And at this harangue Ester laughed a free, glad laugh, such as was seldom heard from her. Some way it began to seem as if she were really to go, Sadie had such a brisk, business-like way of saying “Ester shall take it to New York.” Oh, if she only, only could go, she would be willing to do any thing after that; but one peep, one little peep into the beautiful magic world that lay outside of that dining-room and kitchen she felt as if she must have. Perhaps that laugh did as much for her as any thing. It almost startled Mrs. Ried with its sweetness and rarity. What if the change would freshen and brighten her, and bring her back to them with some of the sparkles that continually danced in Sadie’s eyes; but what, on the other hand, if she should grow utterly disgusted with the monotony of their very quiet, very busy life, and refuse to work in that most necessary treadmill any longer. So the mother argued and hesitated, and the decision which was to mean so much more than any of those knew, trembled in the balance; for let Mrs. Ried once find voice to say, “Oh, Ester, I don’t see but what you will have to give it up,” and Ester would have turned quickly and with curling lip, to that pan of potatoes, and have sharply forbidden any one to mention the subject to her again. Once more Sadie, dear, merry, silly Sadie, came to the rescue.
“Mother, oh, mother! what an endless time you are in coming to a decision! I could plan an expedition to the North Pole in less time than this. I’m just wild to have her go. I want to hear how a genuine New York bride looks; besides, you know, dear mother, I want to stay in the kitchen with you. Ester does every thing, and I don’t have any chance. I perfectly long to bake, and boil, and broil, and brew things. Say yes, there’s a darling.”
And Mrs. Ried looked at the bright, flushed face, and thought how little the dear child knew about all these matters, and how little patience poor Ester, who was so competent herself, would have with Sadie’s ignorance, and said, slowly and hesitatingly, but yet actually said:
“Well, Ester, my daughter, I really think we must try to get along without you for a little while!”
And these three people really seemed to think that they had decided the matter. Though two of them were at least theoretical believers in a “special providence,” it never once occurred to them that this little thing, in all its details, had been settled for ages.
“Twenty minutes here for refreshments!” “Passengers for New York take south track!” “New York daily papers here!” “Sweet oranges here!” And amid all these yells of discordant tongues, and the screeching of engines, and the ringing of bells, and the intolerable din of a merciless gong, Ester pushed and elbowed her way through the crowd, almost panting with her efforts to keep pace with her