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The Bassett Claim

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i Copyright by American Press AssociaUon. 1 [ continüed. ] in snort," said Windward, "I atn pretty certain that Floy is not in love with Qnire. She feels that he lovea her, and the idea does not displease her. Lsnppose she ia thinking it over, and." he added with a smile, "I hope she ís thinking you over too!" "Well, I ain glad it is no worse," said Stevens, with a very serious face. "Yoa can depend upon it," continned Windward, "that I told mother some things we both know aboat Quire that wan't help him. I propose Floy shal) take him with her eyes open if at all." Stevens thoaght this poíicy very jast and brotherly. "I shonld teil jwn," Windward went on, "that we have foond anaUy, and I balieve a very uaeful one, in an unexpected juarteT."flow so?' cxied Stevens, eager foi anystraw. "Why, in Miss Soptaia," said Windward. "Yoa see, the lieatenant bas been. ffirting wiüi her a Ktite, and, befcween ns, I think tho tabJo gussip has someionndation that, she woold liko to get him - at least, sho may havo felt-sc atooe time. Bat now tho-gay rover haa aparead his sails and run awy, natoraOy sbe don't like it, and no more do L Sophia is a fine woman, and Qnire haa acted shabbily. He mjgfat bettertake herand cali tóinself Incky, and get uut of onr way at tho same time. Well, as I say, she doesn't like it, and she is not above spoiling his new game. And-asit happens, she knows a good deal aboat him." Here Windward borst soddenly into snch a merry peal of laugttter thai Stevens had to-langh, too, in the midst of his misery, f ar very sympathy. 'What's the matter now?" he asked. "Oh, she made the fanmest mistake last night," Windward expiained. 'She toid me, whn I was talkmg with hei this evening, that I ooght to know that after I went apto bed last night the lieutooant and Floy stayed behind and whispered and kissed in the pariorf" Here Windward broke out langhing again, bat this time Stevens did not join him; whereapon Windward laaghed all the harder. "Evdenüy, Stevens," he exclaimed, "yoa agree with Miss Sophia, that itwas no-laögiiing matter." "I most say I don't see üe joke," said Stevens sternly. "Well, tho joke is," said Windward, "that Miss tíophia got fchose kwaesa-httie oonfoaed, beiag dxowsy and on the other side of f oèdicg doors. It was Qnire wtto went op sfcairs aud Floy and I who tarried in the parior." At this Stevens did indulge. Mmself in a smila; bat he gpem serióos again directiy, and said it was very faztnn&ie töe-errar had been diacovered aad rectified tiras-early and before it had made mischief. "Of cotnse I was very glad to set tilinga right," said Windward. "And Sophia, I coald see, was reüeved too, thoagh at her own loss-inossip. Tm glad to know the trnth,' she said, 'for yoor sister'8 sake. As for Qnire, it so fike him that I tookU for giaoted.' At tms I coaldn't resist the tomptaiion, Peter, to tease her a littlc 'Ah, so öki; hun? I said dsmnrely. 'Yes,' she retarted with a toss. 'He's ahvys up to soch tricks!' and then she saw where she was, and began to btnsh and fosa, denying and protestmg and langhing in spite of herself. Well, after that was finaily explaóned a way she went on telling other tales aboot Jmre, wbicli Imnst say iidn't increase myfondness for Mm. 'He's a reguUr proflígate,' she decbtred, and I gnosssbeis-aboot right." "How," contimied Windward, "tnother and Sophia likeach other yxy mach. Saöd mother to-mghi, 'She is the most sensible woman Pve met here,' and itfs a pretty good test where ladies get alomg sonicety as they do in the same house. Lnave heard that one roof is t-o few for two womeu. Well, as mattere stand, yoa see Sophia will have agreat deal of inöaence jast now. Mother said after my talk that she would speak with Sophia on the subject at once. Whew! Won't the lieutenant catch it if she does!" And even Peter had to laag-h at the picture Windward drew of Laeut. Quire on tha-disseeting board onder the knife of Miss Sophia as demonstrator. "Sbe hasaireadysoggested one scherne of great valoe," contnraed Wind-warU. "It shows her woman's wit. She told me that some weeks ago the lion tenant appöed for orders to the Asiatie station, and at one time he worked very hard to jet them. 