An American Politician
F. Marion Crawford
Part 3 out of 5
as that, and no one takes much notice of them. Almost every businessman is
trying to get the better of some other business man by fair means or
"You do not seem to have a very exalted idea of humanity," said Joe.
"A large part of humanity is sick," said John, "and it is as well to be
prepared for the worst in any illness."
"I wish you were not so tremendously calm, you know," said Joe, looking
thoughtfully into John's face. "I am afraid it will injure you."
"Why in the world should it injure me?" asked John, much astonished at the
"I have a presentiment"--she checked herself suddenly. "I do not like to
tell you," she added.
"I would like to hear what you think, if you will tell me," said John,
"Well, do not be angry. I have a presentiment that you will not be made
senator. Are you angry?"
"No indeed. But why?"
"Just for that very reason; you are too calm. You are not enough of a
partisan. Every one is a partisan here."
John was silent, and his face was grave and thoughtful. The remark was
profound in its way, and showed a far deeper insight into political
matters than he imagined Joe possessed. He had long regarded Mrs. Wyndham
as a woman of fine sense and judgment, and had often asked her opinion on
important questions. But in all his experience she had never said anything
that seemed to strike so deeply at the root of things as this simple
remark of Josephine's.
"I am afraid you are angry," said Joe, seeing that he was grave and
"You have set me thinking, Miss Thorn," he answered.
"You think I may be right?" she said.
"The idea is quite new to me, I think it is perhaps the best definition of
the fact that I ever heard. But it is not what ought to be."
"Of course not," Joe answered. "Nothing is just what it ought to be. But
one has to take things as they are."
"And make them what they should be," added John, and the look of strong
determination came into his face.
"Ah, yes," said Joe, softly. "Make things what they should be. That is the
best thing a man can live for."
"Perhaps we might go home, Joe," said Miss Schenectady, who had been
conversing for a couple of hours with another old lady of literary tastes.
"Yes, Aunt Zoe," said Joe, rousing herself, "I think we might."
"Shall I see you to-morrow night at Mrs. Wyndham's dinner?" asked John, as
"No, I refused. Good-night."
As Joe sat by her aunt's side in the deep dark carriage on the way home,
her hands were cold and she trembled from head to foot. And when at last
she laid her head upon her pillow there were tears in her eyes and on her
"Is it possible that I can be so heartless?" she murmured to herself.
Ronald went to see Sybil Brandon at five o'clock, and as it chanced he
found her alone. Mrs. Wyndham, she said, had gone out, or rather she had
not yet come home; but if Ronald would wait, she would certainly be in.
Ronald waited, and talked to Miss Brandon in the mean while. He had a
bereaved air when he arrived, which was calculated to excite sympathy, and
his conversation was subdued in tone, and grave in subject. But Sybil did
her best to cheer him, and in the fullness of her sympathy did perhaps
more than was absolutely necessary. Ronald's wound was not deep, but he
had a firm conviction that it ought to be.
Any man would have thought the same in his place. Certainly, few people
would have understood what they felt in such a position. He had grown up
believing he was to marry a young and charming woman of whom he was really
exceedingly fond, and now he was suddenly told that the whole thing was a
mistake. It was enough to break a man's heart, and yet Ronald's heart was
not broken, and to his great surprise beat nearly as regularly the day
after his disaster as it had done during the whole two-and-twenty years of
his life. He could not understand his own calmness, and he was sure that
he ought to be profoundly grieved over the whole affair, so that his face
was drawn into an expression of solemnity somewhat out of keeping with its
singular youthful freshness of color and outline.
The idea of devoting himself to the infernal gods as a sacrifice to the
blighted passion had passed away in the course of the drive on the
previous afternoon. He had felt no inclination to drown his cares in drink
during the evening, but on the contrary he had gone for a brisk walk in
Beacon Street, and had ascertained by actual observation, and the
assistance of a box of matches, the precise position of No. 936. This had
occupied some time, as it is a peculiarity of Boston to put the number of
the houses on the back instead of the front, so that the only certain
course to follow in searching for a friend, is to reach the rear of his
house by a circuitous route through side streets and back alleys, and
then, having fixed the exact position of his residence by astronomical
observation, to return to the front and inquire for him. It is true that
even then one is frequently mistaken, but there is nothing else to be
It was perhaps not extraordinary that Ronald should be at some pains to
find out where Mrs. Wyndham lived, for Sybil was the only person besides
Joe and Miss Schenectady whom he had yet met, and he wanted company, for
he hated and dreaded solitude with his whole heart. Having traveled all
the night previous, he went home and slept a sounder sleep than falls to
the lot of most jilted lovers.
The next day he rose early and "did" Boston. It did not take him long, and
he said to himself that half of it was very jolly, and half of it was too
utterly beastly for anything. The Common, and the Gardens, and
Commonwealth Avenue, you know, were rather pretty, and must have cost a
deuce of a lot of money in this country; but as for the State House, and
Paul Revere's Church, and the Old South, and the city generally, why, it
was simply disgusting, all that, you know. And in the afternoon he went to
see Sybil Brandon, and began talking about what he had seen.
She was, if anything, more beautiful than ever, and as she looked at him,
and held out her hand with a friendly greeting, Ronald felt himself
actually blushing, and Sybil saw it and blushed too, a very little. Then
they sat down by the window where there were plants, and they looked out
at the snow and the people passing. Sybil asked Ronald what he had been
"I have been doing Boston," he said. "Of course it was the proper thing.
But I am afraid I do not know much about it."
"But do you like it?" she asked. "It is much more important, I think, to
know whether you like things or dislike them, than to know everything
about them. Do not you think so?"
"Oh, of course," said Ronald. "But I like Boston very much; I mean the
part where you live. All this, you know--Commonwealth Place, and the
Public Park, you know, and Beacon Avenue, of course, very much. But the
"You do not like the city?" suggested Sybil, seeing he hesitated, and
smiling at his strange confusion of names.
"No," said Ronald. "I think it is so cramped and ugly, and all little
narrow streets. But then, of course, it is such a little place. You get
into the country the moment you walk anywhere."
"It seems very big to the Bostonians," said Sybil, laughing.
"Oh, of course. You have lived here all your life, and so it is quite
"I? Dear me no! I am not a Bostonian at all."
"Oh," said Ronald, "I thought you were. That was the reason I was not sure
of abusing the city to you. But it is not a bad place, I should think,
when you know lots of people, and that was such a pretty drive we went
"Yes, it must seem very new to you. Everything must, I should think, most
of all this casual way we have of receiving people. But there really is a
Mrs. Wyndham, with whom I am staying, and she will be in before long."
"Oh--don't--don't mention her," said Ronald, hastily, "I mean it--it is of
no importance whatever, you know." He blushed violently.
Sybil laughed, and Ronald blushed again, but in all his embarrassment lie
could not help thinking what a silvery ring there was in her voice.
"I am afraid Mrs. Wyndham would not like it, if she heard you telling me
she was not to be mentioned, and was not of any importance whatever. But
she is a very charming woman, and I am very fond of her."
"She is your aunt, I presume, Miss Brandon?" said Ronald.
"My aunt?" repeated Sybil. "Oh no, not at all--only a friend."
"Oh, I thought all unattached young ladies lived with aunts here, like
Miss Schenectady." Ronald smiled grimly at the recollections of the
"Not quite that," said Sybil, laughing. "Mrs. Wyndham is not the least
like Miss Schenectady. She is less clever and more human."
"Really, I am so glad," said Ronald. "And she talks so oddly--Joe's--Miss
Thorn's aunt. Could you tell me, if it is not a rude question, why so many
people here are never certain of anything? It strikes me as so absurdly
ridiculous, you know. She said yesterday that 'perhaps, if I rang the
bell, she could send a message.' And the man at the hotel this morning had
no postage stamps, and said that perhaps if I went to the General Post
Office I might be able to get some there."
"Yes," said Sybil, "it is absurd, and one catches it so easily."
"But would it not be ridiculous if the guard called out at a station,
'Perhaps this is Boston!' or 'Perhaps this is New York?' It would be too
"I am afraid that if you begin to make a list of our peculiarities yon
will find funnier things than that," said Sybil, laughing. "But then we
always laugh at you in England, so that it is quite fair."
"Oh, we are very absurd, I know," said Ronald, "but I think we are much
more comfortable. For instance, we do not have niggers about who call us
"You must not use such words in Boston, Mr. Surbiton," said Sybil.
"Seriously, there are people who would be very much offended. You must
speak of 'waiters of color,' or 'the colored help;' you must be very
"I will," said Ronald. "Thanks. Is everything rechristened in that way? I
am afraid I shall always be in hot water."
"Oh yes, there are no men and women here. They are all ladies and
gentlemen, or 'the gurls,' and 'the fellows.' But it is very soon learnt."
"Yes, I can imagine," said Ronald, very much amused. "But--by the bye,
this is the season here, is not it?"
So they chattered together for nearly an hour about the merest nothings,
not saying anything particularly witty, but never seeming to each other in
the least dull. Ronald had gone to Sybil for consolation, and he was so
well consoled that he was annoyed when Mrs. Wyndham came in and
interrupted his _tete-a-tete_. Sybil introduced Ronald, and when he
rose to go, after a quarter of an hour, Mrs. Wyndham asked him to dinner
on the following day.
That night, when Ronald was alone in his room at the hotel, he took
Josephine's photograph from a case in his bag and set it before him on the
table. He would think about her for a while, and reflect on his situation;
and he sat down for that purpose, his chin resting on his folded hands.
Dear Joe--he loved her so dearly, and she was so cruel not to marry him!
But, somehow, as he looked, he seemed to see through the photograph, and
another face came and smiled on him. Again and again he called his
attention back, and tried to realize that the future would be very blank
and dreary without Joe; but do what he would, it did not seem so blank and
dreary after all; there was somebody else there.
"Joe is quite right," he said aloud. "I am a brute." And he went to bed,
trying hard to be disgusted with himself. But his dreams were sweet, for
he dreamed he was sitting among the ferns at Mrs. Wyndham's house, talking
to Sybil Brandon.
"Why, my dear," said Mrs. Wyndham, when Ronald was gone, "he is perfectly
charming. We have positively found a new man."
