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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Esther placed her hand within his


no, Pitt!--how should it?' she said, looking at him now, since it was no use to look at her paper.

'I cannot have you doing this sort of work any longer.'

'_But!_' she said, flushing high, 'yes, I must.'

'That has been long enough, my queen! I cannot let you do it any longer. You may give me lessons; nobody else.'

'But!'--said Esther, catching her breath; then, not willing to open the whole chapter of discussion she saw ahead, she caught at the nearest and smallest item. 'You know, I am under obligations; and I must meet them until other arrangements are made. I am expected, I am depended on; I must not fail. I must give this lesson Monday, and others.'

'Then I will do this part of the work,' said he, taking the pencil from her fingers. 'Give me your place, please.'

Esther gave him her chair and took his. And then she sat down and watched the drawing. Now and then her eyes made a swift passage to his face for a half second, to explore the features so well known and yet so new; but those were a kind of fearful glances, which dreaded to be caught, and for the most part her eyes were down on the drawing and on the hands busied with it. Hands, we know, tell of character; and Esther's eyes rested with secret pleasure on the shapely fingers, which in their manly strength and skilful

agility corresponded so well to what she knew of their possessor. The fingers worked on, for a time, silently.

'Pitt, this is oddly like old times!' said Esther at last.

'Things have got into their right grooves again,' said he contentedly.

'But what are you doing? That is beautiful!--but you are making it a great deal too elaborate and difficult for my scholar. She is not far enough advanced for that.'

'I'll take another piece of paper, then, and begin again. What do you want?'

'Just a tree, lightly sketched, and a bit of rock under it; something like that. She is a beginner.'

'A tree and a rock?' said Pitt. 'Well, here you shall have it. But, Queen Esther, this sort of thing cannot go on, you know?'

'For a while it must.'

'For a very little while! In fact, I do not see how it can go on at all. I will go and see your school madam and tell her you have made another engagement.'

'But every honest person fulfils the obligations he is under, before assuming new ones.'

'That's past praying for!' said Pitt, with a shake of his head. 'You have assumed the new ones. Now the next thing is to get rid of the old. I must go back to my work soon; and, Queen Esther, your majesty will not refuse to go with me?'

He turned and stretched out his hand to her as he spoke. In the action, in the intonation of the last words, in the look which went with them, there was something very difficult for Esther to withstand. It was so far from presuming, it was so delicate in its urgency, there was so much wistfulness in it, and at the same time the whole magnetism of his personal influence. Esther placed her hand within his, she could not help that; the bright colour flamed up in her cheeks; words were not ready.

'What are you thinking about?' said he.

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