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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

But has Thatcher found the trout


Ware

had finished his story, and sat staring into the crackling fire. At last he turned toward Sylvia. In the glow of the desk lamp her face was white, and she gazed with unseeing eyes at the inscription in the book.

The silence was still unbroken when a few minutes later Mrs. Ware came in with Harwood, whom she had met in the street and brought home to dinner.

Dan was full of the situation in the legislature, and the table talk played about that topic.

"We're sparring for time, that's all, and the people pay the freight! The deadlock is clamped on tight. I never thought Thatcher would prove so strong. I think we could shake loose enough votes from both sides to precipitate a stampede for Ramsay, but he won't hear to it. He says he wants to do the state one patriotic service before he dies by cleaning out the bosses, and he doesn't want to spoil the record by taking the senatorship himself. Meanwhile Bassett stands fast and there's no telling when he'll break through Thatcher's lines."

"Thatcher was here to see me to-day--the third time. He won't come back. You know what he's after?" said Ware.

"Yes; I understand," Dan answered.

"There won't be anything of that kind, will there, Dan?"

Dan shrugged his shoulders, and glanced at Sylvia and Mrs.

Ware.

"Mrs. Ware knows about it; I had to tell her," remarked the minister, chuckling. "When Ed Thatcher makes two calls on me in one week, and one of them at midnight, there's got to be an explanation. And Sylvia heard him raving before I showed him out this afternoon."

Sylvia's plate was untouched; her eyes searched those of the man who loved her before she spoke.

"That's an ethical point, Mr. Ware. If it were necessary to use that,--if every other resource failed,--would you use it?"

"No! Not if Bassett's success meant the utter destruction of the state. I don't believe a word of it. I haven't the slightest confidence in Thatcher's detective work, and the long arm of coincidence has to grasp something firmer than my pitiful little book to convince me."

Dan shook his head.

"He doesn't need the book, Mr. Ware. I've seen the documents in the case. Most of the evidence is circumstantial, but you remember what your friend Thoreau said about circumstantial evidence--something to the effect that it's sometimes pretty convincing, as when you find a trout in the milk."

"But has Thatcher found the trout?"

"Well, no; he hasn't exactly found the trout, but there's enough, there's altogether too much!" ended Dan despairingly. "The caucus doesn't meet again till to-morrow night, when Thatcher promises to show his hand. I'm going to put in the time trying to persuade Ramsay to come round."

"You might take it yourself, Dan," suggested Mrs. Ware.

"Oh, I'm not eligible; I'm a little shy of being old enough! And besides, I couldn't allow Ramsay to prove himself a better patriot than I am. There are plenty of fellows who have no such scruples, and we've got to look out or Bassett will shift suddenly to some man of his own if he finds he can't nominate himself."

"But do you think he has any idea what Thatcher has up his sleeve?" asked Ware.

"It's possible; I dare say he knows it. He's always been master of the art of getting information from the enemy's camp. But Thatcher has shown remarkable discretion in managing this. He tells me solemnly that nobody on earth knows his intentions except you, Allen, and me. He's saving himself for a broadside, and he wants its full dramatic effect."


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