Mr. Crewe's Career
THE ARENA AND THE DUST
Alas! that the great genius who described the battle of Waterloo is not alive
to-day and on this side of the Atlantic, for a subject worthy of his pen is at
hand,—nothing less than that convention of conventions at which the Honourable
Humphrey Crewe of Leith is one of the candidates. One of the candidates, indeed!
Will it not be known, as long as there are pensions, and a governor and a
state-house and a seal and State sovereignty and a staff, as the Crewe
Convention? How charge after charge was made during the long, hot day and into
the night; how the delegates were carried out limp and speechless and starved
and wet through, and carried in to vote again,—will all be told in time. But let
us begin at the beginning, which is the day before.
But look! it is afternoon, and the candidates are arriving at the Pelican.
The Honourable Adam B. Hunt is the first, and walks up the hill from the station
escorted by such prominent figures as the Honourables Brush Bascom and Jacob
Botcher, and surrounded by enthusiastic supporters who wear buttons with the
image of their leader—goatee and all—and the singularly prophetic
superscription, 'To the Last Ditch!' Only veterans and experts like Mr. Bascom
and Mr. Botcher can recognize the last ditch when they see it.
Another stir in the street—occasioned by the appearance of the Honourable
Giles Henderson,—of the blameless life. Utter a syllable against him if you can!
These words should be inscribed on his buttons if he had any—but he has none.
They seem to be, unuttered, on the tongues of the gentlemen who escort the
Honourable Giles, United States Senator Greene and the Honourable Elisha Jane,
who has obtained leave of absence from his consular post to attend the
convention,—and incidentally to help prepare for it.
But who and what is this? The warlike blast of a siren horn is heard, the
crowd in the lobby rushes to the doors, people up-stairs fly to the windows, and
the Honourable Adam B. Hunt leans out and nearly falls out, but is rescued by
Division Superintendent Manning of the Northeastern Railroads, who has stepped
in from Number Seven to give a little private tug of a persuasive nature to the
Honourable Adam's coat-tails. A red Leviathan comes screaming down Main Street
with a white trail of dust behind it, smothering the occupants of vehicles which
have barely succeeded in getting out of the way, and makes a spectacular finish
before the Pelican by sliding the last fifty feet on locked rear wheels.
A group in the street raises a cheer. It is the People's Champion! Dust coat,
gauntlets, goggles, cannot hide him; and if they did, some one would recognize
that voice, familiar now and endeared to many, and so suited to command:—"Get
that baggage off, and don't waste any time! Jump out, Watling—that handle turns
the other way. Well, Tooting, are the headquarters ready? What was the matter
that I couldn't get you on the telephone?" (To the crowd.) "Don't push in and
scratch the paint. He's going to back out in a minute, and somebody'll get
Mr. Hamilton Tooting (Colonel Hamilton Tooting that is to be—it being an open
secret that he is destined for the staff) is standing hatless on the sidewalk
ready to receive the great man. The crowd in the rotunda makes a lane, and Mr.
Crewe, glancing neither to the right nor left, walks upstairs; and scarce is he
installed in the bridal suite, surrounded by his faithful workers for reform,
than that amazing reception begins. Mr. Hamilton Tooting, looking the very soul
of hospitality, stands by the doorway with an open box of cigars in his left
hand, pressing them upon the visitors with his right. Reform, contrary to the
preconceived opinion of many, is not made of icicles, nor answers with a stone a
request for bread. As the hours run on, the visitors grow more and more
numerous, and after supper the room is packed to suffocation, and a long line is
waiting in the corridor, marshalled and kept in good humour by able lieutenants;
while Mr. Crewe is dimly to be perceived through clouds of incense burning in
his honour—and incidentally at his expense—with a welcoming smile and an
appropriate word for each caller, whose waistcoat pockets, when they emerge,
resemble cartridge-belts of cigars.
More cigars were hastily sent for, and more. There are to be but a thousand
delegates to the convention, and at least two thousand men have already passed
through the room—and those who don't smoke have friends. It is well that Mr.
Crewe has stuck to his conservative habit of not squeezing hands too hard.
