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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

You have offered me reparation


am I going to do?" he broke out angrily. "I'm going into that caucus and beat Thatcher's game; I'm going to tell his story first! But don't misunderstand me; I'm going to protect you. I know men, and those men will respect me for coming out with it. I haven't been in politics all these years to be beaten at last by Ed Thatcher. I've pledged votes enough to-day to give me a majority of three on the next ballot; but I'll explode Thatcher's bombshell in his own hands. I'm all prepared for him; I have the documents--the marriage certificate and the whole business. But you won't suffer; you won't be brought into it. That's what I'm going to do about it!"

The failure of his declaration to shake her composure disturbed him; perhaps after all his contemplated _coup_ was not so charged with electricity as he had imagined. Nothing in his bald statement of his marriage to her mother and the subsequent desertion had evoked the reproach, the recrimination, for which he had steeled himself when she entered the room. He felt his hold upon the interview lessening. He had believed himself expert in calculating effects, yet apparently she had heard his announcement, delivered with a brutal directness, without emotion.

"This isn't quite all, Mr. Bassett," Sylvia began after a moment. "You have offered me reparation, or what you called by that name. You can't deny that I have a right to be satisfied with that reparation."

style="text-align: justify;">"Certainly; anything in reason. It is for you to name the terms; I expect you to make them--adequate."

"Let us go back a moment," she began, smiling at the care with which he had chosen his last word. "Last night I fought out for myself the whole matter of your scoundrelly, cowardly treatment of my mother. You can make no reparation to her. The time passed long ago for that. And there is absolutely nothing you can do for me. I will accept nothing from you, neither the name you denied to her nor money, now or later. So there is only one other person whose interest or whose happiness we need consider."

He stared at her frowning, not understanding. Once more, as on that day when she had laughed at him, or again when she had taken the affairs of his own household into her hands, he was conscious of the strength that lay in her, of her power to drive him back upon himself. Something of his own masterful spirit had entered into her, but with a difference. Her self-control, her patient persistence, her sobriety of judgment, her reasoning mind, were like his own. She was as keen and resourceful as he, and he was eager for the explanation she withheld, as though, knowing that she had driven in his pickets, he awaited the charge of her lines. He bent toward her, feeling her charm, yielding to the fascination she had for him.

"No," he said gently and kindly. "I don't see; I don't understand you."

She saw and felt the change in him; but she was on guard against a reaction. He could not know how her heart throbbed, or how it had seemed for a moment that words would not come to her lips.

"It is to you; it is to yourself that you must make the reparation. And you must make it now. There may never be a time like this; it is your great opportunity."

"You think, you ask--" he began warily; and she was quick to see that the precise moment for the full stroke had not come; that the ground required preparation.

"I think," she interrupted, smiling gravely, "that you want me to be your friend. More than that, we have long been friends. And deep down in your heart I believe you want my regard; you want me to think well of you. And I must tell you that there's a kind of happiness--for it must be happiness--that comes to me at the thought of it. Something there is between you and me that is different; somehow we understand each other."

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