And Ester answered, with firmly-drawn lips “As that Savior hears me, and will help me never!”
“LITTLE PLUM PIES.”
Ester was in the kitchen trimming off the puffy crusts of endless pies—the old brown calico morning dress, the same huge bib apron which had been through endless similar scrapes with her—every thing about her looking exactly as it had three months ago, and yet so far as Ester and her future—yes, and the future of every one about her was concerned, things were very different. Perhaps Sadie had a glimmering of some strange change as she eyed her sister curiously, and took note that there was a different light in her eye, and a sort of smoothness on the quiet face that she had never noticed before. In fact, Sadie missed some wrinkles which she had supposed were part and parcel of Ester’s self.
“How I did hate that part of it,” she remarked, watching the fingers that moved deftly around each completed sphere. “Mother said my edges always looked as if a mouse had marched around them nibbling all the way. My! how thoroughly I hate housekeeping. I pity the one who takes me for better or worse—always provided there exists such a poor victim on the face of the earth.”
“I don’t think you hate it half so much as you imagine,” Ester answered kindly. “Any way you did nicely. Mother says you were a great comfort to her.”
There was a sudden mist before Sadie’s eyes.
“Did mother say that?” she queried. “The blessed woman, what a very little it takes to make a comfort for her. Ester, I declare to you, if ever angels get into kitchens and pantries, and the like, mother is one of them. The way she bore with my endless blunderings was perfectly angelic. I’m glad, though, that her day of martyrdom is over, and mine, too, for that matter.”
And Sadie, who had returned to the kingdom of spotless dresses and snowy cuffs, and, above all, to the dear books and the academy, caught at that moment the sound of the academy bell, and flitted away. Ester filled the oven with pies, then went to the side doorway to get a peep at the glowing world. It was the very perfection of a day—autumn meant to die in wondrous beauty that year. Ester folded her bare arms and gazed. She felt little thrills of a new kind of restlessness all about her this morning. She wanted to do something grand, something splendidly good. It was all very well to make good pies; she had done that, given them the benefit of her highest skill in that line—now they were being perfected in the oven, and she waited for something. If ever a girl longed for an opportunity to show her colors, to honor her leader, it was our Ester. Oh yes, she meant to do the duty that lay next her, but she perfectly ached to have that next duty something grand, something that would show all about her what a new life she had taken on.