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True Riches T.S. Arthur

Chapter XIII

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Utterly fruitless were all the means used by Claire to gain intelligence of the missing child. Two days went by, yet not the least clue to the mystery of her absence had been found. There was no response to the newspaper advertisements; and the police confessed themselves entirely at fault.

Exhausted by sleepless anxiety, broken in spirit by this distressing affliction, and almost despairing in regard to the absent one, Mr. and Mrs. Claire were seated alone, about an hour after dark on the evening of the third day, when the noise of rumbling wheels ceased before their door. Each bent an ear, involuntarily, to listen, and each started with an exclamation, as the bell rang with a sudden jerk. Almost simultaneously, the noise of wheels was again heard, and a carriage rolled rapidly away. Two or three quick bounds brought Claire to the door, which he threw open.

"Fanny!" he instantly exclaimed; and in the next moment the child was in his arms, clinging to him, and weeping for joy at her return.

With a wonderful calmness, Mrs. Claire received Fanny from her husband, murmuring as she did so, in a subdued, yet deeply gratified voice--

"O, God! I thank thee!"

But this calmness in a little while gave way, and her overstrained, but now joyful feelings, poured themselves forth in tears.

Poor child! She too had suffered during these three never-to-be-forgotten days, and the marks of that suffering were sadly visible in her pale, grief-touched countenance.

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To the earnest inquiries of her foster-parents, Fanny could give no very satisfactory answer. She had no sooner left the square with the lady mentioned by little Edith, than she was hurried into a carriage, and driven off to the cars, where a man met them. This man, she said, spoke kindly to her, showed her his watch, and told her if she would be a good girl and not cry, he would take her home again. In the cars, they rode for a long time, until it grew dark; and still she said the cars kept going. After a while she fell asleep, and when she awoke it was morning, and she was lying on a bed. The same lady was with her, and, speaking kindly, told her not to be frightened--that nobody would hurt her, and that she should go home in a day or two.

"But I did nothing but cry," said the child, in her own simple way, as she related her story. "Then the lady scolded me, until I was frightened, and tried to keep back the tears all I could. But they would run down my cheeks. A good while after breakfast," continued Fanny, "the man who had met us at the cars came in with another man. They talked with the lady for a good while, looking at me as they spoke. Then they all came around me, and one of the men said--

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True Riches
T.S. Arthur

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