'He haart tried so hard tstely,' said Miss Sophia, 'bot I hope all íhe same he will succeed, and i f yon isve any inflnence yoa migbt help him aiong.' So kind of her, yoa see, Peter!" "As you say, Windward," replied Stevens, too mach in earnest to relish or even notice the sarcasm, "this is very important. CoaldnJt we get some inflnence at work in that direction?" "I thought of McArdle," suggested Windward. "The very man," said Stevens. "See lim to-morrow by all means. " "I might have to teil him something af the sümation," remarked Windward. "Teil himanything that is neceasary," said Stevens desperately. "Teil anyody anythiog that is necessary." W-eIl, I will see him to-morrow," Bomised Windward. "I dont see as we can do anything mcee jast now," said Stevens after a nee. "ïfs getting late. There's one iiing, Windward - I don"t want to be atying -ox cowardly, bat Pm very anxilua, of coorse - can I know at all how tbey feel toward me? Now, dont gay a wend yon shoukin't. Im ashamed to ask, bat I do want to know so mach!" "I can say this mach certainly,"1 answerod Windwardsmiling kindly, "üiat war -stock has risen greatly in the past ew dsys. Women Iïke mystery, and xnx sodden iutimaey with the H)W San' is myswerioas enoagfa. tü euit anybody. ft4JÉ}ce9 tham, and injfBstB jia wiun ;i romtutio interest. The ladies talk abont yon a great deal, and always pleasantly and favorably; and the lientenant ia worried, which is a good sign. Miss Sopliia is fairly awo stricken, and has already mapped out for you a great career. You'd better be polite to Sophia; she's a good girl to begin with, and a great admirer now of you, and Floy likes her almost aa mach as iuother." "I see," said Peter. "Well, I do like her, and, as yon say, she can bo very nsefnl just now. And to-uiorrow youil aee the colouelï" "Tlie first thing," said Windward. "WeD, good night," said Stevens ■WBMily. "3ood night, Peter," replied Windward. "Don't worry; I guess it wil] come out all right." "IThope so," he answered hopelessly. CHAPTEE XXTV. FIVB TO ONE. In the monring Windward decided, npon reflection, to open the new love troubk; to Miss Sheffield fnst, and seek her-counsel before speakmg to McAixüe. He.accordmgly made hiseall very earty ia tht) aftomoon, so as to.find time for a talk before they went to the agency. Shenet hini with a friendly smile anl showiíd him a choico lxraqTiet and a baskei-of dainties which wereto be-hwiurdBo-on their walk to the i nvaJrcPs bedside. "Bnt you will have lunch with va first," she said. "I am waiting for unrfenow." "I don't mind," relied Windwaid, "thoagh had mine. Bat befare the coknel comes I want to say tht F ve got into aiKther lovo sïïstr. " "Why, you rfwwvfcwpriging " laoghed iBssiSieffiBid. "Do aboxrt it " "Thns time it is my sister FkjEence, exciaiined Windward. "Yoaeee, Floy is yoang yet and romantic, and theue's a naval oflBcer at out boardxng honse (fangting after her, and Pm afraid she Hkas-him- and we don't." "Who is '-we?'" inquired Iiouise. "JBother and-i, and my frienSavns, 8ho kwres Pioy, too,ad hefe a, and I want hrm to have her." "■Ah, yes," said Loense, mnch interested. "Quite a powerfnl 'we.' I think I ooght to take Miss Bassett's pswt to mateit even." "So, indeed," saki Wmdwaad. "We don't want it 'evened.' We want rein&wcements, and all we can get. I want notwanly you, but the colonel, too." "Why, really, that wouH be unbéz" "I don't care," insisted Winward. "There's nothing unfair in lowe, yoa know." "I don't know anything of the sort," bouiae repiiüd. ;Weil, tfae cokmel ia great in love mattera; bnt why do yoo wani-imni" Tt get Quiie or dered away r Lomsc played a moment with her of flo wers. ' 'Poor Qniref" she esclaimed. "Teil mo, do yon sappose -they loveeacii other?" crNo;" said Windward stoutly, "not iimch;" and he added, with a grhnace, "tliey wül get over it in a week, you knaw anyway." Lotnae smiled, bnt rather sadly. Her wonem's sympathies-were with the saflor an&bislass. "Well," she said, with a sbrng, "I'U see abaat it. Here is the colonei now. Fortune debvars the üeutenant into your hands. Unde, Mr. Baasett is here, with more love -trouble." "Ah, Mr. Bassett," said McArdle. "ïaooise' told me of your experience with Clara Willis. I regrei it, bat after all ytva don't want to marrya roee leaf. Gara ia a pratty girl; sbe has lovely hair, the-glory of woman, and