An American Politician
F. Marion Crawford
Part 2 out of 5
down as she had sat before, and stared vacantly at the fire.
It would be very wrong to break Ronald's heart, she thought. He would come
to her so full of hope and gladness; how could she tell him she did not
But how was it possible that in all these years she had never before
understood that she could not marry him? It had always seemed so natural
to marry Ronald. And yet she must have always really felt just as she did
to-night; only she had never realized it, never at all. Why had it come
over her so suddenly too? It would have been so much better if she could
have seen the truth at home, before she parted from him; for it would be
so hard for him to bear it now, after coming across the ocean to see her
--so cruelly hard. Dear Ronald; and yet he must be told.
Yes, there was no doubt about it, the very first meeting must explain it
to him. He would say--what would he say? He would tell her she liked some
one else better.
Some one else! Some one who had stolen away her heart; of course he would
say that. But he would be wrong, for there was no one else, not one of all
these men she had seen, who had so much as breathed a word of love to her.
None whom she liked nearly so much as Ronald, no, not one.
For a long time she sat very quietly, following a train of thought that
was half unconscious. Her lips moved now and then, as though she were
repeating something to herself, and gradually the pained and anxious
expression of her face melted away into a look of peace.
The old gilt clock upon the chimney-piece struck twelve in its shrill
steel tones. Josephine started at the sound, and passed one hand over her
eyes as though to rouse herself, and at the same time a deep blush spread
over her delicate cheek. For with the voice of midnight there was also the
voice of a man ringing in her ears, and she heard the two together, so
that it seemed as though all the world must hear them also, and her gentle
maiden's soul was shamed at the thought.
So it is that our loves are always with us, and though we search ourselves
diligently to find them and rebuke them, we find them not; but if we give
up searching they come upon us unawares, and speak very soft words. Love
also is a gentle thing, full of sweetness and peace, when he comes to us
so; and though the maiden blushes at his speaking, she would not stop the
ears of her heart against him for all the world; and although the boy
trembles and turn pale, and forgets to be boyish when, the fit is on him,
nevertheless he goes near and worships, and loses his heart in learning a
new language. So kind and soft is love, so tender and sweet-spoken, that
you would think he would not so much as ruffle the leaf of a rose, nor
breathe too sharply on a violet, lest he should hurt the flower-soul
within; and if you treat him hospitably he is kind to the last, so that
when he is gone there is still a sweet savor of him left. But if you would
drive him roughly away with scorn and rude language, he will stand at your
door and will not leave you. Then his wings drop from him, and he grows
strong and fierce, and deadly and beautiful, as the fallen archangel of
heaven, crying aloud bitter things to you by day and night; till at the
last he will break down bolt and bar and panel, and enter your chamber,
and drag you out with him to your death in the wild darkness.
But Josephine blushed deeply there in the old-fashioned drawing-room at
midnight, and as she turned away she wondered at herself, for she could
not believe nor understand what was happening.
Poor girl! She had talked of love so often as an abstract thing, she had
seen so many love-makings of others, and so many men had tried to make
love to her in her short brilliant life, and she had always thought it
could not come near her, because, of course, she really loved Ronald. She
had marveled, indeed, at what people were willing to do, and at what they
were ready to sacrifice, for a feeling that seemed to her of such little
importance as that. It had been an illusion, and the waking had come at
last very suddenly. Whoever it might be whom she was destined to take, it
was not Ronald. It was madness to think she could be bound forever to him,
however much she might admire him and desire him as a friend.
When the clock struck she was thinking of John, and the words he had said
that night to his great audience were ringing again in her ears. She
blushed indeed at the idea that she was thinking so much of him, but it
was not that she believed she loved him. If as yet she really did, she was
herself most honestly unconscious of it; and so the blush was not
accounted for in the reckoning she made.
She lay awake long, trying to determine what was best to be done, but she
could not. One thing she must do; she must explain to Ronald, when he
came, that she could never, never marry him.
If only she had a sister, or some one! Dear Aunt Zoruiah was so horrid
about such things that it was impossible to talk to her!
"Do you know how to skate?" Sybil Brandon asked of Joe as the two young
girls, clad in heavy furs, walked down the sunny side of Beacon Street two
days later. They were going from Miss Schenectady's to a "lunch party"--
one of those social institutions of Boston which had most surprised Joe on
her first arrival.
"Of course," answered Joe. "I do not know anything, but I can do
"How nice!" said Sybil. "Then you can go with us to-night. That will be
"What is it?"
"We are all going skating on Jamaica Pond. Nobody has skated for so long
here that it is a novelty. I used to be so fond of it."
"We always skate at home, when there is ice," said Joe. "It will be
enchanting though, with the full moon and all. What time?"
"Mrs. Sam Wyndham will arrange that," said Sybil. "She is going to
"How dreadful, to have to be chaperoned!" ejaculated Joe. "But Mrs.
Wyndham is very jolly after all, so it does not much matter."
"I believe they used to have Germans here without any mothers," remarked
Sybil, "but they never do now."
"Poor little things, how awfully lonely for them!" laughed Joe.
"The Germans--without their mothers. Oh, I forgot the German was the
cotillon. You mean cotillons, without tapestry, as we say."
"Yes, exactly. But about the skating party. It will be very select, you
know; just ourselves. You know I never go out," Sybil added rather sadly,
"but I do love skating so."
"Who are 'ourselves'--exactly?"
"Why, you and I, and the Sam Wyndhams, and the Aitchison girls, and Mr.
Topeka, and Mr. Harrington, and Mr. Vancouver--let me see--and Miss St.
Joseph, and young Hannibal. He is very nice, and is very attentive to Miss
"Is it nice, like that, skating about in couples?" asked Joe.
"No; that is the disagreeable part; but the skating is delicious."
"Let us stay together all the time," said Joe spontaneously, "it will be
ever so much pleasanter. I would not exactly like to be paired off with
any of those men, you know."
Sybil looked at Joe, opening her wide blue eyes in some astonishment. She
did not think Joe was exactly one of those young women who object to a
moonlight _tete-a-tete_, if properly chaperoned.
"Yes, if you like, dear," she said. "I would like it much better myself,
"Do you know, Sybil," said Joe, looking up at her taller companion, "I
should not think you would care for skating and that sort of thing."
"Why?" asked Sybil.
"You do not look strong enough. You are not a bit like me, brought up on
"Oh, I am very strong," answered Sybil, "only I am naturally pale, you
see, and people think I am delicate."
But the north wind kissed her fair face and the faint color came beneath
the white and through it, so that Joe looked at her and thought she was
the fairest woman in the world that day.
"When I was a little girl," said Joe, "mamma used to tell me a story about
the beautiful Snow Angel: she must have been just like you, dear."
"What is the story?" asked Sybil, the delicate color in her cheek
deepening a little.
"I will tell you to-night when we are skating, we have not time now. Here
we are." And the two girls went up the steps of the house where they were
going to lunch.
On the other side of the street Pocock Vancouver and John Harrington met,
and stopped to speak just as Joe and Sybil had rung the bell, and stood
waiting at the head of the steps.
"Don't let us look at each other so long as we can look at them," said
Vancouver, shaking hands with John, but looking across the street at the
two girls. John looked too, and both men bowed.
"They are pretty enough for anything, are they not?" continued Vancouver.
"Yes," said John, "they are very pretty."
With a nod and a smile Joe and Sybil disappeared into the house.
"Why don't you marry her?" asked Vancouver.
"Which? The English girl?"
"No; Sybil Brandon."
"Thank you, I am not thinking of being married," said John, a half-comic,
half-contemptuous look in his strong face. "Miss Brandon could do better
than marry a penniless politician, and besides, even if I wanted it, I
care too much for Miss Brandon's friendship to risk losing it by asking
her to marry me."
"Nonsense, my dear fellow," said Vancouver, "she would accept you straight
off. So would the other."
"You ought to know," said John, eyeing his companion calmly.
Vancouver looked away; it was generally believed that he had been refused
by Miss Brandon more than a year previous.
"Well, you can take my word for it, you could not do better," he answered,
ambiguously. "There is no knowing how the moonlight effects on Jamaica
Pond may strike you this evening. I say, though, you were pretty lucky in
having such warm weather the night before last."
"Yes," said John. "The house was full. Were you there?"
"Of course. If I were not a Republican I would congratulate you on your
success. It is a long time since any one has made a Boston audience listen
to those opinions. You did it surprisingly well; that sentence about
protection was a masterpiece. I wish you were one of us."
"It is of no use arguing with you," said John. "If it were, I could make a
Democrat of you in an afternoon."
"I make a pretty good thing of arguing, though," answered the other. "It's
my trade, you see, and it is not yours. You lay down the law; it is my
business to make a living out of it."
"I wish I _could_ lay it down, as you say, and lay it down according
to my own ideas," said John. "I would have something to say to you
"As for that, I should not care. Railroad law is stronger than iron and
more flexible than india-rubber, and the shape of it is of no importance
whatever. So long as there is enough of it to work with, you can twist it
and untwist it as much as you please."
"It would simplify matters to untwist it and cut it up into lengths," he
said. "But then your occupation would be gone."
"I think my occupation will last my life-time," answered Vancouver,
laughing in his turn.
"Not if I can help it," returned John. "But we can provide you with
another. Good-by. I am going to Cambridge."
They shook hands cordially, and John Harrington turned down Charles
Street, while Vancouver pursued his way up the hill. He had been going in
the opposite direction when he met Harrington, but he seemed to have
changed his mind. He was not seen again that day until he went to dine
with Mrs. Sam Wyndham.
There was no one there but Mr. Topeka and young John C. Hannibal, well-
dressed men of five-and-thirty and five-and-twenty respectively, belonging
to good families of immense fortune, and educated regardless of expense.
No homely Boston phrase defiled their anglicized lips, their great collars
stood up under their chins in an ecstasy of stiffness, and their shirt-
fronts bore two buttons, avoiding the antiquity of three and the vulgarity
of one. Well-bred Anglo-maniacs both, but gentlemen withal, and courteous
to the ladies. Mr. Topeka was a widower, John C. Hannibal was understood
to be looking for a wife.
