Jane Benson's Trials by Charles F. Preston (pseudonym of Horatio Alger, Jr.)
Author: Alger, Horatio, 1832-1899.
Title: Jane Benson's Trials.
In: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper. New York : Frank Leslie. v. 18, no. 465 (Aug. 27, 1864).
Format: p. 357-359 : ill. ; 42 cm.
Other Name: Russell, William D.
Horatio Alger Collection.
Other Title: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper.
Location: PS 1029 .A3 J35 1864a (Special Collections Ovsze)
Optically scanned and encoded by Mark A. Williams
Horatio Alger Digital Repository Project, Northern llinois University Libraries
HERE, you, Jane!" called Mrs. Mordaunt, harshly, down the back stairs, "where are you going, I should like to know?"
"I am going to school, aunt," was the timid reply.
"No, you are not," was the decisive reply. "I can't spare you this morning. You must stay at home and help Bridget."
Jane took off her plain straw bonnet with a sigh, and hung it upon the nail behind the door. Then without a word she went down into the kitchen where she was soon busied in washing potatoes for dinner.
Jane was now about thirteen years old. Despite tho plain calico dress which she wore, her sweet attractive face made her appear to advantage beside her handsomely-dressed but irredeemably plain cousins, Sophia and Annette. Of this the latter seemed quite aware, and as if Jane was culpable on the score of her looks, never lost an opportunity to sneer at and illtreat her. Annette was about Jane's age, Sophia two years older. They attended a fashionable school, where they learned a little of everything superficially. Mrs, Mordaunt paid the high rate of tuition without a murmur, feeling ambitious that her children should associate with their social superiors on a footing of equality. She had framed and hung up in a conspicuous position two landscape drawings which Sophia had accomplished with considerable aid from her drawing-teacher. Although Nature appeared to a decided disadvantage in these artistic efforts, Mrs. Mordaunt felt proud of them as an evidence of her daughter's talent.
"She takes after me, Mrs. Bent," she remarked to a neighbor. "When I was a child I was for ever making pictures on the slate. I have no doubt that I should have done myself credit if circumstances had allowed me to gratify my tastes."
And who was Jane?
She was the only daughter of Mr. Mordaunt's sister. At four years of age she had been left an orphan, and had ever since been an inmate of her uncle's house. Mrs. Mordaunt represented that she was an object of charity, and claimed the credit of providing her with a home. Jane believed this to be the case. There were very few who were aware that her uncle held for her in trust a property yielding three hundred dollars yearly, which considerably more than compensated him for any expenses he was put to on her account. He and his wife quietly ignored this circumstance, and made Jane a household drudge, making her sleep with the cook, whom she assisted by day. The fact was Jane's little fortune had been swallowed up by unsuccessful speculations, and her uncle would have found it difficult to replace it.
We left Jane washing potatoes in the kitchen. She had scarcely finished this task when she was pressed into the service of the laundress, and sent to hang out clothes.
The little girl sighed.
"How shall I ever learn anything," she thought to herself, "if I am kept out of school half the time. Then the teacher will blame me because I don't study out of school. I am sure I would if aunt would let me, but she keeps me at work all the time. Perhaps she will let me go to school this afternoon."
But poor Jane was destined to be disappointed in her hopes.
"You will have to stay at home this afternoon, Jane," said her aunt, presently. "I want you to sew on Sophia's dress."
"Miss Whitcomb scolds me for not coming more regularly," said Jane, timidly.
"I can't help it," said Mrs. Mordaunt, coldly. "You must tell her you are needed at home."
"Can't I sit up this evening and sew instead, aunt?"
"I desire you will say nothing more on the subject, Jane," said her aunt. "You can't go, and you need say nothing more on the subject. However, if you will be a good girl I will give you one of Annette's old dresses."
