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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Dallas eyed her as she rose to receive him


'Husband,'

she said at length, 'do you notice how Pitt speaks of the colonel and his daughter?'

'No,' came slowly and indifferently from the lips of Mr. Dallas, as he turned the pages of his newspaper.

'Don't you notice how he asks after them in every letter, and wants me to go and see them?'

'Natural enough. Pitt is thinking of home, and he thinks of them;--part of the picture.'

'That boy don't forget!'

'Give him time,' suggested Mr. Dallas, with a careless yawn.

'He has had some time,--a year and a half, and in Europe; and distractions enough. But don't you know Pitt? He sticks to a thing even closer than you do.'

'If he cares enough about it.'

'That's what troubles me, Hildebrand. I am afraid he does care. If he comes home next summer and finds that girl-- Do you know how she is growing up?'

'That is the worst of children,' said Mr. Dallas, in the same lazy way; 'they will grow up.'

'By next summer she will be--well, I don't know how old, but quite old enough to take the fancy of a boy like Pitt.'

'I know Pitt's age. He will be twenty-two. Old enough to know better. He isn't such a fool.'

justify;">'Such a fool as what?' asked Mrs. Dallas sharply. 'That girl is going to be handsome enough to take any man's fancy, and hold it too. She is uncommonly striking. Don't you see it?'

'Humph! yes, I see it.'

'Hildebrand, I do not want him to marry the daughter of a dissenting colonel, with not money enough to dress her.'

'I do not mean he shall.'

'Then think how you are going to prevent it. Next summer, I warn you, it may be too late.'

In consequence, perhaps, of this conversation, though it is by no means certain that Mr. Dallas needed its suggestions, he strolled over after tea to Colonel Gainsborough's. The colonel was in his usual place and position; Esther sitting at the table with her books. Mr. Dallas eyed her as she rose to receive him, noticed the gracious, quiet manner, the fair and noble face, the easy movement and fine bearing; and turned to her father with a strengthened purpose to do what he had come to do. He had to wait a while. He told the news of Pitt's last letter; intimated that he meant to keep him in England till his studies were all ended; and then went into a discussion of politics, deep and dry. When Esther at last left the room, he made a sudden break in the discussion.

'Colonel, what are you going to do with that girl of yours?'

'What am I going to do with her?' repeated the colonel, a little drily.

'Yes. Forgive me; I have known her all her life, you know, nearly. I am concerned about Esther.'

'In what way?'

'Well, don't take it ill of me; but I do not like to see her growing up so without any advantages. She is such a beautiful creature.'

Colonel Gainsborough was silent.

'I take the interest of a friend,' Mr. Dallas went on. 'I have a right to so much. I have watched her growing up. She will be something uncommon, you know. She ought really to have everything that can help to make humanity perfect.'


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