Marian had suggested to her mother that they visit Mrs. Owen in town befor_ettling at Waupegan for the summer, and it was Marian's planning that mad_his excursion synchronize with the state convention. Mr. Bassett was no_onsulted in the matter; in fact, since his wife's return from Connecticut h_ad been unusually occupied, and almost constantly away from Fraserville. Mrs.
Bassett and her daughter arrived at the capital the day after Mrs. Owe_eached home from Wellesley with Sylvia, and the Bassetts listened perforce t_heir kinswoman's enthusiastic account of the commencement exercises. Mrs.
Owen had, it appeared, looked upon Smith and Mount Holyoke also on thi_astward flight, and these inspections, mentioned in the most casual manner, did not contribute to Mrs. Bassett's happiness.
Finding that her father was inaccessible by telephone, Marian summoned Harwoo_nd demanded tickets for the convention; she would make an occasion of it, an_rs. Owen and Sylvia should go with them. Mrs. Bassett and her family ha_lways enjoyed the freedom of Mrs. Owen's house; it was disheartening to fin_ylvia established in Delaware Street on like terms of intimacy. The ol_eartache over Marian's indifference to the call of higher education for wome_eturned with a new poignancy as Mrs. Bassett inspected Sylvia's diploma, a_roudly displayed by Mrs. Owen as though it marked the achievement of som_ear and dear member of the family. Sylvia's undeniable good looks, he_greeable manner, her ready talk, and the attention she received from he_lders, were well calculated to arm criticism in a prejudiced heart. On th_vening of their arrival Admiral and Mrs. Martin and the Reverend John War_ad called, and while Mrs. Bassett assured herself that these were, in _ense, visits of condolence upon Andrew Kelton's granddaughter, the trio, wh_ere persons of distinction, had seemed sincerely interested in Mrs. Owen'_rotégée. Mrs. Bassett was obliged to hear a lively dialogue between th_inister and Sylvia touching some memory of his first encounter with her abou_he stars. He brought her as a "commencement present" Bacon's "Essays." Peopl_istened to Sylvia; Sylvia had things to say! Even the gruff admiral paid he_eference. He demanded to know whether it was true that Sylvia had declined _osition at the Naval Observatory, which required the calculation of tides fo_he Nautical Almanac. Mrs. Bassett was annoyed that Sylvia had refused _osition that would have removed her from a proximity to Mrs. Owen that struc_er as replete with danger. And yet Mrs. Bassett was outwardly friendly, an_he privately counseled Marian, quite unnecessarily, to be "nice" to Sylvia.
On the same evening Mrs. Bassett was disagreeably impressed by Harwood'_bvious rubrication in Mrs. Owen's good books. It seemed darkly portentou_hat Dan was, at Mrs. Owen's instigation, managing Sylvia's business affairs; she must warn her husband against this employment of his secretary t_trengthen the ties between Mrs. Owen and this object of her benevolence.
Mrs. Bassett's presence at the convention did not pass unremarked by man_entlemen upon the floor, or by the newspapers.
"While the state chairman struggled to bring the delegates to order, Mis_arian Bassett, daughter of the Honorable Morton Bassett, of Fraser County, was a charming and vivacious figure in the balcony. At a moment when it seeme_hat the band would never cease from troubling the air with the strains of
'Dixie,' Miss Bassett tossed a carnation into the Marion County delegation.
The flower was deftly caught by Mr. Daniel Harwood, who wore it in hi_uttonhole throughout the strenuous events of the day."
This item was among the "Kodak Shots" subjoined to the "Advertiser's" accoun_f the convention. It was stated elsewhere in the same journal that "neve_efore had so many ladies attended a state convention as graced this occasion.
The wives of both Republican United States Senators and of many prominen_oliticians of both parties were present, their summer costumes giving to th_evere lines of the balcony a bright note of color." The "Capital," in it_inor notes of the day, remarked upon the perfect amity that prevailed amon_he wives and daughters of Republicans and Democrats. It noted also th_resence in Mrs. Bassett's party of her aunt, Mrs. Jackson Owen, and of Mrs.
Owen's guest, Miss Sylvia Garrison, a graduate of this year's class a_ellesley.
The experiences and sensations of a delegate to a large convention are quit_ifferent from those of a reporter at the press table, as Dan Harwoo_ealized; and it must be confessed that he was keyed to a proper pitch o_xcitement by the day's prospects. In spite of Bassett's promise that he nee_ot trouble to help elect himself a delegate, Harwood had been drawn sharpl_nto the preliminary skirmish at the primaries. He had thought it wise t_ultivate the acquaintance of the men who ruled his own county even though hi_ame had been written large upon the Bassett slate.
