The Poisoned Pen and Other Stories
The Campaign Grafter
"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
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