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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

'I have brought Esther Gainsborough


Mrs. Dallas was a stately person. Handsome, tall, of somewhat large and full figure and very upright carriage; handsomely dressed; and with a calm, superior air of confidence, which perhaps had more effect than all the other good properties mentioned. She was sitting in an easy-chair, with some work in her hands, by a little work-table on which lay one or two handsomely bound books. She looked up and reviewed Esther as her son and she came in.

'I have brought Esther Gainsborough, mother; you know her, don't you?'

'I know her, certainly,' Mrs. Dallas answered, holding out her hand to the child, who touched it as somewhat embodying a condescension rather than a kindness. 'How is your father, my dear?'

'He does not feel very well,' said Esther; 'but he never does.'

'Pity!' said the lady; but Esther could not tell what she meant. It was a pity, of course, that her father did not feel well. 'Where have you been all this while?' the lady went on, addressing her son.

'Where?--well, in reality, walking over half the country. See our flowers! In imagination, over half the world. Do you know what a collection of coins Colonel Gainsborough has?'

'No,' said the lady coldly.

'He has a very fine collection.'

'I see

no good in coins that are not current.'

'Difference of opinion, you see, there, mother. An old piece, which when it was current was worth only perhaps a farthing or two, now when its currency is long past would sell maybe for fifty or a hundred pounds.'

'That is very absurd, Pitt!'

'Not altogether.'

'Why not?'

'Those old coins are history.'

'You don't want them for history. You have the history in books.'

Pitt laughed.

'Come away, Esther,' he said. 'Come and let me show you where you are to find me when you want me.'

'Find you for what?' asked the lady, before they could quit the room.

'Esther is coming to take lessons from me,' he said, throwing his head back laughingly as he went.

'Lessons! In what?'

'Anything she wants to learn, that I can teach her. We have been studying history and botany to-day. Come along, Esther. We shall not take our lessons _here_.'

He led the way, going out into the hall and at the further end of it passing into a verandah which there too extended along the back of the house. The house on this side had a long offset, or wing, running back at right angles with the main building. The verandah also made an angle and followed the side of this wing, which on the ground floor contained

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