In the weeks that intervened between his interview with Harwood in the uppe_oom of the Whitcomb and the primaries, Bassett had quietly visited ever_ongressional district, holding conferences and perfecting his plans. "Neve_efore," said the "Advertiser," "had Morton Bassett's pernicious activity bee_o marked." The belief had grown that the senator from Fraser was in imminen_eril; in the Republican camp it was thought that while Thatcher might no_ontrol the convention he would prove himself strong enough to shake the fait_f many of Bassett's followers in the power of their chief. There had been, apparently, a hot contest at the primaries. In the northern part of the state, in a region long recognized as Bassett's stronghold, Thatcher had won easily; at the capital the contestants had broken even, a result attributable t_hatcher's residence in the county. The word had passed among the faithfu_hat Thatcher money was plentiful, and that it was not only available in thi_reliminary skirmish, but that those who attached themselves to Thatcher earl_ere to enjoy his bounty throughout his campaign—which might be protracted—fo_he senatorship. Bassett was not scattering largess; it was whispered that th_oney he had used previously in politics had come out of Thatcher's pocket an_hat he would have less to spend in future.
Bassett, in keeping with his forecast to Harwood, had made a point of havin_any new men, whose faces were unfamiliar in state conventions, chosen at th_rimaries he controlled, so that in a superficial view of the convention th_omplexion of a considerable body of the delegates was neutral. Here and ther_mong the delegations sat men who knew precisely Bassett's plans and wishes.
The day following the primaries, Bassett, closeted with Harwood in his room a_he Boordman Building, had run the point of a walking-stick across ever_ounty in the state, reciting from memory just how many delegates h_bsolutely controlled, those he could get easily if he should by any chanc_eed them, and the number of undoubted Thatcher men there were to reckon with.
In Dan's own mingling with the crowd at the Whitcomb the night before th_onvention he had learned nothing to shake his faith in Bassett'_alculations.
The Honorable Isaac Pettit, of Fraser, was one of the most noteworthy figure_n the floor. Had he not thrown off the Bassett yoke and trampled the lord o_raser County underfoot? Did not the opposition press applaud the editor fo_o courageously wresting from the despicable chieftain the control of a count_ong inured to slavery? Verily, the Honorable Isaac had done much to encourag_elief in the guileless that such were the facts. Even the "Courier" prove_ts sturdy independence by printing the result of the primary withou_xtenuation or aught set down in malice. The Honorable Isaac Petti_ndoubtedly believed in himself as the savior of Fraser. He had personally le_he fight in the Fraser County primaries and had vanquished Bassett! "Basset_ad fought gamely," the Republican organ averred, to make more glorious th_onorable Isaac's victory. It was almost inconceivable, they said, tha_assett, who had dominated his party for years, should not be able to elec_imself a delegate to a state convention.
In a statement printed in the "Courier," Bassett had accepted defeat in _ommendable spirit of resignation. He and Atwill had framed that statement _eek before the primaries, and Miss Rose Farrell had copied at least a doze_rafts before Bassett's critical sense was satisfied. Harwood was increasingl_mused by the manifestations of Bassett's ironic humor. "I have never yet,"
ran the statement, "placed my own ambitions before the wishes of my party; an_f, when the Democrats of Fraser County meet to choose a candidate for stat_enator, they are not disposed to renominate me for a seat which I have hel_or twelve years, I shall gladly resign to another and give my loyal suppor_o the candidate of their choice." It was whispered that the Honorable Isaa_ettit would himself be a candidate for the nomination. The chattel mortgag_crolls in the office of the recorder of Fraser County indicated that hi_rinting-press no longer owed allegiance to the Honorable Morton Bassett.
Thatcher had treated Pettit generously, taking his unsecured note for th_mount advanced to cleanse the "Fraser County Democrat" of the taint o_assettism.
As they gathered in the convention hall many of the delegates were unable t_djust themselves to the fact that Bassett had not only failed of election a_elegate from his own county, but that he was not even present as a spectato_f the convention. The scene was set, the curtain had risen, but Hamlet cam_ot to the platform before the castle. Many men sought Harwood and inquired i_wed whispers as to Bassett's whereabouts, but he gave evasive answers. H_new, however, that Bassett had taken an early morning train for Waupegan, accompanied by Fitch, their purpose being to discuss in peace and quiet th_egal proceeding begun to gain control of the "Courier." The few tried an_rusted Bassett men who knew exactly Bassett's plans for the conventio_istened in silence to the hubbub occasioned by their chief's absence; silenc_as a distinguishing trait of Bassett's lieutenants. Among the uninitiate_here were those who fondly believed that Bassett was killed, not scotched, and they said among themselves that the party and the state were well rid o_im. Thatcher was to be reckoned with, but he was no worse than Bassett: wit_uch cogitations they comforted themselves amid the noise and confusion. Th_ld Bassett superstition held, however, with many: this was only another o_he Boss's deep-laid schemes, and he would show his hand in due season an_rove himself, as usual, master of the situation. Others imagined that Basset_as sulking, and these were not anxious to be the target of his wrath when h_hose to emerge from his tent in full armor.
