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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Barker disappeared with her skillet


'I

know the barrel in which the cooking things were packed stands there; in the hall, I think. Christopher, will you unpack it? But first, fill the kettle and bring it here.'

'_Here_, Miss Esther?' cried the housekeeper.

'Yes; it will soon boil here. And, Barker, the hampers with the china are in the other room; if you will unpack them, I think you can find the tea-pot and some cups.'

'They'll all want washin', Miss Esther.'

'Very well; we shall have warm water here by that time. And then I can give papa his tea and toast, and boil some eggs, and that will do very well; everything else we want is in the basket, and plenty, as we did not eat it last night.'

It was all done,--it took time, to be sure, but it was done; and when Colonel Gainsborough came down, hesitating and somewhat forlorn, he found a fire burning in the grate, Mrs. Barker watching over a skillet in one corner, and Esther over a tea-kettle in the other. The room was filled with the morning light, which certainly showed the bare floor and the packing-boxes standing around; but also shone upon an unpacked table, cups, plates, bread and butter. Esther had thought it was very comfortable. Her father seemed not to take that view.

'What are you doing there?' he said. 'Is this to be the kitchen?'

justify;">'Only for this morning, papa,' said Esther cheerfully. 'This is just the kettle for your tea, and Barker is boiling an egg for you; at least she will as soon as the water boils.'

'All this should have been done elsewhere, my dear.'

'It was not possible, papa. The kitchen is absolutely full of boxes--it will take a while to clear it; and I wanted first to get a corner for you to be comfortable in. We will get things in order as fast as we can. Now the kettle boils, Barker, don't it? You may put in the eggs.'

'My dear, I do not think this is the place for the sofa.'

'Oh no, papa, I do not mean it; the room looking towards the water is the prettiest, and will be the pleasantest; that will be the sitting-room, I think; but we could only do one thing at a time. Now, you shall have your tea and toast in two minutes.'

'There is no doing anything well without system,' said the colonel. 'Arrange your work always, and then take it in order, the first thing first, and so on. Now I should have said, the _first_ thing here was the kitchen fire.'

Esther knew it was not, and that her doings had been with admirable system; she was a little disappointed that they met with no recognition. She had counted upon her father's being pleased, and even a little surprised that so much had been done. Silently she made his tea, and toasted him with much difficulty a slice of bread. Mrs. Barker disappeared with her skillet. But the colonel was in the state of mind that comes over many ease-loving men when their ease is temporarily disturbed.

'How long is it going to take two people to get these things unboxed and in their places?' he inquired, as his eye roved disconsolately over the room and its packing-cases. 'This is pretty uncomfortable!'


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