Professor Kelton announced that he had not finished his errands in town, an_egged to be excused from the drive which Mrs. Owen had planned.
"Very well, Andrew. Then I shall take your Sylvia for a longer drive than _hould expect you to survive. We'll go out and see how the wheat looks."
In this new environment Sylvia was aware that despite his efforts to appea_ay her grandfather was not himself. She was quite sure that he had no_xpected to spend the afternoon downtown, and she wondered what was troublin_im. The novelty of the drive, however, quickly won her to the best o_pirits. Mrs. Owen appeared ready for this adventure with her tall figur_rapped in a linen "duster." Her hat was a practical affair of straw, unadorned save by a black ribbon. As she drew on her gloves in the _porte- cochère_ the old coachman held the heads of two horses that were hitched to _mart road wagon. When her gloves had been adjusted, Mrs. Owen surveyed th_orses critically.
"Lift Pete's forefoot—the off one, Joe," she commanded, stepping down into th_sphalt court. "Um,—that's just what I thought. That new blacksmith knows hi_usiness. That shoe's on straight. That other man never did know anything. Al_ight, Sylvia."
Mrs. Owen explained as the trim sorrels stepped off smartly toward the nort_hat they were Estabrook stock and that she had raised them herself on he_entucky farm, which she declared Sylvia must visit some day. It was ver_leasant to be driving in this way under a high blue sky, beside a woman whos_ays and interests were so unusual. The spirited team held Mrs. Owen'_ttention, but she never allowed the conversation to flag. Several times a_hey crossed car lines it seemed to Sylvia that they missed being struck onl_y perilously narrow margins. When they reached the creek they paused on th_ridge to allow the sorrels to rest, and Mrs. Owen indicated with her whip th_ine of the new boulevard and recounted the history of the region.
At the State Fair grounds Mrs. Owen drove in, explaining that she wanted t_ee what they were doing to the track. Sylvia noticed that the employees the_assed grinned at Mrs. Owen as though she were a familiar acquaintance, an_he superintendent came up and discussed horses and the track changes wit_rs. Owen in a strange vocabulary. He listened respectfully to what Mrs. Owe_aid and was impressed, Sylvia thought, by her opinions. She referred to othe_racks at Lexington and Louisville as though they were, of course, somethin_hat everybody knew about. The sun was hot, but Mrs. Owen did not seem to min_he heat a particle. The superintendent looked the sorrels over carefully; they had taken no end of ribbons at fairs and horse shows. Here was a team, Mrs. Owen announced, that she was not afraid to show in Madison Square Garde_gainst any competitors in its class; and the superintendent admitted that th_stabrooks were a fine stock. He nodded and kept repeating "You're right," or
"you're mighty right," to everything the old lady said. It seemed to Sylvi_hat nobody would be likely to question or gainsay any opinions Mrs. Owe_ight advance on the subject of horses. She glanced over her shoulder as the_ere driving back toward the gate and saw the superintendent looking afte_hem.
"He's watching the team, ain't he, Sylvia? I thought I'd touch up his envy _ittle. That man," continued Mrs. Owen, "really knows a horse from a_lephant. He's been trying to buy this team; but he hasn't bid up high enoug_et. It tickles me to think that some of those rich fellows down in New Yor_ill pay me a good price when I send 'em down there to the show. They nee_orking; you can't do much with horses in town; the asphalt plays smash wit_heir feet. There's a good stretch of pike out here and I'll show you wha_his team can do."
This promised demonstration was the least bit terrifying to Sylvia. He_nowledge of horses was the slightest, and in reading of horse races she ha_ot imagined that there could be such a thrill in speeding along a stretch o_ood road behind a pair of registered roadsters, the flower of the Estabroo_tock, driven by so intrepid and skillful a whip as Mrs. Sally Owen.
"I guess that mile would worry the boys some," observed Mrs. Owen wit_atisfaction as she brought the team to a walk.
This was wholly cryptic to Sylvia, but she was glad that Mrs. Owen was no_isappointed. As they loitered in a long shady lane Mrs. Owen made it possibl_or Sylvia to talk of herself. Sally Owen was a wise woman, who was considere_ little rough and peculiar by some of her townspeople, chiefly those late_omers who did not understand the conditions of life that had made such _haracter possible; but none had ever questioned her kindness of heart. And i_pite of her frank, direct way of speech she was not deficient in tact. Sall_wen had an active curiosity, but it was of the healthy sort that wastes n_ime on trifling matters. She was curious about Sylvia, for Sylvia was _ittle different from the young girls she knew. Quite naturally she wa_omparing the slim, dark-eyed girl at her side with Marian Bassett. Marian wa_ltogether obvious; whereas Mrs. Owen felt the barriers of reserve in Sylvia.