They came, they dined, and they retired to Sam Wyndham's rooms to don
their boots and skating clothes. At nine o'clock the remaining ladies
arrived, and then the whole party got into a great sleigh and were driven
rapidly out of town over the smooth snow to Jamaica Pond. John Harrington
had not come, and only three persons missed him--Joe Thorn, Mrs. Sam, and
The ice had been cut away in great quantities for storing and the thaw had
kept the pond open for a day or two. Then came the sharpest frost of the
winter, and in a few hours the water was covered with a broad sheet of
black ice that would bear any weight. It was a rare piece of good fortune,
but the fashion of skating had become so antiquated that no one took
advantage of the opportunity; and as the party got out of the sleigh and
made their way down the bank, they saw that there was but one skater
before them, sweeping in vast solitary circles out in the middle of the
pond, under the cold moonlight. The party sat on the bank in the shadow of
some tall pine trees, preparing for the amusement, piling spare coats and
shawls on the shoulders of a patient groom, and screwing and buckling
their skates on their feet.
"What beautiful ice!" exclaimed Joe, when Vancouver had done his duty by
the straps and fastenings. She tapped the steel blade twice or thrice on
the hard black surface, still leaning on Vancouver's arm, and then,
without a word of warning, shot away in a long sweeping roll. The glorious
vitality in her was all alive, and her blood thrilled and beat wildly in
utter enjoyment. She did not go far at first, but seeing the others were
long in their preparations, she turned and faced them, skating away
backwards, leaning far over to right and left on each changing stroke, and
listening with intense pleasure to the musical ring of the clanging steel
on the clean ice. Some pride she felt, too, at showing the little knot of
Bostonians how thoroughly at home she was in a sport they seemed to
consider essentially American.
Joe had not noticed the solitary skater, and thought herself alone, but in
a few moments she was aware of a man in an overcoat bowing before her as
he slackened his speed. She turned quickly to one side and stopped
herself, for the man was John Harrington.
"Why, where did you come from, Mr. Harrington?" she asked in some
astonishment. "You were not hidden under the seats of the sleigh, were
"Not exactly," said John, looking about for the rest of the party. "I was
belated in Cambridge this afternoon, so I borrowed a pair of skates and
walked over. Splendid ice, is it not?"
"I am so glad you came," said Joe. She was in such high spirits and was so
genuinely pleased at meeting John that she forgot to be cold to him. "It
would have been a dreadful pity to have missed this."
"It would indeed," said John, skating slowly by her side.
For down by the pine trees two or three figures began to move on the ice.
"I want to thank you, Mr. Harrington," said Joe.
"What for, Miss Thorn?" he asked.
"For the pleasure you gave me the other night," she answered. "I have not
seen you since to speak to. It was splendid!"
"Thanks," said John. "I saw you there, in the gallery on my left."
"Yes; but how could you have time to look about and recognize people? You
must have splendid eyes."
"It is all a habit," said John. "When one has been before an audience a
few times one does not feel nervous, and so one has time to look about. Do
you care for that sort of thing, Miss Thorn?"
"Oh, ever so much. But I was frightened once, when they began to grumble."
"There was nothing to fear," said John, laughing. "Audiences of that kind
do not punctuate one's speeches with cabbages and rotten eggs."
"They do sometimes in England," said Joe. "But here come the others!"
Two and two, in a certain grace of order, the little party came out from
the shore into the moonlight. The women's faces looked white and waxen
against their rich furs, and the moonbeams sparkled on their ornaments. A
very pretty sight is a moonlight skating party, and Pocock Vancouver knew
what he was saying when be hinted at the mysterious and romantic
influences that are likely to be abroad on such occasions. Indeed, it was
not long before young Hannibal was sliding away hand in hand with Miss St.
Joseph at a pace that did not invite competition. And Mr. Topeka decided
which of the Aitchison girls he preferred, and gave her his arm, so that
the other fell to the lot of Sam Wyndham, while Mrs. Sam and Sybil Brandon
came out escorted by Vancouver, who noticed with some dismay that the
party was "a man short." The moment he saw Joe talking to the solitary
skater, he knew that the latter must be Harrington, who had gone to
Cambridge and come across. John bowed to every one and shook hands with
Mrs. Wyndham. Joe eluded Vancouver and put her arm through Sybil's, as
though to take possession of her.
Joe would have been well enough pleased at first to have been left with
John, but the sight of Vancouver somehow reminded her of the compact she
had made in the morning with Sybil, and in a few moments the two girls
were away together, talking so persistently to each other that Vancouver,
who at first followed them and tried to join their conversation, was fain
to understand that he was not wanted, so that he returned to Mrs. Wyndham.
"I want so much to talk to you," Joe began, when they were alone.
"Yes, dear?" said Sybil half interrogatively, as they moved along. "We can
talk here charmingly, unless Mr. Vancouver comes after us again. But you
do skate beautifully, you know. I had no idea you could."
"Oh, I told you I could do everything," said Joe, with some pride. "Where
_did_ you get that beautiful fur, my dear? It is magnificent. You are
just like the Snow Angel now."
"In Russia. Everybody wears white fur there, you know. We were in St.
Petersburg some time."
"I know. We cannot get it in England. If one could I would have told
Ronald to bring me some when he comes."
"Who is Ronald?" asked Sybil innocently.
"Oh, he is the dearest boy," said Joe, with a little sigh, "but I do so
wish he were not coming!"
"Because he has not got the white fur?" suggested Sybil.
"Oh no! But because"--Joe lowered her voice and spoke demurely, at the
same time linking her arm more closely in Sybil's. "You see, dear, he
wants to marry me, and I am afraid he is coming to say so."
"And you do not want to marry him? Is that it?"
Joe's small mouth closed tightly, and she merely nodded her head gravely,
looking straight before her. Sybil pressed her arm sympathetically and was
silent, expecting more.
"It was such a long time ago, you see," said Joe, after a while. "I was
not out when it was arranged, and it seemed so natural. But now--it is
"But of course, if you do not love him, you must not think of marrying
him," said Sybil, simply.
"I won't," answered Joe, with sudden emphasis. "But I shall have to tell
him, you know," she added despondently.
"It is very hard to say those things," said Sybil, in a tone of
reflection. "But of course it must be done--if you were really engaged,
"Yes, almost really," said Joe.
"Not quite?" suggested Sybil.
"I think not quite; but I know he thinks it is quite quite, you know."
"Well, but perhaps he is not so certain, after all. Do you know, I do not
think men really care so much; do you?"
"Oh, of course not," said Joe scornfully. "But it does not seem quite
honest to let a man think you are going to marry him if you do not mean
"But you did mean to, dear, until you found out you did not care for him
enough. And just think how dreadful it would be to be married if you did
not care enough!"
"Yes, that is true," answered Joe. "It would be dreadful for him too."
"When is he coming?" asked Sybil.
"I think next week. He sailed the day before yesterday."
"Then there is plenty of time to settle on what you want to say," said
Sybil. "If you make up your mind just how to put it, you know, it will be
ever so much easier."
"Oh no!" cried Joe. "I will trust to luck. I always do; it is much
"Excuse me, Miss Brandon," said the voice of Vancouver, who came up behind
them at a great pace, and holding his feet together let himself slide
rapidly along beside the two girls,--"excuse me, but do you not think you
are very unsociable, going off in this way?"
"May I give you my arm, Miss Thorn?" asked Harrington, coming up on the
Without leaving each other Joe and Sybil took the proffered arms of the
two men, and the four skated smoothly out into the middle of the ice, that
rang again in the frosty air under their joint weight. Mrs. Wyndham had
insisted that Vancouver and Harrington should leave her and follow the
young girls, and they had obeyed in mutual understanding.
"Which do you like better, Miss Brandon, boating in Newport or skating on
Jamaica Pond?" asked Vancouver.
"This is better than the Music Hall, is it not?" remarked John to Miss
"Oh, Jamaica Pond, by far," Sybil answered, and her hold on Joe's arm
relaxed a very little.
"Oh no! I would a thousand times rather be in the Music Hall!" exclaimed
Joe, and her hand slipped away from Sybil's white fur. And so the four
were separated into couples, and went their ways swiftly under the
glorious moonlight. As they parted Sybil turned her head and looked after
Joe, but Joe did not see her.
"I would rather be here," said John quietly.
"Why?" asked Joe.
"There is enough fighting in life to make peace a very desirable thing
sometimes," John answered.
"A man cannot be always swinging his battle-axe." There was a very slight
shade of despondency in the tone of his voice. Joe noticed it at once.
Women do not all worship success, however much they may wish their
champion to win when they are watching him fight. In the brilliant,
unfailing, all-conquering man, the woman who loves him feels pride; if she
be vain and ambitious, she feels wholly satisfied, for the time. But
woman's best part is her gentle sympathy, and where there is no room at
all for that, there is very often little room for love. In the changing
hopes and fears of uncertain struggles, a woman's love well given and
truly kept may turn the scale for a man, and it is at such times, perhaps,
that her heart is given best, and most loyally held by him who has it.
"I wish I could do anything to help him to succeed," thought Joe, in the
innocent generosity of her half-conscious devotion.
"Has anything gone wrong?" she asked aloud.
"Has anything gone wrong?" There was so much of interest and sympathy in
her tone, as Joe put the simple question, that John turned and looked into
her face. The magic of moonlight softens the hardest features, makes
interest look like friendship, and friendship like love; but it can harden
too at times, and make a human face look like carved stone.
"No, there is nothing wrong," John answered presently; "what made you
"You spoke a little regretfully," answered Joe.
"Did I? I did not mean to. Perhaps one is less gay and less hopeful at
some times than at others. It has nothing to do with success or failure."
"I know," answered Joe. "One can be dreadfully depressed when one is
enjoying one's self to any extent. But I should not have thought you were
that sort of person. You seem always the same."
"I try to be. That is the great difference between people who live to work
and people who live to amuse and be amused."
"How do you mean?"
"I mean," said John, "that people who work, especially people who have to
do with large ideas and great movements, need to be more or less
monotonous. The men who succeed are the men of one idea or at least they
are the men who only have one idea at a time."