This did not import so much pleasure to Jane as might have been expected. Her cousin was somewhat smaller than herself, and her shape quite different. Jane had taste enough to perceive that she appeared by no means to advantage in Annette's cast-off dresses, and under the circumstances she did not feel inclined to express her gratitude very warmly. She therefore said nothing.
"Well, Jane, what do you say ?" asked her aunt, sharply.
"I don't know, aunt."
"Don't know! Where's your manners, child? Don't you know what you ought to say when you receive a present?"
"Thank you," faltered Jane; "but Annette's dresses don't fit me very well, aunt," she ventured to add.
"Well!" exclaimed Mrs. Mordaunt, stopping short and transfixing her niece with her cold glance, "here's vanity for you with a vengeance. Perhaps you'd like to have me buy you a silk dress, miss?"
As each of her cousins had several, the desire might not have been altogether unnatural on the part of Jane, particularly as it would have been bought with her own money. She felt emboldened to say:
"Sophia and Annette wear silk dresses."
"And suppose they do," retorted Mrs. Mordaunt. "There's" some difference between you and them, I should say. We have enough to do for you as it is, and much thanks we get for it. But you are not worth wasting words upon. You will stay at home from school as I have bidden you."
At this moment the door bell rung, and Mrs. Mordaunt, adjusting the folds of her moire antique, walked complacently to the drawing-room, to receive her callers.
Jane, with a sigh, went back to her menial employments.
ALTHOUGH Mrs. Mordaunt sent her own daughters to a fashionable school, it is not for a moment to be supposed that Jane was allowed similar advantages. Indeed it must be acknowledged that her plain, unfashionable and unbecoming attire would have make her cut a strange figure at Madame Pompadour's Select School for Young Ladies, while madame herself would have been sensibly shocked at the proposition to take such a pupil. However, her susceptibilities were in no danger. Nobody was likely to make an application in Jane's behalf.
Jane was extremely fond of study. She learned rapidly, and with moderate advantages would have made a brilliant scholar, far excelling her superficial cousins. One day she picked up an elementary French book which had belonged to Sophia, but had been thrown aside for one of a higher grade. As it was not likely to be inquired after she took it up to her attic and hid it away in her trunk. Whenever she found an opportunity she pored over it, trying hard to master it. Of course she found the way beset with difficulties, but perseverance and hard labor enabled her to overcome many these. To her delight she found she was actually making progress. There was one point, however, which puzzled her. She did not know how to pronounce the words. She determined, without betraying her secret, to apply to her cousin.
"Sophia," she said, one day, as that young lady lay stretched on a lounge in what she doubtless considered an attitude of elegant repose, "I wish you'd read a little to me out of your French book."
Her cousin opened her eyes in amazement.
"What on earth do you want me to do that for?" she inquired, in undisguised curiosity.
"I thought I would like to hear how it sounds," answered Jane, deprecatingly.
"It's too much trouble," Said Sophia, languidly.
"But I should like so much to hear just a little," pleaded Jane. "I heard you saying something in French the other day to Annette, and I thought how glad I should be if I knew as much as you."
Sophia was vain, and this compliment had its effect.
"Oh, well," said she, "just bring me that book on the table. Only I don't see what good it's going to do you. You would never be able to learn French. You haven't got ability enough."
Jane thought it best to ignore this uncomplimentary remark, and brought the book.
Sophia could pronounce French better than she could read it, as Madame Pompadour, who was a Frenchwoman, took special pains to practise her scholars in this way.
Jane followed her cousin most attentively as she read, and her quick comprehension enabled her to seize the prominent principles which regulated the pronunciation. Occasionally she asked a question which Sophia, who felt that she was showing off her knowledge to advantage, graciously answered.
When the lesson was over Jane thanked her cousin gratefully.
Sophia looked at her curiously.
"You're a queer girl, Jane," she said. "Why should you care about all this? I can't conceive."
"I just thought I'd like to know how it sounded," said Jane, apologetically.
"Have you got any gloves, Jane?" asked Sophia, who felt unusually gracious.
