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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

'I've heerd tell o' sich things


she said, 'that's as fur as you kin see. It's ben both crooked _and_ rough. I mayn't look it,--where's the use? And I don't talk of it, for I've nobody to talk to; but, as I said, human natur' 'd like to, ef it had a chance. I hain't a soul in the world to speak to; and sometimes I feel as ef I'd give all I've got in the world to talk. Then, mostly, I go into the garden and rout out the weeds. I tell you they has to fly, those times!--But I believe folks was made to hev company.'

'Have you no children?'

'Five of 'em, over there,' the woman said, pointing away, Esther could only guess where, as it was not to the house. She was sorry she had asked, and stood silent.

'Five of 'em,' Mrs. Blumenfeld repeated slowly. 'I had 'em,--and I haven't 'em. And now, there is times when the world seems to me that solitary that I'm a'most scared at myself.'

Esther stood still, with mute sympathy, afraid to speak.

'I s'pose, to you now, the world is all full o' friends?' the other went on more lightly, turning from her own troubles, as it were.

'No,' said Esther gently; 'not at all. I am very much alone, and always have been.'

'Mebbe you like it?'

'No, I do not like it. I sometimes wish very much for one or two friends

who are not here.'

There came a sigh from the bosom of the other woman, unwonted, and tale-telling, and heavy.

'My marriage warn't happy,' she said, lower than her usual tone. 'I kin manage the garden alone; and I'd jes' as lieve. Two minds about a thing makes unpeace; and I set a great deal by peace. But it's awful lonely, life is, now and then!'

'It is not that to me,' said Esther sympathizingly; she was eager to speak, and yet doubtful just what to say. She fell back upon what perhaps is the safest of all, her own experience. 'Life _used_ to be like that to me--at one time,' she went on after a little pause. 'I was very lonely and sad, and didn't know how I could live without comfort. And then I got it; and as I got it, I think so may you.'

The woman looked at her, not in the least understanding what she would be at, yet fascinated by the sympathy--which she read plainly enough--and held by the beauty. By something besides beauty, too, which she saw without being able to fathom it. For in Esther's eyes there was the intense look of love and the fire of joy, and on her lips the loveliest lines of tenderness were trembling. Mrs. Blumenfeld gazed at her, but would almost as soon have addressed an angel, if one had stood beside her with wings that proclaimed his heavenly descent.

'I'll tell you how I got comfort,' Esther went on, keeping carefully away from anything that might seem like preaching. 'I was, as I tell you, dark and miserable and hopeless. Then I came to know the Lord Jesus; and it was just as if the sun had risen and filled all my life with sunlight.'

The woman did not remove her eyes from Esther's face. 'I want to know!' she said at last. 'I've heerd tell o' sich things;--but I never see no one afore that hed the knowledge of 'em, like you seem to hev. I've heerd parson talk.'

'This is not parson talk.'

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