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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

''And you will be distinguished


book have you got there?' he asked suddenly.

'Book?--Oh, the Bible.'

'The Bible! That's something beyond your comprehension, isn't it?'

'No,' said Esther. 'What made you think it was?'

'Always heard it wasn't the thing for children. What set you at that, Queen Esther? Reading about your namesake?'

'I have read about her. I wasn't reading about her to-night.'

'What were you after, then?'

'It's mamma's Bible,' said Esther rather slowly; 'and she used to say it was the best place to go for comfort.'

'Comfort! What do you want comfort for, Esther?'

'Nothing, now,' she said, with a smile. 'I am so glad you are come!'

'What _did_ you want comfort for, then?' said he, taking her hand, and holding it while he looked into her eyes.

'I don't know--papa had gone to bed, and I was alone--and somehow it seemed lonesome.'

'Will you go with me to-morrow after Christmas greens?'

'Oh, may I?' cried the girl, with such a flush of delight coming into eyes and cheeks and lips, that Pitt was almost startled.

'I don't

think I could enjoy it unless you came. And then you will help me dress the rooms.'

'What rooms?'

'Our rooms at home. And now, what have you been doing since I have been away?'

All shadows were got rid of; and there followed a half-hour of most eager intercourse, questions and answers coming thick upon one another. Esther was curious to hear all that Pitt would tell her about his life and doings at college; and, nothing loath, Pitt gave it her. It interested him to watch the play of thought and interest in the child's features as he talked. She comprehended him, and she seemed to take in without difficulty the strange nature and conditions of his college world.

'Do you have to study hard?' she asked.

'That's as I please. One must study hard to be distinguished.'

'And you will be distinguished, won't you?'

'What do you think? Do you care about it?'

'Yes, I care,' said Esther slowly.

'You were not anxious about me?'

'No,' she said, smiling. 'Papa said you would be sure to distinguish yourself.'

'Did he? I am very much obliged to Colonel Gainsborough.'

'What for?'

'Why, for his good opinion.'

'But he couldn't help his opinion,' said Esther.

'Queen Esther,' said Pitt, laughing, 'I don't know about that. People sometimes hold opinions they have no business to hold, and that they would not hold, if they were not perverse-minded.'

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