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reply. "My toast is _never_ burnt, and only this morning father
pronounced it perfect."

"Oh, she is developing!" answered Mrs. Ried, with a curious mixture
of annoyance and amusement in look and tone. "If Mr. Foster fails in
business soon, as I presume he will, judging from his present rate
of proceeding, we shall find her advertising for the position of
first-class cook in a small family."

If Abbie felt wounded or vexed over this thrust at Mr. Foster, it
showed itself only by a slight deepening of the pink on her cheek,
as she answered in the brightest of tones: "If I do, mother, and you
engage me, I'll promise you that the eggs shall not be boiled as hard
as these are."

All this impressed two thoughts on Ester's mind - one, that Abbie, for
some great reason unknown to, and unimagined by herself, actually of
her own free will, arose early every morning, and busied herself
over preparations for her father's breakfast; the other, that Abbie's
mother said some disagreeable things to her, in a disagreeable way - a
way that would exceedingly provoke _her_, and that she _wouldn't
endure_, she said to herself, with energy.

These two thoughts so impressed themselves, that when she and Abbie
were alone again, they led her to ask two questions:

"Why do you get breakfast at home for your father, Abbie? Is it
necessary?"

"No; only I like it, and he likes it. You see, he has very little
time to spend at home, and I like that little to be homelike; besides,
Ester, it is my one hour of opportunity with my father. I almost
_never_ see him alone at any other time, and I am constantly praying
that the Spirit will make use of some little word or act of mine to
lead him to the cross."

There was no reply to be made to this, so Ester turned to the other
question:

"What does your mother mean by her reference to Mr. Foster?"

"She thinks some of his schemes of benevolence are on too large a
scale to be prudent. But he is a very prudent man, and doesn't seem to
think so at all."

"Doesn't it annoy you to have her speak in that manner about him?"

The ever-ready color flushed into Abbie's cheeks again, and, after a
moment's hesitation, she answered gently: "I think it would, Ester, if
she were not my _own mother_, you know."

Another rebuke. Ester felt vexed anyway. This new strange cousin of
hers was going to prove painfully good.

But her first day in New York, despite the strangeness of everything,
was full of delight to her. They did not go out, as Ester was supposed
to be wearied from her journey, though, in reality, she never felt
better; and she reveled all day in a sense of freedom - of doing
exactly what she pleased, and indeed of doing nothing; this last was
an experience so new and strange to her, that it seemed delightful.
Ester's round of home duties had been so constant and pressing, the
rebound was extreme; it seemed to her that she could never bake any
more pies and cakes in that great oven, and she actually shuddered
over the thought that, if she were at home, she would probably be
engaged in ironing, while Maggie did the heavier work.

She went to fanning most vigorously as this occurred to her, and
sank back among the luxurious cushions of Abbie's easy chair, as if
exhausted; then she pitied herself most industriously, and envied
Abbie more than ever, and gave no thought at all to mother and Sadie,
who were working so much harder than usual, in order that she might
sit here at ease. At last she decided to dismiss every one of these
uncomfortable thoughts, to forget that she had ever spent an hour of
her life in a miserable, hot kitchen, but to give herself entirely and
unreservedly to the charmed life, which stretched out before her for
three beautiful weeks. "Three weeks is quite a little time, after
all," she told herself hopefully. "Three weeks ago I hadn't the least
idea of being here; and who knows what may happen in the next three
weeks? Ah! sure enough, Ester, who knows?"

"When am I to see Mr. Foster?" she inquired of Abbie as they came up
together from the dining-room after lunch.

"Why, you will see him to-night, if you are not too tired to go out
with me. I was going to ask about that."

"I'm ready for anything; don't feel as if I ever experienced the
meaning of that word," said Ester briskly, rejoiced at the prospect of
going anywhere.

"Well, then, I shall carry you off to our Thursday evening
prayer-meeting - it's just _our_ meeting, you see - we teachers in the
mission - there are fifty of us, and we do have the most delightful
times. It is like a family - rather a large family, perhaps you
think - but it doesn't seem so when we come on Sabbath, from the great
congregation, and gather in our dear little chapel - we seem like a
company of brothers and sisters, shutting ourselves in at home, to
talk and pray together for a little, before we go out into the world
again. Is Thursday your regular prayer-meeting evening, Ester?"

