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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Yet at Seaforth those two facts


had not been without a certain dim perception of all this; and it came to her with special disagreeableness just then, when every thought came that could make her dissatisfied with herself and with her lot. Why had her father ever come away from England, where friends and relations could not have failed? Why had he left Seaforth, where at least they were living like themselves, and where they would not have dropped out of the knowledge of Pitt Dallas? The feeling of loneliness crept again over Esther, and a feeling of having to fight her way as it were single-handed. Was this little house, and Major Street, henceforth to be the scene and sphere of her life and labours? How could she ever work up out of it into anything better?

Esther was tired, and felt blue, which was the reason why all these thoughts and others chased through her mind; and more than one tear rolled down and dropped on her stuff gown. Then she gathered herself up. How had she come to Major Street and to school teaching? Not by her own will or fault. Therefore it was part of the training assigned for her by a wisdom that is perfect, and a love that never forgets. And Esther began to be ashamed of herself. What did she mean by saying, 'The Lord is my Shepherd,' if she could not trust Him to take care of His sheep? And now, how had she been helped out of her difficulties, enabled to pay her debts, brought to a home where she could live and be clear of the world; yes, and live pleasantly

too? And as for being alone-- Esther rose with a smile. 'Can I not trust the Lord for that too?' she thought. 'If it is His will I should be alone, then that is the very best thing for me; and perhaps He will come nearer than if I had other distractions to take my eyes in another direction.'

Barker came in to remove the tea-things, and Esther met her with a smile, the brightness of which much cheered the good woman.

'Was the pheasant good, mum?' she asked in a whisper.

'Capital, Barker, and the honey. And papa made a very good supper. And I am so thankful, Barker! for the house is very nice, and we are moved.'



It was summer again, and on the broad grassy street of Seaforth the sunshine poured in its full power. The place lay silent under the heat of mid-day; not a breath stirred the leaves of the big elms, and no passing wheels stirred the dust of the roadway, which was ready to rise at any provocation. It was very dry, and very hot. Yet at Seaforth those two facts, though proclaimed from everybody's mouth, must be understood with a qualification. The heat and the dryness were not as elsewhere. So near the sea as the town was, a continual freshness came from thence in vapours and cool airs, and mitigated what in other places was found oppressive. However, the Seaforth people said it was oppressive too; and things are so relative in the affairs of life that I do not know if they were more contented than their neighbours. But everybody said the heat was fine for the hay; and as most of the inhabitants had more or less of that crop to get in, they criticised the weather only at times when they were thinking of it in some other connection.

At Mrs. Dallas's there was no criticism of anything. In the large comfortable rooms, where windows were all open, and blinds tempering the too ardent light, and cool mats on the floors, and chintz furniture looked light and summery, there was an atmosphere of pure enjoyment and expectation, for Pitt was coming home again, and his mother was looking for him with every day. She was sitting now awaiting him; no one could tell at what hour he might arrive; and his mother's face was beautiful with hope. She was her old self; not changed at all by the four or five years of Pitt's absence; as handsome and as young and as stately as ever. She made no demonstration now; did not worry either herself or others with questions and speculations and hopes and fears respecting her son's coming; yet you could see on her fine face, if you were clever at reading faces, the lines of pride and joy, and now and then a quiver of tenderness. It was seen by one who was sitting with her, whose interest and curiosity it involuntarily moved.

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