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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

And say how far from heterogeneous

'And how is Esther?' she said, turning herself a little towards that end of the room. 'Really I came to see Esther, colonel. How does she do?'

'She is much obliged to you, and quite well, madam, I believe.'

'But she must want playmates, colonel. Why don't you send her to school?'

'I would, if there were a good school at hand.'

'There are schools at New Haven, and Hartford, and Boston,--plenty of schools that would suit you.'

'Only that, as you observe, they are at New Haven, and Hartford, and Boston; out of my reach.'

'You couldn't do without her for a while?'

'I hardly think it; nor she without me. We are all, each of us, that the other has.'

'Pitt used to give you lessons, didn't he?' the lady went on, turning more decidedly to Esther. Esther rose and came near.

'Yes, ma'am.'

'What did he teach you?'

Now Esther felt no more congeniality than her father did with this handsome, stately, commanding woman. Yet it would have been impossible to the girl to say why she had an instant unwillingness to answer this simple question. She did not answer it, except under protest.

'It began with the coins,' she said vaguely. 'He said we would study history with them.'

'And did you?'

'Yes, ma'am.'

'How did you manage it? or how did he? He has original ways of doing things.'

'Yes, ma'am. We used to take only one or two of the coins at once, and then Pitt told me what to read.'

'What did he tell you to read?'

'A great many different books, at different times.'

'But tell Mrs. Dallas what books, Esther,' her father put in.

'There were so many, papa. Gibbon's History, and Plutarch's Lives, and Rollin, and Vertot and Hume, and I--forget some of them.'

'How much of all these did you really read, Esther?'

'I don't know, ma'am. I read what he told me.'

The lady turned to Colonel Gainsborough with a peculiar smile. 'Sounds rather heterogeneous!' she said.

It was on Esther's lips to justify her teacher, and say how far from heterogeneous, how connected, and how thorough, and how methodical, the reading and the study had been; and how enriched with talk and explanations and descriptions and discussions. How delightful those conversations were, both to herself and Pitt; how living the truth had been made; how had names and facts taken on them the shape and colouring of nature and reality. It rushed back upon Esther, and her lips opened; and then, an inexplicable feeling of something like caution came down upon her, and she shut her lips again.

'It was harmless amusement,' remarked the colonel carelessly.

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