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Aunt Jane's Nieces


With a sudden bound he dashed her aside, so rudely that she almost

fell, and an instant later he had left the summer house and disappear

among the hedges.

Louise laughed at her own discomfiture and gave up the attempt to make

the boy's acquaintance.

"He's a regular savage," she told Beth, afterward, "and a little

crazy, too, I suspect."

"Never mind," said Beth, philosophically. "He's only a boy, and

doesn't amount to anything, anyway. After Aunt Jane dies he will

probably go somewhere else to live. Don't let us bother about him."

Kenneth's one persistent friend was Uncle John. He came every day

to the boy's room to play chess with him, and after that one day's

punishment, which, singularly enough, Kenneth in no way resented, they

got along very nicely together. Uncle John was a shrewd player of the

difficult game, but the boy was quick as a flash to see an advantage

and use it against his opponent; so neither was ever sure of winning

and the interest in the game was constantly maintained. At evening

also the little man often came to sit on the stair outside the boy's

room and smoke his pipe, and frequently they would sit beneath the

stars, absorbed in thought and without exchanging a single word.

Unfortunately, Louise and Beth soon discovered the boy's secluded

retreat, and loved to torment him by entering his own bit of garden

and even ascending the stairs to his little room. He could easily

escape them by running through the numerous upper halls of the

mansion; but here he was liable to meet others, and his especial dread

was encountering old Miss Merrick. So he conceived a plan for avoiding

the girls in another way.

In the hallway of the left wing, near his door, was a small ladder

leading to the second story roof, and a dozen feet from the edge of

the roof stood an old oak tree, on the further side of a tall hedge.

Kenneth managed to carry a plank to the roof, where, after several

attempts, he succeeded in dropping one end into a crotch of the oak,

thus connecting the edge of the roof with the tree by means of the

narrow plank.

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