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  True Riches T.S. Arthur

Chapter III

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Leonard Jasper would have been less than human had he borne such an assault upon his feelings without emotion; less than human had his heart instantly and spontaneously rejected the dying mother's wildly eloquent appeal. He was bewildered, startled, even deeply moved.

The moment he could, with propriety and a decent regard for appearances, get away from the house where he had witnessed so painful a scene, he returned to his place of business in a sobered, thoughtful state of mind. He had not anticipated so direct a guardianship of Ruben Elder's child as it was evident would now devolve upon him, in consequence of the mother's death. Here was to be trouble for him--this was his feeling so soon as there was a little time for reaction--and trouble without profit. He would have to take upon himself the direct charge of the little girl, and duly provide for her maintenance and education.

"If there is property enough for this, well and good," he muttered to himself; he had not yet become acquainted with the real state of affairs. "If not," he added, firmly, "the loss will be hers; that is all. I shall have sufficient trouble and annoyance, without being put to expense."

For some time after his return to his store, Jasper refrained from entering upon any business. During at least fifteen or twenty minutes, he sat at his desk, completely absorbed in thought. At length he called to Edward Claire, his principal clerk, and said that he wished to speak a few words with him. The young man came back from the counter to where he was sitting, wondering what had produced the very apparent change in his employer's state of mind.

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"Edward," said Mr. Jasper, in a low, serious voice, "there is a little matter that I must get you to attend to for me. It is not very pleasant, it is true; though nothing more than people are required to do every day. You remember Mr. Elder, Ruben Elder, who formerly kept store in Second street?"

"Very well."

"He died last week."

"I noticed his death in the papers."

"He has appointed me his executor."


"Yes; and I wish to my heart he had appointed somebody else. I've too much business of my own to attend to."

"Of course," said Claire, "you will receive your regular commissions for attending to the settlement of his estate."

"Poor picking there," replied Jasper, shrugging his shoulders. "I'd very cheerfully give up the profit to be rid of the trouble. But that doesn't signify now. Elder has left his affairs in my hands, and I must give them at least some attention. I'm not coming to the point, however. A little while ago I witnessed the most painful scene that ever fell under my eyes."


"Yes, truly. Ugh! It makes the chills creep over me as I think of it. Last evening I received regular notification of my appointment as executor to Elder's estate, and to-day thought it only right to call upon the widow, and see if any present service were needed by the family. Such a scene as I encountered! Mrs. Elder was just at the point of death, and expired a few moments after my entrance. Besides a single domestic and a child, I was the only witness of her last extremity."

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True Riches
T.S. Arthur

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