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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Ef he hes some furrin notions


'Why

shouldn't I?' said the little woman. But Christopher thought the tone of the words was not discouraging. 'They does allays practise fence,' he thought to himself.

'Well, mum, if you hev ever been up to our place in the summer-time, you may hev seen our garden; and to a lady o' your experience I needn't to say no more.'

'Wall,' said Mrs. Blumenfeld, by way of conceding so much, 'I'll allow Colonel Gainsborough has a pretty fair gardener, ef he _hes_ some furrin notions.'

'I'll bring them furrin notions to your help, mum,' said Mr. Bounder eagerly. 'I know my business as well as any man on this side or that side either. It's no boastin' to say that.'

'Sounds somethin' like it. But what'll the colonel do without you, or the colonel's garden? that's what I can't make out. Hev you and he hed a falling out?' And the speaker raised herself up straight and looked full at her visitor.

'There's nothin' like that possible!' said Mr. Bounder solemnly. 'The colonel ain't agoin' to do without me, my woman. No more can't I do with out the colonel, I may say. I've lived in the family now this twenty year; and as long as I can grow spinach they ain't agoin' to eat no other--without it's yours, mum,' Christopher added, with a change of tone; 'or yours and mine. You see, the grounds is so near, that goin' over to one ain't

forsakin' the other; and the colonel, he hasn't really space and place for a man that can do what I can do.'

'An' what is it you propose?'

'That you should take me, mum, for your head man.'

The two were standing now, quite still, looking into one another's eyes; a little sly audacity in those of Christopher, while a smile played about his lips that was both knowing and conciliating. Mrs. Blumenfeld eyed him gravely, with the calm air of one who was quite his match. Christopher could tell nothing from her face.

'I s'pose,' she said, 'you'll want ridiculous wages?'

'By no means, mum!' said Christopher, waving his hand. 'There never was nothin' ridiculous about _you_. I'll punch anybody's head that says it.'

Mrs. Blumenfeld shook the last remnant of soil from the celery roots, and handed the bunch to Christopher.

'There,' she said; 'you may take them along with you--you'll want 'em for dinner. An' I'll send up the onions. An' the rest I'll think about. Good day to ye!'

Christopher went home well content.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

_STRAWBERRIES_.

The winter passed, Esther hardly knew how. For her it was in a depth of study; so absorbing that she only now and then and by minutes gave her attention to anything else. Or perhaps I should say, her thoughts; for certainly the colonel never lacked his ordinary care, which she gave him morning and evening, and indeed all day, when she was at home, with a tender punctuality which proved the utmost attention. But even while ministering to him, Esther's head was apt to be running on problems of geometry and ages of history and constructions of language. She was so utterly engrossed with her work that she gave little heed to anything else. She did notice that Pitt Dallas still sent them no reminders of his existence; it sometimes occurred to her that the housekeeping in the hands of Mrs. Barker was becoming more and more careful; but the only way she saw to remedy that was the way she was pursuing; and she went only the harder at her constructions and translations and demonstrations. The colonel lived _his_ life without any apparent change.


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