A young woman reporter, traversing the galleries to note the names and gown_f the ladies present, sought Mrs. Bassett for information as to her husband'_hereabouts. When Mrs. Bassett hesitated discreetly, Marian rose promptly t_he occasion:—
"Papa's gone fishing," she replied suavely.
This was not slow to reach the floor. "Papa's gone fishing" gained wid_urrency as the answer to the most interesting question of the day.
The Honorable Isaac Pettit, seated majestically with the Fraser Count_elegation, tested the acoustics of the hall at the first opportunity. Whil_he chairman of the state central committee was endeavoring to present as th_emporary chairman of the convention a patriot known as the "War Eagle of th_abash," the gentleman from Fraser insisted upon recognition.
"Who is that preposterous fat man?" demanded Mrs. Owen, plying her palm-lea_an vigorously.
"That's Mr. Pettit, from our town," said Mrs. Bassett. "He's an editor an_ecturer."
"He's the man that defeated papa in our primaries," added Marian cheerfully.
"He's awfully funny, everybody says, and I suppose his defeating papa was _oke. He's going to say something funny now."
"He doesn't need to," said Sylvia, not the least interested of the spectators.
"They are laughing before he begins."
The chairman of the state committee feigned not to hear or see the delegat_rom Fraser, but Mr. Pettit continued to importune the chair amid muc_aughter and confusion. The chairman had hardened his heart, but the voice o_he gentleman from Fraser alone rose above the tumult, and in a moment o_omparative calm he addressed the chair unrecognized and unpermitted.
"I beg to call your attention, sir, to the presence in the gallery of many o_he fair daughters of the old Hoosier State. (Applause.) They hover above u_ike guardian angels. They have come in the spirit that brought their sister_f old to watch true knights battle in the tourney. As a mark of respect t_hese ladies who do us so much honor, I ask the chair to request gentlemen t_esist from smoking, and that the sergeant-at-arms be ordered to enforce th_ule throughout our deliberations." (Long-continued applause.)
The state chairman was annoyed and showed his annoyance. He had been about t_ngratiate himself with the ladies by making this request unprompted; he mad_t now, but the gentleman from Fraser sat down conscious that the renewe_pplause was his.
"Why don't they keep on smoking?" asked Mrs. Owen. "The hall couldn't be an_uller of smoke than it is now."
"If they would all put on their coats the room would be more beautiful," sai_arian. "They always say the Republicans are much more gentlemanly than th_emocrats."
"Hush, Marian; some one might hear you," Mrs. Bassett cautioned.
She did not understand her husband's absence; he rarely or never took her int_is confidence in political matters. She had not known until that morning tha_e was not to be present at the convention. She did not relish the idea tha_e had been defeated in the primaries; in her mind defeat was inseparable fro_ishonor. The "War Eagle of the Wabash" was in excellent voice and he spok_or thirty minutes; his speech would have aroused greater enthusiasm if it ha_ot been heard in many previous state conventions and on the hustings throug_any campaigns. Dan Voorhees had once expressed his admiration of that speech; and it was said that Tom Hendricks had revised the original manuscript th_ear he was chosen Vice-President. It was a safe speech, containing nothin_hat any good American might not applaud; it named practically ever_emocratic President except the twenty-second and twenty-fourth, whom i_eemed the better part of valor just then to ignore. With slight emendation_hat same oration served admirably for high-school commencements, and it had _ecognized cash value on the Chautauqua circuit. The peroration, closing with
"Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!" was well calculated to bring strong me_o their feet. The only complaint the War Eagle might have lodged against th_hip of State (in some imaginable admiralty court having jurisdiction of tha_arnacled old frigate) would have been for its oft-repeated rejection of hi_wn piloting.
The permanent chairman now disclosed was a man of business, who thanked th_onvention briefly and went to work. By the time the committee on resolution_ad presented the platform (on which Bassett and Harwood had collaborated) th_onvention enjoyed its first sensation as Thatcher appeared, moving slowl_own the crowded main aisle to join the delegation of his county. His friend_ad planned a demonstration for his entrance, and in calling it an ovation th_ewspapers hardly magnified its apparent spontaneity and volume. The man wh_ad undertaken the herculean task of driving Morton Bassett out of politic_as entitled to consideration, and his appearance undoubtedly interrupted th_usiness of the convention for fully five minutes. Thatcher bowed and wave_is hand as he sat down. The cordiality of his reception both pleased an_mbarrassed him. He fanned himself with his hat and feigned indifference t_he admiration of his countrymen.
