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|True Riches||T.S. Arthur|
|Page 4 of 7||
"You will take immediate steps for her recovery," said the lady.
"Oh, yes. I expect my husband home, now, every moment."
While she was yet speaking, Claire came in. Seeing the white face of his wife, he exclaimed--
"Mercy, Edith! What has happened?"
Edith could only murmur the word "Fanny," as she started forward, and buried her face, sobbing, on his bosom.
"Fanny! What of her? Oh, Edith! speak!"
The agitation of the wife was, for the time, too overpowering to admit of words, and so Claire turned to the lady and said, hurriedly--
"Will you tell me, madam, what has happened?"
"It appears, sir," she replied, "that a strange lady enticed the children to Washington Square, on their way from school"--
"And then carried off our dear, dear Fanny!" sobbed out Edith.
"Carried off Fanny!" exclaimed Claire.
"This lady," said Edith, growing calmer, "found our little Edie crying, in the square, and brought her home. Edie says the lady took them down there, and then told her to wait until she went with Fanny to buy some candies. They went, but did not return."
The meaning of all this was quite as clear to the mind of Edward Claire as it was to his wife. He understood, likewise, that this was the work of Jasper, and that Fanny was now in his possession. What was to be done?
"Our first step," said Claire, after the stranger had retired, "must be to ascertain, if possible, whether what we believe to be true in regard to Fanny is really true. We must know certainly, whether she be really in the hands of Mr. Jasper."
"Where else can she be?" asked Edith, a new fear throwing its quick flash into her face.
"We, naturally," replied her husband, "take it for granted that Mr. Jasper has put his threat into execution. There is a bare possibility that such is not the case; and we must not rest until we have, on this point, the most absolute certainty."
"For what other purpose could she have been enticed away?" said Mrs. Claire, her face again blanching to a deadly paleness.
"We know nothing certain, Edith; and while this is the case, we cannot but feel a double anxiety. But, I must not linger here. Be as calm as possible, my dear wife, in this painful trial. I will go at once to Mr. Jasper, and learn from him whether he has the child."
"Go quickly, Edward," said Edith. "Oh! it will be such a relief to have a certainty; to know even that she is in his hands."
Without further remark, Claire left his house and hurried off to the store of Jasper. The merchant was not there. From one of his clerks he learned his present residence, which happened not to be far distant. Thither he went, and, on asking to see him, was told by the servant that he was not at home. He then inquired for Mrs. Jasper, who, on being summoned, met him in one of the parlours. The manner of Claire was very much agitated, and he said, with an abruptness that evidently disconcerted the lady--
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