"Isn't that Mr. Putter, who keeps a livery-stable here?" inquired Mr. Crewe,
about nine o'clock—our candidate having a piercing eye of his own. Mr. Putter's
coat, being brushed back, has revealed six cigars.
"Why, yes—yes," says Mr. Watling.
"Is he a delegate?" Mr. Crewe demanded.
"Why, I guess he must be," says Mr. Watling.
But Mr. Putter is not a delegate.
"You've stood up and made a grand fight, Mr. Crewe," says another gentleman,
a little later, with a bland, smooth shaven face and strong teeth to clinch Mr.
Crewe's cigars. "I wish I was fixed so as I could vote for you."
Mr. Crewe looks at him narrowly.
"You look very much like a travelling man from New York, who tried to sell me
farm machinery," he answers.
"Where are you from?"
"You ain't exactly what they call a tyro, are you?" says the bland-faced man;
"but I guess you've missed the mark this shot. Well, so long."
"Hold on!" says Mr. Crewe, "Watling will talk to you."
And, as the gentleman follows Mr. Wailing through the press, a pamphlet drops
from his pocket to the floor. It is marked 'Catalogue of the Raines Farm
Implement Company.' Mr. Watling picks it up and hands it to the gentleman, who
"Tim," he says, "where can we sit down? How much are you getting out of this?
Brush and Jake Botcher are bidding high down-stairs, and the quotation on
delegates has gone up ten points in ten minutes. It's mighty good of you to
remember old friends, Tim, even if they're not delegates."
Meanwhile Mr. Crewe is graciously receiving others who are crowding to him.
"How are you, Mr. Giddings? How are the cows? I carry some stock that'll make
you sit up—I believe I told you when I was down your way. Of course, mine cost a
little money, but that's one of my hobbies. Come and see 'em some day. There's a
good hotel in Ripton, and I'll have you met there and drive you back."
Thus, with a genial and kindly remark to each, he passes from one to the
other, and when the members of the press come to him for his estimate of the
outcome on the morrow, he treats them with the same courtly consideration.
"Estimate!" cries Mr. Crewe. "Where have your eyes been to-night, my friends?
Have you seen the people coming into these headquarters? Have you seen 'em
pouring into any other headquarters? All the State and federal office-holders in
the country couldn't stop me now. Estimate! I'll be nominated on the first
They wrote it down.
"Thank you, Mr. Crewe," they said; "that's the kind of talk we like to hear."
"And don't forget," said Mr. Crewe, "to mention this reception in the
Mr. Tooting, who makes it a point from time to time to reconnoitre, saunters
halfway down-stairs and surveys the crowded rotunda from the landing. Through
the blue medium produced by the burning of many cigars (mostly Mr. Crewe's) he
takes note of the burly form of Mr. Thomas Gaylord beside that of Mr. Redbrook
and other rural figures; he takes note of a quiet corner with a ring of chairs
surrounded by scouts and outposts, although it requires a trained eye such as
Mr. Tooting's to recognize them as such—for they wear no uniforms. They are, in
truth, minor captains of the feudal system, and their present duties consist (as
Mr. Tooting sees clearly) in preventing the innocent and inquisitive from
unprofitable speech with the Honourable Jacob Botcher, who sits in the inner
angle conversing cordially with those who are singled out for this honour. Still
other scouts conduct some of the gentlemen who have talked with Mr. Botcher up
the stairs to a mysterious room on the second floor. Mr. Tooting discovers that
the room is occupied by the Honourable Brush Bascom; Mr. Tooting learns with
indignation that certain of these guests of Mr. Bascom's are delegates pledged
to Mr. Crewe, whereupon he rushes back to the bridal suite to report to his
chief. The cigars are giving out again, and the rush has slackened, and he
detaches the People's Champion from the line and draws him to the inner room.
"Brush Bascom's conducting a bourse on the second floor and is running the
price up right along," cried the honest and indignant Mr. Tooting. "He's
stringin' Adam Hunt all right. They say he's got Adam to cough up six thousand
extra since five o'clock, but the question is—ain't he stringin' us? He paid six
hundred for a block of ten not quarter of an hour ago—and nine of 'em were our
It must be remembered that these are Mr. Tooting's words, and Mr. Crewe
evidently treated them as the product of that gentleman's vivid imagination.
