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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

He was not afraid of Morton Bassett now


don't mean"--she cried out suddenly,--"you don't mean it's that!"

"No; it's not that; far from _that_," replied Dan sadly, knowing what was in her mind.

He went out and closed the door upon her. He called Mrs. Owen on the telephone and told her he would be up immediately. Then he went back to Rose.

"It was like this, Mr. Harwood," said the girl, quite composed again. "I knew him--pretty well--you know the man I mean. After that Transportation Committee work I guess he thought he had to keep his hand on me. He's like that, you know. If he thinks anybody knows anything on him he watches them and keeps a tight grip on them, all right. You know that about him?"

Dan nodded. He saw how the web of circumstance had enmeshed him from the beginning. All the incidents of that chance visit to Fraserville to write the sketch of Bassett for the "Courier" lived in his memory. Something had been said there about Madison College; and his connection with Fitch's office had been mentioned, and on the fears thus roused in Morton Bassett, he, Daniel Harwood, had reared a tottering superstructure of aims, hopes, ambitions, that threatened to overwhelm him! But now, as the first shock passed, he saw all things clearly. He would save Sylvia even though Bassett must be saved first. If Thatcher could be silenced in no other way, he might have the senatorship; or Dan

would go direct to Bassett and demand that he withdraw from the contest. He was not afraid of Morton Bassett now.

"I had gone to work for that construction company in the Boordman where you found me. It was his idea to move me into your office--I guess you thought you picked me out; but he gave me a quiet tip to ask you for the job. Well, he'd been dropping into the construction office now and then to see me--you know the boss was never in town and I hadn't much to do. He used to dictate letters--said he couldn't trust the public stenogs in the hotels; and one day he gave me that letter to copy. He had written it out in lead pencil beforehand, but seemed mighty anxious to get it just right. After I copied it he worked it over several times, before he got it to suit him. He said it was a little business he was attending to for a friend. We burnt up the discards in the little old grate in the office. He had brought some paper and envelopes along with him, and I remember he held a sheet up to the light to make sure it didn't have a watermark. He threw down a twenty-dollar gold piece and took the letter away with him. After I had moved into your office he spoke of that letter once: one day when you were out he asked me how much money had been mentioned in the letter."

"When was that, Rose?"

"A few days after the state convention when you shot the hot tacks into Thatcher. He had been at Waupegan, you remember."

Dan remembered. And he recalled also that Bassett had seen Sylvia at Mrs. Owen's the day following the convention, and it was not astonishing that the sight of her had reminded him of his offer to pay for her education. His own relation to the matter was clear enough now that Rose had yielded her secret.

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