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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Dallas rang for supper and gave orders


It

was near evening when the stage-coach brought Pitt to his native village and set him down at home. There was no snow on the ground yet, and his steps rang on the hard frozen path as he went up to the door, giving clear intimation of his approach. Within there was waiting. The mother and father were sitting at the two sides of the fireplace, busy with keeping up the fire to an unmaintainable standard of brilliancy, and looking at the clock; now and then exchanging a remark about the weather, the way, the distance, and the proper time of the expected arrival,--till that sharp sound of a step on the gravel came to their ears, and both parents started up and rushed to the door. There was a general confusion of kisses and hand-clasps and embraces, from which Pitt at last emerged.

'Oh, my boy, how late you are!'

'Not at all, mother; just right.'

'A tedious, cold ride, hadn't you?'

'No, mother; not at all. Roads in capital order; smooth as a plank floor; came along splendidly; but there'll be snow to-morrow.'

'Oh, I hope not, till you get the greens!'

'Oh, I'll get the greens, never fear; and put them up, too.'

Wherewith they entered the brilliantly-lighted room, where the supper table stood ready, and all eyes could meet eyes, and read tokens

each of the other's condition.

'He looks well,' said Mrs. Dallas, regarding her son.

'Why shouldn't I look well?'

'Hard work,' suggested the mother.

'Work is good for a fellow. I never got hard work enough yet. But home is jolly, mother. That's the use of going away, I suppose,' said the young man, drawing a chair comfortably in front of the fire; while Mrs. Dallas rang for supper and gave orders, and then sat down to gaze at him with those mother's eyes that are like nothing else in the world. Searching, fond, proud, tender, devoted,--Pitt met them and smiled.

'I am all right,' he said.

'Looks so,' said the father contentedly. 'Hold your own, Pitt?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Ahead of everybody?'

'Yes, sir,' said the young man, a little more reservedly.

'I knew it!' said the elder man, rubbing his hands; 'I thought I knew it. I made sure you would.'

'He hasn't worked too hard either,' said the mother, with a careful eye of examination. 'He looks as he ought to look.'

A bright glance of the eye came to her. 'I tell you I never had enough to do yet,' he said.

'And, Pitt, do you like it?'

'Like what, mother?'

'The place, and the work, and the people?--the students and the professors?'

'That's what I should call a comprehensive question! You expect one yes or no to cover all that?'

'Well, how do you like the people?'


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