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Aunt Jane's Nieces

The estate is Kenneth's,

sir, after all, for he is the sole heir of his mother. Katherine

Bradley Forbes. Hurrah!" ended the lawyer, waving the yellow paper

above his head.

"Hurrah!" echoed Uncle John, gleefully; and the two men shook hands.

CHAPTER XXIII.

PATSY ADOPTS AN UNCLE.

Uncle John and Mr. Watson did not appear at dinner, being closeted in

the former's room. This meal, however, was no longer a state function,

being served by the old servants as a mere matter of routine. Indeed,

the arrangements of the household had been considerably changed by the

death of its mistress, and without any real head to direct them

the servants were patiently awaiting the advent of a new master or

mistress. It did not seem clear to them yet whether Miss Patricia or

Lawyer Watson was to take charge of Elmhurst: but there were few tears

shed for Jane Merrick, and the new regime could not fail to be an

improvement over the last.

At dinner the young folks chatted together in a friendly and eager

manner concerning the events of the day. They knew of old James'

unfortunate end, but being unaware of its import gave it but passing

attention. The main subject of conversation was Aunt Jane's surprising

act in annulling her last will and forcing Patricia to accept the

inheritance when she did not want it. Kenneth, being at his ease when

alone with the three cousins, protested that it would not be right

for Patsy to give him all the estate. But, as she was so generous,

he would accept enough of his Uncle Tom's money to educate him as an

artist and provide for himself an humble home. Louise and Beth, having

at last full knowledge of their cousin's desire to increase their

bequests, were openly very grateful for her good will; although

secretly they could not fail to resent Patsy's choice of the boy as

the proper heir of his uncle's fortune. The balance of power seemed to

be in Patricia's hands, however; so it would be folly at this juncture

to offend her.

Altogether, they were all better provided for than they had feared

would be the case; so the little party spent a pleasant evening and

separated early, Beth and Louise to go to their rooms and canvass

quietly the events of the day, and the boy to take a long stroll

through the country lanes to cool his bewildered brain.

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