A Hoosier Chronicle
by Meredith Nicholson
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By Meredith Nicholson



"Dreams books, are each a world and books, we know, Are a substantial world, both pure and good; Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood, Our pastime and our happiness will grow"

Wordsworth in Personal Talk





Published March 1912



The wise know that foolish legislation is a rope of sand which perishes in the twisting; that the State must follow and not lead the character and progress of the citizen; the strongest usurper is quickly got rid of; and they only who build on Ideas, build for eternity; and that the form of government which prevails is the expression of what cultivation exists in the population which permits it. The law is only a memorandum. We are superstitious, and esteem the statute somewhat; so much life as it has in the character of living men is its force.

EMERSON: Politics.





From drawings by F.C. Yohn




Sylvia was reading in her grandfather's library when the bell tinkled. Professor Kelton had few callers, and as there was never any certainty that the maid-of-all-work would trouble herself to answer, Sylvia put down her book and went to the door. Very likely it was a student or a member of the faculty, and as her grandfather was not at home Sylvia was quite sure that the interruption would be the briefest.

The Kelton cottage stood just off the campus, and was separated from it by a narrow street that curved round the college and stole, after many twists and turns, into town. This thoroughfare was called "Buckeye Lane," or more commonly the "Lane." The college had been planted literally in the wilderness by its founders, at a time when Montgomery, for all its dignity as the seat of the county court, was the most colorless of Hoosier hamlets, save only as the prevailing mud colored everything. Buckeye Lane was originally a cow-path, in the good old times when every reputable villager kept a red cow and pastured it in the woodlot that subsequently became Madison Athletic Field. In those days the Madison faculty, and their wives and daughters, seeking social diversion among the hospitable townfolk, picked their way down the Lane by lantern light. An ignorant municipal council had later, when natural gas threatened to boom the town into cityhood, changed Buckeye Lane to University Avenue, but the community refused to countenance any such impious trifling with tradition. And besides, Madison prided herself then as now on being a college that taught the humanities in all soberness, according to ideals brought out of New England by its founders. The proposed change caused an historic clash between town and gown in which the gown triumphed. University forsooth!

Professor Kelton's house was guarded on all sides by trees and shrubbery, and a tall privet hedge shut it off from the Lane. He tended with his own hands a flower garden whose roses were the despair of all the women of the community. The clapboards of the simple story-and-a-half cottage had faded to a dull gray, but the little plot of ground in which the house stood was cultivated with scrupulous care. The lawn was always fresh and crisp, the borders of privet were neatly trimmed and the flower beds disposed effectively. A woman would have seen at once that this was a man's work; it was all a little too regular, suggesting engineering methods rather than polite gardening.

Once you had stepped inside the cottage the absence of the feminine touch was even more strikingly apparent. Book shelves crowded to the door,—open shelves, that had the effect of pressing at once upon the visitor the most formidable of dingy volumes, signifying that such things were of moment to the master of the house. There was no parlor, for the room that had originally been used as such was now shelf-hung and book-lined, and served as an approach to the study into which it opened. The furniture was old and frayed as to upholstery, and the bric-a-brac on an old-fashioned what-not was faintly murmurous of some long-vanished feminine hand. The scant lares and penates were sufficient to explain something of this shiplike trimness of the housekeeping. The broken half of a ship's wheel clung to the wall above the narrow grate, and the white marble mantel supported a sextant, a binocular, and other incidentals of a shipmaster's profession. An engraving of the battle of Trafalgar and a portrait of Farragut spoke further of the sea. If we take a liberty and run our eyes over the bookshelves we find many volumes relating to the development of sea power and textbooks of an old vintage on the sailing of ships and like matters. And if we were to pry into the drawers of an old walnut cabinet in the study we should find illuminative data touching the life of Andrew Kelton. It is well for us to know that he was born in Indiana, as far as possible from salt water; and that, after being graduated from Annapolis, he served his country until retired for disabilities due to a wound received at Mobile Bay. He thereafter became and continued for fifteen years the professor of mathematics and astronomy at Madison College, in his native state; and it is there that we find him, living peacefully with his granddaughter Sylvia in the shadow of the college.

Comfort had set its seal everywhere, but it was keyed to male ideals of ease and convenience; the thousand and one things in which women express themselves were absent. The eye was everywhere struck by the strict order of the immaculate small rooms and the snugness with which every article had been fitted to its place. The professor's broad desk was free of litter; his tobacco jar neighbored his inkstand on a clean, fresh blotter. It is a bit significant that Sylvia, in putting down her book to answer the bell, marked her place carefully with an envelope, for Sylvia, we may say at once, was a young person disciplined to careful habits.

"Is this Professor Kelton's? I should like very much to see him," said the young man to whom she opened.

"I'm sorry, but he isn't at home," replied Sylvia, with that directness which, we shall find, characterized her speech.

The visitor was neither a member of the faculty nor a student, and as her grandfather was particularly wary of agents she was on guard against the stranger.

"It is important for me to see him. If he will be back later I can come again."

The young man did not look like an agent; he carried no telltale insignia. He was tall and straight and decidedly blond, and he smiled pleasantly as he fanned himself with his straw hat. Where his brown hair parted there was a cowlick that flung an untamable bang upon his forehead, giving him a combative look that his smile belied. He was a trifle too old for a senior, Sylvia reflected, soberly studying his lean, smooth-shaven face, but not nearly old enough to be a professor; and except the pastor of the church which she attended, and the physician who had been called to see her in her childish ailments, all men in her world were either students or teachers. The town men were strange beings, whom Professor Kelton darkly called Philistines, and their ways and interests were beyond her comprehension.

"If you will wait I think I may be able to find him. He may have gone to the library or to the observatory, or for a walk. Won't you please come in?"

Her gravity amused the young man, who did not think it so serious a matter to gain an interview with a retired professor in a small college. They debated, with much formality on both sides, whether Sylvia should seek her grandfather or merely direct the visitor to places where he would be likely to find him; but as the stranger had never seen Professor Kelton, they concluded that it would be wiser for Sylvia to do the seeking.

She ushered the visitor into the library, where it was cooler than on the doorstep, and turned toward the campus. It is to be noted that Sylvia moves with the buoyant ease of youth. She crosses the Lane and is on her own ground now as she follows the familiar walks that link the college buildings together. The students who pass her grin cheerfully and tug at their caps; several, from a distance, wave a hand at her. One young gentleman, leaning from the upper window of the chemical laboratory, calls, "Hello, Sylvia," and jerks his head out of sight. Sylvia's chin lifts a trifle, disdainful of the impudence of sophomores. She has recognized the culprit's voice, and will deal with him later in her own fashion.

Sylvia is olive-skinned and dark of eye. And they are interesting eyes—those of Sylvia, luminous and eager—and not fully taken in at a glance. They call us back for further parley by reason of their grave and steady gaze. There is something appealing in her that takes hold of the heart, and we remember her after she has passed us by. We shall not pretend that her features are perfect, but their trifling irregularities contribute to an impression of individuality and character. Her mouth, for example, is a bit large, but it speaks for good humor. Even at fifteen, her lips suggest firmness and decision. Her forehead is high and broad, and her head is well set on straight shoulders. Her dark hair is combed back smoothly and braided and the braid is doubled and tied with a red ribbon. The same color flashes in a flowing bow at her throat. These notes will serve to identify Sylvia as she crosses the campus of this honorable seat of learning on a June afternoon.

This particular June afternoon fell somewhat later than the second consulship of Grover Cleveland and well within the ensuing period of radicalism. The Hoosiers with whom we shall have to do are not those set forth by Eggleston, but the breed visible to-day in urban marketplaces, who submit themselves meekly to tailors and schoolmasters. There is always corn in their Egypt, and no village is so small but it lifts a smokestack toward a sky that yields nothing to Italy's. The heavens are a soundingboard devised for the sole purpose of throwing back the mellifluous voices of native orators. At the cross-roads store, philosophers, perched upon barrel and soap-box (note the soap-box), clinch in endless argument. Every county has its Theocritus who sings the nearest creek, the bloom of the may-apple, the squirrel on the stake-and-rider fence, the rabbit in the corn, the paw-paw thicket where fruit for the gods lures farm boys on frosty mornings in golden autumn. In olden times the French voyageur, paddling his canoe from Montreal to New Orleans, sang cheerily through the Hoosier wilderness, little knowing that one day men should stand all night before bulletin boards in New York and Boston awaiting the judgment of citizens of the Wabash country upon the issues of national campaigns. The Hoosier, pondering all things himself, cares little what Ohio or Illinois may think or do. He ventures eastward to Broadway only to deepen his satisfaction in the lights of Washington or Main Street at home. He is satisfied to live upon a soil more truly blessed than any that lies beyond the borders of his own commonwealth. No wonder Ben Parker, of Henry County, born in a log cabin, attuned his lyre to the note of the first blue-bird and sang,—

'Tis morning and the days are long.

It is always morning and all the days are long in Indiana.

