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Esther : a book for girls   By: (1840-1909)

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CHAPTER I. The Last Day at Redmayne House.

CHAPTER II. The Arrival at Combe Manor.


CHAPTER IV. Uncle Geoffrey.

CHAPTER V. The Old House at Milnthorpe.

CHAPTER VI. The Flitting.

CHAPTER VII. Over the Way.

CHAPTER VIII. Flurry and Flossy.

CHAPTER IX. The Cedars.

CHAPTER X. "I Wish I Had a Dot of My Own."

CHAPTER XI. Miss Ruth's Nurse.

CHAPTER XII. I Was Not Like Other Girls.

CHAPTER XIII. "We Have Missed Dame Bustle."

CHAPTER XIV. Playing in Tom Tidler's Ground.

CHAPTER XV. Life at the Brambles.

CHAPTER XVI. The Smugglers' Cave.


CHAPTER XVIII. "You Brave Girl!"

CHAPTER XIX. A Letter from Home.

CHAPTER XX. "You Were Right, Esther."

CHAPTER XXI. Santa Claus.

CHAPTER XXII. Allan and I Walk to Eltham Green.

CHAPTER XXIII. Told in the Sunset.

CHAPTER XXIV. Ringing the Changes.




What trifles vex one!

I was always sorry that my name was Esther; not that I found fault with the name itself, but it was too grave, too full of meaning for such an insignificant person. Some one who was learned in such matters I think it was Allan told me once that it meant a star, or good fortune.

It may be so, but the real meaning lay for me in the marginal note of my Bible: Esther, fair of form and good in countenance, that Hadassah, who was brought to the palace of Shushan, the beautiful Jewish queen who loved and succored her suffering people; truly a bright particular star among them.

Girls, even the best of them, have their whims and fancies, and I never looked at myself in the glass on high days and holidays, when a festive garb was desirable, without a scornful protest, dumbly uttered, against so shining a name. There was such a choice, and I would rather have been Deborah or Leah, or even plain Susan, or Molly; anything homely, that would have suited my dark, low browed face. Tall and angular, and hard featured what business had I with such a name?

"My dear, beauty is only skin deep, and common sense is worth its weight in gold; and you are my good sensible Esther," my mother said once, when I had hinted rather too strongly at my plainness. Dear soul, she was anxious to appease the pangs of injured vanity, and was full of such sweet, balmy speeches; but girls in the ugly duckling stage are not alive to moral compliments; and, well perhaps I hoped my mother might find contradiction possible.

Well, I am older and wiser now, less troublesomely introspective, and by no means so addicted to taking my internal structure to pieces, to find out how the motives and feelings work; but all the same, I hold strongly to diversity of gifts. I believe beauty is a gift, one of the good things of God; a very special talent, for which the owner must give account. But enough of this moralizing, for I want to speak of a certain fine afternoon in the year of our Lord, 18 well, never mind the date.

It was one of our red letter days at Redmayne House in other words, a whole holiday; we always had a whole holiday on Miss Majoribanks' birthday. The French governess had made a grand toilette, and had gone out for the day. Fraulein had retired to her own room, and was writing a long sentimental effusion to a certain "liebe Anna," who lived at Heidelberg. As Fraulein had taken several of us into confidence, we had heard a great deal of this Anna von Hummel, a little round faced German, with flaxen plaits and china blue eyes, like a doll; and Jessie and I had often wondered at this strong Teutonic attachment. Most of the girls were playing croquet they played croquet then on the square lawn before the drawing room windows; the younger ones were swinging in the lime walk. Jessie and I had betaken ourselves with our books to a corner we much affected, where there was a bench under a may tree.

Jessie was my school friend chum, I think we called it; she was a fair, pretty girl, with a thoroughly English face, a neat compact figure, and manners which every one pronounced charming and lady like; her mind was lady like too, which was the best of all... Continue reading book >>

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