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Cymric Strain - Book 2

By Una Howell (USA - 1876-1949)

Chapter 15 - An Unprincipled Woman

Copyright Scott Dunbar 2010


Chapter 15

An Unprincipled Woman

October – warm and seductive one day, cool and bracing as rare wine the next – poured her rich dyes on town and countryside. And, as leaves danced crisply on sidewalks, our family morale wavering from grief arose and steadied under the pressure of work.

For several months Maynard’s credentials had been circulating through agencies and, almost without warning, he landed a post in a Chicago mail-order firm. At the same time Mary slid quietly into an Evanston kindergarten as an assistant and, true to his promise, Mr. Lutkin bequeathed to me all his juvenile pupils. Mother immediately assumed care of Lilly’s children and we all clicked into gear to the tune of David’s scarlet fever, a not too melodious accompaniment.

On a day before my wheels had fairly begun to turn, Dean Lutkin (we were a school now) asked me to follow him to his studio and as I pattered down the hall I wondered “What now, O fate?” I was not left in doubt. When he spoke, the director was in none too happy a mood. “Some of you young ladies have more than your share of gifts,” he said, to my puzzlement. “Mr. Hackett tells me that you have a promising voice. He wishes to offer you a scholarship available for which you will be expected, in return, to do studio accompanying.” He paused to get the effect of his disclosure. He must have seen how excited I was for he added, “I am almost sorry because effects are made with less work in singing and the temptation to do less work is strong, in other words to drift away from instrumental practice, and I cannot willingly let you give up the piano.”

“O, I wouldn’t think of such a thing,” I said and rushed home to tell Mama the good news. I had been furiously writing songs for years beginning with lullabies and now on the subject of unrequited love. Now I would be able to sing them.

I had my first lesson almost immediately and was likely to burst forth with “O, it’s summer in the country” or “C’mout, c’mout my dearest dear” without preamble.

For every success, however, there is an antidote. Once when I admired a man’s garden and the perfection of his cabbages and cauliflowers, he said, “For every plant that grows there is a special worm or insect whose business it is to destroy it.”

I certainly agreed with him, for already I had discovered a green-eyed creature snaking about in my presence, gnawing holes and seeking to do other disturbing damage.

My worm was the wife of a man connected with the university. For years she had been tireless in her efforts to undermine me. Finally it came to the attention of a friendly professor and he advised me to bring the issue to a head. Acting on his advice, I wrote her a note inquiring why she disliked me and telling her that I wanted her for my friend. With the missive I sent a gift and flowers.

For days it brought no response. Then her husband made an appointment for her to meet me. It was cancelled the next day without comment.

Two weeks later she came to my home and offered elaborate explanations that explained nothing. As she held forth I felt as if I had sat by and witnessed a soul in the process of shrivelling and when her squirming was over I knew that no affront she might offer in the future could hurt me. That particular worm had rendered itself impotent.

Mother had been almost angry at the note I had written. She thought I was all but inviting accusations from what she was pleased to call “An unprincipled woman.” She vehemently shared the lurid details with Dell Eberhart and Dell, always loyal to me, agreed.

Cymric Strain - Book 2, by Una Howell (USA - 1876-1949) Current


Chapter 1 - Evanston

Chapter 2 - The Department of Music
Chapter 3 - Northwestern University

Chapter 4 - Beaued

Chapter 5 - Late for the 1am Train!

Chapter 6 - A Visit from Home

Chapter 7 - Bill Declares Himself

Chapter 8 - Engaged to be Married
Chapter 9 - A Grand Piano for Me?

Chapter 10 - Apartment Life in Evanston

Chapter 11 - On the Train with a Pass

Chapter 12 - Eric’s Decline

Chapter 13 - The Organist

Chapter 14 - Lilly Dies

Chapter 15 - An Unprincipled Woman

Chapter 16 - Music Critic

Chapter 17 - A Rich Young Man

Chapter 18 - Helping the World

Chapter 19 - On a Bicycle Built for Two

Chapter 20 - Mendelssohn Concerto in E Major

Chapter 21 - The Meister Way

Chapter 22 - An Admirer

Chapter 23 - Gentlemen Callers

Chapter 24 - The Scotchman

Chapter 25 - Checking on Maynard

Chapter 26 - Rich Young Man - Not so Much

Chapter 27 - A Kind of Ending

Chapter 28 - Plans for a New Marriage

Chapter 29 - The Marriage

Chapter 30 - Honeymoon

Chapter 31 - Leaving for Elgin

Chapter 32 - Getting to Know Elgin -1901

Chapter 33 - Our First Mobile (Auto)

Chapter 34 - Life in Elgin

Chapter 35 - Preparing for Birth

Chapter 36 - Stillborn!

Chapter 37 - Live Leeches to Treat an Ear Ache

Chapter 38 - Winfield Illinois Sanatorium

Chapter 39 - Saugatuck

Chapter 40 - Friends and Family

Chapter 41 - Meeting George's Mother

Chapter 42 - Father Cook and David

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