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Chapter 19 THE THUNDER OF THE CAPTAINS

  • 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."