"Papa always gets more applause than that," Marian remarked to Sylvia. "I wa_t the state convention two years ago and father came in late, just as Mr.
Thatcher did. They always come in late after all the stupid speeches have bee_ade; they're surer to stir up a big rumpus that way."
Sylvia gave serious heed to these transactions of history. Her knowledge o_olitics was largely derived from lectures she had heard at college and from _iligent reading of newspapers. The report of the committee on resolutions—_uccinct document to each of whose paragraphs the delegates rose in storm_pproval—had just been read.
"I don't see how you can listen to such stuff," said Marian during a lull i_he shouting. "It's only the platform and they don't mean a word of it.
There's Colonel Ramsay, of Aurora,—the man with white hair who has just com_n the stage. He had dinner at our house once and he's perfectly lovely. He'_ beautiful speaker, but they won't let him speak any more because he was _old bug—whatever that is. They say Colonel Ramsay has stopped gold-buggin_ow and wants to be governor. Sylvia, all these men that don't want to b_nited States Senator want to be governor. Isn't it funny? I don't see wh_ilver money isn't just as good as any other kind, do you?"
"They told me at college," said Sylvia, "but it's rather complicated. Wh_idn't your father come to the convention even if he wasn't a delegate? H_ould have sat in the gallery; I suppose a lot of those men down there are no_eally delegates."
"Oh, that wouldn't be papa's way of doing things. I wish he had come, just o_ama's account; she takes everything so hard. If papa ever did half th_aughty things they say he does he'd be in the penitentiary good and tight. _hould like to marry a public man; if I trusted a man enough to marry him _houldn't be jarred a bit by what the newspapers said of him. I like politics; I don't know what it's all about, but I think the men are ever s_nteresting."
"I think so too," said Sylvia; "only I don't understand why they make so muc_oise and do so little. That platform they read a little bit ago seeme_plendid. I read a lot of political platforms once in college—they were par_f the course—and that was the best one I ever heard. It declared for law_gainst child labor, and I'm interested in that; and for juvenile courts and _ot of the new enlightened things. It was all fine."
"Do you think so? It sounded just like a trombone solo to me. Mr. Harwood wa_n that committee. Didn't you hear his name read? He's one of these high brow_n politics, and father's going to push him forward so he can accomplish th_oble things that interest him. Father told me Mr. Harwood would be a delegat_o the convention. That's the reason I wanted to come. I hope he will make _peech; they say he's one of the best of the younger men. I heard him at th_pera House at Fraserville in the last campaign and he kept me awake, I ca_ell you. And funny! You wouldn't think he could be funny."
"Oh, I can see that he has humor—the lines around his mouth show that."
They had discussed the convention and its possibilities at Mrs. Owen'_reakfast table and with the morning newspapers as their texts. Sylvia ha_ained the impression that Bassett had met a serious defeat in the choice o_elegates, and she had been conscious that Mrs. Bassett was distressed by th_ewspaper accounts of it. Marian bubbled on elucidatively, answering all o_ylvia's questions.
"Don't you think that because papa isn't here he won't be heard from; I thin_ know papa better than that. He didn't think this convention would amount t_nough for him to trouble with it. I told Aunt Sally not to talk much befor_other about papa and politics; you will notice that Aunt Sally turned th_ubject several times this morning. That lawsuit Mr. Thatcher brought agains_apa and Aunt Sally made her pretty hot, but papa will fix that up all right.
Papa always fixes up everything," she concluded admiringly.
It was in Sylvia's mind that she was witnessing a scene of the national dram_nd that these men beneath her in the noisy hall were engaged upon matter_ore or less remotely related to the business of self-government. She ha_erived at college a fair idea of the questions of the day, but th_arliamentary mechanism and the thunder of the captains and the shouting gav_o politics a new, concrete expression. These delegates, drawn from al_ccupations and conditions of life, were citizens of a republic, endeavorin_o put into tangible form their ideas and preferences; and similar assemblie_ad, she knew, for years been meeting in every American commonwealth, enactin_ust such scenes as those that were passing under her eyes. Her gravity amuse_rs. Owen.
"Don't you worry, Sylvia; they are all kind to their families and most of 'e_arn an honest living. I've attended lots of conventions of all parties an_hey're all about alike: there are more standing collars in a Republica_onvention and more whiskers when the Prohibitionists get together, bu_hey're all mostly corn-fed and human. A few fellows with brains in thei_eads run all the rest."
"Look, Marian, Mr. Harwood seems to be getting ready to do something," sai_ylvia. "I wonder what that paper is he has in his hand. He's been holding i_ll morning."
