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Journey into Unknown Territory


Journey into Unknown Territory
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grade 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.09

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    attention-hogging, egocentric, expend, fulsome, hypnotic, lapse, lugged, prattle, rebut, refrained, spoon-feeds, squalid, trance, unalloyed, tentative, jovial
     content words:    Lydia Martin, Virginia Reel, Charles Baggett, Then Mabel, Lance Fraser, Miss Martin, Gable Ranch


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Journey into Unknown Territory
By Brenda B. Covert
  

1     The rumble of the train had a nearly hypnotic effect on Lydia Martin. The fifteen-year-old passenger stared into space without seeing the beauty of the countryside that flew past the open window. The locomotive had carried her away from her family as well as the metropolitan society of Boston. Lydia was journeying into unknown territory, and it was all Mabel's fault.
 
2     She stole a glance at her egocentric cousin. Mabel, who at age eighteen made Lydia feel like an infant, was carrying on sociable conversation with a young man across the aisle from them. The fellow didn't say much. Lydia noted with disgust that he seemed to be hypnotized by Mabel's blonde curls and dazzling blue eyes.
 
3     How can he bear listening to her fulsome prattle about that silly dance where she met the governor of Massachusetts? When he gave Lydia a startled look, she wondered whether she had spoken her thought aloud. Then she realized that she had been scowling at him. Embarrassed, she turned to face the window and thought back to that fateful day when her summer plans were dashed on the rocks of Mabel's schemes.
 
4     Lydia had expected to spend her summer in the company of her friends. She had planned to expend a lot of energy riding horses and attending parties where everyone danced the Virginia Reel. Charles Baggett was to be her escort. She had imagined that he would pursue her hand in marriage. Then Mabel had gone and gotten herself invited to spend a few weeks on a horse ranch with its jovial owner, Mr. Lance Fraser, and his equally cheerful wife. However, a young lady should not travel alone. Her father couldn't afford to leave his business, and her mother had the younger children to tend. They called on the extended family to convene and discuss the possibilities. It was decided that Lydia would journey with Mabel as her companion, despite Lydia's protests of the assuredly squalid nature of the unseen horse ranch and the long trip's threat to her safety.
 
5     Mabel and Lydia arrived at their destination without mishap. Lydia regretted that she had not witnessed the expulsion of a drunk or a bandit during the lengthy ride. Such an incident would have been exciting. It would have also served to rebut her parents' claim that train travel was perfectly safe.
 
6     As the young women stood on the platform waiting for someone from the ranch to claim them, Mabel gazed expectantly at her young male acquaintance. He offered a tentative smile in return. "I wonder, Miss Martin," Jeremy began awkwardly, "whether I might call on you during your stay at the Gable Ranch."
 
7     Mabel beamed. Of course, she would welcome a visit from Jeremy. She told him that, though they had known each other for only a short time, she felt they had become good friends.
 
8     Lydia was relieved when their exchange was interrupted by a deep voice asking, "Are you ladies the cousins who are expected at the Gable Ranch?" She turned to address the speaker. She lifted her gaze to his face and, for the first time in her life, experienced the cessation of her pulse.

Paragraphs 9 to 23:
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