"Yes," said Sybil. "I am so glad you asked him to dinner. I do not think
he is very clever, but he talks easily, and says funny things."
"I suppose he has come over to marry his cousin--has not he?" inquired
"No," replied Sybil, "he is not going to marry Joe Thorn," she answered
absently; for she was thinking of something, and her tone indicated such
absolute certainty in the matter that Mrs. Wyndham looked quickly at her.
"Well, you seem quite certain about it, any way," she said.
"I? Oh--well, yes. I think it is extremely unlikely that he will marry
"I almost wish I had offered to take him to the party to-night," said Mrs.
Wyndham, evidently unsatisfied. "However, as he is coming to-morrow, that
will do quite as well. Sybil, dear, you look tired. Why don't you go and
lie down before dinner?"
"Oh, because--I am not tired, really. I am always pale, you know."
"Well, I am tired to death myself, my dear, and as there is no one here I
will say I am not at home, and rest till dinner."
Mrs. Wyndham had been as much startled as any one by news of the senator's
death that morning, and though she always professed to agree with her
husband she was delighted at the prospect of John Harrington's election.
She had been a good friend to him, and he to her, for years, and she cared
much more for his success than for the turn of events. She had met him in
the street that afternoon, and they had perambulated the pavement of
Beacon Street for more than an hour in the discussion of the future. John
had also told her that he was now certain that Vancouver was the writer of
the offensive articles that had so long puzzled him; at all events that
the especial one which had appeared the morning after the skating-party
was undoubtedly from his pen. Mrs. Wyndham, who had long suspected as
much, was very angry when she found that her suspicions had been so just,
and she proposed to deal summarily with Vancouver. John, however, begged
her to temporize, and she promised to be prudent.
"By the way," she said to Sybil, as she was about to leave the room, "it
was a special providence that you did not marry Vancouver. He has turned
Sybil started slightly and looked up. Her experience with Pocock Vancouver
was a thing she rarely referred to. She had undoubtedly given him great
encouragement, and had then mercilessly refused him, to the great surprise
of every one. But as that had occurred a year and a half ago, it was quite
natural that she should treat him like any one else, now, just as though
nothing had happened. She looked up at Mrs. Wyndham in some surprise.
"What has he done?" she asked.
"You know how he always talks about John Harrington?"
"He always says he respects him immensely."
"Very well. It is he who has been writing those scurrilous articles that
we have talked about so much."
"How disgraceful!" exclaimed Sybil. "How perfectly detestable! Are you
"There is not the least doubt about it. John Harrington told me himself."
"Oh, then of course it is true," said Sybil. "How dreadful!"
"Harrington takes it in the calmest way, as though he had expected it all
his life. He says they were never friends, and that Vancouver has a
perfect right to his political opinions. I never saw anybody so cool in my
"What a splendid fellow he is!" exclaimed Sybil. "There is something lion-
like about him. He would forgive an enemy a thousand times a day, and say
the man who injured him had a perfect right to his opinions."
"Why gracious goodness, Sybil, how you talk!" cried Mrs. Wyndham; "you are
not in love with the man yourself, are you, my dear?"
"I?" asked Sybil. Then she laughed. "No, indeed! I would not marry him if
he asked me."
"Oh, I would never marry a celebrity like that. He is splendid, and noble,
and honest; but everything in him is devoted to his career. There is no
room for a woman at all."
"I think the amount of solid knowledge about men that you dear, sweet,
lovely, beautiful, innocent little girls possess is something just too
perfectly amazing!" said Mrs. Wyndham, slowly, and with great emphasis.
"If we do," said Sybil, "it is not surprising. I am sure I do not wonder
at girls knowing a great deal about the world. Everything is discussed
before them, and marriage and men are the usual topics of conversation.
The wonder is that girls still make so many mistakes in their choice,
after listening to the combined experience of all the married women of
their acquaintance for several years. It shows that no one is infallible."
"What a funny girl you are, Sybil!" exclaimed Mrs. Wyndham. "I think you
turn the tables on me altogether."
"Yes? Well, I have experiences of my own now," said Sybil, leaning back
against an enormous cushion.
Mrs. Wyndham came and sat upon the arm of the easy-chair, and put one arm
round Sybil's neck and kissed her.
"Sybil, dear," she said affectionately, and then stopped.
They sat in silence for some time, looking at the great logs burning in
the deep fire-place.
"Sybil, dear," Mrs. Wyndham began again, presently, "why did you refuse
Vancouver? You do not mind telling me, do you?"
"Why do you ask?" said Sybil. "It makes no difference now."
"No, perhaps not. Only I always thought it strange. He must have done
something you did not like, of course."
"Yes, that was it. He did something I did not like. Mr. Harrington would
have said he had a perfect right to do as he pleased. But I could not
marry him after that."
"Was it anything so very bad?" asked Mrs. Wyndham, affectionately,
smoothing Sybil's thick fair hair.
"It was not as deep as a well, nor as broad as a house," said Sybil, with
a faint, scornful laugh; "but it was enough. It would do."
"I wish you would tell me, dear," persisted Mrs. Wyndham. "I have a
particular reason for wanting to know."
"Well, I would not have told before this other affair came out," said
Sybil. "I would not marry him because he tried to find out from poor
mamma's man of business whether we were rich. And the day after he got the
information that I was rich enough to suit him, he proposed. But mamma
knew all about what had gone on and told me, and so I refused him. She
said I was wrong, and would not have told me if she had known it would
make any difference. And now you say I was right. I am sure I was; it was
only a fancy I had for him, because he was so clever and well-bred.
Besides, he is much too old."
"He is old enough to be your father, my dear," said Mrs. Wyndham; "but I
think you were a little hard on him. Almost any man would do the same. We
here in Boston, of course, always know about each other. It was a little
mean of him, no doubt, but it was not a mortal crime."
"I think it was low," said Sybil, decisively. "To think of a man as rich
as that caring for a paltry twenty or thirty thousand a year."
"I know, my dear," said Mrs. Wyndham, "it is mean; but they all do it, and
life is uncertain, and so is business I suppose, and twenty or thirty
thousand a year does make a difference to most people, I expect."
Mrs. Wyndham looked at the fire reflectively, as though not absolutely
certain of the truth of the proposition. Sam Wyndham was commonly reputed
to be worth a dozen millions or so. He would have been very well off even
in New York, and in Boston he was rich.
"It would make a great difference to me," said Sybil, laughing, "for it is
all I have in the world. But I am glad I refused Vancouver on that ground,
all the same. If it had not been for that I should have married him--just
"Yes, just imagine!" exclaimed Mrs. Wyndham. "And to have had him turn out
such an abominable blackguard!"
"There is no mistaking what you think of him now, at all events," said
"No, my dear. And now we have talked so long that it is time to dress for
How Mrs. Wyndham went to the party and met Joe Thorn has already been
told. It was no wonder that Mrs. Sam treated Vancouver so coldly, and she
repulsed him again more than once during the evening. When Joe was gone,
John Harrington went up to her.
"I came very late," he said, "and at first I could not find you, and then
I had to say something to Miss Thorn. But I wanted to see you especially."
"Give me your arm," said Mrs. Wyndham, "and we will go into the
conservatory. I have something especial to say to you, too." Once out of
the thick of the party, they sat down. "I have discovered something more
about our amiable friend," she continued. "It is a side-light on his
character--something he did a year and a half ago. Do you remember his
flirtation with Sybil Brandon at Saratoga and then at Newport?"
"Yes, I was in Newport most of the summer."
"You don't know why she refused him, though. It's perfectly rich!" Mrs.
Sam laughed dryly.
"No; I only know she did, and every one seemed very much astonished,"
answered John. "She refused him because he had been trying to find out
how much she was worth. It speaks volumes for the characters of both of
them, does it not?"
"Yes, indeed," said John. "What a Jew that man is! He is as rich as
"Oh, well, as I told her, most men would do it."
"I suppose so," John answered, laughing a little. "A man the other night
told me he was going to make inquiries concerning the fortunes of his
beloved one. He said he had no idea of buying a pig in a poke. That was
graceful, was it not?"
Mrs. Wyndham laughed aloud. "He was honest, at all events. By the bye, do
you know you have a fanatic admirer in Sybil Brandon?"
"No, really? I like her very much, too: and I am very glad if she likes
"She said she would not marry you if you asked her, though," said Mrs.
Sam, laughing again. "You see you must not flatter yourself too much."
"I do not. I should not think of asking her to marry me. Did she give any
especial reason why she would inevitably refuse me?"
"Yes, indeed; she said you were lion-like, and, oh, the most delightful
things! But she said she would not marry you if you asked her, because you
are a celebrity and devoted to your career, so that there is no room for a
woman in your life. Is that true?"
"I am not so sure," said John, thoughtfully. "Perhaps she is right in the
way she means. I never thought much about it."
The idea Joe had formed about Vancouver was just, in the main, and she was
not far wrong in disliking him and thinking him dangerous. Nevertheless
John Harrington understood the man better. Vancouver was so constituted
that his fine intellect and quick perception were unsupported by any
strong principle of individuality. He was not capable of hatred--he could
only be spiteful; he could not love, he could only give a woman what he
could spare of himself. He would at all times rather avoid an open
encounter, but he rarely neglected an opportunity of dealing a thrust at
any one he disliked, when he could do so safely. He was the very opposite
of John, who never said of any one what he would not say to themselves,
and granted to every man the broadest right of judgment and freedom of
opinion. Nevertheless there was not enough real strength in anything
Vancouver felt to make him very dangerous as an opponent, nor valuable as
a friend. Had it not been for the important position he had attained by
his clever subtlety in affairs, and by the assistance of great railroad
magnates who found in him a character and intelligence precisely suited to
their ends, Pocock Vancouver would have been a neutral figure in the
world, lacking both the enterprise to create an idea and the courage to
follow it out. It was most characteristic of his inherent smallness, that
in spite of his wealth and the very large operations that must be
constantly occupying his thoughts, he could demean himself to write
anonymous articles in a daily paper, in the hope of injuring a man he
It is true that his feeling against Harrington was as strong as anything
in his nature. He detested John's strength because he had once made him a
confidence and John had done him a favor. He disliked him also because he
knew that wherever they chanced to be together John received an amount of
consideration and even of respect which he himself could not obtain with
all his money and all his cleverness. His mind, too, delighted in detail
and revolted against John's sweeping generalities. For these several
reasons Vancouver had taken great delight in writing and printing sundry
vicious criticisms upon John in the absolute certainty of not being found
out. The editor of the paper did not know Vancouver's name, for the
articles came through the post with a modest request that they might be
inserted if they were of any use; and they were generally so pungent and
to the point that the editor was glad to get them, especially as no
remuneration was demanded.
