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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Pitt was thrown upon his own resources

It seemed to Betty that she became suddenly cold, all over. Yet she was sure there was no outward manifestation in face or manner of what she felt. She answered mechanically, indifferently, that she 'would see'; and they went forward to rejoin their companions. But of the rest of the objects that were shown them in the Abbey she simply saw nothing. The image of Esther was before her; in New York, found by Pitt; in Westminster Abbey, brought thither by him, and lingering where her own feet now lingered; in the house at Kensington, going up the beautiful staircase, and standing before the cabinet of coins in the library. Above all, found by Pitt in New York. For he would find her; perhaps even now he had news of her; _she_ would be coming with hope and gladness and honour over the sea, while she herself would be returning, crossing the same sea the other way,--in every sense the other way,--in mortification and despair and dishonour. Not outward dishonour, and yet the worst possible; dishonour in her own eyes. What a fool she had been, to meddle in this business at all! She had done it with her eyes open, trusting that she could exercise her power upon anybody and yet remain in her own power. Just the reverse of that had come to pass, and she had nobody to blame but herself. If Pitt was leaving his father and mother in England, to go to New York, it could be on only one business. The game, for her, was up.

There were weeks of torture before her, she knew,--slow torture,--during which she must show as little of what she felt as an Indian at the stake. She must be with Mrs. Dallas, and hear the whole matter talked of, and from point to point as the history went on; and must help talk of it. For if Pitt was going to New York now, Betty was not; that was a fixed thing. She must stay for the present where she was.

She was a little pale and tired, they said on the drive home. And that was all anybody ever knew.



Pitt sailed for America in the early days of Autumn; and September had not yet run out when he arrived in New York. His first researches, as on former occasions, amounted to nothing, and several days passed with no fruit of his trouble. The intelligence received at the post office gave him no more than he had been assured of already. They believed a letter did come occasionally to a certain Colonel Gainsborough, but the occasions were not often; the letters were not called for regularly; and the address, further than that it was 'New York,' was not known. Pitt was thrown upon his own resources, which narrowed down pretty much to observation and conjecture. To exercise the former, he perambulated the streets of the city; his brain was busy with the latter constantly, whenever its energies were not devoted to seeing and hearing.

He roved the streets in fair weather and foul, and at all hours. He watched keenly all the figures he passed, at least until assured they had no interest for him; he peered into shops; he reviewed equipages. In those days it was possible to do this to some purpose, if a man were looking for somebody; the streets were not as now filled with a confused and confusing crowd going all ways at once; and no policeman was needed, even for the most timid, to cross Broadway where it was busiest. What a chance there was then for the gay part of the world to show itself! A lady would heave in sight, like a ship in the distance, and come bearing down with colours flying; one all alone, or two together, having the whole sidewalk for themselves. Slowly they would come and pass, in the full leisure of display, and disappear, giving place to a new sail just rising to view. No such freedom of display and monopoly of admiration is anywhere possible any longer in the city of Gotham.

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