The humiliation of Sam Bogley is almost over.

Each week, Maryland's sheepish lieutenant governor has fewer duties, and whole days on his office calendar are blank. His chief aide now spends almost all of his time working for Gov. Harry Hughes (Bogley often answers the aide's phone and takes messages for him). He tends to skip executive staff meetings, saying he feels like an intruder. And nobody bothers to notify him of the impromptu policy-making sessions that Hughes pencils in on his weekly schedule after it is delivered to Bogley.

It is common knowledge that Samuel W. Bogley III is being dumped and that Hughes is openly casting about for a new running mate. But nobody seems comfortable talking about it, least of all Bogley, the one-time Prince George's County councilman who was plucked from oblivion in 1978 as the last-minute choice to share the ticket of the then-dark-horse Hughes.

"Oh please no," the 40-year-old Bogley pleaded gently, when asked to reflect on his ill-fated and curious tenure. "It's too painful. Obviously, it's been a rather humbling experience."

It is that sort of candor that has made Bogley an endearing, if sometimes embarrassing, presence in the Hughes administration for the last three years--a whimsical and serene character who seems to have stumbled into the State House from a James Thurber short story instead of from the world of politics.

Even Bogley's critics seem unable to speak of him in anything but tender terms, as if his problems are part of an accident beyond his control.

Take Sen. Julian L. Lapides (D-Baltimore), who calls Bogley "a bauble we can do without," and who is drafting a proposed constitutional amendment to abolish the lieutenant governor's office: "It's certainly not personal, because Sam is my folk hero," Lapides said of his proposal. "He's wonderfully spacey. He has a marvelous sense of humor under adversity. A sweet, sweet guy."

And Blair Lee III, Maryland's first and only other lieutenant governor who says he is dismayed to see what has become of his old office: "Sam was just miscast. It's the inevitable result of a desperation choice followed by an unexpected election."

Legislators have taken to applauding whenever he enters a room. "Oh boy, you made my day. Let me see if I can get my head through the door," Bogley said when a group of senators put down their lunch plates and clapped loudly as he arrived at a buffet reception last week.

It happened last month, too, when Bogley was introduced to the General Assembly minutes before Hughes arrived to deliver his State of the State address. The full legislature stomped, whistled and cheered uproariously at the mention of Bogley's name.

The warm treatment is in part a backhanded rebuke to Hughes, whose formality has alienated old-line pols much as Bogley's folsky and bumbling ways have charmed them. But Bogley said the affection has begun to make him a bit uncomfortable. He is trying, he says, to keep his profile low for Hughes' benefit, realizing that "the legislature kind of commiserates with me. They feel left out, too, and I elicit all these anti-Harry sentiments."

That, he says, is why he cradled his graying blond head in his hands and muttered, "Oh no, back in the doghouse again," in response to his wild welcome from the General Assembly in the minutes before Hughes' State of the State address.

The silence from Bogley's second-floor office these days is almost eerie, considering the chronic outbursts of candor that issued from there in past years. In the last two years, Bogley has stood before fiscal committees and confessed that he believes he is not worth the $52,500 a year that Maryland pays for his services. He has said in public that his boss, the governor, is "losing touch with the people." (He now says he believes Hughes is getting it back.) He has complained that Hughes sidelined him into a low-priority job, denying him adequate staff and other responsibilities he thought were his due.

But there has been none of that this year, as Bogley begins his fade-out. ("Old lieutenant governors never die," he mused.) He and Hughes met in June and confirmed their plans to go separate ways, but Bogley said his parting words to Hughes were that he plans to "be supportive" of the Hughes ticket.

This year, as legislators consider a proposal to increase the lieutenant governor's salary to $62,500, Bogley has modestly pleaded with them not to look to his tenure in making the decision. "Look to Blair Lee III," he said with typical self-effacement. "He's the example of how it should be done, not me."

He has even foresworn his annual soul-baring over the agony of being an antiabortionist in an administration on the other side of the issue--the conflict that shattered his relationship with Hughes even before the two men took office. Bogley and Hughes had tried to keep their differences on the emotional abortion question in the background when they joined forces in 1978. But the zealous antiabortion lobbying of Bogley's wife, Rita, and the leafleting by prolife groups for the Hughes-Bogley ticket forced the issue. With Democratic leaders clamoring for a clarification of Hughes' position after his surprise primary victory, the governor reaffirmed his prochoice philosophy and extracted from Bogley a written promise not to contradict him on that or any other issue for their four-year term.

