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Aunt Jane's Nieces

And so the meal passed pleasantly

enough.

After it was finished Uncle John strolled into the garden to smoke his

pipe under the stars and Louise sang a few songs for Aunt Jane in the

dimly-lit drawing room. Beth, who was a music teacher's daughter,

could not sing at all.

It was some time later when John Merrick came to his sister's room to

bid her good night.

"Well," she asked him, "what do you think of the girls?"

"My nieces?"

"Yes."

"During my lifetime," said the old man, "I've always noticed that

girls are just girls--and nothing more. Jane, your sex is a puzzle

that ain't worth the trouble solving. You're all alike, and what

little I've seen of my nieces convinces me they're regulation

females--no better nor worse than their kind."

"Louise seems a capable girl," declared Aunt Jane, musingly. "I didn't

care much for her, at first; but she improves on acquaintance. She has

been well trained by her mother, and is very ladylike and agreeable."

"She's smarter than the other one, but not so honest," said Uncle

John.

"Beth has no tact at all," replied Aunt Jane. "But then, she's younger

than Louise."

"If you're trying to figure out what they are, and what they are not,"

returned the man, "you've got a hard job on your hands, Jane, and like

as not you'll make a mistake in the end. Where's the other niece?

Aren't there three of them?"

"Yes. The other's coming. Silas Watson, my lawyer, has just

telegraphed from New York that he's bringing Patricia back with him."

"Had to send for her, eh?"

"Yes. She's Irish, and if I remember rightly her father is a

disgraceful old reprobate, who caused poor Violet no end of worry. The

girl may be like him, for she wrote me a dreadful letter, scolding me

because I hadn't kept her parents supplied with money, and refusing to

become my guest."

"But she's changed her mind?"

"I sent Watson after her, and he's bringing her. I wanted to see what

the girl is like."

Uncle John whistled a few bars of an ancient tune.

"My advice is," he said, finally, "to let 'em draw cuts for Elmhurst.

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