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Aunt Jane's Nieces

Slender and graceful of form, attractive

of feature and dainty in manner, Louise must be credited with

many advantages; but against these might be weighed her evident

insincerity--the volubility and gush that are so often affected to

hide one's real nature, and which so shrewd and suspicious a woman as

Aunt Jane could not fail to readily detect. Altogether, Beth was not

greatly disturbed by her cousin's appearance, and suddenly realizing

that they had been staring at one another rather rudely, she said,

pleasantly enough:

"Won't you sit down?"

"Of course; we must get acquainted," replied Louise, gaily, and

perched herself cross-legged upon the window-seat, surrounded by a

mass of cushions.

"I didn't know you were here, until an hour ago," she continued. "But

as soon as Aunt Jane told me I ran to my room, unpacked and settled

the few traps I brought with me, and here I am--prepared for a good

long chat and to love you just as dearly as you will let me."

"I knew you were coming, but not until this morning," answered Beth,

slowly. "Perhaps had I known, I would not have accepted our Aunt's

invitation."

"Ah! Why not?" enquired the other, as if in wonder.

Beth hesitated.

"Have you known Aunt Jane before today?" she asked.

"No."

"Nor I. The letter asking me to visit her was the first I have ever

received from her. Even my mother, her own sister, does not correspond

with her. I was brought up to hate her very name, as a selfish,

miserly old woman. But, since she asked me to visit her, we judged she

had softened and might wish to become friendly, and so I accepted the

invitation. I had no idea you were also invited."

"But why should you resent my being here?" Louise asked, smiling.

"Surely, two girls will have a better time in this lonely old place

than one could have alone. For my part, I am delighted to find you at

Elmhurst."

"Thank you," said Beth. "That's a nice thing to say, but I doubt if

it's true. Don't let's beat around the bush. I hate hypocrisy, and if

we're going to be friends let's be honest with one another from the

start.

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