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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Dallas grumbled with satisfaction


And then, having made her choice, she put away thought. All through the voyage she was a most delightful companion. A little stifled excitement, like forcing heat in a greenhouse, made all her social qualities blossom out in unwonted brilliancy. She was entertaining, bright, gay, witty, graceful; she was the admiration and delight of the whole company on board; and Mrs. Dallas thought to herself with proud satisfaction that Pitt could find nothing better than that, nor more attractive, and that she need wish nothing better than that at the head of her son's household and by his side. That Pitt could withstand such enchantment was impossible. She was doing the very best thing she could do in coming to England and in bringing Betty with her.

Having meditated this journey for months, Mr. Dallas had made all his preparations. Rooms had been engaged in a pleasant part of the city, and there, very soon after landing, the little party found themselves comfortably established and quite at home.

'Nothing like England!' Mr. Dallas grumbled with satisfaction. 'You couldn't do this in New York; they understand nothing about it, and they are too stupid to learn. I believe there isn't a lodging-house in all the little Dutch city over there; you could not find a single house where they let lodgings in the English fashion.'

'Mr. Dallas, it is not a Dutch city!'

'Half Dutch, and that's enough. Have you let Pitt know we are here, wife?'

Mrs. Dallas had done that; but the evening passed away, nevertheless, without any news of him. They made themselves very comfortable; had an excellent dinner, and went to rest in rooms pleasant and well appointed; but Betty was in a state of feverish excitement which would not let her be a moment at ease. Now she was here, she almost was ready to wish herself back again. How would Pitt look at her? how would he receive her? and yet, what affair was it of his, if his mother brought a young friend with her, to enjoy the journey and make it agreeable? It was nothing to Pitt; and yet, if it _were_ nothing to him, Betty would want to take passage in the next packetship sailing for New York or Boston. She drew her breath short, until she could see him.

He came about the middle of the next morning. Mr. Dallas had gone out, and the two ladies were alone, in a high state of expectancy; joyous on one part, most anxious and painful on the other. The first sight of him calmed Betty's heart-beating; at the same time it gave her a great thrill of pain. Pitt was himself so frank and so quiet, she said to herself, there was no occasion for her to fear anything in his thoughts; his greeting of her was entirely cordial and friendly. He was neither surprised nor displeased to see her. At the same time, while this was certainly comforting, Pitt looked too composedly happy for Betty's peace of mind. Apparently he needed neither her nor anybody;--'Do men ever?' said Betty to herself bitterly. And besides, there was in his face and manner a nobleness and a pureness which at one blow drove home, as it were, the impressions of the last year. Such a look she had never seen on any face in her life; _except_--yes, there was one exception, and the thought sent another pang of pain through her. But women do not show what they feel; and Pitt, if he noticed Miss Frere at all, saw nothing but the well-bred quiet which always belonged to Betty's demeanour. He was busy with his mother.

'This is a pleasure, to have you here!' he was saying heartily.


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