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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

And Pitt knew how she was looking


'I

wish I could feel, mother, that you would look a little after that motherless child,' he said, in a sort of despairing attempt one evening.

'She is not fatherless,' Mrs. Dallas answered composedly.

'No, but a girl wants a mother.'

'She is accustomed to the want now.'

'Mother, it isn't kind of you!'

'How would you have me show kindness?' Mrs. Dallas asked calmly. Now that Pitt was going away and safe, she could treat the matter without excitement. 'What would Colonel Gainsborough like me to do for his daughter, do you think?'

Pitt was silent, and vexed.

'What do you want me to do for her?'

'I'd like you to be a friend to her. She will need one.'

'If her father dies, you mean?'

'If he lives. She will be very lonely when I am gone away.'

'That is because you have accustomed her so much to your company. I never thought it was wise. She will get over it in a little while.'

Would she? Pitt studied her next day, and much doubted his mother's assertion. All the months of his last term in college had not been enough to weaken in the least Esther's love for him. It was real,

honest, genuine love, and of very pure quality; a diamond, he was ready to think, of the first water. Only a child's love; but Pitt had too fine a nature himself to despise a child's love; and full as his head was of novelties, hopes and plans and purposes, there was space in his heart for a very tender concern about Esther beside.

It came to the last evening, and he was sitting with her on the verandah. It was rather cool there now; the roses and honeysuckles and the summer moonshine were gone; the two friends chose to stay there because they could be alone, and nobody overhear their words. Words for a little while had ceased to flow. Esther was sitting very still, and Pitt knew how she was looking; something of the dry despair had come back to her face which had been in it when he was first moved to busy himself about her.

'Esther, I shall come back,' he said suddenly, bending down to look in her face.

'When?' she said, half under her breath. It was not a question; it was an answer.

'Well, not immediately; but the years pass away fast, don't you know that?'

'Are you sure you will come back?'

'Why, certainly! if I am alive I will. Why, if I came for nothing else, I would come to see after you, Queen Esther.'

Esther was silent. Talking was not easy.

'And meanwhile, I shall be busy, and you will be busy. We have both a great deal to do.'

'You have.'

'And I am sure you have. Now let us consult. What have you got to do, before we see one an other again?'

'I suppose,' said Esther, 'take care of papa.'

She said it in a quiet, matter-of-course tone, and Pitt started a little. It was very likely; but it had not just occurred to him before, how large a part that care might play in the girl's life for some time to come.


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