Sylvia was three years old when she came to her grandfather's. This she knew from the old servant; but where her earlier years had been spent or why or with whom she did not know; and when her grandfather was so kind, and her studies so absorbing, it did not seem worth while to trouble about any state of existence antedating her first clear recollections—which were of days punctuated and governed by the college bell, and of people who either taught or studied, with glimpses now and then of the women and children of the professors' households. There were times, when the winds whispered sharply round the cottage on winter nights, or when the snow lay white on the campus and in the woods beyond, when some memory taunted her, teasing and luring afar off; and once, as she walked with her grandfather on a day in March, and he pointed to a flock of wild geese moving en echelon toward the Kankakee and the far white Canadian frontier, she experienced a similar vague thrill of consciousness, as though remembering that elsewhere, against blue spring sky, she had watched similar migrant battalions sweeping into the north.

She had never known a playmate. The children of the college circle went to school in town, while she, from her sixth year, was taught systematically by her grandfather. The faithful oversight of Mary, the maid-of-all-work, constituted Sylvia's sole acquaintance with anything approximating maternal care. Mary, unknown to Sylvia and Professor Kelton, sometimes took counsel—the privilege of her long residence in the Lane—of some of the professors' wives, who would have been glad to help directly but for the increasing reserve that had latterly marked Professor Kelton's intercourse with his friends and neighbors.

Sylvia was vaguely aware of the existence of social distinctions, but in Buckeye Lane these were entirely negligible; they were, in fact, purely academic, to be studied with other interesting phenomena by spectacled professors in quiet laboratories. It may, however, be remarked that Sylvia had sometimes gazed, not without a twinge, upon the daughter of a village manufacturer whom she espied flashing through the Lane on a black pony, and this young person symbolized all worldly grandeur to Sylvia's adoring vision. Sylvia knew the world chiefly from her reading,—Miss Alcott's and Mrs. Whitney's stories at first, and "St. Nicholas" every month, on a certain day that found her meeting the postman far across the campus; and she had read all the "Frank" books,—the prized possessions of a neighbor's boy,—from the Maine woods through the gunboat and prairie exploits of that delectable hero. At fourteen she had fallen upon Scott and Bulwer and had devoured them voraciously during the long vacation, in shady corners of the deserted campus; and she was now fixing Dickens's characters ineffaceably in her mind by Cruikshank's drawings. She was well grounded in Latin and had a fair reading knowledge of French and German. It was true of Sylvia, then and later, that poetry did not greatly interest her, and this had been attributed to her undoubted genius for mathematics. She was old for her age, people said, and the Lane wondered what her grandfather meant to do with her.

The finding of Professor Kelton proves to be, as Sylvia had surmised, a simple matter. He is at work in a quiet alcove of the college library, a man just entering sixty, with white, close-trimmed hair and beard. The eyes he raises to his granddaughter are like hers, and there is a further resemblance in the dark skin. His face brightens and his eyes kindle as he clasps Sylvia's slender, supple hand.

"It must be a student—are you sure he isn't a student?"

Sylvia was confident of it.

"Very likely an agent, then. They're very clever about disguising themselves. I never see agents, you know, Sylvia."

Sylvia declared her belief that the stranger was not an agent, and the professor glanced at his book reluctantly.

"Very well; I will see him. I wish you would run down these references for me, Sylvia. Don't trouble about those I have checked off. It can't be possible I am following a false clue. I'm sure I printed that article in the 'Popular Science Monthly,' for I recall perfectly that John Fiske wrote me a letter about it. Come home when you have finished and we'll take our usual walk together."

Professor Kelton had relinquished his chair in the college when Sylvia came to live with him twelve years before the beginning of this history, and had shut himself away from the world; but no one knew why. Sylvia was the child of his only daughter, of whom no one ever spoke, though the older members of the faculty had known her, as they had known also the professor's wife, now dead many years. Professor Kelton had changed with the coming of Sylvia, so his old associates said; and their wives wondered that he should have undertaken the bringing-up of the child without other aid than that of the Irishwoman who had cooked his meals and taken care of the house ever since Mrs. Kelton's death. He was still a special lecturer at Madison, and he derived some income from the sale of his textbooks in mathematics, which he revised from time to time to bring them in touch with changing educational methods.

He had given as his reason for resigning a wish to secure leisure for writing, and he was known to suffer severely at times from the wounds that had driven him from active naval service. But those who knew him best imagined that he bore in his breast deeper wounds than those of war. These old friends of the college circle wondered sometimes at the strange passing of his daughter and only child, who had vanished from their sight as a girl, never to return. They were men of quality, these teachers who had been identified with the college so long; they and their households were like a large family; and when younger men joined the faculty and inquired, or when their wives asked perfectly natural questions about Professor Kelton and Sylvia, their inquiries were met by an evasion that definitely dismissed the matter. And out of this spirit, which marked all the social intercourse of the college folk, affection for Professor Kelton steadily increased, and its light fell upon Sylvia abundantly. There was a particular smile for her into which much might be read; there was a tenderness manifested toward her which communicated itself to the students, who were proud to win her favor and were forever seeking little excuses for bandying words with her when they met.

The tradition of Professor Kelton's scholarship had descended to Sylvia amusingly. She had never attended school, but he had taught her systematically at home, and his interests were hers. The students attributed to her the most abstruse knowledge, and stories of her precocity were repeated proudly by the Lane folk. Many evenings spent with her grandfather at the observatory had not been wasted. She knew the paths of the stars as she knew the walks of the campus. Dr. Wandless, the president emeritus, addressed her always as "My Lady of the Constellations," and told her solemnly that from much peering through the telescope she had coaxed the stars into her own eyes. Professor Kelton and his granddaughter were thus fully identified with the college and its business, which was to impart knowledge,—an old-fashioned but not yet wholly neglected function at Madison. She reckoned time by semesters; the campus had always been her playground; and the excitements of her life were those of a small and sober academic community. The darkest tragedies she had known had, indeed, been related to the life of the college,—the disciplining of the class of '01 for publishing itself in numerals on the face of the court-house clock; the recurring conflicts between town and gown that shook the community every Washington's birthday; the predatory habits of the Greek professor's cow, that botanized freely in alien gardens and occasionally immured herself in Professor Kelton's lettuce frames; these and like heroic matters had marked the high latitudes of Sylvia's life. In the long vacations, when most of the faculty sought the Northern lakes, the Keltons remained at home; and Sylvia knew all the trees of the campus, and could tell you just what books she had read under particular maples or elms.

Andrew Kelton was a mathematical scholar of high attainments. In the field of astronomy he had made important discoveries, and he carried on an extensive correspondence with observers of stellar phenomena in many far corners of the world. His name in the Madison catalogue was followed by a bewildering line of cabalistic letters testifying to the honor in which other institutions of learning held him. Wishing to devise for him a title that combined due recognition of both his naval exploits and his fine scholarship, the undergraduates called him "Capordoc"; and it was part of a freshman's initiation to learn that at all times and in all places he was to stand and uncover when Professor Kelton passed by.

Professor Kelton's occasional lectures in the college were a feature of the year, and were given in Mills Hall to accommodate the large audience of students and town folk that never failed to assemble every winter to hear him. For into discourses on astronomy he threw an immense amount of knowledge of all the sciences, and once every year, though no one ever knew when he would be moved to relate it, he told a thrilling story of how once, guided by the stars, he had run a Confederate blockade in a waterlogged ironclad under a withering fire from the enemy's batteries. And when he had finished and the applause ceased, he glanced about with an air of surprise and said: "Thank you, young gentlemen; it pleases me to find you so enthusiastic in your pursuit of knowledge. Learn the stars and you won't get lost in strange waters. As we were saying—" It was because of still other stories which he never told or referred to, but which are written in the nation's history, that the students loved him; and it was for this that they gave him at every opportunity their lustiest cheer.

The professor found the stranger Sylvia had announced waiting for him at the cottage. The young man did not mention his own name but drew from his pocket a sealed letter.

"Is this Professor Andrew Kelton? I am to give you this letter and wait for an answer."

Professor Kelton sat down at his desk and slit the envelope. The letter covered only one page and he read slowly to the end. He then re-read the whole carefully, and placed the sheet on his desk and laid a weight upon it before he faced the messenger. He passed his hand across his forehead, stroked his beard, and said, speaking slowly,—

"You were to bring this letter and bear back an answer to the writer, but you were instructed not to discuss it in any way or disclose the name or the residence of the person who sent you. So much I learn from the letter itself."

"Yes, sir. I know nothing of the contents of the letter. I was told to deliver it and to carry back the answer."

"Very good, sir. You have fulfilled your mission. Please note carefully what I say. The reply is No. There must be no mistake about that,—do you understand?"

"I am to report that you answered 'No'."

"That is correct, sir," replied Professor Kelton quietly. The young man rose, and the Professor followed him to the door.

"I thank you for your trouble; it has been a warm day, the warmest of the season. Good-afternoon, sir."

He watched the young fellow's prompt exit through the gate in the hedge to the Lane and then returned to the library, where he re-read the letter. Now that he was alone he relaxed somewhat; his manner expressed mingled trepidation and curiosity. The letter was type-written and was neither dated nor signed. He carried it to the window and held it against the sunlight, but there was not even a watermark by which it might be traced. Nor was there anything in the few straightforward sentences that proved suggestive. The letter ran:—

Your granddaughter has reached an age at which her maintenance and education require serious consideration. A friend who cannot be known in the matter wishes to provide a sum of money to be held and expended by you for her benefit. No obligations of any sort will be incurred by you in accepting this offer. It is hardly conceivable that you will decline it, though it is quite optional with you to do so. It will not, however, be repeated.

