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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Dallas shared her indifference

case of coins, and Pitt's old

scholar, and the Gainsboroughs, who had not come home. He would find them yet; yes, and Esther would one day be standing before those coins; and Pitt would be showing them to her; and she--she would enter into his talk about them, and would understand and have sympathy, and there would be sympathy on other points too. If Esther ever stood there, in that beautiful old library, it would be as mistress and at home. Betty had a premonition of it; she put her hands before her eyes to shut out the picture. Suppose she earned well of the two and gained their lasting friendship by saying the words that would bring them to each other? That was one way out of her difficulty. But then, why should she? What right had Esther Gainsborough to be happy more than Betty Frere? The other way out of her difficulty, namely, to win Pitt's liking, would be much better; and then, they both of them might be Esther's friends. For of one thing Betty was certain; _if_ she could win Pitt, he would be won. No half way-work was possible with him. He would never woo a woman he did not entirely love; and any woman so loved by him would not need to fear any other woman; it would be once for all. Betty had never, as it happened, met thoroughgoing truth before; she recognised it and trusted it perfectly in Pitt; and it was one of the things, she confessed to herself, that drew her most mightily to him. A person whom she could absolutely believe, and always be sure of. Whom else in the world could she trust so? Not
her own brothers; not her own father; mother she had none. How did she know so securely that Pitt was an exception to the universal rule?--the question might be asked, and she asked it. She had not seen him tested in any great thing. But she had seen him tried in little bits of everyday things, in which most people think it is no harm to dodge the truth a little; and Betty recognised the soundness of the axiom,--'He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much.'



The next morning they went to inspect the Temple; Pitt and the two ladies. Mr. Dallas preferred some other occupation. But the interest brought to the inspection was not altogether legitimate. Mrs. Dallas cared principally to see how comfortable her son's chambers were, and to refresh herself with the tokens of antiquity and importance which attached to the place and the institution to which he belonged. Betty was no antiquarian in the best of times, and at present had all her faculties concentrated on one subject and one question which was not of the past. Nevertheless, it is of the nature of things that a high strain of the mind renders it intensely receptive and sensitive for outward impressions, even though they be not welcomed; like a taut string, which answers to a breath breathed upon it. Betty did not care for the Temple; had no interest in the old Templars' arms on the sides of the gateways; and thought its medley of dull courts and lanes a very undesirable place. What was it to her where Dr. Johnson had lived? she did not care for Dr. Johnson at all, and as little for Oliver Goldsmith. Pitt, she saw, cared; how odd it was! It was some comfort that Mrs. Dallas shared her indifference.

'My dear,' she said, 'I do not care about anybody's lodgings but yours. Dr. Johnson is not there now, I suppose. Where are _your_ rooms?'

But Pitt laughed, and took them first to the Temple church.

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