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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Frank Baum > Fairy tale "Aunt Jane's Nieces"

Aunt Jane's Nieces

CHAPTER I.

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.

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