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The Campaign Grafter
by [?]

“What a relief it will be when this election is over and the newspapers print news again,” I growled as I turned the first page of the Star with a mere glance at the headlines.

“Yes,” observed Kennedy, who was puzzling over a note which he had received in the morning mail. “This is the bitterest campaign in years. Now, do you suppose that they are after me in a professional way or are they trying to round me up as an independent voter?”

The letter which had called forth this remark was headed, “The Travis Campaign Committee of the Reform League,” and, as Kennedy evidently intended me to pass an opinion on it, I picked it up. It was only a few lines, requesting him to call during the morning, if convenient, on Wesley Travis, the candidate for governor and the treasurer of his campaign committee, Dean Bennett. It had evidently been written in great haste in longhand the night before.

“Professional,” I hazarded. “There must be some scandal in the campaign for which they require your services.”

“I suppose so,” agreed Craig. “Well, if it is business instead of politics it has at least this merit it is current business. I suppose you have no objection to going with me?”

Thus it came about that not very much later in the morning we found ourselves at the campaign headquarters, in the presence of two nervous and high-keyed gentlemen in frock coats and silk hats. It would have taken no great astuteness, even without seeing the surroundings, to deduce instantly that they were engaged in the annual struggle of seeking the votes of their fellow-citizens for something or other, and were nearly worn out by the arduous nature of that process.

Their headquarters were in a tower of a skyscraper, whence poured forth a torrent of appeal to the moral sense of the electorate, both in printed and oral form. Yet there was a different tone to the place from that which I had ordinarily associated with political headquarters in previous campaigns. There was an absence of the old-fashioned politicians and of the air of intrigue laden with tobacco. Rather, there was an air of earnestness and efficiency which was decidedly prepossessing. Maps of the state were hanging on the walls, some stuck full of various coloured pins denoting the condition of the canvass. A map of the city in colours, divided into all sorts of districts, told how fared the battle in the stronghold of the boss, Billy McLoughlin. Huge systems of card indexes, loose leaf devices, labour-saving appliances for getting out a vast mass of campaign “literature” in a hurry, in short a perfect system, such as a great, well-managed business might have been proud of, were in evidence everywhere.

Wesley Travis was a comparatively young man a lawyer who had early made a mark in politics and had been astute enough to shake off the thraldom of the bosses before the popular uprising against them. Now he was the candidate of the Reform League for governor and a good stiff campaign he was putting up.

His campaign manager, Dean Bennett, was a business man whose financial interests were opposed to those usually understood to be behind Billy McLoughlin, of the regular party to which both Travis and Bennett might naturally have been supposed to belong in the old days. Indeed the Reform League owed its existence to a fortunate conjunction of both moral and economic conditions demanding progress.

“Things have been going our way up to the present,” began Travis confidentially, when we were seated democratically with our campaign cigars lighted. “Of course we haven’t such a big ‘barrel’ as our opponents, for we are not frying the fat out of the corporations. But the people have supported us nobly, and I think the opposition of the vested interests has been a great help. We seem to be winning, and I say ‘seem’ only because one can never be certain how anything is going in this political game nowadays.