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The Campaign Grafter
by [?]

“You recall, Mr. Kennedy, reading in the papers that my country house out on Long Island was robbed the other day? Some of the reporters made much of it. To tell the truth, I think they had become so satiated with sensations that they were sure that the thing was put up by some muckrakers and that there would be an expose of some kind. For the thief, whoever he was, seems to have taken nothing from my library but a sort of scrap-book or album of photographs. It was a peculiar robbery, but as I had nothing to conceal it didn’t worry me. Well, I had all but forgotten it when a fellow came into Bennett’s office here yesterday and demanded – tell us what it was, Bennett. You saw him.”

Bennett cleared his throat. “You see, it was this way. He gave his name as Harris Hanford and described himself as a photographer. I think he has done work for Billy McLoughlin. At any rate, his offer was to sell us several photographs, and his story about them was very circumstantial. He hinted that they had been evidently among those stolen from Mr. Travis and that in a roundabout way they had come into the possession of a friend of his without his knowing who the thief was. He said that he had not made the photographs himself, but had an idea by whom they were made, that the original plates had been destroyed, but that the person who made them was ready to swear that the pictures were taken after the nominating convention this fall which had named Travis. At any rate the photographs were out and the price for them was $25,000.”

“What are they that he should set such a price on them?” asked Kennedy, keenly looking from Bennett quickly to Travis.

Travis met his look without flinching. “They are supposed to be photographs of myself,” he replied slowly. “One purports to represent me in a group on McLoughlin’s porch at his farm on the south shore of the island, about twenty miles from my place. As Hanford described it, I am standing between McLoughlin and J. Cadwalader Brown, the trust promoter who is backing McLoughlin to save his investments. Brown’s hand is on my shoulder and we are talking familiarly. Another is a picture of Brown, McLoughlin, and myself riding in Brown’s car, and in it Brown and I are evidently on the best of terms. Oh, there are several of them, all in the same vein. Now,” he added, and his voice rose with emotion as if he were addressing a cart-tail meeting which must be convinced that there was nothing criminal in riding in a motor-car, “I don’t hesitate to admit that a year or so ago I was not on terms of intimacy with these men, but at least acquainted with them. At various times, even as late as last spring, I was present at conferences over the presidential outlook in this state, and once I think I did ride back to the city with them. But I know that there were no pictures taken, and even if there had been I would not care if they told the truth about them. I have frankly admitted in=20my speeches that I knew these men, that my knowledge of them and breaking from them is my chief qualification for waging an effective war on them if I am elected. They hate me cordially. You know that. What I do care about is the sworn allegation that now accompanies these – these fakes. They were not, could not have been taken after the independent convention that nominated me. If the photographs were true I would be a fine traitor. But I haven’t even seen McLoughlin or Brown since last spring. The whole thing is a – “