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Aunt Jane's Nieces

"

The girl laughed, lightly.

"It will be easy to cajole the old lady," she said. "In two days I can

so win her heart that she will regret she has neglected me so long."

"Exactly."

"If I get her money we will change our plans, and abandon the

adventure we were forced to undertake. But if, for any reason, that

plan goes awry, we can fall back upon this prettily conceived scheme

which we have undertaken. As you say, it is well to have two strings

to one's bow; and during July and August everyone will be out of town,

and so we shall lose no valuable time."

Mrs. Merrick did not reply. She stitched away in a methodical manner,

as if abstracted, and Louise crossed her delicate hands behind her

head and gazed at her mother reflectively. Presently she said:

"Tell me more of my father's family. Is this rich aunt of mine the

only relative he had?"

"No, indeed. There were two other sisters and a brother--a very

uninteresting lot, with the exception, of your poor father. The eldest

was John Merrick, a common tinsmith, if I remember rightly, who went

into the far west many years ago and probably died there, for he was

never heard from. Then came Jane, who in her young days had some

slight claim to beauty. Anyway, she won the heart of Thomas Bradley,

the wealthy young man I referred to, and she must have been clever to

have induced him to leave her his money. Your father was a year or so

younger than Jane, and after him came Julia, a coarse and

disagreeable creature who married a music-teacher and settled in some

out-of-the-way country town. Once, while your father was alive, she

visited us for a few days, with her baby daughter, and nearly drove us

all crazy. Perhaps she did not find us very hospitable, for we were

too poor to entertain lavishly. Anyway, she went away suddenly after

you had a fight with her child and nearly pulled its hair out by the

roots, and I have never heard of her since."

"A daughter, eh," said Louise, musingly. "Then this rich Aunt Jane has

another niece besides myself.

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