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Aunt Jane's Nieces


"Perhaps two," returned Mrs. Merrick; "for her youngest sister, who

was named Violet, married a vagabond Irishman and had a daughter

about a year younger than you. The mother died, but whether the child

survived her or not I have never learned."

"What was her name?" asked Louise.

"I cannot remember. But it is unimportant. You are the only Merrick of

them all, and that is doubtless the reason Jane has sent for you."

The girl shook her blonde head.

"I don't like it," she observed.

"Don't like what?"

"All this string of relations. It complicates matters."

Mrs. Merrick seemed annoyed.

"If you fear your own persuasive powers," she said, with almost a

sneer in her tones, "you'd better not go to Elmhurst. One or the

other of your country cousins might supplant you in your dear aunt's


The girl yawned and took up her neglected novel.

"Nevertheless, mater dear," she said briefly, "I shall go."



"Now, Major, stand up straight and behave yourself! How do you expect

me to sponge your vest when you're wriggling around in that way?"

"Patsy, dear, you're so sweet this evening, I just had to kiss your


"Don't do it again, sir," replied Patricia, severely, as she scrubbed

the big man's waistcoat with a damp cloth. "And tell me, Major, how

you ever happened to get into such a disgraceful condition."

"The soup just shpilled," said the Major, meekly.

Patricia laughed merrily. She was a tiny thing, appearing to be no

more than twelve years old, although in reality she was sixteen. Her

hair was a decided red--not a beautiful "auburn," but really red--and

her round face was badly freckled. Her nose was too small and her

mouth too wide to be beautiful, but the girl's wonderful blue eyes

fully redeemed these faults and led the observer to forget all else

but their fascinations. They could really dance, these eyes, and send

out magnetic, scintillating sparks of joy and laughter that were

potent to draw a smile from the sourest visage they smiled upon.

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