Kindly designate by a verbal "Yes" or "No" to the bearer whether you accept or decline. The messenger is a stranger to the person making the offer and the contents of this communication are unknown to him. If you wish to avail yourself of this gift, the amount will be paid in cash immediately, and it is suggested that you refrain from mentioning the matter to your granddaughter in any way.

Professor Kelton had given his answer to the messenger unhesitatingly, and the trouble reflected in his dark eyes was not due, we may assume, to any regret for his negative reply, but to the jangling of old, harsh chords of memory. He crossed and recrossed the room, lost in reverie; then paused at his desk and tore the letter once across with the evident intention of destroying it; but he hesitated, changed his mind, and carried it to his bedroom. There he took from a closet shelf a battered tin box marked "A. Kelton, U.S.N." which contained his commissions in the Navy. He sat down on the bed, folded the letter the long way of the sheet and indorsed it in pencil: "Declined." Then he slipped it under the faded tape that bound the official papers together, and locked and replaced the box.

Sylvia meanwhile had found the review article noted on her grandfather's memorandum, and leaving a receipt with the librarian started home with the book under her arm. Halfway across the campus she met her grandfather's caller, hurrying townward. He lifted his hat, and Sylvia paused a moment to ask if he had found her grandfather.

"Yes; thank you. My business didn't take much time, you see. I'm sorry I put you to so much bother."

"Oh, that was nothing."

"Is that new building the college library?"

"Yes," replied Sylvia. "Are you a Madison man?"

"No. I was never here before. I went to a very different college and"—he hesitated—"a little bigger one."

"I suppose there are bigger colleges," Sylvia remarked, with the slightest accent on the adjective.

The young man laughed.

"That's the right spirit! Madison needs no praise from me; it speaks for itself. Is this the nearest way to the station?"

It had been on Sylvia's tongue to ask him the name of his college, but he had perhaps read this inquiry in her eyes, and as though suddenly roused by the remembrance of the secrecy that had been imposed upon him, he moved on.

"Yes, I understand," he called over his shoulder. "Thank you, very much."

He whistled softly to himself as he continued on his way, still glancing about alertly.

The manner of the old professor in receiving the letter and the calmness with which he had given his reply minimized the importance of the transaction in the mind of the messenger. He was thinking of Sylvia and smiling still at her implication that while there were larger colleges than Madison there was none better. He turned to look again at the college buildings closely clasped by their strip of woodland. Madison was not a college to sneer at; he had scanned the bronze tablet on the library wall that published the roll of her Sons who had served in the Civil War. Many of the names were written high in the state's history and for a moment they filled the young man's mind.

As she neared home Sylvia met her friend Dr. Wandless, the former president, who always had his joke with her.

"Hail, Lady of the Constellations! You have been looting the library, I see. Hast thou named the stars without a gun?"

"That isn't right," protested Sylvia. "You're purposely misquoting. You've only spoiled Emerson's line about the birds."

"Bless me, I believe that's so!" laughed the old gentleman. "But tell me, Sylvia: 'Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or guide Arcturus with his sons?'"

Sylvia, with brightening eyes and a smile on her lips, answered:—

"Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?"

"Ah, if only I could, Sylvia!" said the old minister, smiling gravely.

They came in high spirits to the parting of their ways and Sylvia kept on through the hedge to her grandfather's cottage. The minister turned once, a venerable figure with snowy beard and hair, and beat the path softly with his stick and glanced back, as Sylvia's red ribbon bobbed through the greenery.

"'Whose daughter art thou?'" he murmured gently.

Then, glancing furtively about, he increased his gait as though to escape from his own thoughts; but the question asked of Bethuel's daughter by Abraham's servant came again to his lips, and he shook his head as he repeated:—

"Whose daughter art thou?"



"How old did you say you were, Sylvia?"

"I'm sixteen in October, grandpa," answered Sylvia.

"Is it possible!" murmured the professor. "And to think that you've never been to school."

"Why, I've been going to school every day, almost, ever since I can remember. And haven't I had the finest teacher in the world, all to myself?"

His face brightened responsive to her laugh.

This was at the tea-table—for the Keltons dined at noon in conformity with local custom—nearly a week after the unsigned letter had been delivered to Andrew Kelton by the unknown messenger. Sylvia and her grandfather had just returned from a walk, prolonged into the cool dusk. They sat at the square walnut table, where they had so long faced each other three times a day. Sylvia had never doubted that their lives would go on forever in just this way,—that they would always be, as her grandfather liked to put it, "shipmates," walking together, studying together, sitting as they sat now, at their simple meals, with just the same quaintly flowered dishes, the same oddly turned teapot, with its attendant cream pitcher (slightly cracked as to lip) and the sugar-bowl, with a laboring ship depicted in blue on its curved side, which was not related, even by the most remote cousinship, to anything else in the pantry.

Professor Kelton was unwontedly preoccupied to-night. Sylvia saw that he had barely touched his strawberries—their first of the season, though they were fine ones and the cream was the thickest. She folded her hands on the edge of the table and watched him gravely in the light of the four candles whose flame flared in the breeze that swept softly through the dining-room windows. Feeling her eyes upon him the old gentleman suddenly roused himself.

"We've had good times, haven't we, Sylvia? And I wonder if I have really taught you anything. I suppose I ought to have been sending you to school with the other youngsters about here, but the fact is that I never saw a time when I wanted to part with you! You've been a fine little shipmate, but you're not so little any more. Sixteen your next birthday! If that's so it isn't best for us to go on this way. You must try your oar in deeper water. You've outgrown me—and I'm a dull old fellow at best. You must go where you will meet other girls, and deal with a variety of teachers,—not just one dingy old fellow like me. Have you ever thought what kind of a school you'd like to go to?"

"I don't believe I have; I don't know much about schools."

"Well, don't you think you'd like to get away from so much mathematics and learn things that will fit you to be entertaining and amusing? You know I've taught you a lot of things just to amuse myself and they can never be of the slightest use to you. I suppose you are the only girl of your age in America who can read the sextant and calculate latitude and longitude. But, bless me, what's the use?"

"Oh, if I could only—"

"Only what?" he encouraged her. He was greatly interested in getting her point of view, and it was perfectly clear that a great idea possessed her.

"Oh, if I could only go to college, that would be the finest thing in the world!"

"You think that would be more interesting than boarding-school? If you go to college they may require Greek and you don't even know what the letters look like!"

"Oh, yes, I know a little about it!"

"I think not, Sylvia. How could you?"

"Oh, the letters were so queer, I learned them just for fun out of an old textbook I found on the campus one day. Nobody ever came to claim it, so I read it all through and learned all the declensions and vocabularies, though I only guessed at the pronunciation."

Professor Kelton was greatly amused. "You tackled Greek just for fun, did you?" he laughed; then, after a moment's absorption: "I'm going to Indianapolis to-morrow and I'll take you with me, if you care to go along. In fact, I've written to Mrs. Owen that we're coming, and I've kept this as a little surprise for you."

So, after an early breakfast the next morning, they were off for the station in one of those disreputable, shaky village hacks that Dr. Wandless always called "dark Icarian birds," with their two bags piled on the seat before them. On the few railway journeys Sylvia remembered, she had been carried on half-fare tickets, an ignominy which she recalled with shame. To-day she was a full-grown passenger with a seat to herself, her grandfather being engaged through nearly the whole of their hour's swift journey in a political discussion with a lawyer who was one of the college trustees.

"I told Mrs. Owen not to meet us; it's a nuisance having to meet people," said the professor when they had reached the city. "But she always sends a carriage when she expects me."

As they stepped out upon the street a station wagon driven by an old negro appeared promptly at the curb.

"Mawnin', Cap'n; mawnin'! Yo' just on time. Mis' Sally tole me to kerry you all right up to the haouse. Yes, seh."

Sylvia did not know, what later historians may be interested to learn from these pages, that the station wagon, drawn by a single horse, was for years the commonest vehicle known to the people of the Hoosier capital. The panic of 1873 had hit the town so hard, the community's punishment for its sins of inflation had been so drastic, that it had accepted meekly the rebuke implied in its designation as a one-horse town. In 1884 came another shock to confidence, and in 1893, still another earthquake, as though the knees of the proud must at intervals be humbled. The one-horse station wagon continued to symbolize the quiet domesticity of the citizens of the Hoosier capital: women of unimpeachable social standing carried their own baskets through the aisles of the city market or drove home with onion tops waving triumphantly on the seat beside them. We had not yet hitched our wagon to a gasoline tank, but traffic regulations were enforced by cruel policemen, to the terror of women long given to leisurely manoeuvres on the wrong side of our busiest thoroughfares. The driving of cattle through Washington Street did not cease until 1888, when cobbles yielded to asphalt. It was in that same year that Benjamin Harrison was chosen to the seat of the Presidents. What hallowed niches now enshrine the General's fence, utterly disintegrated and appropriated, during that bannered and vociferous summer, by pious pilgrims!

