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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

But this wasn't that sort o' pusson


you think it was philosophy, or science, or languages, or school work? Nay, it was something which with Esther went before all these, and if need were would have excluded all of them. She had time for them too, as things were, but this must come first. She must 'draw water from the wells of salvation,' before she felt freshened up for the rather weary encounters and dry routine of school life; she must feel the Rock under her feet, and breathe the air of heaven a bit before she ventured forth into the low-lying grounds and heavy vapours of earthly business and intercourse; and she must have her armour well on, and bright, before she dared to meet the possible dangers and temptations which might come to her in the course of the day. It is true, this day was a free day, but that made no difference. Being at home had its trials and difficulties as well as being abroad.

But drawing from those wells, and breathing that air, Esther thought nothing of trials or difficulties; and, in matter of fact, for her they hardly seemed to exist, or were perceived, as it were, dimly, and their contact scarce felt. I suppose it is true in all warfares, that a well-armed and alert soldier is let alone by the foes that would have swallowed him up if he had been defenceless or not giving heed. And if you could have seen Esther's face during that hour, you would understand that all possible enemies were, at least for the time, as hushed as the lions in Daniel's den;

so glad, so grave, so pure and steadfast, so enjoying, was the expression which lay upon it. Reading and praying--praying and reading--an hour good went by. Then Esther rose up, ready for the work of the day.

She threw open all the windows and put out her lamp. Then she gave both the rooms a careful cleaning and dusting and putting in order; set the table in the one for breakfast, and laid the fire in the other, to be lit whenever her father might desire it. All this done and in readiness, she sat down again to study. This time it was study of a lower grade; partly preparation for school work, partly reading for her own advancement, though there was not much time for this latter. It was long past eight, and Mrs. Barker came with the chafing-dish of red coals and the tea-kettle. She stood by while Esther made the tea, looking on or meditating; and then began to blow the coals in the chafing-dish. She blew the coals and looked at Esther.

'Miss Esther,' she began, 'did master say anything about the visitor that came to see him yesterday?'

'Not much. Why? He said it was somebody on business.'

'Well, mum, he didn't look like that sort o' pusson at all.'

'Why not? Any sort of person might come on business, you know.'

'True, mum, but this wasn't that sort o' pusson. If Christopher had opened the door for him, he'd ha' knowed; but my eyes is that poor, when I'm lookin' out into the light, I can't seem to see nothin' that's nearer me. But howsomever, mum, what I did see of him, somehow, it put me in mind of Seaforth.'

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