Now it would have been very difficult for Ester to tell when _her_
regular prayer-meeting evening was, as it was so long ago that she
grew out of the habit of regularly attending, that now she scarcely
ever gave it a thought. But she had sufficient conscience left to be
ashamed of this state of things, and to understand that Abbie referred
to the church prayer-meeting, so she answered simply - "No; Wednesday."

"That is our church prayer-meeting night. I missed it last evening
because I wanted to welcome you. And Tuesday is our Bible-class
night."

"Do you give three evenings a week to religious meetings, Abbie?"

"Yes," said Abbie with softly glee; "isn't it splendid? I appreciate
my privileges, I assure you; so many people _could not_ do it."

"And so many people _would not_" Ester thought.

So they were not in to dinner with the family, but took theirs an hour
earlier; and with David, whom Abbie called her body-guard, for escort,
made their way to Abbie's dear little chapel, which proved to be a
good-sized church, very prettily finished and furnished.

That meeting, from first to last, was a succession of surprises to
Ester, commencing with the leader, and being announced to Abbie in
undertone:

"Your minister is the very man who spoke to me yesterday in the
depot."

Abbie nodded and smiled her surprise at this information; and Ester
looked about her. Presently another whisper:

"Why, Abbie, there is the blue-ribboned girl I told you about, sitting
in the third seat from the front."

"That," said Abbie, looking and whispering back, "is Fanny Ames; one
of our teachers."

Presently Ester set to work to select Mr. Foster from the rows of
young men who were rapidly filling the front seats in the left aisle.

"I believe that one in glasses and brown kids is he," she said to
herself, regarding him curiously; and as if to reward her penetration
he rose suddenly and came over, book in hand, to the seat directly in
front of where they were sitting.

"Good evening, Abbie," was his greeting. "We want to sing this hymn,
and have not the tune. Can you lead it without the notes?"

"Why, yes," answered Abbie slowly, and with a little hesitation. "That
is, if you will help me."

"We'll all help," he said, smiling and returning to his seat.

"Yes, I'm sure that is he," commented Ester. Then the meeting
commenced; it was a novel one. One person at least had never attended
any just like it. Instead of the chapter of proper length, which Ester
thought all ministers selected for public reading, this reader read
just three verses, and he did not even rise from his seat to do it,
nor use the pulpit Bible, but read from a bit of a book which he took
from his pocket. Then the man in spectacles started a hymn, which
Ester judged was the one which had no notes attached from the prompt
manner in which Abbie took up the very first word.

"Now," said the leader briskly, "before we pray let us have requests."
And almost before he had concluded the sentence a young man responded.

"Remember, especially, a boy in my class, who seems disposed to turn
every serious word into ridicule."

"What a queer subject for prayer," Ester thought.

"Remember my little brother, who is thinking earnestly of those
things," another gentleman said, speaking quickly, as if he realized
that he must hasten or lose his chance.

"Pray for every one of my class. I want them all." And at this
Esther actually started, for the petition came from the lips of the
blue-ribboned Fanny in the corner. A lady actually taking part in a
prayer-meeting when gentlemen were present! How very improper. She
glanced around her nervously, but no one else seemed in the least
surprised or disturbed; and indeed another young lady immediately
followed her with a similar request.

"Now," said the leader, "let us pray." And that prayer was so strange
in its sounding to Ester. It did not commence by reminding God that he
was the maker and ruler of the universe, or that he was omnipotent and
omnipresent and eternal, or any of the solemn forms of prayer to
which her ears were used, but simply: "Oh, dear Savior, receive these
petitions which we bring. Turn to thyself the heart of the lad who
ridicules the efforts of his teacher; lead the little brother into
the strait and narrow way; gather that entire class into thy heart of
love" - and thus for each separate request a separate petition; and
as the meeting progressed it grew more strange every moment to Ester.
Each one seemed to have a word that he was eager to utter; and the
prayers, while very brief, were so pointed as to be almost startling.
They sang, too, a great deal, only a verse at a time, and whenever
they seemed to feel like it. Her amazement reached its hight when she
felt a little rustle beside her, and turned in time to see the eager
light in Abbie's eyes as she said:

"One of my class has decided for Christ."

"Good news," responded the leader. "Don't let us forget this item of
thanksgiving when we pray."