"Whereas people who live to amuse and be amused must have as many ideas as
"Yes, to play with," said John, completing the sentence. "Their life is
play, their ideas are their playthings, and so soon as they have spoiled
one toy they must have another. The people who supply ideas to an idle
public are very valuable, and may have great power."
"Novel-writers, and that sort of people," suggested Joe.
"All producers of light literature and second-rate poetry, and a very
great variety of other people besides. A man who amuses others may often
be a worker himself. He raises a laugh or excites a momentary interest by
getting rid of his superfluous ideas and imaginations, reserving to
himself all the time the one idea in which he believes."
"Not at all a bad theory," said Joe.
"There are more men of that sort with you in Europe than with us. You need
more amusement, and you will generally give more for it. You English, who
are uncommonly fond of doing nothing, give yourselves vast trouble in the
pursuit of pleasure. We Americans, who are ill when we are idle, are
content to surround ourselves with the paraphernalia of pleasure when
office hours are over; but we make very little use of our opportunities
for amusement, being tired out at the end of the day with other things
which we think more important. The result is that we have no such thing as
what you denominate 'Society,' because we lack the prime element of
aristocratic social intercourse, the ingrained determination to be idle."
"You are very hard on us," remarked Joe.
"Excuse me," returned John, "you are compensated by having what we have
not. Europeans are the most agreeable people in the world, wherever mutual
and daily conversation and intercourse are to be considered. The majority
of you, of polite European society, are not troubled with any very large
ideas, but you have an immense number of very charming and attractive
small ones. In America there are only two ideas that practically affect
society, but they are very big ones indeed."
"What?" asked Joe laconically, growing interested in John's queer lecture.
"Money and political influence," answered John Harrington. "They are the
two great motors of our machine. All men who are respected among us are in
pursuit of one or the other, or have attained to one or the other by their
own efforts. The result is, that European society is amusing and
agreeable; whereas Americans of the same class are more interesting, less
polished, better acquainted with the general laws that govern the
development of nations." "Really, Mr. Harrington," said Joe, "you are
making us out to be very insignificant. And I think it would be very dull
if we all had to understand ever so many general laws. Besides, I do not
agree with you."
"About what, Miss Thorn?"
"About Americans. They talk better than Englishmen, as a rule."
"But I am comparing Americans with the whole mass of Europeans," John
objected. "The English are a rather silent race, I should say."
"Cold, you think?" suggested Joe.
"No, not cold. Perhaps less cold than we are; but less demonstrative."
"I like that," answered Joe. "I like people to feel more than they show."
"Why?" asked John. "Why should not people be perfectly natural, and show
when they feel anything, or be cold when they do not?" "I think when you
know some one feels a great deal and hides it, that gives one the idea of
They had reached a distant part of the ice, and were slowly skating round
the limits of a little bay, where the slanting moonbeams fell through tall
old trees upon the glinting black surface. They were quite alone, only in
the distance they could hear the long-drawn clang and ring of the other
skaters, echoing all along the lake with a tremulous musical sound in the
still bright night. "You must be very cold yourself, Mr. Harrington," Joe
began again after a pause, stopping and looking at him.
John laughed a little.
"I?" he cried. "No, indeed, I am the most enthusiastic man alive."
"You are when you are speaking in public," said Joe. "But that may be all
comedy, you know. Orators always study their speeches, with all the
gestures and that, before a glass, don't they?"
"I do not know," said John. "Of course I know by heart what I am going to
say, when I make a speech like that of the other evening, but I often
insert a great deal on the spur of the moment. It is not comedy. I grow
very much excited when I am speaking."
"Never at any other time?" asked Joe.
"Seldom; why should I? I do not feel other things or situations so
"In other words," replied Joe, "it is just as I said; you are generally
"I suppose so," John acquiesced, "since you will not allow the occasions
when I am not cold to be counted."
Joe looked down as she stood, and moved her skates slowly on the ice; the
shadows hid her face.
"Do you know," she said presently, "you lose a great deal; you must, you
cannot help it. You only like people in a body, so as to see what you can
do with them. You only care for things on a tremendously big scale, so
that you may try to influence them. When you have not a crowd to talk to,
or a huge scheme to argue about, you are bored to extinction."
"No," said John; "I am not bored at present, by any means."
"Because you are talking about big things. Most men in your place would be
talking about the moonlight, and quoting Shelley."
"To oblige you, Miss Thorn, I could quote a little now and then," said
John, laughing. "Would it please you? I dare say you have seen elephants
stand upon their hind legs and their heads alternately. I should feel very
much like one; but I will do anything to oblige you."
"That is frivolous," said Joe, who did not smile.
"Of course it is. I am heavy by nature. You may teach me all sorts of
tricks, but they will not be at all pretty."
"No, you are very interesting as you are," said Joe quietly. "But I do not
think you will be happy."
"It is not a question of happiness."
"What is it then?"
"Usefulness," said John.
"You do not care to be happy, you only care to be useful?" Joe asked.
"Yes. But my ideas of usefulness include many things. Some of the people
who listen to me would be very much astonished if they knew what I dream."
"Nothing would astonish me," said Joe, thoughtfully. "Of course you must
think of everything in a large way--it is your nature. You will be a great
John looked at his companion. She had struck the main chord of his nature
in her words, and he felt suddenly that thrill of pleasure which comes
from the flattery of our pride and our hopes. John was not a vain man, but
he was capable of being intoxicated by the grandeur of a scheme when the
possibility of its realization was suddenly thrust before him. Like all
men of exceptional gifts who are constantly before the public, he could
estimate very justly the extent of the results he could produce on any
given occasion, but his enthusiastic belief in his ideas could see no
limit to the multiplication of those results. His strong will and natural
modesty about himself constantly repressed any desire he might have to
speak over-confidently of ultimate success, so that the prediction of
ultimate success by some one else was doubly sweet to him. We Americans
have said of ourselves that we are the only nation who accomplish what we
have boasted of. Rash speech and rash action are our national
characteristics, and lead us into all manner of trouble, but in so far as
such qualifications or defects imply a positive conviction of success,
they contribute largely to the realization of great schemes. No one can
succeed who does not believe in himself, nor can any scheme be realized
which has not gained the support of a sufficient number of men who believe
in it and in themselves.
John was gratified by Miss Thorn's speech, for he saw that it was
"I will try to be great," he said, "for the sake of what I think is
There was a short pause, and the pair by common consent skated slowly out
of the shadow into the broad moonlight.
"Not that I believe you will be happy if you think of nothing else," said
"In order to do anything well, one must think of nothing else," answered
"Many great men find time to be great and to do many other things," said
Joe. "Look at Mr. Gladstone; he has an immense private correspondence
about things that interest him, quite apart from the big things he is
"When a man has reached that point he may find plenty of time to spare,"
answered Harrington. "But until he has accomplished the main object of his
life he must not let anything take him from his pursuit. He must form no
ties, he must have no interests, that do not conduce to his success. I
think a man who enters on a political career must devote himself to it as
exclusively as a missionary Jesuit attacks the conversion of unbelievers,
as wholly as a Buddhist ascetic gives himself to the work of uniting his
individual intelligence with the immortal spirit that gives it life."
"I do not agree with you," said Joe decisively, and in her womanly
intelligence of life she understood the mistake John made. "I cannot agree
with you. You are mixing up political activity, which deals with the
government of men, with spiritual ideas and immortality, and that sort of
"How so?" asked John, in some surprise.
"I am quite sure," said Joe, "that to govern man a man must be human, and
the imaginary politician you tell me of is not human at all."
"And yet I aspire to be that imaginary politician," said John.
"Do not think me too dreadfully conceited," Joe answered, "in talking
about such things. Of course I do not pretend to understand them, but I am
quite sure people must be like other people--I mean in good ways--or other
people will not believe in them, you know. You are not vexed, are you?"
She looked up into John's face with a little timid smile that might have
done wonders to persuade a less prejudiced person than Harrington.
"No indeed! why should I be vexed? But perhaps some day you will believe
that I am right."
"Oh no, never!" exclaimed Joe, in a tone of profound conviction. "You will
never persuade me that people are meant to shut themselves from their
fellow-creatures, and not be human, and that."
"And yet you were so good as to say that you thought I might attain
greatness," said John, smiling.
"Yes, I think you will. But you will change your mind about a great many
things before you do."
John's strong face grew thoughtful, and the white moonlight made his
features seem harder and sterner than ever. Slowly the pair glided over
the polished black ice, now marked here and there with clean white curves
from the skates, and in a few minutes they were once more within hail of
the remainder of their party.
Eight days after the skating party, Ronald Surbiton telegraphed from New
York that he would reach Boston the next morning, and Josephine Thorn knew
that the hour had come. She was not afraid of the scene that must take
place, but she wished with all her heart that it were over.
As Sybil Brandon had told her, there had been time to think of what she
should say, and although she had answered recklessly that she would "trust
to luck," she knew when the day was come that she had in reality thought
intensely of the very words which must be spoken. To Miss Schenectady she
had said nothing, but on the other hand she had become very intimate with
Sybil, and to tell the truth, she hoped inwardly for the support and
sympathy of her beautiful friend.
Meanwhile, since her long evening with John Harrington on the ice, she had
made every effort to avoid his society. Like many very young women with a
vivid love of enjoyment and a fairly wide experience, she was something of
a fatalist. That is to say, she believed that her evil destiny might
spring upon her unawares at any moment, and she felt something when she
was with Harrington that warned her. For the first time in her life she
knew what it was to have moods of melancholy; she caught herself asking
what was really the end and object of her gay life, whether it amounted to
anything worthy in comparison with the trouble one had to take to amuse
one's self, whether it would not be far better in the end to live like
Miss Schenectady, reading and studying and caring nothing for the world.
Not that Josephine admired Miss Schenectady, or thought that she herself
could ever be like her. The old lady was a type of her class; intelligent
and well versed in many subjects--even learned she might have been called
by some. But to Joe's view, essentially European by nature and education,
it seemed as though her aunt, like many Bostonians, judged everything--
literature, music, art of all kinds, history and the doings of great men--
by one invariable standard. Her comments on what she heard and read were
uniformly delivered from the same point of view, in the same tone of
practical judgment, and with the same assumption of original superiority.
