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|True Riches||T.S. Arthur|
|Page 3 of 6||
"That woman, Fanny," said Mrs. Claire, speaking with forced composure, "was your mother."
The face of the young girl grew instantly pale; her lips parted; and she gasped for breath. Then falling forward on the bosom of Mrs. Claire, she sobbed--
"Oh, mother! mother! How can you say this? It cannot, it cannot be. You are my own, my only mother."
"You did not receive your life through me, Fanny," replied Mrs. Claire, so soon as she could command her voice, for she too was overcome by feeling--"but in all else I am your mother; and I love you equally with my other children. If there has ever been a difference, it has all been in your favour."
"Why, why did you destroy the illusion under which I have so long rested?" said Fanny, when both were more composed. "Why tell me a truth from which no good can flow? Why break in upon my happy ignorance with such a chilling revelation? Oh, mother, mother! Forgive me, if I say you have been cruel."
"Not so, my child. Believe me, that nothing but duty would have ever driven me to this avowal. You are now at woman's legal age. You have a guardian, in whose hands your father, at his death, left, for your benefit, some property; and this person now desires to settle the estate, and transfer to you what remains."
Bewildered, like one awakening from a dream, Fanny listened to this strange announcement. And it was some time before she really comprehended her true position.
"Not your child--a guardian--property!--What does it all mean? Am I really awake, mother?"
"Yes, dear, you are awake. It is no dream, believe me," was the tender reply of Mrs. Claire. "But, remember, that all this does not diminish our love for you--does not remove you in the least from our affections. You are still our child, bound to us by a thousand intertwining chords."
But little more passed between them at this interview. Fanny asked for no more particulars, and Mrs. Claire did not think it necessary to give any further information. Fanny soon retired to her own chamber, there to commune with her thoughts, and to seek, in tears, relief to her oppressed feelings.
The meeting of Claire with Fanny, on his return home, was affecting. She met him with a quivering lip and moistened eyes, and, as she laid her cheek against his breast, murmured in a sad, yet deeply affectionate voice--
"My own dear child!" quickly replied Claire, with emotion.
And then both stood for some time silent. Leading her to a seat, Claire said tenderly--
"I have always loved you truly, and now you are dearer to me than ever."
"My more than father," was her simple response.
"My own dear child!" said Mr. Claire, kissing her fondly. "We have ever blessed the day on which you came to us from God."
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