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Aunt Jane's Nieces

Mr. Watson also arranged

with the son of the village curate to tutor Kenneth and prepare him

for college; but either the tutor was incompetent or the pupil did not

apply himself, for at twenty Kenneth Forbes was very ignorant, indeed,

and seemed not to apply himself properly to his books.

He was short of stature and thin, with a sad drawn face and manners

that even his staunch friend, Silas Watson, admitted were awkward and

unprepossessing. What he might have been under different conditions or

with different treatment, could only be imagined. Slowly climbing the

stairs to the little room Kenneth inhabited, Mr. Watson was forced to

conclude, with a sigh of regret, that he could not blame Miss Jane

for wishing to find a more desirable heir to her estate than this

graceless, sullen youth who had been thrust upon her by a thoughtless

request contained in the will of her dead lover--a request that she

seemed determined to fulfil literally, as it only required her to

"look after" Tom's relatives and did not oblige her to leave Kenneth

her property.

Yet, strange as it may seem, the old lawyer was exceedingly fond of

the boy, and longed to see him the master of Elmhurst. Sometimes, when

they were alone, Kenneth forgot his sense of injury and dependence,

and spoke so well and with such animation that Mr. Watson was

astonished, and believed that hidden underneath the mask of reserve

was another entirely different personality, that in the years to come

might change the entire nature of the neglected youth and win for him

the respect and admiration of the world. But these fits of brightness

and geniality were rare. Only the lawyer had as yet discovered them.

Today he found the boy lying listlessly upon the window-seat, an open

book in his hand, but his eyes fixed dreamily upon the grove of huge

elm trees that covered the distant hills.

"Morning, Ken," said he, briefly, sitting beside his young friend and

taking the book in his own hand. The margins of the printed pages were

fairly covered with drawings of every description.

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