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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 454 pages of information about The Vicissitudes of Bessie Fairfax.

CHAPTER II.

THE LAWYER’S LETTER.

“The postman!  Run, Jack, and bring the letter.”

The letter, said Mr. Carnegie; for the correspondence between the doctor’s house and the world outside it was limited.  Jack jumped off his chair at the breakfast-table and rushed to do his father’s bidding.

“For mother!” cried he, returning at the speed of a small whirlwind, the epistle held aloft.  Down he clapped it on the table by her plate, mounted into his chair again, and resumed the interrupted business of the hour.

Mrs. Carnegie glanced aside at the letter, read the post-mark, and reflected aloud:  “Norminster—­who can be writing to us from Norminster?  Some of Bessie’s people?”

“The shortest way would be to open the letter and see.  Hand it over to me,” said the doctor.

Bessie pricked her ears; but Mr. Carnegie read the letter to himself, while his wife was busy replenishing the little mugs that came up in single file incessantly for more milk.  A momentary pause in the wants of her offspring gave her leisure to notice her husband’s visage—­a dusk-red and weather-brown visage at its best, but gathered now into extraordinary blackness.  She looked, but did not speak; the doctor was the first to speak.

“It is about Bessie—­from her grandfather’s agent,” said he with suppressed vexation as he replaced the large full sheet in its envelope.

“What about me?” cried Bessie in an explosion of natural curiosity.

“Your mother will tell you presently.  Mind, boys, you are good to-day, and don’t tire your sister.”

So unusual an admonition made the boys stare, and everybody was hushed with a presentiment of something going to happen that nobody would approve.  Mrs. Carnegie had her conjectures, not far wide of the truth, and Bessie was conscious of impatience to get the children out of the way, that she might have her curiosity appeased.

The doctor discerned the insurrection of self in her face, and said, almost bitterly, “Wait till I am gone, Bessie; you will have all the rest of your life to think of it.  Now, boys, you have done eating; be off, and get ready for school.”

Jack and the rest cleared out of the parlor and pattered up stairs, Bessie following close on their heels, purposely deaf to her mother’s voice:  “You may stay, love.”  She was hurt and perturbed.  An idea of what was impending had flashed into her mind.  After all, her abrupt exit was convenient to her elders; they could discuss the circumstances more freely in her absence.  Mrs. Carnegie began.

“Well, Thomas, what does this wonderful letter say?  I think I can guess—­Bessie is to go home?”

“Home!  What place can be home to her if this is not?” rejoined the doctor, and strode across the room to shut the door on his retreating progeny, while his wife entered on the perusal of the letter.

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