“Yes; it was in the fall sometime. It’s pleasant to know that anything printed in a newspaper is ever remembered so long. Bassett is an interesting man all right enough.”
“It must be bully to meet men like that—the men who have a hand in the big things. I must get dad to introduce me. I suppose you know everybody!” he ended admiringly.
They retraced their steps through the silent house and down to the front door, continuing their talk. As Dan turned for their last words on the veranda steps he acted on an impulse and said:—
“Have supper with me to-morrow night—we won’t call it dinner—at the Whitcomb House. I’ll meet you in the lobby at six o’clock. The honorable state committee is in town and I’ll point out some of the moulders of our political destiny. They’re a joy to the eye, I can tell you!”
Allen’s eager acquiescence, his stumbling, murmured thanks, emphasized Dan’s sense of the forlorn life young Thatcher had described.
* * * * *
“So the old boy’s skipped, has he?” demanded the city editor. “Well, that’s one on us! Who put you on?”
“I kept at the bell until the door opened and then I saw Thatcher’s son. He told me.”
“Oh, the family idiot let you in, did he? Then there’s no telling whether it’s true or not. He’s nutty, that fellow. Didn’t know he was here.”
“I believe he told me the truth. His father’s on his way to New York.”
“Well, that sounds definite; but it doesn’t make any difference now. We’ve just had a tip to let the deal alone. For God’s sake, keep at the law, Harwood; this business is hell.” The city editor bit a fat cigar savagely. “You no sooner strike a good thing and work on it for two days than you butt into a dead wall. What? No; there’s nothing more for you to-night.”
DANIEL HARWOOD RECEIVES AN OFFER
A brief note from Morton Bassett, dated at Fraserville, reached Harwood in July. In five lines Bassett asked Dan to meet him at the Whitcomb House on a day and hour succinctly specified.
Harwood had long since exhausted the list of Hoosier statesmen selected for niches in the “Courier’s” pantheon. After his visit to Fraserville, he had met Bassett occasionally in the street or at the Whitcomb House; and several times he had caught a glimpse of him passing through the reception room of the law office into Mr. Fitch’s private room. On these occasions Dan was aware that Bassett’s presence caused a ripple of interest to run through the office. The students in the library generally turned from their books to speak of Bassett in low tones; and Mr. Wright, coming in from a journey on one of these occasions and anxious to see his partner forthwith, lifted his brow and said “Oh!” meaningfully when told that it was Morton Bassett who engaged the time of the junior member. Bassett’s name did not appear in the office records to Dan’s knowledge nor was he engaged in litigation. His conferences were always with Fitch alone, and they were sometimes of length.