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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Barker spent all the afternoons at the new house


the matter, Barker?' Esther said cheerily. 'You and I will soon put this in nice order, with Christopher's help; and then, when we have got it fitted up, we shall be as comfortable as ever; you will see.'

'Oh dear Miss Esther!' the housekeeper ejaculated; 'that ever I should see this day! The like of you and my master!'

'What then?' said Esther, smiling. 'Barker, shall we not take what the Lord gives us, and be thankful? I am.'

'There ain't no use for Christopher here, as I see,' Mrs. Barker went on.

'No, and he will not be here. Do you see now how happy it is that he has got a home of his own?--which you were disposed to think so unfortunate.'

'I haven't changed my mind, mum,' said the housekeeper. 'How's your horse goin' to be kep', without Christopher?'

'I am not going to keep the horse. Here I shall not need him.'

'The drives you took was very good for you, mum.'

'I will take walks instead. Don't you be troubled. Dear Barker, do you not think our dear Lord knows what is good for us? and do you not think what He chooses is the best? I do.'

Esther's face was very unshadowed, but the housekeeper's, on the contrary, seemed to darken more and more. She stood in the middle

of the floor, in one of the small rooms, and surveyed the prospect, alternately within and without the windows.

'Miss Esther, dear,' she began again, as if irrepressibly, 'you're young, and you don't know how queer the world is. There's many folks that won't believe you are what you be, if they see you are livin' in a place like this.'

Did not Esther know that? and was it not one of the whispers in her mind which she found it hardest to combat? She had begun already to touch the world on that side on which Barker declared it was 'queer.' She went, it is true, hardly at all into society; scarce ever left the narrow track of her school routine; yet even there once or twice a chance encounter had obliged her to recognise the fact that in taking the post of a teacher she had stepped off the level of her former associates. It had hurt her a little and disappointed her. Nobody, indeed, had tried to be patronizing; that was nearly impossible towards anybody whose head was set on her shoulders in the manner of Miss Gainsborough's; but she felt the slighting regard in which low-bred people held her on account of her work and position. And so large a portion of the world is deficient in breeding, that to a young person at least the desire of self-assertion comes as a very natural and tolerably strong temptation. Esther had felt it, and trodden it under foot, and yet Mrs. Barker's words made her wince. How could anybody reasonably suppose that a gentleman would choose such a house and such a street to live in?

'Never mind, Barker,' she said cheerfully, after a pause. 'What we have to do is the right thing; and then let all the rest go.'

'Has the colonel seen it, Miss Esther?'

'No, and I do not mean he shall, till we have got it so nice for him that he will feel comfortable.'

The work of moving and getting settled began without delay. Mrs. Barker spent all the afternoons at the new house; and thither came Esther also every day as soon as school was out at three o'clock. The girl worked very hard in these times; for after her long morning in school she gave the rest of the daylight hours to arranging and establishing furniture, hanging draperies, putting up hooks, and the like; and after that she went home to make her father's tea, and give him as much cheery talk as she could command. In the business of moving, however, she found unexpected assistance.

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