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Elizabeth De Graf, nicknamed Beth, is the youngest of the three nieces patronized by their wealthy uncle John Merrick.
Beth is the only child of Professor Adolph De Graf, a music teacher and failed composer in Cloverton, Ohio. Beth's father is not a financial success in life, and suffers from persistent debts. Her mother Julia is a member of the Merrick family, a sister of John Merrick and Jane Merrick.
Beth herself is recognized in her small-town environment as a pretty girl. At the age of fifteen, her figure is slim and not yet fully development into adult womanhood. She is also reputed to possess a sullen and unresponsive temperament. She is thoughtful and reserved; her mother calls her defiant and willful.
Beth is fifteen when she is summoned to the estate of her Aunt Jane, as a candidate to be Aunt Jane's heir. This event begins Beth's association with her cousins Patsy Doyle and Louise Merrick and her Uncle John, an association that works a positive revolution in Beth's experience. (Aunt Jane's Nieces)
At her young age, her character is still in the process of formation. She is an accomplished and well-practiced pistol shot — but when she actually shoots and wounds a man, she is horrified at the result. (Aunt Jane's Nieces Abroad)
Once Beth is taken up by Uncle John, she is exposed to foreign travel and a range of other educational and expansive experiences, which have a positive, broadening affect on her character. She grows into the "beauty" of the three nieces, and develops her musical talent at the piano. (Aunt Jane's Nieces at Work)