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Aunt Jane's Nieces


am old, and must soon pass away, and instead of leaving you and

your parents, who would be my legitimate heirs, to squabble over my

property when I am gone, I decided to excute a will bequeathing my

estate to some one who would take proper care of it and maintain it in

a creditable manner. I had no personal acquaintance with any of you,

but judged that one out of the three might serve my purpose, and

therefore invited you all here."

By this time the hearts of Louise and Beth were fluttering with

excitement, and even Patsy looked interested. Uncle John sat a little

apart, watching them with an amused smile upon his face, and the

lawyer sat silent with his eyes fixed upon a pattern in the rug.

"In arriving at a decision, which I may say I have succeeded in

doing," continued Aunt Jane, calmly, "I do not claim to have acted

with either wisdom or discernment. I have simply followed my own whim,

as I have the right to do, and selected the niece I prefer to become

my heiress. You cannot accuse of injustice, because none of you had a

right to expect anything of me; but I will say this, that I am well

pleased with all three of you, and now wish that I had taken pains to

form your acquaintance earlier in life. You might have cheered my old

age and rendered it less lonely and dull."

"Well said, Jane," remarked Uncle John, nodding his head approvingly.

She did not notice the interruption, but presently continued:

"Some days ago I asked my lawyer, Mr. Watson, to draw up my will. It

was at once prepared and signed, and now stands as my last will and

testament. I have given to you, Louise, the sum of five thousand


Louise laughed nervously, and threw out her hands with an indifferent


"Many thanks, Aunt," she said, lightly.

"To you, Beth," continued Miss Merrick, "I have given the same sum."

Beth's heart sank, and tears forced themselves into her eyes in spite

of her efforts to restrain them. She said nothing.

Aunt Jane turned to her brother.

"I have also provided for you, John, in the sum of five thousand


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