"I would have to say that was the worst moment of the whole thing--before I even got in the office. I had to face losing the support of people I consider the purest in the Right to Life movement. I had to come home and find my wife heartbroken," Bogley recalled. "I was pretty much resigned to an also-ran status from that point onward."

And things got even worse. First Lady Patricia Hughes and Rita Bogley were divided even more vehemently than their husbands over the abortion issue, according to aides. Rita Bogley continued to lobby with fervor against abortion funding, blanketing the legislature with graphic pictures of aborted fetuses as her muzzled husband sat frustrated in his office. Meanwhile, Pat and Harry Hughes put in well-publicized apearances at Planned Parenthood receptions.

"You had Pat beating on Harry about the Bogleys and Rita beating on Sam about the Hugheses. It was hell," one of the aides said.

Placed at Hughes' mercy by the Maryland Constitution--"There shall be a lieutenant governor who shall have only the duties delegated him by the governor," it says--Bogley had no hope of filling a major role in the administration. And, he conceded, he had no state government experience that automatically qualified him for one. In contrast to Blair Lee III, a longtime state senator and former secretary of state who was delegated considerable powers by his boss, Marvin Mandel, Bogley got only the ceremonial job of serving as liaison to Maryland's counties and municipalities. Although he has left the state dozens of time during his tenure, Hughes has only once named Bogley as acting governor in his absence (Mandel, by contrast, bestowed the title on Lee about 25 times).

In his role as local government liaison, Bogley criss-crossed Maryland to confer with local officials in need of help from the state bureaucracy: extra traffic lights from transportation officials, sludge control aid from the health department. Night after night, he attended chicken dinners, barbeques, crab fests, bull roasts as Hughes' stand-in--big and small festivals in the Maryland hinterlands--while the governor stayed close to the State House.

But even those duties have begun to recede recently. Local officials, aware of Bogley's outsider status, now take their pleas straight to Hughes or those aides known to occupy the inner circle. And with election day approaching, the governor has started putting in his own appearances at the small-town parades, the firemen's balls, the civic club meetings where Bogley used to represent him. Bogley still works long hours and keeps up the appearances of a busy man, but all that is really left for him is to fill in for the governor at receptions and chicken dinners here and there, and on occasion to serve as a lonesome, self-assigned lobbyist on such issues as local health and social service programs and prison construction.

He has received dubious notice through the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors, a little-noticed group that tries to make lieutenant governors matter. "Yes, we're aware of Sam Bogley," said spokeswoman Emily Adams. "The major problem is lieutenant governors really don't know what they're supposed to do in a lot of states. They do hold public office and collect public money. They should be given something to do."

Seven states have no lieutenant governor at all, and Maryland survived painlessly without one until 1968, when then-Gov. Spiro T. Agnew resigned to become vice president, leaving the state with no designated successor. The General Assembly then had the power to fill the vacancy and, to no one's surprise, tapped Marvin Mandel, speaker of the House of Delegates. Amid a public call for a more orderly process, Maryland voters ratified in 1970 a constitutional amendment to create the office of lieutenant governor.

Hughes is expected to make more use of his second lieutenant governor if he wins reelection, but the Bogley episode offers little incentive for major Maryland politicians to team up with him, even if the spot does offer a launching pad to the governor's office in 1986. The men Hughes reportedly wants most--Baltimore County Executive Donald Hutchinson, House Speaker Benjamin L. Cardin, Montgomery County Executive Charles Gilchrist--all are Bogley foils in two important ways: They all have a background in state government, and each has his own formidable political base. And they have let Hughes know that he will have to promise them extensive duties, visibility and statewide clout.

Bogley is looking back toward Prince George's these days, considering a run for county executive. But he still lets his candor get in the way with such damaging self-criticism as: "There are several other capable candidates and I don't think I can be better than any of them." And he is weighing a few other possibilities, including, sources say, a primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes or an appointment in the Hughes administration. The father of seven, with an eighth expected next month, Bogley realizes that he cannot tarry in deciding his future, but still he wavers. Asked to predict what course Bogley will follow, his fellow prolifer, Joe Barrett, laughed aloud.

"I don't mean to laugh," Barrett said. "It's just that Sam marches to his own drum. He'll do what he thinks he should do. He frustrates the hell out of me, but I like him. Sam could have made Harry Hughes miserable, he could have belted him. Quite frankly, many of us told him to do a number on Harry, but that's not Sam. That's why I like him . . . . ."

Bogley admits to having felt vengeful toward Hughes. "But I realized," he said, "that it was just my own ego. Harry was trying to do the right thing. . . .It's something that is and something that was and something that will pass, like so many other things we experience in the course of a lifetime."