As for the confidence Vancouver had once made to John, it was another
instance of his littleness. At the time when Vancouver was anxious to
marry Sybil Brandon, John Harrington was very intimate at the house, and
was, in Vancouver's opinion, a dangerous rival; at all events he felt that
the contest was not an agreeable one, nor altogether to his own advantage.
Accordingly he tried every means to clear the coast, as he expressed it;
but although John probably had no intention of marrying Sybil, and Sybil
certainly had never thought of marrying John, the latter was fond of her
society, and of her mother's, and came to the cottage on the Newport cliff
with a regularity that drove Vancouver to the verge of despair. Pocock at
last could bear it no longer and asked John to dinner. Over a bottle of
Pommery Sec he confided his passion, and hinted that John was the obstacle
to his wooing. Harrington raised his eyebrows, smiled, wished Vancouver
all success, and left Newport the next day. If Vancouver had not disgusted
Sybil by his inquiries concerning her fortune, he would have married her,
and his feelings towards John would have been different. But to know that
Harrington had done him the favor of going away, knowing that he was about
to offer himself to Miss Brandon, and then to have failed in his suit was
more than the vanity of Mr. Pocock Vancouver could bear with any sort of
calmness, and the consequence was that he disliked John as much as he
disliked anybody or anything in the world. There is no resentment like the
resentment of wounded vanity, nor any self-reproach like that of a man who
has shown his weakness.
When Mrs. Wyndham told John the story of Vancouver's failure he could have
told her the rest, had he chosen, and she would certainly have been very
much amused. But John was not a man to betray a confidence, even that of a
man who had injured him, and so he merely laughed and kept his own
counsel. He would have scorned to speak to Vancouver about the articles,
or to make any change in his manner towards him. As he had said to
Josephine, he had expected nothing from the man, and now he was not
Meanwhile Vancouver, who was weakly but frequently susceptible to the
charms of woman, had made up his mind that if Josephine had enough pin-
money she would make him an admirable wife, and he accordingly began to
make love to her in his own fashion, as has been seen. A day or two
earlier Joe would have laughed at him, and it would perhaps have amused
her to hear what he had to say, as it amuses most young women to listen to
pretty speeches. But Joe was between two fires, so to speak; she was under
the two influences that were strongest with her. She loved John Harrington
with all her heart, and she hated Vancouver with all her strength. It is
true that her hatred was the only acknowledged passion, for her maidenly
nature was not able yet to comprehend her love; and the mere thought that
she cared for a man who did not care for her brought the hot blush to her
cheek. But the love was in her heart all the same, strong and enduring, so
that Vancouver found the fortress doubly guarded.
He could not entirely explain to himself her conduct at the party. She had
always seemed rather willing to accept his attentions and to listen to his
conversation, but on this particular evening, just when he wished to make
a most favorable impression, she had treated him with surprising coldness.
There was a supreme superiority in the way she had at first declined his
services, and had then told him he might be permitted to get her a glass
of water. The subsequent satisfaction of having ousted Mr. Bonamy
Biggielow, the little poet, from his position at her side was small
enough, and was more than counterbalanced and destroyed by her returning
to her chaperon at the first soft-tongued insinuation of a desire to
flirt, which Vancouver ventured to speak. Moreover, when Harrington almost
pushed him aside and sat down by Josephine, Vancouver could bear it no
longer, but turned on his heel and went away, with black thoughts in his
heart. It seemed as though John was to be always in his way.
It would be hard to say what he would have felt had he known that
Josephine Thorn, John Harrington, and Mrs. Sam Wyndham all knew of his
journalistic doings. And yet it was nearly certain that no one of the
three would ever speak to him on the subject. Joe would not, because she
knew John would not like it; John himself despised the whole business too
much to condescend to reproach Vancouver; and, finally, Mrs. Wyndham was
too much a woman of the world to be willing to cause a scandal when it
could possibly be avoided. She liked Vancouver too, and regretted what he
had done. Her liking only extended to his conversation and agreeable
manners, for she was beginning to despise his character; but he had so
long been an _habitue_ about the house that she could not make up her
mind to turn him out. But for all that, she could not help being cold to
him at first.
John himself was too busy with important matters to bestow much thought on
Vancouver or his doings. His day had been spent in interviews and letter-
writing; fifty people had been to see him at his rooms, and he had
dispatched more than that number of letters. At five o'clock he had
slipped out with the intention of dining at his club before any one else
was there, but he had met Mrs. Wyndham in the street, and had spent his
dinner-hour with her. At half-past six he had another appointment in his
rooms, and it was not till nearly eleven that he was able to get away and
look in upon the party, when he met Joe. For a week this kind of life
would probably last, and then all would be over, in one way or another,
but meanwhile the excitement was intense.
On the next day Ronald came to see Joe before ten o'clock. The time hung
heavily on his hands, and he found it impossible to occupy himself with
his troubles. There were moments when the first impression of
disappointment returned upon him very strongly, but he was conscious of a
curious duplicity about his feelings, and he knew well enough in his
inmost heart that he was only evoking a fictitious regret out of respect
for what he thought he ought to feel.
"Tell me all about the people here, Joe," said he, sitting down beside her
almost as though nothing had happened. "Who is Mrs. Wyndham, to begin
"Mrs. Wyndham--she is Sam Wyndham's wife. Just that," said Joe.
"And Sam Wyndham?"
"Oh--he is one of the prevalent profession. He is a millionaire. In fact
he is one of the real ones."
"When do they get to be real?" asked Ronald.
"Oh, when they have more than ten millions. The other ones do not count
much. It is much more the thing to be poor, unless you have ten millions."
"That is something in my favor, at all events," said Ronald.
"Very much. You have been to see Mrs. Wyndham, then?"
"Oh yes, I went yesterday, and she has asked me to dinner to-night. It is
awfully good of her, I must say."
"You will like her very much, and Sybil Brandon too," said Joe. "Sybil is
an adorable creature."
"She is most decidedly good-looking, certainly. There is no doubt about
it." Ronald pulled his delicate moustache a little. "Though she is quite
different style from you, Joe," he added presently, as though he had
discovered a curious fact in natural history.
"Of course. Sybil is a great beauty, and I am only pretty," answered Joe
in perfectly good faith.
"I think you are a great beauty too," said Ronald critically. "I am sure
most people think so, and I have heard lots of men say so. Besides, you
are much more striking-looking than she is."
"Oh, nonsense, Ronald!"
"Joe--who is Mr. Vancouver?"
"Vancouver! Why do you ask especially?"
"It is very natural, I am sure," said Ronald in a somewhat injured tone.
"You wrote about him. He was the only person you mentioned in your letter-
that is, he and a man called Harrington."
"Mr. Vancouver--Mr. Pocock Vancouver--is a middle-aged man of various
accomplishments," said Joe, "more especially distinguished by the fact
that Sybil Brandon refused to marry him some time ago. He is an enemy of
Mr. Harrington's, and they are both friends of Mrs. Wyndham's."
"Ah!" ejaculated Ronald, "and who is Harrington?"
"Mr. John Harrington is a very clever person who has to do with politics,"
said Joe, without hesitation, but as she continued she blushed a little.
"He is always being talked about because he wants to reform everything. He
is a great friend of ours."
"Oh--I thought so," said Ronald. "What sort of a fellow is he?"
"I suppose he is five-and-thirty years old; he is neither tall nor short,
and he has red hair," said Joe.
"What a beauty!" laughed Ronald.
"He is not at all ugly, you know," said Joe, still blushing.
"Shall I ever see him?"
"You will see him to-night at Mrs. Wyndham's; he told me he was going."
"Oh--are you going too, Joe?"
"No. I have another dinner-party. You will have to do without me."
"I suppose I shall always have to do without you, now." said Ronald
"Don't be silly, Ronald!"
"Silly!" repeated Surbiton in injured tones. "You call it silly to be cut
up when one is treated as you have treated me! It is too bad, Joe!"
"You are a dear, silly old thing," said his cousin affectionately, "and I
will say it as much as I please. It is ever so much better, because we can
always be like brother and sister now, and we shall not marry and quarrel
over everything till we hate each other."
"I think you are very heartless, all the same," said Ronald.
"Listen to me, Ronald"-
"You will go and marry one of these middle-aged people with red hair"--
"Be quiet," said Joe, stamping her little foot. "Listen to me. I will not
marry you because I like you and I do not love you, and I never mean to
marry any middle-aged person. I shall not marry at all, most probably.
Will you please to imagine what life would have been like if we had
married first, and found out afterwards that we had made a mistake."
"Of course that would have been awful," said Ronald. "But then it would
not be a mistake, because I love you--like anything, Joe!"
"Oh, nonsense! You are quite mistaken, my dear boy, because some day you
will fall desperately in love with some one else, and you will like me
just as much as ever"--
"Of course I should," said Ronald indignantly. "Nothing would ever make
any difference at all!"
"But, Ronald," retorted Joe laughing, "if you were desperately in love
with some one else, how could you still be just as fond of me?"
"I don't know, but I should," said Ronald. "Besides, it is absurd, for I
shall never love any one else."
"We shall see; but of course if you never do, we shall always be just the
same as we are now."
