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The Bassett Claim

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i Copyright by American Press Assoeiation. 1 CONTINÜED. ] CHAPTERIX. A DIGESTIVE CAJLL. McArdle was mnch amosed at Windward's description of his first visit to congress, and particularly his opening experience as a claimsnt. They were sitting, the colonel, Lonise and Windward, in the library, bef ore a rosy, open fire. The night was bleak and windy, and the elemental strife f ound a counterpart in the babel that reigued at the hotels and in the rival parlors of fashiou. But for the nonce the gxeat, gay world swept by and abont them, unheeding and unheeded. "You are right, Mr. Bassett," said the colonel, biting off the end of a fresh cigar, "in comparing the house to tlie Stock eschange. There are three centers of energy in this country - the house of representativos, the New York Stock exchange and tho Whirlpool at Niágara." "And Wanamaker's," added Louise, demurely bendiug over her embroidery. "And Wanamaker's; in all, four," said the colonel gravely, but with a gleam of laughter in his eyes as he looked fondly at his niece. Not inany people cared to trifle-with the colonel in his-serioasvein, but.Louise could and did in safety. "As for Blamms," continued MeArdle, "Lknow him of old. Your uncle used to bother with him. Blamms must annoy your amiable member excessively. Truly, he is a terrible bore. He wants something really done, you understand. He actoally expefcts to get his money; in short, a moet preposteróos sort of person." "I want my money, too," said Windward. "Oh, yes," replied the colonel, looking at the young man so sharply that he colored. "But you are only in fun. You are playing daimant. Now Blamms is a real claimant. His 'sweet children' are hungry, that handsome wife wear&shabby clothes, and his notes are in the hands of usnrers." "I understand you," said Windward, "and in the sense you mean I am not in earnest. But I should like the money due me, and I should like the victory of getting it, and I am willing to spend a winter or two or three in the fight, if I have a reasonable chance of winning. At the same time I am not in need. I like the life here, and as my good member says, the climate is dehghtful." "And tho patent office is very interesting. Dou't forget that," said McArdle. "President Hayes once told me that when he eamo here he asked President Grant what he said to chance visitors who called to pay their respects, and who might expect a word or two. 'I ask them,' replied Grant, 'Have you been to the KmithboriikMi?' tío yon see great minds think aüke. Now as to the claim. I understand you want the money and the glory, but you can wsit, and meanwhile the world is pleasant. Louise, it's Torn over again." "I hope so, uncle," she said, so kindly and with such simplicity of friendsinp that Windward feit somewhat like an old, old friend, only transplant 1. Possibly for an instant they all thought of Pythagonts. "I ehould like to be so good and useful a man," said Windward. "You say well," rephed McArdle. "And you uiight ixnitate him-as a claimant. And now if yon, like him, are, as itwere, only incideutally such, you will en joy your stay very mnch. Society here is very fascinating, vulgar in spotB, bot always interestmg. In Washington, as nowhere else, you will find yonrself among famous men and beautiful women - in short, the successful of both sexes." Louise looked up from her fancy work man to have his family about him in Washington; though, as to that, no city bas been so slandered. My experieoce of Washington is of a prosy, steady, moral, big village. It got a bad name in the war, when it was overrun with camp f r rs, and the reproach has stock to "I believe I will write to them tonight," said Windward, and there the subject dropped, for Stevens did not care to press it, bnt he found himself feeling very glad that the suggestdon needed no pressure. "Now, to-morrow," continued Windward, "we shall begin.operations. Uncle Torn told me of a lawyer here who representa many of the claimants. He will know the sitoation, and I must look him op. Then I mean to make some business arrangement with Col. McArdle. And I suppose there are members of congress to see, and lettets to write. aud I don't know what -lee. Yes, to-morrow we raise the battltv stadned ensigii of the Bassett claim. Gocdnight." Tomorrow cam ptmctnally, and with it the jolly gronp of boarfers to the teaakfast tabie. There were the memter,, prompt, sileirt and efficest; the private-secretarj-, qciet, stoüd, and, as become a raüróad mao, of great esecativ ability. Mts. Ex liked these two gentlemen personally, bnt sometimes they made her nervous. She would tel] them, however, with a smile, tliat it was soine satisfaction to set a table for people who enjoyed their meals; and they assured her