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Aunt Jane's Nieces


"My glasses, Phibbs!" cried Miss Jane, eagerly, and the attendant

started briskly for the house to get them.

"What do you know about these girls?" asked the old lawyer curiously.

"Nothing whatever. I scarcely knew of their existence until you hunted

them out for me and found they were alive. But I'm going to know them,

and study them, and the one that's most capable and deserving shall

have my property."

Mr. Watson sighed.

"And Kenneth?" he asked.

"I'll provide an annuity for the boy, although it's more than he

deserves. When I realized that death was creeping upon me I felt a

strange desire to bequeath my fortune to one of my own flesh and

blood. Perhaps I didn't treat my brothers and sisters generously in

the old days, Silas."

"Perhaps not," he answered.

"So I'll make amends to one of their children. That is, if any one of

the three nieces should prove worthy."

"I see. But if neither of the three is worthy?"

"Then I'll leave every cent to charity--except Kenneth's annuity."

The lawyer smiled.

"Let us hope," said he, "that they will prove all you desire. It would

break my heart, Jane, to see Elmhurst turned into a hospital."

Phibbs arrived with the spectacles, and Jane Merrick read her letter,

her face growing harder with every line she mastered. Then she

crumpled the paper fiercely in both hands, and a moment later smoothed

it out carefully and replaced it in the envelope.

Silas Watson had watched her silently.

"Well," said he, at last, "another acceptance?"

"No, a refusal," said she. "A refusal from the Irishman's daughter,

Patricia Doyle."

"That's bad," he remarked, but in a tone of relief.

"I don't see it in that light at all," replied Miss Jane. "The girl

is right. It's the sort of letter I'd have written myself, under the

circumstances. I'll write again, Silas, and humble myself, and try to

get her to come."

"You surprise me!" said the lawyer.

"I surprise myself," retorted the old woman, "but I mean to know more

of this Patricia Doyle. Perhaps I've found a gold mine, Silas Watson!

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