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Cymric Strain - Book 2

By Una Howell (USA - 1876-1949)

Chapter 2 - The Department of Music

Copyright Scott Dunbar 2010


Chapter 2

The Department of Music


The Department of Music was housed in the Woman’s Hall and was generally regarded as the unpopular step-child of the university. Mr Lutkin had assumed responsibility when it was in bad repute, and it was because of this previously-earned low rating that Mrs. Boker had detoured me to another school.

Mr Lutkin was a retiring man of Danish descent, characterful and far-seeing. He had had his training in Germany and, with precision, had proceeded to lift the scholastic demands of the school. Serious students were received with open arms and without fanfare. I was enrolled under Northwestern’s purple pennant. The Thanksgiving vacation was near and I was relieved to be safely anchored in school again. Bill could hardly wait to hear the news.

“Well, what’s the word?” he called as we approached.

“I’m enrolled already!” I replied.

“What did you think of Mr Lutkin?” he inquired, eager to hear details.

“He’s grand and I adore him,” I fairly shouted.

Several of the girls were standing at the foot of the porch with a couple of fellows and now they drew near to get the news. I was too gay for words. “I feel like running a race I’m so happy!” I fairly crowed.

Twelve year-old George Boker was coming down the street and, as he sauntered up the walk, Bill called out, “Here, George, is your chance to put a girl in her place. Una’s all set for a race. How about it?”

George was far from eager, but attention from older fellows was flattering.

“If you’re going to race, hurry about it. I’m cold,” one of the girls pled.

It was near suppertime and dusk was dropping a cold, gray chill over the earth. Trees were bare and the November sky was sombre. The thought that I was now a young lady or that my clothes might fly up and expose my garters never so much as occurred to me.

There were no sidewalks beyond our place on the north and the boys, Junior Black, Bill, and George Smith made the distance short because I was a girl. We toed the mark, Gil gave the signal, and we were off. George was longer-legged than I but he was never eager for exertion and my telephone system was quicker than his. That was not all, either. I could have won over longer legs than his that day. I was in high gear running from the accumulated unhappiness of weeks, and I won easily. Life was grand and I was set to get a lot out of it. Music had come back into its own again, joyous and clean. Who could ask for more?

Nowadays girls take such things in their stride, fortified with understanding. Things were different in my day. Innocence and ignorance were twin sisters.

The plunge into school again quickly erased memories of my bad-tasking episode at the private studio. Now Professor Lutkin deluged me with fascinating studies and I met other girls with similar interests. Recitals followed and each day was more exciting than the last. To Mother’s usual question, “How do you like your new teacher?” I was able to reply whole-heartedly, “I adore him,” and my reply brought satisfaction to us both.

The Kappas added dividends to many profits by inviting me to their rushing parties (we called them spreads) and, to my great delight, I soon wore a pledge pin. There were two other juniors, one of whom was in music school, and although daylight hours were crowded with practice and study, she and I found time to be together.

Margaret lived on the ridge in a big colonial house that had a ballroom on the top floor. Some of the Kappas most recherché parties were danced on its waxed floor. She also played the piano very well and was beautiful to behold, with fair skin and pansy eyes. More than for anything else, however, I was drawn to her by ties of sympathy because she was lame. Every time I looked at her I felt guilty that I had two strong flesh-and-blood legs. The family coachman usually brought her to school in the family carriage. At other times she drove herself in a tan Kensington and frequently I went along to exchange friendly gossip with her as the fat pony jogged his way to campus.


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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