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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

' said Esther a little nervously


But

words came into their right again.

'Esther, do you remember my kissing you when I went away, six or seven years ago?'

'Certainly!'

'I think that kiss was in some sort a revelation to me. I did not fully recognise it then, what the revelation was; but I think, ever since I have been conscious, vaguely, that there was an invisible silken thread of some sort binding me to you; and that I should never be quite right till I followed the clue and found you again. The vagueness is gone, and has given place to the most daylight certainty.'

'I am glad of that,' said Esther demurely, though speaking with a little effort. 'You always liked certainties.'

'Did you miss me?'

'Pitt, more than I can possibly tell you! Not then only, but all the time since. Only one thing has kept me from being very downhearted sometimes, when time passed, and we heard nothing of you, and I was obliged to give you up.'

'You should not have given me up.'

'Yes; there was nothing else for it. I found it was best not to think about you at all. Happily I had plenty of duties to think of. And duties, if you take hold of them right, become pleasures.'

'Doing them for the Master.'

'Yes,

and for our fellow-creatures too. Both interests come in.'

'And so make life full and rich, even in common details of it. But, Queen Esther,--my Queen!--do you know that you will be my Queen always? That word expresses your future position, as far as I am concerned.'

'No,' said Esther a little nervously; 'I think hardly. Where there is a queen, there is commonly also a king somewhere, you know.'

'His business is to see the queen's commands carried out.'

'We will not quarrel about it,' said Esther, laughing. 'But, after all, Pitt, that is not like you. You always knew your own mind, and always had your own way, when I used to know you.'

'It is your turn.'

'It would be a very odd novelty in my life,' said Esther. 'But now, Pitt, I really must go and see about luncheon. Papa will be down, and Mrs. Barker does not know that you are here. And it would be a sort of relief to take hold of something so commonplace as luncheon; I seem to myself to have got into some sort of unreal fairyland.'

'I am in fairyland too, but it is real.'

'Let me go, Pitt, please!'

'Luncheon is of no consequence.'

'Papa will think differently.'

'I will go out and got some oysters, to conciliate him.'

'To _conciliate_ him!'

'Yes. He will need conciliating, I can tell you. Do you suppose he will look on complacently and see you, who have been wholly his possession and property, pass over out of his hands into mine? It is not human nature.'

Esther stood still and coloured high.

'Does papa know?'

'He knows all about it, Queen Esther; _except_ what you may have said to me. I think he understood what I was going to say to you.'


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