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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

That you are going to make yourself uncomfortable


"I

know," she continued, "if I may say it, ever so much from books; but I have only the faintest notions of life. Now, isn't that terribly muggy? People--and their conditions and circumstances--can only be learned by going to the original sources."

This was not illuminative. She had only added to his befuddlement and he bent forward, soliciting some more lucid statement of her position.

"I had hoped to go ahead and never have to explain, for I fear that in explaining I seem to be appraising myself too high; but you won't believe that of me, will you? If I took one of these college positions and proved efficient, and had good luck, I should keep on knowing all the rest of my life about the same sort of people, for the girls who go to college are from the more fortunate classes. There are exceptions, but they are drawn largely from homes that have some cultivation, some sort of background. The experiences of teachers in such institutions are likely to cramp. It's all right later on, but at first, it seems to me better to experiment in the wider circle. Now--" and she broke off with a light laugh, eager that he should understand.

"It's not, then, your own advantage you consult; the self-denial appeals to you; it's rather like--like a nun's vocation. You think the service is higher!"

"Oh, it would be if I could render service! Please don't think

I feel that the world is waiting for me to set it right; I don't believe it's so wrong! All I mean to say is that I don't understand a lot of things, and that the knowledge I lack isn't something we can dig out of a library, but that we must go to life for it. There's a good deal to learn in a city like this that's still in the making. I might have gone to New York, but there are too many elements there; it's all too big for me. Here you can see nearly as many kinds of people, and you can get closer to them. You can see how they earn their living, and you can even follow them to church on Sunday and see what they get out of that!"

"I'm afraid," he replied, after deliberating a moment, "that you are going to make yourself uncomfortable; you are cutting out a programme of unhappiness."

"Why shouldn't I make myself uncomfortable for a little while? I have never known anything but comfort."

"But that's your blessing; no matter how much you want to do it you can't remove all the unhappiness in the world--not even by dividing with the less fortunate. I've never been able to follow that philosophy."

"Maybe," she said, "you have never tried it!" She was seeking neither to convince him nor to accomplish his discomfiture and to this end was maintaining her share of the dialogue to the accompaniment of a smile of amity.

"Maybe I never have," he replied slowly. "I didn't have your advantage of seeing a place to begin."

"But you have the advantage of every one; you have the thing that I can never hope to have, that I don't ask for: you have the power in your hands to do everything!"


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