As for Ester she was almost inclined not to believe her ears. Had her
cousin Abbie actually "spoken in meeting?" She was about to sink into
a reverie over this, but hadn't time, for at this point the leader
arose.

"I am sorry," said he, "to cut the thread that binds us, but the hour
is gone. Another week will soon pass, though, and, God willing, we
shall take up the story - sing." And a soft, sweet chant stole through
the room: "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the
lifting of my hands as evening sacrifice." Then the little company
moved with a quiet cheerfulness toward the door.

"Have you enjoyed the evening?" Abbie asked in an eager tone, as they
passed down the aisle.

"Why, yes, I believe so; only it was rather queer."

"Queer, was it? How?"

"Oh, I'll tell you when we get home. Your minister is exactly behind
us, Abbie, and I guess he wants to speak with you."

There was a bright flush on Abbie's face, and a little sparkle in her
eye, as she turned and gave her hand to the minister, and then said
in a demure and softly tone: "Cousin Ester, let me make you acquainted
with my friend, Mr. Foster."




CHAPTER XI.

THE NEW BOARDER.


"I don't know what to decide, really," Mrs. Ried said thoughtfully,
standing, with an irresolute air, beside the pantry door. "Sadie,
hadn't I better make these pies?"

"Is that the momentous question which you can't decide, mother?"

Mrs. Ried laughed. "Not quite; it is about the new boarder. We have
room enough for another certainly, and seven dollars a week is quite
an item just now. If Ester were at home, I shouldn't hesitate."

"Mother, if I weren't the meekest and most enduring of mortals, I
should be hopelessly vexed by this time at the constancy with which
your thoughts turn to Ester; it is positively insulting, as if I were
not doing remarkably. Do you put anything else in apple-pies? I never
mean to have one, by the way, in my house. I think they're horrid;
crust - apples - nutmeg - little lumps of butter all over it. Is there
anything else, mother, before I put the top on?"

"Sometimes I sweeten mine a little," Mrs. Ried answered demurely.

"Oh, sure enough; it was that new boarder that took all thoughts of
sweetness out of me. How much sugar, mother? Do let him come. We
are such a stupid family now, it is time we had a new element in it;
besides, you know I broke the largest platter yesterday, and his seven
dollars will help buy another. I wish he was anything but a doctor,
though; one ingredient of that kind is enough in a family, especially
of the stamp which we have at present."

"Sadie," said Mrs. Ried gravely and reprovingly; "I never knew a young
man for whom I have a greater respect than I have for Dr. Van Anden."

"Yes, ma'am," answered Sadie, with equal gravity; "I have an immense
respect for him I assure you, and so I have for the President, and I
feel about as intimate with the one as the other. I hope Dr. Douglass
will be delightfully wild and wicked. How will Dr. Van Anden enjoy the
idea of a rival?"

"I spoke of it to him yesterday. I told him we would't give the matter
another thought if it would be in any way unpleasant to him. I thought
we owed him that consideration in return for all his kindness to us;
but he assured me that it could make not the slightest difference to
him."

"Do let him come, then. I believe I need another bed to make; I'm
growing thin for want of exercise, and, by the way, that suggests
an item in his favor; being a doctor, he will be out all night
occasionally, perhaps, and the bed won't need making so often. Mother,
I do believe I didn't put a speck of soda in that cake I made this
morning. What will that do to it? or, more properly speaking, what
will it _not_ do, inasmuch as it is not there to _do_? As for Ester, I
shall consider it a personal insult if you refer to her again, when I
am so magnificently filling her place."

And this much enduring mother laughed and groaned at nearly the same
time. Poor Ester never forgot the soda, nor indeed anything else,
in her life; but then Sadie was so overflowing with sparkle and good
humor.

Finally the question was decided, and the new boarder came, and
was duly installed in the family; and thence commenced a new era
in Sadie's life. Merry clerks and schoolboys she counted among her
acquaintances by the score. Grave, dignified, slightly taciturn men of
the Dr. Van Anden stamp she numbered also among her friends; but never
one quite like Dr. Douglass. This easy, graceful, courteous gentleman,
who seemed always to have just the right thing to say or do, at just
the right moment; who was neither wild nor sober; who seemed the
furthest possible remove from wicked, yet who was never by any chance
disagreeably good. His acquaintance with Sadie progressed rapidly. A
new element had come to mix in with her life. The golden days wherein
the two sisters had been much together, wherein the Christian sister
might have planted much seed for the Master in Sadie's bright young
heart, had all gone by. Perchance that sleeping Christian, nestled so
cosily among the cushions in Cousin Abbie's morning-room, might have
been startled and aroused, could she have realized that days like
those would never come back to her; that being misspent they had
passed away; that a new worker had come to drop seed into the
unoccupied heart; that never again would Sadie be as fresh, and as
guileless, and as easily won, as in those days which she had let slip
in idle, aye, worse than idle, slumber.

