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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

Owen with her correspondence and accounts


The

appointments of her "office" were plain and substantial. A flat-topped desk stood in the middle of the room--a relic of the lamented Jackson Owen; in one corner was an old-fashioned iron safe in which she kept her account books. A print of Maud S. adorned one wall, and facing it across the room hung a lithograph of Thomas A. Hendricks. Twice a week a young woman came to assist Mrs. Owen with her correspondence and accounts,--a concession to age, for until she was well along in the fifties Sally Owen had managed these things alone.

"You've seen my picture-gallery before, Andrew? Small but select. I knew both the lady and the gentleman," she continued, with one of her humorous flashes. "I went to Cleveland in '85 to see Maud S. She ate up a mile in 2:08-3/4--the prettiest thing I ever saw. You know Bonner bought her as a four-year-old--the same Bonner that owned the 'New York Ledger.' I used to read the 'Ledger' clear through, when Henry Ward Beecher and Fanny Fern wrote for it. None of these new magazines touch it. And you knew Tom Hendricks? That's a good picture. Tom looked like a statesman anyhow, and that's more than most of 'em do."

She continued her efforts to divert his thoughts from the real matter at hand, summoning from the shadows all the Hoosier statesmen of the post-bellum period to aid her, and she purposely declared her admiration of several of these to provoke Kelton's ire.

justify;">"That's right, Andrew; jump on 'em," she laughed, as she drew from the desk a check book and began to write. When she had blotted and torn out the check she examined it carefully and placed it near him on the edge of her desk. "Now, Andrew Kelton, there's a check for six thousand dollars; we'll call that our educational fund. You furnish the girl; I put in the money. I only wish I had the girl to put into the business instead of the cash."

"But I don't need the money yet; I shan't need it till fall," he protested.

"That's all right. Fall's pretty close and you'll feel better if you have it. Now, you may count on more when that's gone if you want it. In case anything goes wrong with you or me it'll be fixed. I'll attend to it. I look on it as a good investment. Your note? Look here, Andrew Kelton, if you mention that life insurance to me again, I'll cut your acquaintance. You go to bed; and don't you ever let on to that baby upstairs that I have any hand in her schooling." She dropped her check book into a drawer and swung round in her swivel chair until she faced him. "I don't want to open up that affair of Sylvia's mother again, but there's always the possibility that something may happen. You know Edna's dead, but there's always a chance that Sylvia's father may turn up. It's not likely; but there's no telling about such things; and it wouldn't be quite fair for you to leave her unprepared if it should happen."

"There's one more circumstance I haven't told you about. It happened only a few days ago. It was that, in fact, which crystallized my own ideas about Sylvia's education. A letter was sent to me by a stranger, offering money for Sylvia's schooling. The whole thing was surrounded with the utmost secrecy."


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