they did. ("I should say so!" she -would remark to Sophia afterwards.) There, too, was Lieut. Quire, bright faced, anecdotal, polite - especially to Miss Sophia, who nestled beside him. There was broad beamed Mts. Ex, talking fashionable gossip as she poured the coffee. There was the srnall boy, crowing with chanticleer; there were the two third story yonng men; and, and, why certainly, there was Mr. Ex too, to be sure - altogether quite a happy family, and very select. There was half an hour of clatter and then the grotip broke up. Mr. Ex buttered a roll, folded it in a napkin, put an apple in bis pocket and went to the office. Stevens donbled the roll ration, bnt otherwise followed Mr. Ex's example. Sophia had got into the way of putting up Lieut. Qnire's lunch, and the consequence was that the jovial officer would generally find at noon, beside the rolls and apple, eome tidbit from the closet. The member and the private secretary bought their lunches at the capítol - an alloviating circumstance from the standpoint of Mrs. Ex. Windward was a rover, lunching at large. Finally. the small boy lunched more or less, off and on, all the time. After breakfast, when the clerks had gone to their desks and the member was talking with an early constituent in the parlor, Windward caught busy Mrs. Ex in the hall and asked her if she coulli accommodate two moro ladies, hip mother and sister, whom lie thoirght of inviting to Washington for the season. The matron pursed her lips, was silent, and almost shook her head. The house was full, and besides she never took ladies if slio could help it; still, xnoney was money to Mrs. Ex. It would cost no more to lay a table for ten than for eight. If , now, it were only the fashion to sleep on shelves, as in a palace car! "I'm contriving, Mr. Bassett," she said at length, explanatory of her silence; and it was well for the happiness of Mr. Ex and Miss Sophia that they were not conscious of her mental operations at that moment. ' 'I'm contriving, and possibly I can take them."' Mrs. Ex was a rare one at contriving, and as a result had contri ved to earn a living for herself and hers. "Yes," she said finally, "I can fix it." Admirable woman, she had made her combinations as promptly, bravely and skillfully as a great general forced by the turn of fortune to recast his whole plan of action on the instant and in the face of the enemy. "Very good," exclaimed Windward. for like every one else he liked Mrs. Ex and her housekeeping and her table. And he readily acquiesced in the little compromises she suggested for the better accomxnodation of the. ladies, and in the top notch prices wbich she, knowing her advantage, had the nerve to set. "Very good," he exclaimed, therefore, "I will let you know our plans as soon as possible," and he went to his room at once to write an earnest letter of invitation. And, that done, he was now f ree to work. It wonld be eeveral days at the least before the ladies came, and meantime, postponing sight seeing - even the Smithsonian - he resolved to devote himself to the claim. He decided to begin by finding out and making the acquaintance of a lawyer who had charge of many of the French spoliation claims. Torn Bassett had named this attorney to him. as one with whom he had con3ulted- while keeping the heirloom in his own hands - and as one who would prove a capable and judieious colleaguo in any efforts he might maketo secare legislation. Bnt to his surprise and chagrín he could not find the lawyer's name in the directory. Baffled thus at the very start, the youth knew no resource but to go for help to McArdle. He sought his office, therefore, but the colonel was out. A brisk young clerk told him, however, that he believed a lawyer who had an office on the sonth side of Pennsylvania avenue, near the Washington circle, represented some of the claimants, and coold no doubt give him the information he deeired. Thither he accordingly tnrned hia steps, and soon his eyes were gladeued by a neat sign before the door of a large private house which bore the legend, "Agency of the French Spoliation Claims." "Land hof' cried Windward, deüghted, and he bonnded np the steps and twttched the bell. "Is Mr. Causten here?" he asked the servant who had come to the door. She-did not seem to onderstand, him . "The agent of the French claims," he explained. "Oh, yes, sir. Come in," she said;,and, opening a door into parlor, motioned yijm in. Windward, on entering the apartment, fonnd himself amid the moet vaaqoe and surprising surroundings, bnt he had no opportunrty for more than a glance-at the strange furniture and enxbeDishment, for his interest was at once fastened on the remarkable person who rose from a reclining posture on a sofa coach to receive him. He was manifestly an invalid and his step was feeble, bat there was a beautiful dignity in his bearing, and