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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

And Sylvia turned round and knelt

"Who is Sylvia, what is she, That all the swains adore her?"

"_Who is Sylvia_?" Dan knew in that hour the answer of tears!

The song ceased. When Dan saw Sylvia's head lift, he silently took the paddle and impelled the canoe toward the red, white, and blue lanterns that defined Mrs. Owen's landing. They were within a hundred yards of the intervening green light of the Bassett dock when a brilliant meteor darted across the zenith, and Dan's exclamation broke the tension. Their eyes turned toward the heavens--Sylvia's still bright with tears, Dan knew, though he could not see her face.

"Poor lost star!" she murmured softly.

Dan was turning the canoe slightly to avoid the jutting shore that made a miniature harbor at the Bassett's when Sylvia uttered a low warning. Dan, instantly alert, gripped his paddle and waited. Some one had launched a canoe at the Bassett boathouse. There was a stealthiness in the performance that roused him to vigilance. He cautiously backed water and waited. A word or two spoken in a low tone reached Dan and Sylvia: two persons seemed to be embarking.

A canoe shot out suddenly from the dock, driven by a confident hand.

"It must be Marian; but there's some one with her," said Sylvia.

Dan had already settled

himself in the stern ready for a race.

"It's probably that idiot Allen," he growled. "We must follow them."

Away from the shore shadows the starlight was sufficient to confirm Dan's surmise as to the nature of this canoe flight. It was quite ten o'clock, and the lights in the Bassett house on the bluff above had been extinguished. It was at once clear to Dan that he must act promptly. Allen, dismayed by the complications that beset his love-affair, had proposed an elopement, and Marian had lent a willing ear.

"They're running away, Sylvia; we've got to head them off." He bent to his paddle vigorously. "They can't possibly get away."

But it was not in Marian's blood to be thwarted in her pursuit of adventure. She was past-mistress of the canoeist's difficult art, and her canoe flew on as though drawn away into the dark on unseen cords.

"You'd better lend a hand," said Dan, and Sylvia turned round and knelt, paddling Indian fashion. The canoe skimmed the water swiftly. It was in their thoughts that Marian and Allen must not land at Waupegan, where their intentions would be advertised to the world. The race must end before the dock was reached. At the end of a quarter of an hour Dan called to Sylvia to cease paddling.

"We've passed them; there's no doubt of that," he said, peering into the dark.

"Maybe they're just out for fun and have turned back," suggested Sylvia.

"I wish I could think so. More likely they're trying to throw us off. Let's check up for a moment and see if we hear them again."

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