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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Dallas put the question at breakfast

'My dear, do stop,' said Mrs. Dallas. 'I cannot eat my dinner, and you cannot.'

'Eat dinner! Did anybody use to eat dinner, in those times? Did the world go on as usual? with such horrors on the throne and in the dungeon?'

'It is a great national monument,' said Mr. Dallas, 'that any people might be proud of.'

'Proud! Well, I am glad, as I said, that the sky is blue over America.'

'The blue looks down on nothing so fine as our old Tower. And it isn't so blue, either, if you could know all.'

'Where are you going to take us next, Pitt?' Mrs. Dallas asked, to give things a pleasanter turn.

'How did you like St. Paul's, Miss Betty?' her husband went on, before Pitt could speak.

'It is very black!'

'That is one of its beauties,' remarked Pitt.

'Is it? But I am accustomed to purer air. I do not like so much smoke.'

'You were interested in the monuments?' said Mrs. Dallas.

'Honestly, I am not fond of monuments. Besides, there is really a reminiscence of the Tower and the axe there very often. I had no conception London was such a place.'

'Let us take her to Hyde Park and show her something cheerful, Pitt.'

'I should like above all things to go to the House of Commons and hear a debate--if it could be managed.'

Pitt said it could be managed; and it was managed; and they went to the Park; and they drove out to see some of the beauties near London, Richmond, Hampton Court, and Windsor; and several days passed away in great enjoyment for the whole party. Betty forgot the Tower and grew gay. The strangeness of her position was forgotten; the house came to be familiar; the alternation of sight-seeing with the quiet household life was delightful. Nothing could be better, might it last. Could it not last? Nay, Betty would have relinquished the sight-seeing and bargained for only the household life, if she could have retained that.



'What is for to-day, Pitt?'

There had been a succession of rather gay days, visiting of galleries and palaces. Mrs. Dallas put the question at breakfast.

'I am going to show Miss Frere something, if she will allow me.'

'She will allow you, of course. You have done it pretty often lately. Where is it now?'

'Nowhere for you, mamma. My show to-day is for Miss Frere alone.'

'Alone? Why may I not go?'

'You would not enjoy it.'

'Then perhaps she will not enjoy it.'

'Perhaps not.'

'But, Pitt, what do you mean? and what is this you want to show her which she does not want to see?'

'She can tell you all about it afterwards, if she chooses.'

'Perhaps she will not choose to go with you on such a doubtful invitation.'

Betty, however, declared herself ready for anything. So she was, under such guidance.

They took a cab for a certain distance; then Pitt dismissed it, and they went forward on foot. It was a dull, hot day; clouds hanging low and threatening rain, but no rain falling as yet. Rain, if decided, to a good degree keeps down exhalations in the streets of a city, and so far is a help to the wayfarer who is at all particular about the air he breathes. No such beneficent influence was abroad to-day; and Betty's impressions were not altogether agreeable.

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