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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

This particular convocation of the Hoosier lawmakers


style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER XXX

THE KING HATH SUMMONED HIS PARLIAMENT

The Great Seal of the Hoosier Commonwealth, depicting a sturdy pioneer felling a tree while behind him a frightened buffalo gallops madly into oblivion, was affixed to a proclamation of the governor convening the legislature in special session on the 20th of November. It was Morton Bassett's legislature, declared, the Republican press, brought back to the capital to do those things which it had left undone at the regular session. The Democratic newspapers proved conclusively that the demands of the state institutions said to be in dire need were the fruit of a long period of Republican extravagance, for which the Democratic Party, always prone to err on the side of frugality, was in no wise responsible. The Republican governor had caused the legislative halls to be reopened merely to give a false impression of Democratic incompetence, but in due season the people would express their opinion of that governor. So reasoned loyal Democrats. Legislatures are not cheap, taken at their lowest valuation, and a special session, costing something like one hundred thousand of the people's dollars, is an extravagance before which a governor may well hesitate. This particular convocation of the Hoosier lawmakers, summoned easily enough by a stroke of the pen, proved to be expensive in more ways than one.

On

the third day of the special session, when the tardiest member, hailing from the remote fastnesses of Switzerland County, was just finding his seat, and before all the others had drawn their stationery and registered a generous computation of their mileage, something happened. The bill for an act entitled an act to lift the lid of the treasure chests was about to be read for the first time when a page carried a telegram to Morton Bassett in the senate chamber.

Senator Bassett read his message once and again. His neighbors on the floor looked enviously upon the great man who thus received telegrams without emotion. It seemed, however, to those nearest him, that the bit of yellow paper shook slightly in Bassett's hand The clerk droned on to an inattentive audience. Bassett put down the telegram, looked about, and then got upon his feet. The lieutenant-governor, yawning and idly playing with his gavel, saw with relief that the senator from Fraser wished to interrupt the proceedings.

"Mr. President."

"The senator from Fraser."

"Mr. President, I ask leave to interrupt the reading of the bill to make an announcement."

"There being no objection, the senator will make his announcement."

Senators who had been smoking in the cloakroom, or talking to friends outside the railing, became attentive. The senator from Fraser was little given to speech, and it might be that he meant at this time to indicate the attitude of the majority toward the appropriations asked by the governor. In any event, it was always wise to listen to anything Morton Bassett had to say.


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