Down the busy meridional avenue that opened before Sylvia as they drove uptown loomed the tall shaft of the soldiers' monument, and they were soon swinging round the encompassing plaza. Professor Kelton explained that the monument filled a space once called Circle Park, where the Governor's Mansion had stood in old times. In her hurried glimpses Sylvia was unable to account for the lack of sociability among the distinguished gentlemen posed in bronze around the circular thoroughfare; and she thought it odd that William Henry Harrison wore so much better clothes than George Rogers Clark, who was immortalized for her especial pleasure in the very act of delivering the Wabash from the British yoke.

"I wonder whether Mrs. Owen will like me?" said Sylvia a little plaintively, the least bit homesick as they turned into Delaware Street.

"Of course she will like you!" laughed Professor Kelton, "though I will say that she doesn't like everybody by any manner of means. You mustn't be afraid of her; she gets on best with people who are not afraid to talk to her. She isn't like anybody you ever saw, or, I think, anybody you are ever likely to see again!" And the professor chuckled softly to himself.

Mrs. Owen's big comfortable brick house stood in that broad part of Delaware Street where the maple arch rises highest, and it was surrounded by the smoothest of lawns, broken only by a stone basin in whose centre posed the jolliest of Cupids holding a green glass umbrella, over which a jet of water played in the most realistic rainstorm imaginable.

Another negro, not quite as venerable as the coachman, opened the door and took their bags. He explained that Mrs. Owen (he called her "Mis' Sally") had been obliged to attend a meeting of some board or other, but would return shortly. The guests' rooms were ready and he at once led the way upstairs, where a white maid met them.

Professor Kelton explained that he must go down into the city on some errands, but that he would be back shortly, and Sylvia was thus left to her own devices.

It was like a story book to arrive at a strange house and be carried off to a beautiful room, with a window-seat from which one could look down into the most charming of gardens. She opened her bag and disposed her few belongings and was exploring the bathroom wonderingly (for the bath at home was an affair of a tin tub to which water was carried by hand) when a maid appeared with a glass of lemonade and a plate of cakes.

It was while she munched her cakes and sipped the cool lemonade in the window-seat with an elm's branches so close that she could touch them, and wondered how near to this room her grandfather had been lodged, and what the mistress of the house was like, that Mrs. Owen appeared, after the lightest tap on the high walnut door. Throughout her life Sylvia will remember that moment when she first measured Mrs. Owen's fine height and was aware of her quick, eager entrance; but above all else the serious gray eyes that were so alive with kindness were the chief item of Sylvia's inventory.

"I thought you were older,—or younger! I didn't know you would be just like this! I didn't know just when you were coming or I should have tried to be at home—but there was a meeting,—there are so many things, child!"

Mrs. Owen did not sigh at the thought of her burdens, but smiled quite cheerfully as though the fact of the world's being a busy place was wholly agreeable. She sat down beside Sylvia in the window-seat and took one of the cakes and nibbled it while they talked. Sylvia had never been so wholly at ease in her life. It was as though she had been launched into the midst of an old friendship, and she felt that she had conferred the greatest possible favor in consenting to visit this house, for was not this dear old lady saying,—

"You see, I'm lonesome sometimes and I almost kidnap people to get them to visit me. I'm a terribly practical old woman. If you haven't heard it I must tell you the truth—I'm a farmer! And I don't let anybody run my business. Other widows have to take what the lawyers give them; but while I can tell oats from corn and horses from pigs I'm going to handle my own money. We women are a lot of geese, I tell you, child! I'm treasurer of a lot of things women run, and I can see a deficit through a brick wall as quick as any man on earth. Don't you ever let any man vote any proxy for you—you tell 'em you'll attend the stockholders' meetings yourself, and when you go, kick!"

Sylvia had not the faintest notion of what proxy meant, but she was sure it must be something both interesting and important or Mrs. Owen would not feel so strongly about it.

"When I was your age," Mrs. Owen continued, "girls weren't allowed to learn anything but embroidery and housekeeping. But my father had some sense. He was a Kentucky farmer and raised horses and mules. I never knew anything about music, for I wouldn't learn; but I own a stock farm near Lexington, and just between ourselves I don't lose any money on it. And most that I know about men I learned from mules; there's nothing in the world so interesting as a mule."

When Professor Kelton had declared to Sylvia on the way from the station that Mrs. Owen was unlike any other woman in the world, Sylvia had not thought very much about it. To be sure Sylvia's knowledge of the world was the meagrest, but certainly she could never have imagined any woman as remarkable as Mrs. Owen. The idea that a mule, instead of being a dull beast of burden, had really an educational value struck her as decidedly novel, and she did not know just what to make of it. Mrs. Owen readjusted the pillow at her back, and went on spiritedly:—

"Your grandpa has often spoken of you, and it's mighty nice to have you here. You see a good many of us Hoosiers are Kentucky people, and your grandpa's father was. I remember perfectly well when your grandpa went to the Naval Academy; and we were all mighty proud of him in the war."

Mrs. Owen's white hair was beautifully soft and wavy, and she wore it in the prevailing manner. Her eyes narrowed occasionally with an effect of sudden dreaminess, and these momentary reveries seemed to the adoring Sylvia wholly fascinating. She spoke incisively and her voice was deep and resonant. She was exceedingly thin and wiry, and her movements were quick and nervous. Hearing the whirr of a lawn-mower in the yard she drew a pair of spectacles from a case she produced from an incredibly deep pocket, put them on, and criticized the black man below sharply for his manner of running the machine. This done, the spectacles went back to the case and the case to the pocket. In our capital a woman in a kimono may still admonish her servants from a second-story window without loss of dignity, and gentlemen holding high place in dignified callings may sprinkle their own lawns in the cool of the evening if they find delight in that cheering diversion. Joy in the simple life dies in us slowly. The galloping Time-Spirit will run us down eventually, but on Sundays that are not too hot or too cold one may even to-day count a handsome total of bank balances represented in our churches, so strong is habit in a people bred to righteousness.

"You needn't be afraid of me; my bark is worse than my bite; you have to talk just that way to these black people. They've all worked for me for years and they don't any of 'em pay the slightest attention to what I say. But," she concluded, "they'd be a lot worse if I didn't say it."

We reckon time in our capital not from fires or floods or even anno urbis conditae, but from seemingly minor incidents that have nevertheless marked new eras and changed the channels of history. Precedents sustain us in this. A startled goose rousing the sleeping sentinels on the ramparts; a dull peasant sending an army in the wrong direction; the mischievous phrase uttered by an inconspicuous minister of the gospel to a few auditors,—such unconsidered trifles play havoc with Fame's calculations. And so in our calendar the disbanding of the volunteer fire department in 1859 looms gloomily above the highest altitudes of the strenuous sixties; the fact that Billy Sanderson, after his father's failure in 1873, became a brakeman on the J.M. & I. Railroad and invested his first month's salary in a silver-mounted lantern, is more luminous in the retrospect than the panic itself; the coming of a lady with a lorgnette in 1889 (the scion of one of our ancient houses married her in Ohio) overshadows even the passing of Beecher's church; and the three-days' sojourn of Henry James in 1905 shattered all records and established a new orientation for our people. It was Sally Owen who said, when certain citizens declared that Mr. James was inaudible, that many heard him perfectly that night in the Propylaeum who had always thought Balzac the name of a tooth-powder.

Mrs. Owen's family, the Singletons, had crossed the Ohio into Hoosier territory along in the fifties, in time for Sally to have been a student—not the demurest from all accounts—at Indiana Female College. Where stood the college the Board of Trade has lately planted itself, frowning down upon Christ Church, whose admirable Gothic spire chimed for Union victories in the sixties (there's a story about that, too!) and still pleads with the ungodly on those days of the week appointed by the Book of Common Prayer for offices to be said or sung. Mrs. Jackson Owen was at this time sixty years old, and she had been a widow for thirty years. The old citizens who remembered Jackson Owen always spoke of him with a smile. He held an undisputed record of having been defeated for more offices than any other Hoosier of his time. His chief assets when he died were a number of farms, plastered with mortgages, scattered over the commonwealth in inaccessible localities. His wife, left a widow with a daughter who died at fourteen, addressed herself zealously to the task of paying the indebtedness with which the lamented Jackson had encumbered his property. She had made a point of clinging to all the farms that had been so profitless under his direction, and so successfully had she managed them that they were all paying handsomely. A four-hundred-acre tract of the tallest corn I ever saw was once pointed out to me in Greene County and this plantation, it was explained, had been a worthless bog before Mrs. Owen "tiled" it; and later I saw stalks of this corn displayed in the rooms of the Agricultural Society to illustrate what intelligent farming can do.

