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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

And his oats and hay are not paid for


'Papa,

we want more money, or we need to make less expenditure. I must consult you as to the which and the how.'

The colonel's face darkened. 'I see no necessity,' he answered.

'But I do, papa. I see it so clearly that I am forced to disturb you. I am very sorry, but I must. I am sure the time has come for us to take some decided measures. We cannot go on as we are going now.'

'I should like to ask, why not?'

'Because, papa--because the outlay and the income do not meet.'

'It seems to me that is rather my affair,' said the colonel coolly.

'Yes, papa,' said Esther, with a certain eagerness, 'I like it to be your affair--only tell me what I ought to do.'

'Tell you what you ought to do about what?'

'How to pay as we go, papa,' she answered in a lower tone.

'It is very simple,' the colonel said, with some impatience. 'Let your expenses be regulated by your means. In other words, do not get anything you have not the money for.'

'I should like to follow that rule, papa; but'--

'Then follow it,' said the colonel, going back to his book, as if the subject were dismissed.

'But, papa,

there are some things one _must_ have.'

'Very well. Get those things. That is precisely what I mean.'

'Papa, flour is one of them.'

'Yes. Very well. What then?'

'Our last barrel of flour is not paid for.'

'Not paid for! Why not?'

'Barker could not, papa.'

'Barker should not have got it, then. I allow no debts.'

'But, papa, we must have bread, you know. That is one of the things that one cannot do with out. What should she do?' Esther said gently.

'She could go to the baker's, I suppose, and get a loaf for the time.'

'But, papa, the bread costs twice as much that way; or one third more, if not twice as much. I do not know the exact proportion; but I know it is very greatly more expensive so.'

The colonel was well enough acquainted with details of the commissary department to know it also. He was for a moment silenced.

'And, papa, Buonaparte, too, must eat; and his oats and hay are not paid for.' It went sharp to Esther's heart to say the words, for she knew how keenly they would go to her father's heart; but she was standing in the breach, and must fight her fight. The colonel flew out in hot displeasure; sometimes, as we all know, the readiest disguise of pain.

'Who dared to get hay and oats in my name and leave it unpaid for?'


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