CHAPTER XIV

MRS. SAUNDERS stood looking at her, and Esther turned suddenly on the sofa and said:

'What time is it, mother?'

'It's gone six; but don't you get up. You're your own mistress whilst you're here; you pays for what you 'as.'

'I can't afford them lazy habits. There's plenty of work here, and I must help you with some of it.'

'Plenty of work here, that's right enough. But why should you bother, and you nearly seven months gone? I daresay you feels that 'eavy that you never care to get out of your chair. But they says that them who works up to the last 'as the easiest time in the end. Not that I've found it so.'

The conversation paused. Esther threw her legs over the side of the sofa, and, still wrapped in the blanket, sat looking at her mother.

'You can't be over-comfortable on that bit of sofa,' said Mrs. Saunders.

'Lor, I can manage right enough, if that was all.'

'You're cast down, Esther; you mustn't give way. Things sometimes turn out better than you'd expect for.'

'You never found they did, mother.'

'Perhaps I didn't, but that says nothing for others. We must bear up as best we can.'

One word led to another, and very soon Esther was telling her mother the whole tale of her misfortune--all about William, the sweepstakes, the ball at the Shoreham Gardens, the walks about the farm and hillside.

'Service is no place for a girl who wants to live as we used to live when father was alive--no service that I've seen. I see that plain enough. Mistress was one of the Brethren like ourselves, and she had to put up with betting and drinking

-109-

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