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

Aunt Jane's Nieces

"Why have I never heard of her before?" enquired the girl, with a

slight accession of interest in her tones.

"That I cannot well explain. I had supposed you knew of your poor

father's sister Jane, although you were so young when he died that it

is possible he never mentioned her name in your presence."

"They were not on friendly terms, you know. Jane was rich, having

inherited a fortune and a handsome country place from a young man whom

she was engaged to marry, but who died on the eve of his wedding day."

"How romantic!" exclaimed Louise.

"It does seem romantic, related in this way," replied her mother. "But

with the inheritance all romance disappeared from your aunt's life.

She became a crabbed, disagreeable woman, old before her time and

friendless because she suspected everyone of trying to rob her of her

money. Your poor father applied to her in vain for assistance, and I

believe her refusal positively shortened his life. When he died, after

struggling bravely to succeed in his business, he left nothing but his

life-insurance."

"Thank heaven he left that!" sighed Louise.

"Yes; we would have been beggared, indeed, without it," agreed Mrs.

Merrick. "Yet I often wonder, Louise, how we managed to live upon the

interest of that money for so many years."

"We didn't live--we existed," corrected the girl, yawning. "We

scrimped and pinched, and denied ourselves everything but bare

necessities. And had it not been for your brilliant idea, mater dear,

we would still be struggling in the depths of poverty."

Mrs. Merrick frowned, and leaned back in her chair.

"I sometimes doubt if the idea was so brilliant, after all," she

returned, with a certain grimness of expression. "We're plunging,

Louise; and it may be into a bottomless pit."

"Don't worry, dear," said the girl, biting into a bonbon. "We are

only on the verge of our great adventure, and there's no reason to

be discouraged yet, I assure you. Brilliant! Of course the idea

was brilliant, mamma. The income of that insurance money was

insignificant, but the capital is a very respectable sum.

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