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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

' said Pitt with a parting kiss


'Poor

papa!' said Esther thoughtfully.

'Not at all,' said Pitt inconsistently. 'We will take care of him together, much better than you could alone.'

Esther drew a long breath.

'Then you speak to Barker, and I will get some oysters,' said Pitt with a parting kiss, and was off in a moment.

The luncheon after all passed off quite tolerably well. The colonel took the oysters, and Pitt, with a kind of grim acquiescence. He was an old soldier, and no doubt had not forgotten all the lessons once learned in that impressive school; and as every one knows, to accept the inevitable and to make the best of a lost battle are two of those lessons. Not that Colonel Gainsborough would seriously have tried to fight off Pitt and his pretensions, if he could; at least, not as things were. Pitt had told him his own circumstances; and the colonel knew that without barbarity he could not refuse ease and affluence and an excellent position for his daughter, and condemn her to school-keeping and Major Street for the rest of her life; especially since the offer was accompanied with no drawbacks, except the one trifle, that Esther must marry. That was an undoubtedly bitter pill to swallow; but the colonel swallowed it, and hardly made a wry face. He would be glad to get away from Major Street himself. So he ate his oysters, as I said, grimly; was certainly courteous, if

also cool; and Pitt even succeeded in making the conversation flow passably well, which is hard to do, when it rests upon one devoted person alone. Esther did everything but talk.

After the meal was over, the colonel lingered only a few minutes, just enough for politeness, and then went off to his room again, with the dry and somewhat uncalled-for remark, that they 'did not want him.'

'That is true!' said Pitt humorously.

'Pitt,' said Esther hurriedly, 'if you don't mind, I want to get my work. There is something I must do, and I can do it just as well while you are talking.'

She went off, and returned with drawing-board and pencils; took her seat, and prepared to go on with a drawing that had been begun.

'What are the claims of this thing to be considered work?' said Pitt, after watching her a minute or two.

'It is a copy, that I shall need Monday morning. Only a little thing. I can attend to you just the same.'

'A copy for whom?'

'One of my scholars,' she said, with a smile at him.

'That copy will never be wanted.'

'Yes, I want it for Monday; and Monday I should have no time to do it; so I thought I would finish it now. It will not take me long, Pitt.'

'Queen Esther,' said he, laying his hand over hers, 'all that is over.'


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