while that isfine the capillary attraction is very powerful, I admtt. An1 then there was a crazy aunt, so that-there enongh insamty-in the biood to make the children bright and original. " "She certamly is that," said Windwanl reeohitely . "Obi yes," McArdle. went on, leading the rayto the dining room, "and nota bad. girl, either, thoaghahe likes tomako venteresome excnrsioiis. Bnt lü the pcndent ntariners of oM she takes care not to get ontof sight of land, audknows when to hnrry back. She's a flirt, bnt that ian't her fanlt. She was bom so. Her mother was bef her, and is yet. I befieve, Lonise, yoa.have accused her of her cap f or me. And the widow Wiltis is certainly comely. I often reproach her on her tomp of destractiveness. 'Oh, no,' she said onoe, 'I never broke many hearts' - this with a gesture and toss-of the head designed to gracefnlly give the.h'e to her words- thongh I do remember one poor feUow went awraysorrowful and dfed the next year, tíongh I snppose tijat wonld have happened anyhow, for he carne to nis death by being rnn over by öie cars, which might have resnlted, to be snre, from abeent arindedness.' Yes, I likO Clara; bnt she csagbt as napping, I confesa, this time,, and, as Dr. OUapod says, 'I owe-yoa one.' " "Very well," said Windwrd, 'Til giveyou a chance topaynp instantly, as yon will see. I have a particular friend, Mr. Stevens, of whom you have heard me speak. He is very nrach in love with my sister; but I suspect she farors a young naval offlcer, who also boards at our table, who is in love with j her, too, bnt tne rest of us don't want him. Now he applied some time ago to be ordered to the Asiatic station, and we now want to make sure that he will get his orders, and I thought you could help." "I congratúlate your landlady," said the colonel gravely. "It must be profitable to keep a boarding house for lovers. I see you are not eating anything now." "Oh, I have just come from lunch," exclaimed Windward. -'Mts. Ei doesn't make anything out of me. My appetite is yet sound, I am glad to say." "And I to hear," replied the colonel. "So long as the malady of love ia pericardiac, wit.i team, dreams, untidiness, etc., as the symptoms, it is comparatively harmless, and the patient's friends need fear no serious consequences. But when the disorder attacks the stomach, when love reaches the dyepeptic stage, then it has ceased to be a laughing matter. But as to the present case - why shoold I interfere?" "Tbat iswhatlwanttoknow," added Looise. '1 hold you to your debt," said Windward, grimly. "You force me to quote the poet Gay's lineson flirts," replied McArdle: " 'Pleaaed to ruin Others' wooin'. Never happy in yoor own.' ' "No," insisted Windward, "that isn't it. We are only exchanging an undesirable lover for a better one." "That ia for love, notfriendship, to decide," answered the colonel. "He may be-an ideal fiiend, and in love's eyes be affuninteresting as the scenery between here and New York - gently undulatrng andvery tedious." "No,áir, thatdoesn'tdescribeStevens," exclaimed Windward. "Not at all. And then the lieutenant is a naval oföcer, and I don't Hke military people. AsSteYens says, they are professional homicides. " "Oh, does het" retorted the colonel. "Weïl they are certainly lady killers," and then dropping his lighter manner he added severely: "Your triend is right; they are, but till the world grovra more civiözed we've got to tolérate them, and they are, after all, about as good as other people. They are narrow in their ideas, infernal gossips, and death on pay; yes, for uncommercial people, they certainly are death on pay, but I like them well enougb, only I think they onght to marry, like actors, in their own set. Then the ladies know what to expect, and how to talk the service slang, and how to act, and for that reason 111 come between lovers. Yonr sister wouldn't fike to be wife and widow at once; she boent been bronght op with that idea." "I don't know bat yon are right," said Looüe legretfuHy. "And ril go right over to the bureau otnawgaticai and aee Commodore Walker abotrt tho detail," said the colonel, rising from thetable. "You are very kind," said Windward. "I dan't want you to put yourself out." "Oh, there is no timo to waste in these matter," he replied, "especiaUy when youare dealing wiÖx a saüor hwer. I knew