At the State Fair every fall it was taken as a matter of course that "S. Owen" (such was her business designation) should win more red ribbons than any other exhibitor either of cereals or live stock. There was nothing that Sally Owen did not know about feeding cattle, and a paper she once read before the Short-Horn Breeders' Association is a classic on this important subject. Mrs. Owen still retained the active control of her affairs, though she had gradually given over to a superintendent much of the work long done by herself; but woe unto him who ever tried to deceive her! She maintained an office on the ground floor of her house where she transacted business and kept inventories of every stick of wood, every bushel of corn, every litter of pigs to which she had ever been entitled. For years she had spent much time at her farms, particularly through the open months of the year when farm tasks are most urgent; but as her indulgence in masculine pursuits had not abated her womanly fastidiousness, she carried with her in all her journeys a negro woman whose business it was to cook for her mistress and otherwise care for her comfort. She had acquired the farm in Kentucky to continue her ties with the state of her birth, but this sentimental consideration did not deter her from making the Lexington farm pay; Sally Owen made everything pay! Her Southern ancestry was manifest in nothing more strikingly than in her treatment of the blacks she had always had about her. She called them niggers—as only a Southerner may, and they called her "Mis' Sally" and were her most devoted and obedient servants.

Much of this Sylvia was to learn later; but just now, as Mrs. Owen sat in the cool window-seat, it was enough for Sylvia to be there, in the company of the first woman—so it seemed to her—she had ever known, except Irish Mary at home. The wives of the professors in Buckeye Lane were not like this; no one was ever like this, she was sure!

"We shall be having luncheon at half-past twelve, and my grandniece Marian will be here. Marian is the daughter of my niece, Mrs. Morton Bassett, who lives at Fraserville. Marian comes to town pretty often and I've asked her down to-day particularly to meet you."

"I'm sure that is very kind," murmured Sylvia, though she would have been perfectly happy if just she and her grandfather had been left alone with Mrs. Owen.

"There's the bell; that must be Marian now," said Mrs. Owen a moment later, and vanished in her quick fashion. Then the door opened again instantly and she returned to the room smiling.

"What is your name, dear?" Mrs. Owen demanded. "How very stupid of me not to have asked before! Your grandpa in speaking of you always says my granddaughter, and that doesn't tell anything, does it?"

"My name is Sylvia—Sylvia Garrison."

"And that's a very nice name," said Mrs. Owen, looking at her fixedly with her fine gray eyes. "You're the first Sylvia I have ever known. I'm just plain Sally!" Then she seized Sylvia's hands and drew her close and kissed her.

As Sylvia had brought but one white gown, she decided that the blue serge skirt and linen shirt-waist in which she had traveled would do for luncheon. She put on a fresh collar and knotted a black scarf under it and went downstairs.

She ran down quickly, to have the meeting with the strange niece over as quickly as possible. Mrs. Owen was not in sight, and her grandfather had not returned from town; but as Sylvia paused a moment at the door of the spacious high-ceilinged drawing-room she saw a golden head bent over a music rack by the piano. Sylvia stood on the threshold an instant, shy and uncertain as to how she should make herself known. The sun flooding the windows glinted on the bright hair of the girl at the piano; she was very fair, and her features were clear-cut and regular. There was no sound in the room but the crisp rustle of the leaves of music as the girl tossed them about. Then as she flung aside the last sheet with an exclamation of disappointment, Sylvia made herself known.

"I'm Sylvia Garrison," she said, advancing.

They gravely inspected each other for a moment; then Marian put out her hand.

"I'm Marian Bassett. Aunt Sally told me you were coming."

Marian seated herself with the greatest composure and Sylvia noted her white lawn gown and white half-shoes, and the bow of white ribbon at the back of her head. Sylvia, in her blue serge, black ribbons, and high shoes, felt the superiority of this radiant being. Marian took charge of the conversation.

"I suppose you like to visit; I love it. I've visited a lot, and I'm always coming to Aunt Sally's. I'm in Miss Waring's School, here in this city, so I come to spend Sundays with Aunt Sally very often. Mama is always coming to town to see how I'm getting on. She's terribly ambitious for me, but I hate school, and I simply cannot learn French. Miss Waring is terribly severe; she says it's merely a lack of application in my case; that I could learn but won't. When mama comes she takes me to luncheon at the Whitcomb and sometimes to the matinee. We saw John Drew last winter: he's simply perfect—so refined and gentlemanly; and I've seen Julia Marlowe twice; she's my favorite actress. Mama says that if I just will read novels I ought to read good ones, and she gave me a set of Thackeray for my own; but you can skip a whole lot in him, I'm here to state! One of our best critics has said (mama's always saying that) that the best readers are those who know how to skip, and I'm a good skipper. I always want to know how it's going to come out. If they can't live happy forever afterward I want them to part beautifully, with soft music playing; and he must go away and leave her holding a rose as a pledge that he will never forget."

When Marian paused there was a silence as Sylvia tried to pick out of this long speech something to which she could respond. Marian was astonishingly wise; Sylvia felt herself immeasurably younger, and she was appalled by her own ignorance before this child who had touched so many sides of life and who recounted her experiences so calmly and lightly.

"This is the first time I ever visited," Sylvia confessed. "I live with my grandfather Kelton, right by Madison College, that's at Montgomery, you know. Grandfather was a professor in the college, and still lectures there sometimes. I've never been to school—"

"How on earth do you escape?" demanded Marian.

"It's not an escape," laughed Sylvia; "you see grandfather, being a professor, began teaching me almost before I began remembering."

"Oh! But even that would be better than a boarding-school, where they make you study. It would be easy to tell your grandfather that you didn't want to do things."

"I suppose it would," Sylvia acknowledged; "but it's so nice to have him for a teacher that I shouldn't know just how to do it."

This point of view did not interest Marian, and she recurred to her own affairs.

"I've been to Europe. Papa took us all last year. We went to Paris and London. It was fine."

"My grandfather was in the United States Navy, before he began teaching at Madison, so I know a good deal from him about Europe."

"Blackford—he's my brother—is going to Annapolis," said Marian, thus reminded of her brother's aspirations. "At least he says he is, though he used to talk about West Point. I hope he will go into the Army. I should like to visit West Point; it must be perfectly fascinating."

"I suppose it is. I think I should like college."

"Not for me!" exclaimed Marian. "I want to go to a convent in Paris. I know a girl right here in Indianapolis who did that, and it's perfectly fine and ever so romantic. To get into college you have to know algebra, don't you?"

"Yes; I think they require that," Sylvia replied, on guard against a display of too much knowledge.

"Do you know algebra?" demanded Marian.

"Sometimes I think I don't!"

"Well, there's no doubt about me! I'm sure I don't. It's perfectly horrid."

The entrance of Mrs. Owen and the return of Professor Kelton terminated these confidences. The four were soon at the luncheon table, where the array of crystal and silver seemed magnificent to Sylvia's unaccustomed eyes. She had supposed that luncheon meant some such simple meal as the suppers she had been used to at home; but it included fried chicken and cold ham, and there were several vegetables; and hot biscuits and hot corn bread; and it became necessary for Sylvia to decline an endless succession of preserves and jellies. For dessert there were the most fragrant red raspberries conceivable, with golden sponge cake. The colored man who served the table seemed to enjoy himself immensely. He condescended to make suggestions as he moved about. "A little mo' of the cold ham, Cap'n?" or, "I 'membah you like the sparrograss, Mis' Marian," he murmured. "The co'n bread's extra fine, Mis'"—to Sylvia. "The hossis is awdahed for three, Mis' Sally"—to Mrs. Owen.

"You still have Kentucky cooking, Sally," remarked Professor Kelton, who had praised the corn bread.

"I do, Andrew," replied the old lady; "everybody knows that the best things in Indiana came through Kentucky. That includes you and me!"

Prompted by Mrs. Owen's friendly questioning, Sylvia found herself talking. She felt that she was talking more than Marian; but she was much less troubled by this than by Marian's sophisticated manner of lifting her asparagus stalks with her fingers, while Sylvia resorted to the fork. But Sylvia comforted herself with the reflection that this was all in keeping with Marian Bassett's general superiority. Marian conducted herself with the most mature air, and she made it quite necessary for Professor Kelton to defend the Navy against her assertion that the Army was much more useful to the country. The unhurried meal passed, and after they had returned to the drawing-room Marian left to meet her mother at the dressmaker's and return with her to Fraserville.

"I hope to see you again," said Marian, shaking hands with Sylvia.

"I hope so, too," Sylvia replied.



Professor Kelton announced that he had not finished his errands in town, and begged to be excused from the drive which Mrs. Owen had planned.

"Very well, Andrew. Then I shall take your Sylvia for a longer drive than I should expect you to survive. We'll go out and see how the wheat looks."

In this new environment Sylvia was aware that despite his efforts to appear gay her grandfather was not himself. She was quite sure that he had not expected to spend the afternoon downtown, and she wondered what was troubling him. The novelty of the drive, however, quickly won her to the best of spirits. Mrs. Owen appeared ready for this adventure with her tall figure wrapped in a linen "duster." Her hat was a practical affair of straw, unadorned save by a black ribbon. As she drew on her gloves in the porte-cochere the old coachman held the heads of two horses that were hitched to a smart road wagon. When her gloves had been adjusted, Mrs. Owen surveyed the horses critically.

"Lift Pete's forefoot—the off one, Joe," she commanded, stepping down into the asphalt court. "Um,—that's just what I thought. That new blacksmith knows his business. That shoe's on straight. That other man never did know anything. All right, Sylvia."

