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

Aunt Jane's Nieces

Aunt Jane knew and loved

every inch of her property. She had watched the shrubs personally for

many years, and planned all the alterations and the construction of

the flower-beds which James had so successfully attended to. Each

morning, when her health permitted, she had inspected the greenhouses

and issued her brief orders--brief because her slightest word to the

old gardener incurred the fulfillment of her wishes. But this bit of

garden adjoining her own rooms was her especial pride, and contained

the choicest plants she had been able to secure. So, since she had

been confined to her chair, the place had almost attained to the

dignity of a private drawing-room, and on bright days she spent many

hours here, delighting to feast her eyes with the rich coloring of the

flowers and to inhale their fragrance. For however gruff Jane Merrick

might be to the people with whom she came in contact, she was always

tender to her beloved flowers, and her nature invariably softened when

in their presence.

By and by Oscar, the groom, stepped through an opening in the hedge

and touched his hat.

"Has my niece arrived?" asked his mistress, sharply.

"She's on the way, mum," the man answered, grinning. "She stopped

outside the grounds to pick wild flowers, an' said I was to tell you

she'd walk the rest o' the way."

"To pick wild flowers?"

"That's what she said, mum. She's that fond of 'em she couldn't

resist it. I was to come an' tell you this, mum; an' she'll follow me


Aunt Jane stared at the man sternly, and he turned toward her an

unmoved countenance. Oscar had been sent to the station to meet Louise

Merrick, and drive her to Elmhurst; but this strange freak on the part

of her guest set the old woman thinking what her object could be. Wild

flowers were well enough in their way; but those adjoining the grounds

of Elmhurst were very ordinary and unattractive, and Miss Merrick's

aunt was expecting her. Perhaps--

A sudden light illumined the mystery.

"See here, Oscar; has this girl been questioning you?

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