Translated, they meant that the Honourable Adam B. Hunt has no chance for the
nomination, but that the crafty Messrs. Botcher and Bascom are inducing him to
think that he has—by making a supreme effort. The supreme effort is represented
by six thousand dollars.
"Are you going to lie down under that?" Mr. Tooting demanded, forgetting
himself in his zeal for reform and Mr. Crewe. But Mr. Tooting, in some alarm,
perceived the eye of his chief growing virtuous and glassy.
"I guess I know when I'm strung, as you call it, Mr. Tooting," he replied
severely. "This cigar bill alone is enough to support a large family for several
And with this merited reproof he turned on his heel and went back to his
admirers without, leaving Mr. Tooting aghast, but still resourceful. Ten minutes
later that gentleman was engaged in a private conversation with his colleague,
the Honourable Timothy Wading.
"He's up on his hind legs at last," said Mr. Tooting; "it looks as if he was
Mr. Wading evidently grasped these mysterious words, for he looked grave.
"He thinks he's got the nomination cinched, don't he?"
"That's the worst of it," cried Mr. Tooting.
"I'll see what I can do," said the Honourable Tim. "He's always talking about
thorough, let him do it thorough." And Mr. Watling winked.
"Thorough," repeated Mr. Tooting, delightedly.
"That's it—Colonel," said Mr. Watling. "Have you ordered your uniform yet,
Mr. Tooting plainly appreciated this joke, for he grinned.
"I guess you won't starve if you don't get that commissionership, Tim," he
"And I guess," returned Mr. Watling, "that you won't go naked if you don't
have a uniform."
Victoria's surmise was true. At ten o'clock at night, two days before the
convention, a tall figure had appeared in the empty rotunda of the Pelican,
startling the clerk out of a doze. He rubbed his eyes and stared, recognized
Hilary Vane, and yet failed to recognize him. It was an extraordinary occasion
indeed which would cause Mr. McAvoy to lose his aplomb; to neglect to seize the
pen and dip it, with a flourish, into the ink, and extend its handle towards the
important guest; to omit a few fitting words of welcome. It was Hilary who got
the pen first, and wrote his name in silence, and by this time Mr. McAvoy had
recovered his presence of mind sufficiently to wield the blotter.
"We didn't expect you to-night, Mr. Vane," he said, in a voice that sounded
strange to him, "but we've kept Number Seven, as usual. Front!"
"The old man's seen his day, I guess," Mr. McAvoy remarked, as he studied the
register with a lone reporter. "This Crewe must have got in on 'em hard, from
what they tell me, and Adam Hunt has his dander up."
The next morning at ten o'clock, while the workmen were still tacking down
the fireproof carpets in headquarters upstairs, and before even the advance
guard of the armies had begun to arrive, the eye of the clerk was caught by a
tall young man rapidly approaching the desk.
"Is Mr. Hilary Vane here?"
"He's in Number Seven," said Mr. McAvoy, who was cudgelling his brains. "Give
me your card, and I'll send it up."
"I'll go up," said the caller, turning on his heel and suiting the action to
the word, leaving Mr. McAvoy to make active but futile inquiries among the few
travelling men and reporters seated about.
"Well, if you fellers don't know him, I give up," said the clerk, irritably,
"but he looks as if he ought to be somebody. He knows his business, anyway."
In the meantime Mr. Vane's caller had reached the first floor; he hesitated
just a moment before knocking at the door of Number Seven, and the Honourable
Hilary's voice responded. The door opened.
Hilary was seated, as usual, beside the marble-topped table, which was
covered with newspapers and memoranda. In the room were Mr. Ridout, the capital
lawyer, and Mr. Manning, the division superintendent. There was an instant of
surprised silence on the part of the three, but the Honourable Hilary was the
only one who remained expressionless.
"If you don't mind, gentlemen," said the visitor, "I should like to talk to
my father for a few minutes."
"Why, certainly, Austen," Mr. Ridout replied, with an attempt at heartiness.
Further words seemed to fail him, and he left the room somewhat awkwardly,
followed by Mr. Manning; but the Honourable Hilary appeared to take no notice of
"Judge," said Austen, when the door had closed behind them, "I won't keep you
long. I didn't come down here to plead with you to abandon what you believe to
be your duty, because I know that would be useless. I have had a talk with Dr.