Mrs. Owen explained as the trim sorrels stepped off smartly toward the north that they were Estabrook stock and that she had raised them herself on her Kentucky farm, which she declared Sylvia must visit some day. It was very pleasant to be driving in this way under a high blue sky, beside a woman whose ways and interests were so unusual. The spirited team held Mrs. Owen's attention, but she never allowed the conversation to flag. Several times as they crossed car lines it seemed to Sylvia that they missed being struck only by perilously narrow margins. When they reached the creek they paused on the bridge to allow the sorrels to rest, and Mrs. Owen indicated with her whip the line of the new boulevard and recounted the history of the region.

At the State Fair grounds Mrs. Owen drove in, explaining that she wanted to see what they were doing to the track. Sylvia noticed that the employees they passed grinned at Mrs. Owen as though she were a familiar acquaintance, and the superintendent came up and discussed horses and the track changes with Mrs. Owen in a strange vocabulary. He listened respectfully to what Mrs. Owen said and was impressed, Sylvia thought, by her opinions. She referred to other tracks at Lexington and Louisville as though they were, of course, something that everybody knew about. The sun was hot, but Mrs. Owen did not seem to mind the heat a particle. The superintendent looked the sorrels over carefully; they had taken no end of ribbons at fairs and horse shows. Here was a team, Mrs. Owen announced, that she was not afraid to show in Madison Square Garden against any competitors in its class; and the superintendent admitted that the Estabrooks were a fine stock. He nodded and kept repeating "You're right," or "you're mighty right," to everything the old lady said. It seemed to Sylvia that nobody would be likely to question or gainsay any opinions Mrs. Owen might advance on the subject of horses. She glanced over her shoulder as they were driving back toward the gate and saw the superintendent looking after them.

"He's watching the team, ain't he, Sylvia? I thought I'd touch up his envy a little. That man," continued Mrs. Owen, "really knows a horse from an elephant. He's been trying to buy this team; but he hasn't bid up high enough yet. It tickles me to think that some of those rich fellows down in New York will pay me a good price when I send 'em down there to the show. They need working; you can't do much with horses in town; the asphalt plays smash with their feet. There's a good stretch of pike out here and I'll show you what this team can do."

This promised demonstration was the least bit terrifying to Sylvia. Her knowledge of horses was the slightest, and in reading of horse races she had not imagined that there could be such a thrill in speeding along a stretch of good road behind a pair of registered roadsters, the flower of the Estabrook stock, driven by so intrepid and skillful a whip as Mrs. Sally Owen.

"I guess that mile would worry the boys some," observed Mrs. Owen with satisfaction as she brought the team to a walk.

This was wholly cryptic to Sylvia, but she was glad that Mrs. Owen was not disappointed. As they loitered in a long shady lane Mrs. Owen made it possible for Sylvia to talk of herself. Sally Owen was a wise woman, who was considered a little rough and peculiar by some of her townspeople, chiefly those later comers who did not understand the conditions of life that had made such a character possible; but none had ever questioned her kindness of heart. And in spite of her frank, direct way of speech she was not deficient in tact. Sally Owen had an active curiosity, but it was of the healthy sort that wastes no time on trifling matters. She was curious about Sylvia, for Sylvia was a little different from the young girls she knew. Quite naturally she was comparing the slim, dark-eyed girl at her side with Marian Bassett. Marian was altogether obvious; whereas Mrs. Owen felt the barriers of reserve in Sylvia. Sylvia embodied questions in the Kelton family history that she could not answer, though she had known Andrew Kelton all his life, and remembered dimly his only daughter, who had unaccountably vanished.

"Where do you go to school, Sylvia?" she asked.

"I don't go to school,—not to a real school,—but grandfather teaches me; he has always taught me."

"And you are now about—how old?"

"Sixteen in October. I've been talking to grandfather about going to college."

"They do send girls to college nowadays, don't they! We're beginning to have some of these college women in our town here. I know some of 'em. Let's see. What they say against colleges for women is that the girls who go there learn too much, so that men are afraid to marry 'em. I wonder how that is? But that's in favor of college, I think; don't you?"

Mrs. Owen answered her own question with a laugh; and having opened the subject she went on to disclose her opinions further.

"I guess I'm too old to be one of these new women we're hearing so much about. Even farming's got to be a science, and it keeps me hustling to learn what the new words mean in the agricultural papers. I belong to a generation of women who know how to sew rag carpets and make quilts and stir soft soap in an iron kettle and darn socks; and I can still cure a ham better than any Chicago factory does it," she added, raking a fly from the back of the "off" sorrel with a neat turn of the whip. "And I reckon I make 'em pay full price for my corn. Well, well; so you're headed for college."

"I hope so," said Sylvia; "then after that I'm going to teach."

"Poor pay and hard work. I know lots of teachers; they're always having nervous prostration. But you look healthy."

"Oh, I'm strong enough," replied Sylvia. "I think I should like teaching."

"Marian was at Miss Waring's school last winter and I couldn't see what she was interested in much but chasing to matinees. Are you crazy about theatres?"

"Why, I've never been to one," Sylvia confessed.

"You're just as well off. Actors ain't what they used to be. When you saw Edwin Booth in 'Hamlet' or Jefferson in 'Rip,' you saw acting. I haven't been in any theatre since I saw Jefferson in the 'Rivals' the last time he came round. There used to be a stock company at the Metropolitan about war-time that beat any of these new actor folks. I'd rather see a good circus any time than one of these singing pieces. Sassafras tea and a circus every spring; I always take both."

Sylvia found these views on the drama wholly edifying. Circuses and sassafras tea were within the range of her experience, and finding that she had struck a point of contact, Mrs. Owen expressed her pity for any child that did not enjoy a round of sassafras tea every spring. Sassafras in the spring, and a few doses of quinine in the fall, to eliminate the summer's possible accumulation of malaria, were all the medicine that any good Hoosier needed, Mrs. Owen averred.

"I'm for all this new science, you understand that," Mrs. Owen continued. "A good deal of it does seem to me mighty funny, but when they tell me to boil drinking-water to kill the bugs in it, and show me pictures of the bugs they take with the microscope, I don't snort just because my grandfather didn't know about those things and lived to be eighty-two and then died from being kicked by a colt. I go into the kitchen and I say to Eliza, 'Bile the water, Liza; bile it twice.' That's the kind of a new woman I am. But let's see; we were speaking of Marian."

"I liked her very much; she's very nice and ever so interesting," said Sylvia.

"Bless you, she's nice enough and pretty enough; but about this college business. I always say that if it ain't in a colt the trainer can't put it there. My niece—that's Mrs. Bassett, Marian's mother—wants Marian to be an intellectual woman,—the kind that reads papers on the poets before literary clubs. Mrs. Bassett runs a woman's club in Fraserville and she's one of the lights in the Federation. They got me up to Fraserville to speak to their club a few years ago. It's one of these solemn clubs women have; awful literary and never get nearer home than Doctor Johnson, who was nothing but a fat loafer anyhow. I told 'em they'd better let me off; but they would have it and so I went up and talked on ensilage. It was fall and I thought ensilage was seasonable and they ought to know about it if they didn't. And they didn't, all right."

Sylvia had been staring straight ahead across the backs of the team; she was conscious suddenly that Mrs. Owen was looking at her fixedly, with mirth kindling in her shrewd old eyes. Sylvia had no idea what ensilage was, but she knew it must be something amusing or Mrs. Owen would not have laughed so heartily.

"It was a good joke, wasn't it—talking to a literary club about silos. I told 'em I'd come back and read my little piece on 'Winter Feeding,' but they haven't called me yet."

They had driven across to Meridian Street, and Mrs. Owen sent the horses into town at a comfortable trot. They traversed the new residential area characterized by larger grounds and a higher average of architecture.

"That's Edward Thatcher's new house—the biggest one. They say it's easier to pay for a castle like that out here than it is to keep a cook so far away from Washington Street. I let go of ten acres right here in the eighties; we used to think the town would stop at the creek," Mrs. Owen explained, and then announced the dictum: "Keep land; mortgage if you got to, but never sell; that's my motto."

It was nearly six when they reached home, and dinner was appointed for seven. Mrs. Owen drove directly into the barn and gave minute instructions as to the rubbing-down and feeding of the horses. In addressing the negroes she imitated their own manner of speech. Sylvia had noticed that Mrs. Owen did not always pronounce words in the same way, but such variations are marked among our Southwestern people, particularly where, as in Mrs. Owen's case, they have lived on both sides of the Ohio River. Sometimes she said "hoss," unmistakably; and here, and again when she said "bile" for "boil," it was obviously with humorous intention. Except in long speeches she did not drawl; at times she spoke rapidly, snapping off sentences abruptly. Her fashion of referring to herself in the third person struck Sylvia as most amusing.

"Look here, you Joe, it's a nice way to treat yo' Mis' Sally, turning out that wagon with the dash all scratched. Don' you think I'm blind and can't tell when you boys dig a broom into a varnished buggy! Next time I catch yo' doing that I'll send you down to Greene County to plow co'n and yo'll not go to any more fancy hoss shows with me."