Sylvia embodied questions in the Kelton family history that she could no_nswer, though she had known Andrew Kelton all his life, and remembered diml_is only daughter, who had unaccountably vanished.
"Where do you go to school, Sylvia?" she asked.
"I don't go to school,—not to a real school,—but grandfather teaches me; h_as always taught me."
"And you are now about—how old?"
"Sixteen in October. I've been talking to grandfather about going to college."
"They do send girls to college nowadays, don't they! We're beginning to hav_ome of these college women in our town here. I know some of 'em. Let's see.
What they say against colleges for women is that the girls who go there lear_oo much, so that men are afraid to marry 'em. I wonder how that is? Bu_hat's in favor of college, I think; don't you?"
Mrs. Owen answered her own question with a laugh; and having opened th_ubject she went on to disclose her opinions further.
"I guess I'm too old to be one of these new women we're hearing so much about.
Even farming's got to be a science, and it keeps me hustling to learn what th_ew words mean in the agricultural papers. I belong to a generation of wome_ho know how to sew rag carpets and make quilts and stir soft soap in an iro_ettle and darn socks; and I can still cure a ham better than any Chicag_actory does it," she added, raking a fly from the back of the "off" sorre_ith a neat turn of the whip. "And I reckon I make 'em pay full price for m_orn. Well, well; so you're headed for college."
"I hope so," said Sylvia; "then after that I'm going to teach."
"Poor pay and hard work. I know lots of teachers; they're always havin_ervous prostration. But you look healthy."
"Oh, I'm strong enough," replied Sylvia. "I think I should like teaching."
"Marian was at Miss Waring's school last winter and I couldn't see what sh_as interested in much but chasing to matinées. Are you crazy about theatres?"
"Why, I've never been to one," Sylvia confessed.
"You're just as well off. Actors ain't what they used to be. When you sa_dwin Booth in 'Hamlet' or Jefferson in 'Rip,' you saw acting. I haven't bee_n any theatre since I saw Jefferson in the 'Rivals' the last time he cam_ound. There used to be a stock company at the Metropolitan about war-tim_hat beat any of these new actor folks. I'd rather see a good circus any tim_han one of these singing pieces. Sassafras tea and a circus every spring; _lways take both."
Sylvia found these views on the drama wholly edifying. Circuses and sassafra_ea were within the range of her experience, and finding that she had struck _oint of contact, Mrs. Owen expressed her pity for any child that did no_njoy a round of sassafras tea every spring. Sassafras in the spring, and _ew doses of quinine in the fall, to eliminate the summer's possibl_ccumulation of malaria, were all the medicine that any good Hoosier needed, Mrs. Owen averred.
"I'm for all this new science, you understand that," Mrs. Owen continued. "_ood deal of it does seem to me mighty funny, but when they tell me to boi_rinking-water to kill the bugs in it, and show me pictures of the bugs the_ake with the microscope, I don't snort just because my grandfather didn'_now about those things and lived to be eighty-two and then died from bein_icked by a colt. I go into the kitchen and I say to Eliza, 'Bile the water, Liza; bile it twice.' That's the kind of a new woman I am. But let's see; w_ere speaking of Marian."
"I liked her very much; she's very nice and ever so interesting," said Sylvia.
"Bless you, she's nice enough and pretty enough; but about this colleg_usiness. I always say that if it ain't in a colt the trainer can't put i_here. My niece—that's Mrs. Bassett, Marian's mother—wants Marian to be a_ntellectual woman,—the kind that reads papers on the poets before literar_lubs. Mrs. Bassett runs a woman's club in Fraserville and she's one of th_ights in the Federation. They got me up to Fraserville to speak to their clu_ few years ago. It's one of these solemn clubs women have; awful literary an_ever get nearer home than Doctor Johnson, who was nothing but a fat loafe_nyhow. I told 'em they'd better let me off; but they would have it and so _ent up and talked on ensilage. It was fall and I thought ensilage wa_easonable and they ought to know about it if they didn't. And they didn't, all right."
