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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

She moved away from the coin cabinet


'I

suppose the principal reason is, that then I should not have been born in this. Everything is dreadfully prosy in our age. Oh, not _here_, at this moment! but this is a fairy tale we are living through. I know how the plain world will look when I go back to it.'

'At present,' said Pitt, taking the Syracusan coin and restoring it to its place, 'you are not an enthusiastic numismatist!'

'No; how should I? Coins are not a thing to excite enthusiasm. They are beautiful, and curious, but not exactly--not exactly stirring.'

'I had a scholar once,' remarked Pitt, as he locked the glass door of the cabinet, 'whose eyes would have opened very wide at sight of this collection. Have you heard anything of the Gainsboroughs, mother?'

Betty started, inwardly, and was seized with an unreasoning fear lest the question might next be put to herself. Quietly, as soon as she could, she moved away from the coin cabinet, and seemed to be examining something else; but she was listening all the while.

'Nothing whatever,' Mrs. Dallas had answered.

'They have not come back to England. I have made out so much. I looked up the family after I came home last fall; their headquarters are at a nice old place down in Devonshire. I introduced myself and got acquainted with them. They are pleasant people.

But they knew nothing of the colonel. He has not come home, and he has not written. Thus much I have found out.'

'It is not certain, however,' grumbled Mr. Dallas. 'I believe he _has_ come home; that is, to England. He was on bad terms with his people, you know.'

'When are you going to show Miss Frere and me London?' asked Mrs. Dallas. She was as willing to lead off from the other subject as Betty herself.

'Show you London, mamma! Show you a bit of it, you mean. It would take something like a lifetime to show you London. What bit will you begin with?'

'What first, Betty?' said Mrs. Dallas.

Betty turned and slowly came back to the others.

'Take her to see the lions in the Tower,' suggested Mr. Dallas; 'and the wax-work.'

'Do you think I have never seen a lion, Mr. Dallas?' said the young lady.

'Well,--small ones,' said the gentleman, stroking his chin. 'But the Tower is a big lion itself. I believe _I_ should like to go to the Tower. I have never been there yet, old as I am.'

'I do not want to go to the Tower,' said Mrs. Dallas. 'I do not care for that kind of thing. I should like to see the Temple, and Pitt's chambers.'

'So should I,' said the younger lady.

'You might do worse,' said Pitt. 'Then to-morrow we will go to the Temple, and to St. Paul's.'

'St. Paul's? _that_ will not hold us long, will it?' said Betty. 'Is it so much to see?'

'A good deal, if you go through and study the monuments!'

'Well,' said Betty, 'I suppose it will be all delightful.'

But when she had retired to her room at night, her mood was not just so. She sat down before her glass and ruminated. That


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