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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Pitt explaining and the others trying to take it in


'Here

is a tablet to Lady Knollys,' said Pitt, moving on. 'She was a niece of Anne Boleyn, and waited upon her to the scaffold.'

'But that is only a tablet,' said Mrs. Dallas. 'Who is this, Pitt?' She was standing before an effigy that bore a coronet; Betty beside her.

'That is the Duchess of Suffolk; the mother of Lady Jane Grey.'

'I see,' said Betty, 'that the Abbey is the complement of the Tower. Her daughter and her husband lie there, under the pavement of the chapel. How comes she to be here?'

'Her funeral was after Elizabeth came to the throne. But she had been in miserable circumstances, poor woman, before that.'

'I wonder she lived at all,' said Betty, 'after losing husband and daughter in that fashion! But people do bear a great deal and live through it!'

Which words had an application quite private to the speaker, and which no one suspected. And while the party were studying the details of the tomb of John of Eltham, Pitt explaining and the others trying to take it in, Betty stood by with passionate thoughts. '_They_ do not care,' she said to herself; 'but he will bring some one else here, some day, who will care; and they will come and come to the Abbey, and delight themselves in its glories, and in each other, alternately. What do I here? and what is the English Abbey

to me?'

She showed no want of interest, however, and no wandering of thought; on the contrary, an intelligent, thoughtful, gracious attention to everything she saw and everything she heard. Her words, she knew, though she could not help it, were now and then flavoured with bitterness.

In the next chapel Mrs. Dallas heard with much sympathy and wonder the account of Catharine of Valois and her remains.

'I don't think she ought to lie in the vault of Sir George Villiers, if he _was_ father of the Duke of Buckingham,' she exclaimed.

'That Duke of Buckingham had more honour than belonged to him, in life and in death,' said Betty.

'It does not make much difference now,' said Pitt.

They went on to the chapel of Henry VII. And here, and on the way thither, Betty almost for a while forgot her troubles in the exceeding majesty and beauty of the place. The power of very exquisite beauty, which always and in all forms testifies to another world where its source and its realization are, came down upon her spirit, and hushed it as with a breath of balm; and the littleness of this life, of any one individual's life, in the midst of the efforts here made to deny it, stood forth in most impressive iteration. Betty was awed and quieted for a minute. Mr. and Mrs. Dallas were moved differently.

'And this was Henry the Seventh's work!' exclaimed Mr. Dallas, making an effort to see all round him at once. 'Well, I didn't know they could build so well in those old times. Let us see; when was he buried?--1509? That is pretty long ago. This is a beautiful building! And that is his tomb, eh? I should say this is better than anything he had in his lifetime. Being king of England was not just so easy to him as his son found it. Crowns are heavy in the best of times; and his was specially.'


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