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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Bounder laughed a little slyly


Esther's path was smoothed in more ways than one, and even in more ways than I have indicated. For Mrs. Bounder went over and insinuated herself (with some difficulty) so far into Mrs. Barker's good graces that she was allowed to give her help in the multifarious business and cares of the moving. She was capital help. Mrs. Barker soon found that any packing intrusted to her was sure to be safely done; and the little woman's wits were of the first order, always at hand, cool, keen, and comprehensive. She followed, or rather went with the waggon to the house in Major Street; helped unpack, helped put down carpets, helped clear away litter and arrange things in order; and further still, she constantly brought something with her for the bodily refreshment and comfort of Esther and the housekeeper. Her delicious rye bread came, loaf after loaf, sweet butter, eggs, and at last some golden honey. There was no hindering her; and her presence and ministry grew to be a great assistance and pleasure also to Esther. Esther tried to tell her something of this. 'You cannot think how your kindness has helped me,' she said, with a look which told more than her words.

'Don't!' said Mrs. Bounder, when this had happened a second time. 'I was readin' in the Bible the other day--you set me readin' the Bible, Miss Esther--where it says somethin' about a good woman "ministerin' to the saints." I ain't no saint myself, and I guess it'll never be said of me; but I suppose

the next thing to _bein'_ a saint is ministerin' to the saints, and I'd like to du that anyhow, ef I only knowed how.'

'You have been kind ever since I knew you,' said Esther. 'I am glad to know our Christopher has got such a good wife.'

Mrs. Bounder laughed a little slyly, as she retorted, 'Ain't there nothin' to be glad of on my side tu?'

'Indeed, yes!' answered Esther. 'Christopher is as true and faithful as it is possible to be; and as to business-- But you do not need that I should tell you what Christopher is,' she broke off, laughing.

There was a pleasant look in the little woman's eyes as she stood up for a moment and faced Esther.

'I guess I took him most of all because he be longed to you!' she said.



Esther made to herself a pleasure of getting the little dwelling in order. With two such helpers as she had, the work went on bravely, and Christopher got in coal and chopped wood enough to last all winter. The ready money from the sale of Buonaparte had given her the means for that and for some other things. She was intent upon making the new home look so homelike that her father should be in some measure consoled for the shock which she knew its exterior would give him. The colonel liked no fire so well as one of his native 'sea-coal.' The house had open fireplaces only. So Esther had some neat grates put in the two lower rooms and in her father's sleeping chamber. They had plenty of carpets, and the two little parlours were soon looking quite habitable.

'We will keep the back one for a dining-room,' she said to Mrs. Barker; 'that will be convenient for you, being nearest the kitchen stairs, and this will be for papa's study. But it has a bare look yet. I must make some curtains and put up, to hide the view of that dreadful street.'

'That'll cost money, mum,' observed the housekeeper. 'Wouldn't some o' them old ones at home be passable, if they was made over a bit?'

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