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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

And the bearskin on the floor looked eminently comfortable


the kitchen and offices. Half

way of its length a stairway ran up, on the outside, to a door nearer the end of the building. Up this stair young Dallas went, and introduced Esther to a large room, which seemed to her presently the oddest and also the most interesting that she had ever in her life seen. Its owner had got together, apparently, the old bits of furniture that his mother did not want any longer; there was an old table, devoid of all varnish, in the floor, covered, however, with a nice green cloth; two or three chairs were the table's contemporaries, to judge by their style, and nothing harder or less accommodating to the love of ease ever entered surely a cabinetmaker's brain. The wood of which they were made had, however, come to be of a soft brown colour, through the influence of time, and the form was not inelegant. The floor was bare and painted, and upon it lay here an old rug and there a great thick bearskin; and on the walls there were several heads of animals, which seemed to Esther very remarkable and extremely ornamental. One beautiful deer's head, with elegant horns; and one elk head, the horns of which in their sweep and extent were simply enormous; then there were one or two fox heads, and a raccoon; and besides all these, the room was adorned with two or three birds, very well mounted. The birds, as the animals, were unknown to Esther, and fascinated her greatly. Books were in this room too, though not in large numbers; a flower press was in one place, a microscope on the table, a
kind of _etagere_ was loaded with papers; and there were boxes, and glasses, and cases; and a general air of a place where a good deal of business was done, and where a variety of tastes found at least attempted gratification. It was a pleasant room, though the description may not sound like it; the heterogeneous articles were in nice order; plenty of light blazed in at the windows, and the bearskin on the floor looked eminently comfortable. If that were luxurious, it was the only bit of luxury in the room.

'Where will you sit?' asked its owner, looking round. 'There isn't anything nice enough for you. I must look up a special chair for you to occupy when you come here. How do you like my room?'

'I like it--very much,' said Esther slowly, turning her eyes from one strange object to another.

'Nobody comes here but me, so we shall have no interruption to fear. When you come to see me, Queen Esther, you will just go straight through the house, out on the piazza, and up these stairs, with out asking anybody; and then you will turn the handle of the door and come in, without knocking. If I am here, well and good; if I am not here, wait for me. You like my deer's horns? I got them up in Canada, where I have been on hunting expeditions with my father.'

'Did _you_ kill them?'

'Some of them. But that great elk head I bought.'

'What big bird is that?'

'That? That is the white-headed eagle--the American eagle.'

'Did that come from Canada too?'

'No; I shot him not far from here, one day, by great luck.'

'Are they difficult to shoot?'

'Rather. I sat half a day in a booth made with branches, to get the chance. There were several of them about that day, so I lay in wait. They are not very plenty just about here. That other fellow is the great European lammergeyer.'


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