CHAPTER XII

'THEY are just crazy about it upstairs. Ginger and the Gaffer are the worst. They say they had better sell the place and build another house somewhere else. None of the county people will call on them now--and just as they were beginning to get on so well! Miss Mary, too, is terrible cut up about it; she says it will interfere with her prospects, and that Ginger has nothing to do now but to marry the kitchen- maid to complete the ruin of the Barfields.'

'Miss Mary is far too kind to say anything to wound another's feelings. It was only a nasty old deceitful thing like yourself who could think of such a thing.'

'Eh, you got it there, my lady,' said Sarah, who had had a difference with Grover, and was anxious to avenge it.

Grover looked at Sarah in astonishment, and her look clearly said, 'Is everyone going to side with that little kitchenmaid?'

Then, to flatter Mrs. Latch, Sarah spoke of the position the Latches had held three generations ago; the Barfields were then nobodies; they had nothing even now but their money, and that had come out of a livery stable. 'And it shows, too; just compare Ginger with young Preston or young Northcote. Anyone could tell the difference.'

Esther listened with an unmoved face and a heavy ache in her heart. She had now not an enemy nor yet an opponent; the cause of rivalry and jealousy being removed, all were sorry for her. They recognised that she had suffered and was suffering, and, seeing none but friends about her, she was led to think how happy she might have been in this beautiful house if it had not been for William. She loved her work, for she was working for those she loved. She could imagine no life happier than hers might have been. But she had sinned,

-84-

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