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|True Riches||T.S. Arthur|
|Page 2 of 6||
"You may well say shocking, Edward, unprepared as I was for such an occurrence. My nerves are quivering yet."
"Then the widow is dead also?"
"Yes; both have gone to their long home."
"How many children are left?"
"Only one--a little girl, not, I should think, above four years of age."
"Some near relative will, I presume, take charge of her."
"In dying, the mother declared that she had no friend to whom she could leave the child. On me, therefore, devolves the care of seeing to its maintenance."
"No friend. Poor child! and of so tender an age!"
"She is young, certainly, to be left alone in the world."
Jasper uttered these words, but felt nothing of the sad meaning they involved.
"What disposition will you make of her?" asked Claire.
"I've had no time to think of that yet. Other matters are first to be regarded. So let me come to the point. Mrs. Elder is dead; and, as far as I could see, there is no living soul, beyond a frightened servant, to do any thing. Whether she will have the presence of mind to call in the neighbours, is more than I can say. I left in the bewilderment of the moment; and now remember me that something is to be done for the dead. Will you go to the house, and see what is needed? In the next block is an undertaker; you had better call, on your way, and ask him to go with you. All arrangements necessary for the funeral can be left in his hands. Just take this whole matter off of me, Edward, and I will be greatly obliged to you. I have a good many things on my mind, that must receive close attention."
The young man offered no objection, although the service was far from being agreeable. On his return, after the absence of an hour, Jasper had, of course, many inquiries to make. Claire appeared serious. The fact was, he had seen enough to touch his feelings deeply. The grief of the orphaned child, as he was a witness thereto, had brought tears upon his cheeks, in spite of every manly effort to restrain them. Her extreme beauty struck him at the first glance, even obscured as it was under a vail of sorrow and weeping.
"There were several persons in, you say?" remarked Jasper, after Claire had related a number of particulars.
"Yes, three or four."
"Ladies, of course?"
"Did any of them propose to take the child home with them?"
"Not directly. One woman asked me a number of questions about the little girl."
"Of what nature?"
"As to whether there were any relatives or particular friends who would take charge of her?"
"And you told her there were none?"
"Yes; none of whom I had any knowledge."
"Well? What had she to say to that?"
"She wanted to know if there would be any thing for the child's support. I said that there would, in all probability."
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