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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

'It was nothing better than a family quarrel


The

colonel still rubbed his head thoughtfully. Esther kept her position, in readiness for some new objection. The next words, however, surprised her.

'I have sometimes thought,'--the colonel's fingers were all the while going through and through his hair; the action indicating, as such actions do, the mental movement and condition, 'I have sometimes thought lately that perhaps I was doing you a wrong in keeping you here.'

'_Here_, papa?--in New York?'

'No. In America.'

'In America! Why, sir?'

'Your family, my family, are all on the other side. You would have friends if you were there,--you would have opportunities,--you would not be alone. And in case I am called away, you would be in good hands. I do not know that I have the right to keep you here.'

'Papa, I like to be where you like to be. Do not think of that. Why did we come away from England in the first place?'

The colonel was silent, with a gloomy brow.

'It was nothing better than a family quarrel,' he said.

'About what? Do you mind telling me, papa?'

'No, child; you ought to know. It was a quarrel on the subject of religion.'

'How, sir?'

style="text-align: justify;">'Our family have been Independents from all time. But my father married a second wife, belonging to the Church of England. She won him over to her way of thinking. I was the only child of the first marriage; and when I came home from India I found a houseful of younger brothers and sisters, all belonging, of course, to the Establishment, and my father with them. I was a kind of outlaw. The advancement of the family was thought to depend very much on the stand I would take, as after my father's death I would be the head of the family. At least my stepmother made that a handle for her schemes; and she drove them so successfully that at last my father declared he would disinherit me if I refused to join him.'

'In being a Church of England man?'

'Yes.'

'But, papa, that was very unjust!'

'So I thought. But the injustice was done.'

'And you disinherited?'

'Yes.'

'Oh, papa! Just because you followed your own conscience!'

'Just because I held to the traditions of the family. We had _always_ been Independents--fought with Cromwell and suffered under the Stuarts. I was not going to turn my back on a glorious record like that for any possible advantages of place and favour.'


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