Sylvia had been staring straight ahead across the backs of the team; she wa_onscious suddenly that Mrs. Owen was looking at her fixedly, with mirt_indling in her shrewd old eyes. Sylvia had no idea what ensilage was, but sh_new it must be something amusing or Mrs. Owen would not have laughed s_eartily.
"It was a good joke, wasn't it—talking to a literary club about silos. I told
'em I'd come back and read my little piece on 'Winter Feeding,' but the_aven't called me yet."
They had driven across to Meridian Street, and Mrs. Owen sent the horses int_own at a comfortable trot. They traversed the new residential are_haracterized by larger grounds and a higher average of architecture.
"That's Edward Thatcher's new house—the biggest one. They say it's easier t_ay for a castle like that out here than it is to keep a cook so far away fro_ashington Street. I let go of ten acres right here in the eighties; we use_o think the town would stop at the creek," Mrs. Owen explained, and the_nnounced the dictum: "Keep land; mortgage if you got to, but never sell; that's my motto."
It was nearly six when they reached home, and dinner was appointed for seven.
Mrs. Owen drove directly into the barn and gave minute instructions as to th_ubbing-down and feeding of the horses. In addressing the negroes she imitate_heir own manner of speech. Sylvia had noticed that Mrs. Owen did not alway_ronounce words in the same way, but such variations are marked among ou_outhwestern people, particularly where, as in Mrs. Owen's case, they hav_ived on both sides of the Ohio River. Sometimes she said "hoss,"
unmistakably; and here, and again when she said "bile" for "boil," it wa_bviously with humorous intention. Except in long speeches she did not drawl; at times she spoke rapidly, snapping off sentences abruptly. Her fashion o_eferring to herself in the third person struck Sylvia as most amusing.
"Look here, you Joe, it's a nice way to treat yo' Mis' Sally, turning out tha_agon with the dash all scratched. Don' you think I'm blind and can't tel_hen you boys dig a broom into a varnished buggy! Next time I catch yo' doin_hat I'll send you down to Greene County to plow co'n and yo'll not go to an_ore fancy hoss shows with me."
As she followed Mrs. Owen into the house Sylvia thought she heard suppresse_uffawing in the stable. Mrs. Owen must have heard it too.
"A worthless lot," she muttered; "I'm going to clean 'em all out some day an_ry the Irish"; but Mrs. Sally Owen had often made this threat without havin_he slightest intention of carrying it into effect.
Professor Kelton had just reached the house, and he seemed so hot and tire_hat Sylvia was struck with pity for him. He insisted, however, that he wa_erfectly well, but admitted that his errands had proved to be more vexatiou_han he had expected.
"What kind of a time have you been having?" he asked as they went upstair_ogether.
"Oh, the finest in the world! I'm sure I've learned a lot to-day—a great man_hings I never dreamed about before."
"I never knew before that there was anything to know about horses; but Mrs.
Owen knows all about them. And that team we drove behind is wonderful; the_ove together perfectly and go like lightning when you want them to."
"Well, I'm glad you've enjoyed yourself. You'd better put on your whit_ress,—you brought one, didn't you? There will be company at dinner."
"Don't you scare that child about company, Andrew," said Mrs. Owen, coming u_ehind them with the linen duster flung over her arm. "If you haven't an_hite dress, Sylvia, that blue one's perfectly good and proper."
She followed Sylvia to her room, continuing to reassure her. She even shoo_ut the gown, exclaiming, "Well, well" (Sylvia didn't know why), and went ou_bruptly, instructing Sylvia to ring for the maid if she needed help.
There were three other guests for dinner, and they were unlike any othe_eople that Sylvia had known. She was introduced first to Admiral Martin, _etired officer of the Navy, who, having remained in the service of hi_ountry to the retiring age, had just come home to live in the capital of hi_ative state. He was short and thick and talked in a deep, growling voic_xactly as admirals should. The suns and winds of many seas had burned an_cored his face, and a stubby mustache gave him a belligerent aspect. H_opped his brow with a tremendous handkerchief and when Mrs. Owen introduce_ylvia as Professor Kelton's granddaughter he glared fiercely.
"Well, I declare, Andy, your granddaughter; well, I declare." He held Sylvia'_and a moment and peered into her face. "I remember your mother very well.
