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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

'suppose we go back to Seaforth


'Papa,

I think it would be good that I should know just what the difference is; so that I might know how to bring in our expenses within the necessary limits.'

'I have not cyphered it out in figures. I cannot tell you precisely how much my income is smaller than it used to be.'

'Can you tell me how much we ought to spend in a week, papa?--and then we will spend no more.'

'Barker will know when I give it to her.'

The colonel had finished his tea and toast, which this evening he certainly did not enjoy; and went back to his book and his sofa. Though, indeed, he had not left his sofa, he went back to a reclining position, and Esther moved the table away from him. She was bewildered. She forgot to ring for Barker; she sat thinking how to bring the expenses of the family within narrower limits. Possible things alternated with impossible in her mind. She mused a good while.

'Papa,' she said, breaking the silence at last, 'do you think the air suits you here?'

'No, I do not. I have no cause.'

'You were better at Seaforth?'

'Decidedly. My chest always feels here a certain oppression. I suppose there is too much sea air.'

'Was not the sea quite as near them at Seaforth, and salt air

quite as much at hand?' Esther thought. However, as she did not put entire faith in the truth of her father's conclusions, it was no use to question his premises.

'Papa,' she said suddenly, 'suppose we go back to Seaforth?'

'Suppose nonsense!'

'No, sir; but I do not mean it as nonsense. I have had one year's schooling--that will be invaluable to me; now with books I can go on by myself. I can, indeed, papa, and will. You shall not need to be ashamed of me.'

'You are talking foolishly, Esther.'

'I do not mean it foolishly, papa. If we have not the means to live here, and if the Seaforth air is so much better for you, then there is nothing to keep us here but my schooling; and that, as I tell you, I can manage without. And I can manage right well, papa; I have got so far that I can go on alone now. I am seventeen; I am not a child any longer.'

There was a few minutes' silence, but probably that fact, that Esther was a child no longer, impelled the colonel to show her a little more consideration.

'Where would you go?' he asked, a trifle drily.

'Surely we could find a place, papa. Couldn't you, perhaps, buy back the old house--the dear old house!--as Mr. Dallas took it to accommodate you? I guess he would give it up again.'

'My dear, do not say "guess" in that very provincial fashion! I shall not ask Mr. Dallas to play at buying and selling in such a way. It would be trifling with him. I should be ashamed to do it. Besides, I have no intention of going back to Sea forth till your education is ended; and by that time--if I live to see that time--I shall have so little of life left that it will not matter where I spend it.'

Esther did not know how to go on.

'Papa, could we not do without Buonaparte? I could get to school some other way?'

'How?'

Esther pondered. 'Could I not arrange to go in Mrs. Blumenfeld's waggon, when it goes in Monday morning?'

'Who is Mrs. Blumenfeld?'


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