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UNCLE AND NIECE I MUST confess, I did not approve of my niece and her husband’s plan of expatriating themselves for the sake of giving their only son and heir, and their twin girls, a correct accent in speaking French. But I had the grace to hold my tongue. I wonder if my wife would have been equally discreet—supposing I possessed such a helpmeet. Probably she would not have done so, even if I had; and probably also I should not, if she had. For the very fact of my having a wife would prove that I should be different from what I am. There is an implication in this slight exhibition of boastfulness; but it is not subtle. Any one would see it instantly—namely, that I am a bachelor. A bachelor uncle whose niece takes it into her head to marry and raise a family, is as deeply bereaved as he would be were he her father. More so, indeed, for a father has his wife left to him.... The relationship between uncle and niece has never been sufficiently celebrated in poetry. It deserves to be sung. Besides the high, noble friendship which it implies, there is also about it a touch of almost lover-like sentiment. The right-hearted uncle loves to lavish all kinds of luxuries on his niece and feels sufficiently repaid by the look of frank affection in her eyes, the unabashed kiss which is the envy of young men who happen to witness it. Here are the facts in my case. After my brother’s wife died, he urged me to make my home at his house. I suppose I might have done so long before; but I had been afraid of my sister-in-law. She was a tall imperious woman; she did not approve of me at all. She could not see my jokes, or, if she did, she frowned on them. I suppose she thought me frivolous. She was one of those women who make you appear at your worst. She was sincere and genuine and good, but our wireless apparatus was not tuned in harmony. As long as she was at the helm of my brother’s establishment I preferred to enjoy less comfortable quarters elsewhere

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