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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

Sylvia answered over her shoulder


His

voice had risen with his anger. Sylvia saw that nothing was to be gained by argument.

"The main thing is to bring Marian home, isn't it, Mr. Bassett?"

"Most certainly. And when I get her here she shall stay; you may be sure of that!"

"I understand of course that you want her back, but I hope you will abandon the idea of going for her yourself. Please give that up! I promise that she shall come home. I can easily take the night train and come back with her. What you do afterward is not my affair, but somehow I think this is. Please agree to my way of doing it! I can manage it very easily. Mrs. Owen's man can take me across to the train in the launch. I shan't even have to explain about it to her, if you'd rather I didn't. It will be enough if I tell her I'm going on business. You will agree, won't you--please?"

It was not in his heart to consent, and yet he consented, wondering that he yielded. The rescue of Marian from the Willings was taken out of his hands without friction, and there remained only himself against whom to vent his anger. He was curiously agitated by the encounter. The ironic phrases he had already coined for Marian's discomfiture clinked into the melting-pot. Sylvia was turning away and he must say something, though he could not express a gratitude he did not feel. His practical sense grasped one idea feebly. He felt its

imbecility the moment he had spoken.

"You'll allow me, of course, to pay your expenses. That must be understood."

Sylvia answered over her shoulder.

"Oh, yes; of course, Mr. Bassett. Certainly."

He meant to accompany her to Mrs. Owen's door, but before he could move she was gone, running along the path, a white, ghost-like figure faintly discernible through the trees. He walked on tiptoe to the end of the veranda to catch the last glimpse of her, and waited till he caught across the quiet night the faint click of Mrs. Owen's gate. And he was inexpressibly lonely, now that she had gone.

He opened the door of the living-room and found his wife standing like an accusing angel by the centre table. She loomed tall in her blue tea-gown, with her brown braids falling down her back.

"Whom were you talking to, Morton?" she demanded with ominous severity.

"Miss Garrison came over to bring a book for Blackford. It's a grammar he needed in his work."

He held up the book in proof of his assertion, and as she tossed her head and compressed her lips he flung it on the table with an effort to appear at ease.

"She wanted him to have it before his lesson in the morning."

"She certainly took a strange time to bring it over here."

"It struck me as very kind of her to trouble about it. You'll take cold standing there. I supposed you were asleep."

"I've no doubt you did, Morton Bassett; but how do you suppose I could sleep when you were talking right under my window? I had already sent word about the noise you were making on the veranda."

"We were not talking loudly; I didn't suppose we were disturbing you."

"So you were talking quietly, were you! Will you please tell me what you have to talk to that girl about that you must whisper out there in the dark?"


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