"Well--that would not be so bad, you know," said Ronald with a certain air
After this conversation Ronald became reconciled to the situation. Joe's
remark that he would be able to love some one else very much without
being--any the less fond of herself made him reflect, and he came to the
conclusion that the case was conceivable after all. He therefore agreed
within himself that he would think no more about the matter for the
present, but would take what came in his way, and trust that Joe would
ultimately change her mind. But he went to Mrs. Wyndham's that evening
with a firm determination to dislike John Harrington to the best of his
A middle-aged man with red hair! Five-and-thirty was undoubtedly middle-
age. Short, too. But Joe had blushed, and there was no doubt about it;
this was the man who had won her affections. Ronald would hate him
But John refused to be hated. His manner was easy and courteous, but not
gentle. He was evidently no lady's man. He talked to the men more than to
the women, and he was utterly without affectation. Indeed, he was not in
the least like what Ronald had expected.
Moreover, Ronald was seated next to Sybil Brandon at dinner, and drove
every one away who tried to disturb the _tete-a-tete_ he succeeded
in procuring with her afterwards. He was surprised at his own conduct, but
he somehow connected it in his mind with his desire to hate Harrington. It
was not very clear to himself, and it certainly would have been
incomprehensible to any one else, but the presence of Harrington
stimulated him in his efforts to amuse Miss Brandon.
Sybil, too, in her quiet way, was very willing to be amused, and she found
in Ronald Surbiton an absolute freshness of ideas that gave her a new
sense of pleasure. Her affair with Vancouver had made a deep impression on
her mind, and her mother's death soon afterwards had had the effect of
withdrawing her entirely from the world. It was no wonder, therefore, that
she liked this young Englishman, so different from most of the men she
knew best. It was natural, too, that he should want to talk to her, for
she was the only young girl present. At last, as Ronald began to feel that
intimacy which sometimes grows out of a simple conversation between two
sympathetic people, he turned to the subject he had most in mind, if not
most in his heart.
"You and my cousin are very intimate, Miss Brandon, I believe?" he said.
"Yes--I have grown very fond of her in a few weeks." Sybil wondered
whether Ronald was going to make confidences. It seemed to her rather
early in the acquaintance.
"Yes, she told me," said Ronald. "She is very fond of you, too; I went to
see her this morning."
"I suppose you go every day," said Sybil, smiling.
"No--not every day," answered Ronald. "But this morning I was asking her
about some of the people here. She seems to know every one."
"Yes indeed, she is immensely popular. Whom did she tell you about?"
"Oh--Mrs. Wyndham, and Mr. Wyndham, and Mr. Vancouver, and Mr. Harrington.
He is immensely clever, she says," added Ronald, with a touch of irony in
his voice. "What do you think about him, Miss Brandon?"
"I cannot judge very well," said Sybil. "He is a great friend of mine, and
I do not care in the least whether my friends are clever or not."
"Joe does," said Ronald. "She hates stupid people. She is very clever too,
you know, and so I suppose she is right about Harrington."
"Oh yes; I was only speaking of myself," answered Sybil. "He is probably
the strongest man in this part of the world."
"He looks strong," said Ronald, who was a judge of athletes.
"I mean in the way of brains," said Sybil. "But he is more than that, for
he is so splendidly honest."
"But lots of people are honest," said Ronald, who did not want to concede
too much to the man he meant to dislike.
"Perhaps, but not so much as he is. I do not believe John Harrington ever
in his life said anything that could possibly convey a false impression,
or ever betrayed a confidence." Sybil looked calmly across the room at
John, who was talking earnestly to Sam Wyndham.
"But has he no defects at all? What a model of faultlessness!" exclaimed
"People say he is self-centred, whatever that may mean. He is certainly a
very ambitious man, but his ambitions are large, and he makes no secret of
them. He will make a great stir in the world some day."
Ronald would have liked to ask about Vancouver also, but he fortunately
remembered what Joe had told him that morning, and did not ask his
questions of Sybil. But he went home that night wondering what manner of
man this Harrington might be, concerning whom such great things were said.
He was conscious also that he had not been very wise in what he had asked
of Sybil, and he was dissatisfied at not having heard anything about the
friendship that existed between Harrington and Joe. But on the whole he
had enjoyed the evening very much--almost too much, when he remembered the
things Joe had said to him in the morning. It ought not to be possible, he
thought, for a jilted lover to look so pleasantly on life.
"Well," said Sam Wyndham to his wife when everybody was gone, and he had
lit a big cigar; "well, it was a pleasant kind of an evening, was not it?"
"Yes," said Mrs. Sam, sitting down in a low easy-chair for a chat with her
husband. "What a nice boy that young Englishman is."
"I was just going to say so," said Sam. "He made himself pretty
comfortable with Sybil, did he not? I could not help thinking they looked
a very pretty pair as they sat in that corner. What is he?"
"He is Miss Thorn's cousin. Sam, you really must not drop your ashes on
the carpet. There are no end of saucers and things about."
"Oh, bother the carpet, my dear," said Sam good-naturedly; "tell me about
that young fellow--what is his name?--Surbiton, is not it?"
"Yes--well, there is not very much to tell. He is here traveling for
amusement, just like any other young Englishman. For my part I expected he
had come here to marry his cousin, because Englishmen always marry their
cousins. But Sybil says it is not true."
"How does she come to know?" inquired Sam, rolling his cigar in his mouth
and looking at the ceiling.
"I suppose Miss Thorn told her. She ought to know, any way."
"Well, one would think so. By the way, this election is going to turn out
a queer sort of a business, I expect. John says the only thing that is
doubtful is that fellow Patrick Ballymolloy and his men. Now is not that
just about the queerest thing you ever heard of? A set of Irishmen in the
Legislature who are not sure they can manage to vote for a Democratic
"Yes, that is something altogether new," said Mrs. Wyndham. "But it seems
so funny that John should come telling you all about his election, when
you are such a Republican, and would go straight against him if you had
anything to say about it."
"Oh, he knows I don't vote or anything," said Sam.
"Of course you don't vote, because you are not in the Legislature. But if
you did, you would go against him, would not you?"
"Well, I am not sure," answered Sam in a drawl of uncertainty. "I tell you
what it is, my dear, John Harrington is not such a bad Republican after
all, though he _is_ a Democrat. And it is my belief he could call
himself a Republican, and could profess to believe just the same things as
he does now, if he only took a little care."
A council of three men sat in certain rooms, in Conduit Street, London.
There was nothing whatever about the bachelor's front room overlooking the
thoroughfare to suggest secrecy, nor did any one of the three gentlemen
who sat in easy-chairs, with cigars in their mouths, in any way resemble a
conspirator. They were neither masked nor wrapped in cloaks, but wore the
ordinary garb of fashionably civilized life. For the sake of clearness and
convenience, they can be designated as X, Y, and Z. X was the president on
the present occasion, but the office was not held permanently, devolving
upon each of the three in succession at each successive meeting.
X was a man sixty years of age, clean-shaved, with smooth iron-gray hair
and bushy eyebrows, from beneath which shone a pair of preternaturally
bright blue eyes. His face was of a strong, even, healthy red; he was
stout, but rather thick and massive than corpulent; his hands were of the
square type, with thick straight fingers and large nails, the great blue
veins showing strongly through the white skin. He was dressed in black, as
though in mourning, and his clothes fitted smoothly over his short heavy
Y was very tall and slight, and it was not easy to make a guess at his
age, for his hair was sandy and thick, and his military moustache
concealed the lines about his mouth. His forehead was high and broad, and
the extreme prominence between his brows made his profile look as though
the facial angles were reversed, as in certain busts of Greek
philosophers. His fingers were well shaped, but extremely long and thin.
He wore the high collar of the period, with a white tie fastened by a pin
consisting of a single large pearl, and it was evident that the remainder
of his dress was with him a subject of great attention. Y might be
anywhere from forty to fifty years of age.
Z was the eldest of the three, and in some respects the most remarkable in
appearance. He was well proportioned, except that his head seemed large
for his body. His face was perfectly colorless, and his thin hair was
white and long and disorderly. A fringe of snowy beard encircled his
throat like a scarf, but his lips and cheeks were clean-shaved. The dead
waxen whiteness of his face was thrown into startling relief by his great
black eyes, in which there was a depth and a fire when he was roused that
contrasted strongly with his aged appearance. His dress was simple in the
extreme, and of the darkest colors.
The three sat in their easy-chairs round the coal fire. It was high noon
in London, and the weather was moderately fine; that is to say, it was
possible to read in the room without lighting the gas. X held a telegram
in his hand.
"This is a perfectly clear case against us," he remarked in a quiet,
"It has occurred at such an unfortunate time," said Y, who spoke very
slowly and distinctly, with an English accent.
"We shall do it yet," said Z, confidently.
"Gentlemen," said the president, "it will not do to hesitate. There is an
individual in this case who will not let the grass grow under his feet.
His name is Mr. Patrick Ballymolloy. We all know about him, I expect?"
"I know him very well indeed," said old Z. "It was I who put him in the
book." He rose quickly and took a large volume from a shelf near by. It
was a sort of ledger, with the letters of the alphabet printed on the cut
edges of the leaves.
"I don't believe Y knows him," said the president. "Please read him to
us." Z turned over the leaves quickly.
"B--Bally--Ballymolloy-Patrick--Yes," he said, finding the place. "Patrick
Ballymolloy. Irish iron man. Boston, Mass. Drinks. Takes money from both
sides. Voted generally Democratic ticket. P.S. 1882, opposed B. in
election for Governor. Iron interest increased. P.S. 1883, owns twenty
votes in House. Costs more than he did. That is all," said Z, shutting up
"Quite enough," said the president. "Mr. Patrick Ballymolloy and his
twenty votes will bother us. What a pity J.H. made that speech!"
"It appears that as Patrick has grown rich, Patrick has grown fond of
protection, then," remarked Y, crossing one long leg over the other.
"Exactly," said Z. "That is it. Now the question is, who owns Patrick?
"Whoever can pay for him, I expect," said the president.
"Now I have an idea," said the old man suddenly, and again he dived into
the book. "Did either of you ever know a man called Vancouver?"
"Yes--I know all about him," said Y, and a contemptuous smile hinted
beforehand what he thought of the man.
"I made an entry about him the other day," said the president. "You will
find a good deal against his name."
