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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Take one broiled over a fire of corn cobs


cannot have eaten them, sir; that's all. That is, not cooked properly. Take one broiled over a fire of corn cobs.'

'A fire of corn cobs!'

'Yes, sir; over the coals of such a fire, of course, I mean.'

'Ah! What's the supposed advantage?'

'Flavour, sir; gusto; a spicy delicacy, which from being the spirit of the fire comes to be the spirit of the fish. It is difficult to put anything so ethereal into words.' This was spoken with the utmost seriousness.

'Ah!' said the colonel. 'Possibly. Barker manages those things.'

'You do not feel well enough to read to-day, sir?'

'Yes,' said the colonel, 'yes. One must do something. As long as one lives, one must try to do something. Bring your book here, William, if you please. I can listen, lying here.'

The hour that followed was an hour of steady work. The colonel liked his young neighbour, who belonged to a family also of English extraction, though not quite so recently moved over as the colonel's own. Still, to all intents and purposes, the Dallases were English; had English connections and English sympathies; and had not so long mingled their blood with American that the colour of it was materially altered. It was natural that the two families should have drawn

near together in social and friendly relations; which relations, however, would have been closer if in church matters there had not been a diverging power, which kept them from any extravagance of neighbourliness. This young fellow, however, whom the colonel called 'William,' showed a carelessness as to church matters which gave him some of the advantages of a neutral ground; and latterly, since his wife's death, Colonel Gainsborough had taken earnestly to the fine, spirited young man; welcomed his presence when he came; and at last, partly out of sympathy, partly out of sheer loneliness and emptiness of life, he had offered to read the classics with him, in preparation for college. And this for several months now they had been doing; so that William was a daily visitor in the colonel's house.



The reading went on for a good hour. Then the colonel rose from his sofa and went out, and young Dallas turned to Esther. During this hour Esther had been sitting still in her corner by her boxes; not doing anything; and her face, which had brightened at William's first coming in, had fallen back very nearly to its former heavy expression. Now it lighted up again, as the visitor left his seat and came over to her. He had not been so taken up with his reading but he had noticed her from time to time; observed the drooping brow and the dull eye, and the sad lines of the lips, and the still, spiritless attitude. He was touched with pity for the child, whom he had once been accustomed to see very different from this. He came and threw himself down on the floor by her side.

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