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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Blumenfeld looked out her prettiest head of lettuce


'It

is nothing but joy, when once you know Him.'

'But you say I must _begin_ with doin' what's set down?'

'Certainly; as far as you know; or the Lord will not hear our prayers.'

'Wouldn't it do _after?_' said Mrs. Blumenfeld, raising herself up, and again looking Esther in the face. There was an odd mixture in the expression of her own, half serious, half keenly comic.

'It is not the Lord's way,' said Esther gravely. 'Seek Him and obey Him, and you shall know. But if you cannot trust the Lord's word for so much, there is no doing anything. Without faith it is impossible to please Him.'

'I don't suppose you come here jes' fur to tell me all this,' said Mrs. Blumenfeld, after again a pause, 'but I'm real obleeged to ye. What's to go in that basket?'

'I brought it to see if you could let us have a head of lettuce. I see you have some.'

'Yes; and crisp, and cool, and nice they be--just right. Wall, I guess we kin. See here, that basket won't hold no more'n a bite for a bird; mayn't I get you a bigger one?'

As Esther refused this, Mrs. Blumenfeld looked out her prettiest head of lettuce, skillfully detached it from the soil, and insinuated it into the little basket. But to the enquiry, how much was to pay, Mrs.

Blumenfeld returned a slight shake of the head.

'I should like to see myself takin' a cent from you! Jes' you send over--or come! that's better--whenever you'd like a leaf o' salad, or anythin' else; and if it's here, you shall hev it, and glad.'

'You are very kind!'

'Wall, no; I don't think that's my character. They'll all tell you I'm honest. Wall, good-bye. An' come agin!' she cried after Esther. 'It's more 'n likely I'll want some more talkin' to.'

Esther went home slowly and musing. The beauty around her, which she had but half noticed at first coming out, now filled her with a great delight. Or, rather, her heart was so full of gladness that it flowed over upon all surrounding things. Sunny haze, and sweet smells of dry leaves and moss, and a mass of all rich neutral tints in browns and purples, just touched here and there for a painter's eye with a spot of clear colour, a bit of gold, or a flare of flame--it all seemed to work its way into Esther's heart and make it swell with pleasure. She stood still to look across the river, which lay smooth like a misty mirror, and gave only a rich, soft, indeterminate reflection of the other shore. But the thoughts in Esther's mind were clear and distinct. Lonely? Had she ever been lonely? What folly! How could any one be lonely who had the knowledge of Christ and His presence? What sufficient delight it was to know Him, and to love Him, and to be always with Him, and always doing His will! If poor Mrs. Blumenfeld only knew!

CHAPTER XXVI.

_WAYS AND MEANS_.

Esther walked slowly home, delivered her basket to Barker, and went to her father. After the usual kiss and inquiry about how the week had been, he relapsed into his book; and she had to wait for a time to talk of anything else. Esther sat down with a piece of fancy work, and held her tongue till tea-time. The house was as still as if nobody lived in it. The colonel occasionally turned a leaf; now and then a puff of gas or a sudden jet of flame in the Liverpool coal fire gave a sort of silent sound, rebuking the humanity that lived there. No noise was heard from below stairs; the middle-aged and well-trained servants did their work with the regularity and almost with the smoothness of machines. It occurred to Esther anew that her life was excessively quiet; and a thought of Pitt, and how good it would have been to see him, arose again, as it had risen so many times. And then came the thoughts of the afternoon. With Christ,--was not that enough? Doing His will and having it--could she want anything more? Esther smiled to herself. She wanted nothing more.


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