Tredway," he added gently, "and I realize that you are risking your life. If I
could take you back to Ripton I would, but I know that I cannot. I see your
point of view, and if I were in your place I should do the same thing. I only
wanted to tell you this—" Austen's voice caught a little, "if—anything should
happen, I shall be at Mrs. Peasley's on Maple Street, opposite the Duncan
house." He laid his hand for an instant, in the old familiar way, on Hilary's
shoulder, and looked down into the older man's face. It may have been that
Hilary's lips trembled a little. "I—I'll see you later, Judge, when it's all
over. Good luck to you."
He turned slowly, went to the door and opened it, gave one glance at the
motionless figure in the chair, and went out. He did not hear the voice that
called his name, for the door had shut.
Mr. Ridout and Mr. Manning were talking together in low tones at the head of
the stairs. It was the lawyer who accosted Austen.
"The old gentleman don't seem to be quite himself, Austen. Don't seem well.
You ought to hold him in he can't work as hard as he used to."
"I think you'll find, Mr. Ridout," answered Austen, deliberately, "that he'll
perform what's required of him with his usual efficiency."
Mr. Ridout followed Austen's figure with his eyes until he was hidden by a
turn of the stairs. Then he whistled.
"I can't make that fellow out," he exclaimed. "Never could. All I know is
that if Hilary Vane pulls us through this mess, in the shape he's in, it'll be a
"His mind seems sound enough to-day—but he's lost his grip, I tell you. I
don't wonder Flint's beside himself. Here's Adam Hunt with both feet in the
trough, and no more chance of the nomination than I have, and Bascom and Botcher
teasing him on, and he's got enough votes with Crewe to lock up that convention
for a dark horse. And who's the dark horse?"
Mr. Manning, who was a silent man, pointed with his thumb in the direction
Austen had taken.
"Hilary Vane's own son," said Mr. Ridout, voicing the gesture; "they tell me
that Tom Gaylord's done some pretty slick work. Now I leave it to you, Manning,
if that isn't a mess!"
At this moment the conversation was interrupted by the appearance on the
stairway of the impressive form of United States Senator Whitredge, followed by
a hall boy carrying the senatorial gripsack. The senator's face wore a look of
concern which could not possibly be misinterpreted.
"How's Hilary?" were his first words.
Mr. Ridout and Mr. Manning glanced at each other.
"He's in Number Seven; you'd better take a look at him, Senator."
The senator drew breath, directed that his grip be put in the room where he
was to repose that night, produced an amber cigar-holder from a case, and a
cigar from his waistcoat pocket.
"I thought I'd better come down early," he said, "things aren't going just as
they should, and that's the truth. In fact," he added, significantly tapping his
pocket, "I've got a letter from Mr. Flint to Hilary which I may have to use. You
"I guessed as much," said Mr. Ridout.
"Ahem! I saw young Vane going out of the hotel just now," the senator
remarked. "I am told, on pretty good authority, that under certain
circumstances, which I must confess seem not unlikely at present, he may be a
candidate for the nomination. The fact that he is in town tends to make the
circumstance more probable."
"He's just been in to see Hilary," said Mr. Ridout.
"You don't tell me!" said the senator, pausing as he lighted his cigar; "I
was under the impression that they were not on speaking terms."
"They've evidently got together now, that—" said Mr. Ridout. "I wonder how
old Hilary would feel about it. We couldn't do much with Austen Vane if he was
governor—that's a sure thing."
The senator pondered a moment.
"It's been badly managed," he muttered; "there's no doubt of that. Hunt must
be got out of the way. When Bascom and Botcher come, tell them I want to see
them in my room, not in Number Seven."
And with this impressive command, received with nods of understanding,
Senator Whitredge advanced slowly towards Number Seven, knocked, and entered. Be
it known that Mr. Flint, with characteristic caution, had not confided even to
the senator that the Honourable Hilary had had a stroke.
"Ah, Vane," he said, in his most affable tones, "how are you?"
The Honourable Hilary, who was looking over some papers, shot at him a glance
from under his shaggy eyebrows.
"Came in here to find out—didn't you, Whitredge?" he replied.