a man once who agreed to get up a-paogramma for an eventogfs-frofic at a neigMioes. So hesat down after tea to derê plans, and he grew so absorbed ia. bis ptuts, which were very fine ones, thatwhen at last tbeywere done, and he loaked at hia wateh, he foond to his horrar that the evening was over, and thecompany dfepecsedin dndgeon." "That was sadP hnghed Wimiward. "Well, if you ar going onr way we will start togetba-, for I fcoèd MBsSheffield J"estoBday of our invadid f riend at the agEncy , and abe wisbed to eeo him and hdjvbim akHj." "I see," said McArdle, looking fnjm Windward to tbe parcela aud irom titan to Lomaa, where bis eyes restad for a mrwnnnt, fondly and aofQy. "I understaod. It's au old story, Mr. Baaaett. gave Louise np long ago as hopdessly benevoient" "Not a bad disease,"' observed Wind ward. "No, ily a rare one," replied Mc Ardle. "I am thinkmg, colonel," said Windward, as they dow departed together, "of letting Miss Sheffield be my substitute. I wanted to talk about that, bnt the other matter drove it outof my head. I have about decided to leave Washington and let the claims g-non as they ha-ve, and probably will, anyway. They are in good hands, and I doubt if I shall be of any service if I stay; or, if necessary, I can run down from New York from tim to time." "On that we will talk further," said the colonel. "I will branch off here. My regards to our friend. Yon will be mterested m mm, Louise." And with this he left them to seek the agency while he looked up bis old friend -Gapt. Walker, chief of the bureau of navigation. "Ah, good day, McArdle!" said tl officer, who was found at his desk. "What can I do for yon?" "I au. interested in Mr. Qmre's case," McArdlo explained. "I believe he wishes to be ordered to the Asiatic station." "I know it," said the officev of detail, crossing his legs and looking vexed. He hated to disoblige the colonel, bot this ■was asking a good deal. " You see, colonel, there are so many applicaöons for this duty. Besides, I onderstand he loesn't press it now." "I shouldn't wonder," repliea McArdle with his usual composure. "That is why we do." "Why so?" asked the mystified eilief of I burean. "There's & womanin it," observed McArdle. "He is after a young girl, and the family don't it." "That's the third this week!" growled thchief. "One woold think this bureau was a matrimonial ageacy. Well, whatf s the matter with Mr. Quire? He's a good fellow and a good officer." ' Oh, yes," McArdle replied instantly. "I have nothing against Mr. Quire; I don't know as they have; only it will result, I see, in a family row, and there is no use in a man going out to sea in a gale nnless with an object; and now, between ns, it isn't worth it. They are rrice and weü to do people- that is, the mother has some. littlo inoney, I hear, but I understand she enjoys and comes of long lived stock. The children haven't any money, and yon know the difiference, commodore, between a wealthy girl and the daughter of wealthy parents. There is where so many yonng men make their mistake, and only-find ont af ter marriage that they are tied to a pauper, who is accnstomed to carriages, silks and foreign travel." "Trne," observed the officer. "Not that they are so very wealthy, " continned thecolonel. "I believe they are comfortivbly well of, bat Mr. Quirs would have to pay his wife's bilis f or twenty years out oí a lieutenant's pay." The chief nodded reflectively. The colonel saw he had gotten the gauge and range, and now let fly the bolt. "I imagine," he observed, "that they rely a good deal f or the future on an old claim they are trying to get through congress. They are, all hands of them, down here pressing it- one of the Prench spoliation claims, yon know." "Frenen claims, hey? Humphl Yes, I know! That's enough." The officer as he spoke reached over impatiently and touched a button on his desk that gave out a tingling ring. Ilear it not, Quire, for it is a knelí that snmmons thee to China! A messehger appeared. "I'll arrange that matter, colonel, as you wish," said the chief of the bureau, and then gave the messenger an order which set the machinery in motion. "I am obliged to you, commodore," said McArdle. "I think it will prove a wise arrangement all around." "Very likely," said the chief, bowing and smiling his visitor ont. "I hope it will," meditated