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|True Riches||T.S. Arthur|
|Page 3 of 4||
Claire, as his words indicate, had suffered himself to become much excited. Seeing this, his wife recovered, to some extent, her own self-possession, and spoke to him soothingly.
"We will wait and see what it means," said she. "Mr. Jasper cannot force her away from us now, if he would."
"After seeing him to-morrow, you can understand better what we are to expect. This note may have been written from some momentary feeling. I cannot think that he has a settled purpose to take the child from us."
"Time will show," was the abstracted response.
Not for years had so unhappy an evening been spent by Edward Claire and his wife; and when they retired, it was to pass the night in broken intervals of sleep.
Early on the next morning, Claire called at the store of Jasper, who received him with cold politeness, and at once came to the matter uppermost in both their thoughts, by saying--
"You received my note?"
"I did," was the reply.
"Well? All right, I suppose?"
"Fanny is not twelve years of age yet!"
"Isn't she? Well, what of that?" There was some impatience in the manner of Jasper.
"I agreed to take the care of her until she was twelve."
"Well--well--suppose you did? I'm her guardian, and wish to have her now in my own family. If you agreed to keep her, I did not say that she should positively remain."
"There was a contract signed to that effect," firmly replied Claire.
"A contract! Humph! Are you sure?"
"Very sure. You drew it yourself."
"Have you a copy of it?"
Jasper seemed thrown aback by this. He had not forgotten the contract, for all his affected ignorance thereof. He only hoped that Edward had, through carelessness, lost his copy. But he was mistaken.
"A contract! A contract?" said Jasper, as if communing with his own thoughts. "I do remember, now, something of the kind. And so there was a written contract?"
"Yes, sir; and I have a copy in your own hand."
"And I am to understand, Edward, that notwithstanding my wish, as the child's legal guardian, and, therefore, the representative of her parents, to have her in my own family, that you will interpose a hasty-signed contract?"
"Mr. Jasper," said the young man, changing his manner, "we have had this child in our family for over five years, and have grown strongly attached to her. In fact, she seems to us as one of our own children; and we, to her, are in the place of parents. To remove her would, therefore, be doing a great violence to our feelings, and I know it would make her unhappy. Let her remain where she is, and you may rest assured that she will be cared for as tenderly as our own."
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