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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

The trays were beautifully arranged


'Well,

Queen Esther!' said he. 'What have you got there?'

'Coins.'

'Coins! What are you doing with them?'

'Nothing.'

'So it seems. What do you want to do?'

'I wanted to amuse myself.'

'And don't succeed? Naturally. What made you think you would? Numismatology isn't what one would call a _lively_ study. What were you going to do with these old things, eh?'

'Nothing,' said Esther hopelessly. 'I used to hear papa talk about them; and I liked to hear him.'

'Why don't you get him to talk to you about them again?'

'Oh, he was not talking to _me_.'

'To whom, then?'

Esther hesitated; the young man saw a veil of moisture suddenly dim the grave eyes, and the lips that answered him were a little unsteady.

'It was mamma,' she breathed rather than spoke.

'And you liked to hear?' he went on purposely.

'Oh, yes. But now I can't understand anything by myself.'

'You can understand by yourself as much as most people I know. Let us see what you have got here. May I look?'

justify;">He lifted a small piece of metal out of its nest, in a shallow tray which was made by transverse slips of wood to be full of such nests, or little square compartments. The trays were beautifully arranged, one fitting close upon another till they filled the box to its utmost capacity.

'What have we here? This piece has seen service. Here is a tree, Queen Esther,--a flourishing, spreading tree,--and below it the letters, R. E. P. F., if I read aright, and then the word "Reich." What is that, now? "R. E. P. F. Reich." And here is a motto above, I am sorry to say, so far worn that my reading it is a matter of question. "Er,"--that is plain,--then a worn word, then, "das Land." Do you understand German?'

'No; I don't know anything.'

'Too sweeping, Queen Esther. But I wish I could read that word! Let us try the other side. Ha! here we have it. "Lud. xvi."--two letters I can't make out--then "Fr. and Nav. Rex." Louis the Sixteenth, king of France and Navarre.'

'I know him, I believe,' said Esther. 'He was beheaded, wasn't he, in the great French revolution?'

'Just that. He was not a wise man, you know.'

'If he had been a wise man, could he have kept his life?'

'Well, I don't know, Queen Esther, whether any wisdom would have been wise enough for that. You see, the people of France were mad; and when a people get mad, they don't listen to reason, naturally. Here's another, now; what's this? "Zeelandia, 1792," not so very old. On the other side--here's a shield, peculiar too; with the motto plain enough,--"Luctor et emergo." A good motto that.'


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