“You still have Kentucky cooking, Sally,” remarked Professor Kelton, who had praised the corn bread.
“I do, Andrew,” replied the old lady; “everybody knows that the best things in Indiana came through Kentucky. That includes you and me!”
Prompted by Mrs. Owen’s friendly questioning, Sylvia found herself talking. She felt that she was talking more than Marian; but she was much less troubled by this than by Marian’s sophisticated manner of lifting her asparagus stalks with her fingers, while Sylvia resorted to the fork. But Sylvia comforted herself with the reflection that this was all in keeping with Marian Bassett’s general superiority. Marian conducted herself with the most mature air, and she made it quite necessary for Professor Kelton to defend the Navy against her assertion that the Army was much more useful to the country. The unhurried meal passed, and after they had returned to the drawing-room Marian left to meet her mother at the dressmaker’s and return with her to Fraserville.
“I hope to see you again,” said Marian, shaking hands with Sylvia.
“I hope so, too,” Sylvia replied.
A SMALL DINNER AT MRS. OWEN’S
Professor Kelton announced that he had not finished his errands in town, and begged 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 I should 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 appear gay her grandfather was not himself. She was quite sure that he had not expected to spend the afternoon downtown, and she wondered what was troubling him. The novelty of the drive, however, quickly won her to the best of spirits. Mrs. Owen appeared ready for this adventure with her tall figure wrapped 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-cochere the old coachman held the heads of two horses that were hitched to a smart road wagon. When her gloves had been adjusted, Mrs. Owen surveyed the horses critically.
“Lift Pete’s forefoot—the off one, Joe,” she commanded, stepping down into the asphalt court. “Um,—that’s just what I thought. That new blacksmith knows his business. That shoe’s on straight. That other man never did know anything. All right, Sylvia.”
Mrs. Owen explained as the trim sorrels stepped off smartly toward the north that they were Estabrook stock and that she had raised them herself on her Kentucky farm, which she declared Sylvia must visit some day. It was very pleasant to be driving in this way under a high blue sky, beside a woman whose ways and interests were so unusual. The spirited team held Mrs. Owen’s attention, but she never allowed the conversation to flag. Several times as they crossed car lines it seemed to Sylvia that they missed being struck only by perilously narrow margins. When they reached the creek they paused on the bridge to allow the sorrels to rest, and Mrs. Owen indicated with her whip the line of the new boulevard and recounted the history of the region.