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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

'Guess you're the young squoire


hardly knew it when he came to it, the aspect of things was so different from what he remembered. Truly it had been always a quiet house, with never a rush of company or a crowd of voices; but there had been life; and now?--Pitt stood still at the little gate and looked, with a sudden blank of disappointment. There could be nobody there. The house was shut up and dead. Not a window was open; not a door. In the little front garden the flowers had grown up wild and were struggling with weeds; the grass of the lawn at the side was rank and unmown; the honeysuckle vines in places were hanging loose and uncared-for, waving in the wind in a way that said eloquently, 'Nobody is here.' There was not much wind that summer day, just enough to move the honeysuckle sprays. Pitt stood and looked and queried; then yielding to some unconscious impulse, he went in through the neglected flowers to the deserted verandah, and spent a quarter of an hour in twining and securing the loose vines. He was thinking hard all the time. This was the place where he remembered sitting with Esther that day when she asked help of him about getting comfort. He remembered it well; he recalled the girl's subdued manner, and the sorrowful craving in the large beautiful eyes. _Now_ Esther had found what she sought, and to-day he was nearly as unable to understand her as he had been to help her then. He fastened up the honeysuckles, and then he went and sat down on the step of the verandah and took Esther's letter
out of his breast pocket, and read it over. He had read it many times. He did not comprehend it; but this he comprehended--that to her at least there was something in religion more heartfelt than a form, and more satisfying than a profession. To her it was a reality. The letter had set him thinking, and he had been thinking ever since. He had come here this morning, hoping that in talking with her she might perhaps give him some more light, and now she had disappeared. Strange that his mother should not have told him! What could be the explanation of this sudden disappearance? Disaster or death it could not be, for that she certainly would have told him.

Sitting there and musing over many things, his own great question ever and again, he heard a mower whetting his scythe somewhere in the neighbourhood. Pitt set about searching for the unseen labourer, and presently saw the man, who was cutting the grass in an adjoining field. Dismissing thought for action, in two minutes he had sprung over the fence and was beside the man; but the mower did not intermit the long sweeps of his scythe, until he heard Pitt's civil 'Good morning.' Then he stopped, straightened himself up, and looked at his visitor--looked him all over.

'Good mornin',' he replied. 'Guess you're the young squoire, ain't ye?'

If Pitt's appearance had been less supremely neat and faultless, I think the honest worker would have offered his hand; but the white linen summer suit, the polished boots, the delicate gloves, were too much of a contrast with his own dusty and rough exterior. It was no feeling of inferiority, be it well understood, that moved him to this bit of self-denial; only a self-respecting feeling of fitness. He himself would not have wanted to touch a dusty hand with those gloves on his own. But he spoke his welcome.

'Glad to see ye hum, squoire. When did ye come?'

'Last night, thank you. Whom am I talking to? I have been so long away, I have forgotten my friends.'

'I guess there's nobody hain't forgotten you, you'll find,' said the man, wiping his scythe blade with a wisp of grass; needlessly, for he had just whetted it; but it gave him an opportunity to look at the figure beside him.

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