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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

'There was a little vexed pause


'That

is your fault. Why do you let it be true?'

'Very naturally, I have had something else to think of.'

'But she is a guest in the house, and you really seem to forget it, Pitt. Can't you take her for a drive?'

'Where shall I take her?'

'_Where?_ There is all the country to choose from. What a question! You never used to be at a loss, as I remember, in old times, when you went driving about with that little protegee of yours.'

It was very imprudent of Mrs. Dallas, and she knew it immediately, and was beyond measure vexed with herself. But the subject was started.

'Poor Esther!' said Pitt thoughtfully. 'Mamma, I can't understand how you and my father should have lost sight of those people so.'

'They went out of our way.'

'But you sometimes go to New York.'

'Passing through, to Washington. I could not have time to search for people whose address I did not know.'

'I cannot understand why you did not know it. They were not the sort of people to be left to themselves. A hypochondriack father, who thought he was dying, and a young girl just growing up to need a kind mother's care, which she had not. I would give more than I can tell you to find

her again!'

'What could you possibly do for her, Pitt? You, reading law and living in chambers in the Temple,--in London,--and she a grown young woman by this time, and living in New York. No doubt her father is quite equal to taking care of her.'

Pitt made no reply. His mother repeated her question. 'What could you do for her?'

She was looking at him keenly, and did not at all like a faint smile which hovered for a second upon his lips.

'That is a secondary question,' he said. 'The primary is, Where is she? I must go and find out.'

'Your father thinks they have gone back to England. It would just be lost labour, Pitt.'

'Not if I found that was true.'

'What _could_ you do for them, if you could discover them?'

'Mother, that would depend on what condition they were in. I made a promise once to Colonel Gainsborough to look after his daughter.'

'A very extraordinary promise for him to ask or for you to give, seeing you were but a boy at the time.'

'Somewhat extraordinary, perhaps. However, that is nothing to the matter.'

There was a little vexed pause, and then Mrs. Dallas said:


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