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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

And had been in Seaforth a long while


exclaimed Esther.

'Yes,' he said, looking at her steadfastly. 'You do not want them,--and I do.'

'I do not believe they would suit you, Pitt,' said Esther, consumed with secret wonder.

'I am sure no other could suit me half so well!'

'What do you think your bride would say to them? you know that must be taken into consideration.'

'_My bride?_ I beg your pardon! Did I hear you aright?'

'Yes!' said Esther, opening her eyes a little. 'Your bride--your wife. Isn't she here?'

'Who is she?'

'Who _was_ she, do you mean? Or are you perhaps not married yet?'

'Most certainly not married! But may I beg you to go on? You were going to tell me who the lady is supposed to be?'

'Oh, I know,' said Esther, smiling, yet perplexed. 'I believe I have seen her. And I admire her too, Pitt, very much. Though when I saw her I do not think she would have agreed with the views you have been expressing to me.'

'Where did you see her?'

'Last fall. Oh, a year ago, almost; time enough for minds to change. It was at a party here.'

'And you saw--whom?'

justify;">'Miss Frere. Isn't she the lady?'

'Miss Frere!' exclaimed Pitt; and his colour changed a little. 'May I ask how this story about me has come to your ears, and been believed? as I see you have accepted it.'

'Why very straight,' said Esther, her own colour flushing now brightly. 'It was not difficult to believe. It was very natural; at least to me, who have seen the lady.'

'Miss Frere and I are very good friends,' said Pitt; 'which state of things, however, might not long survive our proposing to be anything more. But we never did propose to be anything more. What made you think it?'

'Did papa tell you that he went up to Seaforth this summer?'

'He said nothing about it.'

'He did go, however. It was a very great thing for papa to do, too; for he goes nowhere, and it is very hard for him to move; but he went. It was in August. We had heard not a word from Seaforth for such a long, long time,--not for two or three years, I think,--and not a word from you; and papa had a mind to see what was the meaning of it all, and whether anybody was left in Seaforth or not. I thought everybody had forgotten us, and papa said he would go and see.'

'Yes,' said Pitt, as Esther paused.

'And, of course, you know, he found nobody. All our friends were gone, at least. And people told papa you had been home the year before, and had been in Seaforth a long while; and the lady was there too whom you were going to marry; and that this year they had all gone over to see you, that lady and all; and the wedding would probably be before Mr. and Mrs. Dallas came home. So papa came back and told me.'

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