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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

To justify the presence of the senior Thatcher


Bassett prided herself on knowing who's who in her native state and even she was satisfied that the gathering was representative. The "list" had not been submitted for her approval; if it had been she might have deleted certain names and substituted others. She was unable, for example, to justify the presence of the senior Thatcher, though her husband assured her in a tone of magnanimity that it was all right; and she had never admired Colonel Ramsay, though to be sure nearly every one else did. Was not the Colonel handsome, courteous, genial, eloquent, worthy of all admiration? Mrs. Owen had chosen a few legislators from among her acquaintances, chiefly gentlemen who had gallantly aided some of her measures at earlier sessions of the assembly. This accounted for the appearance of a lone Prohibitionist who by some miracle appeared biennially in the lower house, and for a prominent labor leader whom Mrs. Owen liked on general principles. The statesman who has already loomed darkly in these pages as the Tallest Delegate was taller than ever in a dress coat, but in all ways a citizen of whom Vermillion County had reason to be proud. John Ware and Admiral Martin, finding themselves uncomfortable in the crowd, rescued Thatcher and adjourned with him to a room set apart for smokers. There they were regarded with mild condescension by young gentlemen who rushed in from the dance, mopping their brows and inhaling cigarettes for a moment, wearing the melancholy air becoming to those who
support the pillars of society.

At ten o'clock the receiving line had dissolved and the dance was in full swing above. Sylvia had volunteered to act as Mrs. Owen's adjutant, and she was up and down stairs many times looking after countless details. She had just dispatched Allen to find partners for some out-of-town girls when Morton Bassett accosted her in the hall.

"I'm thirsty, Miss Garrison; which punch bowl do you recommend to a man of my temperate habits?"

She turned to the table and took a glass from Mrs. Owen's butler and held it up.

"The only difference between the two is that one is pink. I put it in myself. Your health and long life to Marian," said Sylvia.

"I'm going to take this chance to thank you for your kind interest in Marian's party. We all appreciate it. Even if you didn't do it for us but for Mrs. Owen, we're just as grateful. There's a lot of work in carrying off an affair like this."

He seemed in no hurry and apparently wished to prolong the talk. They withdrew out of the current of people passing up and down the stairway.

"You are not dancing?" he asked.

"No; I'm not here socially, so to speak. I'm not going out, you know; I only wanted to help Mrs. Owen a little."

"Pardon me; I hadn't really forgotten. You are a busy person; Marian tells me you have begun your teaching. You don't show any evidences of wear."

"Oh, I never was so well in my life!"

"You will pardon me for mentioning it here, but--but I was sorry to hear from Mr. Harwood that the teaching is necessary."

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