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|True Riches||T.S. Arthur|
|Page 2 of 4||
"I had forgotten all about this letter, Edward," said she. "It was left here for you, this afternoon."
Claire took the letter and broke the seal, running his eye down to the signature as he unfolded it.
"Leonard Jasper! What is this?"
His brow contracted instantly, as he commenced reading the letter. It was brief, and in these words--
"MR. EDWARD CLAIRE--Sir: From this time I relieve you of the burden of my ward, Fanny Elder. Mrs. Jasper and myself have determined to take her into our own family, in order that we may give the needful care to her education. Call around and see me to-morrow, and we will arrange this matter. Yours, &c. LEONARD JASPER."
The face of the young man had become pale by the time he had finished reading this letter; but that of his wife, who did not yet know a word of its contents, was almost white--the effect produced on her husband filling her with a vague alarm.
"What is it, Edward?" she asked, in a low, eager whisper.
"Jasper wants us to give up Fanny."
Edith sank into a chair, exclaiming--
"But she is only ten years of age," said the husband, "and our contract is to keep her until she is twelve."
"We cannot give her up," murmured Edith, tears already beginning to flow over her cheeks. "I never thought of this. What can it mean?"
"Some sudden determination on the part of Jasper, and based on nothing good," was the reply. "But, as I said, our contract is binding until Fanny is twelve years of age, and I will never consent to its being broken. He was over anxious to hold me in writing. He did not value his own word, and would not trust mine. It was well. The dear child shall remain where she is."
"But, after she is twelve, Edward? What then? Oh, I can never part with her," said Mrs. Claire, now weeping freely.
"Two years will pass ere that time. Jasper may have other purposes in view when our present contract expires."
"You will see him in the morning?"
"O yes. I must understand all about this matter. What can it mean? 'Needful care to her education!' A mere hypocritical pretence. What does he care for her, or her education? What, in fact, does he know of her? Nothing at all. Has he ever called to see her? Has he ever made the first inquiry after her? No. There is something wrong, without doubt. This movement bodes no good to our dear child. But she has one friend who will stand between her and harm--who will protect her, if need be, at the risk of his own life."
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