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Aunt Jane's Nieces

"

"Five of us--five relations," cried Uncle John, coming around the

corner of the hedge. "Don't I count, Patsy, you rogue? Why you're

looking as bright and as bonny as can be. I wouldn't be surprised if

you could toddle."

"Not yet," she answered, cheerfully. "But I'm doing finely, Uncle

John, and it won't be long before I can get about as well as ever."

"And to think," said Aunt Jane, bitterly, "that all this trouble was

caused by that miserable boy! If I knew where to send him he'd not

stay at Elmhurst a day longer."

"Why, he's my best friend, aunt," announced Patsy, quietly. "I don't

think I could be happy at Elmhurst without Kenneth."

"He has quite reformed," said Louise, "and seems like a very nice

boy."

"He's a little queer, yet, at times," added Beth, "but not a bit rude,

as he used to be."

Aunt Jane looked from one to the other in amazement. No one had

spoken so kindly of the boy before in years. And Uncle John, with a

thoughtful look on his face, said slowly:

"The fact is, Jane, you've never given the boy a chance. On the

contrary, you nearly ruined him by making a hermit of him and giving

him no schooling to speak of and no society except that of servants.

He was as wild as a hawk when I first came, but these girls are just

the sort of companions he needs, to soften him and make him a man.

I've no doubt he'll come out all right, in the end."

"Perhaps you'd like to adopt him yourself, John," sneered the woman,

furious at this praise of the one person she so greatly disliked.

Her brother drew his hands from his pockets, looked around in a

helpless and embarrassed way, and then tried fumblingly to fill his

pipe.

"I ain't in the adopting business, Jane," he answered meekly. "And if

I was," with a quaint smile, "I'd adopt one or two of these nieces o'

mine, instead of Tom Bradley's nephew. If Bradley hadn't seen you,

Jane, and loved your pretty face when you were young, Kenneth Forbes

would now be the owner of Elmhurst. Did you ever think of that?"

Did she ever think of it?

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