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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Esther wondered if that were really true


'The colour would not fit here. No, that would not do. I'll get some chintz that is dark and bright at once. I have money. Oh, we are going to be rich now, Barker; and you shall not be stinted in your marketing any more. And this is going to be very nice, _inside_.'

To the outside Esther could not get accustomed. It gave her a kind of prick of dismay every time she saw it anew. What would her father say when _he_ saw it? Yet she had done right and wisely; of that she had no doubt at all; it was very unreasonable that, her judgment being satisfied, her feeling should rebel. Yet it did rebel. When did ever one of her family live in such a place before? They had come down surely very far, to make it possible. Only in the matter of money, to be sure; but then, money has to do largely with the outward appearance one makes, and upon the appearance depends much of the effect upon one's fellow-creatures. The whisper would come back in Esther's mind: Who will believe you are what you are, if they see you coming out of such a house? And what then? she answered the whisper. If the Lord has given us this place to dwell in, that and all other effects and consequences of it are part of His will in the matter. What if we are to be overlooked and looked down upon? what have I to do with it? what matters it? Let pride be quiet, and faith be very thankful. Here are all my difficulties set aside, and no danger of not paying our debts any more.

She reasoned so, and fought against pride, if pride it were, which took the other side. She _would_ be thankful; and she was. Nevertheless, a comparison would arise now and then with the former times, and with their state at Seaforth; and further back still, with the beauties and glories of the old manor house in England. Sometimes Esther felt a strange wave of regret come over her at the thought of the gay circle of relations she did not know, who were warm in the shelter of prosperity and the cheer of numbers. She knew herself in a better shelter, yes, and in a better cheer; and yet sometimes, as I said, an odd feeling of loss and descent would come over her as she entered Major Street Esther was working hard these days, which no doubt had something to do with this. She rushed from her morning duties to the school; then at three o'clock rushed to Major Street; and from there, when it grew too dark to work, drove home to minister to her father. Probably her times of discouragement were times when she was a little tired. The thought was very far from her usually. In her healthy and happy youth, busy life, and mental and spiritual growth and thrift, Esther's wants seemed to be all satisfied; and so long as things ran their ordinary course, she felt no deficiency. But there are conditions in which one is warm so long as one does not move, while the first stir of change brings a chill over one. And so sometimes now, as Esther entered Major Street or set her face towards it, she would think of her far-off circle of Gainsborough cousins, with a half wish that her father could have borne with them a little more patiently; and once or twice the thought came too, that the Dallases never let themselves be heard from any more. Not even Pitt. She would not have thought it of him, but he was away in a foreign country, and it must be that he had forgotten them. His father and mother were near, and could not forget; was not the old house there before them always to remind them? But they were rich and prosperous and abounding in everything; they had no need of the lonely two who had gone out of their sight and who did need them. It was the way of the world; so the world said. Esther wondered if that were really true, and also wondered now and then if Major Street were to be henceforth not only the sphere but the limit of her existence. She never gave such thoughts harbour; they came and they went; and she remained the cheerful, brave, busy girl she had long been.


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