liis head and beard were Olympian. "Are you Mr. Causten?" asked Windward. "Dead!" exclaimed the stranger, in a strange explosivo voice, which startled the visitor. "Dead? Mr. Cansten deadT he asked, to make snre he had rightly understood the monosyllabic reply. The stranger nodded. Talking was evideatly an effort, and he wished to economize his words. "Indeedf said Windward. "Has it been long:" "Years," exploded the stranger, waving his caller coarteoosiy to a cfaair while he reseated hnnaotf on-the. sofa. "Than," eontinoed Wiodward, "perhaps you represent the FisacbdanaeT The invalid nodded again and, looked at Dim earnestly, as if wishing him to proceed. "I have one of those claims," said Windward, interpreting his glance. "Possibly you knew niy miele, Mr. Bassett?" The man on the couch brightened np instantly. "Yes!" he exclaimed, breathing heavily in his anxiety to be understood. "Old Torn - good man. Where?" "He, too, is dead," said Windward sadly. "Toni dead!" Th invaiid raised his feeble hands, or hand, for one lay idly ut his side, with -a look of grief and protest, and sank back among his cushions as in despair. Then as suddenly roosing hiniself again he pointed nervously to a fine oil portrait of "Stonewall" Jackson wlóch hnng above a huge old fashkmed tronk, andifram that starting point directed his visitor's eyes to a series of grotesque Aztec.idols that stared hideously from burean and mantel. "Dead f' the invaBd gasped. "Jackson - dead: Lost cause- dead! Aztecs - dead - longago! Causten - dead! Toni -dead! And I'm- paralyzed! Bnt the claims - h've! Claims - live!" he shouted; and his lustróos eyes sparkled with indomitable resoltttion. The effort seemed to fatigue him, however, and ho sank once more among his pillow.s and was silent, while Windward regarded, for the moment silent also, this singular and fascinating man. "I see," he said, after this short panse, "that talking is i)ainful and tires you, and I will not make you tax your strength. But if I don't weary yon I should like to teil you about my uncle and myself and what I hope to do here." "Very gbul!"' explodyd the invaiid, smiling his thanks Thus encouraged Windward gave ; brief account of his uncle's last years, and the manner in which the. claim was transferred to his koeping, and how he had come to take tu activo interest in the claim through the persuasions of a Mr. Blamms. "Blamms!" burst ont the invaiid. "Knowhim! Bore!'' Windward smiled and proceeded, teil ing of his plan for n. winter campaign. his acquaintance with Col. McArdle (here the invaiid interrupted him with a series of vigorous nods of approval), his hopes of interesting other people, and finally expressing his wish to work in harmony with the agcncy. Again the invaiid nodded, and his eipressive eyes showed his interest and safcisfaction in the new recruit. But the prolonged and exciting interview was beginning to teil uj)on his strength, discenring which Windward rose to go. "I won't tire you furtber now," be said; "perhaps to-morrow or wheaever canvenient I will cali again. Don't get . np, please." But the invaiid was on his f eet. "Tomorrow," he exploded, "3 o'clock. Assistant here. Can talk. Documente. Plans." As he spoke, laborionsly word by word, he moved toward the sideboard. "Drink!" "No, I thank you, if you will excuse me," said Windward. "I will be here to-morrow. Good day;" and with this he took his leave, musing as he went on the extraordinary man on the lounge wbom neither defeat in a war of ideas, nor reiterated delays and failnre in professional hopes, nor the heaviest stroke of disease could rob of his mental'.powers, his courage, his patiënt good humor or his Virginian hospitality. CHAPTER XI. SÜNSHINE AND MOONSHINE. "What lnrkr said Stevensvas he was brnahing the dost of office froiu bis elothes after the day's work. Windward, in reply, briefly explaiiied hi adventarfsand plans tor -tbemorrow. Stevens showed mach interest; ittwas certaiuly, he tbooght, a gcxxl.beginnhe;. Uien he asfcad casoaUyif Mrs..Ei had been able to find room for thtiladiu.s. "By sqneeziiig," replied Wiudwarf'. ind tben hc recounted the sacrificesfthat most be made to accomnualate them. Stevens was, however, fuBy as com[A-usaiit as Windward had been, so that matter was tettled. "Tou aro to take Miss Willis to the theatre to-mit, I betíeve?" said Peter, glancing at a nosegay Windward was arranging, not very skfflfolly. "Thaf s the programme," was the reply. "She is.good company. You will have a mee time,"" said bis friend. 'ribink-so," Wind-ward-answered, and he thought so stül more when two - or three hcwirs laterale bonnced into the parlor at her cozy'httle honse ou Thirteenth street, where her mother and Uncle Poilok were entertaining hiin wbile she lingered to perfect her toilet [TO BE CONTINÜKD.]


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