Andy, I recall distinctly that you and your wife were at Old Point in abou_he winter of '69 and your daughter was with you. So this is you_randdaughter? Well, I declare; I wish she was mine."
"I'm glad to see you, Sylvia," said Mrs. Martin, a shy, white-haired littl_oman. "I remember that winter at Old Point. I was waiting for my husban_here. You look like your mother. It's really a very striking resemblance. W_ere all so fond of Edna."
This was the first time that any one except her grandfather had ever spoken t_ylvia of her mother, and the words of these strangers thrilled her strangel_nd caused the tears to shine suddenly in her eyes. It was all over in _oment, for Mrs. Martin, seeing Sylvia's trembling lips, changed the subjec_uickly.
The last guest was just entering,—a tall trapper-like man who crossed the roo_o Mrs. Owen with a long, curious stride. He had shaken hands with Professo_elton, and Mrs. Owen introduced him to the Martins, who by reason of thei_ong absences had never met him before.
"Mr. Ware, this is Sylvia Garrison," said Mrs. Owen.
Sylvia was given then as later to quick appraisements, and she liked th_everend John Ware on the instant. He did not look or act or talk in the leas_ike a minister. He was very dark, and his mustache was only faintly sprinkle_ith gray. His hair still showed black at a distance, though he was sixty- five. He had been, sometime earlier, the pastor of the First Congregationa_hurch, but after a sojourn in other fields had retired to live among his ol_arishioners in the city which had loved him best. It had been said of him i_he days of his pastorate that he drew the largest congregations and th_mallest collections of any preacher the community had ever known. But War_as curiously unmindful of criticism. He had fished and hunted, he ha_reached charity and kindness, and when there was an unknown tramp to bury o_ome unfortunate girl had yielded to despair, he had officiated at th_uneral, and, if need be, ridden to the cemetery on the hearse.
"I'm Mrs. Owen's neighbor, you know," he explained to Sylvia. "My family hav_one for the summer; I'm hanging on here till my Indian sends me a postal tha_he fishing is right on the Nipigon. Nothing like getting off the trai_omewhere and being met by an Indian with a paddle on his shoulder. You ca_earn a lot from an Indian."
There were candles and flowers on the round table, and the dishes and silve_ere Mrs. Owen's "company best," which was very good indeed. The admiral an_rofessor Kelton sat at Mrs. Owen's right and left, and Sylvia found hersel_etween the minister and the admiral. The talk was at once brisk and general.
The admiral's voice boomed out tremendously and when he laughed the glasse_ingled. Every one was in the best of spirits and Sylvia was relieved to fin_hat her grandfather was enjoying himself immensely. The admiral's joke_arked back to old times, when he and Kelton were at the Naval Academy, or t_heir adventures in the war. It was odd to hear Mrs. Owen and the admira_alling her grandfather "Andrew" and "Andy"; no one else had ever done that; and both men addressed Mrs. Owen as "Sally." At a moment when Sylvia had begu_o feel the least bit awkward at being the only silent member of the company, the minister spoke to her. He had seemed at first glance a stoical person; bu_is deep-set, brown eyes were bright with good humor.
"These old sea dogs made a lot of history. I suppose you know a good dea_bout the sea from your grandfather."
"Yes; but I've never seen the sea."
"I've crossed it once or twice and tramped England and Scotland. I wanted t_ee Burns's country and the house at Chelsea where Carlyle smoked his pipe.
But I like our home folks best."
"Mr. Ware," growled the admiral, "a man told me the other day that you'_erved in the Army. I wish I'd had a chaplain like you in the Navy; I migh_ave been a different man."
Mrs. Owen glanced at Ware with a twinkle in her eyes.
"Afraid I'm going to be discovered," he remarked to Sylvia as he buttered _it of bread.
"Well, what part of the Army did you serve in?" demanded the admiral.
"Captain, Fifth New York Cavalry," replied the minister quietly, shrugging hi_houlders.
"Captain! You were a fighting man?" the admiral boomed.
"Sort of one. We had a good deal of fun one way or another. Four years of it.
Didn't begin fighting the Devil till afterward. How are things at the college, Doctor Kelton?"
Ware thus characteristically turned the conversation from himself. It wa_vident that he did not care to discuss his military experiences; in a momen_hey were talking politics, in which he seemed greatly interested.
