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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

Owen was looking at her fixedly


Sylvia

had been staring straight ahead across the backs of the team; she was conscious suddenly that Mrs. Owen was looking at her fixedly, with mirth kindling in her shrewd old eyes. Sylvia had no idea what ensilage was, but she knew it must be something amusing or Mrs. Owen would not have laughed so heartily.

"It was a good joke, wasn't it--talking to a literary club about silos. I told 'em I'd come back and read my little piece on 'Winter Feeding,' but they haven't called me yet."

They had driven across to Meridian Street, and Mrs. Owen sent the horses into town at a comfortable trot. They traversed the new residential area characterized by larger grounds and a higher average of architecture.

"That's Edward Thatcher's new house--the biggest one. They say it's easier to pay for a castle like that out here than it is to keep a cook so far away from Washington Street. I let go of ten acres right here in the eighties; we used to think the town would stop at the creek," Mrs. Owen explained, and then announced the dictum: "Keep land; mortgage if you got to, but never sell; that's my motto."

It was nearly six when they reached home, and dinner was appointed for seven. Mrs. Owen drove directly into the barn and gave minute instructions as to the rubbing-down and feeding of the horses. In addressing the negroes she imitated their own manner of speech. Sylvia

had noticed that Mrs. Owen did not always pronounce words in the same way, but such variations are marked among our Southwestern people, particularly where, as in Mrs. Owen's case, they have lived on both sides of the Ohio River. Sometimes she said "hoss," unmistakably; and here, and again when she said "bile" for "boil," it was obviously with humorous intention. Except in long speeches she did not drawl; at times she spoke rapidly, snapping off sentences abruptly. Her fashion of referring to herself in the third person struck Sylvia as most amusing.

"Look here, you Joe, it's a nice way to treat yo' Mis' Sally, turning out that wagon with the dash all scratched. Don' you think I'm blind and can't tell when you boys dig a broom into a varnished buggy! Next time I catch yo' doing that I'll send you down to Greene County to plow co'n and yo'll not go to any more fancy hoss shows with me."

As she followed Mrs. Owen into the house Sylvia thought she heard suppressed guffawing in the stable. Mrs. Owen must have heard it too.

"A worthless lot," she muttered; "I'm going to clean 'em all out some day and try the Irish"; but Mrs. Sally Owen had often made this threat without having the slightest intention of carrying it into effect.

Professor Kelton had just reached the house, and he seemed so hot and tired that Sylvia was struck with pity for him. He insisted, however, that he was perfectly well, but admitted that his errands had proved to be more vexatious than he had expected.

"What kind of a time have you been having?" he asked as they went upstairs together.

"Oh, the finest in the world! I'm sure I've learned a lot to-day--a great many things I never dreamed about before."

"Horses?"


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