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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

If Thatcher meditated a break with Bassett


As

Dan made no reply to this Thatcher recurred in a moment to Allen and Harwood's annoyance passed. It was obvious that the capitalist had sought this interview to talk of the boy, to make sure that Harwood was sincerely interested in him. Thatcher's manner of speaking of his son was kind and affectionate. The introduction of Bassett into the discussion had been purely incidental, but it was not less interesting because of its unpremeditated interjection. There was possibly some jealousy here that would manifest itself later; but that was not Dan's affair. Bassett was beyond doubt able to take care of himself in emergencies; Dan's admiration for his patron was strongly intrenched in this belief. The bulkier Thatcher, with the marks of self-indulgence upon him, and with his bright waistcoat and flashy necktie transcending the bounds of good taste, struck him as a weaker character. If Thatcher meditated a break with Bassett, the sturdier qualities, the even, hard strokes that Bassett had a reputation for delivering, would count heavily against him.

"I'm glad you get on so well with the boy," Thatcher was saying. "I don't mind telling you that his upbringing has been a little unfortunate--too much damned Europe. He's terribly sore because he didn't go to college instead of being tutored all over Europe. It's funny he's got all these romantic ideas about America; he's sore at me because he wasn't born poor and didn't have to chop rails to earn his way

through college and all that. The rest of my family like the money all right; they're only sore because I didn't make it raising tulips. But that boy's all right. And see here--" Thatcher seemed for a moment embarrassed by what was in his mind. He fidgeted in his chair and eyed Harwood sharply. "See here, Harwood, if you find after awhile that you don't get on with Bassett, or you want to change, why, I want you to give me a chance at you. I'd like to put my boy with you, somehow. I'll die some day and I want to be sure somebody'll look after him. By God, he's all I got!"

He swung round, but his eyes were upon the floor; he drew out a handkerchief and blew his nose noisily.

"By George," he exclaimed, "I promised Allen to take you up to Sally Owen's. You know Mrs. Owen? That's right; Allen said she's been asking about you. She likes young folks; she'll never be old herself. Allen and I are going there for supper, and he's asked her if he might bring you along. Aunt Sally's a great woman. And"--he grinned ruefully--"a good trader. She has beat me on many a horse trade, that woman; and I always go back to try it again. You kind o' like having her do you. And I guess I'm the original easy mark when it comes to horse. Get your hat and come along. Allen's fixed this all up with her. I guess you and she are the best friends the boy's got."

CHAPTER XII

BLURRED WINDOWS

With Sylvia's life in college we have little to do, but a few notes we must make now that she has reached her sophomore year. She had never known girls until she went to college and she had been the shyest of freshmen, the least obtrusive of sophomores.

She had carried her work from the start with remarkable ease and as the dragons of failure were no longer a menace she began to give more heed to the world about her. She was early recognized as an earnest, conscientious student whose work in certain directions was brilliant; and as a sophomore her fellows began to know her and take pride in her. She was relieved to find herself swept naturally into the social currents of the college. She had been afraid of appearing stiff or priggish, but her self-consciousness quickly vanished in the broad, wholesome democracy of college life. The best scholar in her class, she was never called a grind and she was far from being a frump. The wisest woman in the faculty said of Sylvia: "That girl with her head among the stars has her feet planted on solid ground. Her life will count." And the girlhood that Sylvia had partly lost, was recovered and prolonged. It was a fine thing to be an American college girl, Sylvia realized, and the varied intercourse, the day's hundred and one contacts and small excitements, meant more to her than her fellow students knew. When there was fun in the air Sylvia could be relied upon to take a hand in it. Her allowance was not meagre and she joined zestfully in such excursions as were possible, to concerts, lectures, and the theatre. She had that reverence for New England traditions that is found in all young Westerners. It was one of her jokes that she took two Boston girls on their first pilgrimage to Concord, a joke that greatly tickled John Ware, brooding in his library in Delaware Street.


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