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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Strahan held that it was Arethusa


'What

is this concern, Pitt?' inquired his father, who had followed them, and was looking at a sort of cabinet which was framed into the wall.

'I was going to invite Miss Frere's attention to it; yet, on reflection, I believe she is not enthusiastic for that sort of thing. That is valuable, father. It is a collection of early Greek coins. Uncle Strahan was very fond of that collection, and very proud of it. He had brought it together with a great deal of pains.'

'Rubbish, I should say,' observed the elder man; and he moved on, while Betty took his place.

'Now, I do not understand them,' she said.

'You can see the beauty of some of them. Look at this head of Apollo.'

'That is beautiful--exquisite! Was that a common coin of trade?'

'Doubtful, in this case. It is not certain that this was not rather a medal struck for the members of the Amphictyonic Council. But see this coin of Syracuse; _this_ was a common coin of trade; only of a size not the most common.'

'All I can say is, their coinage was far handsomer than ours, if it was like that.'

'The reverse is as fine as the obverse. A chariot with four horses, done with infinite spirit.'

'How can you remember what is on the other

side--I suppose this side is what you mean by the _obverse_--of this particular coin? Are you sure?'

Pitt produced a key from his pocket, unlocked the glass door of the cabinet, and took the coin from its bed. On the other side was what he had stated to be there. Betty took the piece in her hands to look and admire.

'That is certainly very fine,' she said; but her attention was not entirely bent on the coin 'Is this lovely head meant for Apollo too?'

'No; don't you see it is feminine? Ceres, it is thought; but Mr. Strahan held that it was Arethusa, in honour of the nymph that presided over the fine fountain of sweet water near Syracuse. The coinage of that city was extremely beautiful and diversified; yielding to hardly any other in design and workmanship. Here is an earlier one; you see the very different stage art had attained to.'

'A regular Greek face,' remarked Betty, going back to the coin she held in her hand. 'See the straight line of the nose and the very short upper lip. Do you hold that the Greek type is the only true beauty?'

'Not I. The only _true_ beauty, I think, is that of the soul; or at least that which the soul shines through.'

'What are these little fish swimming about the head? They would seem to indicate a marine deity.'

'The dolphin; the Syracusan emblem.'

'I wish I had been born in those times!' said Betty. And the wish had a meaning in the speaker's mind which the hearer could not divine.

'Why do you wish that?' asked Pitt, smiling.


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