Harwood sat immediately under them. Several times men had passed notes to him, whereupon he had risen and searched out the writer to give his answer with _od or shake of the head. When Thatcher appeared, Dan had waited for th_ubbub to subside and then he left his seat to shake hands with Bassett'_uondam ally. He held meanwhile a bit of notepaper the size of his hand, an_crutinized it carefully from time to time. It contained the precise programm_f the convention as arranged by Bassett. Morton Bassett was on a train boun_or the pastoral shades of Waupegan a hundred miles away, but the permanen_hairman had in his vest pocket a copy of Bassett's scheme of exercises; eve_hatcher's rapturous greeting had been ordered by Bassett. There had alread_een one slight slip; the eagerness of the delegates to proceed to th_election of the state ticket had sent matters forward for a moment beyond th_hairman's control. A delegate with a weak voice had gained recognition fo_he laudable purpose of suggesting a limitation upon nominating speeches; th_ermanent chairman had mistaken him for another gentleman for whom he wa_repared, and he hastened to correct his blunder. He seized the gavel an_egan pounding vigorously and the man with the weak voice never again caugh_is eye.
In the middle of the hall a delegate now drew attention to himself by risin_pon a chair; he held a piece of paper in his hand and waved it; and th_hairman promptly took cognizance of him. The chairman referred to him as th_entleman from Pulaski, but he might have been the gentleman from Vallombros_or all that any one cared. The convention was annoyed that a gentleman fro_ulaski County should have dared to flourish manuscript when there wer_nnumerable orators present fully prepared to speak extempore on any subject.
For all that any one knew the gentleman from Pulaski might be primed with _peech on the chinch bug or the Jewish kritarchy; a man with a sheet of pape_n his hand was a formidable person, if not indeed a foe of mankind, and h_as certainly not to be countenaced or encouraged in a hot hall on a day o_une. Yet all other human beings save the gentleman from Pulaski were a_othing, it seemed, to the chairman. The Tallest Delegate, around whose lea_orm a frock coat hung like a fold of night, and who flung back from a whit_row an immense quantity of raven hair, sought to relieve the convention o_he sight and sound of the person from Pulaski. The Tallest Delegate wa_alled smartly to order; he rebelled, but when threatened with the sergeant- at-arms subsided amid jeers. The gentleman from Pulaski was indulged to th_ullest extent by the chairman, to whom it had occurred suddenly that th_isles must be cleared. The aisles were cleared and delegates were obliged t_ind their seats before the unknown gentleman from Pulaski was allowed t_roceed. Even the War Eagle had received no such consideration. The gentlema_rom Pulaski calmly waited for a completer silence than the day had known. Te_en in the hall knew what was coming—not more; Miss Rose Farrell had typed te_opies of the memorandum which Harwood held in his hand!
The gentleman from Pulaski did not after all refer to his manuscript; he spok_n a high, penetrating voice that reached the farthest corner of the hall, reciting from memory:—
"Be it resolved by this convention that, whereas two years hence it will b_he privilege and duty of the Indiana Democracy to elect a United State_enator to fill the seat now occupied by a Republican, we, the delegates her_ssembled, do hereby pledge the party's support for the office of Senator i_ongress to the Honorable Edward G. Thatcher, of Marion County."
There was a moment's awed calm before the storm broke; Thatcher rose in hi_eat to look at the strange gentleman from Pulaski who had thus flung his nam_nto the arena. Thatcher men rose and clamored blindly for recognition, without the faintest idea of what they should do if haply the cold eye of th_hairman fell upon them. The galleries joined in the uproar; the band began t_lay "On the Banks of the Wabash" and was with difficulty stopped; a fe_oices cried "Bassett," but cries of "Thatcher" rose in a mighty roar an_rowned them. The chairman hammered monotonously for order; Mr. Daniel Harwoo_ight have been seen to thrust his memorandum into his trousers pocket; h_ent forward in his seat with his eye upon the chairman. The Honorable Isaa_ettit had been for a moment nonplussed; he was unacquainted with th_entleman from Pulaski, nor had he known that an effort was to be made t_ommit the convention to Thatcher's candidacy; still the tone of th_esolution was friendly. Thatcher, rising to his feet, was noisily cheered; his face was red and his manner betokened anger; but after glancing helplessl_ver the hall he sank into his seat. The chairman thumped with his gavel; i_eemed for a moment that he had lost control of the convention; and now th_onorable Isaac Pettit was observed demanding to be heard. The chairman lifte_is hand and the noise died away. It lay in his power to ignore the resolutio_holly or to rule it out of order; the chairman was apparently in no haste t_o anything.
"Good old Uncle Ike," howled some one encouragingly, and there was laughte_nd applause. With superb dignity Mr. Pettit appealed for silence wit_estures that expressed self-depreciation, humility, and latent power in on_ho would, in due course, explain everything. A group of delegates in the rea_egan chanting stridently, "Order! Order!" and it was flung back antiphonall_rom a dozen other delegations.
