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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

' But Pitt did not feel the truth of the declaration


'He

said you had not given it to him.'

'That is true since we came to this place. I have had no intercourse with Mr. Dallas for a long time; not since we moved into our present quarters; and our address _here_ he does not know, I suppose. He ceased writing to me, and of course I ceased writing to him. From you we have never heard at all, since we came to New York.'

'But I wrote, sir,' said Pitt, in growing embarrassment and bewilderment. 'I wrote repeatedly.'

'What do you suppose became of your letters?'

'I cannot say. I wrote letter after letter, till, getting no answer, I was obliged to think it was in vain; and I too stopped writing.'

'Where did you direct your letters?'

'Not to your address here, which I did not know. I enclosed them to my father, supposing he did know it, and begged him to forward them.'

'I never got them,' said the colonel, with that same dry accentuation. It implied doubt of somebody; and could Pitt blame him? He kept a mortified silence for a few minutes. He felt terribly put in the wrong, and undeservedly; and--but he tried not to think.

'I am afraid to ask, what you thought of me, sir?'

'Well, I confess, I thought it was not just like the old William

Dallas that I used to know; or rather, not like the _young_ William. I supposed you had grown old; and with age comes wisdom. That is the natural course of things.'

'You did me injustice, Colonel Gainsborough.'

'I am willing to think it. But it is somewhat difficult.'

'Take my word at least for this. I have never forgotten. I have never neglected. I sought for you as long as possible, and in every way that was possible, whenever I was in this country. I left off writing, but it was because writing seemed useless. I have come now in pursuance of my old promise; come on the mere chance of finding you; which, however, I was determined to do.'

'Your promise?'

'You surely remember? The promise I made you, that I would come to look for you when I was free, and if I was not so happy as to find _you_, would take care of Esther.'

'Well, I am here yet,' said the colonel meditatively. 'I did not expect it, but here I am. You are quit of your promise.'

'I have not desired that, sir.'

'Well, that count is disposed of, and I am glad to see you.' (But Pitt did not feel the truth of the declaration.) 'Now tell me about yourself.'

In response to which followed a long account of Pitt's past, present, and future, so far as his worldly affairs and condition were concerned, and so far as his own plans and purposes dealt with both. The colonel listened, growing more and more interested; thawed out a good deal in his manner; yet maintained on the whole an indifferent apartness which was not in accordance with the old times and the liking he then certainly cherished for his young friend. Pitt could not help the feeling that Colonel Gainsborough wished him away. It began to grow dark, and he must bring this visit to an end.

'May I see Esther?' he asked, after a slight pause in the consideration of this fact, and with a change of tone which a mother's ear would have noted, and which perhaps Colonel Gainsborough's was jealous enough to note. The answer had to be waited for a second or two.

'Not to-night,' he said a little hurriedly. 'Not to-night. You may see her to-morrow.'


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