As she followed Mrs. Owen into the house Sylvia thought she heard suppressed guffawing in the stable. Mrs. Owen must have heard it too.

"A worthless lot," she muttered; "I'm going to clean 'em all out some day and try the Irish"; but Mrs. Sally Owen had often made this threat without having the slightest intention of carrying it into effect.

Professor Kelton had just reached the house, and he seemed so hot and tired that Sylvia was struck with pity for him. He insisted, however, that he was perfectly well, but admitted that his errands had proved to be more vexatious than he had expected.

"What kind of a time have you been having?" he asked as they went upstairs together.

"Oh, the finest in the world! I'm sure I've learned a lot to-day—a great many things I never dreamed about before."


"I never knew before that there was anything to know about horses; but Mrs. Owen knows all about them. And that team we drove behind is wonderful; they move together perfectly and go like lightning when you want them to."

"Well, I'm glad you've enjoyed yourself. You'd better put on your white dress,—you brought one, didn't you? There will be company at dinner."

"Don't you scare that child about company, Andrew," said Mrs. Owen, coming up behind them with the linen duster flung over her arm. "If you haven't any white dress, Sylvia, that blue one's perfectly good and proper."

She followed Sylvia to her room, continuing to reassure her. She even shook out the gown, exclaiming, "Well, well" (Sylvia didn't know why), and went out abruptly, instructing Sylvia to ring for the maid if she needed help.

There were three other guests for dinner, and they were unlike any other people that Sylvia had known. She was introduced first to Admiral Martin, a retired officer of the Navy, who, having remained in the service of his country to the retiring age, had just come home to live in the capital of his native state. He was short and thick and talked in a deep, growling voice exactly as admirals should. The suns and winds of many seas had burned and scored his face, and a stubby mustache gave him a belligerent aspect. He mopped his brow with a tremendous handkerchief and when Mrs. Owen introduced Sylvia as Professor Kelton's granddaughter he glared fiercely.

"Well, I declare, Andy, your granddaughter; well, I declare." He held Sylvia's hand a moment and peered into her face. "I remember your mother very well. Andy, I recall distinctly that you and your wife were at Old Point in about the winter of '69 and your daughter was with you. So this is your granddaughter? Well, I declare; I wish she was mine."

"I'm glad to see you, Sylvia," said Mrs. Martin, a shy, white-haired little woman. "I remember that winter at Old Point. I was waiting for my husband there. You look like your mother. It's really a very striking resemblance. We were all so fond of Edna."

This was the first time that any one except her grandfather had ever spoken to Sylvia of her mother, and the words of these strangers thrilled her strangely and caused the tears to shine suddenly in her eyes. It was all over in a moment, for Mrs. Martin, seeing Sylvia's trembling lips, changed the subject quickly.

The last guest was just entering,—a tall trapper-like man who crossed the room to Mrs. Owen with a long, curious stride. He had shaken hands with Professor Kelton, and Mrs. Owen introduced him to the Martins, who by reason of their long absences had never met him before.

"Mr. Ware, this is Sylvia Garrison," said Mrs. Owen.

Sylvia was given then as later to quick appraisements, and she liked the Reverend John Ware on the instant. He did not look or act or talk in the least like a minister. He was very dark, and his mustache was only faintly sprinkled with gray. His hair still showed black at a distance, though he was sixty-five. He had been, sometime earlier, the pastor of the First Congregational Church, but after a sojourn in other fields had retired to live among his old parishioners in the city which had loved him best. It had been said of him in the days of his pastorate that he drew the largest congregations and the smallest collections of any preacher the community had ever known. But Ware was curiously unmindful of criticism. He had fished and hunted, he had preached charity and kindness, and when there was an unknown tramp to bury or some unfortunate girl had yielded to despair, he had officiated at the funeral, and, if need be, ridden to the cemetery on the hearse.

"I'm Mrs. Owen's neighbor, you know," he explained to Sylvia. "My family have gone for the summer; I'm hanging on here till my Indian sends me a postal that the fishing is right on the Nipigon. Nothing like getting off the train somewhere and being met by an Indian with a paddle on his shoulder. You can learn a lot from an Indian."

There were candles and flowers on the round table, and the dishes and silver were Mrs. Owen's "company best," which was very good indeed. The admiral and Professor Kelton sat at Mrs. Owen's right and left, and Sylvia found herself between the minister and the admiral. The talk was at once brisk and general. The admiral's voice boomed out tremendously and when he laughed the glasses jingled. Every one was in the best of spirits and Sylvia was relieved to find that her grandfather was enjoying himself immensely. The admiral's jokes harked back to old times, when he and Kelton were at the Naval Academy, or to their adventures in the war. It was odd to hear Mrs. Owen and the admiral calling her grandfather "Andrew" and "Andy"; no one else had ever done that; and both men addressed Mrs. Owen as "Sally." At a moment when Sylvia had begun to feel the least bit awkward at being the only silent member of the company, the minister spoke to her. He had seemed at first glance a stoical person; but his deep-set, brown eyes were bright with good humor.

"These old sea dogs made a lot of history. I suppose you know a good deal about the sea from your grandfather."

"Yes; but I've never seen the sea."

"I've crossed it once or twice and tramped England and Scotland. I wanted to see Burns's country and the house at Chelsea where Carlyle smoked his pipe. But I like our home folks best."

"Mr. Ware," growled the admiral, "a man told me the other day that you'd served in the Army. I wish I'd had a chaplain like you in the Navy; I might have been a different man."

Mrs. Owen glanced at Ware with a twinkle in her eyes.

"Afraid I'm going to be discovered," he remarked to Sylvia as he buttered a bit of bread.

"Well, what part of the Army did you serve in?" demanded the admiral.

"Captain, Fifth New York Cavalry," replied the minister quietly, shrugging his shoulders.

"Captain! You were a fighting man?" the admiral boomed.

"Sort of one. We had a good deal of fun one way or another. Four years of it. Didn't begin fighting the Devil till afterward. How are things at the college, Doctor Kelton?"

Ware thus characteristically turned the conversation from himself. It was evident that he did not care to discuss his military experiences; in a moment they were talking politics, in which he seemed greatly interested.

"We've kept bosses out of this state pretty well," Professor Kelton was saying, "but I can see one or two gentlemen on both sides of the fence trying to play that game. I don't believe the people of Indiana will submit to it. The bosses need big cities to prey on and we aren't big enough for them to work in and hide in. We all live in the open and we're mostly seasoned American stock who won't be driven like a lot of foreign cattle. This city isn't a country town any longer, but it's still American. I don't know of any boss here."

"Well, Sally, how about Mort Bassett?" asked the admiral. "I hope you don't mind my speaking of him."

"Not in the slightest," Mrs. Owen replied. "The fact that Morton Bassett married my niece doesn't make it necessary for me to approve of all he does—and I don't. When I get a chance I give him the best licks I can. He's a Democrat, but I'm not; neither am I a Republican. They're all just as crooked as a dog's hind leg. I gave up when they beat Tilden out of the presidency. Why, if I'd been Samuel Tilden I'd have moved into the White House and dared 'em to throw me out. The Democratic Party never did have any gumption!" she concluded vigorously.

"A sound idea, Sally," grumbled the admiral, "but it's not new."

"Bassett isn't a bad fellow," remarked Ware. "You can hardly call him a boss in the usual sense of the term."

"Personally, he's certainly very agreeable," said Mrs. Martin. "You remember, Mrs. Owen, I visited your niece the last time I was home and I never saw a man more devoted to his family than Mr. Bassett."

"There's no complaint about that," Mrs. Owen assented. "And Morton's a very intelligent man, too; you might even call him a student. I've been sorry that he didn't keep to the law; but he's a moneymaker, and he's in politics as a part of his business."

"I've wondered," said Professor Kelton, "just what he's aiming at. Most of these men are ambitious to go high. He's a state senator, but there's not much in that. He must see bigger game in the future. I don't know him myself; but from what you hear of him he must be a man of force. Weak men don't dominate political parties."

"This political game looks mighty queer to me," the admiral remarked. "I've never voted in my life, but I guess I'll try it now they've put me on the shelf. Do you vote, Mr. Ware?"

"Oh, yes! I'm one of these sentimentalists who tries to vote for the best man. Naturally no man I ever vote for is elected."

"If I voted I should want to see the man first," Mrs. Owen averred. "I should ask him how much he expected to make out of the job."

"You'd be a tartar in politics, Sally," said the admiral. "The Governor told me the other day that when he hears that you're coming to the State House to talk about the Woman's Reformatory,—or whatever it is you're trustee of,—he crawls under the table. He says they were going to cut down the Reformatory's appropriation last winter, but that you went to the legislature and gave an example of lobbying that made the tough old railroad campaigners green with envy."

"I reckon I did! I told the members of that committee that if they cut that appropriation I'd go into their counties and spend every cent I've got fighting 'em if they ever ran for office again. Joshua, fill the glasses."

Sylvia was anxious to know the rest of the story.

"I hope they gave you the money, Mrs. Owen," she said.

