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0105_001E Wood-Magic Henry van Dyke

The White Canoe

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"Seven pounds if it's an ounce," said he. "This is my lucky day. Now all I need is some good meat to provision the camp."

He glanced down the river, and on the second point below the pool he saw a great black bullmoose with horns five feet wide.

Quietly, swiftly, the canoe went gliding down the stream; and ever as it crept along, the moose loped easily before it, from point to point, from bay to bay, past the little cabin, down the River of the Way Out, now rustling unseen through a bank of tall alders, now standing out for a moment bold and black on a beach of white sand--so all day long the moose loped down the stream and the white canoe followed. Just as the setting sun was poised above the trees, the great bull stopped and stood with head lifted. Luke pushed the canoe as near as he dared, and looked down for the rifle. He had left it at the cabin! The moose tossed his huge antlers, grunted, and stepped quietly over the bushes into the forest.

Luke paddled on down the stream. It occurred to him, suddenly, that it was near evening. He wondered a little how he should reach home in time for his engagement. But it did not seem strange, as he went swiftly on with the river, to see the first houses of the town, and the lumber-yards, and the schooners at the wharf.

He made the canoe fast at the dock, and went up the Main Street. There was the old shop, but the sign over it read, "Wilson and Woods Company, The Big Store." He went on to the house with the white iron images in the front yard. Diana was still returning from the chase. The fountain still squirted from the point of the little boy's parasol.

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On the veranda sat a stout man in a rocking chair, reading the newspaper. At the side of the house two little girls with pig-tails were playing croquet. Some one in the parlour was executing "After the Ball is Over" on a mechanical piano.

Luke accosted a stranger who passed him. "Excuse me, but can you tell me whether this is Mr. Matthew Wilson's house?"

"It used to be," said the stranger, "but old man Wilson has been dead these ten years."

"And who lives here now?" asked Luke.

"Mr. Woods: he married Wilson's daughter," said the stranger, and went on his way.

"Well," said Luke to himself, "this is just a little queer. Woods was my name for a while, when I lived here, but now, I suppose, I'm Luke Dubois again. Dashed if I can understand it. Somebody must have been dreaming."

So he went back to the white canoe, and paddled away up the river, and nobody in Scroll-Saw City ever set eyes on him again.

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The Blue Flower
Henry van Dyke

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