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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

''And then you are going to Oxford


'Does

he need so much care?' he asked.

'It isn't real _care_,' said Esther, in the same tone; 'but he likes to have me about, to do things for him.'

'Queen Esther, aren't you going to carry on your studies for me, all the same?'

'For you!' said she, lifting her heavy eyes to him. It hurt him to see how heavy they were; weighted with a great load of sorrow, too mighty for tears.

'For me, certainly. I expect everything to go on just as if I were here to look after it. I expect everything to go on so, that when I come again I may find just what I want to find. You must not disappoint me.'

Esther did not say. She made no answer at all, and after a minute put a question which was a diversion.

'Where are you going first, Pitt?'

'To Lisbon.'

'Yes, I know that; but when you get to England?'

'London first. You know that is the great English centre?'

'Do you know any people there?'

'Not I. But I have a great-uncle there, living at Kensington. I believe that is part of London, though really I don't know much about it. I shall go to see him, of course.'

'Your great-uncle! That is, Mr.

Dallas's own uncle?'

'No, my mother's. His name is Strahan.'

'And then you are going to Oxford? Why do you go there? Are not the colleges in America just as good?'

'I can tell better after I've seen Oxford. But no, Queen Esther; that is larger and older and richer than any college in America can be; indeed it is a cluster of colleges--it is a University.'

'Will you study in them all?'

'No,' said Pitt, laughing, 'not exactly! But it is a fine place, by all accounts--a noble place. And then, you know, we are English, and my father and mother wish me to be as English as possible. That is natural.'

'We are English too,' said Esther, sighing.

'Therefore you ought to be glad I am going.'

But Esther's cheek only grew a shade paler.

'Will you keep up your studies, like a good girl?'

'I will try.'

'And send me a drawing now and then, to let me see how you are getting on?'

She lifted her eyes to him again, for one of those grave, appealing looks. 'How could I get it to you?'

'Your father will have my address. I shall write to him, and I shall write to you.'

She made no answer. The things filling her heart were too many for it, and too strong; there came no tears, but her breathing was laboured; and her brow was dark with what seemed a mountain of oppression. Pitt was half-glad that just now there came a call for Esther from the room behind them. Both went in. The colonel wanted Esther to search in a repository of papers for a certain English print of some months back.

'Well, my boy,' said he, 'are you off?'

'Just off, sir,' said Pitt, eyeing the little figure that was busy in the corner among the papers. It gave him more pain than he had thought to leave it. 'I wish you would come over, colonel. Why shouldn't you? It would do you good. I mean, when there is peace again upon the high seas.'


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