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THE OLD HOMESTEAD
By Victor RedcinTe.
(Copyright by W. G. Chapman.)
"It's settled,""-announced John
Ritchie gloomily, as fie entered the
humble home kitchen and threw him
self into a chair with an abandon that
evidenced strong emotion.
His patient-faced wife looked up
anxiously, their pretty daughter, Ina,
She Inspected it.
"With quick eagerness. Both knew
"what he referred to, but silently wait
ed for him to explain.
; "The lawyer filed the will in court
-today," proceeded Mr. Ritchie. "It
'leaves everything to Blanche Mor
?ton." : Mrs. Ritchie grew a trifle white
'about the lips, the hopeful gleam died
"out of her faded eyes. Ina's face quiv
ered. She was not avaricious, but she
had to confess secretly to a severe
disappointment. She left the kitchen,
passed out into the garden, chose a
shaded corner and sat down and
"Hardly right, is it, Nancy," sub
mitted Mr. Ritchie to his wife.
"It's hard, John, and unjust," re
sponded his helpmeet with a gulp,
bitterly. "My own brother, too ! I see
it all now. My dead sister's folks have
been courting favor with Uncle Ralph
for over a year in the interests of
Blanche. Of course, she's my niece,
but we know that she is selfish and
scheming. They tell me that she and
her father just had Brother Ralph
under their thumb for the last year.
I don't doubt they poisoned his mind
against us and Ina. Poor Ina!" and
Mrs. Ritchie wiped a tear from her
eye with the corner of her apron and
resumed her drudgery tasks with a
hopeless sign of desolation.
It was, indeed, hard for the Rit
chies. Things had gone wrong with
John Ritchie for the past year or two,
and he was desperately in debt. There
was an old mortgage on the little
home, 'held by Uncle Ralph. They
had hoped at the least that he would
remit this. It seemed not, however.
Everything had gone to Blanche,
mortgage and all. Knowing the ways
and worth of that self-centered
young lady, Mr. Ritchie doubted if
she would show much mercy.
He came upon Ina as he strolled
about the garden. She was not aware
of his near presence, and he softly
stole back to the house, his face more
saddened than ever.
"Nancy," he said to his wife, "I
want you to be more gentle with
Ina than ever. She's out in the gar
den crying out her heart. Poor child!
You know what that means."
"Disappointment about the for
tune, I suppose," observed Mrs. Rit
chie, drearily. "She had a right to ex
pect something, and we certainly
needed it badly."
"I'm afraid it's that young man,
Albert Telford," said Ritchie bluntly.
"Why, I didn't think it had gone
that far," remarked Mrs. Ritchie,
with a start, "I knew he was friendly;