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True Riches T.S. Arthur

Chapter X

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The increase of Claire's family had caused him, some time before, to remove from the two comfortable rooms in which were passed the first pleasant years of his married life. He now occupied a small house in a retired street, the rent of which, though moderate, drew pretty heavily on his income. But he had managed, through the prudent co-operation of his wife, not only to keep even with the world, but to lay by a small sum of money.

Few homes, in the large city wherein dwelt this obscure family, were so full of all the elements of happiness. If, sometimes, the spirit of Claire was overshadowed by passing clouds--as would unavoidably happen from his contact with the world, and his own variant states--the evening's return to the bosom of his family, generally made all bright again.

Little Fanny Elder, now ten years of age, had been steadily growing into his affections from the first. It is questionable whether his love for his own children was a purer passion. Older, by several years, than Edith, she had been to him more companionable; and had ever greeted his return at evening with warmer expressions of pleasure than were manifested by Edith, or the two younger children who had been added to the number of his household treasures.

On this evening, as Claire drew nearer and nearer to his home, and his thoughts began to make pictures of the scene within, its light and warmth penetrated his feelings, and when he opened, at length, the door, he was himself again.

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First to bound into his arms was Fanny Elder. What a beautiful, fairy-like creature she was! How more than fulfilled the promise of her early childhood! Next came Edith, now six years of age, side by side with her brother Harry, a wild little rogue, and were only a few seconds behind Fanny in throwing themselves upon their father; while little baby Mary, as she sat on the carpet, fluttered her tiny arms, and crowed out her joyous welcome.

What a merry romp they all had for the next two or three minutes. When quiet came back again, baby was sitting on one knee, Harry on the other, and Fanny leaning her face on the shoulder of her "father"--for so she called him with the rest--while her glossy curls were resting in sunny clusters upon his bosom. The memory of the child's former home and parents seemed to have faded almost entirely. If the past ever came back to her, like a dream, with its mingled web of sunshine and tears, she never spoke of it. Fully had she been taken into the hearts and home of her now parents; and she rested there as one having a right to her position.

And the pure spirit who presided over this little Paradise, where was she? Present--observing all, and sharing in the delight her husband's return had occasioned. The expected kiss had not long been kept from her loving lips.

Happy household! What have its inmates to envy in those around them? Within the circle of many squares were none so rich in all the elements of happiness.

Soon after the evening meal was over, the children, after another merry romp with their father, went off to bed. When Mrs. Claire returned from the chamber, whither she had accompanied them, she held a letter in her hand.

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True Riches
T.S. Arthur

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