Aunt Jane's Nieces
BETH RECEIVES AN INVITATION.
Professor De Graf was sorting the mail at the breakfast table.
"Here's a letter for you, Beth," said he, and tossed it across the
cloth to where his daughter sat.
The girl raised her eyebrows, expressing surprise. It was something
unusual for her to receive a letter. She picked up the square envelope
between a finger and thumb and carefully read the inscription, "Miss
Elizabeth De Graf, Cloverton, Ohio." Turning the envelope she found on
the reverse flap a curious armorial emblem, with the word "Elmhurst."
Then she glanced at her father, her eyes big and somewhat startled
in expression. The Professor was deeply engrossed in a letter from
Benjamin Lowenstein which declared that a certain note must be paid at
maturity. His weak, watery blue eyes stared rather blankly from behind
the gold-rimmed spectacles. His flat nostrils extended and compressed
like those of a frightened horse; and the indecisive mouth was
tremulous. At the best the Professor was not an imposing personage.
He wore a dressing-gown of soiled quilted silk and linen not too
immaculate; but his little sandy moustache and the goatee that
decorated his receding chin were both carefully waxed into sharp
points--an indication that he possessed at least one vanity. Three
days in the week he taught vocal and instrumental music to the
ambitious young ladies of Cloverton. The other three days he rode to
Pelham's Grove, ten miles away, and taught music to all who wished to
acquire that desirable accomplishment. But the towns were small and
the fees not large, so that Professor De Graf had much difficulty in
securing an income sufficient for the needs of his family.
The stout, sour-visaged lady who was half-hidden by her newspaper at
the other end of the table was also a bread-winner, for she taught
embroidery to the women of her acquaintance and made various articles
of fancy-work that were sold at Biggar's Emporium, the largest store
in Cloverton. So, between them, the Professor and Mrs.