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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Esther ventured some gentle reminders


to them and make it up?' said the colonel, rubbing his head again. In all his life Esther had hardly ever seen him do it before. 'They have forgotten me long ago; and I suppose they are all grown out of my remembrance. But it might be better for you if we went home.'

'Never mind that, papa; that is not what I am thinking of. Why, who could be better off than I am? But write and make it all up, papa; do! It isn't good for families to live so in hostility. Do what you can to make it up.'

The colonel sat silent, rubbing the hair of his head in every possible direction, while Esther's fancy for a while busied itself with images of an unknown crowd of relations that seemed to flit before her. How strange it would be to have aunts and cousins; young and old family friends, such as other girls had; instead of being so entirely set apart by herself, as it were. It was fascinating, the mere idea. Not that Esther felt her loneliness now; she was busy and healthy and happy; yet this sudden vision made her realise that she _was_ alone. How strange and how pleasant it would be to have a crowd of friends, of one's own blood and name! She mused a little while over this picture, and then came back to the practical present.

'Meanwhile, papa, what do you think of my plan? About getting a house in the city, and giving up Buonaparte and his oats? Don't you think it would be comfortable?'

style="text-align: justify;">The colonel considered the subject now in a quieter mood, discussed it a little further, and finally agreed to drive into town and see what he could find in the way of a house.



Yet the colonel did not go. Days passed, and he did not go. Esther ventured some gentle reminders, which had no effect. And the winter was gone and the spring was come, before he made the first expedition to the city in search of a house. Once started on his quest, it is true the colonel carried it on vigorously, and made many journeys for it; but they were all in vain. Rents in the city were found to be so much higher than rents in the country as fully to neutralize the advantage hoped for in a smaller household and the dismissal of the horse. Not a dwelling could be found where this would not be true. The search was finally given up; and things in the little family went on as they had been going for some time past.

Esther at last, under stress of necessity, made fresh representations to her father, and besought leave to give lessons. They were running into debt, with no means of paying. It went sorely against the grain with the colonel to give his consent; pride and tenderness both rebelled; he hesitated long, but circumstances were too much for him. He yielded at last, not with a groan, but with many groans.

'I came here to take care of you,' he said; 'and _this_ is the end of it!'

'Don't take it so, papa,' cried Esther. 'I like to do it. It is not a hardship.'

'_It_ is a hardship,' he retorted; 'and you will find it so. I find it so now.'

'Even so, papa,' said the girl, with infinite sweetness; 'suppose it be a hardship, the Lord has given it to me; and so long as I am sure it is something He has given, I want no better. Indeed, papa, you know I _could have_ no better.'

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