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

Aunt Jane's Nieces

Through the village he paced moodily, the bridle dangling loosely on

the mare's neck. The people paused to look at him curiously, but he

had neither word nor look for any.

He did not know one of them by name, and cared little how much they

might speculate upon his peculiar position at "the big house."

Then, riding slowly up the hedge bordered road, his troubles once more

assailed him, and he wondered if there was not some spot upon the

broad earth to which he could fly for retirement until the girls had

left Elmhurst for good.

Nora shied, and he looked up to discover that he had nearly run down a

pedestrian--a stout little man with a bundle under his arm, who held

up one hand as if to arrest him.

Involuntarily he drew rein, and stopped beside the traveler with a

look of inquiry.

"Sorry to trouble you, sir," remarked the little man, in a cheery

voice, "but I ain't just certain about my way."

"Where do you want to go?" asked the boy.

"To Jane Merrick's place. They call it Elmhurst, I guess."

"It's straight ahead," said Kenneth, as the mare walked on. His

questioner also started and paced beside him.

"Far from here?"

"A mile, perhaps."

"They said it was three from the village, but I guess I've come a

dozen a'ready."

The boy did not reply to this. There was nothing offensive in the

man's manner. He spoke with an easy familiarity that made it difficult

not to respond with equal frank cordiality, and there was a shrewd

expression upon his wrinkled, smooth-shaven face that stamped him a

man who had seen life in many of its phases.

Kenneth, who resented the companionship of most people, seemed

attracted by the man, and hesitated to gallop on and leave him.

"Know Jane Merrick?" asked the stranger.

The boy nodded.

"Like her?"

"I hate her," he said, savagely.

The man laughed, a bit uneasily.

"Then it's the same Jane as ever," he responded, with a shake of his

grizzled head. "Do you know, I sort o' hoped she'd reformed, and I'd

be glad to see her again. They tell me she's got money.

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