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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

All the textbooks make it so hard and it really isn't


"I

notice that you can say things like that, Sylvia, without waving your hands, or shouting like an old woman with a shawl on her head swinging a broom at the boys in her cherry tree. We've got to learn to do that. It was some time after I went into business, when Jackson Owen died, before I learned that you couldn't shoo men the way you shoo hens. You got to drop a little corn in a fence corner and then throw your apron over 'em. It strikes me that if you could catch these girls that go to work in stores and offices young enough you might put them in the way of doing something better. There are schools doing this kind of thing, but I'd like to plant one right here in Indiana for the kind of girls we've got at Elizabeth House. They haven't much ambition, most of 'em; they're stuck right where they are. I'd like to see what can be done toward changing that, and see it started in my lifetime. And we must do it right. Think it over as you get time." She glanced at the window. "You'd better stay all night, Sylvia; it's getting dark."

"No, I must run along home. The girls expect me."

"That school idea's just between you and me for the present," Mrs. Owen remarked as she watched Sylvia button her mackintosh. "Look here, Sylvia, don't you need some money? I mean, of course, don't you want to borrow some?"

"Oh, never! By the way, I didn't tell you that I expect to make some? The publisher

of one of grandfather's textbooks came to see me about the copyright, and there were some changes in the book that grandfather thought should be made and I'm going to make them. There's a chance of it's being adopted in one or two states. And then, I want to make a geometry of my own. All the textbooks make it so hard--and it really isn't. The same publisher told me he thought well of my scheme, and I'm going ahead with it."

"Well, don't you kill yourself writing geometries: I should think teaching the youngsters would be a full job."

"That's not a job at all, Aunt Sally; that's just fun. And you know I'm not going to do it always. I'm learning things now that I needed to know. I only wish my mind were as sound as my health."

"You ought to wear heavier flannels, though; it's a perfect scandal what girls run around in nowadays."

She rested her hands on Sylvia's shoulders lightly, smiled into her face, and then bent forward and kissed her.

"I don't understand why you won't wear rubbers, but be sure you don't sit around all evening in wet stockings."

A gray mist was hastening nightfall, though the street lamps were not yet lighted. The glow of Mrs. Owen's kindness lingered with Sylvia as she walked toward Elizabeth House. She was constantly surprised by her friend's intensely modern spirit--her social curiosity, and the breadth and sanity of her views. This suggestion of a vocational school for young women had kindled Sylvia's imagination, and her thoughts were upon it as she tramped homeward through the slush. To establish an institution such as Mrs. Owen had indicated would require a large sum of money, and there were always the Bassetts, the heirs apparent of their aunt's fortune. Any feeling of guilt Sylvia may have experienced by reason of her enforced connivance with Mrs. Owen for the expenditure of her money was mitigated by her belief that the Bassetts were quite beyond the need of their aunt's million, the figure at which Mrs. Owen's fortune was commonly appraised.


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