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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

But when you hev other folks to see to


Their

hostess, seen by the light of her dip candles, was in perfect harmony with her entertainment. A round little woman, very neat, and terribly plain, with a full oval face, which had no other characteristic of beauty; insignificant features, and a pale skin, covered with freckles. Out of this face, however, looked a pair of small, shrewd, and kind grey eyes; their owner could be no fool.

Esther was surprised to see that her father, who was, to be sure, an old campaigner, made a very fair supper.

'In the darkness I could hardly see where we went,' he remarked. 'But I suppose your husband is the owner of the neat gardens I observed formerly near our house?'

'Wall, he would be if he was alive,' was the answer, 'but that's what he hain't ben this five year.'

'Then, do _you_ manage them?'

'Wall, cunnel, I manage 'em better'n he did. Mr. Blumenfeld was an easy kind o' man; easy to live with, tu; but when you hev other folks to see to, it don't du no ways to let 'em hev their own head too much. An' that's what he did. He was a fust-rate gardener and no mistake; he knowed his business; but the thing he _didn't_ know was folks. So they cheated him. La, folks ain't like flowers, not 'zactly; or if they be, as he used to say, there's thorns among 'em now and then and a weed or two!'

'Blumenfeld?'

repeated the colonel. 'You are not German, surely?'

'Wall, I guess I ain't,' said the little woman, 'Not if I know myself. I ain't sayin' nothin' agin what _he_ was; but la, there's different naturs in the world, and I'm different. Folks doos say, his folks is great for gittin' along; but _he_ warn't; that's all I hev to say. He learned me the garden work, though; that much he did.'

'And now you manage the business?'

'I do so. Won't you hev another cup, cunnel?'

They went back to their disordered house, resisting all further offers of hospitality. And in time, beds were got out and prepared; how, Esther could hardly remember afterwards, the confusion was so great; but it was done, and she lost every other feeling in the joy of repose.

CHAPTER XIX.

_HAPPY PEOPLE_.

At Esther's age nature does her work of recuperation well and fast. It was early yet, and the dawn just breaking into day, when she woke; and, calling to mind her purposes formed last night, she immediately got up. The business of the toilet performed as speedily as possible, she stole down-stairs and roused Mrs. Barker; and while waiting for her to be ready, went to the back door and opened it. A fresh cool air blew in her face; clouds were chasing over the sky before a brisk wind, and below her rolled the broad Hudson, its surface all in commotion; while the early light lay bright on the pretty Jersey shore. Esther stood in a spell of pleasure. This was a change indeed from her Seaforth view, where the eye could go little further than the garden and the road. Here was a new scene opening, and a new chapter in life beginning; Esther's heart swelled. There was a glad mental impulse towards growth and developement, which readily connected itself with this outward change, and with this outward stir also. The movement of wind and water met a movement of the animal spirits, which consorted well with it; the cool air breathed vigour into her resolves; she turned to Mrs. Barker with a very bright face.


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