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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

'The housekeeper glanced at Esther


papa, it would not hurt me to be a governess for a while; it would do me no sort of hurt; and it would help our finances. There is another thing I could teach--mathematics.'

'I have settled that question,' said the colonel, going back to his book.

'Papa,' said the girl after a pause, 'may I give lessons enough to pay for the lessons that are given me?'


'But, papa, it troubles me very much, the thought that we are living beyond our means; and on my account.' And Esther now looked troubled.

'Leave all that to me.'

Well, it was all very well to say, 'Leave that to me;' but Esther had a strong impression that matters of this sort, so left, would not meet very thorough attention. There was an interval here of some length, during which she was pondering and trying to get up her courage to go on.

'Papa,'--she broke the silence doubtfully,--'I do not want to disturb you, but I must speak a little more. Perhaps you can explain; I want to understand things better. Papa, do you know Barker has still less money now to do the marketing with than she had last year?'

'Well, what do you want explained?' The tone was dry and not encouraging.

'Papa, she cannot get the things you


'Do I complain?'

'No, sir, certainly; but--is this necessary?'

'Is what necessary?'

'Papa, she tells me she cannot get you the fruit you ought to have; you are stinted in strawberries, and she has not money to buy raspberries.'

'Call Barker.'

The call was not necessary, for the housekeeper at this moment appeared to take away the tea-things.

'Mrs. Barker,' said the colonel, 'you will understand that I do not wish any fruit purchased for my table. Not until further orders.'

The housekeeper glanced at Esther, and answered with her decorous, 'Certainly, sir;' and with that, for the time, the discussion was ended.



But it is in the nature of this particular subject that the discussion of it is apt to recur. Esther kept silence for some time, possessing herself in patience as well as she could. Nothing more was said about Christopher by anybody, and things went their old train, minus peaches, to be sure, and also minus pears and plums and nuts and apples, articles which Esther at least missed, whether her father did or not. Then fish began to be missing.

'I thought, Miss Esther, dear,' said Mrs. Barker when this failure in the _menu_ was mentioned to her,--'I thought maybe the colonel wouldn't mind if he had a good soup, and the fish ain't so nourishin', they say, as the meat of the land creatures. Is it because they drinks so much water, Miss Esther?'

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