It was the everlasting "Carthago delenda" of the Roman orator. Whatever
the world wrote, sang, painted, thought, or did, the conviction remained
unshaken in Miss Schenectady's mind that Beacon Street was better than
those things, and that of all speeches and languages known and spoken in
the world's history, the familiar dialect of Boston was the one best
calculated by Providence and nature to express and formulate all manner of
It is a strange thing that where criticism is on the whole so fair, and
cultivation of the best faculties so general, the manner of expressing a
judgment and of exhibiting acquired knowledge should be such as to jar
unpleasantly on the sensibilities of Europeans. Where is the real
difference? It probably lies in some subtle point of proportion in the
psychic chemistry of the Boston mind, but the analyst who shall express
the formula is not yet born; though there be those who can cast the
spectrum of Boston existence and thought upon their printed screens with
Joe judged but did not analyze. She said Miss Schenectady was always
right, but that the way she was right was "horrid." Consequently she did
not look to her aunt for sympathy or assistance, and though they had more
than once talked of Ronald Surbiton since receiving his cable from
England, Joe had not said anything of her intentions regarding him. When
the second telegram arrived from New York, saying that he would be in
Boston on the following morning, Joe begged that Miss Schenectady would be
at home to receive him when he came.
"Well, if you insist upon it, I expect I shall have to," said Miss
Schenectady. She did not see why her niece should require her presence at
the interview; young men may call on young ladies in Boston without
encountering the inevitable chaperon, or being obliged to do their talking
in the hearing of a police of papas, mammas, and aunts. But as Joe
"insisted upon it," as the old lady said, she "expected there were no two
ways about it." Her expectations were correct, for Joe would have refused
absolutely to receive Ronald alone.
"I know the value of a stern aunt, my dear," she had said to Sybil the day
previous. When matters were arranged, therefore, they went to bed, and in
the morning Miss Schenectady sat in state in the front drawing-room,
reading the life of Mr. Ticknor until Ronald should arrive. Joe was up-
stairs writing a note to Sybil Brandon, wherein the latter was asked to
lunch and to drive in the afternoon. Ronald could not come before ten
o'clock with any kind of propriety, and they could have luncheon early and
then go out; after which the bitterness of death would be past.
It was not quite ten o'clock when Ronald Surbiton rang the bell, and was
turned into the drawing-room to face an American aunt for the first time
in his life.
"Miss Schenectady?" said he, taking the proffered hand of the old lady and
then bowing slightly. He pronounced her name Schenectady, with a strong
accent on the penultimate syllable.
"Sche_nec_tady," corrected his hostess. "I expect you are Mr.
"A--exactly so," said Ronald, in some embarrassment.
"Well, we are glad to see you in Boston, Mr. Surbiton." Miss Schenectady
resumed her seat, and Ronald sat down beside her, holding his hat in his
"Put your hat down," said the old lady. "What sort of a journey did you
"Very fair, thanks," said Ronald, depositing his hat on the floor beside
him, "in fact I believe we came over uncommonly quick for the time of
year. How is"--
"What steamer did you come by?" interrupted Miss Schenectady.
"The Gallia. She is one of the Cunarders. But as I was going to ask"--
"Yes, an old boat, I expect. So you came on right away from New York
"Exactly," answered Ronald. "I took the first train. The fact is, I was so
anxious--so very anxious to"--
"What hotel are you at here?" inquired Miss Schenectady, without letting
"Brunswick. How is Miss Thorn?" Ronald succeeded at last in putting the
question he so greatly longed to ask--the only one, he supposed, which
would cause a message to be sent to Joe announcing his arrival.
"Joe? She is pretty well. I expect she will be down in a minute. Are you
going to stay some while, Mr. Surbiton?"
Ronald thought Miss Schenectady the most pitiless old woman he had ever
met. In reality she had not the most remote intention of being anything
but hospitable. But her idea of hospitality at a first meeting seemed to
consist chiefly in exhibiting a great and inquisitive interest in the
individual she wished to welcome. Besides, Joe would probably come down
when she was ready, and so it was necessary to talk in the mean time. At
last Ronald succeeded in asking another question.
"Excuse the anxiety I show," he said simply, "but may I ask whether Miss
Thorn is at home?"
"Perhaps if you rang the bell I could send for her," remarked the old lady
in problematic answer.
"Oh, certainly!" exclaimed Ronald, springing to his feet, and searching
madly round the room for the bell. Miss Schenectady watched him calmly.
"I think if you went to the further side of the fire-place you would find
it--back of the screen," she suggested.
"Thanks; here it is," cried Ronald, discovering the handle in the wall.
"Yes, you have found it now," said Miss Schenectady with much
indifference. "Perhaps you find it cold here?" she continued, observing
that Ronald lingered near the fire-place.
"Oh dear, no, thanks, quite the contrary," he answered.
"Because if it is you might--Sarah, I think you could tell Miss Josephine
that Mr. Surbiton is in the parlor, could not you?"
"Oh, if it is any inconvenience"--Ronald began, misunderstanding the form
of address Miss Schenectady used to her handmaiden.
"Why?" asked Miss Schenectady, in some astonishment.
"Nothing," said Ronald, looking rather confused; "I did not quite catch
what you said."
There was a silence, and the old lady and the young man looked at each
Ronald was a very handsome man, as Joe knew. He was tall and straight and
deep-chested. His complexion was like a child's, and his fine moustache
like silk. His thick fair hair was parted accurately in the middle, and
his smooth, white forehead betrayed no sign of care or thought. His eyes
were blue and very bright, and looked fearlessly at every one and
everything, and his hands were broad and clean-looking. He was perfectly
well dressed, but in a fashion far less extreme than that affected by Mr.
Topeka and young John C. Hannibal. There was less collar and more shoulder
to him, and his legs were longer and straighter than theirs. Nevertheless,
had he stood beside John Harrington, no one would have hesitated an
instant in deciding which was the stronger man. With all his beauty and
grace, Ronald Surbiton was but one of a class of handsome and graceful
men. John Harrington bore on his square brow and in the singular
compactness of his active frame the peculiar sign-manual of an especial
purpose. He would have been an exception in any class and in any age. It
was no wonder Joe had wished to compare the two.
In a few moments the door opened, and Joe entered the drawing-room. She
was pale, and her great brown eyes had a serious expression in them that
was unusual. There was something prim in the close dark dress she wore,
and the military collar of most modern cut met severely about her throat.
If Ronald had expected a very affectionate welcome he was destined to
disappointment; Joe had determined not to be affectionate until all was
over. To prepare him in some measure for what was in store, she had
planned that he should be left alone for a time with Miss Schenectady,
who, she thought, would chill any suitor to the bone.
"My dear Ronald," said Joe, holding out her hand, "I am so glad to see
you." Her voice was even and gentle, but there was no gladness in it.
"Not half so glad as I am to see you," said Ronald, holding her hand in
his, his face beaming with delight. "It seems such an age since you left!"
"It is only two months, though," said Joe, with a faint smile. "I ought to
apologize, but I suppose you have introduced yourself to Aunt Zoe." She
could not call her Aunt Zoruiah, even for the sake of frightening Ronald.
"What did you think when you got my telegram?" asked the latter.
"I thought it was very foolish of you to run away just when the hunting
was so good," answered Joe with decision.
"But you are glad, are you not?" he asked, lowering his voice, and looking
affectionately at her. Miss Schenectady was again absorbed in the life of
"Yes," said Joe, gravely. "It is as well that you have come, because I
have something to say to you, and I should have had to write it. Let us go
out. Would you like to go for a walk?"
Ronald was delighted to do anything that would give him a chance of
escaping from Aunt Zoruiah and being alone with Joe.
"I think you had best be back to lunch," remarked Miss Schenectady as they
left the room.
"Of course, Aunt Zoe," answered Joe. "Besides, Sybil is coming, you know."
So they sallied forth.
It was a warm day; the snow had melted from the brick pavement, and the
great icicles on the gutters and on the trees were running water in the
mid-day sun. Joe thought a scene would be better to get over in the
publicity of the street than in private. Ronald, all unsuspecting of her
intention, walked calmly by her side, looking at her occasionally with a
certain pride, mixed with a good deal of sentimental benevolence.
"Do you know," Joe began presently, "when your cable came I felt very
guilty at having written to you that you might come?"
"Why?" asked Ronald, innocently. "You know I would come from the end of
the world to see you. I have, in fact."
"Yes, I know," said Joe wearily, wishing she knew exactly how to say what
she was so thoroughly determined should be said.
"What is the matter, Joe?" asked Ronald, suddenly. He smiled rather
nervously, but his smooth brow was a little contracted. He anticipated
"There is something the matter, Ronald," she said at last, resolved to
make short work of the revelation of her feelings. "There is something
very much the matter."
"Well?" said Surbiton, beginning to be alarmed.
"You know, Ronald dear, somehow I think you have thought--honestly, I know
you have thought for a long time that you were to marry me."
"Yes," said Ronald with a forced laugh, for he was frightened. "I have
always thought so; I think so now."
"It is of no use to think it, Ronald dear," said Joe, turning very pale.
"I have thought of it too--thought it all over. I cannot possibly marry
you, dear boy. Honestly, I cannot." Her voice trembled violently. However
firmly she had decided within herself, it was a very bitter thing to say;
she was so fond of him.
"What?" asked Ronald hoarsely. But he turned red instead of pale. It was
rather disappointment and anger that he felt at the first shock than
sorrow or deep pain.
"Do not make me say it again," said Joe, entreatingly. She was not used to
entreating so much as to commanding, and her voice quavered uncertainly.
"Do you mean to say," said Ronald, speaking loudly in his anger, and then
dropping his voice as he remembered the passers-by,--"do you mean to tell
me, Joe, after all this, when I have come to America just because you told
me to, that you will not marry me? I do not believe it. You are making fun
"No, Ronald," Joe answered sorrowfully, but regaining her equanimity in
the face of Surbiton's wrath, "I am in earnest. I am very, very fond of
you, but I do not love you at all, and I never can marry you."
