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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Miss Fairbairn was a tall woman


style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER XX.

_SCHOOL_.

After much consideration the colonel had determined that Esther should be a sort of half boarder at Miss Fairbairn's school; that is, she should stay there from Monday morning to Saturday night. Esther combated this determination as far as she dared.

'Papa, will not that make me a great deal more expense to you than I need be?'

'Not much difference, my dear, as to that. If you came back every night I should have to keep a horse; now that will not be necessary, and Christopher will have more time to attend to other things.'

'But, papa, it will leave you all the week alone!'

'That must be, my child. I must be alone all the days, at any rate.'

'Papa, you will miss me at tea, and in the evenings.'

'I must bear that.'

It troubles me, papa.'

'And that you must bear. My dear, I do not grudge the price I pay. See you only that I get what I pay for.'

'Yes, papa,' Esther said meekly. She could go no further.

Miss Fairbairn was a tall woman, but not imposing either in manner or looks. Her face was sensible, with a mixture of

the sweet and the practical which was at least peculiar; and the same mixture was in her manner. This was calm and gentle in the utmost degree; also cool and self-possessed equally; and it gave Esther the impression of one who always knew her own mind and was accustomed to make it the rule for all around her. A long talk with this lady was the introduction to Esther's school experience. It was a very varied talk; it roved over a great many fields and took looks into others; it was not inquisitive or prying, and yet Esther felt as if her interlocutor were probing her through and through, and finding out all she knew and all she did not know. In the latter category, it seemed to Esther, lay almost everything she ought to have known. Perhaps Miss Fairbairn did not think so; at any rate her face expressed no disappointment and no disapproval.

'In what way have you carried on your study of history, my dear?' she finally asked.

'I hardly can tell; in a box of coins, I believe,' Esther answered.

'Ah? I think I will get me a box of coins.'

Which meant, Esther could not tell what. She found herself at last, to her surprise, put with the highest classes in the English branches and in Latin.

Her work was immediately delightful. Esther was so buried in it that she gave little thought or care to anything else, and did not know or ask what place she took in the esteem of her companions or of her teachers. As the reader may be more curious, one little occurrence that happened that week shall serve to illustrate her position; did illustrate it, in the consciousness of all the school family, only not of Esther herself.


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