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Aunt Jane's Nieces

Her figure was a bit slim and unformed,

and her shoulders stooped a little more than was desirable; but in

Cloverton Elizabeth had the reputation of being "a pretty girl," and a

sullen and unresponsive one as well.

Presently she rose from her seat, glanced at the clock, and then went

into the hall to get her hat and school-books. The prospect of being

an heiress some day had no present bearing on the fact that it was

time to start for school.

Her father came to the door with the check in his hand.

"Just sign your name on the back of this, Beth," said he, "and I'll

get it cashed for you."

The girl shook her head.

"No, father," she answered. "If I decide to go to Aunt Jane's I must

buy some clothes; and if you get the money I'll never see a cent of

it."

"When will you decide?" he asked.

"There's no hurry. I'll take time to think it over," she replied. "I

hate Aunt Jane, of course; so if I go to her I must be a hypocrite,

and pretend to like her, or she never will leave me her property.

"Well, Beth?"

"Perhaps it will be worth while; but if I go into that woman's house

I'll be acting a living lie."

"But think of the money!" said her mother.

"I do think of it. That's why I didn't tell you at once to send the

check back to Aunt Jane. I'm going to think of everything before I

decide. But if I go--if I allow this money to make me a hypocrite--I

won't stop at trifles, I assure you. It's in my nature to be

dreadfully wicked and cruel and selfish, and perhaps the money isn't

worth the risk I run of becoming depraved."

"Elizabeth!"

"Good-bye; I'm late now," she continued, in the same quiet tone, and

walked slowly down the walk.

The Professor twisted his moustache and looked into his wife's eyes

with a half frightened glance.

"Beth's a mighty queer girl," he muttered.

"She's very like her Aunt Jane," returned Mrs. De Graf, thoughtfully

gazing after her daughter. "But she's defiant and wilful enough for

all the Merricks put together. I do hope she'll decide to go to

Elmhurst.

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