"No," said Jane.
"Then here's a pair of mine you may have. They need mending, but they'll make a very good pair then."
"Thank you, Sophia."
So by dint of perseverance Jane managed to get through her French book. By this time she had become so much interested in the language that she felt anxious, to go on. But there was one great difficulty. She had no more books, and no more money to buy them with.
"What's the matter wid you, Janey?" inquired her humble friend Bridget, who felt a sincere affection for the young girl who was left so much to her companionship.
"I was thinking, Bridget," said Jane, with a sigh, "how much I should like a little money."
"And what would you do wid it?" asked Bridget.
"I'd buy a French reader and a French dictionary," said Jane.
"Does your cousins learn French?" inquired Bridget, not over grammatically.
"Yes, Bridget; and I should like to learn too."
"It's a shame of the misthress to niglict you so entirely, poor dear. I'm sure you'd make a better scholar than them, if she'd only give you a chance."
"She thinks I am only fit to work in the kitchen," said Jane, sadly. "I shall grow up ignorant, and that's worse than not having money."
"I don't know about that, darlin'," said Bridget. "If you had money you could ride in your own coach, and have a fine house, and wear silk gowns ivery day in the year."
"I'd rather be able to sing and play, and be a fine scholar."
"It's likely yer right," said Bridget, a little puzzled; "but I'd rather have the money to buy fine things wid. And what's the price of them books that yer cousin's got?"
"I could buy second-hand copies for two or three dollars," said Jane. "Second-hand ones would do just as well."
"Why won't you put their names down on a bit of paper like?" said Bridget.
Jane complied with this request, though she did not know what it meant; and Bridget, poring over the paper with an air of owl-like wisdom, put it in her pocket.
The next day a bookseller was considerably surprised at a visit from a stout, red-faced Irish girl, who presented a piece of paper with the remark :
"Have ye got them books, sir, that's down there?"
"They are French books," he said, looking up at her.
"av coorse; I know that," returned Bridget, for it was she.
"Yes, I have them," he answered.
"If ye have them second-hand, sir," said Bridget, "they'll do me just as well. Maybe I shall be wanting to buy some more."
"Are you intending to study French yourself?" the bookseller could not help asking.
"What else would I be wanting the books for?" returned Bridget, with an air of importance. "My education was niglicted when I was a girl, and now I want to learn something."
Bridget was determined not to betray Jane's secret, and for this reason gave the ludicrous impression that she wanted the books, for her own use.
"A queer customer," thought the shopkeeper with amusement.
A serviceable though well-worn copy of each of the volumes was found. The price proved to be fifty cents for the one, and a dollar and a half for the other.
Bridget took out her pocket-book, and with an air of great satisfaction produced a two dollar bill.
"Ye may rowl 'em up for me," she said, consequentially.
The bookseller, though not undertaking to roll them up, carefully wrapped them in paper, and the promising French scholar walked off with her purchase.
"I've got something for ye, Janey," she said, mysteriously, to our young heroine, after she got home. "It's upstairs."
Jane accompanied her to the little attic room, and there lay the books she had so much coveted.
"What, Bridget! did you buy these for me?'' she exclaimed. "You ought not to have spent your money for me."
"Whisht, my darlin', I may spind my own money as I like. Was them what you wanted?"
"They are just what I wanted. How kind you are!"
"Hush nowâ€”it's nothing at all."
"When I am grown up I will earn money and pay you, Bridget."
"Well, my darlin', just as you please. Maybe instead of that you can teach me a little of the lingo. Mesilf would like to know how it seems to spake in that outlandish way. It must be mighty quare entirely."
"O yes, Bridget; I'll teach you a little now."
"Will ye?" asked Bridget, delighted.
"Yes. Now, whenever you want to say yes, you must say 'oui.'"
"We! That's mighty quare entirely. Then its the two of us make yes?"
"No it isn't that kind of a we. It is spelt o-u-i."