"Here he is," said Z again. "Pocock Vancouver. Railways. Rep. Boston,
Mass. Was taxed in 1870 for nearly a million dollars. Weak character, very
astute. Takes no money. Believed to be dissipated, but he cleverly
conceals it. Never votes. Has extensive financial interests. 1880, taxed
for nearly three millions. 1881, paid ten thousand dollars to Patrick
Ballymolloy (D) for carrying a motion for the Monadminck Railroad (see
Railroads). 1882, voted for Butler"--
"Hollo!" exclaimed the president.
"Wait," said Z, "there is more. 1883, thought to be writer of articles
against J.H. in Boston 'Daily Standard.' Subsequently confirmed by J.H.
That is all."
"Yes," said the president, "that last note is mine. Harrington wired it
yesterday with other things. But I was hurried and did not read his old
record. Things could not be much worse. You see Harrington has no book
with him, or he would know all this, and be on the lookout."
"Has he figured it out?" inquired Y.
"Yes, he has figured it out. He is a first-rate man, and he has the whole
thing down cold. Ballymolloy and his twenty votes will carry the election,
and if Vancouver cares he can buy Mr. Ballymolloy as he has done before.
He does care, if he is going to take the trouble to write articles against
J.H., depend upon it."
"Well, there is nothing for it," said Z, who, in spite of his age, was the
most impulsive of the three. "We must buy Ballymolloy ourselves, with his
"I think that would be a mistake," said the president.
"Do you?" said Z. "What do you say?" he asked, turning to Y.
"Nothing," replied Y.
"Then we will argue it, I suppose," said Z.
"Certainly," said the president. "I will begin." He settled himself in his
chair and knocked the ashes from his cigar.
"I will begin by stating the exact position," he said. "In the first place
this whole affair is accidental, resulting from the death of the junior
senator. No one could foresee this event. We had arranged to put in John
Harrington at the regular vacancy next year, and we are now very busy with
a most important business here in London. If we were on the spot, as one
of us could have been had we known that the senator would die, it would
have been another matter. This thing will be settled by next Saturday at
the latest, but probably earlier. I am opposed to buying Ballymolloy,
because it is an uncertain purchase. He has taken money from both sides,
and if he has the chance he will do it again. If we were present it would
be different, for we could hold him to his bargain.
"We do not like buying, and we only do it in very urgent cases, and when
we are certain of the result. To buy without certainty is simply to begin
a system of reckless bribery, which is exactly what we want to put down.
Moreover, it is a bad plan to bribe a man who is interested in iron. The
man in that business ought to be with us any way, without anything but a
little talking to. When you have stated any reasons to the contrary I will
tell you what I propose instead. That is all."
During the president's little speech, Y and Z had listened attentively.
When he had finished, Z turned in his chair and took his cigar from his
"I think," said Z, "that the case is urgent. The question is just about
coming to a head, and we want all the men we can get at any price. It will
not do to let a chance slip. If we can put J.H. in the senate now, we may
put another man in at the vacancy. That makes two men instead of one. I am
aware that it would be an improbable thing to get two of our men in for
Massachusetts; but I believe it can be done, and for that reason I think
we ought to make an effort to get J.H. in now. It may cost something, but
I do not believe it is uncertain. I expect Vancouver is not the sort of
man to spend much just for the sake of spite. The question of buying as a
rule is another matter. None of us want that; but if the case is urgent I
think there is no question about its being right. Of course it is a great
pity J.H. said anything about protection in that speech. He did not mean
to, but he could not help it, and at all events he had no idea his
election was so near. If we are not certain of the result, J.H. ought to
withdraw, because it will injure his chance at the vacancy to have him
defeated now. That is all I have to say."
"I am of opinion," said the president, "that our best plan is to let John
Harrington take his chance. You know who his opponent is, I suppose?"
"Ira C. Calvin," said Y and Z together.
"Calvin refused last night," said the president, "and they have put
Jobbins in his place. Here is the telegram. It is code three," he
remarked, handing it to Z.
Z read it, and his face expressed the greatest surprise.
"But Jobbins belongs to us," he cried. "He will not move hand or foot
unless we advise him!"
"Of course," said the president. "But Mr. Ballymolloy does not know that,
nor any other member of the Legislature. Harrington himself does not know
it. Verdict, please."
"Verdict against buying," said Y.
"Naturally," said Z. "What a set of fools they are! How about withdrawing
"I object," said the president. "Proceed."
"I think it will injure his chance at the vacancy to have him defeated
now, as I said before. That is all," said Z.
"I think it would be dangerous to withdraw him before so weak a man as
Jobbins. It would hurt his reputation. Besides, our second man is in
Washington arguing a case; and, after all, there is a bare chance that
J.H. may win. If he does not, we win all the same, for Jobbins is in
chains. Verdict, please."
Y was silent, and smoked thoughtfully. For five minutes no one spoke, and
the president occupied the time in arranging some papers.
"Let him stand his chance," said Y, at last. In spite of the apparent
informality of the meetings of the three, there was an unchangeable rule
in their proceedings. Whenever a question arose, the member who first
objected to the proposition argued the case briefly, or at length, with
the proposer, and the third gave the verdict, against which there was no
These three strong men possessed between them an enormous power. It rarely
happened that they could all meet together and settle upon their course of
action by word of month, but constant correspondence and the use of an
extensive set of telegraphic codes kept them in unbroken communication. No
oaths or ceremonies bound them together, for they belonged to a small
community of men which has existed from the earliest days of American
independence, and which took its rise before that period.
Into this council of three, men of remarkable ability and spotless
character were elected without much respect of age whenever a vacancy
occurred. They worked quietly, with one immutable political purpose, with
which they allowed no prejudiced party view to interfere. Always having
under their immediate control some of the best talent in the country, and
frequently commanding vast financial resources, these men and their
predecessors had more than once turned the scale of the country's future.
They had committed great mistakes, but they had also brought about noble
results. It had frequently occurred that all the three members of the
council simultaneously held seats in the senate, or that one or more were
high in office. More than one President since Washington had sat at one
time or another in the triumvirate; secretaries of state, orators,
lawyers, financiers, and philanthropists had given the best years of their
lives to the duties of the council; and yet, so perfect was the
organization, the tests were so careful, and so marvelously profound was
the insight of the leaders into human character, that of all these men,
not one had ever betrayed the confidence placed in him. In the truest
sense they and their immediate supporters formed an order; an order of
true men, with whom the love of justice, honor, and freedom took the place
of oath and ceremonial, binding them by stronger obligations than ever
bound a ring of conspirators or a community of religious zealots.
The great element of secrecy as regards the outer world lay in the fact
that only two men at any one time knew of the existence of the council of
three, and these were those who were considered fit to sit in the council
themselves. Even these two did not know more than one of the three leaders
as such, though probably personally and even intimately acquainted with
all three. The body of men whom the council controlled was ignorant of its
existence therefore, and was composed of the personal adherents of each of
the three. Manifestly one member of the council could, with the consent
and cooperation of the other two, command the influence of the whole body
of political adherents in favor of one of his friends, at any time,
leaving the individual in entire ignorance of the power employed for his
advancement. When a vacancy occurred in the council, by death or old age
of any member, one of the two already designated took the place, while the
other remained ignorant of the fact that any change had occurred, unless
the vacancy was caused by the withdrawal of the member he had known, in
which case he was put in communication with that member with whom he was
most intimately acquainted. By this system of management no one man knew
more than one of the actual leaders until he was himself one of the three.
At the present time Z had been in the council nearly thirty years, and X
for upwards of twenty, while Y, who was in reality fifty years old, had
received his seat fifteen years before, at the age of thirty-five. A year
ago one of the men selected to fill a possible vacancy had died, and John
Harrington was chosen in his place.
It has been seen that the three kept a sort of political ledger, which was
always in the hands of the president for the time being, whose duty it was
to make the insertions necessary from time to time. Some conception of the
extent and value of the book may be formed from the fact that it contained
upwards of ten thousand names, including those of almost every prominent
man, and of not a few remarkable women in the principal centres of the
country. The details given were invariably brief and to the point, written
down in a simple but safe form of cipher which was perfectly familiar to
every one of the three. This vast mass of information was simply the
outcome of the personal experience of the leaders, and of their trusted
friends, but no detail which could by any possibility be of use escaped
being committed to paper, and the result was in many cases a positive
knowledge of future events, which, to any one unacquainted with the
system, must have appeared little short of miraculous.
"What time is it in Boston?" inquired the president, rising and going to
"Twenty-eight minutes past seven," said Y, producing an enormous three-
dial time-piece, set to indicate simultaneously the time of day in
London, Boston, and Washington.
"All right, there is plenty of time," answered X, writing out a dispatch
on a broad white sheet of cable office paper. "See here--is this all
right?" he asked, when he had done.
The message ran as follows: "Do not withdraw. If possible gain Ballymolloy
and men, but on no account pay for them. If asked, say iron protection
necessary at present, and probably for many years."
Y and Z read the telegram, and said it would do. In ten minutes it was
taken to the telegraph office by X's servant.
"And now," said X, lighting a fresh cigar, "we have disposed of this
accident, and we can turn to our regular business. The question is
broadly, what effect will be produced by suddenly throwing eight or ten
millions of English money into an American enterprise?"
"When Englishmen are not making money, they are a particularly
disagreeable set of people to deal with," remarked Y, who would have been
taken for an Englishman himself in any part of the world.
And so the council left John Harrington, and turned to other matters which
do not in any way concern this tale.
John received the dispatch at half-past ten o'clock in the morning after
the dinner at Mrs. Wyndham's, and he read it without comprehending
precisely the position taken by his instructor. Nevertheless, the order
coincided with what he would have done if left to himself. He of course
could not know that even if his opponent were elected it would be a gain
to his own party, for the outward life of Mr. Jobbins gave no cause for
believing that he was in anybody's power. Harrington was left to suppose
that, if he failed to get the votes of Patrick Ballymolloy and his party,
the election would be a dead loss. Nevertheless, he rejoiced that the said
Patrick was not to be bought. An honorable failure, wherein he might
honestly say that he had bribed no one, nor used any undue pressure, would
in his opinion be better than to be elected ten times over by money and
promises of political jobbery.
