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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

It's in a warehouse in Fraserville


I remember. I'm afraid the trouble with you is that you're too good a reporter. That sketch you wrote of me proved that. If I had not been the subject of it I should be tempted to say that it showed what I believe they call the literary touch. Mrs. Bassett liked it; maybe because there was so little of her in it. We both appreciated your nice feeling and consideration in the whole article. Well, just how are you coming on in the law?"

"Some of my work at college was preliminary to a law course, and I have done all the reading possible in Wright and Fitch's office. But I have to eat and the 'Courier' takes care of that pretty well; I've had to give less time to study. I don't know enough to be able to command a position as law clerk,--there aren't many pay jobs of that sort in a town like this."

"I suppose that's true," assented Bassett. "I suppose I shall always regret I didn't hang on at the law, but I had other interests that conflicted. But I'm a member of the bar, as I probably told you at Fraserville, and I have a considerable library stored away."

"That," laughed Dan, "is susceptible of two interpretations."

"Oh, I don't mean it's in my head; it's in a warehouse in Fraserville."

The grimness of Bassett's face in repose was an effect of his close-trimmed mustache. He was by no means humorless and his

smile was pleasant. Dan felt drawn to him again as at Fraserville. Here was a man who stood four square to the winds, undisturbed by the cyclonic outbursts of unfriendly newspapers. In spite of the clashing winter at the state house and all he had heard and read of the senate leader since the Fraserville visit, Dan's opinion of Bassett stood. His sturdy figure, those firm, masterful hands, and his deep, serious voice all spoke for strength.

"It has occurred to me, Mr. Harwood, that we might be of service to each other. I have a good many interests. You may have gathered that I am a very practical person. That is wholly true. In business I aim at success; I didn't start out in life to be a failure."

Bassett paused a moment and Dan nodded. It was at the tip of his tongue to say that such should be every man's hope and aim, but Bassett continued.

"I'm talking to you frankly. I'm not often mistaken in my judgments of men and I've taken a liking to you. I want to open an office here chiefly to have a quiet place from which to keep track of things that interest me. Fraserville is no longer quite central enough and I'm down here a good deal. I need somebody to keep an office open for me. I've been looking about and there are some rooms in the Boordman Building that I think would be about right. You might call the position I'm suggesting a private secretaryship, as I should want you to take charge of correspondence, make appointments, scan the papers, and keep me advised of the trend of things. I'm going to move my law library down here to give the rooms a substantial look, and if you feel like joining me you'll have a good deal of leisure for study. Then when you're ready for practice I may be in a position to help you. You will have a salary of, say, twelve hundred to begin with, but you can make yourself worth more to me."

Dan murmured a reply which Bassett did not heed.

"Your visit to my home and the article in the 'Courier' first suggested this to me. It struck me that you understood me pretty well. I read all the other sketches in that series and the different tone in which you wrote of me gave me the idea that you had tried to please me, and that you knew how to do it. How does the proposition strike you?"

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