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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

That I have declined one or two college positions


She

smiled at this, and regarded him with rather more attention, as though his remark had given her a new impression of him which her eyes wished to verify.

"They tell me you expect to teach in the city schools; that has always seemed to me the hardest kind of work. I should think you would prefer a college position;--there would be less drudgery, and better social opportunities."

"Every one warns me that it's hard work, but I don't believe it can be so terrible. Somebody has to do it. Of course college positions are more dignified and likely to be better paid."

He started to speak and hesitated.

"Well," she laughed. "You were going to add your warning, weren't you! I'm used to them."

"No; nothing of the sort; I was going to take the liberty of saying that if you cared to have me I should be glad to see whether our state university might not have something for you. I have friends and acquaintances who could help there."

"Oh, you are very kind! It is very good of you to offer to do that; but--"

A slight embarrassment was manifest in the quick opening and closing of her eyes, a slight turning of the head, but she smiled pleasantly, happily. He liked her way of smiling, and smiled himself. He found it agreeable to be talking to this young woman

with the fine, candid eyes, whose manner was so assured--without assurance! She smoothed the black gloves in her lap quietly; they were capable hands; her whole appearance and manner somehow betokened competence.

"The fact is, Mr. Bassett, that I have declined one or two college positions. My own college offered to take me in; and I believe there were one or two other chances. But it is kind of you to offer to help me."

She had minimized the importance of the offers she had declined so that he might not feel the meagreness of his proffered help; and he liked her way of doing it; but it was incredible that a young woman should decline an advantageous and promising position to accept a minor one. In the world he knew there were many hands on all the rounds of all the available ladders.

"Of course," he hastened to say, "I knew you were efficient; that's why I thought the public schools were not quite--not quite--worthy of your talents!"

Some explanation seemed necessary, and Sylvia hesitated for a moment.

"Do I really have to be serious, Mr. Bassett? So many people--the girls at college and some of my instructors and Mrs. Owen even--have assured me that I am not quite right in my mind; but I will make short work of my reasons. Please believe that I really don't mean to take myself too seriously. I want to teach in the public schools merely to continue my education; there are things to learn there that I want to know. So, you see, after all, it's neither important nor interesting; it's only--only my woman's insatiable curiosity!"

He smiled, but he frowned too; it annoyed him not to comprehend her. School-teaching could only be a matter of necessity; her plea of curiosity must cover something deeper that she withheld.


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