"We've kept bosses out of this state pretty well," Professor Kelton wa_aying, "but I can see one or two gentlemen on both sides of the fence tryin_o play that game. I don't believe the people of Indiana will submit to it.
The bosses need big cities to prey on and we aren't big enough for them t_ork in and hide in. We all live in the open and we're mostly seasone_merican stock who won't be driven like a lot of foreign cattle. This cit_sn't a country town any longer, but it's still American. I don't know of an_oss here."
"Well, Sally, how about Mort Bassett?" asked the admiral. "I hope you don'_ind my speaking of him."
"Not in the slightest," Mrs. Owen replied. "The fact that Morton Basset_arried my niece doesn't make it necessary for me to approve of all h_oes—and I don't. When I get a chance I give him the best licks I can. He's _emocrat, but I'm not; neither am I a Republican. They're all just as crooke_s a dog's hind leg. I gave up when they beat Tilden out of the presidency.
Why, if I'd been Samuel Tilden I'd have moved into the White House and dared
'em to throw me out. The Democratic Party never did have any gumption!" sh_oncluded vigorously.
"A sound idea, Sally," grumbled the admiral, "but it's not new."
"Bassett isn't a bad fellow," remarked Ware. "You can hardly call him a bos_n the usual sense of the term."
"Personally, he's certainly very agreeable," said Mrs. Martin. "You remember, Mrs. Owen, I visited your niece the last time I was home and I never saw a ma_ore devoted to his family than Mr. Bassett."
"There's no complaint about that," Mrs. Owen assented. "And Morton's a ver_ntelligent man, too; you might even call him a student. I've been sorry tha_e didn't keep to the law; but he's a moneymaker, and he's in politics as _art of his business."
"I've wondered," said Professor Kelton, "just what he's aiming at. Most o_hese men are ambitious to go high. He's a state senator, but there's not muc_n that. He must see bigger game in the future. I don't know him myself; bu_rom what you hear of him he must be a man of force. Weak men don't dominat_olitical parties."
"This political game looks mighty queer to me," the admiral remarked. "I'v_ever voted in my life, but I guess I'll try it now they've put me on th_helf. Do you vote, Mr. Ware?"
"Oh, yes! I'm one of these sentimentalists who tries to vote for the best man.
Naturally no man I ever vote for is elected."
"If I voted I should want to see the man first," Mrs. Owen averred. "I shoul_sk him how much he expected to make out of the job."
"You'd be a tartar in politics, Sally," said the admiral. "The Governor tol_e the other day that when he hears that you're coming to the State House t_alk about the Woman's Reformatory,—or whatever it is you're trustee of,—h_rawls under the table. He says they were going to cut down the Reformatory'_ppropriation last winter, but that you went to the legislature and gave a_xample of lobbying that made the tough old railroad campaigners green wit_nvy."
"I reckon I did! I told the members of that committee that if they cut tha_ppropriation I'd go into their counties and spend every cent I've go_ighting 'em if they ever ran for office again. Joshua, fill the glasses."
Sylvia was anxious to know the rest of the story.
"I hope they gave you the money, Mrs. Owen," she said.
Did they give it to me? Why, child, they raised it twenty thousand dollars! _ad to hold 'em down. Then Morton Bassett pulled it through the senate for me.
I told him if he didn't I'd cut his acquaintance."
"There's Ed Thatcher, too, if we're restricted to the Democratic camp," th_inister was saying. "Thatcher has a fortune to use if he ever wants to tr_or something big in politics, which doesn't seem likely."
"He has a family that can spend his money," said Mrs. Martin. "What would h_ant with an office anyway? The governorship would bore him to death."
"It might tickle him to go to the senate, particularly if he had a score t_lean up in connection with it," remarked Ware.
"Just what do you mean by that?" asked the admiral.
"Well," Ware replied, "he and Bassett are as thick as thieves just now i_usiness operations. If some day it came about that they didn't get on s_ell,—if Bassett tried to drop him as they say he has sometimes dropped me_hen he didn't have any more use for them,—then Thatcher's sporting bloo_ight assert itself. I should be sorry for Bassett if that time came."
"Edward Thatcher knows a horse," interposed Mrs. Owen. "I like Edwar_hatcher."
"I've fished with Bassett," said the minister. "A good fisherman ought to mak_ good politician; there's a lot, I guess, in knowing just how to bait th_ook, or where to drop the fly, and how to play your fish. And Bassett is _an of surprising tastes. He's a book collector,—rare editions and fin_indings and that sort of thing."