Sadie sealed and directed a letter to Ester and ran with it down
stairs. Dr. Douglass stood in the doorway, hat in hand.

"Shall I have the pleasure of being your carrier?" he said
courteously.

"Do you suppose you are to be trusted?" Sadie questioned, as she
quietly deposited the letter in his hat.

"That depends in a great measure on whether you repose trust in me.
The world is safer in general than we are inclined to think it. Who
lives in that little birdsnest of a cottage just across the way?"

"A dear old gentleman, Mr. Vane," Sadie answered, her voice taking
a tender tone, as it always did when any chance word reminded her of
Florence. "That is he standing in the gateway. Doesn't he look like a
grand old patriarch?"

As they looked Dr. Van Anden drove suddenly from around the corner,
and reined in his horses in front of the opposite gateway. They could
hear his words distinctly.

"Mr. Vane, let me advise you to avoid this evening breeze; it is
blowing up strongly from the river."

"Is Dr. Van Anden the old gentleman's nurse, or guardian, or what?"
questioned Sadie's companion.

"Physician," was her brief reply. Then, after a moment, she laughed
mischievously. "You don't like Dr. Van Anden, Dr. Douglass?"

"I! Oh, yes, I like him; the trouble is, he doesn't like me, for which
he is not to blame, to be sure. Probably he can not help it. I have in
some way succeeded in gaining his ill-will. Why do you think I am not
one of his admirers?"

"Oh," answered this rude and lawless girl, "I thought it would be very
natural for you to be slightly jealous of him, professionally, you
know."

If her object was to embarrass or annoy Dr. Douglass, apparently she
did not gain her point. He laughed good humoredly as he replied:

"Professionally, he is certainly worthy of envy; I regard him as a
very skillful physician, Miss Ried."

Ere Sadie could reply the horses were stopped before the door, and Dr.
Van Anden addressed her:

"Sadie, do you want to take a ride?"

Now, although Sadie had no special interest in, or friendship for, Dr.
Van Anden, she did exceedingly like his horses, and cultivated their
acquaintance whenever she had an opportunity. So within five minutes
after this invitation was received she was skimming over the road in a
high state of glee. Sadie marked that night afterward as the last one
in which she rode after those black ponies for many a day. The Doctor
seemed more at leisure than usual, and in a much more talkative mood;
so it was quite a merry ride, until he broke a moment's silence by an
abrupt question:

"Sadie, haven't your mother and you always considered me a sincere
friend to your family?"

Sadie's reply was prompt and to the point.

"Certainly, Dr. Van Anden; I assure you I have as much respect for,
and confidence in, you as I should have had for my grandfather, if I
had ever known him."

"That being the case," continued the Doctor, gravely, "you will give
me credit for sincerity and earnestness in what I am about to say. I
want to give you a word of warning concerning Dr. Douglass. He is not
a man whom _I_ can respect; not a man with whom I should like to see
my sister on terms of friendship. I have known him well and long,
Sadie; therefore I speak."

Sadie Ried was never fretful, never petulant, and very rarely angry;
but when she was, it was a genuine case of unrestrained rage, and woe
to the individual who fell a victim to her blazing eyes and sarcastic
tongue. To-night Dr. Van Anden was that victim. What right had he to
arraign her before him, and say with whom she should, or should not,
associate, as if he were indeed her very grandfather! What business
had he to think that she was too friendly with Dr. Douglass!

With the usual honesty belonging to very angry people, it had not once
occurred to her that Dr. Van Anden had said and done none of these
things. When she felt that her voice was sufficiently steady, she
spoke:

"I am happy to be able to reassure you, Dr. Van Anden, you are _very_
kind - extremely so; but as yet I really feel myself in no danger from
Dr. Douglass' fascinations, however remarkable they may be. My mother
and I enjoy excellent health at present, so you need have no anxiety
as regards our choice of physicians, although it is but natural that
you should feel nervous, perhaps; but you will pardon me for saying
that I consider your interference with my affairs unwarrantable and
uncalled for."