"What?" said the senator, taken aback; and for once at a loss for words.
The Honourable Hilary rose and stood straighter than usual, and looked the
senator in the eye.
"What's your diagnosis?" he asked. "Superannuated—unfit for duty—unable to
cope with the situation ready to be superseded? Is that about it?"
To say that Senator Whitredge was startled and uncomfortable would be to put
his case mildly. He had never before seen Mr. Vane in this mood.
"Ha-ha!" he laughed; "the years are coming over us a little, aren't they? But
I guess it isn't quite time for the youngsters to step in yet."
"No, Whitredge," said Mr. Vane, slowly, without taking his eye from the
senator's, "and it won't be until this convention is over. Do you understand?"
"That's the first good news I've heard this morning," said the senator, with
the uneasy feeling that, in some miraculous way, the Honourable Hilary had read
the superseding orders from highest authority through his pocket.
"You may take it as good news or bad news, as you please, but it's a fact.
And now I want 'YOU' to tell Ridout that I wish to see him again, and to bring
in Doby, who is to be chairman of the convention."
"Certainly," assented the senator, with alacrity, as he started for the door.
Then he turned. "I'm glad to see you're all right, Vane," he added; "I'd heard
that you were a little under the weather—a bilious attack on account of the
heat—that's all I meant." He did not wait for an answer, nor would he have got
one. And he found Mr. Ridout in the hall.
"Well?" said the lawyer, expectantly, and looking with some curiosity at the
"Well," said Mr. Whitredge, with marked impatience, "he wants to see you
All day long Hilary Vane held conference in Number Seven, and at six o'clock
sent a request that the Honourable Adam visit him. The Honourable Adam would not
come; and the fact leaked out—through the Honourable Adam.
"He's mad clean through," reported the Honourable Elisha Jane, to whose tact
and diplomacy the mission had been confided. "He said he would teach Flint a
lesson. He'd show him he couldn't throw away a man as useful and efficient as
he'd been, like a sucked orange."
"Humph! A sucked orange. That's what he said, is it? A sucked orange," Hilary
"That's what he said," declared Mr. Jane, and remembered afterwards how
Hilary had been struck by the simile.
At ten o'clock at night, at the very height of the tumult, Senator Whitredge
had received an interrogatory telegram from Fairview, and had called a private
conference (in which Hilary was not included) in a back room on the second floor
(where the conflicting bands of Mr. Crewe and Mr. Hunt could not be heard),
which Mr. Manning and Mr. Jane and State Senator Billings and Mr. Ridout
attended. Query: the Honourable Hilary had quarrelled with Mr. Flint, that was
an open secret; did not Mr. Vane think himself justified, from his own point of
view, in taking a singular revenge in not over-exerting himself to pull the
Honourable Adam out, thereby leaving the field open for his son, Austen Vane,
with whom he was apparently reconciled? Not that Mr. Flint had hinted of such a
thing! He had, in the telegram, merely urged the senator himself to see Mr.
Hunt, and to make one more attempt to restrain the loyalty to that candidate of
Messrs. Bascom and Botcher.
The senator made the attempt, and failed signally.
It was half-past midnight by the shining face of the clock on the tower of
the state-house, and hope flamed high in the bosom of the Honourable Adam B.
Hunt a tribute to the bellows-like skill of Messrs. Bascom and Botcher. The
bands in the street had blown themselves out, the delegates were at last seeking
rest, the hall boys in the corridors were turning down the lights, and the
Honourable Adam, in a complacent and even jubilant frame of mind, had put on his
carpet slippers and taken off his coat, when there came a knock at his door. He
was not a little amazed and embarrassed, upon opening it, to see the Honourable
Hilary. But these feelings gave place almost immediately to a sense of triumph;
gone were the days when he had to report to Number Seven. Number Seven, in the
person of Hilary (who was Number Seven), had been forced to come to him!
"Well, upon my soul!" he exclaimed heartily. "Come in, Hilary."
He turned up the jets of the chandelier, and gazed at his friend, and was
"Have a seat, Hilary," he said, pushing up an armchair.
Mr. Vane sat down. Mr. Hunt took a seat opposite, and waited for his visitor
to speak. He himself seemed to find no words.