"Is it possible! The newspapers that abuse him never mention those things, o_ourse," said Mrs. Martin.
A brief restraint fell upon the company, as they realized suddenly that the_ere discussing the husband of their hostess's niece, whom the oppositio_ress declared to be the most vicious character that had ever appeared in th_ublic life of the state. The minister had spoken well of him; the others di_ot know him, or spoke cautiously; and Mrs. Owen herself seemed, during Ware'_ast speech, to be a trifle restless. She addressed some irrelevant remark t_he admiral as they rose and adjourned to the long side veranda where the me_ighted cigars.
"I think I like this corner best," remarked Ware when the others had dispose_hemselves. "Miss Sylvia, won't you sit by me?" She watched his face as th_atch flamed to his cigar. It was deep-lined and rugged, with high chee_ones, that showed plainly when he shut his jaws. It occurred to Sylvia tha_ut for his mustache his face would have been almost typically Indian. She ha_een somewhere a photograph of a Sioux chief whose austere countenance wa_ery like the minister's. Ware did not fit into any of her preconceived idea_f the clerical office. Dr. Wandless, the retired president of Madiso_ollege, was a minister, and any one would have known it, for the fact wa_roclaimed by his dress and manner; he might, in the most casual meeting o_he campus, have raised his hands in benediction without doing anything at al_xtraordinary. Ware belonged to a strikingly different order, and Sylvia di_ot understand him. He had been a soldier; and Sylvia could not imagine Dr.
Wandless in a cavalry charge. Ware flung the match-stick away and settle_imself comfortably into his chair. The others were talking amongst themselve_f old times, and Sylvia experienced a sense of ease and security in th_inister's company.
"Those people across there are talking of the Hoosiers that used to be, an_bout the good folks who came into the wilderness and made Indiana _ommonwealth. I'm a pilgrim and a stranger comparatively speaking. I'm not _oosier; are you?"
"No, Mr. Ware; I was born in New York City."
"Ho! I might have known there was some sort of tie between us. I was born i_ew York myself—'way up in the Adirondack country. You've heard of Old Joh_rown? My father's farm was only an hour's march from Brown's place. I used t_ee the old man, and it wasn't my fault I wasn't mixed up in some of hi_crapes. Father caught me and took me home—didn't see any reason why I shoul_o off and get killed with a crazy man. Didn't know Brown was going to b_mmortal."
"There must have been a good many people that didn't know it," Sylvi_esponded.
She hoped that Ware would talk of himself and of the war; but in a moment hi_houghts took a new direction.
"Stars are fine to-night. It's a comfort to know they're up there all th_ime. Know Matthew Arnold's poems? He says 'With joy the stars perform thei_hining.' I like that. When I'm off camping the best fun of it is lying b_unning water at night and looking at the stars. Odd, though, I never knew th_ames of many of them; wouldn't know any if it weren't for the dippers,—no_ure of them as it is. There's the North Star over there. Suppose you_randfather knows 'em all."
"I think he does," replied Sylvia. "He still lectures about them sometimes."
"Wonder what that is, just across the farthest tip of that maple? It'_amiliar, but I can't name it."
"That," said Sylvia, "is Cassiopeia."
"So? How many constellations do you know?"
Sylvia was silent a moment. She was not sure that it was polite to disclos_er knowledge of the subject to a man who had just confessed his ignorance.
She decided that anything beyond the most modest admission would b_nbecoming.
"I know several, or I think I do. This is June. That's the North Star over th_oint of that tree, as you said, and above it is Ursa Minor, and winding i_nd out between it and the Big Dipper is Draco. Then to the east, higher up, are Cygnus, Lyra, and Aquila. And in the west—"
She paused, feeling that she had satisfied the amenities of conversation wit_his gentleman who had so frankly stated his lack of knowledge.
Ware struck his knee with his hand and chuckled.
"I should say you do know a few! You've mentioned some I've always wanted t_et acquainted with. Now go back to Cygnus, the Swan. I like the name of tha_ne; I must be sure to remember it."
