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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 308 pages of information about The Ramrodders.

CHAPTER XVI

THE HANDS ARE DEALT

When Committeeman Wasgatt came into the room in tow of Harlan Thornton he found silence prevailing there.  It was silence that was marked by a little restraint.  The band outside was quiet now.  A human voice was bellowing.  It was Arba Spinney’s voice—­a voice without words.

Wasgatt, short, stout, habitually pop-eyed and nervous, clutched his papers in one hand and held his eyeglasses at arm’s-length in the other.

The others were in their chairs now, ranged about the sides of the room.  The General, alone, was standing near the table.  Wasgatt turned to him after a rapid scrutiny of the make-up of the party.

“I’d like to have the resolutions read,” remarked the General, quietly.

“Go ahead, Wasgatt,” commanded Presson; and the committeeman advanced to the table under the chandelier and began to read.

The preamble was after the usual stereotyped form; the first sections endorsed the cardinal principles of the party, and Mr. Wasgatt, getting into the spirit of the thing, began to deliver the rounded periods sonorously.  General Waymouth leaned slightly over the table, propping himself on the knuckles of his one hand.  The light flowed down upon his silvery hair, his features were set in the intentness of listening.

“’We view without favor the demagogic attempts to throttle enterprise, check the proper development of our State, lock up the natural resources away from the fostering hands of commerce and labor, thereby preventing the establishment of industries that will extend their beneficent influence to the workingman, dependent upon his daily wage.’”

“One moment, Wasgatt!” The General tapped a knuckle on the table, and the reader waited.

Waymouth turned his gaze full upon the Senator when he spoke.

“Gentlemen, understand me aright at the start.  I’m not here to try to dictate.  That would be presumptuous in me, for I am not yet your candidate.  To-morrow is not here.”

Wasgatt’s pop-eyes protruded still more.  He stared from man to man, and it became necessary for Thelismer Thornton to take one more into the secret.  He did it a bit ungraciously.  He had not expected the General to be so blunt and precipitate.  The candidate waited patiently until the brief explanation was concluded and Wasgatt had pledged fidelity.

“I want you fully to understand my spirit in this,” went on the General.  “We’ll be honest with each other; we know that the floor of a convention is not the place to discuss the platform frankly; I don’t want to wash our linen in public.  We’ll settle it now between ourselves.  That plank, there, comes out of the platform if you expect me to stand on it.”

The Senator, challenged by his eyes, spoke.

“You don’t take exceptions to honest efforts to develop our State, do you, General Waymouth?”

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