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The Hon. Bardwell Slote, Of Cohosh
by [?]

The Hon. Bardwell Slote is a large man at home and a giant to his wife. In his first term he comes to Washington a month ahead of the date set for the assembling of Congress, because he wants the Capital to get used to him gradually. He hires a couple of rooms in a hotel. His wife puts some flowers on the mantel piece in the sitting-room and wears her best dress all the time while she is waiting for the president’s consort and the cabinet ladies to call. They do not call. The Hon. Slote is shocked almost to dumbness to discover that the Capital does not know that he is on earth. Beyond a two-line “personal” in the morning paper, jammed among the “hotel arrivals,” no mention is made of his coming. He has bills in his trunk providing for a public building at Bungtown and a deep water harbor at Squashville and a light house on Jim Ned creek and the establishment of a federal court at Eden and a governmental survey of the bad lands around Dogtown, and the Bungtown Bazoo and the Squashville Cresset and the Eden Echoe and the Dogtown Democrat have all stated that he intended to make speeches on every one of them, but the general public does not seem to take much interest in these foreshadowed cataclysmal events. Posing on the sidewalk in front of his hotel, with his legs wide apart, his hands behind him and his breast well out, a couple of small boys passing remark that he is “de new jay f’on Injyanny,” and that is all the notice he gets. The attitude was very effective at home, but it does not seem to excite awe in the District of Columbia.

Once in his seat on the floor of the House he discovers that he is merely a unit in the majority or the minority. Nobody asks his advice about anything. The tally clerk calls his name in a careless manner. He cannot catch the speaker’s eye. He bobs up half a dozen times in the first hour with intent to make a motion about something and sinks back limply. The voice, face and manner that were wont to still the conventions at home are no good. The newspaper men in the gallery over the speaker’s head point at him and whisper to each other and then they laugh. It makes him uncomfortable. The next day the clipping bureau sends him thirty or forty paragraphs like this:

“The Hon. Bardwell Slote, of the Cohosh district, Indiana, made his first appearance on the floor yesterday. He experienced some difficulty in delivering his half dozen speeches on the various manuscripts in his trunks. The speaker was savagely oblivious. The Hon. Slote will add much to the gaiety of nations. The distinctive articles of his attire were a red cravat, a coat of the vintage of ’49, a tobacco-stained shirt-front and a whisp of oakum- colored chin beard. As a bit of bric-a-brac, or a curio from one of the oldest portions of the unhallowed west, he will be of value in the interior decoration of the Capitol, but it is to be feared that his oratorical vent has been choked up for some time to come.”

As time goes on the Hon. Slote finds his uses. He visits the departments with persistency. He is followed by a trail of officeseekers from home. He finds that he must wait like a servant in the ante-rooms of the secretaries. He does not wield much influence. His party leaders realize the value of his vote and order him to cast it when they want it. The qualities of the man bring him forward. He has been a heeler in the small politics of his own county and he becomes a wrestler with two or three hundred heelers from other parts of the republic. The professional widow, clad in the sable habiliments of woe, takes him into a quiet corner and leans against him hard. The Hon. Slote becomes wildly excited and promises to leg for her bill. He legs for it until it passes and goes up to the court of claims. Then the widow knows him no more. A young lady, with freshly colored cheeks and golden hair streaming down her back, looks at him tenderly in the House restaurant. He follows her outside the Capitol and boards a car with her and scrapes acquaintance with her, and goes back to his lean but fiery wife some time that night, looking and feeling like a dissipated tom cat stealing homeward over the roofs in the gray of a chilly morning. He is introduced to the poker game at Chamberlin’s and finds that he can hold more big hands and get more of them beaten than in any place he ever saw in his life. He discovers that the whisky sold in the Capitol is sudden death at a distance of 150 yards against the wind. He draws his first month’s wage of $416 and finds that his resolution to save $316 of it might as well not have been made. His mileage money has been spent long before. The fact is borne in on him that it is necessary only that he answer to his name at 12 o’clock roll call. He will not be allowed to make speeches anyhow and can, if he chooses, fill in his time talking to the professional widow and the young lady of the restaurant.