Ronald was red in the face, and he trod fast and angrily, tapping the
pavement with his stick. He was very angry, but he said nothing.
"It is much better to be honest about it," said Joe, still very pale; and
when she had spoken, her little mouth closed tightly.
"Oh, yes," said Ronald, who was serious by this time; "it is much better
to be honest, now that you have brought me three thousand miles to hear
what you have to say--much better. By all means."
"I am very sorry, Ronald," Joe answered. "I really did not mean you to
come, and I am very sorry,--oh, more sorry than I can tell you,--but I
cannot do it, you know."
"If you won't, of course you can't," he said. "Will you please tell me who
"Who?--what?" asked Joe, coldly. She was offended at the tone.
"The fellow you have pitched upon in my place," he said roughly.
Joe looked up into his face with an expression that frightened him. Her
dark eyes flashed with an honest fire, He stared angrily at her as they
walked slowly along.
"I made a mistake," she said slowly. "I am not sorry. I am glad. I would
be ashamed to marry a man who could speak like that to any woman. I am
sorry for you, but I am glad for myself." She looked straight into his
eyes, until he turned away. For some minutes they went on in silence.
"I beg your pardon, Joe," said Ronald presently, in a subdued tone.
"Never mind, Ronald dear, I was angry," Joe answered. But her eyes were
full of tears, and her lips quivered.
Again they went on in silence, but for a longer time than before. Joe felt
that the blow was struck, and there was nothing to be done but to wait the
result. It had been much harder than she had expected, because Ronald was
so angry; she had expected he would be pained. He, poor fellow, was really
startled out of all self-control. The idea that Joe could ever ultimately
hesitate about marrying him had never seemed to exist, even among the
remotest possibilities. But he was a gentleman in his way, and so he
begged her pardon, and chewed the cud of his wrath in silence for some
"Joe," he said at last, with something of his usual calm, though he was
still red, "of course you are really perfectly serious? I mean, you have
thought about it?"
"Yes," said Joe; "I am quite sure."
"Then perhaps it is better we should go home," he continued.
"Perhaps so," said Joe. "Indeed, it would be better."
"I would like to see you again, Joe," he said in a somewhat broken
fashion. "I mean, by and by, when I am not angry, you know."
Joe smiled at the simple honesty of the proposition.
"Yes, Ronald dear, whenever you like. You are very good, Ronald," she
"No, I am not good at all," said Ronald sharply, and they did not speak
again until he left her at Miss Schenectady's door. Then she gave him her
"I shall be at home until three o'clock," said she.
"Thanks," he answered; so they parted.
Joe had accomplished her object, but she was very far from happy. The
consciousness of having done right did not outweigh the pain she felt for
Ronald, who was, after all, her very dear friend. They had grown up
together from earliest childhood, and so it had been settled; for Ronald
was left an orphan when almost a baby, and had been brought up with his
cousin as a matter of expediency. Therefore, as Joe said, it had always
seemed so very natural. They had plighted vows when still in pinafores
with a ring of grass, and later they had spoken more serious things, which
it hurt Joe to remember, and now they were suffering the consequence of it
all, and the putting off childish illusions was bitter.
It was not long before Sybil Brandon came in answer to Joe's invitation.
She knew what trouble her friend was likely to be in, and was ready to do
anything in the world to make matters easier for her. Besides, though
Sybil was so white and fair, and seemingly cold, she had a warm heart, and
had conceived a very real affection for the impulsive English girl. Miss
Schenectady had retired to put on another green ribbon, leaving the life
of Mr. Ticknor open on the table, and the two girls met in the drawing-
room. Joe was still pale, and the tears seemed ready to start from her
"Dear Sybil--it is so good of you to come," said she.
Sybil kissed her affectionately and put her arm round her waist. They
stood thus for a moment before the fire.
"You have seen him?" Sybil asked presently. Joe had let her head rest
wearily against her friend's shoulder, and nodded silently in answer.
Sybil bent down and kissed her soft hair, and whispered gently in her
ear,--"Was it very hard, dear?"
"Oh, yes--indeed it was!" cried Joe, hiding her face on Sybil's breast.
Then, as though ashamed of seeming weak, she stood up boldly, turning
slightly away as she spoke. "It was dreadfully hard," she continued; "but
it is all over, and it is very much better--very, very much, you know."
"I am so glad," said Sybil, looking thoughtfully at the fire. "And now we
will go out into the country and forget all about it--all about the
disagreeable part of it."
"Perhaps," said Joe, who had recovered her equanimity, "Ronald may come
too. You see he is so used to me that after a while it will not seem to
make so very much difference after all."
"Of course, if he would," said Sybil, "it would be very nice. He will have
to get used to the idea, and if he does not begin at once, perhaps he
"He will be just the same as ever when he gets over his wrath," answered
"Was he very angry?"
"Oh, dreadfully! I never saw him so angry."
"It is better when men are angry than when they are sorry," said Sybil.
"Something like this once happened to me, and he got over it very well. I
think it was much more my fault, too," she added thoughtfully.
"Oh, I am sure you never did anything bad in your life," said Joe
affectionately. "Nothing half so bad as this--my dear Snow Angel!" And so
they kissed again and went to lunch.
"I suppose you went to walk," remarked Miss Schenectady, when they met at
"Yes," said Joe, "we walked a little."
"Well, all Englishmen walk, of course," continued her aunt.
"Most of them can," said Joe, smiling.
"I mean, it is a great deal the right thing there. Perhaps you might pass
me the pepper."
Before they had finished their meal the door opened, and Ronald Surbiton
entered the room.
"Oh--excuse me," he began, "I did not know"--
"Oh, I am so glad you have come, Ronald," cried Joe, rising to greet him,
and taking his hand. "Sybil, let me introduce Mr. Surbiton--Miss Brandon."
Sybil smiled and bent her head slightly. Ronald bowed and sat down between
Sybil and Miss Schenectady.
Josephine Thorn never read newspapers, partly because she did not care for
the style of literature known as journalistic, and partly, too, because
the papers always came at such exceedingly inconvenient hours. If she had
possessed and practiced the estimable habit of "keeping up with the
times," she would have observed an article which appeared on the morning
after the skating party, and which dealt with the speech John Harrington
had made in the Music Hall two days previous. Miss Schenectady had read
it, but she did not mention it to Joe, because she believed in John
Harrington, and wished Joe to do likewise, wherefore she avoided the
subject; for the article treated him roughly. Nevertheless, some unknown
person sent Joe a copy of the paper through the post some days later, with
a bright red pencil mark at the place, and Joe, seeing what the subject
was, read it with avidity. As she read, her cheek flushed, her small mouth
closed like a vise, and she stamped her little foot upon the floor.
It was evident that the writer was greatly incensed at the views expressed
by John, and he wrote with an ease and a virulence which proclaimed a
practiced hand. "The spectacle of an accomplished Democrat," said the
paper, "is always sufficiently unusual to attract attention: but to find
so rare a bird among ourselves is indeed a novel delight. The orator who
alternately enthralled and insulted a considerable audience at the Music
Hall, two nights ago, laid a decided claim both to accomplishment and to
democracy. He himself informed his hearers that he was a Democrat; and,
indeed, it was necessary that he should state his position, for it would
have been impossible to decide from the tone and quality of his opinions
whether he were a socialist, a reformer, a conservative, or an Irishman.
Perchance he has discovered the talisman by which it is possible for a man
to be all four, and yet to be a man, Furthermore, he claims to be an
orator. No one could listen to the manifold intonations of his voice, or
witness the declamatory evolutions of his body, without feeling an inward
conviction that the gentleman on the platform intended to present himself
to us as an orator.
"Lest we be accused of partiality and prejudice, we will at once state
that we believe it possible for a man to be singular in his manner and
quaint in his mode of phrasing, and yet to utter an opinion in some one
direction which, if neither novel nor interesting, nor even tenable, shall
yet have the one redeeming merit of representing a conceivable point of
view. But when a man begins by stating that he belongs to the Democrats
and then claims as his own the views of his political opponents, winding
up by demanding the sympathy and support of a third party, the obvious
conclusion is that he is either a lunatic, a charlatan, or both. A man
cannot serve God and Mammon, neither can any man serve both the Irish and
"Mr. John Harrington has made a great discovery. He has discovered that we
require a Civil Service. This is apparently the ground on which he states
himself to be a Democrat. If we remember rightly, the Civil Service
Convention, which sat in discussion of the subject in the summer of 1881,
was presided over by a prominent member of the Republican party. As some
time has elapsed since then, and the gentlemen connected with the movement
are as active and as much interested in it as ever, our orator will pardon
us for questioning his right of discovery on the one hand, and his claim
to be considered a Democrat on the strength of it, on the other. A Civil
Service is doubtless a good thing, even a very good thing, and in due time
we shall certainly have it; but that the Constitution of the United States
is on the verge of dissolution at the hands of our corrupt public
officers, that our finance is only another name for imminent bankruptcy,
or that the new millennium of Washington morals will be organized by Mr.
John Harrington--these things we deny _in toto_, from beginning to
end. So wide and deep is our skepticism, that we even doubt whether 'war,
famine, revolution, or all three together' would have instantly ensued if
Mr. John Harrington had not delivered his speech on Wednesday evening.
"In illustration--or rather, in the futile attempt to illustrate--Mr.
Harrington put forth a series of similes that should make any dead orator
turn in his grave. The nation was successively held up to our admiration
in the guise of a sick man, a cripple, a banker, a theatrical company, and
a peddler of tape and buttons. We were bankrupt, diseased; and our bones,
like those of the Psalmist, were all out of joint; and if our hearts did
not become like melting wax in the midst of our bodies, it was not the
fault of Mr. John Harrington, but rather was it due to the hardening of
those organs against the voice of the charmer.
"The Navigation Act called down the choicest of the orator's vessels of
wrath. Fools had made it, worse than fools submitted to it, and the reason
why the Salem docks were no longer crowded with the shipping of the
Peabody family was that there were ferry-boats in Boston harbor, a train
of reasoning that must be clear to the mind of the merest schoolboy. Mr.
