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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

And though Esther was not very old in the world


'It

is a long while that we have heard nothing from the Dallases!'

'Yes,' Esther said apathetically.

'Mr. Dallas used to write to me now and then.'

'They are busy with their own concerns, and we are out of sight; why should they remember us?'

'They used to be good neighbours, in Seaforth.'

'Pitt. Papa, I do not think his father and mother were ever specially fond of us.'

'Pitt never writes to me now,' the colonel went on, after a pause.

'He is busy with _his_ concerns. He has forgotten us too. I suppose he has plenty of other things to think of. Oh, I have given up Pitt long ago.'

The colonel brooded over his thoughts a while, then raised his head and looked again over the small room.

'My dear, it would have been better to stay where we were,' he said regretfully.

Esther could not bear to pain him by again reminding him that their means would not allow it; and as her father lay back upon the sofa and closed his eyes, she went away into the other room and sat down at the corner of that fire, where the partition wall screened her from view. For she wanted to let her head drop on her knees and be still; and a few tears that she could not help

came hot to her eyes. She had worked so hard to get everything in nice order for her father; she had so hoped to see him pleased and contented; and now he was so illogically discontented! Truly he could tell her nothing she did not already know about the disadvantages of their new position; and they all rushed upon Esther's mind at this minute with renewed force. The pleasant country and the shining river were gone; she would no longer see the lights on the Jersey shore when she got up in the morning; the air would not come sweet and fresh to her windows; there would be no singing of birds or fragrance of flowers around her, even in summer; she would have only the streets and the street cries and noises, and dust, and unsweet breath. The house would do inside; but outside, what a change! And though Esther was not very old in the world, nor very worldly-wise for her years, she knew--if not as well as her father, yet she knew--that in Major Street she was pretty nearly cut off from all social intercourse with her kind. Her school experience and observation had taught her so much. She knew that her occupation as a teacher in a school was enough of itself to put her out of the way of invitations, and that an abode in Major Street pretty well finished the matter. Esther had not been a favourite among her school companions in the best of times; she was of too uncommon a beauty, perhaps; perhaps she was too different from them in other respects. Pleasant as she always was, she was nevertheless separate from her fellows by a great separation of nature; and that is a thing not only felt on both sides, but never forgiven by the inferiors. Miss Gainsborough, daughter of a rich and influential retired officer, would, however, have been sought eagerly and welcomed universally; Miss Gainsborough, the school teacher, daughter of an unknown somebody who lived in Major Street, was another matter; hardly a desirable acquaintance. For what should she be desired?


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