"And what means no?" inquired the French pupil.
"Nong!" repeated Bridget, with a strong Hibernian accent.
"Yes, Bridget, that's right. Shall I teach you some more?"
"Not to-day, Janey. That's all I can remimber to once."
With great pride in her new acquirements, Bridget kept repeating to herself "we" and "nong," till at the teatable, when Mrs. Mordaunt asked her to bring in a fresh supply of tea, she blurted out:
"Bridget talking French!" exclaimed Sophia, nearly choking with laughter.
"Yes," said Bridget, recovering from her confusion and assuming an air of importance. "It's mesilf that took lessons once."
Such a burst of laughter followed that poor Bridget retreated to the kitchen in confusion.
Jane, however, lost no time in availing herself of Bridget's gifts. Occasionally she would encounter obstacles which she found it difficult to surmount, but in general her quick apprehension carried her bravely through them. When her French reader was finished, Bridget bought her another book, and before a year was over Jane, little as her cousins suspected it, was a considerably better French scholar and read the language with greater readiness than either. But Jane thought it best to keep this new acquirement to herself.
So four years slipped away. Jane was now seventeen years of age, about the middle height; with a face that had lost none of its youthful sweetness, she possessed more than ordinary beauty. Mrs. Mordaunt could not help acknowledging to herself that her niece would prove a dangerous rival to her plain cousins if any opportunity of comparison should be offered. She determined to allow no such opportunity. Jane was kept more than ever in the background. She was strictly confined to the servants' quarters whenever there was company, and was still dressed in the cast-off clothes of her cousins. This was a bitter humiliation to her. She would have been contented with anything of her own, however plain, but it chafed her pride to be treated as a beggar.
"But, after all," she thought, "am I anything more? I am a humble dependent on my uncle's bounty. If I am ever so situated as to earn my own living, I shall be happy."
At this time her leading idea was to become a governess or teacher in a school. This would be respectable and to her taste. But she felt that, in order to compass this she must be well educated, and how could she ever acquire an education in her present circumstances?
In the last chapter an account was given of the manner in which Jane succeeded in acquiring the French language, thanks to Bridget's timely loan. But, as may readily be supposed, she did not stop there. She ascertained what books her cousins used in other departments, and one by one obtained them. Though without a teacher, her firm resolutions enabled her to acquire a more thorough acquaintance with them than her cousins, with all their advantages, succeeded in doing.
In one respect, however, they had the advantage. Instrumental music was quite out of her reach; she must be content to do without it. Yet as she heard Sophia and Annette drumming away on the long-suffering piano in a manner which might well jar on the susceptible nerves of a genuine lover of music, she often felt, with a sigh, that she could acquit, herself with much greater credit if she only had the opportunity.
One day she made a discovery which materially improved her position.
In the loft was an old barrel filled indiscriminately with old rags and paper litter.
Her aunt seeing her at leisure one afternoon chanced to think of this barrel, and ordered Jane to go up and pick out the rags, and burn the old paper.
Somewhat unwillingly she undertook the task. She had recently commenced Latin, and was promising herself an hour or two to spend upon it. But sometimes it happens that our apparent hardships are really mercies in disguise. When Jane climbed with unwilling feet the steep and narrow staircase, she little dreamed of the discovery which she was destined to make.
For about half an hour Jane pursued her uninteresting task. She was required not only to separate the rags from the paper, but again to sort the rags into white and colored.
In her search she came at length to a small collection of letters addressed to her uncle. One yellow with age was open. Casting her eye upon the signature, suddenly Jane's heart beat fast and tumultuously.
The letter was signed "Mary Benson," and this she recognised as her mother's name. She had always felt a strong desire to learn something about her mother, but neither Mr. nor Mrs. Mordaunt ever seemed disposed to speak of her. It may be that their sense of the wrong they were doing the child made the mother's memory unpleasant.