The end rarely justifies the means, and there are means so foul that they
would blot any result into their own filthiness. All that the world can
write; or think, or say, will never make it honorable or noble to bribe
and tell lies. Men who lie are not brave because they are willing to be
shot at, in some instances, by the men their falsehoods have injured. Men
who pay others to agree with them are doing a wrong upon the dignity of
human nature, and they very generally end by saying that human nature has
no dignity at all, and very possibly by being themselves corrupted.
Nevertheless, so great is the interest which men, even upright and
honorable men, take in the aims they follow, that they believe it possible
to wade knee-deep through mud, and then ascend to the temple of fame
without dragging the mud with them, and befouling the white marble steps.
"Political necessity!" What deeds are done in thy name! What a merciful
and polite goddess was the necessity of the ancients, compared with the
necessity of the moderns. Political necessity has been hard at work in our
times from Robespierre to Sedan, from St. Helena to the Vatican, from the
Tea-chests of Boston Harbor to the Great Rebellion. Political necessity
has done more lying, more bribery, more murdering, and more stealing in a
century, than could have been invented by all the Roman emperors together,
with the assistance of the devil himself.
In all the endless folk-lore of proverbs, there is perhaps no adage more
true than that which warns young people to beware of a new love until they
have done with the old, and as Ronald Surbiton reflected on his position,
the old rhyme ran through his head. Ho was strongly attracted by Sybil
Brandon, but, at the same time, he still felt that he ought to make an
effort to win Joe back. It seemed so unmanly to relinquish her without a
struggle, just because she said she did not love him. It could not be
true, for they had loved each other so long.
When Ronald looked out of the window of his room in the hotel, on the
morning after Mrs. Wyndham's dinner, the snow was falling as it can only
fall in Boston. The great houses opposite were almost hidden from view by
the soft, fluttering flakes, and below, in the broad street, the horse-
cars moved slowly along like immense white turtles ploughing their way
through deep white sand. The sound of the bells was muffled as it came up,
and the scraping of the Irishmen's heavy spades on the pavement before the
hotel followed by the regular fall of the great shovels full on the heap,
as they stacked the snow, sounded like the digging of a gigantic grave.
Ronald felt that his spirits were depressed. He watched the drifting storm
for a few minutes, and then turned away and looked for a novel in his bag,
and filled a pipe with some English tobacco he had jealously guarded from
the lynx-eyed custom-house men in New York, and then sat down with a sigh
before his small coal fire, and prepared to pass the morning, in solitude.
But Ronald was not fond of reading, and at the end of half an hour he
threw his book and his pipe aside, and stretched his long limbs. Then he
rose and went to the window again with an expression of utter weariness
such as only an Englishman can put on when he is thoroughly bored. The
snow was falling as thickly as ever, and the turtle-backed horse-cars
crawled by through the drifts, more and more slowly. Ronald turned away
with an impatient ejaculation, and made up his mind that he would go and
see Joe at once. He wrapped himself carefully in a huge ulster overcoat
and went out.
Joe was sitting alone in the drawing-room, curled up in an old-fashioned
arm-chair by the fire, with a book in her lap which she was not reading.
She had asked her aunt for something about politics, and Miss Schenectady
had given her the "Life of Rufus Choate," in two large black volumes. The
book was interesting, but in Joe's mind it was but a step from the
speeches and doings of the great and brilliant lawyer-senator to the
speeches and doings of John Harrington. And so after a while the book
dropped upon her knee and she leaned far back in the chair, her great
brown eyes staring dreamily at the glowing coals.
"I was so awfully lonely," said Ronald, sitting down beside her, "that I
came here. You do not mind, Joe, do you?"
"Mind? No! I am very glad. It must be dreadfully lonely for you at the
hotel. What have you been doing with yourself?"
"Oh--trying to read. And then, I was thinking about you."
"That is not much of an occupation. See how industrious I am. I have been
reading the 'Life and Writings of Rufus Choate.' I am getting to be a
"Have you read it all? I never heard of him. Who was he?"
"He was an extremely clever man. He must have been very nice, and his
speeches are splendid. You ought to read them."
"Joe, you are going to be a regular blue-stocking! The idea of spending
your time in reading such stuff. Why, it would be almost better to read
the parliamentary reports in the 'Times!' Just fancy!" Ronald laughed at
the idea of any human being descending to such drudgery.
"Don't be silly, Ronald. You do not know anything about it," said Joe.
"Oh, it is of no use discussing the question," answered Ronald. "You young
women are growing altogether too clever, with your politics, and your
philosophy, and your culture. I hate America!"
"If you really knew anything about it, you would like it very much.
Besides, you have no right to say you hate it. The people here have been
very good to you already. You ought not to abuse them."
"No--not the people. But just look at that snow-storm, Joe, and tell me
whether America is a place for human beings to live in."
"It is much prettier than a Scotch mist, and ever so much clearer than a
fog in London," retorted Joe.
"But there is nothing for a fellow to do on a day like this," said Ronald
"Nothing, but to come and see his cousin, and abuse everything to her, and
try to make her as discontented as himself," said Joe, mimicking his tone.
"If I thought you liked me to come and see you"--began Ronald.
"It would be different, you know."
"I like you when you are nice and good-tempered," said Joe. "But when you
are bored you are simply--well, you are dreadful." Joe raised her eyebrows
and tapped with her fingers on the arm of the chair.
"Do you think I can ever be bored when I come to see you, Joe?" asked
Ronald, changing his tone.
"You act as if you were, precisely. You know people who are bored are
generally bores themselves."
"Thanks," said Ronald. "How kind you are!"
"Do say something nice, Ronald. You have done nothing but find fault since
you came. Have you heard from home?"
"No. There has not been time yet. Why do you ask?"
"Because I thought you might say something less disagreeable about home
than you seem able to say about things here," said Joe tartly.
"You do not want me this morning. I will go away again," said Ronald with
a gloomy frown. He rose to his feet, as though about to take his leave.
"Oh, don't go, Ronald." He paused. "Besides," added Joe, "Sybil will be
here in a little while."
"You need not offer me Miss Brandon as an inducement to stay with you,
Joe, if you really want me. Twenty Miss Brandons would not make any
"Really?" said Joe smiling. "You are a dear good boy, Ronald, when you are
nice," she added presently. "Sit down again."
Ronald went back to his seat beside her, and they were both silent for a
while. Joe repented a little, for she thought she had been teasing him,
and she reflected that she ought to be doing her best to make him happy.
"Joe--do not you think it would be very pleasant to be always like this?"
said Ronald after a time.
"Together," said Ronald softly, and a gentle look came into his handsome
face, as he looked up at his cousin. "Together--only in our own home."
Joe did not answer, but the color came to her cheeks, and she looked
annoyed. She had hoped that the matter was settled forever, for it seemed
so easy for her. Ronald misinterpreted the blush. For the moment the old
conviction came back to him that she was to be his wife, and if it was not
exactly love that he felt, it was a satisfaction almost great enough to
take its place.
"Would it not?" said he presently.
"Please do not talk about it, Ronald. What is the use? I have said all
there is to say, I am sure."
"But I have not," he answered, insisting. "Please, Joe dearest, think
about it seriously. Think what a cruel thing it is you are doing." His
voice was very tender, but he was perfectly calm; there was not the
slightest vibration of passion in the tones. Joe did not wholly
understand; she only knew that he was not satisfied with the first
explanation she had given him, and that she felt sorry for him, but was
incapable of changing her decision.
"Must I go over it all again?" she asked piteously. "Did I not make it
clear to you, Ronald? Oh--don't talk about it!"
"You have no heart, Joe," said Ronald hotly. "You don't know what you make
me suffer. You don't know that this sort of thing is enough to wreck a
man's existence altogether. You don't know what you are doing, because you
have no heart--not the least bit of one."
"Do not say that--please do not," Joe entreated, looking at him with
imploring eyes, for his words hurt her. Then suddenly the tears came in a
quick hot gush, and she hid her face in her hands. "Oh, Ronald, Ronald--it
is you who do not know," she sobbed.
Ronald did not quite know what to do; he never did when Joe cried, but
fortunately that disaster had not occurred often since he was very small.
He was angry with himself for having disturbed and hurt her, but he did
not know what to do, most probably because he did not really love her.
"Joe," he said, looking at her in some embarrassment, "don't!" Then he
rose and rather timidly laid a hand on her shoulder. But she shrank from
him with a petulant motion, and the tears trickled through her small white
hands and fell upon her dark dress and on the "Life of Rufus Choate."
"Joe, dear"--Ronald began again. And then, in great uncertainty of mind,
he went and looked out of the window. Presently he came back and stood
before her once more.
"I am awfully sorry I said it, Joe. Please forgive me. You don't often
cry, you know, and so"--He hesitated.
Joe looked up at him with a smile through her tears, beautiful as a rose
just wet with a summer shower.
"And so--you did not think I could," she said. She dried her eyes quickly
and rose to her feet. "It is very silly of me, I know, but I cannot help
it in the least," said she, turning from him in pretense of arranging the
knickknacks on the mantel.
"Of course you cannot help it, Joe, dear; as if you had not a perfect
right to cry, if you like! I am such a brute--I know."
"Come and look at the snow," said Joe, taking his hand and leading him to
the window. Enormous Irishmen in pilot coats, comforters, and india-rubber
boots, armed with broad wooden spades, were struggling to keep the drifts
from the pavement. Joe and Ronald stood and watched them idly, absorbed in
their own thoughts.
Presently a booby sleigh drawn by a pair of strong black horses floundered
up the hill and stopped at the door.
"Oh, Ronald, there is Sybil, and she will see I have been crying. You must
amuse her, and I will come back in a few minutes." She turned and fled,
leaving Ronald at the window.
A footman sprang to the ground, and nearly lost his footing in the snow as
he opened a large umbrella and rang the bell. In a moment Sybil was out of
the sleigh and at the door of the house; she could not sit still till it
was opened, although the flakes were falling as thickly as ever.
"Oh"--she exclaimed, as she entered the room and was met by Ronald, "I
thought Joe was here." There was color in her face, and she took Ronald's
hand cordially. He blushed to the eyes, and stammered.
"Miss Thorn is--she--indeed, she will be back in a moment. How do you do?
Dreadful weather, is not it?"
