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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Although Pitt was not going over the sea


'It

don't work so, Hildebrand.'

'You think he's a likely fellow to be talked over into anything?'

'No; but he would be influenced. Nobody would try to talk him over, and without knowing it he would feel the influence. He couldn't help it. All the influence at Oxford would be the right way.'

'Afraid of the colonel? I don't think you need. He hasn't spirit enough left in him for proselyting.'

'I am not speaking of anybody in particular. I am afraid of the air here.'

Mr. Dallas laughed a little, but his face took a shade of gravity it had not worn. Must he send his son away? What would the house be without him?

CHAPTER VI.

_GOING TO COLLEGE_.

Whatever thoughts were harboured in the elder heads, nothing was spoken openly, and no steps were taken for some time. All through the summer the pleasant intercourse went on, and the lessons, and the botanizing, and the study of coins. And much real work was done; but for Esther one invaluable and abiding effect of a more general character was gained. She was lifted out of her dull despondency, which had threatened to become stagnation, and restored to her natural life and energy and the fresh spring of youthful spirits. So, when her

friend really went away to college in the fall, Esther did not slip back to the condition from which he had delivered her.

But the loss of him was a dreadful loss to the child, although Pitt was not going over the sea, and would be home at Christmas. He tried to comfort her with this prospect. Esther took no comfort. She sat silent, tearless, pale, in a kind of despair. Pitt looked at her, half amused, half deeply concerned.

'And you must go on with all your studies, Esther, you know,' he was saying. 'I will show you what to do, and when I come home I shall go into a very searching examination to see whether you have done it all thoroughly.'

'Will you?' she said, lifting her eyes to him with a gleam of sudden hope.

'Certainly! I shall give you lessons just as usual whenever I come home; indeed, I expect I shall do it all your life. I think I shall always be teaching and you always be learning. Don't you think that is how it will be, Queen Esther?' he said kindly.

'You cannot give me lessons when you are away.'

'But when I come back!'

There was a very faint yet distinct lightening of the gloom in her face. Yet it was plain Esther was not cheated out of her perception of the truth. She was going to lose her friend; and his absence would be very different from his presence; and the bits of vacation time would not help, or help only by anticipation, the long stretches of months in which there would be neither sight nor sound of him. Esther's looks had brightened for a moment, but then her countenance fell again and her face grew visibly pale. Pitt saw it with dismay.

'But Esther!' he said, 'this is nothing. Every man must go to college, you know, just as he must learn swimming and boating; and so I must go; but it will not last for ever.'

'How long?' said she, lifting her eyes to him again, heavy with their burden of sorrow.

'Well, perhaps three years; unless I enter Junior, and then it would be only two. That isn't much.'


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