Harrington further stated that these same ferry-boats--not to mention
certain articles he terms 'mudscows,' with which we have no acquaintance--
are built of old timber, copper, and nails, obtained by breaking tip the
fleets of the Peabody family, which is manifestly a fraud on the nation.
As far as the ferry-boats are concerned, we believe we are in a position
to state that they are not built of old material; as regards the aforesaid
'mudscows' we can give no opinion, not having before heard of the article,
which we presume is not common in commerce, and may therefore be regarded
as an exception to the universal rule that things in general should not be
made of old timber, copper, and rusty nails.
"We will not weary our readers with any further attempt at unraveling the
opinions, illustrations, and rhetoric of Mr. John Harrington, Democrat and
orator. The possession of an abundant vocabulary without any especial use
for it in the shape of an idea will not revolutionize modern government,
whatever may be the opinion of the individual so richly gifted; nor will
any accomplished Democrat find a true key to success in following a course
of politics which consists in one half of the world trying to drive
paradoxes down the throat of the other half. It will not do, and Mr.
Harrington will find it out. He will find out also that the differences
which exist between the Republican and the Democratic parties are far
deeper and wider than he suspects, and do not consist in such things as
the existence or non-existence of a Civil Service, free trade, or
mudscows; and when these things are forever crushed out of his imagination
it will be time enough to give him a name, seeing he is neither Republican
nor Democrat, nor Tammany, nor even a Stalwart, nor a three-hundred-and-
sixer--seeing, in fact, that he is not an astronomical point in any
political heaven with which the world is acquainted, but only the most
nebulous of nebulae which have yet come within our observation."
Joe read the article rapidly, and then read the last paragraph again and
threw the paper aside. She sat by the fire after breakfast, and Miss
Schenectady had come into the room several times and had gone out again,
busied with much housekeeping. For Miss Schenectady belonged to the elder
school of Boston women, who "see to things" themselves in the intervals of
literature, gossip, and transcendental philosophy. But Joe sat still for
nearly half an hour after she had done reading and nursed her wrath, while
she toasted her little feet at the fire. At last she made up her mind and
"I am going to see Sybil, Aunt Zoe," she said, meeting the old lady at the
"Well, if she is up at this time of day," answered Miss Schenectady.
"Oh, I fancy so," said Joe.
Mrs. Sam Wyndham's establishment was of the modern kind, and nobody was
expected to attend an early breakfast of fish, beefsteaks, buckwheat
cakes, hot rolls, tea, coffee, and chocolate at eight o'clock in the
morning. Visitors did as they pleased, and so did Mrs. Sam, and they met
at luncheon, a meal which Sam Wyndham himself was of course unable to
attend. Joe knew this, and knew she was certain to find Sybil alone. It
was Sybil she wanted to see, and not Mrs. Wyndham. But as she walked down
Beacon Street the aspect of affairs changed in her mind.
Joe had not exaggerated when she said to Vancouver that she had a very
good memory, and it would have been better for him if he had remembered
the fact. Joe had not forgotten the conversation with him in the evening
after Harrington's speech, and in reading the article that had been sent
to her she instantly recognized a phrase, word for word as Vancouver had
uttered it. In speaking to her he had said that politics "consisted in one
half of the world trying to drive paradoxes down the throat of the other
half." It was true that in the article John Harrington was warned that he
would discover the fallacy of this proposition, but in Joe's judgment this
did not constitute an objection. Vancouver had written the article, and
none other; Vancouver, who professed a boundless respect for John, and who
constantly asserted that he took no active part whatever in politics. It
was inconceivable that the coincidence of language should be an accident.
Vancouver had made the phrase when making conversation, and had used it in
his article; Joe was absolutely certain of that, and being full of her
discovery and of wrath, she was determined to consult with her dearest
friend as to the best way of revenging the offense on its author.
But as she walked down Beacon Street she reflected on the situation. She
was sure Sybil would not understand why she cared so much, and Sybil would
form hasty ideas as to the interest Joe took in Harrington. That would
never do. It would be better to speak to Mrs. Sam Wyndham, who was herself
so fond of John that she would seize with avidity on the information, from
whatever source it came. But then Mrs. Wyndham was fond of Vancouver also.
No, she was not. When Joe thought of it she was sure that though Vancouver
was devoted to Mrs. Sam, Mrs. Sam did not care for him excepting as an
agreeable person of even temper, who was useful in society. But for
Harrington she had a real friendship. If it came to the doing of a
service, Mrs. Wyndham would do it. Joe's perceptions were wonderfully
clear and just.
But when she reached the house she was still uncertain, and she passed on,
intending to turn back and go in as soon as she had made up her mind. In
spite of all that she could argue to herself it seemed unsafe--unwise, at
least. Sybil might laugh at her, after all; Mrs. Wyndham might possibly
tell Vancouver instead of telling John. It would be better to tell John
herself; she remembered having once spoken to him about Vancouver, and she
could easily remind him of the conversation. She would probably see him
that evening at a party she was going to; and yet it was so hard to have
to keep it all to herself for so many hours, instead of telling.
Nevertheless she would go and see Sybil, taking care, of course, to say
nothing about the article.
At the time Joe was walking up and down Beacon Street in the effort to
come to a decision, John Harrington found himself face to face with a very
much more formidable problem. He stood before the fire-place in his rooms
in Charles Street, with an extinguished cigar between his teeth, his face
paler than usual, and a look of uncertainty on his features that was oddly
out of keeping with his usual mood. He wore an ancient shooting coat, and
his feet were trust into a pair of dingy leather slippers; his hands were
in his pockets, and he was staring vacantly at the clock.
On the oak writing-table that filled the middle of the room lay an open
telegram. It was dated from Washington, and conveyed the simple
information that Senator Caleb Jenkins had died at five o'clock that
morning. It was signed by an abbreviation that meant nothing except to
John himself. The name of the senator was itself fictitious, and stood for
another which John knew.
The table was covered with Government reports, for when the message came
John was busy studying a financial point of importance to him. The
telegram had lain on the table for half an hour, and John still stood
before the fire-place, staring at the clock.
The senator had not been expected to live, in fact it was remarkable that
he should have lived so long. But when a man has been preparing for a
struggle during many months, he is apt to feel that the actual moment of
the battle is indefinitely far off. But now the senator was dead, and John
meant to stand in his place. The battle was begun. No one who has not
seen some of the inside workings of political life can have any idea of
what a man feels who is about to stand as a candidate in an election for
the first time in his life. For months, perhaps for years, he has been
engaged with political matters; his opinions have been formed by himself
or by others into a very definite shape; it may be that, like Harrington,
he has frequently spoken to large audiences with more or less success; he
may have written pamphlets and volumes upon questions of the day, and his
writings may have roused the fiercest criticism and the most loyal
support. All this he may have done, and done it well, but when the actual
moment arrives for him to stand upon his feet and address his
constituents, no longer for the purpose of making them believe in his
opinions, but in order to make them believe in himself, he is more than
mortal if he does not feel something very unpleasantly resembling fear.
It is one thing to express a truth, it is another to set one's self upon a
pedestal and declare that one represents it, and is in one's own person
the living truth itself. John was too honest and true a man not to feel a
positive reluctance to singing his own praises, and yet that is what most
electioneering consists in.
But to be elected a senator in Massachusetts is a complicated affair. A
man who intends to succeed in such an enterprise must not let the grass
grow under his feet. In a few hours the whole machinery of election must
be at work, and before night he would have to receive all sorts and
conditions of men and electioneering agents. The morning papers did not
contain any notice of the senator's death, as they had already gone to
press when the news reached them, if indeed it was as yet public property.
But other papers appeared at mid-day, and by that time the circumstances
would undoubtedly be known. John struck a match and relit his cigar. The
moment of hesitation was over, the last breathing-space before the fight,
and all his activity returned. Half an hour later he went out with a
number of written telegrams in his hand, and proceeded to the central
The case was urgent. In the first place the governor of the state would,
according to law and custom, immediately appoint a senator _pro
tempore_ to act until the legislature should elect the new senator in
place of the one deceased. Secondly, the legislature, which meets once a
year, was already in session, and the election would therefore take place
immediately, unless some unusual delay were created, and this was
In spite of the article which had so outraged Josephine Thorn's sense of
justice, there were many who believed in John Harrington as the prophet of
the new faith, as the senator of reform and the orator of the future, and
his friends were numerous and powerful, both in the electing body and
among the non-official mass of prominent persons who make up the aggregate
of public opinion. It had long been known that John Harrington would be
brought forward at the next vacancy, which, in the ordinary course of
things, would have occurred in about a year's time, at the expiration of
the senior senator's term of office, but which had now been suddenly
caused by the death of his colleague. John was therefore aware that his
success must depend almost immediately upon the present existing opinion
of him that prevailed, and as he made his way through the crowded streets
to the telegraph office, he realized that no effort of his own would be
likely to make a change in that opinion at such short notice. At first it
had seemed to him as though he were on a sudden brought face to face with
a body of men whom he must persuade to elect him as their representative,
and in spite of his great familiarity with political proceedings, the idea
was extremely disagreeable to him. But on more mature reflection it was
clear to him that he was in the hands of his friends, that he had said his
say and had done all he would now be able to do in the way of public
speaking or public writing, and that his only possible sphere of present
action lay in exerting such personal influence as he possessed.
John Harrington was ambitious, or, to speak more accurately, he was wholly
ruled by a dominant aspiration. He was convinced by his own study and
observation, as well as by a considerable amount of personal experience,
that great reforms were becoming necessary in the government of the
country, and he was equally sure that a man was needed who should be
willing to make any sacrifice for the sake of creating a party to
inaugurate such changes. In his opinion the surest step towards obtaining
influence in the affairs of the country was a seat in the senate, and with
an unhesitating belief in the truth and honesty of the principles he
desired to make known, he devoted every energy he possessed to the
attainment of his object.
