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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

Now that Harwood was fully armed to protect her


Rose

watched him as he drew on his overcoat and she handed him his hat and gloves. Her friend, "the beautiful one," would not suffer; she was confident of this, now that Harwood was fully armed to protect her.

"Keep after Ramsay by telephone until you find him. Tell him to come here and wait for me if it's all day. If you fail to catch him by telephone, go out and look for him and bring him here."

In a moment he was hurrying toward Mrs. Owen's.

CHAPTER XXXIII

THE MAN OF SHADOWS

The dome was a great blot against the stars when, shortly after eight o'clock that evening, Sylvia entered the capitol.

All night, in the room she had occupied on that far day of her first visit to Mrs. Owen, Sylvia had pondered. It is not for us to know what passed in that still chamber between her and her friend; but it was the way of both women to meet the truth squarely. They discussed facts impersonally, dispassionately, and what Sylvia had assumed, her old friend could not controvert. Not what others had done, not what others might do, but what course Sylvia should follow--this was the crux of the situation.

"I must think it out; I must think it out," Sylvia kept repeating. At last Mrs. Owen left her lying dressed on the bed,

and all night Sylvia lay there in the dark. Toward morning she had slept, and later when Mrs. Owen carried up her breakfast she did not refer to her trouble except to ask whether there was any news. Mrs. Owen understood and replied that there was nothing. Sylvia merely answered and said: "Then there is still time." What she meant by this her kind old friend did not know; but she had faith in her Sylvia. Dan came, but he saw Mrs. Owen only. Later Sylvia asked what he had said, and she merely nodded when Rose's story was repeated. Again she said: "Yes; there is still time."

Sylvia had kept her room all day, and Mrs. Owen had rigidly respected her wish to be alone. She voluntarily appeared at the evening meal and talked of irrelevant things: of her school work, of the sale of the house at Montgomery, of the projected school at Waupegan.

"I'm going out for a while," she said, after an hour in the little office. "I shan't be gone long, Aunt Sally; don't trouble about me. I have my key, you know."

When she had gone, Mrs. Owen called one of the colored men from the stable and gave him a line to Harwood, with a list of places where Dan might be found. Her message was contained in a single line:--

"Sylvia has left the house. Keep an eye out for her; she told me nothing."

Sylvia found consolation and courage in the cold night air; her old friends the stars, whose names she had learned before she knew her letters, did not leave her comfortless. They had unconsciously contributed to her gift for seeing life in long vistas. "When you are looking at the stars," Professor Kelton used to say, "you are not thinking of yourself." It was not of herself that Sylvia was thinking.

She prolonged her walk, gathering strength as the exercise warmed her blood, planning what she meant to do, even repeating to herself phrases she meant to use. So it happened that Mrs. Owen's messenger had found Dan at the State House and delivered the note, and that Dan, called from a prolonged conference with Ramsay, saw Sylvia's unmistakable figure as she reached the top of the stairway, watched her making inquiries of a lounger, saw men staring at her. It crossed his mind that she was seeking him, and he started toward her; but she had stopped again to question one of the idlers in the hall. He saw her knock at a door and knew it was Bassett's room--a room that for years had been set apart for the private councils of the senator from Fraser. As Sylvia knocked, several men came out, as though the interruption had terminated an interview. The unveiled face of the tall, dark girl called for a second glance; it was an odd place for a pretty young woman to be seeking Morton Bassett. They looked at each other and grinned.


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