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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

'I never comprehended just why you went away from Seaforth


Esther

was very glad; she knew she ought to be very glad, and she was; and yet, gladness was not precisely the uppermost feeling that possessed her. She did not know what in the world could make her think of tears at that moment; but there was a strange sensation as if, had she been alone, she would have liked to cry. No shadow of such a softness appeared, however.

'What decided you at last?' she said softly.

'I can scarce tell you,' he answered. 'I was busy studying the matter, arguing for and against; and then I saw of a sudden that I was lighting a lost battle; that my sense and reason and conscience were all gained over, and only my will held out. Then I gave up fighting any more.'

'You came up to the subject on a different side from what I did,' Esther remarked.

'And you, Esther? have you been always as happy as you were when you wrote that letter?'

'Yes,' she said quietly. 'More happy.' But she did not look up.

'The happiness in your letter was the sunbeam that cleared up everything for me. Now I have talked enough; tell me of yourself and your father.'

'There is not much to tell,' said Esther, with that odd quietness. She felt somehow oppressed. 'We are living in the old fashion; have been living so all along.'

justify;">'But-- _Quite_ in the old fashion?' he said, with a swift glance at the little room where they were sitting. 'It does not look so, Esther.'

'This is not so pleasant a place as we were in when we first came to New York,' Esther confessed. 'That was very pleasant.'

'Why did you change?'

'It was necessary,' she said, with a smile. 'You may as well know it; papa lost money.'

'How?'

'He invested the money from the sale of the place at Seaforth in some stocks that gave out somehow. He lost it all. So then we had nothing but the stipend from England; and I think papa somehow lost part of that, or was obliged to take part of it to meet obligations.'

'And you?'

'We did very well,' said Esther, with another smile. 'We are doing very well now. We are out of debt, and that is everything. And I think papa is pretty comfortable.'

'And Esther?'

'Esther is happy.'

'But--I should think--forgive me!--that this bit of a house would hardly hold you.'

'See how mistaken you are! We have two rooms unused.'

Pitt's eye roved somewhat restlessly over the one in which they were, as he remarked,--

'I never comprehended just why you went away from Seaforth.'

'For my education, I believe.'


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