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True Riches T.S. Arthur

Chapter III

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"Then she gave me to understand, that if no one took the child, she might be induced to board her for a while, until other arrangements were made."

"Did you give her to understand that this was practicable?"

"No, sir."

"Why not? She will have to be boarded, you know."

"I neither liked the woman's face, manner, nor appearance."

"Why not?"

"Oh, she was a vulgar, coarse, hard-looking creature to my eyes."

"Kind hearts often lie concealed under unpromising externals."

"True; but they lie not concealed under that exterior, be well assured, Mr. Jasper. No, no. The child who has met with so sad a loss as that of a mother, needs the tenderest guardianship. At best, the case is hard enough."

Jasper did not respond to this humane sentiment, for there was no pity in him. The waves of feeling, stirred so suddenly a few hours before, had all subsided, and the surface of his heart bore no ripple of emotion. He thought not of the child as an object claiming his regard, but as a trouble and a hinderance thrown in his way, to be disposed of as summarily as possible.

"I'm obliged to you, Edward, for the trouble you have taken in my stead," he remarked, after a slight pause. "To-morrow, I may wish you to call there again. Of course, the neighbours will give needful attention until the funeral takes place. By that time, perhaps, the child will have made a friend of some one of them, and secure, through this means, a home for the present. It is, for us, a troublesome business at best, though it will soon be over."

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A person coming in at the moment, Claire left his employer to attend at the counter. The new customer, it was quickly perceived by the clerk, was one who might readily be deceived into buying the articles for which she inquired, at a rate far in advance of their real value; and he felt instantly tempted to ask her a very high price. Readily, for it was but acting from habit, did he yield to this temptation. His success was equal to his wishes. The woman, altogether unsuspicious of the cheat practised upon her, paid for her purchases the sum of ten dollars above their true value. She lingered a short time after settling her bill, and made some observation upon a current topic of the day. One or two casually-uttered sentiments did not fall like refreshing dew upon the feelings of Claire, but rather stung him like words of sharp rebuke, and made him half regret the wrong he had done to her. He felt relieved when she retired.

It so happened that, while this customer was in, Jasper left the store. Soon after, a clerk went to dinner. Only a lad remained with Claire, and he was sent up-stairs to arrange some goods.

The hour of temptation had again come, and the young man's mind was overshadowed by the powers of darkness.

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True Riches
T.S. Arthur

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