“Ah, sometime,” he would say, “who knows!”
A HOUSE-BOAT ON THE KANKAKEE
Harwood’s faith in Bassett as a political prophet was badly shaken by the result of the campaign that fall. About half the Democratic candidates for state office were elected, but even more surprising was the rolling-up of a good working majority in both houses of the General Assembly. If Thatcher had knifed Bassett men or if Thatcher men had been knifed at Bassett’s behest, evidence of such perfidy was difficult to adduce from the returns. Harwood was not sure, as he studied the figures, whether his party’s surprising success was attributable to a development of real strength in Thatcher, who had been much in evidence throughout the campaign, or whether Bassett deserved the credit. He was disposed to think it only another expression of that capriciousness of the electorate which is often manifested in years when national success is not directly involved. While Thatcher and Bassett had apparently struck a truce and harmonized their factions, Harwood had at no time entertained illusions as to the real attitude of the men toward each other. When the entente between the leaders was mentioned among Thatcher’s intimates they were prone to declare that Ed would “get” Bassett; it might take time, but the day of retribution would surely come.
As a candidate for the lower house in Marion County, Harwood had been thrust forward prominently into a campaign whose liveliness belied the traditional apathy of “off” years. On the Saturday night before the election, Thatcher and Bassett had appeared together on the platform at a great meeting at the capital—one of those final flourishes by which county chairmen are prone to hearten their legions against the morrow’s battle. Bassett had spoken for ten minutes at this rally, urging support of the ticket and in crisp phrases giving the lie to reports of his lukewarmness. His speech was the more noteworthy from the fact that it was the first time, in all his political career, that he had ever spoken at a political meeting, and there was no questioning its favorable impression.
Bassett was, moreover, reelected to his old seat in the senate without difficulty; and Harwood ran ahead of his associates on the legislative ticket in Marion County, scoring a plurality that testified to his personal popularity. Another campaign must intervene before the United States Senatorship became an acute issue, and meanwhile the party in the state had not in many years been so united. Credit was freely given to the “Courier” for the formidable strength developed by the Democracy: and it had become indubitably a vigorous and conservative reflector of party opinion, without estranging a growing constituency of readers who liked its clean and orderly presentation of general news. The ownership of the newspaper had become, since the abrupt termination of the lawsuit instituted by Thatcher, almost as much of a mystery as formerly. Harwood’s intimate relations with it had not been revived, and neither Mrs. Owen nor Bassett ever spoke to him of the newspaper except in the most casual fashion.