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THE VISION SPLENDID (chapter6,part3)

2006-08-28 23:26

    PART 3

    Under Jeff's management the _World_ had at once taken the leadership

    in the fight for political reform in the state. He made it the policy of the paper to tell the truth as to corruption both in and out of his own party. Nor would he allow the business office, as influenced by the advertisers, to dictate the policy of the paper. The result was that at the end of the first year he went to the owner with a report of a deficit of one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars for the twelve months just ended.

    Captain Chunn only laughed. "Keep it up, son. I've had lots of fun out of it. You've given this town one grand good shaking up. The whole state is getting its fighting clothes on. We've got Merrill and Frome scared stiff about their supreme court judges. Looks to me as if we were going to lick them."

    The political campaign was already in progress. Hitherto the public utility corporations of Verden had controlled and practically owned the machinery of both parties. The _World_ had revolted, rallied the better sentiment in the party to which it belonged, and forced the convention to declare for a reform platform and to nominate a clean ticket composed of men of character.

    Jeff agreed. "I think we're going to win. The people are with us. The _World_ is booming." It's the advertising troubles me. Frome and Merrill have got at the big stores and they won't come in with any space worth mentioning."

    "Damn the big advertisers," exploded Chunn. "I've got two million cold and I'm going to see this thing out, son. That's what I told Frome last week when he had the nerve to have me nominated to the Verden Club. Wanted to muzzle me. Be a good fellow and quit agitating. That was the idea. I sent back word I'd stuck by Lee to Appomattox and I reckoned I was too old a dog to learn the new trick of deserting my flag."

    "If you're satisfied I ought to be," Jeff laughed. "As for the advertising, the stores will come back soon. The managers all want to take space, but they are afraid of spoiling their credit at the banks while conditions are so unsettled."

    "Oh, well. We'll stick to our guns. You fire'em and I'll supply the ammunition." The little man put his hand on Jeff's shoulder with a chuckle. "We're both rebels——both irreconcilables, son. I reckon we're going to be

    well hated before we get through with this fight."

    "Yes. They're going about making people believe we're cranks and agitators who are hurting business for our own selfish ends."

    "I reckon we can stand it, David." Chunn had no children of his own and he always called Jeff son or David. "By the way, how's that good looking cousin of yours coming out? I see you're giving his speeches lots of space."

    A light leaped to the eyes of the younger man. "He's doing fine. James is a born orator. Wherever he goes he gets a big ovation."

    Chunn grunted. "Humph! That'll please him. He's as selfish as the devil, always looking out for James Farnum."

    "He wins the people, Captain."

    "You talk every evening yourself, but I don't see reports of any of your speeches."

    "I don't talk like James. There's not a man in the state to equal him, young as he is."

    "Humph!"

    Captain Chunn grumbled a good deal about the way Jeff was always pushing his cousin forward and keeping in the background himself. In his opinion "David" was worth a hundred of the other.

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