Did they give it to me? Why, child, they raised it twenty thousand dollars! I had to hold 'em down. Then Morton Bassett pulled it through the senate for me. I told him if he didn't I'd cut his acquaintance."

"There's Ed Thatcher, too, if we're restricted to the Democratic camp," the minister was saying. "Thatcher has a fortune to use if he ever wants to try for something big in politics, which doesn't seem likely."

"He has a family that can spend his money," said Mrs. Martin. "What would he want with an office anyway? The governorship would bore him to death."

"It might tickle him to go to the senate, particularly if he had a score to clean up in connection with it," remarked Ware.

"Just what do you mean by that?" asked the admiral.

"Well," Ware replied, "he and Bassett are as thick as thieves just now in business operations. If some day it came about that they didn't get on so well,—if Bassett tried to drop him as they say he has sometimes dropped men when he didn't have any more use for them,—then Thatcher's sporting blood might assert itself. I should be sorry for Bassett if that time came."

"Edward Thatcher knows a horse," interposed Mrs. Owen. "I like Edward Thatcher."

"I've fished with Bassett," said the minister. "A good fisherman ought to make a good politician; there's a lot, I guess, in knowing just how to bait the hook, or where to drop the fly, and how to play your fish. And Bassett is a man of surprising tastes. He's a book collector,—rare editions and fine bindings and that sort of thing."

"Is it possible! The newspapers that abuse him never mention those things, of course," said Mrs. Martin.

A brief restraint fell upon the company, as they realized suddenly that they were discussing the husband of their hostess's niece, whom the opposition press declared to be the most vicious character that had ever appeared in the public life of the state. The minister had spoken well of him; the others did not know him, or spoke cautiously; and Mrs. Owen herself seemed, during Ware's last speech, to be a trifle restless. She addressed some irrelevant remark to the admiral as they rose and adjourned to the long side veranda where the men lighted cigars.

"I think I like this corner best," remarked Ware when the others had disposed themselves. "Miss Sylvia, won't you sit by me?" She watched his face as the match flamed to his cigar. It was deep-lined and rugged, with high cheek bones, that showed plainly when he shut his jaws. It occurred to Sylvia that but for his mustache his face would have been almost typically Indian. She had seen somewhere a photograph of a Sioux chief whose austere countenance was very like the minister's. Ware did not fit into any of her preconceived ideas of the clerical office. Dr. Wandless, the retired president of Madison College, was a minister, and any one would have known it, for the fact was proclaimed by his dress and manner; he might, in the most casual meeting on the campus, have raised his hands in benediction without doing anything at all extraordinary. Ware belonged to a strikingly different order, and Sylvia did not understand him. He had been a soldier; and Sylvia could not imagine Dr. Wandless in a cavalry charge. Ware flung the match-stick away and settled himself comfortably into his chair. The others were talking amongst themselves of old times, and Sylvia experienced a sense of ease and security in the minister's company.

"Those people across there are talking of the Hoosiers that used to be, and about the good folks who came into the wilderness and made Indiana a commonwealth. I'm a pilgrim and a stranger comparatively speaking. I'm not a Hoosier; are you?"

"No, Mr. Ware; I was born in New York City."

"Ho! I might have known there was some sort of tie between us. I was born in New York myself—'way up in the Adirondack country. You've heard of Old John Brown? My father's farm was only an hour's march from Brown's place. I used to see the old man, and it wasn't my fault I wasn't mixed up in some of his scrapes. Father caught me and took me home—didn't see any reason why I should go off and get killed with a crazy man. Didn't know Brown was going to be immortal."

"There must have been a good many people that didn't know it," Sylvia responded.

She hoped that Ware would talk of himself and of the war; but in a moment his thoughts took a new direction.

"Stars are fine to-night. It's a comfort to know they're up there all the time. Know Matthew Arnold's poems? He says 'With joy the stars perform their shining.' I like that. When I'm off camping the best fun of it is lying by running water at night and looking at the stars. Odd, though, I never knew the names of many of them; wouldn't know any if it weren't for the dippers,—not sure of them as it is. There's the North Star over there. Suppose your grandfather knows 'em all."

"I think he does," replied Sylvia. "He still lectures about them sometimes."

"Wonder what that is, just across the farthest tip of that maple? It's familiar, but I can't name it."

"That," said Sylvia, "is Cassiopeia."

"So? How many constellations do you know?"

Sylvia was silent a moment. She was not sure that it was polite to disclose her knowledge of the subject to a man who had just confessed his ignorance. She decided that anything beyond the most modest admission would be unbecoming.

"I know several, or I think I do. This is June. That's the North Star over the point of that tree, as you said, and above it is Ursa Minor, and winding in and out between it and the Big Dipper is Draco. Then to the east, higher up, are Cygnus, Lyra, and Aquila. And in the west—"

She paused, feeling that she had satisfied the amenities of conversation with this gentleman who had so frankly stated his lack of knowledge.

Ware struck his knee with his hand and chuckled.

"I should say you do know a few! You've mentioned some I've always wanted to get acquainted with. Now go back to Cygnus, the Swan. I like the name of that one; I must be sure to remember it."

Politeness certainly demanded that Sylvia should answer; and now that the minister plied her with questions, her own interest was aroused, and she led him back and forth across the starry lanes, describing in the most artless fashion her own method of remembering the names and positions of the constellations. As their range of vision on the veranda was circumscribed, Ware suggested that they step down upon the lawn to get a wider sweep, a move which attracted the attention of the others.

"Sylvia, be careful of the wet. Josephus just moved the sprinkler and that ground is soaked."

"Don't call attention to our feet; our heads are in the stars," answered Ware. "I must tell the Indian boys on the Nipigon about this," he said to Sylvia as they returned to the veranda. "I didn't know anybody knew as much as you do. You make me ashamed of myself."

"You needn't be," laughed Sylvia. "Very likely most that I've told you is wrong. I'm glad grandfather didn't hear me."

The admiral and Professor Kelton were launched upon a fresh exchange of reminiscences and the return of Ware and Sylvia did not disturb them. It seemed, however, that Ware was a famous story-teller, and when he had lighted a fresh cigar he recounted a number of adventures, speaking in his habitual, dry, matter-of-fact tone, and with curious unexpected turns of phrase. Conversation in Indiana seems to drift into story-telling inevitably. John Ware once read a paper before the Indianapolis Literary Club to prove that this Hoosier trait was derived from the South. He drew a species of ellipsoid of which the Ohio River was the axis, sketching his line to include the Missouri of Mark Twain, the Illinois of Lincoln, the Indiana of Eggleston and Riley, and the Kentucky that so generously endowed these younger commonwealths. North of the Ohio the anecdotal genius diminished, he declared, as one moved toward the Great Lakes into a region where there had been an infusion of population from New England and the Middle States. He suggested that the early pioneers, having few books and no newspapers, had cultivated the art of story-telling for their own entertainment and that the soldiers returning from the Civil War had developed it further. Having made this note of his thesis I hasten to run away from it. Let others, prone to interminable debate, tear it to pieces if they must. This kind of social intercourse, with its intimate talk, the references to famous public characters, as though they were only human beings after all, the anecdotal interchange, was wholly novel to Sylvia. She thought Ware's stories much droller than the admiral's, and quite as good as her grandfather's, which was a great concession.

The minister was beginning a new story. He knocked the ashes from his cigar and threw out his arms with one of his odd, jerky gestures.

"There's a good deal of fun in living in the woods. Up in the Adirondacks there was a lot for the boys to do when I was a youngster. I liked winter better than summer; school was in winter, but when you had the fun of fighting big drifts to get to it you didn't mind getting licked after you got there. The silence of night in the woods, when the snow is deep, the wind still, and the moon at full, is the solemnest thing in the world. Not really of this world, I guess. Sometimes you can hear a bough break under the weight of snow, with a report like a cannon. The only thing finer than winter is spring. I don't mean lilac time; but before that, the very earliest hint of the break-up. Used to seem that there was something wild in me that wanted to be on the march before there was a bud in sight. I'm a Northern animal some way; born in December; always feel better in winter. I used to watch for the northward flight of the game fowl—wanted to go with the birds. Too bad they're killing them all off. Wild geese are getting mighty scarce; geese always interested me. I once shot a gander in a Kankakee marsh that had an Eskimo arrow in its breast. A friend of mine, distinguished ethnologist, verified that; said he knew the tribe that made arrows of that pattern. But I was going to say that one night,—must have been when I was fourteen,—I had some fun with a bear . . ."

Sylvia did not hear the rest of the story. She had been sitting in the shadow of the porch, with her lips apart, listening, wondering, during this prelude. Ware's references to the North woods had touched lightly some dim memory of her own; somewhere she had seen moon-flooded, snowy woodlands where silence lay upon the world as soft as moonlight itself. The picture drawn by the minister had been vivid enough; for a moment her own memory of a similar winter landscape seemed equally clear; but she realized with impatience that it faded quickly and became dim and illusory, like a scene in an ill-lighted steropticon. To-night she felt that a barrier lay between her and those years of her life that antedated her coming to her grandfather's house by the college. It troubled her, as such mirages of memory trouble all of us; but Ware finished his story, and amid the laughter that followed Mrs. Martin rose.

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