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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

Bassett remained in bed the day following the convention


"Harwood's

a clever fellow; but you oughtn't to push him into politics. He's better than that."

"I suppose he is," said Bassett; "but I need him."

CHAPTER XX

INTERVIEWS IN TWO KEYS

Mrs. Bassett remained in bed the day following the convention, less exhausted by the scenes she had witnessed than appalled by their interpretation in the newspapers. The reappearance of Sylvia Garrison had revived the apprehensions which the girl's visit to Waupegan four years earlier had awakened. She had hoped that Sylvia's long absences might have operated to diminish Mrs. Owen's interest and she had managed in one way and another to keep them apart during the college holidays, but the death of Professor Kelton had evidently thrown Sylvia back upon Mrs. Owen. Jealous fears danced blackly in Mrs. Bassett's tired brain.

At a season when she was always busiest with her farms Mrs. Owen had made a long journey to see Sylvia graduated; and here was the girl established on the most intimate terms in the Delaware Street house, no doubt for the remainder of her life. Mrs. Owen did not lightly or often change her plans; but she had abandoned her project of spending the summer at the lake to accommodate herself to the convenience of her protegee. Mrs. Bassett's ill-health was by no means a matter of illusion;

she was not well and her sojourns in sanatoriums had served to alienate her in a measure from her family. Marian had grown to womanhood without realizing her mother's ideals. She had hoped to make a very different person of her daughter, and Sylvia's reappearance intensified her sense of defeat. Even in the retrospect she saw no reason why Marian might not have pursued the course that Sylvia had followed; in her confused annoyances and agitations she was bitter not only against Marian but against Marian's father. The time had come when she must take a stand against his further dallyings in politics.

Her day at the convention hall had yielded only the most disagreeable impressions. Such incidents as had not eluded her own understanding on the spot had been freely rendered by the newspapers. It was all sordid and gross--not at all in keeping with her first experience of politics, gained in her girlhood, when her father had stood high in the councils of the nation, winning coveted positions without the support of such allies as she had seen cheering her husband's triumph on the floor of the convention. There had strayed into her hands an envelope of newspaper clippings from an agency that wished to supply her, as, its circular announced, it supplied the wives of many other prominent Americans, with newspaper comments on their husbands. As a bait for securing a client these examples of what the American press was saying of Morton Bassett were decidedly ill-chosen. The "Stop, Look, Listen" editorial had suggested to many influential journals a re-indictment of bossism with the Bassett-Thatcher imbroglio as text. It was disenchanting to find one's husband enrolled in a list of political reprobates whose activities in so many states were a menace to public safety. Her father had served with distinction and honor this same commonwealth that her husband was debasing; he had been a statesman, not a politician, not a boss. Blackford Singleton had belonged to the coterie that included such men as Hoar and Evarts, Thurman and Bayard; neither her imagination nor her affection could bridge the chasm that separated men of their type from her husband, who, in middle life, was content with a seat in the state legislature and busied himself with wars upon petty rivals. Such reflections as these did not contribute to her peace of mind.


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