Searching for some answers, I stumbled upon this forum. Hope someone can help.

Please believe that I'm a reasonably bright person, was an English minor in college, and now write and edit for a living. Right now I'm reading the Mark Twain co-authored The Gilded Age. Though I'll admit tales of Washington intrigue are not my forte, I was doing fine til I hit Chapter 28, wherein the character Washington meets with head of the Columbia River navigation company in pursuit of back wages and instead finds out that both he and Col. Sellers in fact owe the company thousands of dollars.

What follows is, as far as I can tell, a long and detailed description of congressional appropriations, how much it costs to bribe congressmen, etc., and an episode about letters kept in a safe, allegedly signed by congressmen, that may or may not be forgeries. By this point, I was totally lost as to what is actually transpiring in this chapter.

Can someone map it out for me? Thanks!