Jane felt no scruples about reading the letter. She first kissed it reverently, and then sitting down upon a small hair trunk turned to the first page, and commenced reading.
The characters were small, and the ink had faded so as to make it difficult to read, but Jane would have persevered if it had taken the entire afternoon.
This was the letter:
"MY DEAR BROTHERâ€”I sit down to write to you, feeling that I have but a little while longer to live. Consumption has fastened upon me, and I cannot hope to escape from its deadly grasp. I do not think I dread death. I have confidence in my heavenly Father, and I feel that He will consider mercifully my many shortcomings. I have one reason for wishing to live. My little Jane is now three years old. She promises to grow up an unusually attractive child. I feel that she will need a mother's care, and for her sake I could wish to live. Yet if my heavenly Father ordains otherwise, I am in His hands.
"This leads me to the request which it is the object of this letter to make. When I am gone I wish you to receive my little girl, and care for her as you would for one of your own daughters. I particularly wish that she should have a good .education. I think nothing will make up for the lack of that. I do not feel to say more upon this point. You will understand me, my dear brother, and I think you will not refuse to co-operate in carrying out my plans and hopes.
"In making this request, my brother, I am glad I shall be imposing no expense upon you. I shall leave Jane five thousand dollars, safely invested. The interest of this sum will reimburse you for any expense you may incur. When she is eighteen, I wish her to have the immediate control of this sum. She will, no doubt, be willing to be guided by you as to the proper mode of investment."
"But this letter has tired me. I grow tired easily now. With many prayers for the happiness of yourself and my little niecesâ€”I remain, your affectionate sister, Mary Benson."
The emotion with which Jane read this touching letter may be imagined. But, mingled with this, there was a deep feeling of indignation against the brother, who could so cruelly disregard a sister's dying request. Her heart bounded with the thought that she was no longer the poor dependent she had supposed. She had money enough to support her in comfort, and it would be hers in less than a year.
Yet how had she been reared? As the companion of her uncle's servants, with the most limited advantages of education. That she did possess a fund of knowledge and information was due solely to her own efforts. She had acquired, not by her uncle's help, but in spite of him.
A new resolution had inspired her. She had hitherto submitted uncomplainingly and unresistingly to the demands upon her. She had toiled as a servant. Her time had been consumed in menial occupations. This she had done, feeling it her duty to compensate her uncle for her board. Now that she had learned that she was no dependent, that he had received more than a full equivalent for all he had hitherto expended upon her, her soul revolted against this oppression. She determined to assert her independence, and that without delay.
Carefully concealing the precious letter in her bosom, she left her unfinished task, and went downstairs.
She met her aunt on the landing.
"Have you finished sorting the rags, Jane?" inquired Mrs. Mordaunt.
"I have not," said Jane, coldly.
"Then what are you down here for? Go up immediately, and finish them."
"I would rather be excused," said Jane, coolly. "You can give the task to some one of your servants."
"What!" exclaimed her aunt, her face white with anger, "do you mean to defy me? Do you dare to refuse obedience? Go up immediately."
"I must decline, aunt," said Jane, perfectly collected. "I may as well give you notice that you must find some one else to do your drudgery. I have slaved for you for years. I have resolved to do so no longer."
"Good, heavens! are you mad?" exclaimed Mrs. Mordaunt. "What has come over you?"
"I have only come to a resolution which I am sorry I had not come to before."
"You ungrateful trollop!" shrieked her aunt, her anger at a white heat, "do you expect we are going to support you in idleness? It would serve you right to turn you out to shift for yourself."
Jane turned her gaze meaningly upon her aunt.
"Very well," said she; "let my uncle make over to me the five thousand which my mother left him in trust for me, and I will go to-day."
Mrs. Mordaunt's face turned white, but this time with consternation.
"Who has told you of this?" she ejaculated.