Mr. Harwood became active and climbed upon his chair. Gentlemen in every par_f the hall seemed at once anxious to speak, but the chairman was apparentl_blivious of all but the delegate from Marion. The delegate from Marion, lik_he mysterious person from Pulaski, was a stranger to state conventions. Th_adies were at once interested in the young gentleman with the red carnatio_n his buttonhole—a trim young fellow, in a blue serge suit, with a blue four- in-hand knotted under a white winged collar. As he waited with his eye on th_hairman he put his hand to his head and smoothed his hair.
"Is Daniel going to speak?" asked Mrs. Owen. "He ought to have asked me i_e's going to back Edward Thatcher for Senator."
"I always think his cowlick's so funny. He's certainly the cool one," sai_arian.
"I don't know what they're talking about a Senator for," said Mrs. Bassett.
"It's very unusual. If I'd known they were going to talk about that _houldn't have come. There's sure to be a row."
The chairman seemed anxious that the delegate from Marion should be honore_ith the same close attention that had been secured for the stranger fro_ulaski.
"I hope he'll wait till they all sit down," said Sylvia; "I want to hear hi_peak."
"You'll hear him, all right," said Marian. "You know at Yale they called him
'Foghorn' Harwood, and they put him in front to lead the cheering at all th_ig games."
Apparently something was expected of Mr. Harwood of Marion. Thatcher had lef_is seat and was moving toward the corridors to find his lieutenants. Half _ozen men accosted him as he moved through the aisle, but he shook them of_ngrily. An effort to start another demonstration in his honor was not wholl_ruitless. It resulted at least in a good deal of confusion of which the chai_as briefly tolerant; then he resumed his pounding, while Harwood stoo_tubbornly on his chair.
The Tallest Delegate, known to be a recent convert to Thatcher, was thoroughl_roused, and advanced toward the platform shouting; but the chairman levele_is gavel at him and bade him sit down. The moment was critical; the veries_yro felt the storm-spirit brooding over the hall.
The voice of the chairman was now audible.
"The chair recognizes the delegate from Marion."
"Out of order! What's his name!" howled many voices.
The chairman graciously availed himself of the opportunity to announce th_ame of the gentleman he had recognized.
"Mr. Harwood, of Marion, has the floor. The convention will be in order. Th_entleman will proceed."
"Mr. Chairman, I rise to a point of order."
Dan's voice rose sonorously; the convention was relieved to find that th_entleman in blue serge could be heard; he was audible even to Mr. Thatcher'_xcited counsellors in the corridors.
"The delegate will kindly state his point of order."
The chairman was quietly courteous. His right hand rested on his gavel, h_hrust his left into the side pocket of his long alpaca coat. He was an ol_nd tried hand in the chair, and his own deep absorption in the remarks of Mr.
Harwood communicated itself to the delegates.
Dan uttered rapidly the speech he had committed to memory for this occasion _eek earlier. Every sentence had been carefully pondered; both Bassett an_twill had blue penciled it until it expressed concisely and pointedly exactl_hat Bassett wished to be said at this point in the convention's proceedings.
Interruptions, of applause or derision, were to be reckoned with; but th_peaker did not once drop his voice or pause long enough for any one to driv_n a wedge of protest. He might have been swamped by an uprising of the whol_onvention, but strange to say the convention was intent upon hearing him.
Once the horde of candidates and distinguished visitors on the platform ha_een won to attention, Harwood turned slowly until he faced the greater crow_ehind him. Several times he lifted his right hand and struck out with it, shaking his head with the vigor of his utterance. ("His voice," said the
"Advertiser's" report, "rumbles and bangs like a bowling-alley on Saturda_ight. There was a big bump every time a sentence rumbled down the hall an_truck the rear wall of the building.")
"Sir, I make the obvious point of order that there are no vacancies to fill i_he office of United States Senator, and that it does not lie within th_rovince of the delegates chosen to this convention to pledge the party to an_an. I do not question the motive of the delegate from Pulaski County, who i_y personal friend; and I am animated by no feelings of animosity in demandin_hat the convention proceed to the discharge of its obligations withou_ouching upon matters clearly beyond its powers. I confidently hope an_incerely believe that our party in Indiana is soon to receive a ne_ommission of trust and confidence from the people of the old Hoosier State.
But our immediate business is the choice of a ticket behind which the Hoosie_emocracy will move on to victory in November like an army with banners.
(Cheers.) There have been intimations in the camp of our enemy that the part_s threatened with schism and menaced by factional wars; but I declare m_onviction that the party is more harmonious and more truly devoted to hig_deals to-day than at any time since the grand old name of Democrat becam_otent upon Hoosier soil. And what have we to do with leaders? Men come an_en go, but principles alone are eternal and live forever. The great task o_ur party must be to bring the government back to the people. (Scatterin_pplause.) But the choice of an invulnerable state ticket at this conventio_s our business and our only business. As for Indiana's two seats in th_ational Senate which we shall soon wrest from our adversaries, in due seaso_e shall fill them with tried men and true. Sir, let us remember tha_hosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. Stop, Look, Listen!"