"Oh, it is only a snowstorm," said Sybil, brushing a few flakes from her
furs as she came near the fire. "We do not mind it at all here. But of
course you never have snow in England."
"Not like this, certainly," said Ronald. "Let me help you," he added, as
Sybil began to remove her cloak.
It was a very sudden change of company for Ronald; five minutes ago he was
trying, very clumsily and hopelessly, to console Joe Thorn in her tears,
feeling angry enough with himself all the while for having caused them.
Now he was face to face with Sybil Brandon, the most beautiful woman he
remembered to have seen, and she smiled at him as he took her heavy cloak
from her shoulders, and the touch of the fur sent a thrill to his heart,
and the blood to his cheeks.
"I must say," he remarked, depositing the things on a sofa, "you are very
courageous to come out, even though you are used to it."
"You have come yourself," said Sybil, laughing a little. "You told me last
night that you did not come here every day."
"Oh--I told my cousin I had come because I was so lonely at the hotel. It
is amazingly dull to sit all day in a close room, reading stupid novels."
"I should think it would be. Have you nothing else to do?"
"Nothing in the wide world," said Ronald with a smile. "What should I do
here, in a strange place, where I know so few people?"
"I suppose there is not much for a man to do, unless he is in business.
Every one here is in some kind of business, you know, so they are never
Ronald wished he could say the right thing to reestablish the half-
intimacy he had felt when talking to Sybil the night before. But it was
not easy to get back to the same point. There was an interval of hours
between yesterday and to-day--and there was Joe.
"I read novels to pass the time," he said, "and because they are sometimes
so like one's own life. But when they are not, they bore me."
Sybil was fond of reading, and she was especially fond of fiction, not
because she cared for sensational interests, but because she was naturally
contemplative, and it interested her to read about the human nature of the
present, rather than to learn what any individual historian thought of the
human nature of the past.
"What kind of novels do you like best?" she asked, sitting down to pass
the time with Ronald until Josephine should make her appearance.
"I like love stories best," said Ronald.
"Oh, of course," said Sybil gravely, "so do I. But what kind do you like
best? The sad ones, or those that end well?"
"I like them to end well," said Ronald, "because the best ones never do,
"Never?" There was something in Sybil's tone that made Ronald look quickly
at her. She said the word as though she, too, had something to regret.
"Not in my experience," answered Surbiton, with the decision of a man past
loving or being loved.
"How dreadfully gloomy! One would think you had done with life, Mr.
Surbiton," said Sybil, laughing.
"Sometimes I think so, Miss Brandon," answered Ronald in solemn tones.
"I suppose we all think it would be nice to die, sometimes. But then the
next morning things look so much brighter."
"I think they often look much brighter in the evening," said Ronald,
thinking of the night before.
"I am sure something disagreeable has happened to you to-day, Mr.
Surbiton," said Sybil, looking at him. Ronald looked into her eyes as
though to see if there were any sympathy there.
"Yes, something disagreeable has happened to me," he answered slowly.
"Something very disagreeable and painful."
"I am sorry," said Sybil simply. But her voice sounded very kind and
"That is why I say that love stories always end badly in real life," said
Ronald. "But I suppose I ought not to complain." It was not until he had
thought over this speech, some minutes later, that he realized that in a
few words he had told Sybil the main part of his troubles. He never
guessed that she was so far in Joe's confidence as to have heard the whole
story before. But Sybil was silent and thoughtful.
"Love is such an uncertain thing," she began, after a pause; and it
chanced that at that very moment Joe opened the door and entered the room.
She caught the sentence.
"So you are instructing my cousin," she said to Sybil, laughing. "I
approve of the way you spend your time, my children!" No one would have
believed that, twenty minutes earlier, Joe had been in tears. She was as
fresh and as gay as ever, and Ronald said to himself that she most
certainly had no heart, but that Sybil had a great deal,--he was sure of
it from the tone of her voice.
"What is the news about the election, Sybil?" she asked. "Of course you
know all about it at the Wyndhams'."
"My dear, the family politics are in a state of confusion that is simply
too delightful," said Sybil.
"You know it is said that Ira C. Calvin has refused to be a candidate, and
the Republicans mean to put in Mr. Jobbins in his place, who is such a
popular man, and so good and benevolent-quite a philanthropist."
"Does it make very much difference?" asked Joe anxiously. "I wish I
understood all about it, but the local names are so hard to learn."
"I thought you bad been learning them all the morning in Choate," put in
Ronald, who perceived that the conversation was to be about Harrington.
"It does make a difference," said Sybil, not noticing Ronald's remark,
"because Jobbins is much more popular than Calvin, and they say he is a
friend of Patrick Ballymolloy, who will win the election for either side
"Who is this Irishman?" inquired Ronald.
"He is the chief Irishman," said Sybil laughing, "and I cannot describe
him any better. He has twenty votes with him, and as things stand he
always carries whichever point he favors. But Mr. Wyndham says he is glad
he is not in the Legislature, because it would drive him out of his mind
to decide on which side to vote--though he is a good Republican, you
"Of course he could vote for Mr. Harrington in spite of that," said Joe,
confidently. "Anybody would, who knows him, I am sure. But when is the
election to come off?"
"They say it is to begin to-day," said Sybil.
"We shall never hear anything unless we go to Mrs. Wyndham's," said Joe.
"Aunt Zoe is awfully clever, and that, but she never knows in the least
what is going on. She says she does not understand politics."
"If you were a Bostonian, Mr. Surbiton," said Sybil, "you would get into
the State House and hear the earliest news."
"I will do anything in the world to oblige you," said Ronald gravely, "if
you will only explain a little"--
"Oh no! It is quite impossible. Come with me, both of you, and we will get
some lunch at the Wyndhams' and hear all about it by telephone."
"Very well," said Joe. "One moment, while I get my things." She left the
room. Ronald and Sybil were again alone together.
"You were saying when my cousin came in, that love was a very uncertain
thing," suggested Ronald, rather timidly.
"Was I?" said Sybil, standing before the mirror above the mantelpiece, and
touching her hat first on one side and then on the other.
"Yes," answered Ronald, watching her. "Do you know, I have often thought
"I think it would be something different if it were quite certain. Perhaps
it would be something much less interesting, but much better."
"I think you are a little confused, Mr. Surbiton," said Sybil, and as she
smiled, Ronald could see her face reflected in the mirror.
"I--yes--that is--I dare say I am," said he, hesitatingly. "But I know
exactly what I mean."
"But do you know exactly what you want?" she asked with a laugh.
"Yes indeed," said he confidently. "But I do not believe I shall ever get
"Then that is the 'disagreeable and painful thing' you referred to, as
having happened this morning, I suppose," remarked Sybil, calmly, as she
turned to take up her cloak which lay on the sofa. Ronald blushed scarlet.
"Well--yes," he said, forgetting in his embarrassment to help her.
"It is so heavy," said Sybil. "Thanks. Do you know that you have been
making confidences to me, Mr. Surbiton?" she asked, turning and facing
him, with a half-amused, half-serious look in her blue eyes.
"I am afraid I have," he answered, after a short pause. "You must think I
am very foolish."
"Never mind," she said gravely. "They are safe with me."
"Thanks," said Ronald in a low voice.
Josephine entered the room, clad in many furs, and a few minutes later all
three were on their way to Mrs. Wyndham's, the big booby sleigh rocking
and leaping and ploughing in the heavy dry snow.
Pocock Vancouver was also abroad in the snowstorm. He would not in any
case have stayed at home on account of the weather, but on this particular
morning he had very urgent business with a gentleman who, like Lamb, rose
with the lark, though he did not go to bed with the chickens. There are no
larks in Boston, but the scream of the locomotives answers nearly as well.
Vancouver accordingly had himself driven at an early hour to a certain
house not situated in the West End, but of stone quite as brown, and
having a bay window as prominent as any sixteen-foot-front on Beacon
Street; those advantages, however, did not prevent Mr. Vancouver from
wearing an expression of fastidious scorn as he mounted the steps and
pulled the polished German silver handle of the door-bell. The curl on his
lip gave way to a smile of joyous cordiality as he was ushered into the
presence of the owner of the house.
"Indeed, I'm glad to see you, Mr. Vancouver," said his host, whose
extremely Celtic appearance was not belied by unctuous modulation of his
voice, and the pleasant roll of his softly aspirated consonants.
This great man was no other than Mr. Patrick Ballymolloy. He received
Vancouver in his study, which was handsomely furnished with bright green
wall-paper, a sideboard on which stood a number of decanters and glasses,
several leather easy-chairs, and a green china spittoon.
In personal appearance, Mr. Patrick Ballymolloy was vastly more striking
than attractive. He was both corpulent and truculent, and his hands and
feet were of a size and thickness calculated to crush a paving-stone at a
step, or to fell an ox at a blow. The nails of his fingers were of a hue
which is made artificially fashionable in eastern countries, but which
excites prejudice in western civilization from an undue display of real
estate. A neck which the Minotaur might have justly envied surmounted the
thickness and roundness of Mr. Ballymolloy's shoulders, and supported a
head more remarkable for the immense cavity of the mouth, and for a
quantity of highly pomaded sandy hair, than for any intellectuality of the
brows or high-bred fineness of the nose. Mr. Ballymolloy's nose was
nevertheless an astonishing feature, and at a distance called vividly to
mind the effect of one of those great glass bottles of reddened water,
behind which apothecaries of all degrees put a lamp at dusk in order that
their light may the better shine in the darkness. It was one of the most
surprising feats of nature's alchemy that a liquid so brown as that
contained in the decanters on Patrick's sideboard should be able to
produce and maintain anything so supernaturally red as Patrick's nose.
Mr. Ballymolloy was clad in a beautiful suit of shiny black broadcloth,
and the front of his coat was irregularly but richly adorned with a
profusion of grease-spots of all sizes. A delicate suggestive mezzotint
shaded the edges of his collar and cuffs, and from his heavy gold watch-
chain depended a malachite seal of unusual greenness and brilliancy.
Vancouver took the gigantic outstretched hand of his host in his delicate
fingers, with an air of cordiality which, if not genuine, was very well
"I'm glad to see you, sir," said the Irishman again.
