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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

But Bassett interested him more and more as a character


"I

liked you," said Dan, with real feeling, "from that moment you shook hands with me in your house at Fraserville. When I don't believe in you any longer, I'll quit; and if that time comes you may be sure that I shan't traffic in what I learn of your affairs. I feel that I want to say that to you."

"That's all right, Harwood. I hope our relations will be increasingly friendly; but if you want to quit at any time you're not tied. Be sure of that. If you should quit me to-morrow I should be disappointed but I wouldn't kick. And don't build up any quixotic ideas of gratitude toward me. When you don't like your job, move on. I guess we understand each other."

If Dan entertained any doubts as to the ethics involved in Bassett's handling of the situation in Ranger County they were swept away by the perfect candor with which Bassett informed their new intimacy. The most interesting and powerful character in Indiana politics had made a confidant of him. Without attempting to exact vows of secrecy, or threatening vengeance for infractions of faith, but in a spirit of good-fellowship that appealed strongly to Harwood, Bassett had given him a pass-key to many locked doors.

"As you probably gathered," Bassett was saying, "Atwill represents me at the 'Courier' office."

"I had never suspected it," Dan replied.

"Has anybody

suspected it?" asked Bassett quickly.

"Well; of course it has been said repeatedly that you own or control the 'Courier.'"

"Let them keep on saying it; they might have hard work to prove it. And--" Bassett's eyes turned toward the window. His brows contracted and he shut his lips tightly so that his stiff mustache gave to his mouth a sinister look that Dan had never seen before. The disagreeable expression vanished and he was his usual calm, unruffled self. "And," he concluded, smiling, "I might have some trouble in proving it myself."

Dan was not only accumulating valuable information, but Bassett interested him more and more as a character. He was an unusual man, a new type, this senator from Fraser, with his alternating candor and disingenuousness, his prompt solutions of perplexing problems. It was unimaginable that a man so strong and so sure of himself, and so shrewd in extricating others from their entanglements, could ever be cornered, trapped, or beaten.

Bassett's hands had impressed Dan that first night at Fraserville, and he watched them again as Bassett idly twisted a rubber band in his fingers. How gentle those hands were and how cruel they might be!

The next morning Dan found that his interview with Bassett was the feature of the first page of the "Courier," and the statement he had sent to the "Advertiser" was hardly less prominently displayed. His editorial was the "Courier's" leader, and it appeared _verbatim et literatim_. He viewed his work with pride and satisfaction; even his ironical editorial "briefs" had, he fancied, something of the piquancy he admired in the paragraphing of the "New York Sun." But his gratification at being able to write "must" matter for both sides of a prominent journal was obscured by the greater joy of being the chief adjutant of the "Courier's" sagacious concealed owner.


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