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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Gazing at the wallflower in its persistent beauty


heart grew quite light again. She saw what she had to do. But for the first, the thing was, to go as far in her learning as her father desired her to go. She must finish her own schooling. And if Esther had studied hard before, she studied harder now; applied herself with all the power of her will to do her utmost in every line. It was not a vague thought of satisfying Pitt Dallas that moved her now; but a very definite purpose to take care of her father, and a ready joy to do the will of Him whom Esther loved even better than her father.

The thought of Pitt Dallas, indeed, went into abeyance. Esther had something else to do. And the summer had passed and he had not come; that hope was over; and two years more must go by, according to the plan which Esther knew, before he would come again. Before that time, who could tell? Perhaps he would have forgotten them entirely.

It happened one day, putting some drawers in order, that Esther took up an old book and carelessly opened it. Its leaves fell apart at a place where there lay a dry flower. It was the sprig of red Cheiranthus; not faded; still with its velvety petals rich tinted, and still giving forth the faint sweet fragrance which belongs to the flower. It gave Esther a thrill. It was the remaining fragment of Pitt's Christmas bouquet, which she had loved and cherished to the last leaf as long as she could. She remembered all about it. Her father had made her

burn all the rest; this blossom only had escaped, without her knowledge at the time. The sight of it went to her heart. She stood still by her chest of drawers with the open book in her hand, gazing at the wallflower in its persistent beauty. All came back to her: Seaforth, her childish days, Pitt and her love for him, and his goodness to her; the sorrow and the joy of that old time; and more and more the dry flower struck her heart. Why had her father wanted her to burn the others? why had she kept this? And what was the use of keeping it now? When anything, be it a flower, be it a memory, which has been fresh and sweet, loses altogether its beauty and its savour, what is the good of still keeping it to look at? Truly the flower had not lost either beauty or savour; but the memory that belonged to it? what had become of that? Pitt let himself no more be heard from; why should this little place-keeper be allowed to remain any longer? Would it not be wiser to give it up, and let the wallflower go the way of its former companions? Esther half thought so; almost made the motion to throw it in the fire; but yet she could not. She could not quite do it. Maybe there was an explanation; perhaps Pitt would come next time, when another two years had rolled away, and tell them all about it. At any rate, she would wait.

She shut up the book again carefully, and put it safely away.



It seemed very inexplicable to Esther that Pitt was never heard from. Not a scrap of a letter had they had from him since they came to New York. Mr. Dallas, the elder, had written once or twice, mostly on business, and said nothing about his son. That was all. Mrs. Dallas never wrote. Esther would have been yet more bewildered if she had known that the lady had been in New York two or three times, and not merely passing through, but staying to do shopping. Happily she had no suspicion of this.

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