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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Esther was tempted to wish they had never left Seaforth


at such times; or is it sympathy-seeking?

The sweet October afternoon had passed into as sweet an evening, the hazy stillness was unchanged, and through the haze the silver rays of a half moon high in the heavens came with the tenderest touch and the most gracious softness upon all earthly things. There was a vapourous glitter on the water of the broad river, a dewy or hazy veil on the land; the scene could not be imagined more witching fair or more removed from any sort of discordance. Esther stood looking, and her heart calmed down. She had been feeling distressed under the question of ways and means; now it occurred to her, 'Take no thought for the morrow, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink; your Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.' And as the words came, Esther shook off the trouble they condemn; shook it off her shoulders, as it were, and left it lying. Still she felt alone, she wished for Pitt Dallas, or for _somebody;_ she had no one but her father in all the world, nor the hope of any one. And happy as she really was, yet the human instinct would stir in Esther--the instinct that longs for intercourse, sympathy, affection; somebody to talk to, to counsel with, to share in her joys and sorrows and experiences generally. It is a perfectly natural and justifiable desire; stronger, perhaps, in the young than in the old, for the old know better how much and how little society amounts to, and are not apt to have such violent longings in general for anything. But also to the old, loving companionship
is inexpressibly precious; the best thing by far that this world contains or this life knows. And Esther longed for it now, even till tears rose and dimmed her sight, and made all the moonshiny landscape swim and melt and be lost in the watery veil. But then, as the veil cleared and the moonlight came into view again, came also other words into Esther's mind,--'Be content with such things as ye have; for He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.'

She cleared away her tears and smiled to herself, in happy assurance and wonder that she should have forgotten. And with that, other words still came to her; words that had never seemed so exceeding sweet before.

'None of them that trust in Him shall be desolate.'--That is a sure promise. 'Fear not, Abraham; _I_ am thy shield, and thine exceeding great reward.'--Probably, when this word was given, the father of the faithful was labouring under the very same temptation, to think himself alone and lonely. And the answer to his fears must be sufficient, or He who spoke it would never have spoken it to him just at that time.

Esther stood a while at her window, thinking over these things, with a rest and comfort of heart indescribable; and finally laid herself down to rest with the last shadow gone from her spirit.

It could not be, however, but that the question returned the next day, what was to be done? Expenses must not outrun incomings; that was a fixed principle in Esther's mind, resting as well on honour as honesty. Evidently, when the latter do not cover the former, one of two things must be done; expenses must be lessened, or income increased. How to manage the first, Esther had failed to find; and she hated the idea, besides, of a penny-ha'penny economy. Could their incomings be added to? By teaching! It flashed into Esther's mind with a disagreeable illumination. Yes, that she could do, that she must do, if her father would not go back to Seaforth. There was no other way. He could not earn money; she must. If they continued to live in or near New York, it must be on her part as a teacher in a school. The first thought of it was not pleasant. Esther was tempted to wish they had never left Seaforth, if the end of it was to be this. But after the first start of revulsion she gathered herself together. It would put an end to all their difficulties. It would be honourable work, and good work; and, after all, _work_ in some sort is what everybody should have; nobody is put here to be idle. Perhaps this pressure of circumstances was on purpose to push her into the way that was meant for her; the way in which it was the Lord's pleasure she should serve Him and the world. And having got this view of it, Esther's last reluctance was gone. For, you see, what was the Lord's pleasure was also hers.


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