"It matters not," said Jane, marking with a feeling of inward triumph her aunt's dismay." It is enough that I know it. I shall require a private interview with my uncle to-day. Meanwhile, madam, if I am to remain under your roof you will assign me a better room than I at present occupy; I shall at once require new clothing, and an opportunity to make up the deficiencies in my education, which has been so shamefully neglected."
Mrs. Mordaunt did not venture upon a reply. Without a word she turned and descended the stairs. Jane's assertion of independence had come upon her like a thunderclap. She felt that she must at once consult her husband.
SOMEWHAT to his wife's surprise, Mr. Mordaunt heard her narrative without exhibiting signs of disturbance.
"I think," he said, after a pause, "it will be best to send her off at once to a boarding-school."
"What!" exclaimed his wife, in astonishment. "Are you going to give up to her like that?"
"I will tell you my object," said her husband. "You remember hearing me speak of my uncle Joshua?"
"He has been in India for the last thirty years, and, as I believe, has accumulated a princely fortune."
"This morning I received a telegram, dated Halifax, informing me that he had got thus far on his way home. Of course I shall invite him to take up his residence here, and it is our fault, wife, if we don't induce the old fellow to remember us handsomely in his will."
"Yes, I see," said Mrs. Mordaunt, eagerly. "What a fine thing it will be for the dear girls."
"He has no other near relation except Jane. It is just as well that she should be out of the house. Then there will be less chance of her coming into competition with our daughters. As to Jane's inheritanceâ€”though it will trouble me to raise the moneyâ€”it will be nothing to what we may get from Uncle Joshua."
"Yes, yesâ€”let her go at onceâ€”the farther off the better. I don't like the girlâ€”and that's the truth of it. I should feel like killing her if I thought she was likely to interfere with Sophia and Annette. How much do you think your uncle is worth?"
"Half a million, I have no doubt."
Mrs. Mordaunt's eyes sparkled; visions of a splendid house, a fine carriage and magnificent furniture danced before her imagination.
"Let us get Jane off without delay!" she said. "I tremble lest your uncle should arrive before she comes."
"Send her up to me."
Five minutes after Jane entered the room.
"Jane!" said her uncle, abruptly, "would you like to go to boarding-school?"
"Very much," was the cold reply.
She did not express any gratitude, because she felt none. This plan of her uncle's she regarded as a tardy justice.
"It is best that no time should be lost," said Mr. Mordaunt, somewhat annoyed by her manner. "Can you be ready to start to-morrow?"
"Where am I to go, sir ?"
"To â€”â€”â€”, Pennsylvania."
"I have no dresses fit to wear."
Mr. Mordaunt drew out his pocketbook.
"Here are one hundred dollars," he said. "You may go out this afternoon and purchase a trunk and the necessary materials for dresses. They can be made up when you have arrived."
"Very well, sir."
Jane felt as eager to go as her uncle and aunt to have her. Her cousins at first sneered at the idea of her going to boarding-school, but when they learned their father's motive they heartily approved it.
The next afternoon Jane had started on her journey.
A day later Uncle Joshua arrived.
* * * * * *
They were all sitting round the breakfast table a week later. Uncle Joshua, a man of sixty-five, small and dried up by Indian heat, appeared to enjoy thoroughly the cordial, family circle into which he had stepped. All seemed to vie with each other in showing him attention. How should he suspect their motives to be interested?
"By the way," said he, "didn't your sister Mary leave a daughter?"
"Yes," said Mr. Mordaunt, uneasily.
"And where is she now?"
"I have had the charge of her ever since her mother's death. She is now at boarding-school."
"I hope she is as sweet and attractive as her mother. I remember her as a charming girl."
Mrs. Mordaunt put her handkerchief to her eyes.
"Ah, sir," said she," it is a painful subject. It is well that her mother did not live to see how she has turned out."
"You startle me!" said Uncle Joshua, with an air of concern. "What is the matter with her?"
