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Aunt Jane's Nieces

Indeed, he behaved so

well, in the main, and was so gentle and unobstrusive, that Aunt Jane

looked at him with surprise, and favored him with one or two speeches

which he answered modestly and well.

Patsy was radiant with delight, and the next day Aunt Jane remarked

casually that she did not object to the boy's presence at dinner, at

all, and he could come whenever he liked.

This arrangement gave great pleasure to both Uncle John and Mr.

Watson, the latter of whom was often present at the "state dinner,"

and both men congratulated Patsy upon the distinct victory she had

won. No more was said about her leaving Elmhurst. The Major wrote that

he was having a splendid time with the colonel, and begged for an

extension of his vacation, to which Patsy readily agreed, she being

still unable on account of her limb to return to her work at Madam

Borne's.

And so the days glided pleasantly by, and August came to find a happy

company of young folks at old Elmhurst, with Aunt Jane wonderfully

improved in health and Uncle John beaming complacently upon everyone

he chanced to meet.

CHAPTER XVIII.

PATRICIA SPEAKS FRANKLY.

It was Lawyer Watson's suggestion that she was being unjust to Beth

and Louise, in encouraging them to hope they might inherit Elmhurst,

that finally decided Aunt Jane to end all misunderstandings and inform

her nieces of the fact that she had made a final disposition of her

property.

So one morning she sent word asking them all into her room, and when

the nieces appeared they found Uncle John and the lawyer already

in their aunt's presence. There was an air of impressive formality

pervading the room, although Miss Merrick's brother, at least, was as

ignorant as her nieces of the reason why they had been summoned.

Patsy came in last, hobbling actively on her crutches, although the

leg was now nearly recovered, and seated herself somewhat in the rear

of the apartment.

Aunt Jane looked into one expectant face after another with curious

interest, and then broke the silence by saying, gravely, but in more

gentle tones than she was accustomed to use:

"I believe, young ladies, that you have understood from the first my

strongest reason for inviting you to visit Elmhurst this summer.

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