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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

Disclosing the Honorable Isaac Pettit


"No; that boy of his with the bad lung had to go off to the Adirondacks, and he went with him."

The inner door opened at this moment, disclosing the Honorable Isaac Pettit, who greeted Ramsay effusively.

"What is immortality, gentlemen!" the Honorable Isaac Pettit inquired, clinging to the Colonel's hand. "We had a little social gathering for our new pastor up at Fraser the other night, and I sprung a new game on the old folks. Offered a prize for anybody who could name all the Vice-Presidents of the United States since Lincoln's administration, and they couldn't even get past Grant--and Schuyler Colfax being right off our own Hoosier pastures! Then we tried for the Democratic candidates for President, beginning back at the war, and they couldn't even start. One young chap piped up and said Jeff Davis--oh, Lord!--which reminds me that the teaching of history in the public schools ain't what it ought to be. They hadn't heard of Hancock, and when somebody said Blaine, the teacher of the infant class in our Sunday School said Blaine who? That reminds me of one time when I met Dan Voorhees, than whom God Almighty never made a nobler soul; I met Dan down here in the lobby of the old Bates House, carrying a 'Harper's Weekly' with one of Tom Nast's cartoons spread wide open. You know Dan had--"

Colonel Ramsay had been edging toward the door of Harwood's private room, and he now broke in upon the editor's reminiscences.

"You tell that story to Miss Farrell, Ike. I'm spouting myself to-night, at a Christian Endeavor rally at Tipton, and want to see Dan a minute."

Miss Farrell was inured to Pettit's anecdotes of Dan Voorhees, and the Fraserville editor continued, unmindful of the closing of the door upon Dan and Ramsay.

Ramsay pushed his fedora to the back of his head and inspected Dan's new furniture.

"Well, you did it! You've cut loose from your base and burned your bridges behind you. I would have brought my congratulations sooner, but I've had a long jury case on hand. You did it, my boy, and you did it like a gentleman. You might have killed him if you had wanted to."

"I don't want to kill anybody," smiled Dan. "I want to practice law."

"That's a laudable ambition, but you can't go back on us now. What we've needed for a long time was a young man of about your make-up who wasn't afraid."

"Don't rub it in, Colonel. I was a mighty long time seeing the light, and I don't deserve any praise from anybody. I mean what I say about practicing law. I'm a free man now and any political work I do is going to be along the lines of the simple, childish ideas I brought home from college with me. I had begun to feel that all this political idealism was sheer rubbish, but I put the brakes on before I got too far downhill. If a few of us who have run with the machine and know the tricks will turn and help the bewildered idealists, we can make idealism effective. Most of the people don't want a handful of crooks to govern them, but there's a kind of cheap cynicism abroad that discourages the men who are eager to revolt. There are newspapers that foster that sentiment, and scores of men who won't take time to go to a caucus keep asking what's the use. Now, as for Bassett, I'm not going to bite the hand that fed me; I'm simply going to feed myself. Pettit was just in here to sound me as to my feelings toward Thatcher. Quite frankly, I'm not interested in Thatcher as a senatorial possibility."


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