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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Colonel Gainsborough was a great draughtsman


Not very often; but Mrs. Dallas wanted to scare her husband. And so there came to be more and more talk about Pitt's going abroad; and Esther felt as if the one spot of brightness in her sky were closing up for ever. If Pitt did go,--what would be left?

It was a token of the real strength and fine properties of her mental nature, that the girl did not, in any true sense, _mope_. In want of comfort she was; in sad want of social diversion and cheer, and of variety in her course of thought and occupation; she suffered from the want; but Esther did not sink into idleness and stagnation. She worked like a beaver; that is, so far as diligence and purpose characterize those singular animals' working. She studied resolutely and eagerly the things she had studied with Pitt, and which he had charged her to go on with. His influence was a spur to her constantly; for he had wished it, and he would be coming home by and by for the long vacation, and then he would want to see what she had done. Esther was not quite alone, so long as she had the thought of Pitt and of that long vacation with her. If he should go to England,--then indeed it would be loneliness. Now she studied, at any rate, having that spur; and she studied things also with which Pitt had had no connection; her Bible, for instance. The girl busied herself with fancy work too, every kind which Mrs. Barker could teach her, and her father did not forbid. And in one other pleasure her father was helpful to her. Esther had been trying to draw some little things, working eagerly with her pencil and a copy, absorbed in her endeavours and in the delight of partial success; when one day her father came and looked over her shoulder. That was enough. Colonel Gainsborough was a great draughtsman; the old instinct of his art stirred in him; he took Esther's pencil from her hand and showed her how she ought to use it, and then went on to make several little studies for her to work at. From that beginning, the lessons went forward, to the mutual benefit of father and daughter. Esther developed a great aptitude for the art, and an enormous zeal. Whatever her father told her it would be good for her to do, in that connection, Esther did untiringly--ungrudgingly. It was the one exquisite pleasure which each day contained for her; and into it she gathered and poured her whole natural, honest, childlike desire for pleasure. No matter if all the rest of the day were work, the flower of delight that blossomed on this one stem was sweet enough to take the place of a whole nosegay, and it beautified Esther's whole life. It hardly made the child less sober outwardly, but it did much to keep her inner life fresh and sound.

Pitt this time did not allow it to be supposed that he had forgotten his friends. Once in a while he wrote to Colonel Gainsborough, and sent a message or maybe included a little note for Esther herself. These messages and notes regarded often her studies; but toward the end of term there began to be mention made of England also in them; and Esther's heart sank very low. What would be left when Pitt was gone to England?

CHAPTER X.

_THE BLESSING_.

So spring came, and then high summer, and the time when the collegian was expected home. The roses were blossoming and the pinks were


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