BASSETT IS HIMSELF AGAIN
Harwood, nibbled his toast and winnowed the chaff of speculation from the grains of truth in this article. He had checked off the names of all the Bassett men in both houses of the assembly, and listed Thatcher’s supporters and the doubtful members. Bassett would undoubtedly make a strong showing in a caucus, but whether he would be able to command a majority remained to be seen. There were men among the doubtful who would be disposed to favor Thatcher because he had driven a wedge into the old Bassett stone wall. No one else had ever succeeded in imperiling the security of that impregnable stronghold. The thought of this made Harwood uncomfortable. It was unfortunate from every standpoint that the legislature should be called upon to choose a Senator without the usual time for preparation. Dan had already been struck by the general air of irresponsibility that prevailed among the legislators. Many of the members had looked upon the special session as a lark; they seemed to feel that their accountability to their constituents had ended with the regular session.
The “Courier,” Dan observed, printed an excellent biographical sketch of the dead Senator, and its news article on the Democratic opportunity was seemly and colorless. The state and federal statutes bearing upon the emergency were quoted in full, but the names of Bassett and Thatcher did not appear, nor were any possible successors to Ridgefield mentioned. Dan opened to the editorial page, and was not surprised to find the leading article a dignified eulogy of the dead Senator. Then his eye fastened upon an article so placed that it dominated the whole page. It was the old “Stop, Look, Listen!” editorial, reproduced with minute citation of the date of original publication.
Dan flinched as though a cupful of ice water had struck him in the face. Whatever scandalous knowledge touching Bassett’s public or private life Thatcher might possess, it was plain that Bassett was either ignorant of it or knew and did not fear exposure. In either event, the republication of the “Stop, Look, Listen!” article was an invitation to battle.
It was in no happy frame of mind that Harwood awaited the coming of Ramsay.
SYLVIA ASKS QUESTIONS
The Wares had asked Sylvia to dine with them on Friday evening a fortnight later, and Harwood was to call for her at the minister’s at nine o’clock. Sylvia went directly to the Wares’ from school, and on reaching the house learned that Mrs. Ware had not come home and that the minister was engaged with a caller in the parlor. Sylvia, who knew the ways of the house well, left her wraps in the hall and made herself comfortable in the study, that curious little room that was never free from the odor of pipe smoke, and where an old cavalry sabre hung above the desk upon which in old times many sermons had been written. A saddle, a fishing-rod, and a fowling-piece dwelt together harmoniously in one corner, and over the back of a chair hung a dilapidated corduroy coat.