Hardly a man in the hall so dull that this did not penetrate! Dan had given t_is last words a weird, mournful intonation whose effect was startling. H_umped lightly to the floor and was in his seat before the deep boom of hi_oice had ceased reverberating. Then instantly it seemed that the seventee_undred delegates had been multiplied by ten, and that every man had become _aving lunatic. This was Bassett's defiance—Bassett, who had gone fishing, bu_ot before planting this mine for the confusion of Thatcher. A hundred men wh_ad already committed themselves to Thatcher sought to rescue their ne_eader; they rose upon chairs and demanded to be heard. "Stop, Look, Listen"
had suggested the idea of a locomotive bearing down upon a dangerous crossing, and Bassett's men began to whistle. The whistling increased in volume until i_rowned the shouts, the cheers, and the laughter. Ladies in the gallerie_topped their ears while the whistling convention earned its name. It no_ccurred to the chairman, who had wasted no energy in futile efforts to sta_he storm, that he had a duty to perform. Even to his practiced hand th_estoration of order was not easy; but by dint of much bawling and pounding h_ubdued the uproar. Then after impressive deliberation he said:—
"A point of order has been raised against the resolution offered by th_entleman from Pulaski. It is the ruling of the chair that the point is wel_aken. The resolution is out of order."
This was greeted with great applause; but the chair checked it promptly. Th_en gentlemen who had copies of the Bassett programme in their pockets wer_ot surprised by the decision. Thatcher stood at a side door and two of hi_en were pushing their way through the aisles to reach Pettit; for th_onorable Isaac Pettit was on his feet demanding recognition while Thatcher'_elegates shouted to him to sit down; humiliation must go no farther, and i_he Fraser County editor did not realize that his new chief was the victim o_ vile trick, the gentleman from Fraser must be throttled, if necessary, t_revent a further affront to Thatcher's dignity. Thatcher was purple wit_age; it was enough to have been made the plaything of an unscrupulous enem_nce, without having one's ambitions repeatedly kicked up and down _onvention hall.
The chairman, fully rehearsed in his part, showed a malevolent disposition t_ontinue toward the friends of Thatcher an attitude at once benevolent an_ust. So many were demanding recognition amid cat-calling and whistling tha_he fairest and least partial of presiding officers might well have hesitate_efore singling out one gentleman when so many were eagerly, even furiously, desirous of enlightening the convention. But the presiding officer was obeyin_he orders communicated to him by a gentleman who was even at this momen_kimming across the cool waters of Lake Waupegan. It would more fully hav_atisfied the chairman's sense of humor to have recognized the Honorable Isaa_ettit and have suffered an appeal from the ruling of the chair, whic_resumably the editor wished to demand. By this means the weakness of Thatche_ight have expressed itself in figures that would have deepened Thatcher'_basement in the eyes of his fellow partisans; but this idea had bee_iscussed with Bassett, who had sharply vetoed it, and the chairman was not _an lightly to disobey orders even to make a Hoosier holiday. He failed to se_he editor of the "Fraser County Democrat" and peremptorily closed th_ncident. There was no mistaking his temper as he announced:—
"The chair announces that the next business in order is the call of the rol_f counties for nominations for the office of secretary of state. What is th_leasure of the convention?"
Colonel Ramsay had repaired to the gallery to enjoy the proceedings with Mrs.
Bassett's party. In spite of his support of the Palmer and Buckner ticket (ho_ong ago that seems!), the Colonel had never lost touch with the main body o_is party, and he carried several Indiana counties in his pocket. Hi_elations with Bassett had never been in the least intimate, though alway_utwardly cordial, and there were those who looked to him to eliminate th_raser County chief from politics. He was quite as rich as Bassett, and _uccessful lawyer, who had become a colonel by grace of a staff appointment i_he Spanish War. He had a weakness for the poets, and his speeches wer_nformed with that grace and sentiment which, we are fond of saying, i_eculiar to Southern oratory. The Colonel, at all fitting occasions in ou_ommonwealth, responded to "the ladies" in tender and moving phrases. He was _achelor, and the ladies in the gallery saw in him their true champion.
"Please tell _us_ —we don't understand a bit of it," pleaded Marian—"what it'_ll about, Colonel Ramsay."
"Oh, it's just a little joke of your father's; nothing funnier ever happene_n a state convention." Colonel Ramsay grinned. "The key to the situation i_ight there: that Pulaski County delegate offered his resolution just to mak_rouble; it was a fake resolution. Of course the chairman is in the joke. Thi_oung fellow down here—yes, Harwood—made his speech to add to the gayety o_ations. He had no right to make it, of course, but the word had been passe_long the line to let him go through. Amazing vocal powers, that boy,—yo_ouldn't have stopped him!"
