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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

Marian took charge of the conversation


"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."


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