"Adam," said Mr. Vane, at length, "we've known each other for a good many
"That's so, Hilary. That's so," Mr. Hunt eagerly assented. What was coming?
"And whatever harm I've done in my life," Hilary continued, "I've always
tried to keep my word. I told you, when we met up there by the mill this summer,
that if Mr. Flint had consulted me about your candidacy, before seeing you in
New York, I shouldn't have advised it—this time."
The Honourable Adam's face stiffened.
"That's what you said. But—"
"And I meant it," Mr. Vane interrupted. "I was never pledged to your
candidacy, as a citizen. I've been thinking over my situation some, this summer,
and I'll tell you in so many plain words what it is. I guess you know—I guess
everybody knows who's thought about it. I deceived myself for a long time by
believing that I earned my living as the attorney for the Northeastern
Railroads. I've drawn up some pretty good papers for them, and I've won some
pretty difficult suits. I'm not proud of 'em all, but let that go. Do you know
what I am?"
The Honourable Adam was capable only of a startled ejaculation. Was Hilary
Vane in his right senses?
"I'm merely their paid political tool," Mr. Vane continued, in the same tone.
"I've sold them my brain, and my right of opinion as a citizen. I wanted to make
this clear to you first of all. Not that you didn't know it, but I wished you to
know that I know it. When Mr. Flint said that you were to be the Republican
nominee, my business was to work to get you elected, which I did. And when it
became apparent that you couldn't be nominated—"
"Hold on!" cried the Honourable Adam.
"Please wait until I have finished. When it became apparent that you couldn't
be nominated, Mr. Flint sent me to try to get you to withdraw, and he decreed
that the new candidate should pay your expenses up to date. I failed in that
"I don't blame you, Hilary," exclaimed Mr. Hunt. "I told you so at the time.
But I guess I'll soon be in a position where I can make Flint walk the
tracks—his own tracks."
"Adam," said Mr. Vane, "it is because I deserve as much of the blame as Mr.
Flint that I am here."
Again Mr. Hunt was speechless. The Honourable Hilary Vane in an apologetic
mood! A surmise flashed into the brain of the Honourable Adam, and sparkled
there. The Honourable Giles Henderson was prepared to withdraw, and Hilary had
come, by authority, to see if he would pay the Honourable Giles' campaign
expenses. Well, he could snap his fingers at that.
"Flint has treated me like a dog," he declared.
"Mr. Flint never pretended," answered Mr. Vane, coldly, "that the nomination
and election of a governor was anything but a business transaction. His regard
for you is probably unchanged, but the interests he has at stake are too large
to admit of sentiment as a factor."
"Exactly," exclaimed Mr. Hunt. "And I hear he hasn't treated you just right,
Hilary. I understand—"
Hilary's eyes flashed for the first time.
"Never mind that, Adam," he said quietly; "I've been treated as I deserve. I
have nothing whatever to complain of from Mr. Flint. I will tell you why I came
here to-night. I haven't felt right about you since that interview, and the
situation to-night is practically what it was then. You can't be nominated."
"Can't be nominated!" gasped Mr. Hunt. And he reached to the table for his
figures. "I'll have four hundred on the first ballot, and I've got two hundred
and fifty more pledged to me as second choice. If you've come up here at this
time of night to try to deceive me on that, you might as well go back and wire
Flint it's no use. Why, I can name the delegates, if you'll listen."
Mr. Vane shook his head sadly. And, confident as he was, the movement sent a
cold chill down the Honourable Adam's spine, for faith in Mr. Vane's judgment
had become almost a second nature. He had to force himself to remember that this
was not the old Hilary.
"You won't have three hundred, Adam, at any time," answered Mr. Vane. "Once
you used to believe what I said, and if you won't now, you won't. But I can't go
away without telling you what I came for."
"What's that?" demanded Mr. Hunt, wonderingly.
"It's this," replied Hilary, with more force than he had yet shown. "You
can't get that nomination. If you'll let me know what your campaign expenses
have been up to date,—all of 'em, you understand, to-night too,—I'll give you a
check for them within the next two weeks."
"Who makes this offer?" demanded Mr. Hunt, with more curiosity than alarm;
"No," said Hilary; "Mr. Flint does not use the road's funds for such
"No," said Hilary; "I can't see what difference it makes to you."
