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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

Owen when she asked for news of Sylvia


She

did not know that when this reached him--one of the series of letters on which the old gentleman lived these days, with its Wellesley postmark, and addressed in Sylvia's clear, running hand, he bowed his white head and wept; for he knew what was in the girl's heart--knew and dreaded this roused yearning, and suffered as he realized the arid wastes of his own ignorance. But he sent her the picture of her mother for which she asked, and had the cottage photographed with Mills Hall showing faintly beyond the hedge; and he meekly smuggled his doctor's gown to the city and sat for his photograph. These things Sylvia proudly spread upon the walls of her room. He wrote to her--a letter that cost him a day's labor:--

"We don't seem to have any photograph of your father; but things have a way of getting lost, particularly in the hands of an old fellow like me. However, I have had myself taken as you wished, and you can see now what a solemn person your grandfather is in his _toga academica_. I had forgotten I had that silk overcoat and I am not sure now that I didn't put the hood on wrong-side-out! I'm a sailor, you know, and these fancy things stump me. The photographer didn't seem to understand that sort of millinery. Please keep it dark; your teachers might resent the sudden appearance in the halls of Wellesley of a grim old professor _emeritus_ not known to your faculty."

justify;">The following has its significance in Sylvia's history and we must give it place--this also to her grandfather:--

"The most interesting lecture I ever heard (except yours!) was given at the college yesterday by Miss Jane Addams, of Hull House, the settlement worker and writer on social reforms. She's such a simple, modest little woman that everybody loved her at once. She made many things clear to me that I had only groped for before. She used an expression that was new to me, 'reciprocal obligations,' which we all have in this world, though I never quite thought of it before. She's a college woman herself, and feels that all of us who have better advantages than other people should help those who aren't taught to climb. It seems the most practical idea in the world, that we should gather up the loose, rough fringes of society and weave the broken threads into a common warp and woof. The social fabric is no stronger than its weakest thread. . . . To help and to save for the sheer love of helping and saving is the noblest thing any of us can do--I feel that. This must be an old story to you; I'm ashamed that I never saw it all for myself. It's as though I had been looking at the world through a blurred window, from a comfortable warm room, when some one came along and brushed the pane clear, so that I could see the suffering and hardship outside, and feel my own duty to go out and help."

Professor Kelton, spending a day in the city, showed this to Mrs. Owen when she asked for news of Sylvia. Mrs. Owen kept the letter that John Ware might see it. Ware said: "Deep nature; I knew that night she told me about the stars that she would understand everything. You will hear of her. Wish she would come here to live. We need women like that."


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