"Thanks," said Vancouver, "and I am fortunate in finding you at home."
Mr. Ballymolloy smiled, and pushed one of his leather easy-chairs towards
the fire. Both men sat down.
"I suppose you are pretty busy over this election, Mr. Ballymolloy," said
"Now, that's just it, Mr. Vancouver," replied the Irishman. "That's just
exactly what's the matter with me, for indeed I am very busy, and that's
"Just so, Mr. Ballymolloy. Especially since the change last night. I
remember what a good friend you have always been to Mr. Jobbins."
"Well, as you say, Mr. Vancouver, I have been thinking that I and Mr.
Jobbins are pretty good friends, and that's just about what it is, I
"Yes, I remember that on more than one occasion you and he have acted
together in the affairs of the state," said Vancouver, thoughtfully.
'"Ah, but it's the soul of him that I like," answered Mr. Ballymolloy very
sweetly. "He has such a beautiful soul, Mr. Jobbins; it does me good, and
indeed it does, Mr. Vancouver."
"As you say, sir, a man full of broad human sympathies. Nevertheless I
feel sure that on the present occasion your political interests will lead
you to follow the promptings of duty, and to vote in favor of the
Democratic candidate. I wish you and I did not differ in politics, Mr.
"And, indeed, there is not so very much difference, if it comes to that,
Mr. Vancouver," replied Patrick in conciliating tones. "But it's just what
I have been thinking, that I will vote for Mr. Harrington. It's a matter
of principle with me, Mr. Vancouver, and that's it exactly."
"And where should we all be without principles, Mr. Ballymolloy? Indeed I
may say that the importance of principles in political matters is very
"And it's just the greatest pity in the world that every one has not
principles like you, Mr. Vancouver. I'm speaking the truth now." According
to Mr. Patrick Ballymolloy's view of destiny, it was the truth and nothing
but the truth. He knew Vancouver of old, and Vancouver knew him.
"You flatter me, sir," said Pocock, affecting a pleased smile. "To tell
the truth, there is a little matter I wanted to speak to you about, if you
can spare me half an hour.".
"Indeed, I'm most entirely delighted to be at your service, Mr. Vancouver,
and I'm glad you came so early in the morning."
"The fact is, Mr. Ballymolloy, we are thinking of making an extension on
one of our lines; a small matter, but of importance to us."
"I guess it must be the branch of the Pocahontas and Dead Man's Valley
you'll be speaking of, Mr. Vancouver," said the Irishman, with sudden and
"Really, Mr. Ballymolloy, you are a man of the most surprising quickness.
It is a real pleasure to talk with you on such matters. I have no doubt
you understand the whole question thoroughly."
"Well, it's of no use at all to say I know nothing about it, because I
_have_ heard it mentioned, and that's the plain truth, Mr. Vancouver.
And it will take a deal of rail, too, and that's another thing. And where
do you think of getting the iron from, Mr. Vancouver?"
"Well, I had hoped, Mr. Ballmolly," said Vancouver, with some affected
hesitation, "that as an old friend, we might be able to manage matters
with you. But, of course, this is entirely unofficial, and between
Mr. Ballymolloy nodded with something very like a wink of one bloodshot
eye. He knew what he was about.
"And when will you be thinking of beginning the work, Mr. Vancouver?" he
inquired, after a short pause.
"That is just the question, or rather, perhaps, I should say the
difficulty. We do not expect to begin work for a year or so."
"And surely that makes no difference, then, at all," returned Patrick.
"For the longer the time, the easier it will be for me to accommodate
"Ah--but you see, Mr. Ballymolloy, it may be that in a year's time these
new-fangled ideas about free trade may be law, and it may be much cheaper
for us to get our rails from England, as Mr. Vanderbilt did three or four
years ago, when he was in such a hurry, you remember."
"And, indeed, I remember it very well, Mr. Vancouver."
"Just so. Now you see, Mr. Ballymolloy, I am speaking to you entirely as a
friend, though I hope I may before long bring about an official agreement.
But you see the difficulty of making a contract a year ahead, when a party
of Democratic senators and Congressmen may by that time have upset the
duty on steel rails, don't you?"
"And indeed, I see it as plain as day, Mr. Vancouver. And that's why I was
saying I wished every one had such principles as yourself, and I'm telling
you no lie when I say it again." Verily Mr. Ballymolloy was a truthful
"Very well. Now, do not you think, Mr. Ballymolloy, that all this talk
about free trade is great nonsense?"
"And, surely, it will be the ruin of the whole country, Mr. Vancouver."
"Besides, free trade has nothing to do with Democratic principles, has it?
You see here am I, the best Republican in Massachusetts, and here are you,
the best Democrat in the country, and we both agree in saying that it is
great nonsense to leave iron unprotected."
"Ah, it's the principle of you I like, Mr. Vancouver!" exclaimed
Ballymolloy in great admiration. "It's your principles are beautiful,
"Very good, sir. Now of course you are going to vote for Mr. Harrington
to-day, or to-morrow, or whenever the election is to be. Don't you think
yon might say something to him that would be of some use? I believe he is
very uncertain about protection, you see. I think you could persuade him,
"Well, now, Mr. Vancouver, it's the truth when I tell you I was just
thinking of speaking to him about it, just a little, before I went up to
the State House. And indeed I'll be going to him immediately."
"I think it is the wisest plan," said Vancouver, rising to go, "and we
will speak about the contract next week, when all this election business
"Ah, and indeed, I hope it will be soon, sir," said Ballymolloy. "But
you'll not think of going out again in the snow without taking a drop of
something, will you, Mr. Vancouver?" He went to the sideboard and poured
out two stiff doses of the amber liquid.
"Since you are so kind," said Vancouver, graciously taking the proffered
glass. He knew better than to refuse to drink over a bargain.
"Well, here goes," he said.
"And luck to yourself, Mr. Vancouver," said Ballymolloy.
"I think you can persuade him, somehow," said Vancouver, as his host
opened the street-door for him to go out.
"And, indeed, I think so too," said Ballymolloy. Then he went back to his
study and poured out a second glass of whiskey. "And if I cannot persuade
him," he continued in soliloquy, "why, then, it will just be old Jobbins
who will be senator, and that's the plain truth."
Vancouver went away with a light heart, and the frank smile on his
delicate features was most pleasant to see. He knew John Harrington well,
and he was certain that Mr. Ballymolloy's proposal would rouse the honest
wrath of the man he detested.
Half an hour later Mr. Ballymolloy entered Harrington's room in Charles
Street. John was seated at the table, fully dressed, and writing letters.
He offered his visitor a seat.
"So the election is coming on right away, Mr. Harrington," began Patrick,
making himself comfortable, and lighting one of John's cigars.
"So I hear, Mr. Ballymolloy," answered John with a pleasant smile. "I hope
I may count on you, in spite of what you said yesterday. These are the
times when men must keep together."
"Now Mr. Harrington, you'll not believe that I could go to the House and
vote against my own party, surely, will you now?" said Patrick. But there
was a tinge of irony in his soft tones. He knew that Vancouver could make
him great and advantageous business transactions, and he treated him
accordingly. John Harrington was, on the other hand, a mere candidate for
his twenty votes; he could make John senator if he chose, or defeat him,
if he preferred it, and he accordingly behaved to John with an air of
benevolent superiority. "I trust you would do no such thing, Mr.
Ballymolloy," said John gravely. "Without advocating myself as in any way
fit for the honors of the Senate, I can say that it is of the utmost
importance that we should have as many Democrats in Congress as possible,
in the Senate as well as in the House."
"Surely you don't think I doubt that, Mr. Harrington? And indeed the
Senate is pretty well Democratic as it is."
"Yes," said John, smiling, "but the more the better, I should think. It is
a very different matter from the local legislature, where changes may
often do good."
"Indeed and it is, Mr. Harrington. And will you please to tell me what you
will do about free trade, when you're in the Senate, sir?"
"I am afraid I cannot tell you anything that I did not tell you yesterday,
Mr. Ballymolloy. I am a tariff reform man. It is a great Democratic
movement, and I should be bound to support it, even if I were not myself
so thorough a believer in it as I am."
"Now see here, Mr. Harrington, it's the gospel truth I'm telling you, when
I say you're mistaken. Here are plenty of us Democrats who don't want the
least little bit of free trade. I'm in the iron business, Mr. Harrington,
and you won't be after thinking me such an all-powerful galoot as to cut
my own nose off, will you?"
"Well, not exactly," said John, who was used to many peculiarities of
language in his visitors. "But, of course, iron will be the thing last on
the tariff. I am of opinion that it is necessary to put enough tax on iron
to protect home-producers at the time of greatest depression. That is
fair, is not it?"
"I dare say you may think so, Mr. Harrington," said Ballymolloy, knocking
the ashes from his cigar. "But you are not an iron man, now, are you?"
"Certainly not," said John. "But I have studied the question, and I know
its importance. In a reformation of the tariff, iron would be one of the
things most carefully provided for."
"Oh, I know all that," said Ballymolloy, somewhat roughly, "and there's
not much you can tell me about tariff reform that I don't know, neither.
And when you have reformed other things, you'll be for reforming iron,
too, just to keep your hands in. And, indeed, I've no objection whatever
to your reforming everything you like, so long as you don't interfere with
me and mine. But I don't trust the principles of the thing, sir; I don't
trust them the least little bit, and for me I would rather there were not
to be any reforming at all, except for the Chinamen, and I don't care much
for them, neither, and that's a fact."
"Very good, Mr. Ballymolloy. Every man has a right to his free opinion.
But we stand on the reform platform, for there is no country in the world
where reform is more needed than it is here. I can only repeat that the
interests of the iron trade stand high with the Democratic party, and that
it is highly improbable that any law will interfere with iron for many
years. I cannot say more than that and yet stick to facts."
"Always stick to facts, Mr. Harrington. You will find the truth a very
important thing indeed, and good principles too, in dealing with plain-
spoken men like myself, sir. Stick to the truth, Mr. Harrington, forever
"I propose to, Mr. Ballymolloy," answered John, internally amused at the
solemn manner of his interlocutor.
"And then I will put the matter to you, Mr. Harrington, and indeed it's a
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