To him government seemed the most important function of society, the
largest, the broadest, and the noblest; to help, if possible, to be a
leader in the establishment of what was good for the country, and to be
the very foremost in destroying that which was bad, were in his view the
best objects and aims for a strong man to follow. And John Harrington knew
himself to be strong, and believed himself to be right, and thus armed he
was prepared for any struggle.
The quality of vanity exists in all men, not least in those whose chief
profession is modesty; and seeing that it is a universal element, created
and inherent in every one, it is impossible to say it is bad in itself.
For it is impossible to conceive any human creature without it. A recent
philosopher of reputation has taught that by vanity, by the desire to
appear attractive to the other sex, man has changed his own person from
the form of a beast to the image of God. Vanity is a mighty power and
incentive, as great as hunger and thirst, and much more generally active
in the affairs of civilized humanity. And yet its very name means
hollowness. "The hollowness of hollowness, all things are hollowness,"
said the preacher, and his translators have put the word vanity in his
mouth, because it means the same thing. But in itself, being hollow, it is
neither bad nor good; its badness or goodness lies in those things whereof
a man makes choice to fill the void, the inexpressible and indefinable
craving within his soul; as also hunger is only bad when it is satisfied
by bad things, or not satisfied at all, so that in the one case it leads
to disease, and in the other to the committing of crimes in the desire for
satisfaction. Many a poor fellow was hung by the neck in old times for
stealing a loaf to stop his hunger, and many a man of wit goes to the mad-
house nowadays because the void of his vanity is unfilled.
But vanity is called by yet another name when its disagreeable side is
hidden, and when its emptiness has come to crave for great things. It is
pride, then honorable pride, then ambition, and perhaps at the last it is
called heroic sacrifice. Vanity is an unsatisfied desire, hollow in
itself, but capable of holding both bad and good. It is not identical with
self-complacency, nor yet with conceit.
Probably John Harrington had originally possessed as much of this
mysterious quality as most men who are conscious of strength and talent.
It had never manifested itself in small things, and its very extent had
made many things seem small which were of the highest importance to other
men. He had worked as a boy at all manner of studies like other boys, but
the idea of laboring in distasteful matters for the sake of being first
among his companions seemed utterly absurd to him. From the time he had
begun to think for himself--and he was young when he reached that stage--
he had formed a rooted determination to be first in his country, to be a
great reformer or a great patriot, and he cared to study nothing that was
not connected with this idea. When his name was first heard in public
life, it was as the author of a pamphlet advocating certain sweeping
measures of which no one else had ventured to dream as yet. He would have
smiled now had he taken the trouble to read again some of those earlier
productions of his. It had seemed so easy to move the world then, and it
seemed so hard now. But nevertheless he meant to move it, and as each year
brought him increased strength and wider experience, it brought with it
also the conviction of ultimate success. He had long forgotten to hope for
the sudden and immediate power to stir the world, for he had discovered
that it was a labor of years, the work of a lifetime; but if he had ever
had any doubts as to the result of that work, he had forgotten them also.
And now his strength, his aspirations, his vanity, and his intellect were
roused together to the highest activity of which they were capable, the
hour having come for which he had longed through half his lifetime, and
though it was but the first trial, in which he might fail, it had for him
all the importance of the supreme crisis of his existence. No wonder that
his face was pale and his lips set as he walked back to his lodgings from
the telegraph office. As he walked down the hill by the railings of the
Common he came upon Josephine Thorn, standing at the entrance of one of
the boarded walks, as though hesitating whether to go in. He was close to
her as he bowed, and something in her face made him stop.
"Good morning, Miss Thorn," he said. She nodded gravely and hesitated. He
was about to go on, thinking she was in one of those moods which he called
capricious. But she stopped him.
"Mr. Harrington, I want to speak to you," she said quickly, seeing that
her opportunity was on the point of slipping away.
"Yes?" said John, smiling faintly.
"Mr. Harrington--did you read that article about you, the day after the
"Yes," said John. "It was not complimentary, if I remember."
"It was vile," said Joe, the angry color rising to her temples again. "It
was abominable. It was written by Mr. Vancouver."
John started slightly.
"I think you must be mistaken," he said.
"No, I am not mistaken. There were things in it, word for word as he said
them to me just after the speech. I am perfectly sure."
John looked very gravely at Joe, as though to be sure of her honesty.
There was no mistaking the look in her eyes.
"Miss Thorn," John said, "Vancouver may have said those very things to
some one else, who wrote them and printed them. But in any case, I am
exceedingly obliged to you for the information"--
"You are not angry?" Joe began, already repenting.
"No--how could I be? It may be important. The junior senator for
Massachusetts died this morning, and there may be an election at any
moment. I have not told any one else, but it will be known everywhere in
an hour's time. Good-by, and many thanks."
"You will be senator, of course?" said Joe, in great excitement.
"I cannot tell," John answered. "Are you going down the hill?"
"No--thanks--I am going home," said Joe. "Good-by."
Joe had been mistaken in thinking that Ronald would be less well received
than herself. There was of course the usual amount of gossip concerning
him, but as he refrained from eccentricities of dress when asked to
dinner, and did not bet that he would ride his horse into the smoking-room
of the Somerset Club, the gossip soon lost ground against the list of his
good qualities. Moreover, he was extremely good-looking, and his manner
was modesty itself. He admired everything he saw, partly because it was
new to him, and partly because there was a good deal to admire.
For a day or two after the final scene with Joe he had avoided seeing her.
He had not been able to resist the temptation to go back on the same day,
and he had spent some hours in considering that human affairs are
extremely mutable. But the scenes about him were too new, and very many of
the faces he saw were too attractive, to allow of his brooding for long
over his misfortune. His first impulse had been to go away again on the
very evening of his arrival. He had gone to see Joe, arriving during
luncheon, in the expectation of seeing her alone again. There would be a
scene of solemn farewell, in which he would bid her be happy in her own
way, in a tone of semi-paternal benevolence, after which he would give her
his blessing, and bid farewell to the pomps and vanities of society. He
would naturally retire gloomily from the gay world, and end his miserable
existence in the approved Guy Livingstone fashion of life, between
cavendish tobacco, deep drinking, and high play. Joe would then repent of
the ruin she had caused, and that would be a great satisfaction. There was
once a little boy in Boston whose hands were very cold as he went to
school. But he blew on them savagely, saying, "I am glad of it! It serves
my father right for not buying me my gloves." That was Ronald's state of
mind. He had led the most sober of lives, and the wildest dissipation he
remembered was the Lord Mayor's supper to the Oxford and Cambridge crews,
when he himself had been one of the winners. But surely, for a
disappointed lover there could be no course so proper as a speedy death by
dissipation--which would serve Joe right. Therefore, on his return to his
hotel, he ordered whiskey, in a sepulchral tone of voice. He tasted it,
and thought it detestable.
On reflection, he would put off the commencement of his wild career until
the evening after he had seen Joe again. The ravages of drink would not be
perceptible so soon, after all. He changed his tie for one of a darker
hue, ate sparingly of a beefsteak, and went back to bid Joe a last
Sybil Brandon and Miss Schenectady were elements in the solemn leave-
taking which Ronald had not anticipated. Sybil, moreover, made a great
effort, for she was anxious to help Joe as much as possible in her
difficulties. She talked to Ronald with a vivacity that was unusual, and
Joe herself was astonished at the brilliance of her conversation. She had
always thought Sybil very reserved, if not somewhat shy.
Perhaps Sybil pitied Ronald a little. He was very quiet in his manner,
though after the first few minutes he found himself talking much as usual.
True, he often looked at Joe, and then was silent; but then again he
looked at Sybil, and his tongue was unloosed. He was grateful after a
time, and he was also flattered. Besides, he could not help noticing that
his new acquaintance was extremely beautiful. His conscience smote him as
he realized that he was thinking of her appearance, and he immediately
quieted the qualm by saying that it was but natural admiration for an
artistic object. Ronald did not know much about artists and that sort of
people, but the expression formed itself conveniently in his mind.
The consequence was that he accepted an invitation to drive with the two
girls after luncheon, and when they left him at his hotel, a proceeding
against which he vehemently protested on the score of propriety, he
reluctantly acknowledged to himself that he had enjoyed the afternoon very
"Come and see us after five o'clock," said Sybil. "I will present you to
Mrs. Wyndham. Nine hundred and thirty-six, Beacon Street," she added,
"With great pleasure--thanks," said Ronald.
"Good-by, Ronald dear," said Joe pleasantly.
"Good-by," he answered in a doubtful tone of voice, as he raised his hat;
and the two girls drove away.
Sybil was apparently in very good spirits.
"Do not be frightened, Joe dearest," she said. "We will manage it very
well. He is not hurt in the least."
"Really, I do not believe he is--so very much, you know," Joe answered.
But she was thoughtful, and did not speak again for some time.
It was on the morning after this that Joe read the article on John's
speech, and met him by the Common. Ronald did not call during the day, and
in the evening Joe went to her party as she had intended; but neither
Sybil nor John Harrington were there. Sybil did not go to parties, and
John probably had too much to do. But at supper Joe chanced to be standing
near Mrs. Sam Wyndham.
"Oh, I so much wanted to see you, Miss Thorn," said the latter. "I wanted
to tell you how much we like your cousin, Mr. Surbiton. He came today, and
I have asked him to dinner to-morrow."
"Yes?" said Joe, turning a shade paler. "I am so glad you like him. He is
a very nice boy."
"He is perfectly lovely," said Mrs. Sam, enthusiastically. "And he is so
natural, you would not know he was English at all."
"Really?" said Joe, raising her eyebrows a little, but laughing at the
"Oh my dear," said Mrs. Wyndham, "I always forget you are not one of us.
Besides, you are, you see."
Mrs. Wyndham rarely said a tactless thing, but this evening she was in
such good spirits that she said what came uppermost in her thoughts. Joe
was not offended; she was only bored.
"Will you not come and dine too, to-morrow night?" asked Mrs. Wyndham, who
was anxious to atone.
"Thanks, awfully," said Joe, "but I have to dine with the Aitchisons."
Pocock Vancouver, pale and exquisite as ever, came up to the two ladies.
"Can I get you anything, Mrs. Wyndham?" he inquired, after a double bow.
