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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

Professor Kelton was one of Aunt Sally's oldest friends


His

opacity incensed her; she had been brooding over her aunt's renewed interest in Sylvia Garrison all day and his dull ignorance was the last straw upon nerves screwed to the breaking-point. She sat up in bed and drew her dressing-gown about her as though it were the vesture of despair.

"That Garrison girl! She's not only back here, but from all appearances she's going to stay! Aunt Sally's infatuated with her. When the girl's grandfather died, Aunt Sally did everything for her--went over to Montgomery to take charge of the funeral, and then went back to Wellesley to see the girl graduate. And now she's giving up her plan of going to Waupegan for the summer to stay here in all the heat with a girl who hasn't the slightest claim on her. When the Keltons visited Waupegan four years ago I saw this coming. I wanted Marian to go to college and tried to get you interested in the plan because that was what first caught Aunt Sally's fancy--Sylvia's cleverness, and this college idea. But you wouldn't do anything about Marian, and now she's thrown away her chances, and here's this stranger graduating with honors and Aunt Sally going down there to see it! Aunt Sally's going to make a companion of her, and you can't tell what will happen! I'd like to know what you can say to your children when all Aunt Sally's money, that should rightly go to them, goes to a girl she's picked up out of nowhere. This is what your politics has got us into, Morton Bassett!"

style="text-align: justify;">The soberness to which this brought him at last satisfied her. She had freely expressed the anxiety caused by Sylvia's first appearance on the domestic horizon, but for a year or two, in his wife's absences in pursuit of health, he had heard little of her apprehensions. Marian's own disinclination for a college career had, from the beginning, seemed to him to interpose an insurmountable barrier to parental guidance in that direction. His wife's attitude in these new circumstances of the return of her aunt's protegee struck him as wholly unjustified and unreasonable.

"You're not quite yourself when you talk that way, Hallie. Professor Kelton was one of Aunt Sally's oldest friends; old people have a habit of going back to the friends of their youth; there's nothing strange in it. And this being true, nothing could have been more natural than for Aunt Sally to help the girl in her trouble, even to the extent of seeing her graduated. It was just like Aunt Sally," he continued, warming to his subject, "who's one of the stanchest friends anybody could have. Aunt Sally's devoted to you and your children; it's ungenerous to her to assume that a young woman she hardly knows is supplanting you or Marian. This newspaper notoriety I'm getting has troubled you and I'm sorry for it; but I can't let you entertain this delusion that your aunt's kindness to the granddaughter of one of her old friends means that Aunt Sally has ceased to care for you, or lost her regard for Marian and Blackford. If you think of it seriously for a moment you'll see how foolish it is to harbor any jealousy of Miss Garrison. Come! Cheer up and forget it. If Aunt Sally got an inkling of this you may be sure that _would_ displease her. You say the girl is here in the house?"

"She's not only here, but she's here to stay! She's going to intrench herself here!"

She sent him to the chiffonier to find a fresh handkerchief. He watched her helplessly for a moment as she dried her eyes. Then he took her hands and bent over her.


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