One by one Samuel W. Bogley's assistants emerged from his office yesterday morning to protect their troubled boss, the lieutenant governor of Maryland. First came Jean Parlet to announce that Bogley had not been asked by his wife to resign, that he did not plan to resign, and that he would not be available for comment all day.

"What I'm trying to do is spare him," she said in the voice of a concerned mother. "That's my job. He's my guy."

Then John Griffin, tall and burly, appeared with the same message. "I'll set up my pup tent if you plan to stay," he said. "We're not going to let you talk to him."

On most days of most weeks, the man who is only a heartbeat away from the most powerful office in Maryland works alone at his desk. He is rarely interrupted by reporters who are as uncertain as Bogley himself sometimes appears to be about his role in the Hughes administration.It was only a few days earlier that Bogley profusely thanked a reporter for, as he put it, "dropping by and letting this lonely soul know what's going on out there."

But ever so often the modest, soft-spoken Bogley is very much in demand. Invariably, this happens when he agonizes, when he is torn by an inner conflict and talks about it with frankness and simplicity uncommon among veteran politicians. This week, Bogley's conflict was a familiar one -- what to do or say about the issue of abortion.

His wife, Rita Bogley, a symbol of the antiabortion movement in Maryland, was on one side. His boss, Harry R. Hughes, who supports state-funded abortions for poor women, was on the other. And there in the middle was Sam Bogley, the converted Catholic, torn between the moral convictions of his family and a campaign pledge to Hughes that he would not contradict the governor's position.

The conflict tugged at Bogley on Wednesday afternoon when he learned that Hughes and several administration aides were actively lobbying members of the House of Delegates in an attempt to defeat a prolife sponsored measure that would virtually eliminate state-funded medicaid abortions in Maryland.

Bogley sat quietly in his office that day, obviously frustrated. He listened to his wife argue that Hughes was breaking a piedge made by his chief of staff to the prolife leaders that the governor would not play an active role in the abortion debate in the lefislature He listened to a prolife delegate from his home county, Del. Timothy Maloney (D-Prince George's), make an unsubstantiated and later retracted charge that Hughes' patronage secretary was trading jobs for votes on the issue.

"I'd like to say something, but I can't," Bogley said. "I'm trying to be a good lady-in-waiting."

That night, Bogley went home and watched his wife work the telephone for hours trying to win a few undecided delegates over to her side. Bogley said neither of them could sleep that night. He said his wife was "emotionally exhausted." She said he was "tormented."

Thursday, on the day of the House vote, Bobley returned to Annapolis from his Bowie home with his wife and her parents. He worked alone in his office again that morning while Rita Bogley and her parents lobbied for the prolife measure in the House office building. Whenever Rita Bogley encountered a reporter that morning, she would say that her husband was distraught and that, in her opinion, he had been betrayed by the Hughes administration.

In a conversation with several reporters, she discussed the possibility of his resigning from office. The reporters felt obliged to ask Bogley about that statement.

"Maybe after I talk to my wife I'll have to," Bogley told a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. "I certainly do not want to lose her just to be the lieutenant governor."

This was just the sort of response that most politicians avoid. The reporter who posed the question to Bogley said he was very careful not to put the words in the lieutenant governor's mouth. "I know," said the reporter, "that whenever you interview Sam you have to be very careful not to manipulate him. It's so easy to do."

Thursday night, after the House of Delegates defeated the antiabortion measure by a narrow vote, Bogley went to speak at a Municipal League meeting in New Carrollton, then went home. His wife returned an hour later, and again they stayed up later than usual talking about the abortion issue. His resignation was not mentioned, but they did talk about the pledge Bogley made not to contradict the Hughes position.

Bogley said he had the impression that his wife was still upset that he ever made that pledge. "I think she still thinks I went too far. Whenever she gets emotional, she brings it up." And other leaders of the prolife movement, Bogley said, have never forgiven him.

"They say that Bogley sold them out," he said during an interview Friday morning."They wonder how far Bogley has gone, to what level Bogley has sunk, to still be electable. Some of them called and said "Sam's a no-good.'"

Friday, the day after the House vote Bogley was awakened by a telephone call at 7 a.m. from a women who said she had just heard on the radio that Bogley was considering resigning. The quote from the newspaper had spread quickly around the state. "People are always trying to push me to see how far they can go to make me say things," Bogley said. "They're always asking hypothetical questions, and I respond to them."

By the time Bogley reached his office Friday after stopping for an 8 a.m. mass at St. Mary's Church on Duke of Gloucester Street in Annapolis, his desk was piling up with messages from radio, television and newspaper reporters who wanted to ask him about his resignation statement.

Michael Canning, Hughes' chief of staff, walked down the hall and said that Bogley had "acted magnificently" during the ordeal. Then Jean Parlet appeared and said Bogley would not resign. Then John Griffin came out and said Bogley would not be available. And then Samuel W. Bogley let a reporter slip past his aides through a side door and he talked about his agnonizing week.