Sylvia was aware that Colonel Ramsay's explanation had not pleased Mrs.
Bassett; but Mrs. Owen evinced no feeling. Marian was enjoying Colone_amsay's praise of her father's adroitness. Near Sylvia were other women wh_ad much at stake in the result of the convention. The wife of a candidate fo_ecretary of state had invited herself to a seat beside Mrs. Bassett; the wif_f a Congressman who wished to be governor, sat near, publishing to the worl_er intimate acquaintance with Morton Bassett's family. The appearance an_onduct of these women during the day interested Sylvia almost as much as th_ncidents occurring on the floor; it was a new idea that politics had _earing upon the domestic life of the men who engaged in the eternal contes_or place and power. The convention as a spectacle was immensely diverting, but she had her misgivings about it as a transaction in history. Colone_amsay asked her politics and she confessed that she had none. She ha_nherited Republican prejudices from her grandfather, and most of the girl_he had known in college were of Republican antecedents; but she liked to cal_erself an independent.
"You'd better not be a Democrat, Sylvia," Mrs. Owen warned her. "I suffered _ood deal in my husband's lifetime from being one. There are still people i_his town who think a Democrat's the same as a Rebel or a Copperhead. It ain'_ardly respectable yet, being a Democrat, and if they don't all of 'em shut u_bout the 'fathers' and the Constitution, I'm going to move to Mexico wher_t's all run by niggers."
Sylvia had singled out several figures in the drama enacting below for specia_ttention. The chairman had interested her by reason of his attitude o_crupulous fairness, in which she now saw the transparent irony; th_analities of the temporary chairman had touched her humor; she watched hi_or the rest of the morning with a kind of awe that any one could he so dull, so timorous, and yet be chosen to address nearly two thousand America_itizens on an occasion of importance. She was unable to reconcile Thatcher'_ald head, ruddy neck, and heavy shoulders with Marian's description of th_ich man's son, who dreamed of heroes and played at carpentry. Dan's speec_ad not been without its thrill for her, and she now realized it_ignificance. It had been a part of a trick, and in spite of herself she coul_ot share the admiration Colonel Ramsay was expressing for Harwood's share i_t. He was immeasurably superior to the majority of those about him in th_rowded hall; he was a man of education, a college man, and she had jus_xperienced in her own life that consecration, as by an apostolic laying-on o_ands, by which a college confers its honors and imposes its obligations upo_hose who have enjoyed its ministry. Yet Harwood, who had not struck her a_eak or frivolous, had lent himself to-day to a bit of cheap claptrap merel_o humble one man for the glorification of another. Bassett she had sincerel_iked in their one meeting at Waupegan; and yet this was of his plotting an_arwood was his mouthpiece and tool. It did not seem fair to take advantage o_uch supreme stupidity as Thatcher's supporters had manifested. He_isappointment in Harwood—and it was quite that—was part of her genera_isappointment in the methods by which men transacted the serious business o_overning themselves.
Harwood was conscious that he was one of the chief figures in the convention; every one knew him now; he was called here and there on the floor, by me_nxious to impress themselves upon Bassett's authorized spokesman. It is _ine thing at twenty-seven to find the doors of opportunity flung wide—and ha_e not crossed the threshold and passed within the portal? He was Bassett'_an; every one knew that now; but why should he not be Bassett's man? He woul_o higher and farther than Bassett: Bassett had merely supplied the ladder o_hich he would climb. He was happier than he had ever been before in his life; he had experienced the intoxication of applause, and he was not averse to th_lances of the women in the gallery above him.
The nomination of candidates now went forward rather tamely, though relieve_y occasional sharp contests. The ten gentlemen who had been favored wit_opies of the Bassett programme were not surprised that so many of Thatcher'_riends were nominated; they themselves voted for most of them. It seeme_emarkable to the uninitiated that Bassett should have slapped Thatcher an_hen have allowed him to score in the choice of the ticket. The "Advertiser,"
anxious to show Bassett as strong and malignant as possible, expressed th_pinion that the Fraserville boss had not after all appreciated the full forc_f the Thatcher movement.
* * *
On the veranda of his Waupegan cottage Bassett and Fitch enjoyed the wholesom_irs of the country. Late in the afternoon the fussy little steamer tha_raversed the lake paused at the Bassett dock to deliver a telegram, whic_assett read without emotion. He passed the yellow slip of paper to Fitch, wh_ead it and handed it back.
"Harwood's a clever fellow; but you oughtn't to push him into politics. He'_etter than that."
"I suppose he is," said Bassett; "but I need him."