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Aunt Jane's Nieces

"But I don't mean to cross over just yet, Silas, even if one limb is

dead already. I shall hang on until I get this matter settled, and I

can't settle it properly without seeing all three of my nieces. One of

these is too hard, and the other too soft. I'll see what Patricia is

like."

"She may prove even more undesirable," said the lawyer.

"In that case, I'll pack her back again and choose between these two.

But you must fetch her, Silas, that I may know just what I am doing.

And you must fetch her at once!"

"I'll do the best I can, Jane," repeated the old lawyer.

CHAPTER X.

THE MAN WITH THE BUNDLE.

In the harness-room above the stable sat Duncan Muir, the coachman and

most important servant, with the exception of the head gardener, in

Miss Merrick's establishment. Duncan, bald-headed but with white and

bushy side-whiskers, was engaged in the serious business of oiling and

polishing the state harness, which had not been used for many months

past. But that did not matter. Thursday was the day for oiling the

harness, and so on Thursday he performed the task, never daring to

entrust a work so important to a subordinate.

In one corner of the little room Kenneth Forbes squatted upon a bench,

with an empty pine box held carelessly in his lap. While Duncan worked

the boy was busy with his pencil, but neither had spoken for at least

a half hour.

Finally the aged coachman, without looking up, enquired:

"What do ye think o' 'em, Kenneth lad?"

"Think o' whom, Don?"

"The young leddies."

"What young ladies?"

"Miss Jane's nieces, as Oscar brought from the station yesterday."

The boy looked astonished, and leaned over the box in his lap eagerly.

"Tell me, Don," he said. "I was away with my gun all yesterday, and

heard nothing of it."

"Why, it seems Miss Jane's invited 'em to make her a visit."

"But not yet, Don! Not so soon."

"Na'theless, they're here."

"How many, Don?"

"Two, lad. A bonny young thing came on the morning train, an' a nice,

wide-awake one by the two o'clock.

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