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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

' exclaimed Esther with delight


Christopher came for her with an old horse and a gig, which was a new subject of interest.

'Where did you get them?' she asked, as soon as she had taken her seat, and begun to make her observations.

'Nowheres, Miss Esther; leastways _I_ didn't. The colonel, he's bought 'em of some old chap that wanted to get rid of 'em.'

'Bought? Then they are ours!' exclaimed Esther with delight. 'Well, the gig seems very nice; is it a good horse, Christopher?'

'Well, mum,' said Mr. Bounder in a tone of very moderate appreciation, 'master says he's the remains of one. The colonel knows, to be sure, but I can't say as I see the remains. I think, maybe, somewheres in the last century he may have deserved high consideration; at present, he's got four legs, to be sure, such as they be, and a head. The head's the most part of him.'

'Obstinate?' said Esther, laughing.

'Well, mum, he thinks he knows in all circumstances what is best to be done. I'm only a human, and naturally I thinks otherwise. That makes differences of opinion.'

'He seems to go very well.'

'No doubt, mum,' said Christopher; 'you let him choose his way, and he'll go uncommon; that he do.'

He went so well, in fact, that the drive was exhilarating; the gig was very easy; and Esther's spirits rose. At her age, the mind is just opening to appreciate keenly whatever is presented to it; every new bit of knowledge, every new experience, a new book or a new view, seemed to be taken up by her senses and her intelligence alike, with a fresh clearness of perception, which had in itself something very enjoyable. But this afternoon, how pleasant everything was! Not the weather, however; a grey mist from the sea was sweeping inland, veiling the country, and darkening the sky, and carrying with it a penetrating raw chillness which was anything but agreeable. Yet to Esther it was good weather. She was entered at school; she had had a busy, happy week, and was going home; there were things at home that she wanted to put in order; and her father must be glad to have her ministry again. Then learning was so delightful, and it was so pleasant to be, at least in some small measure, keeping step with Pitt. No, probably not _that;_ certainly not that; Pitt would be far in advance of her. At least, in some things, he would be far in advance of her; in others, Esther said to herself, he should not. He might have more advantages at Oxford, no doubt; nevertheless, if he ever came back again to see his old friends, he should find her doing her part and standing up to her full measure of possibilities. Would Pitt come back? Surely he would, Esther thought. But would he, in such a case, make all the journey to New York to look up his old teacher and his old playmate and scholar? She answered this query with as little hesitation as the other. And so, it will be perceived, Esther's mind was in as brisk motion as her body during the drive out to Chelsea.

For at that day a wide stretch of country, more or less cultivated, lay between what is now Abingdon Square and what was then the city. Esther's new home was a little further on still, down near the bank of the river; a drive of a mile and a half or two miles from Miss Fairbairn's school; and the short November day was closing in already when she got there.


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