"No, thank you. Johnny Hannibal is taking care of me," answered Mrs. Sam,
"Miss Thorn, what can I get you?" he asked, turning to Joe.
"Nothing, thanks," said Joe, "Mr. Biggielow is getting me something." She
did not look at Vancouver as she answered, and the angry color began to
rise to her temples. Vancouver, who was not used to repulses such as
these, and was too old a soldier to give up a situation so easily, stood a
moment playing with his coat tails. A sudden thought passed through Joe's
mind. It struck her that, considering the situation of affairs, it would
be unwise to break off her acquaintance with Vancouver at the present
time. Her first honest impulse was to cut him and never speak to him
again. But it was better to act with more deliberation. In the first
place, there might be more to be learnt which might be of service to John;
secondly, people would talk about it if she cut him, and would invent some
story to the effect that he had proposed to marry her, or that she had
proposed to marry him. It was contrary to her nature to pretend anything
she did not feel, but it would nevertheless be a mistake to quarrel openly
"On second thoughts--if you would get me a glass of water"--she said,
speaking to him. He instantly disappeared; but even in the moment before
he departed to execute her command he had time to express by his look a
sense of injury forgiven, which did not escape Joe.
"What a hypocrite the man is!" she thought.
Vancouver on his part could form no conception of the cause of the
coldness the two ladies had shown him. He could not know that Joe had
discovered in him the writer of the article, still less could he have
guessed that Joe had told John, and that John had told Mrs. Sam. He could
only suppose that the two had been talking of something, and were annoyed
at being interrupted.
When he came back with the glass of water Mr. Biggielow had just brought
Joe some salad. The usual struggle began between the two men. Mr. Bonamy
Biggielow was a little poet.
"I ought to thank you, Miss Thorn, instead of you thanking me," said
Vancouver, in a seductive voice, on one side of Joe.
"Is it not the most crowded supper you ever saw?" remarked Mr. Biggielow
on the other side.
"Why?" said Joe, eating her salad and looking straight before her.
"I thought you were going to send me away. I was so glad when you
condescended to make use of me," answered Vancouver.
Mr. Biggielow also answered Joe's interrogation.
"Well," he said, "I mean it is thronged with people. There is a decided
'sound of revelry by night'."
"Youth and beauty? That sort of thing?" said Joe to Biggielow. Then
turning to Vancouver, she added, "Why should I send you away?"
"I hope there is no reason," he said gravely. "In fact, I am sure there is
none, except that you would of course always do exactly as you pleased
about that and everything else."
"Yes, indeed," Joe answered, and her lip curled a little proudly, "you are
quite right about that. But then, you know, I did not send you away."
"Thanks, again," said Vancouver.
"Do let me get you something more, Miss Thorn," suggested Mr. Biggielow.
"No? There is any amount of _pates_. You always like"--
"Of course you have heard about Harrington?" said Vancouver in a low voice
close to Josephine's ear.
"No, really," she answered. "Will you take my plate? And the glass--
thanks." Mr. Bonamy Biggielow was obliged to retire. "You mean about the
senatorship?" asked Joe.
"Yes. The senator died this morning. Harrington will make a fight for it.
He has many friends."
"Among whom you count yourself, doubtless," remarked Joe.
"Not politically, of course. I take no active part"--
"Yes, I know." Joe knew the remainder of the sentence by heart. "Then you
will have a glorious opportunity for maintaining an armed neutrality."
"Oh, if it comes to that," said Vancouver mildly, "I would rather see
Harrington senator than some of our own men. At all events, he is honest."
"At all events!" Joe repeated. "You think, perhaps, that some man of your
own party may be elected who will not turn out to be honest?"
"Well, the thing is possible. You see, politics are such a dirty business
--all kinds of men get in."
Joe laughed in a way that made Vancouver nervous. He was beginning to know
her, and he could tell when some sharp thrust was coming by the way she
laughed. Nevertheless, he was fascinated by her.
"It is not long since you told me that Mr. Harrington's very mild remark
about extinguishing bribery and corruption was a piece of gross
exaggeration," said Joe. "Why do you say politics are dirty work?"
"There is a great difference," answered Vancouver.
"What difference? Between what?"
"Between saying that the business of politics is not clean, and saying
that all public officers are liars, like the Cretans."
"Who is exaggerating now?" asked Joe scornfully.
"Of course it is I," answered Vancouver, submissively. "If it is not a
rude question, did not that dress come from Egypt?"
"Yes." The garment in question was made of a kind of soft white, fluted
material over a rose-colored silk ground. The raised flutings followed the
exquisite lines of Joe's figure, and had the double merit of accentuating
its symmetry, and of so leading the eye as to make her height seem greater
than it really was. Cut square at the neck, it showed her dazzling throat
at its best advantage, and a knot of pink lilies at the waist harmonized
delicately with the color of the whole.
"It is just like you," said Vancouver, "to have something different from
everybody else. I admire Eastern things so much, and one gets so tired of
the everlasting round of French dresses."
"I am glad you like it," said Joe, indifferently.
"I am so anxious to meet your cousin, Miss Thorn," said Vancouver, trying
a new subject. "I hear there is to be a dinner for him to-morrow night at
Mrs. Sam Wyndham's. But of course I am not asked."
"Why 'of course'?" inquired Joe quickly.
"I believe Mrs. Wyndham thinks I dislike Englishmen," said Vancouver at
random. "But she is really very much mistaken."
"Yes--I should be willing to like any number of Englishmen for the sake of
being liked by one Englishwoman." He looked at Joe expressively as he
"Indeed, yes. Do you not believe me?"
"Oh, yes," said Joe. "Why should I not believe you?" Her voice was calm,
but that same angry flush that had of late so often shown itself began to
rise slowly at her temples. Vancouver saw it, and thought she was blushing
at what he said.
"I trust you will," said Vancouver. "I trust that some day you will let me
tell you who that Englishwoman is."
It was horrible; he was making love to her, this wretch, whom she
despised. She turned her head away to hide the angry look in her eyes.
"Thanks--no, if you do not mind," said she. "I do not care to receive
confidences,--I always forget to forget them." It was not in order that
Pocock Vancouver might make love to her that she had sent away Bonamy
Biggielow, the harmless little poet. She wished him back again, but he was
embarked in an enterprise to dispute with Johnny Hannibal a place near
Miss St. Joseph. Mrs. Wyndham had long since disappeared.
"Will you please take me back to my aunt?" said Joe. As they passed from
the supper-room they suddenly came upon John Harrington, who was wandering
about in an unattached fashion, apparently looking for some one. He bowed
and stared a little at seeing Joe on Vancouver's arm, but she gave him a
look of such earnest entreaty that he turned and followed her at a
distance to see what would happen. Seeing her sit down by her aunt, he
came up and spoke to her, almost thrusting Vancouver aside with his broad
shoulders. Vancouver, however, did not dispute the position, but turned on
his heel and went away.
"Oh, I am so glad," said Joe, with a sigh of relief. "I thought I should
never get away from him!"
It is amazing what a difference the common knowledge of a secret will make
in the intimacy of two people.
"I was rather taken aback at seeing you with him," said John. "Not that it
can make any difference to you," he added quickly, "only you seemed so
angry at him this morning."
"But it does"--Joe began, impulsively. "That is, I began by meaning to cut
him, and then I thought it would be a mistake to make a scandal."
"Yes," said John, "it would be a great mistake. Besides, I would not for
all the world have you take a part in this thing. It would do no good, and
it might do harm."
"I think I have taken a part already," said Joe, somewhat hurt.
"Yes, I know. I am very grateful, but I hope you will not think any more
about it, nor allow it to influence you in any way."
"But what is the use of friends if they do not take a part in one's
quarrels?" asked Joe.
John looked at her earnestly for a few seconds, and saw that she was
perfectly sincere. He had grown to like Josephine of late, and he was
grateful to her for her friendship. Her manner that morning, when she told
him of her discovery, had made a deep impression on him.
"My dear Miss Thorn," he said earnestly, in a low voice, "you are too good
and kind, and I thank you very heartily for your friendship. But I think
you were very wise not to cut Vancouver, and I hope you will not quarrel
with anybody for any matter so trivial." The color came to Joe's face, but
not for anger this time.
"Trivial!" she exclaimed.
"Yes, trivial," John repeated. "Remember that it is the policy of that
paper to abuse me, and that if Vancouver had not written the article, the
editor could have found some one else easily enough who would have done
"But it is such a dastardly thing!" said Joe. "He always says to every one
that he has the greatest respect for you, and then he does a thing like
this. If I were you I would kill him--I am sure I would."
"That would not be the way to win an election nowadays," said John,
"Oh, I would not care about that," said Joe, hotly. "But I dare say it is
very silly of me," she added. "You do not seem to mind it at all."
"It is not worth while to lose one's temper or one's soul for the
iniquities of Mr. Pocock Vancouver," said John. "The man may do me harm,
but as I never expected his friendship or help, he neither falls nor rises
in my estimation on that account. Blessed are they who expect nothing!"
"Blessed indeed," said Joe. "But one cannot help expecting men who have
the reputation of being gentlemen to behave decently."
"Vancouver has a right to his political opinions, and a perfect right to
express them in any way he sees fit," said John.
"Oh, of course," said Joe, impatiently. "This is a free country, and that
sort of thing. But if he means to express political opinions he should not
cry aloud at every tea-party in town that he is neutral and takes no
active part in politics. I think that writing violent articles in a
newspaper is a very active part indeed. And he should not go about saying
that he has the highest reverence for a man, and then call him a lunatic
and a charlatan in print, unless he is willing to sign his name to it, and
take the consequences. Should he? I think it is vile, and horrid, and
abominable, and nasty, and I hate him."
"With the exception of the peroration to that speech," said John, who was
very much amused, "I am afraid I must agree with you. A man certainly
ought not to do any of those things."
"Then why do you defend him?" asked Joe, with flashing eyes.
"Because, on general principles, I do not think a man is so much worse
than his fellows because he does things they would very likely do in his
place. There are things done every day, all over the world, quite as bad
Back to Full Books