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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Dallas enjoyed Westminster Abbey


Pitt

had procured from one of the canons, who had been his uncle's friend, an order which permitted them to go their own way and take their own time, unaccompanied and untrammelled by vergers. No showman was necessary in Pitt's presence; he could tell them all, and much more than they cared about knowing. Mrs. Dallas, indeed, cared for little beyond the tokens of England's antiquity and glory; her interest was mostly expended on the royal tombs and those connected with them. For was not Pitt now, virtually, one of the favoured nation, by habit and connection as well as in blood? and did not England's greatness send down a reflected light on all her sons?--only poetical justice, as it was earlier sons who had made the greatness. But of that Mrs. Dallas did not think. 'England' was an abstract idea of majesty and power, embodied in a land and a government; and Westminster Abbey was in a sort the record and visible token of the same, and testimony of it, in the face of all the world. So Mrs. Dallas enjoyed Westminster Abbey, and her heart swelled in contemplation of its glories; but its real glories she saw not. Lights and shadows, colouring, forms of beauty, associations of tenderness, majesties of age, had all no existence for her. The one feeling in exercise, which took its nourishment from all she looked upon, was pride. But pride is a dull kind of gratification; and the good lady's progress through the Abbey could not be called satisfactory to one who knew the place.

justify;">Mr. Dallas was neither proud nor pleased. He was, however, an Englishman, and Westminster Abbey was intensely English, and to go through and look at it was the right thing to do; so he went; doing his duty.

And beside these two went another bit of humanity, all alive and quivering, intensely sensitive to every impression, which must needs be more or less an impression of suffering. Her folly, she told herself, it was which had so stripped her of her natural defences, and exposed her to suffering. The one only comfort left was, that nobody knew it; and nobody should know it. The practice of society had given her command over herself, and she exerted it that day; all she had.

They were making the tour of St. Edmund's chapel.

'Look here, Betty,' cried Mrs. Dallas, who was still a little apart from the others with her son,--'come here and see this! Look here--the tomb of two little children of Edward III.!'

'After going over some of the other records, ma'am, I can but call them happy to have died little.'

'But isn't it interesting? Pitt tells me there were _six_ of the little princess's brothers and sisters that stood here at her funeral, the Black Prince among them. Just think of it! Around this tomb!'

'Why should it be more interesting to us than any similar gathering of common people? There is many a spot in country graveyards at home where more than six members of a family have stood together.'

'But, my dear, these were Edward the Third's children.'

'Yes. He was something when he was alive; but what is he to us now? And why should we care,'--Betty hastily went on to generalities, seeing the astonishment in Mrs. Dallas's face,--'why should we be more interested in the monuments and deaths of the great, than in those of lesser people? In death and bereavement all come down to a common humanity.'


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