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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Colonel Gainsborough heartily approved


Esther

longed for her former friend and instructor with a longing which cannot be put into words. Yet longing is hardly the expression for it; she was not a child to sit and wish for the unattainable; it was rather a deep and aching sense of want. She never forgot him. If Pitt's own mother thought of him more constantly, she was the only person in the world of whom that was true. Pitt sometimes wrote to Colonel Gainsborough, and then Esther treasured up every revelation and detail of the letter and added them to what she knew already, so as to piece out as full an image as possible of Pitt's life and doings. But how the child wanted him, missed him, and wept for him! Though of the latter not much; she was not a child given to crying. The harder for her, perhaps.

The Dallases, husband and wife, were not much seen at this time in the colonel's quiet house. Mr. Dallas did come sometimes of an evening and sat and talked with its master; and he was not refreshing to Esther, not even when the talk ran upon his absent son; for the question had begun to be mooted publicly, whether Pitt should go to England to finish his education. It began to be spoken of in Pitt's letters too; he supposed it would come to that, he said; his mother and father had set their hearts on Oxford or Cambridge. Colonel Gainsborough heartily approved. It was like a knell of fate to Esther.

They were alone together one day, as usual, the father and

daughter; and silence had reigned a long while in the room, when Esther broke it. She had been sitting poring over a book; now she looked up with a very burdened brow and put her question.

'Papa, how do people get comfort out of the Bible?'

'Eh--what, my dear?' said the colonel, rousing his attention.

'What must one do, to get comfort out of the Bible?'

'Comfort?' repeated the colonel, now looking round at her. 'Are you in want of comfort, Esther?'

'I would like to know how to find it, papa, if it is here.'

'Here? What have you got there? Come where I can see you.'

Esther drew near, unwillingly. 'It is the Bible, papa.'

'And _what_ is it you want from the Bible?--Comfort?'

'Mamma used to say one could get comfort in the Bible, and I wanted to know how.'

'Did she?' said the colonel with grave thoughtfulness. But he said no more. Esther waited. Her father's tone had changed; he seemed to have gone back into regions of the past, and to have forgotten her. The minutes ran on, without her daring to remind him that her question was still unanswered. The colonel at last, with a long sigh, took up his book again; then seemed to bethink him, and turned to Esther.

'I do not know, my dear,' he said. 'I never could get it there myself, except in a very modified way. Perhaps it is my fault.'

The subject was disposed of, as far as the colonel was concerned. Esther could ask him no more. But that evening, when Mrs. Barker was attending upon her, she made one more trial.


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