"They had never paid much attention to me up to this time. Thosespeeches opened their eyes: they noticed what progress I had madein the heart of their relative; and their cupidity became alarmed.

"Trembling lest they should lose an inheritance which theyconsidered as theirs, they united against me, determined to put astop to their aunt's generous intentions by having me sent off.

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"But it was in vain, that, for nearly a year, their hatred exhausteditself in skillful manceuvres.

"The instinct of preservation stimulating my perspicacity I hadpenetrated their intentions, and I was struggling with all my might.

Every day, to make myself more indispensable, I invented some novelattention.

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"They only came once a week to La Jonchere: I was there all the time.

I had the advantage. I struggled successfully, and was probablyapproaching the end of my troubles, when my poor old mistress wastaken sick. After forty-eight hours, she was very low. She wasfully conscious, but for that very reason she could appreciate thedanger; and the fear of death made her crazy.

"Her nieces had come to sit by her bedside; and I was expresslyforbidden to enter the room. They had understood that this was anexcellent opportunity to get rid of me forever.

"Evidently gained in advance, the physicians declared to my poorbenefactress that the air of La Jonchere was fatal to her, andthat her only chance of recovery was to establish herself in Paris.

One of her nephews offered to have her taken to his house in alitter. She would soon get well, they said; and she could then goto finish her convalescence in some southern city.

"Her first word was for me. She did not wish to be separated fromme, she protested, and insisted absolutely upon taking me with her.

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Her nephews represented gravely to her that this was animpossibility; that she must not think of burdening herself withme; that the simplest thing was to leave me at La Jonchere; andthat, moreover, they would see that I should get a good situation.

"The sick woman struggled for a long time, and with an energy ofwhich I would not have thought her capable.

"But the others were pressing. The physicians kept repeating thatthey could not answer for any thing, if she did not follow theiradvice. She was afraid of death. She yielded, weeping.