The Honourable Adam had an eminently human side, and he laid his hand on Mr.
"I think I've got a notion as to where that money would come from, Hilary,"
he said. "I'm much obliged to you, my friend. I wouldn't take it even if I
thought you'd sized up the situation right. But—I don't agree with you this
time. I know I've got the nomination. And I want to say once more, that I think
you're a square man, and I don't hold anything against you."
Mr. Vane rose.
"I'm sorry, Adam," he said; "my offer holds good after to-morrow."
"Yes," said the Honourable Hilary. "I don't feel right about this thing.
Er—good night, Adam."
"Hold on!" cried Mr. Hunt, as a new phase of the matter struck him. "Why, if
I got out—"
"What then?" said Mr. Vane, turning around.
"Oh, I won't get out," said Mr. Hunt, "but if I did,—why, there wouldn't,
according to your way of thinking, be any chance for a dark horse."
"What do you mean?" demanded Mr. Vane.
"Now don't get mad, Hilary. I guess, and you know, that Flint hasn't treated
you decently this summer after all you've done for him, and I admire the way
you're standing by him. I wouldn't do it. I just wanted to say," Mr. Hunt added
slowly, "that I respect you all the more for trying to get me out. If—always
according to your notion of the convention—if I don't get out, and haven't any
chance, they tell me on pretty good authority Austen Vane will get the
Hilary Vane walked to the door, opened it and went out, and slammed it behind
It is morning,—a hot morning, as so many recall,—and the partisans of the
three leaders are early astir, and at seven-thirty Mr. Tooting discovers
something going on briskly which he terms "dealing in futures." My vote is yours
as long as you are in the race, but after that I have something negotiable. The
Honourable Adam Hunt strolls into the rotunda after an early breakfast, with a
toothpick in his mouth, and is pointed out by the sophisticated to new arrivals
as the man who spent seven thousand dollars over night, much of which is said to
have stuck in the pockets of two feudal chiefs who could be named. Is it
possible that there is a split in the feudal system at last? that the two feudal
chiefs (who could be named) are rebels against highest authority? A smile from
the sophisticated one. This duke and baron have merely stopped to pluck a bird;
it matters not whether or not the bird is an erstwhile friend—he has been
outlawed by highest authority, and is fair game. The bird (with the toothpick in
his mouth) creates a smile from other chiefs of the system in good standing who
are not too busy to look at him. They have ceased all attempts to buttonhole
him, for he is unapproachable.
The other bird, the rebel of Leith, who has never been in the feudal system
at all, they have stopped laughing at. It is he who has brought the Empire to
its most precarious state.
And now, while strangers from near and far throng into town, drawn by the
sensational struggle which is to culminate in battle to-day, Mr. Crewe is
marshalling his forces. All the delegates who can be collected, and who wear the
button with the likeness and superscription of Humphrey Crewe, are drawn up
beside the monument in the park, where the Ripton Band is stationed; and
presently they are seen by cheering crowds marching to martial music towards the
convention hall, where they collect in a body, with signs and streamers in
praise of the People's Champion well to the front and centre. This is generally
regarded as a piece of consummate general ship on the part of their leader. They
are applauded from the galleries,—already packed,—especially from one
conspicuous end where sit that company of ladies (now so famed) whose efforts
have so materially aided the cause of the People's Champion. Gay streamers vie
with gayer gowns, and morning papers on the morrow will have something to say
about the fashionable element and the special car which brought them from Leith.
"My, but it is hot!"
The hall is filled now, with the thousand delegates, or their representatives
who are fortunate enough to possess their credentials. Something of this matter
later. General Doby, chairman of the convention, an impressive but mournful
figure, could not call a roll if he wanted to. Not that he will want to!
