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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

As Harwood greeted her and Sylvia on her veranda


"I

told Fitch to talk to you about that suit of yours and fix it up if we can come to terms. I told him what I'd stand for. I'm not afraid of the suit, and neither is Fitch, and I want you to understand that. My reasons for getting rid of it are quite apart from the legal questions."

"It will save time, Mr. Bassett, if you tell Fitch that the suit won't be dropped until all the claims I represent are paid in full. Several of your associates in the reorganization have already sounded me on that, and I've said no to all of them."

"Oh, you have, have you?" There was a hard glitter in Bassett's eyes and his jaws tightened.

"All right, then; go ahead," he added, and walked grimly back to his chair.

When the steamer stopped at his landing, Bassett jumped off and began the ascent to his house without looking at Harwood again. Dan felt that it had been worth the journey to hear direct from Bassett the intimations of a wish to compromise the Canneries case. And yet, while the boat was backing off, it was without exultation that he watched Bassett's sturdy figure slowly climbing the steps. The signs of wear, the loss of the politician's old elasticity, touched a chord of pity in Harwood's breast. In the early days of their acquaintance it had seemed to him that Bassett could never be beaten; and yet Dan had to-night read defeat in his face and manner.

The old Morton Bassett would never have yielded an inch, never have made overtures of compromise. He would have emerged triumphant from any disaster. Harwood experienced something of the sensations of a sculptor, who, having begun a heroic figure in the grand manner of a Michael Angelo, finds his model shrinking to a pitiful pygmy. As Bassett passed from sight he turned with a sigh toward the red, white and blue lanterns that advertised Mrs. Owen's dock to the mariner.

"Well, well, if it isn't Daniel," exclaimed Mrs. Owen, as Harwood greeted her and Sylvia on her veranda. "One of the farm hands quit to-day and you can go to work in the morning, Daniel."

"Not if I'm strong enough to run, Aunt Sally. I'm going to have forty-eight hours' vacation if I starve to death the rest of my life."

Rose Farrell had told him that Mrs. Owen was entertaining the Elizabeth House girls in installments, and he was not surprised to find the veranda filled with young women. Some of them he knew and Sylvia introduced him to the others.

"When's Rose coming up?" asked Sylvia, balancing herself on the veranda rail. "You know she's expected."

"Do I know she's expected? Didn't I have a note from you, Aunt Sally, ordering me to send her up? She's coming just as soon as I get back, but I think of staying forever."

"A man has come and he's come to stay forever," murmured one of the young women.

"Oh, you're an event!" laughed Sylvia. "But don't expect us to spoil you. The sport for to-morrow is tomato pickles, and the man who skipped to-day left because Aunt Sally wanted him to help scald and peel the tomats. Your job is cut out for you."

"All right," he replied humbly. "I'll do anything you say but plough or cut wood. My enchanted youth on the farm was filled with those delights, and before I go back to that a swift Marathon runner must trip me."

He was aware presently that one by one the girls were slipping away; he saw them through the windows settling themselves at the round table of the living-room, where Mrs. Owen was reading a newspaper. Not more than a quarter of an hour had passed when he and Sylvia found themselves alone.


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