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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Esther had that feeling rather often


'Miss

Fairbairn takes care you should learn something else besides Bible, Belle Linders, to do her justice.'

'Well, she's like all the rest, she has favourites, and Esther Gainsborough is one of 'em, and there ought to be no favourites. I tell you, she puts me out, that's what she does. If I am sent out of the room on an errand, I am sure to hit my foot against something, just because _she_ never stumbles; and the door falls out of my hand and makes a noise, just because I am thinking how it behaves for her. She just puts me out, I give you my word. It confuses me in my recitations, to know that _she_ has the answer ready, if I miss; and as for drawing, it's no use to try, because she will be sure to do it better. There ought to be no such thing as favourites!'

There was some laughter at this harangue, but no contradiction of its statements. Perhaps Esther was more highly gifted than any of her fellows; beyond question she worked harder. She had motives that wrought upon none of them; the idea of equalling or at least of satisfying Pitt, and the feeling that her father was sacrificing a great deal for her sake, and that she must do her very utmost by way of honouring and rewarding his kindness. Besides still another and loftier feeling, that she was the Lord's servant, and that less than the very best she could do was not service good enough for him.

'Papa,' she said one evening

in October, 'don't you think Pitt must have come and gone before now?'

'William Dallas? If he has come, he is gone, certainly.'

'Papa, do you think he _can_ have come?'

'Why not?'

'Because he has not been to see us.'

'My dear, that is nothing; there is no special reason why he should come to see us.'

'Oh, papa!' cried Esther, dismayed.

'My dear, you have put too much water in my tea; I wish you would think what you are about.'

Now Esther _had_ thought what she was about, and the tea was as nearly as possible just as usual.

'Shall I mend it, papa?'

'You cannot mend it. Tea must be made right at first, if it is ever to be right. And if it is _not_ right, it is not fit to be drunk.'

'I am very sorry, papa. I will try and have it perfect next time.'

It was plain her father did not share her anxiety about Pitt; he cared nothing about the matter, whether he came or no. He did not think of it. And Esther had been thinking of it every day for months, and many times a day. She was hurt, and it made her feel alone. Esther had that feeling rather often, for a girl of her age and sound health in every respect, bodily and mental. The feeling was quite in accordance with


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