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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Esther immediately pricked up her ears


'I

guess I was a fool,' began Mrs. Bounder at last. 'But it came into my head, ef they're in such a fix as you say, whether maybe they wouldn't take up with my house. I guess, hardly likely.'

'_Your_ house?' inquired Christopher, in astonishment. But his wife calmly nodded.

'_Your_ house!' repeated Christopher. 'Which one?'

'Wall, not this one, I guess,' said his wife quietly. 'But I've got one in town.'

'A house in town! Why, I never heard of it before.'

'No, 'cause it's been standin' empty for a spell back, doin' nothin'. Ef there had been rent comin' in, I guess you'd have heard of it. But the last folks went out; and I hadn't found no one that suited me to let hev it.'

'Would it do for the colonel and Miss Esther?'

'That's jes' what I don' know, Christopher. It would du as fur's the rent goes; an' it's all right and tight. It won't let the rain in on 'em; I've kep' it in order.'

'I should like to see what you don't keep in order!' said Christopher admiringly.

'Wall, I guess it's my imagination. For, come to think of it, it ain't jes' sich a house as your folks are accustomed to.'

'The thing is,' said Christopher gravely, 'they can't

have just what they're accustomed to. Leastways I'm afeard they can't. I'll just speak to Miss Esther about it.'

'Wall, you kin du that. 'Twon't du no harm. I allays think, when anybody's grown poor he'd best take in his belt a little.'

CHAPTER XXXI.

_MAJOR STREET_.

According to the conclusion thus arrived at, Christopher took the opportunity of speaking to Esther the very next time he was driving her in from school. Esther immediately pricked up her ears, and demanded to know where the house was situated. Christopher told her. It was a street she was not acquainted with.

'Do you know how to find the place, Christopher?'

'Oh, yes, Miss Esther; I can find the place, to be sure; but I'm afraid my little woman has made a mistake.'

'What is the rent?'

Christopher named the rent. It was less than what they were paying for the house they at present occupied; and Esther at once ordered Christopher to turn about and drive her to the spot.

It was certainly not a fashionable quarter, not even near Broadway or State Street; nevertheless it was respectable, inhabited by decent people. The house itself was a small wooden one. Now it is true that at that day New York was a very different place from what it is at present; and a wooden house, and even a small wooden house, did not mean then what it means now; an abode of Irish washerwomen, or of something still less distinguished. Yet Esther startled a little at the thought of bringing her father and herself to inhabit it. Christopher had the key; and he fastened Buonaparte, and let Esther in, and went all over the house with her. It was in order, truly, as its owner had said; even clean; and nothing was off the hinges or wanting paint or needing plaster. 'Right and tight' it was, and susceptible of being made an abode of comfort; yet it was a very humble dwelling, comparatively, and in an insignificant neighbourhood; and Esther hesitated. Was it pride? she asked herself. Why did she hesitate? Yet she lingered over the place, doubting and questioning and almost deciding it would not do. Then Christopher, I cannot tell whether consciously or otherwise, threw in a makeweight that fell in the scale that was threatening to rise.


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