"She has been very unruly and disobedient from the first. She could never be got to attend to her lessons. She is shockingly ignorant for her age. We have been obliged to send her off to a distant boarding-school to see if something cannot be made of her.
"I am truly sorry to hear itâ€”Mary's child too!" murmured Uncle Joshua sorrowfully. "As you say, it would have pained her poor mother to know how she has turned out."
"Yes, sir; it has grieved us all very much. But let us change the unpleasant subject. We will hope for a change for the better."
While this conversation was going on Bridget was waiting on the table. The honest handmaid's indignation was stirred to hear her favorite so unjustly spoken of. She would like to have interrupted Mrs. Mordaunt, but thought of a better way.
"O, you owld sinner!" she said to herself, mentally shaking her fist at her mistress." Won't I expose yer desatefnl doings!"
"I'd like to spake a word to you, sir!" fell upon Uncle Joshua's ears in a strong Hibernian accent, later in the day.
"Indeed!" was the astonished ejaculation. "Well, say on, my good girl."
Bridget did say on. In a tone of indignant eloquence she told Uncle Joshua the whole story, how poor Jane had been snubbed and ill-treated, and made to work in the kitchen; how she had been cut off from all educational advantages, and made to consort with servants, until just before his arrival she had been packed off to a boarding-school. Bridget told how she had secretly found means to study, and with an eloquence born of friendship, which lost none of its effect because the language was uncouth, praised the poor girl whom her aunt had sought to vilify.
Uncle Joshua listened in silence.
"Where is this boarding-school?" he finally asked.
"In â€”â€”â€”, State of Pennsylvany," responded Bridget.
"I will go there at once and see Jane. If I find that you have told the truth, you shall not go without your reward. Meanwhile don't say anything about where I have gone."
"That I won't, your honor," said Bridget with a joyful look.
Uncle Joshua explained to his host that he must make an unexpected journey, but resisted all hints to reveal his destination.
The explanation came in due time.
Four days later Mr. Mordaunt received the following letter:
"NEPHEWâ€”You will observe from the date of this letter that I resolved to satisfy my mind as to the truth of the stories you and Mrs. Mordaunt chose to tell me about Mary's child. I will not inquire your motives. Enough that I am convinced you have done her a cruel injusticeâ€”and that intentionally. You have cruelly abused her dead mother's trust. That she is not as ignorant as your wife represented is only accounted for by her studying in secret. As to her temper, I find that she has been shamefully misrepresented.
"I must call your attention to the fact that she will be eighteen nine months from to-day. At that time your guardianship ceases, and I shall call upon you, in her name, to surrender the sum which legally belongs to her.
"I shall immediately purchase a house in the city and install Jane as its mistress. My present intention is to make her my heiress. Had I found things as they should be, she would only have received one-third, and your daughters would have shared equally with her. This is now impossible. You and your wife have only yourselves to blame for this disappointment. Had you behaved properly you would have had no occasion for repentance now. It will be my endeavor to make up to the poor child the advantages of which your cruel patrimony has deprived her.
Mr. Mordaunt crushed the letter in his fingers, and turning to his wife assailed her with bitter reproaches, charging upon her this bitter disappointment. She retorted, and a scene of harsh altercation followed.
Jane was avenged.
Sophia and Annette, as they walk along Broadway, gaze with envy and jealousy at Jane's sweet face as she rides by in her uncle's handsome coach. They are ready to fawn upon her now, and are eager to claim relationship. Jane receives their advances politely but coldly. She cannot quite forget the past. As for faithful Bridget, she occupies a prominent place in Uncle Joshua's household, and is remunerated so handsomely for her services that she possesses no less than three silk dresses, a white satin bonnet in the latest style, and a gold breastpin of mammoth proportions. Her evident prosperity has led to overtures of marriage from several admirers, but Bridget likes her place too well to be lured from it.
"What would I do wid a husband, shure?" she says. "I wouldn't leave my swate young mis" thress if I could have tin of 'em." And that settles the question.