the colonel as he trod slowly and heavily through the corridors of the department and oat into the wintry air, "Pardon me, Cupid; I trust I havn't made trouble by this day's business!" As Louise said, "Poor Quire!" His foes were ambushed, and even had the fight been fair and open the odds were hopelessly against him. CHAPTER XXV. THE LOUISE CLAIM. Windward and nis companion found the invalid counsel deep in the archives of the agency. Hia assistant was also on hand and husy among the papers,' and an air of life and stir pervaded the rooms. "Good day," exclaüned Wiudward as they entered. "I took the, liberty of bringing a lady friend with rne today who wiahed to make yonr acquaintance." "Deüghted," said the invalid, rising and bowing with courtly grace. "Very kindr Introdnctions followed, upon which Louise uffer jd her flowers and dainties with a tact and delicacy of expression tfast added beaaty to the gift. "Yon look busy," said Windward. "T Reading 'em over. Brnshing 'n np. Never say die!" Lotrise smiled her approval of snch gool plock. "It must be tedious," she ssid. "No, miss," the agent replied. "Yery interesting. Queer people, claiinants. Hopeful. Fretfnl. Can't spellf' and.he handed her one or two of the neaöytied packages to examine. She, however, was more interested in the man than in the documents. "You are comfortable, I hope," she said, seating herself by the side of the lounge where - af ter an excuse for his infinnrty - the agent was now again reclining, holding the flowers in his serviceable hand. Her tone of sympathy and ministration suggested to Winttward that poasiWy she might prefer to speak a few ronLs of help and kindnesa wilhoat an andience; henee he excnsed himselí for a moment aod passed throngh theopeoed fofchng doors to the rear oífice, where the assistant was dusting the ptgeon holes and rearranging the papéis. "He is going throngh them sjreteruatically," reinarfced thü assistant. "He has got to C. Jt's tedióos, thoogh. Look at this package - one claim. Tbere are twenty or thirty letters in that single bundie." "I know," sakl Windward, 'Tvedone a little searehing myself." Then he pácked ap a package at randoiu and tuxned over-its letters while the assistaut brnshed and slapped and sorted the dtisty files. Meanwhüe a conveisation of great consequence had beguu in the front room. "Miss Sheffield- Sheffield? McAjsdle niece?" said the agent. "That's familiar somehow. I've heanl - read soinething." "You know iny nncle, I believe," she replied; "and Tve no doubt you rememberdear old Torn Bassett." "Oh, yes, yes," exclaimed the agent, brightening ap and looking at his visitor vrith niuch interest. " Yon're the girl - lady, I shonld say. All grow! YesI yes! Yon the little claimant! Quite romantic! Adopted! Very interesting!" "Sir?" exclaimed Louise, puzzled and doubtful if she had understood aright his muffled and broken phrases. "Ah, can't talk!" exclaimed the invalid sadly. "Adopted! Sheffields - kind people!" By a snprenie effort she repressed her surprise and alarm. What was the misunderstanding? What could he meanf Windward's stnmbUng reference and awVward explanation flashed back apon her mind. She a claimant? -'The Sheffields - kind people." "Adopted." Theso were strange, startling words. Was it possible? Of conree not: bnt she wonld, she must, ascertain what this strange man meant. And she would be calm. Any exhibition of wonder, ignorance, or agitation might seal his lips. Fortunately for her pnrpose, the invalid, though he noticed her confusión, attributed it to embarrassment springing from an inability to understand him. "Ah, can't talk!" he repeated regretfully. "Excuse me; I'll write," saying which he laid down the bouquet and reached for his tablet. Then propping himself up on the lounge, he scribbled rapidly a moment, while Louise, sick and weak with mysterious fears, took the booquet hastily and buried her face in the flowers to gain snpport from their pungent odors. With a smile of interest and curiosity he now paused and handed her the tablet. He had written upon it the following: I snppose you are Mra. .Sboffield'a adopted daughter. I've jast beea roadins aboat itin Tont Bassetfs correspooilenco with Mr. Causten, mr predeceaaor. Vry mUjresting! [ TO Bï COSTINOED. ]


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