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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

What is the matter with the tea


'A

cup of tea.'

'Does not Barker make your tea good?' asked Esther, in some dismay.

'She can do many other things,' said the colonel. 'She is a very competent woman.'

'So I thought. What is the matter with the tea, papa--the tea she makes?'

'I don't know, my dear, what the matter is. It is without fragrance, and without sprightliness, and generally about half as hot as it ought to be.'

'No good toast and no good tea! Papa, I am afraid you have missed me very much at meal times?'

'I have missed you at all times--more than I thought possible. But it cannot be helped.'

'Papa,' said Esther, suddenly very serious, '_can_ it not be helped?'

'No, my dear. How should it?'

'I might stay at home.'

'We have come here that you might go to school.'

'But if it is to your hurt, papa'--

'Not the question, my dear. About me it is of no consequence. The matter in hand is, that you should grow up to be a perfect woman--perfect as your mother was; that would have been her wish, and it is mine. To that all other things must give way. I wish you to have every information and every accomplishment

that it is possible for you in this country to acquire.'

'Is there not as good a chance here as in England, papa?'

'What do you mean by "chance," my dear? Opportunity? No; there cannot yet be the same advantages here as in an old country, which has been educating its sons and its daughters in the most perfect way for hundreds of years.'

Esther pricked up her ears. The box of coins recurred to her memory, and sundry conversations held over it with Pitt Dallas. Whereby she had certainly got an impression that it was not so very long since England's educational provisions and practices, for England's daughters at least, had been open to great criticism, and displayed great lack of the desirable. 'Hundreds of years!' But she offered no contradiction to her father's remark.

'I would like you to be equal to any Englishwoman in your acquirements and accomplishments,' he repeated musingly. 'So far as in New York that is possible.'

'I will try what I can do, papa. And, after all, it depends more on the girl than on the school, does it not?'

'Humph! Well, a good deal depends on you, certainly. Did Miss Fairbairn find you backward in your studies, to begin with?'

'Papa,' said Esther slowly, 'I do not think she did.'

'Not in anything?'


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