is nothing to us, and to him it is something; for although he will have no need to practise in any profession, I agree with him and Mr. Dallas in thinking that it is good a young man should _have_ a profession; and, at any rate, what has been begun had better be finished. So, some time in May we think to leave Seaforth, on our way to London. Dear Betty, will you take pity on an old woman and go with us, to give us the brightness of your youth? Don't you want to see London? and I presume by this time Pitt has qualified himself to be a good cicerone. Besides, we shall not be fixed in London. We will go to see whatever you would most like to see in the kingdom; perhaps run up to Scotland. Of course what _I_ want to see is my boy; but other things would naturally have an attraction for you. Do not say no; it would be a great disappointment to me. Meet us in New York about the middle of May. Mr. Dallas wishes to go as soon as the spring storms are over. I have

another reason for making this journey; I wish to keep Pitt from coming over to America.'

Betty's heart made a bound as she read this letter, and went on with faster beats than usual after she had folded it up. A voyage, and London, and Pitt Dallas for a showman! What could be more alluring in its temptation and promise? Going about in London with him to guide and explain things--could opportunity be more favourable to finish the work which last summer left undone? Betty's heart jumped at it; she knew she would say yes to Mrs. Dallas; she could say nothing but yes; and yet, questions did come up to her. Would it not be putting herself unduly forward? would it not look as though she went on purpose to see--not London but somebody in London? That would be the very truth, Betty confessed to herself, with a pang of shame and humiliation; the pang was keen, yet it did not change her resolution. What if? Nobody knew, she argued, and nobody would have cause to suspect. There was reason enough, ostensible, why she should go to England with Mrs. Dallas; if she refused to visit all the old ladies who had sons, her social limits would be restricted indeed. But Mrs. Dallas herself; would not she understand? Mrs. Dallas understood enough already, Betty said to herself defiantly; they were allies in this cause. It was very miserable that it should be so; however, not now to be undone or set aside. Lightly she had gone into Mrs. Dallas's proposition last summer; if it had grown to be life and death earnest with her, there was no need Mrs. Dallas should know _that_. It _was_ life and death earnest, and she must go to London. It was a capital plan. To have met Pitt Dallas again at Seaforth and again spent weeks in his mother's house while he was there, would have been too obvious; this was better every way. Of course she could not refuse such an invitation; such a chance of seeing something of the world; she who had always been too poor to travel. Pitt could not find any matter of surprise nor any ground for criticism in her doing that. And it would give her all the opportunity she wished for.

Here, most inopportunely, came before her the image of Esther. How those two would suit each other! How infallibly Pitt would be devoted to her if he could see her! But Betty said to herself that _she_ had a better right. They did not know each other; he was nothing to Esther, Esther was nothing to him. She set her teeth, and wrote to Mrs. Dallas that she would be delighted to go.

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