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The Bassett Claim

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i Copyright by American Press Assoeiation. 1 [ CONTIXUED. ] CHAPTER XV. A SECRET OF THE PIGEON HOM. Meanwhile all went smoothly npon snrface. The dining room looked as placad as a tropical barbor, asleep and smiling in the sun, its limpid waters inviting to a bath, and yet paved with sharks. The bousehold met as usual, exchanged morning greeting and gossip, and separated for the day's work or pastime. Mr. Ex took his roll and apple, Stevens his two rolls and apple and Lieut. Quire his two rolls, apple and tidbit, unless indeed it so happened that he was not required at the department that day, and so might place himself at the service of the ladies. Windward was, theoretically, the one man of elegant leisure in the household, bnt his zeal in the claim made hini the busiest and the hardest entrap into sight seeing tramps - winter picnics. Mrs. Bassett finally feit obliged to expostulate. "Why, Windward!" she exclaimed one balrny winter morning, "do let that stupid claim rest for today and take na all down f o Mount Vernon." "I cannot possibly do it today, mother," he replied, and then observing her dissatisfaction and anxiety he added, with an affectionate caress: "I can teil now in a few days what chance there is for action on the claim this winter. 1 want to settle that point first; then I shall know what to expect and what to do, and shall have sorne leisure." "What do you think about the chances?" asked the mother. "Well," siglled Windward, "it's a big job. I just begin to appreciate it. You see it is one thing to have individual congressraen admit yoor claim is good, and quite another to get the bill passed. Now seo what has to be done. Aftei you have written out your bilí you get a member to present it; he must be present at just such an or he loses hit chance. Then it goes to a committee with perhaps fifty others, and waits its turn there. Very likely that is the end of it, for most bilis 'die a-borning.' But snppose I can stir the committee up and they agree to report the bill. "One member is put in charge of it. and on a certain da)' in the month, if he happens to be on hand, he is recognized, and the bill is reported and this time put on the calendar. Here it ought to bc reached in its turn, but probably there are enough bilis ahead of it to keep congre6s busy for years, and you can't get it advanced except by common consent, and as this interrupts business and puts back other bilis there is somebody sure to object. Meanwhile the house is occupied most of the time with the general appropriation bilis and great politica) qnestions, and the calendar is put off till a leisure day which never comes. Now and then the motion is made to take up the calendar, and there is a set time- once or twice a month, perhaps - when that is the regular order of business; but members get to wrangling and adjourn in a row. So it goes, and before you know congress has expired and you must begin all over again. But suppose it does finally pass; then comes a similar job in the senate, and if there successful also maybe the president vetoes it, as two presidenta have done already." "ï don't see how any bilis get through," said Mrs. Bassett. "Nor I," replied Windward, "and very few büls do pass. The appropriation bilis must, of course, and there are a lot of trivial little bilis that slip through by luck or good management, and half a dozen important measnres of a political character; and that's about all." "I wouldn't bother with it," said the mother. "You might let yoar friend Stevens keep track of it; he is here, and is a steady, faithf ui yonng man, I should judge. And there is that other gentleman, Col. McArdle; he is a lawyer and knows how to manage these things. But you ooght to get settled, Windward." "I don't know but I am settled, mother, " said the young man, moving closer and speaking tiinidly. "Mother, what do you think of Miss Willis?' "Why, you are not engaged, are you?" exclaimed the mother in open alarm. "No, not yet," replied Windward reluctantly. "I am very glad to hear it, my son," said the widow, gently but kindly, but with more authority in her tone than usual, "and I hope you won't take such a step without confiding in your mother. I ask this much for your sake, Windward, not mine." "My dear mother," said the young man, laying his hands in hers. "You see, Windward," said the mother, 6miling happily as she stroked her darling's hand, "it's so early yet; I have only met her once or twice, and you aave known her only a few weeks. Of course she is pretty and bright and pleasant, but a wifeis somuch to a man; rou waut to know her disposition and ïealth and f'iimily. and be suie she loves yon- do you thlnk she does, Windward?' "How can I teil unless I ask her?" exclaimed the young man, hanging bis head and twirling his watch charm. The mother smiled at her son's confusión, and yet rather sadly. Her instinct told her that the wooing, as yet, was rather ono sided; and, motherlike, Bhe did not propose to have her child eacrificed. "Why, I think she likes me," saic Windward sheepishly, "and, well, suppose I love lier. At least I delight to be with lier, and we always have a nico time. Sho'sjnst as bright and sparkling and beautiful and sweet as a rnonntain brook!" Look out, lover Windward ! Siniles are dangerous. Mountain brooks are also cold, shallow and crooked. Possibly Mrs. Bassett's look of caution and reserve intimated as much. At any rate Windward stopped, chilled and hur by his mother's lack of sympathy at a time when he feit the need of it most Poor lady, she yearned for her