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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

And Dallas turned to a door at the right and opened it


_LEARNING_.

style="text-align: justify;"> They had a most delightful walk. It was not quite the first they had taken together; however, they had had none like this. They roved through the meadows and over the low rocky heights and among the copsewood, searching everywhere for flowers, and finding a good variety of the dainty and delicate spring beauties. Columbine, most elegant, stood in groups upon the rocks; _Hepatica_ hid under beds of dead leaves; the slender _Uvularia_ was met with here and there; anemone and bloodroot and wild geranium, and many another. And as they were gathered, Dallas made Esther observe their various features and family characteristics, and brought her away from Christopher's technical phraseology to introduce her instead to the living and everlasting relations of things. To this teaching the little girl presently lent a very delighted ear, and brought, he could see, a quick wit and a keen power of discrimination. It was one thing to call a delicate little plant arbitrarily _Sanguinaria canadensis;_ it was another thing to find it its place among the floral tribes, and recognise its kindred and associations and family character.

On their way home, Dallas proposed that Esther should stop at his house for a minute, and become a little familiar with the place where she was to come to study Latin; and he led her in as he spoke.

The Dallases' house was the best in the village. Not handsome in its exterior,

which bore the same plain and somewhat clumsy character as all the other buildings in its neighbourhood; but inside it was spacious, and had a certain homely elegance. Rooms were large and exceedingly comfortable, and furnished evidently with everything desired by the hearts of its possessors. That fact has perhaps more to do with the pleasant, _liveable_ air of a house than aesthetic tastes or artistic combinations apart from it. There was a roomy verandah, with settees and cane chairs, and roses climbing up the pillars and draping the balustrade. The hall, which was entered next, was wide and homelike, furnished with settees also, and one or two tables, for summer occupation, when doors could be set open front and back and the wind play through. Nobody was there to-day, and Dallas turned to a door at the right and opened it. This let them into a large room where a fire was burning, and a soft genial warmth met them, along with a certain odour, which Esther noticed and felt without knowing what it was. It was very faint, yet unmistakeable; and was a compound probably made up from the old wood of the house, burning coals in the chimney, great cleanliness, and a distant, hidden, secret store of all manner of delicate good things, fruits and sweets and spices, of which Mrs. Dallas's store closet held undoubtedly a great stock and variety. The brass of the old-fashioned grate glittered in the sunlight, it was so beautifully kept; between the windows hung a circular mirror, to the frame of which were appended a number of spiral, slim, curling branches, like vine tendrils, each sustaining a socket for a candle. The rest of the furniture was good; dark and old and comfortable; painted vases were on the mantelpiece, and an old portrait hung over it. The place made a peculiar agreeable impression upon any one entering it; ease and comfort and good living were so at home in it, and so invited one to take part in its advantages. Esther had hardly been in the house since the death of her mother, and it struck her almost as a stranger. So did the lady sitting there, in state, as it seemed to the girl.


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