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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

Thatcher is preparing a poisoned arrow for Bassett


"I

don't suppose he is altogether happy. And I've begged Marian not to tell him she wants to marry Allen. That would certainly not cheer him any, right now."

"I'm glad you had a chance to do that. I told Allen to skip right out for Europe and hang on to his mother's apron strings till I send for him. This old Capulet and Montague business doesn't ring quite true in this twentieth century; there's something unreal about it. And just what those youngsters can see in each other is beyond me."

"You must be fair about that. We haven't any right to question their sincerity."

"Oh, Allen is sincere enough; but you'll have to show me the documents on Marian's side of it. She sees in the situation a great lark. The fact that her father and Thatcher are enemies appeals to her romantic instincts."

"I think better of it than that, Dan. She's a fine, strong, loyal girl with a lot of hard common sense. But that doesn't relieve the situation of its immediate dangers. She's promised me not to speak to her father yet--not until she has my consent. When I see that it can't be helped, I'm going to speak to Mr Bassett about it myself."

"You seem to be the good angel of the Bassett household," he remarked sullenly. A lover's jealousy stirred in his heart, he did not like to think of Sylvia as preoccupied with the affairs of others,

and he saw no peace or happiness ahead for Marian and Allen. "It's all more wretched than you imagine. This war between Thatcher and Bassett has passed the bounds of mere political rivalry. There's an implacable hatred there that's got to take its course. Allen told me of it this morning when he was trying to enlist me in his cause with Marian. It's hideous--a perfectly rotten mess. Thatcher is preparing a poisoned arrow for Bassett. He's raked up an old scandal, an affair with a woman. It makes my blood run cold to think of its possibilities."

"But Mr. Thatcher wouldn't do such a thing; he might threaten, but he wouldn't really use that sort of weapon!"

"You don't know the man, Sylvia. He will risk anything to break Bassett down. There's nothing respectable about Thatcher but his love for Allen, and that doesn't redeem everything."

"But you won't let it come to that. You have influence enough yourself to stop it. Even if you hated him you would protect Mrs. Bassett and the children."

"I could do nothing of the kind, Sylvia. Now that I've left Bassett my influence has vanished utterly. Besides, I'm out of politics. I hate the game. It's rotten--rotten clean through."

"I don't believe it's quite true that you have lost your influence. I read the newspapers, and some of them are saying that you are the hope of your party, and that you have a large following. But you wouldn't do that, Dan; you wouldn't lend yourself to such a thing as that!"

"I'm not so sure," he replied doggedly, angry that they should be discussing the subject at all, though to be sure he had introduced it. "A man's family has got to suffer for his acts; it's a part of the punishment. I'd like to see Bassett driven out of politics, but I assure you that I don't mean to do it. There's no possibility of my having the chance. He put me in the legislature to use me; and I'm glad that's all over. As I tell you, I'm out of the game."

"I don't sympathize with that at all, Dan; you not only ought to stay in, but you ought to do all you can to make it impossible for men like Bassett and Thatcher to have any power. The honor of the state ought to be dear to all of us; and if I belonged to a party I think I should have a care for its honor too."


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