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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

' Pitt professed himself very fond of raspberries


'Well,'

said Esther, 'you have given me a great deal of help.'

'How?'

'Oh, you have told me what this means,' said the child, hanging over the words, which Pitt still held.

'That does not give it to you.'

'No; but it is a great deal, to know what it means,' said Esther, in a tone which Pitt felt had a good element of hopefulness in it.

'What are you going to do about it?'

Esther lifted her head and looked at him. It was one of those looks which were older than her years; far-reaching, spiritual, with an intense mixture of pathos and hope in her eyes.

'I shall go on trying to get it,' she said. 'You know, Pitt, it is different with you. You go out into the world, and you have everything you want; but I am here quite alone.'

CHAPTER XI.

_DISSENT_.

The summer months were very rich in pleasure, for all parties; even Colonel Gainsborough was a little roused by the presence of his young friend, and came much more than usual out of his reserve. So that the conversations round the tea-table, when Pitt made one of their number, were often lively and varied; such as Esther had hardly known in her life before. The

colonel left off his taciturnity; waked up, as it were; told old campaigning stories, and gave out stores of information which few people knew he possessed. The talks were delightful, on subjects natural and scientific, historical and local and picturesque. Esther luxuriated in the new social life which had blossomed out suddenly at home, perhaps with even an intensified keen enjoyment from the fact that it was so transient a blossoming; a fact which the child knew and never for a moment forgot. The thought was always with her, making only more tender and keen the taste of every day's delights. And Pitt made the days full. With a mixture of motives, perhaps, which his own mind did not analyze, he devoted himself very much to the lonely little girl. She went with him in his walks and in his drives; he sat on the verandah with her daily and gave her lessons, and almost daily he went in to tea with her afterwards, and said that Christopher grew the biggest raspberries in 'town.' Pitt professed himself very fond of raspberries. And then would come one of those rich talks between him and the colonel; and when Pitt went home afterwards he would reflect with satisfaction that he had given Esther another happy day. It was true; and he never guessed what heart-aches the little girl went through, night after night, in anticipation of the days that were coming. She did not shed tears about it, usually; tears might have been more wholesome. Instead, Esther would stand at her window looking out into the moonlit garden, or sit on the edge of her bed staring down at the floor; with a dry ache at her heart, such as we are wont to say a young thing like her should not know. And indeed only one here and there has a nature deep and fine-strung enough to be susceptible of it.

The intensification of this pain was the approaching certainty that Pitt was going to England. Esther did not talk of it, rarely asked a question; nevertheless she heard enough now and then to make her sure what was corning. And, in fact, if anything had been wanting to sharpen up Mrs. Dallas's conviction that such a step was necessary, it would have been the experience of this summer. She wrought upon her husband, till himself began to prick up his ears and open his eyes; and between them they agreed that Pitt had better go. Some evils are easier nipped in the bud; and this surely was one, for Pitt was known to be a persistent fellow, if once he took a thing in his head. And though Mr. Dallas laughed, at the same time he trembled. It was resolved that Pitt should make his next term at Oxford. The thought was not for a moment to be entertained, that all Mr. Dallas's money, and all the pretensions properly growing out of it, should be wasted on the quite penniless daughter of a retired army officer. For in this world the singular rule obtaining is, that the more you have the more you want.


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