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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

You are not teaching that child Numismatics


'What

a handsome little girl that is!' remarked the elder Dallas one evening. Esther had just left the house, and his son come into the room.

'It seems to me she is here a great deal,' Mrs. Dallas said, after a pause. The remark about Esther's good looks called forth no response. 'I see her coming and going pretty nearly every day.'

'Quite every day,' her son answered.

'And you go there every day!'

'I do. About that.'

'Very warm intercourse!'

'I don't know; not necessarily,' said young Dallas. 'The classics are rather cool--and Numismatics refreshing and composing.'

'Numismatics! You are not teaching that child Numismatics, I suppose?'

'She is teaching me.'

Mrs. Dallas was silent now, with a dissatisfied expression. Her husband repeated his former remark.

'She's a handsome little maid. Are you teaching her, Pitt?'

'A little, sir.'

'What, pray? if I may ask.'

'Teaching her to support existence. It about comes to that.'

'I do not understand you, I confess. You are oracular.'

'I

did not understand _her_, until lately. It is what nobody else does, by the way.'

'Why should not anybody else understand her?' Mrs. Dallas asked.

'Should,--but they do not. That's a common case, you know, mother.'

'She has her father; what's the matter with him?'

'He thinks a good deal is the matter with him.'

'Regularly hipped,' said the elder Dallas. 'He has never held up his head since his wife died. He fancies he is going after her as fast as he can go. Perhaps he is; such fancies are often fatal.'

'It would do him good to look after his child,' Mrs. Dallas said.

'I wish you would put that in his head, mother.'

'Does he _not_ look after her?'

'In a sort of way. He knows where she is and where she goes; he has a sort of outward care of her, and so far it is very particular care; but there it stops.'

'She ought to be sent to school.'

'There is no school here fit for her.'

'Then she should be sent away, where there _is_ a school fit for her.'

'Tell the colonel so.'

'I shall not meddle in Colonel Gainsborough's affairs,' said Mrs. Dallas, bridling a little; 'he is able to manage them himself; or he thinks he is, which comes to the same thing. But I should say, that child might better be in any other hands than his.'

'Well, she is not shut up to them,' said young Dallas, 'since I have taken her in hand.'

He strolled out of the room as he spoke, and the two elder people were left together. Silence reigned between them till the sound of his steps had quite ceased to be heard.


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