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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

Bassett is ambitious for her children


do you see?" asked Sylvia.

"I see Mrs. Bassett and Marian, niece and grandniece respectively, of Aunt Sally Owen; and as I gaze, a stranger bound for college suddenly appears on Mrs. Owen's veranda, in cap and gown. Tableau!"

"I don't see the picture," Sylvia replied, though she laughed in spite of herself.

"I not only see," Dan continued, "but I hear the jingle of red, red gold, off stage."

This was going a trifle too far. Sylvia shook her head and frowned.

"That isn't fair, Mr. Harwood, if I guess what you mean. There's no reason why Marian shouldn't go to college. My going has nothing to do with it. You have misunderstood the whole matter."

"Pardon me," said Dan quickly. "I mean no unkindness to any of them. They are all very good to me. It's too bad, though, that Marian's preparation for college hadn't been in mind until so recently. It would save her a lot of hard digging now. I see a good deal of the family; and I'm even aware of Marian's doings at Miss Waring's school. Master Blackford beguiles me into taking him to football games, and I often go with all of them to the theatre when they're in town. Mr. Bassett is very busy, and he doesn't often indulge himself in pleasures. He's the kind of man whose great joy is in work--and he has many things to look after."

style="text-align: justify;">"You are a kind of private secretary to the whole family, then; but you work at the law at the same time?"

Harwood's face clouded for a moment; she noticed it and was sorry she had spoken; but he said immediately:--

"Well, I haven't had much time for the law this winter. I have more things to do outside than I had expected. But I fear I need prodding; I'm too prone to wander into other fields. And I'm getting a good deal interested in politics. You know Mr. Bassett is one of the leading men in our state."

"Yes, I had learned that; I suppose he may be Senator or Governor some day. That makes it all the more important that Marian should be fitted for high station."

"I don't know that just that idea has struck her!" he laughed, quite cheerful again. "It's too bad it can't be suggested to her. It might help her with her Latin. She tells me in our confidences that she thinks Latin a beast. It's my role to pacify her. But a girl must live up to her mother's ambitions, and Mrs. Bassett is ambitious for her children. And then there's always the unencumbered aunt to please into the bargain. Mrs. Owen is shrewd, wise, kind. Since that night I saw you there we've become pals. She's the most stimulating person I ever knew. She has talked to me about you several times"--Dan laughed and looked Sylvia in the eyes as though wondering how far to go--"and if you're not the greatest living girl you have shamefully fooled Mrs. Owen. Mr. Ware, the minister, came in one evening when I was there and I never heard such praise as they gave you. But I approved of it."

"Oh, how nice of you!" said Sylvia, in a tone so unlike her that Dan laughed outright.

"You are the embodiment of loyalty; but believe me, I am a loyal person myself. Please don't think me a gossip. Marian's mother still hopes to land her in college next year, but she's the least studious of beings; I can't see her doing it. Mrs. Bassett's never quite well, and that's been bad for Marian. College would be a good thing for her. I've seen many soaring young autocrats reduced to a proper humility at New Haven, and I dare say you girls have your own way of humbling a proud spirit."

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