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True Riches T.S. Arthur

Chapter XII

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Claire lifted his head quickly. There was already a flush on his cheeks and a sharp light in his eyes.

"Stay--one moment," interrupted Jasper, who saw by the motion of his lips that he was about replying. "I will pay you the whole sum, six hundred dollars, in advance, and, in addition thereto, pledge myself to procure for you, within three mouths, a situation worth a thousand dollars per annum, at least."

This was too broad an attempt to buy over the young man, and it failed. Starting to his feet, with a feeling of indignation in his heart so strong that he could not repress it, he answered, with knit brows and eyes fixed sternly and steadily on the merchant--"Leonard Jasper! I thought you knew me better! I am not to be bought with your money."

As sudden was the change that passed over the merchant. He, too, sprang to his feet, and conscious that his offer of bribery, which he had humiliated himself to make, had failed, with clenched hand and set teeth, he fairly hissed out--

"You'll rue this day and hour, Edward Claire--rue it even to the moment of death! I will never forget nor forgive the wrong and insult. Don't think to escape me--don't think to foil me. The child is mine by right, and I will have her, come what will."

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Feeling how useless it would be to multiply words, Claire turned away and left the store. He did not go home immediately, as he had thought of doing, in order to relieve the suspense of his wife, who was, he knew, very anxious to learn for what purpose Jasper had sent for him; but went to his place of business and laid the whole substance of his interview before his fast friend, Mr. Melleville, whose first response was one of indignation at the offer made by Jasper to buy him over to his wishes with money. He then said--

"There is something wrong here, depend upon it. Was there much property left by the child's parents?"

"Two houses in the city."

"Was that all?"

"All, I believe, of any value. There was a tract of land somewhere in the State, taken for debt; but it was considered of little account."

"Regard for the child has nothing to do with this movement," remarked Mr. Melleville. "The character of Jasper precludes the supposition."

"Entirely. What can it mean? The thing comes on me so suddenly that I am bewildered."

Claire was distressed.

"You are still firm in your purpose to keep Fanny until she is twelve years old?"

"As firm as ever, Mr. Melleville. I love the child too well to give her up. If a higher good to her were to be secured, then I might yield--then it would be my duty to yield. But, now, every just and humane consideration calls on me to abide by my purpose--and there I will abide."

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True Riches
T.S. Arthur

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