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  True Riches T.S. Arthur

Chapter XIX

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There was one point of time to which Leonard Jasper looked with no little anxiety, and that was to the period of Fanny Elder's majority, when it was his purpose to relinquish his guardianship, and wash his hands, if it were possible to do so, entirely clean of her. Until the estate left by her father was settled up, the property in her hands and receipts in his, there was danger ahead. And, as the time drew nearer and nearer, he felt increasing uneasiness.

On the very day that Fanny reached her eighteenth year, Jasper sent a note to Claire, asking an interview.

"I wish," said he, when the latter came, "to have some conference with you about Miss Elder. She has now, you are no doubt aware, attained the legal age. Such being the case, I wish, as early as it can be done, to settle up the estate of her father, and pay over to her, or to any person she may select as her agent, the property in my hands. It has increased some in value. Will you consult her on the subject?"

Claire promised to do so; and, at the same time, asked as to the amount of Fanny's property.

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"The total value will not fall much short of eight thousand dollars," replied Jasper. "There are two houses and lots that would sell at any time for six thousand dollars. You live in one of these houses, and the other is rented for two hundred and fifty dollars. Then there are nearly two thousand dollars in six per cent. stocks. When her father died, his estate consisted of these two houses, and a piece of poor land which he had taken as satisfaction for a debt. At the first opportunity, I sold the land and invested the money. This sum, with accumulations of interest, and rents received for several years, beyond what was required for Fanny's maintenance, has now increased to within a fraction of two thousand dollars, and is, as just said, invested in stocks. I think," added Jasper, "that you had better assume the management of this property yourself. Get from Miss Elder a power of attorney authorizing you to settle the estate, and the whole business can be completed in a very short time. I will make you out an accurate statement of every thing, so that you will be at no loss to comprehend the accounts."

To this there could, of course, be no objection on the part of Claire. He promised to confer with Fanny, and let Jasper know, in a day or two, the result.

Now came a new trial for Claire and his wife. They had taken Fanny, when only four years of age, and taken her so entirely into their home and affections, that she had almost from the first seemed to them as one of their own children. In a brief time the earlier memories of the child faded. The past was absorbed in the present; and she loved as parents none other than those she called by the tender names of "father" and "mother." The children with whom she grew up she knew only as her brothers and sisters. This thorough adoption and incorporation of the child into their family was not, in any sense, the work of design on the part of Claire and his wife. But they saw, in the beginning, no reason to check the natural tendency thereto. When little Fanny, of her own accord, addressed them, soon after her virtual adoption, as "father" and "mother," they accepted the child's own interpretation of their relative positions, and took her from that moment more entirely into their hearts.

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True Riches
T.S. Arthur

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