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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Dallas asked his son how he liked Oxford


'I

will ask her to come and spend the summer here,' Mrs. Dallas went on. 'There is nothing like propinquity.'

In those days the crossing of the Atlantic was a long business, done solely by the help or with the hindrance of the winds. And there was no telegraphing, to give the quick notice of a loved one's arrival as soon as he touched the shore. So Mr. and Mrs. Dallas had an anxious time of watching and uncertainty, for they could not tell when Pitt might be with them. It lasted, this time of anxiety, till Seaforth had been in its full summer dress for some weeks; and it was near the end of a fair warm day in July that he at last came. The table was set for tea, and the master and mistress of the house were seated in their places on either side the fireplace, where now instead of a fire there was a huge jar full of hemlock branches. The slant sunbeams were stretching across the village street, making that peaceful alternation of broad light and still shadows which is so reposeful to the eye that looks upon it. Then Mrs. Dallas's eye, which was not equally reposeful, saw a buggy drive up and stop before the gate, and her worsteds fell from her hands and her lap as she rose.

'Husband, he is come' she said, with the quietness of intensity; and the next moment Pitt was there.

Yes, he had grown to be a man; he was changed; there was the conscious gravity of a man in his look and bearing;

the cool collectedness that belongs to maturer years; the traces of thought and the lines of purpose. It had been all more or less to be seen in her boy before, but now the mother confessed to herself the growth and increase of every manly and promising trait in the face and figure she loved. That is, as soon as the first rush of delight had had its due expression, and the first broken and scattering words were spoken, and the three sat down to look at each other. The mother watched the broad brow, which was whiter than it used to be; the fine shoulders, which were even straighter and broader than of old; and the father noticed that his son overtopped him. And Mrs. Dallas's eyes shone with an incipient moisture which betrayed a soft mood she had to combat with; for she was not a woman who liked sentimental scenes; while in her husband's grey orbs there flashed out every now and then a fire of satisfied pride, which was touching in one whose face rarely betrayed feeling of any kind. Pitt was just the fellow he had hoped to see him; and Oxford had been just the right place to send him to. He said little; it was the other two who did most of the talking. The talking itself for some time was of that disjointed, insignificant character which is all that can get out when minds are so full, and enough when hearts are so happy. Indeed, for all that evening they could not advance much further. Eyes supplemented tongues sufficiently. It was not till a night's sleep and the light of a new day had brought them in a manner to themselves that anything less fragmentary could be entered upon. At breakfast all parties seemed to have settled down into a sober consciousness of satisfied desire. Then Mr. Dallas asked his son how he liked Oxford?

Pitt exhausted himself in giving both the how and the why. Yet no longer like a boy.

'Think you'll end by settling in England, eh?' said his father, with seeming carelessness.

'I have not thought of it, sir.'

'What's made old Strahan take such a fancy to you? Seems to be a regular love affair.'

'He is a good friend to me,' Pitt answered seriously. 'He has shown it in many ways.'


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