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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

We have sold our Seaforth place


French and music, of course.'

'Of course! But in history?'

'No, papa.'

'Nor in Latin?'

'Oh no, papa.'

'Then you can take your place well with the rest?'

'Perfectly, papa.'

'Do you like it? And does Miss Fairbairn approve of you? Has the week been pleasant?'

'Yes, sir. I like it very much, and I think she likes me--if only you get on well, papa. How have you been all these days?'

'Not very well. I think, not so well as at Seaforth. The air here does not agree with me. There is a rawness--I do not know what--a peculiar quality, which I did not find at Seaforth. It affects my breast disagreeably.'

'But, dear papa!' cried Esther in dismay, 'if this place does not agree with you, do not let us stay here! Pray do not for me!'

'My dear, I am quite willing to suffer a little for your good.'

'But if is bad for you, papa?'

'What does that matter? I do not expect to live very long in any case; whether a little longer or a little shorter, is most immaterial. I care to live only so far as I can be of service to you, and while you need me, my child.'

style="text-align: justify;">'Papa, when should I not need you?' cried Esther, feeling as if her breath were taken away by this view of things.

'The children grow up to be independent of the parents,' said the colonel, somewhat abstractly. 'It is the way of nature. It must be; for the old pass away, and the young step forward to fill their places. What I wish is that you should get ready to fill your place well. That is what we have come here for. We have taken the step, and we cannot go back.'

'Couldn't we, papa? if New York is not good for you?'

'No, my dear. We have sold our Seaforth place.'

'Mr. Dallas would sell it back again.'

'I shall not ask him. And neither do I desire to have it back, Esther. I have come here on good grounds, and on those grounds I shall stay. How I personally am affected by the change is of little consequence.'

The colonel, having by this time finished his third slice of toast and drunk up his tea, turned to his book. Esther remained greatly chilled and cast down. Was her advantage to be bought at the cost of shortening her father's life? Was her rich enjoyment of study and mental growth to be balanced by suffering and weariness on his part?--every day of her new life in school to be paid for by such a day's price at home? Esther could not bear to think it. She sat pondering, chewing the bitter cud of these considerations. She longed to discuss them further, and get rid, if possible, of her father's dismal conclusions; but with him she could not, and there was no other. When her father had settled and dismissed a subject, she could rarely re-open a discussion upon it. The colonel was an old soldier; when he had delivered an opinion, he had in a sort given his orders; to question was almost to be guilty of insubordination. He had gone back to his book, and Esther dared not say another word; all the more her thoughts burnt within her, and for a long time she sat musing, going over a great many things besides those they had been talking of.

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