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

Aunt Jane's Nieces

"

Beth did not reply.

"And Will's dead, and out of his troubles, I hope," continued Uncle

John, reflectively. "He wrote me once that his wife had nearly driven

him crazy. Perhaps she murdered him in his sleep--eh, Louise?"

"Sir," said Louise, much offended, "you are speaking of my mother."

"Ah, yes. It's the same one your father spoke of," he answered,

unmoved. "But that's neither here nor there. The fact is, I've found

two nieces," looking shrewdly from one face into the other, "and I

seem to be in luck, for you're quite pretty and ladylike, my dears."

"Thank you," said Louise, rather coldly. "You're a competent judge,

sir, I suppose."

"Tolerable," he responded, with a chuckle. "So good a judge that I've

kep' single all my life."

"Where did you come from?" asked the girl.

"From out on the coast," tossing his grizzled head toward the west.

"What brought you back here, after all these years?"

"Family affection, I guess. Wanted to find out what folks yet belonged

to me."

An awkward silence followed this, during which Uncle John relighted

his pipe and Beth sat in moody silence. Louise drew a pattern in the

gravel with the end of her parasol. This new uncle, she reflected,

might become an intolerable bore, if she encouraged his frank

familiarity.

"Now that you are here," she said, presently, "what are you going to

do?"

"Nothing, my dear."

"Have you any money?"

He looked at her with a droll expression.

"Might have expected that question, my dear," said he; "but it's

rather hard to answer. If I say no, you'll be afraid I'll want to

borrow a little spendin' money, now an' then; and if I say yes, you'll

take me for a Rockyfeller."

"Not exactly," smiled Louise.

"Well, then, if I figure close I won't have to borrow," he responded,

gravely. "And here's Jane, my sister, just rolling in wealth that she

don't know what to do with. And she's invited me to stay a while. So

let's call the money question settled, my dear."

Another silence ensued. Louise had satisfied her curiosity concerning

her new uncle, and Beth had never had any.

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