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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

I never thought to leave Seaforth

style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER XVII.


Mr. Dallas's visits became frequent. He talked of a great variety of things, but never failed to bring the colonel's mind to the subject of Esther's want of education. Indirectly or directly, somehow, he presented to the colonel's mind that one idea: that his daughter was going without the advantages she needed and ought to have. It was true, and the colonel could not easily dispose of the thought which his friend so persistently held up before him. Waters wear away stones, as we know to a proverb; and so it befell in this case, and Mr. Dallas knew it must. The colonel began to grow uneasy. He often reasserted that he would never leave Seaforth; he began to think about it, nevertheless.

'What should I do with this place?' he asked one evening when the subject was up.

'What do you wish to do with it?'

'I wish to live in it as long as I live anywhere,' said the colonel, sighing; 'but you say--and perhaps you are right--that I ought to be somewhere else for my child's sake. In that case, what could I do with my place here?'

'I ask again, what do you wish to do with it? Would you let it?'

'No,' said the colonel, sighing again; 'if I go I must sell. My means will not allow me to do otherwise.'

style="text-align: justify;">'I will buy it of you, if you wish to sell.'

'You! What would you do with the property?'

'Keep it for you, against a time when you may wish to buy it back. But indeed it would come very conveniently for me. I should like to have it, for my own purposes. I will give you its utmost value.'

The colonel pondered, not glad, perhaps, to have difficulties cleared out of his way. Mr. Dallas waited, too keen to press his point unduly.

'I should have to go and reconnoitre,' the former said presently. 'I must not give up one home till I have another ready. I never thought to leave Seaforth. Where do you say this place is that Mrs. Dallas recommends?'

'In New York. The school is said to be particularly good and thorough, and conducted by an English lady; which would be a recommendation to me, as I suppose it is to you.'

'I should have to find a house in the neighbourhood,' said the colonel, musing.

Mr. Dallas said no more, and waited.

'I must go and see what I can find,' the colonel repeated. 'Perhaps Mrs. Dallas will be so good as to give me the address of the school in question.'

Mrs. Dallas did more than that. She gave letters to friends, and addresses of more than one school teacher: and the end was, Colonel Gainsborough set off on a search. The search was successful. He was satisfied with the testimonials he received respecting one of the institutions and respecting its head; he was directed by some of Mr. Dallas's business friends to various houses that might suit him for a residence; and among them made his choice, and even made his bargain, and came home with the business settled.

Esther had spent the days of his absence in a very doubtful mood, not knowing whether to be glad or sorry, to hope or to fear. Seaforth was the only home she had ever known; she did not like the thought of leaving it; but she knew by this time as well as Mr. Dallas knew that she needed more advantages of education than Seaforth could give her. On the whole, she hoped.

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