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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Dallas did not seem to hear it


'Noble revenge!' said Betty quietly.

'Very proper,' said Mrs. Dallas. 'It seems hard, but it is proper. People who rise up against their kings should be treated with dishonour, both before and after death.'

'How about the kings who rise up against their people?' asked Betty.

She could not help the question, but she was glad that Mrs. Dallas did not seem to hear it. They passed on, from one chapel to another, going more rapidly; came to a pause again at the tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots.

'I am beginning to think,' said Betty, 'that the history of England is one of the sorrowfullest things in the world. I wonder if all other countries are as bad? Think of this woman's troublesome, miserable life; and now, after Fotheringay, the honour in which she lies in this temple is such a mockery! I suppose Elizabeth is here somewhere?'

'Over there, in the other aisle. And below, the two Tudor queens, Elizabeth and Mary, lie in a vault together, alone. Personal rivalries, personal jealousies, political hatred and religious enmity,--they are all composed now; and all interests fade away before the one supreme, eternal; they are gone where "the honour that cometh from God" is the only honour left. Well for them if they have that! Here is the Countess of Richmond, the mother of Henry VII. She was of kin or somehow connected, it is said, with thirty royal personages; the grand-daughter of Catharine of Valois, grandmother of Henry VIII., Elizabeth's great-grandmother. She was, by all accounts, a noble old lady. Now all that is left is these pitiful folded hands.'

Mrs. Dallas passed on, and they went from chapel to chapel, and from tomb to tomb, with unflagging though transient interest. But for Betty, by and by the brain and sense seemed to be oppressed and confused by the multitude of objects, of names and stories and sympathies. The novelty wore off, and a feeling of some weariness supervened; and therewith the fortunes and fates of the great past fell more and more into the background, and her own one little life-venture absorbed her attention. Even when going round the chapel of Edward the Confessor and viewing the grand old tombs of the magnates of history who are remembered there, Betty was mostly concerned with her own history; and a dull bitter feeling filled her. It was safe to indulge it, for everybody else had enough beside to think of, and she grew silent.

'You are tired,' said Pitt kindly, as they were leaving the Confessor's chapel, and his mother and father had gone on before.

'Of course,' said Betty. 'There is no going through the ages without some fatigue--for a common mortal.'

'We are doing too much,' said Pitt. 'The Abbey cannot be properly seen in this way. One should take part at a time, and come many times.'

'No chance for me,' said Betty. 'This is my first and my last.' She looked back as she spoke towards the tombs they were leaving, and wished, almost, that she were as still as they. She felt her eyes suffusing, and hastily went on. 'I shall be going home, I expect, in a few days--as soon as I find an opportunity. I have stayed too long now, but Mrs. Dallas has over-persuaded me. I am glad I have had this, at any rate.'

She was capable of no more words just then, and was about to move forward, when Pitt by a motion of his hand detained her.

'One moment,' said he. 'Do you say that you are thinking of returning to America?'

'Yes. It is time.'

'I would beg you, if I might, to reconsider that,' he said. 'If you could stay with my mother a while longer, it would be, I am sure, a great boon to her; for _I_ am going away. I must take a run over to America--I have business in New York--must be gone several weeks at least. Cannot you stay and go down into Westmoreland with her?'


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