Politeness certainly demanded that Sylvia should answer; and now that th_inister plied her with questions, her own interest was aroused, and she le_im back and forth across the starry lanes, describing in the most artles_ashion her own method of remembering the names and positions of th_onstellations. As their range of vision on the veranda was circumscribed, Ware suggested that they step down upon the lawn to get a wider sweep, a mov_hich attracted the attention of the others.
"Sylvia, be careful of the wet. Josephus just moved the sprinkler and tha_round is soaked."
"Don't call attention to our feet; our heads are in the stars," answered Ware.
"I must tell the Indian boys on the Nipigon about this," he said to Sylvia a_hey returned to the veranda. "I didn't know anybody knew as much as you do.
You make me ashamed of myself."
"You needn't be," laughed Sylvia. "Very likely most that I've told you i_rong. I'm glad grandfather didn't hear me."
The admiral and Professor Kelton were launched upon a fresh exchange o_eminiscences and the return of Ware and Sylvia did not disturb them. I_eemed, however, that Ware was a famous story-teller, and when he had lighte_ fresh cigar he recounted a number of adventures, speaking in his habitual, dry, matter-of-fact tone, and with curious unexpected turns of phrase.
Conversation in Indiana seems to drift into story-telling inevitably. Joh_are once read a paper before the Indianapolis Literary Club to prove tha_his Hoosier trait was derived from the South. He drew a species of ellipsoi_f which the Ohio River was the axis, sketching his line to include th_issouri of Mark Twain, the Illinois of Lincoln, the Indiana of Eggleston an_iley, and the Kentucky that so generously endowed these younge_ommonwealths. North of the Ohio the anecdotal genius diminished, he declared, as one moved toward the Great Lakes into a region where there had been a_nfusion of population from New England and the Middle States. He suggeste_hat the early pioneers, having few books and no newspapers, had cultivate_he art of story-telling for their own entertainment and that the soldier_eturning from the Civil War had developed it further. Having made this not_f his thesis I hasten to run away from it. Let others, prone to interminabl_ebate, tear it to pieces if they must. This kind of social intercourse, wit_ts intimate talk, the references to famous public characters, as though the_ere only human beings after all, the anecdotal interchange, was wholly nove_o Sylvia. She thought Ware's stories much droller than the admiral's, an_uite as good as her grandfather's, which was a great concession.
The minister was beginning a new story. He knocked the ashes from his ciga_nd threw out his arms with one of his odd, jerky gestures.
"There's a good deal of fun in living in the woods. Up in the Adirondack_here was a lot for the boys to do when I was a youngster. I liked winte_etter than summer; school was in winter, but when you had the fun of fightin_ig drifts to get to it you didn't mind getting licked after you got there.
The silence of night in the woods, when the snow is deep, the wind still, an_he moon at full, is the solemnest thing in the world. Not really of thi_orld, I guess. Sometimes you can hear a bough break under the weight of snow, with a report like a cannon. The only thing finer than winter is spring. _on't mean lilac time; but before that, the very earliest hint of the break- up. Used to seem that there was something wild in me that wanted to be on th_arch before there was a bud in sight. I'm a Northern animal some way; born i_ecember; always feel better in winter. I used to watch for the northwar_light of the game fowl—wanted to go with the birds. Too bad they're killin_hem all off. Wild geese are getting mighty scarce; geese always intereste_e. I once shot a gander in a Kankakee marsh that had an Eskimo arrow in it_reast. A friend of mine, distinguished ethnologist, verified that; said h_new the tribe that made arrows of that pattern. But I was going to say tha_ne night,—must have been when I was fourteen,—I had some fun with a bear … "
Sylvia did not hear the rest of the story. She had been sitting in the shado_f the porch, with her lips apart, listening, wondering, during this prelude.
Ware's references to the North woods had touched lightly some dim memory o_er own; somewhere she had seen moon-flooded, snowy woodlands where silenc_ay upon the world as soft as moonlight itself. The picture drawn by th_inister had been vivid enough; for a moment her own memory of a simila_inter landscape seemed equally clear; but she realized with impatience tha_t faded quickly and became dim and illusory, like a scene in an ill-lighte_teropticon. To-night she felt that a barrier lay between her and those year_f her life that antedated her coming to her grandfather's house by th_ollege. It troubled her, as such mirages of memory trouble all of us; bu_are finished his story, and amid the laughter that followed Mrs. Martin rose.
"Late hours, Sylvia," said Professor Kelton when they were alone. "It's nearl_leven o'clock and time to turn in."