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The Campaign Grafter
by [?]

“And you think you can make good?” questioned Bennett rather sceptically. “You are willing to risk it? You don’t think it would be better to wait until after the election is won?”

“You have heard my conditions,” reiterated Craig.

“Done,” broke in Travis. “I’m going to fight it out, Bennett. If we get in wrong by dickering with them at the start it may be worse for us in the end. Paying amounts to confession.”

Bennett shook his head dubiously. “I’m afraid this will suit McLoughlin’s purpose just as well. Photographs are like statistics. They don’t lie unless the people who make them do. But it’s hard to tell what a liar can accomplish with either in an election.”

“Say’ Dean, you’re not going to desert me?” reproached Travis. “You’re not offended at my kicking over the traces, are you?”

Bennett rose, placed a hand on Travis’s shoulder, and grasped his other. “Wesley,” he said earnestly, “I wouldn’t desert you even if the pictures were true.”

“I knew it,” responded Travis heartily. “Then let Mr. Kennedy have one day to see what he can do. Then if we make no progress we’ll take your advice, Dean. We’ll pay, I suppose, and ask Mr. Kennedy to continue the case after next Tuesday.”

“With the proviso,” put in Craig.

“With the proviso, Kennedy,” repeated Travis. “Your hand on that. Say, I think I’ve shaken hands with half the male population of this state since I was nominated, but this means more to me than any of them. Call on us, either Bennett or myself, the moment you need aid. Spare no reasonable expense, and – and get the goods, no matter whom it hits higher up, even if it is Cadwalader Brown himself. Good-bye and a thousand thanks oh, by the way, wait. Let me take you around and introduce you to Miss Ashton. She may be able to help you.”

The office of Bennett and Travis was in the centre of the suite. On one side were the cashier and clerical force as well as the speakers’ bureau, where spellbinders of all degrees were getting=20 instruction, tours were being laid out, and reports received from meetings already held.

On the other side was the press bureau with a large and active force in charge of Miss Ashton, who was supporting Travis because he had most emphatically declared for “Votes for Women” and had insisted that his party put this plank in its platform. Miss Ashton was a clever girl, a graduate of a famous woman’s college, and had had several years of newspaper experience before she became a leader in the suffrage cause. I recalled having read and heard a great deal about her, though I had never met her. The Ashtons were well known in New York society, and it was a sore trial to some of her conservative friends that she should reject what they considered the proper “sphere” for women. Among those friends, I understood, was Cadwalader Brown himself.

Travis had scarcely more than introduced us, yet already I scented a romance behind the ordinarily prosaic conduct of a campaign press bureau. It is far from my intention to minimise the work or the ability of the head of the press bureau, but it struck me, both then and later, that the candidate had an extraordinary interest in the newspaper campaign, much more than in the speakers’ bureau, and I am sure that it was not solely accounted for by the fact that publicity is playing a more and more important part in political campaigning.

Nevertheless such innovations as her card index system by election districts all over the state, showing the attitude of the various newspaper editors, of local political leaders, and changes of sentiment, were very full and valuable. Kennedy, who had a regular pigeon-hole mind for facts, was visibly impressed by this huge mechanical memory built up by Miss Ashton. Though he said nothing to me I knew he had also observed the state of affairs between the reform candidate and the suffrage leader.