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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

''I am afraid you have been thinking of Seaforth


'Seaforth!

Why? Who did you think it was?'

'I am sure, mum, I don't know. I couldn't see good, with the light behind him, and he standin' in the doorway. And I can't say how it was, but what he made me think of, it was Seaforth, mum.'

'I am afraid you have been thinking of Seaforth, Barker,' said Esther, with half a sigh. 'It could not have been anybody we used to know. Papa went there, you know, last summer, to see old friends, or to see what had become of them; and Mr. and Mrs. Dallas were gone to England, to their son, and with them the young lady he is to marry. I daresay he may be married by this time, or just going to be married. He has quite forgotten us, you may be sure. I do not expect ever to see him again. Was this man yesterday young or old?'

'Young, mum, and tall and straight, and very personable. I'd like to see his face!--but it may be as you say.'

Perhaps Esther would have put some further question to her father at breakfast about his yesterday's visit, but as it happened she had other things to think of. The colonel was in a querulous mood; not altogether uncommon in these days, but always very trying to Esther. When he seemed contented and easy, she felt repaid for all labours or deprivations; but when that state of things failed, and he made himself uncomfortable about his surroundings, there would come a miserable _cui bono_ feeling.

If _he_ were not satisfied, then what did she work for? and what was gained by it all? This morning she was just about to put a question, when Colonel Gainsborough began.

'Is this the best butter one can get in this town?'

'Papa, I do not know!' said Esther, brought back from yesterday to to-day with a sudden pull. 'It is Mrs. Bounder's butter, and we have always found it very good; and she lets us have it at a lower rate than we could get it in the stores.'

'Nothing is good that is got "at a low rate." I do not believe in that plan. It is generally a cheat in the end.'

'It has been warm weather, you know, papa; and it is difficult to keep things so nice without a cool cellar.'

'That is one of the benefits of living in Major Street. It ought to be called "Minor,"--for we are "minus" nearly everything, I think.'

What could Esther say?

'My dear, what sort of bread is this?'

'It is from the baker's, papa. Is it not good?'

'Baker's bread is never good; not fit to nourish life upon. How comes it we have baker's bread? Barker knows what I think of it.'

'I suppose she was unable to bake yesterday.'

'And of course to-day her bread will be too fresh to be eatable! My dear, cannot you bring a little system into her ways?'

'She does the very best she can, papa.'

'Yes, yes, I know that; as far as the intention goes; but all such people want a head over them. They know nothing whatever about system. By the way, can't she fry her bacon without burning it? This is done to a crisp.'

'Papa, I am very sorry! I did not mean to give you a burnt piece. Mine is very good. Let me find you a better bit.'


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