“Yes,” with a relieved sigh; “and, Alfred, I never mean to be such a woman as Ester is when I grow up. I wouldn’t for the world. I mean to be nice, and good, and kind, like sister Sadie.”
Now the letter which had caused so much trouble in the Ried family, and especially in Ester’s heart, was, in one sense, not an ordinary letter. It had been written to Ester’s cousin, Abbie, her one intimate friend, Uncle Ralph’s only daughter. These two, of the same age, had been correspondents almost from their babyhood; and yet they had never seen each other’s faces.
To go to New York, to her uncle’s house, to see and be with Cousin Abbie, had been the one great dream of Ester’s heart—as likely to be realized, she could not help acknowledging, as a journey to the moon, and no more so. New York was at least five hundred miles away; and the money necessary to carry her there seemed like a small fortune to Ester, to say nothing of the endless additions to her wardrobe which would have to be made before she would account herself ready. So she contented herself, or perhaps it would be more truthful to say she made herself discontented, with ceaseless dreams over what New York, and her uncle’s family, and, above all, Cousin Abbie, were like; and whether she would ever see them; and why it had always happened that something was sure to prevent Abbie’s visits to herself; and whether she should like her as well, if she could be with her, as she did now; and a hundred other confused and disconnected thoughts about them all.
Ester had no idea what this miserable, restless dreaming of hers was doing for her. She did not see that her very desires after a better life, which were sometimes strong upon her, were colored with impatience and envy.
Cousin Abbie was a Christian, and wrote her some earnest letters; but to Ester it seemed a very easy matter indeed for one who was surrounded, as she imagined Abbie to be, by luxury and love, to be a joyous, eager Christian. Into this very letter that poor Julia had sent sailing down the stream, some of her inmost feelings had been poured.
“Don’t think me devoid of all aspirations after something higher,” so the letter ran. “Dear Abbie, you, in your sunny home, can never imagine how wildly I long sometimes to be free from my surroundings, free from petty cares and trials, and vexations, which, I feel, are eating out my very life. Oh, to be free for one hour, to feel myself at liberty, for just one day, to follow my own tastes and inclinations; to be the person I believe God designed me to be; to fill the niche I believe He designed me to fill! Abbie, I hate my life. I have not a happy moment. It is all rasped, and warped, and unlovely. I am nothing, and I know it; and I had rather, for my own comfort, be like the most of those who surround me—nothing, and not know it. Sometimes I can not help asking myself why I was made as I am. Why can’t I be a clod, a plodder, and drag my way with stupid good nature through this miserable world, instead of chafing and bruising myself at every step.”