child, bu Bhe could not encourage this fancy, a last in complete ignorance of the rea Bituation. (But it would never do to as sume an attitude that would drive the child trom her; it was all important to retain his confidence and devotion. Am so she said, bending tenderly over the young man: "Windward, we have broached a very important matter. Do nothing hastily Be free to teil me your plans and hopes and feelings, and be sure of my love anc sympathy. I live for you and Floy." "I know it, mother; you spoil us," exclaimed the j-outh; and with a kiss they parted, both lighter in heart and happier for the interview, though to both il had brought new cares and perplexities. "Mother would forgive me and be reconciled if I married the fat woman of the circus," thought Windward, as he walked briskly toward congress, "but I could maka her very unhappy by a f oolish marriage. I wonder what that girl does think of me ánywayl" But here his rêverie was suddenly interrupted, for just bef ore him on the avenue, hurrying like himself to the Capitol, was his affable member. A few steps brought them alongside, and Windward then politely accosted him. "Ah, good day, good day. Mr. Bartlett!" he replied, smiling, and quickening his pace. "Anything new about the claim--' asked Windward, answering tlie member's "spurt" with one on his side quite as spirited. "Yes, we're making headway, making headway," said the member, beaming upon "Mr. Bartlett" when ho found he could not make headway himself, and thus escape. "I understand the committee are favorably disposed; that, you know, is a great deal, to have the coniïnittee favorably disposed. By the way, I believe you told me once you knew Blamms. Ah, yes, yes: a fine man; I like Blamms; but do you know, between us, you know, Blamms is- enthusiastic. His beautiful, hopeful dispositiou leads him too f ar. He will, yes, he - overdoes it, so to speak. I like Blamms very uiuch ; but he Imrt3 his cause, I fear, writing so man y- cnthusiastie letters. I like theui , but some of my colleagues don't understand him, you see, aweü as you and I do. Yes, I'm afraid he hurts his cause, and it's yonr cause, too, yon know - your cause, too - by writing so much. But I couldn't teil him so, you know. Lord, no! Ha! ha! He would misunderstand me. And I am always glad to get his letters. But you, as a judicious outside friend, might hint - not as coming from me, of course - that he should trust us, us, you know, on the ground, to take charge of these matters. Are you going up to the Capitol? Ah, yes; find day, isn't it? Charming clinaate Washington has. Ah, I must turn off here; my constituentskeep me busy in thedepartments in the inorning. Glad to serve them always, and always glad to meet you. Yes, I would hint to Blamms, as a friend, notto write 80 many, so many - impulsivo letters: not coming from me, yon understand, I like them; but you understand. Goodday, Mr. Bartlett; good-day," and he darted up a side street. "Well, you are n fraud," thought Windward, and with a contemptuous smile he drew from a pocket a letter he, too, had received a day or two ago from the earnest Blamms and re-read it, against the background of the member's remarks, with no little amusement. It ran as follows: "I think our ineniber palavers too mueh. He always did talk too easy for me, tho1 I voted for him. But he don't act right in this claim business, and I've writ to the senators about it and ono or two other members of the delegation. French claims is a livo issue down our way, as ho will find out if he sogers. There's twenty of us who will knife him in the primery for ronomination if he don't hurry up his cakes and ehow some gumshun. Can't you get these fooi eongressmen to stop talking about the new ralea and do something under the old ones? And we ain't interested much our way about southern contested election cases, either. It strikes me the war oughter be pretty nigh over by this time, and anyhow we might pay up for tho revolutionary war beforo doing up all fhe old chores of therebellion. V like your letters. You are all right, a chip of tho old block; but stir up those congressmen. Mako it a matter of re-elecshun and they'H stir round lively. I've got to have some money pretty quick, that's sure; just poke 'em up." "Poor Blamms!'' mu.sed Windward, as he put the letter up, "I wonld like to help him: a mortgage falliug due, hia health failing - it is a shame. I wonder how many cases there are like his or worse. It would not be a bad idea to collect a few samples. Congress is human and has its soft side for tragic touches. I believe I'll get back to the Bgency pretty soon and look through the files." With tlis scheme in his mind he hurried through au appointment he had at the Capítol, and then went to the agency and unfoldL'd his new plan to the invalid, who nodded his approval. "Do you know any cases of personal bardship?" he asked. "Many!" he exclaimed. "Poorhouse, misery; many!" Theu he turned to the rows of iiigeon holes with a sigh. '"Don't remember. There somewhere. I can"t look 'em up. You may. Dusty work. Spoil elothes." Thus authorized, Windward began a systematic search „ainong the records; and dirtv, work indeed it was. but tractive, not only from a legal and business standpoint, but from the nuDJ quaint strokes of human nature that appeared here and there in the correspondence. But it was an enormous undertaking; a work of months, not days, for there were at least 1,500 claims, each with its little package of papers. To explore this whole mass was beyond hini. vet he persevered a day or two, hopinj to light npon a striking case, [ TO )CONTINDED.


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