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|True Riches||T.S. Arthur|
|Page 1 of 7||
On the next day, a fellow-clerk, who had always performed this little service for Claire, took the order to Jasper. With a nervous impatience that he found it impossible to repress, Claire awaited his return. On his appearance, he said, with ill-concealed anxiety--
"Did he pay the order?"
The young man shook his head.
"What! Didn't pay it?" Though half-expecting such a result, he was none the more prepared for it, nor the less disturbed when it was known.
"No; he said that the contract entered into with you for boarding the child was at an end three months ago."
"What else did he say?"
"Did he send no message to me of any kind?"
"None. When I handed him the order, he pushed it back, and used the words I have repeated. I waited a little while for some further remark, but he made none."
"Did he seem angry?"
"Not angry; but rather pleased, I should say. There was a heartless smile on his face, as if he enjoyed the act of refusal."
Claire made no further remark. For a time he groped about, mentally, like one in darkness and lost. It appeared as if there was no escape; as if the evil which had long dogged his steps was upon him. But in a short time, a ray of light shone in here and there, paths that might be walked in safely were dimly perceived--escape seemed possible. Still, he was deeply depressed and sorely troubled.
Edith received the intelligence in a calmer spirit than her husband had expected.
"The way will be made plain before us," said she. "It is plainer now than it was last night--much plainer."
"How can you say that, Edith?"
"Mr. Jasper has refused to pay any thing more to us for Fanny's support."
"But in the refusal said nothing about our giving her up to him."
"I gather from this, and the fact that he was aware of her being twelve years old, that he does not really want her now in his own family, but refuses to pay us for her board and education from a feeling of ill-will toward you. His manner to the young man who presented the order clearly indicates this."
"You may be right there, Edith," said Claire, a further light breaking into his mind. "We have at least done our duty toward Fanny in making this demand on her guardian. And now, the question left for us to decide may be whether it will be just toward her, and also toward our own children, still to keep her in our own family, and let her share, with the others, the best that it is in our power to give."
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