If Dr. Van Anden desired to reply to this insulting harangue, there
was no opportunity, for at this moment they whirled around the corner
and were at home.

Sadie flung aside her hat with an angry vehemence, and, seating
herself at the piano, literally stormed the keys, while the Doctor
re-entered his carriage and quietly proceeded to his evening round of
calls.

What a whirlwind of rage there was in Sadie's heart! What earthly
right had this man whom she _detested_ to give _her_ advice? Was she a
child, to be commanded by any one? What right had any one to speak in
that way of Dr. Douglass? He was a gentleman, _certainly_, much more
of a one than Dr. Van Anden had shown himself to be - and she liked
him; yes, and she would like him, in spite of a whole legion of
envious doctors.

A light step crossed the hall and entered the parlor. Sadie merely
raised her eyes long enough to be certain that Dr. Douglass stood
beside her, and continued her playing. He leaned over the piano and
listened.

"Had you a pleasant ride?" he asked, as the tone of the music lulled a
little.

"Charming." Sadie's voice was full of emphasis and sarcasm.

"I judged, by the style of music which you were playing, that there
must have been a hurricane."

"Nothing of the sort; only a little paternal advice."

"Indeed! Have you been taken into his kindly care? I congratulate
you."

Sadie was still very angry, or she would never have been guilty of the
shocking impropriety of her next remark. But it is a lamentable
fact that people will say and do very strange things when they are
angry - things of which they have occasion to repent in cooler moments.

Fixing her bright eyes full and searchingly on Dr. Douglass, she said
abruptly:

"He was warning me against the impropriety of associating with your
dangerous self."

A look as of sadness and deep pain crossed Dr. Douglass' face, and he
thought aloud, rather than said: "Is that man determined I shall have
no friends?"

Sadie was touched; she struck soft, sweet chords with a slow and
gentle movement as she asked:

"What is your offense in his eyes, Dr. Douglass?"

Then, indeed, Dr. Douglass seemed embarrassed; maintaining, though, a
sort of hesitating dignity as he attempted a reply.

"Why - I - he - I would rather not tell you, Miss Ried, it sounds badly."
Then, with a little, slightly mournful laugh - "And that half admission
sounds badly, too; worse than the simple truth, perhaps. Well, then,
I had the misfortune to cross his path professionally, once; a little
matter, a slight mistake, not worth repeating - neither would I repeat
it if it were, in honor to him. He is a man of skill and since then
has risen high; one would not suppose that he would give that little
incident of the past a thought now; but he seems never to have
forgiven me."

The music stopped entirely, and Sadie's great truthful eyes were fixed
in horror on his face. "Is it possible," she said at length, "that
_that_ is all, and he can bear such determined ill-will toward you?
and they call him an earnest Christian!"

At which remark Dr. Douglass laughed a low, quick laugh, as if he
found it quite impossible to restrain his mirth, and then became
instantly grave, and said:

"I beg your pardon."

"For what, Dr. Douglass; and why did you laugh?"

"For laughing; and I laughed because I could not restrain a feeling of
amusement at your innocently connecting his unpleasant state of mind
with his professions of Christianity."

"Should they not be connected?"

"Well, that depends upon how much importance you attach to them."

"Dr. Douglass, what do you mean?"

"Treason, I suspect, viewed from your standpoint; and therefore it
would be much more proper for me not to talk about it."

"But I want you to talk about it. Do you mean to say that you have no
faith in any one's religion?"

"How much have you?"

"Dr. Douglass, that is a very Yankee way of answering a question."

"I know; but it is the easiest way of reaching my point; so I repeat:
How much faith have you in these Christian professions? or, in other
words, how many professing Christians do you know who are particularly
improved in your estimation by their professions?"

The old questioning of Sadie's own heart brought before her again! Oh,
Christian sister, with whom so many years of her life had been spent,
with whom she had been so closely connected, if she could but
have turned to you, and remembering your earnest life, your honest
endeavors toward the right, your earnest struggles with sin and self;
the evident marks of the Lord Jesus all about you; and, remembering
this, have quelled the tempter in human form, who stood waiting for a


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