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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

'I was looking for the Lisbon postmark


Pitt

had sailed in November, various difficulties having delayed his departure to a month later than the time intended for it. Therefore news from him could not be looked for until the new year was on its way. Towards the end of January, however, as early as could possibly be hoped, a letter came to Colonel Gainsborough, which he immediately knew to be in Pitt's hand.

'No postmark,' he said, surveying it. 'I suppose it came by private opportunity.'

'Papa, you look a long while at the outside!' said Esther, who stood by full of excited impatience which she knew better than to show.

'The outside has its interest too, my dear,' said her father. 'I was looking for the Lisbon postmark, but there is none whatever. It must have come by private hand.'

He broke the seal, and found within an enclosure directed to Esther, which he gave her. And Esther presently left the room. Her father, she saw, was deep in the contents of his letter, and would not notice her going, while if she stayed in the room she knew she would be called upon to read her own letter or to show it before she was ready. She wanted to enjoy the full first taste of it, slowly and thoroughly. Meanwhile, the colonel never noticed her going. Pitt's letter was dated 'Lisbon, Christmas Day, 1813,' and ran as follows:--

'MY DEAR COLONEL,--I have landed at last,

as you see, in this dirtiest of all places I ever was in. I realize now why America is called the New world; for everything here drives the consciousness upon me that the world on this side is very old--so old, I should say, that it is past cleansing. I do suppose it is not fair to compare it with Seaforth, which is as bright in comparison as if it were an ocean shell shining with pure lights; but I certainly hope things will mend when I get to London.

'But I did not mean to talk to you about Lisbon, which I suppose you know better than I do. My hope is to give you the pleasure of an early piece of news. Probably the papers will already have given it to you, but it is just possible that the chances of weather and ships may let my letter get to you first, and in that case my pleasure will be gained.

'There is great news. Napoleon has been beaten, beaten! isn't that great? He has lost a hundred thousand men, and is driven back over the Rhine. Holland has joined the Allies, and the Prince of Orange; and Lord Wellington has fought such a battle as history hardly tells of; seven days' fighting; and the victory ranks with the greatest that ever were gained.

'That is all I can tell you now, but it is so good you can afford to wait for further details. It is now more difficult than ever to get into France, and I don't know yet how I am going to make my way to England; it is specially hard for Americans, and I must be reckoned an American, you know. However, money will overcome all difficulties; money and persistence. I have written to Esther something about my voyage, which will, I hope, interest her. I will do myself the pleasure of writing again when I get to London. Meanwhile, dear sir, I remain

'Ever your grateful and most obedient,

'WILM. PITT DALLAS.'

Esther, while her father was revelling in this letter, was taking a very different sort of pleasure in hers. There was a fire up-stairs in her room; she lit a candle, and, in the exquisite sense of having her enjoyment all to herself, went slowly over the lines; as slowly as she could.


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