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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Pitt went on till he found a place that suited him


'How

do you do, Mrs. Mills?' said Pitt, and his voice was very gentle as he spoke, and half to Betty's indignation he lifted his hat also. 'This is rather a warm day!'

'Well, it be, sir,' said the woman, resuming her seat. 'It nigh stifles the heart in one, it do!'

'I am afraid you cannot see to work very well, the clouds are so thick?'

'I thank you, sir; the clouds is allays thick, these days. Had you business with me, Mr. Dallas?'

'Not to-day, Mrs. Mills. I am showing this lady a bit of London.'

'And would the lady be your wife, sir?'

'Oh no,' said Pitt, laughing a little; 'you honour me too much. This is an American lady, from over the sea ever so far; and I want her to know what sort of a place London is.'

'It's a bitter poor place for the likes of us,' said the woman. 'You should show her where the grand folk lives, that built these houses for the poor to be stowed in.'

'Yes, I have showed her some of those, and now I have brought her to see your part of the world.'

'It's not to call a part o' the world!' said the woman. 'Do you call this a part of the world, Mr. Dallas? I mind when I lived where trees grow, and there was primroses in the grass; them's happier that hasn't

known it. If you axed me sometimes, I would tell you that this is hell! Yet it ain't so bad as most. It's what folk call very decent. Oh yes! it's decent, it is, no doubt. I'll be carried out of it some day, and bless the day!'

'How is your boy?'

'He's fairly, sir, thank you.'

'No better?' said Pitt gently.

'He won't never be no better,' the woman said, with a doggedness which Betty guessed was assumed to hide the tenderer feeling beneath. 'He's done for. There ain't nothin' but ill luck comes upon folks as lives in such a hole, and couldn't other!'

'I'll come and see you about Tim,' said Pitt. 'Keep up a good heart in the mean while. Good-bye! I'll see you soon.'

He went no farther in that alley. He turned and brought Betty out, called another cab, and ordered the man to drive to Kensington Gardens. Till they arrived there he would not talk; bade Betty wait with her questions. The way was long enough to let her think them all over several times. At last the cab stopped, Pitt handed her out, and led her into the Gardens. Here was a change. Trees of noble age and growth shadowed the ground, greensward stretched away in peaceful smoothness, the dust and the noise of the great city seemed to be escaped. It was fresh and shady, and even sweet. They could hear each other speak, without unduly raising their voices. Pitt went on till he found a place that suited him, and they sat down, in a refreshing greenness and quiet.


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