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

Aunt Jane's Nieces

It had been a little hard to

return so large a check, but the girl's policy was not to appear

before Aunt Jane as a poor relation, but rather as a young lady fitted

by social education and position to become a gracious mistress of

Elmhurst. This she believed would give her a powerful advantage over

all competitors.

Whether she was right or not in this surmise it is certain that she

rose several points in Aunt Jane's estimation during this interview,

and when she was dismissed it was so graciously that she told herself

the money her little plot had cost had been well expended.

Afterward Elizabeth was summoned to attend her aunt.

"I want to be amused. Can you read aloud?" said the invalid.

"Not very well, I'm afraid. But I'll be glad to try," answered Beth.

"What do you like?"

"Select your own book," said Aunt Jane, pointing to a heap of volumes

beside her.

The girl hesitated. Louise would doubtless have chosen a romance, or

some light tale sure to interest for the hour, and so amuse the old

lady. But Beth erroneously judged that the aged and infirm love sober

and scholarly books, and picked out a treatise that proved ineffably

dull and tedious.

Aunt Jane sniffed, and then smiled slyly and proceeded to settle

herself for a nap. If the girl was a fool, let her be properly

punished.

Beth read for an hour, uncertain whether her aunt were intensely

interested or really asleep. At the end of that dreadful period old

Misery entered and aroused the sleeper without ceremony.

"What's the matter?" asked Aunt Jane, querrulously, for she resented

being disturbed.

"There's a man to see you, Miss."

"Send him about his business!"

"But--"

"I won't see him, I tell you!"

"But he says he's your brother, Miss."

"Who?"

"Your brother."

Miss Jane stared as if bewildered.

"Your brother John, Miss."

The invalid sank back upon her cushions with a sigh of resignation.

"I thought he was dead, long ago; but if he's alive I suppose I'll

have to see him," she said. "Elizabeth, leave the room.

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