Impossible to tell, by the convenient laws of the State, whether the duly
elected delegates of Hull or Mercer or Truro are here or not, since their
credentials may be bought or sold or conferred. Some political giants, who have
not negotiated their credentials, are recognized as they walk down the aisle:
the statesmanlike figure of Senator Whitredge (a cheer); that of Senator Green
(not so statesmanlike, but a cheer); Congressman Fairplay (cheers); and—Hilary
Vane! His a figure that does not inspire cheers,—least of all to-day,—the man
upon whose shoulders rests the political future of the Northeastern. The
conservative Mr. Tredways and other Lincoln radicals of long ago who rely on his
strength and judgment are not the sort to cheer. And yet—and yet Hilary inspires
some feeling when, with stooping gait, he traverses the hall, and there is a
hush in many quarters as delegates and spectators watch his progress to the
little room off the platform: the general's room, as the initiated know.
Ah, but few know what a hateful place it is to Hilary Vane to-day, this
keyboard at which he has sat so complacently in years gone by, the envied of
conventions. He sits down wearily at the basswood table, and scarcely hears the
familiar sounds without, which indicate that the convention of conventions has
begun. Extraordinary phenomenon at such a time, scenes of long ago and little
cherished then, are stealing into his mind.
The Reverend Mr. Crane (so often chaplain of the Legislature, and known to
the irreverent as the chaplain of the Northeastern) is praying now for guidance
in the counsels of this great gathering of the people's representatives. God
will hear Mr. Botcher better if he closes his eyes; which he does. Now the
platform is being read by State Senator Billings; closed eyes would best suit
this proceeding, too. As a parallel to that platform, one can think only of the
Ten Commandments. The Republican Party (chosen children of Israel) must be kept
free from the domination of corporations. (Cheers and banner waving for a full
minute.) Some better method of choosing delegates which will more truly reflect
the will of the people. (Plank of the Honourable Jacob Botcher, whose conscience
is awakening.) Never mind the rest. It is a triumph for Mr. Crewe, and is all
printed in that orthodox (reform) newspaper, the State Tribune, with urgent
editorials that it must be carried out to the letter.
And what now? Delegates, credential holders, audience, and the Reverend Mr.
Crane draw long breaths of heated carbon dioxide. Postmaster Burrows of
Edmundton, in rounded periods, is putting in nomination his distinguished
neighbour and fellow-citizen, the Honourable Adam B. Hunt, who can subscribe and
say amen to every plank in that platform. He believes it, he has proclaimed it
in public, and he embodies it. Mr. Burrows indulges in slight but effective
sarcasm of sham reformers and so-called business men who perform the arduous
task of cutting coupons and live in rarefied regions where they can only be seen
by the common people when the light is turned on. (Cheers from two partisan
bodies and groans and hisses from another. General Doby, with a pained face,
pounding with the gavel. This isn't a circumstance to what's coming, General.)
After General Doby has succeeded in abating the noise in honour-of the
Honourable Adam, there is a hush of expectancy. Humphrey Crewe, who has made all
this trouble and enthusiasm, is to be nominated next, and the Honourable Timothy
Wailing of Newcastle arises to make that celebrated oration which the cynical
have called the "thousand-dollar speech." And even if they had named it well
(which is not for a moment to be admitted!), it is cheap for the price. How Mr.
Crewe's ears must tingle as he paces his headquarters in the Pelican! Almost
would it be sacrilege to set down cold, on paper, the words that come, burning,
out of the Honourable Timothy's loyal heart. Here, gentlemen, is a man at last,
not a mere puppet who signs his name when a citizen of New York pulls the
string; one who is prepared to make any sacrifice,—to spend his life, if need
be, in their service. (A barely audible voice, before the cheering commences, "I
guess that's so.") Humphrey Crewe needs no defence—the Honourable Timothy
avers—at his hands, or any one's. Not merely an idealist, but a practical man
who has studied the needs of the State; unselfish to the core; longing, like
Washington, the Father of his Country, to remain in a beautiful country home,
where he dispenses hospitality with a flowing hand to poor and rich alike, yet
harking to the call of duty. Leaving, like the noble Roman of old, his plough in
the furrow—(Same voice as before, "I wish he'd left his automobil' thar!" Hisses
and laughter.) The Honourable Timothy, undaunted, snatches his hand from the
breast of his Prince Albert and flings it, with a superb gesture, towards the
Pelican. "Gentlemen, I have the honour to nominate to this convention that
peerless leader for the right, the Honourable Humphrey Crewe of Leith—our next
General Andrew Jackson himself, had he been alive and on this historic ground
and chairman of that convention, could scarce have quelled the tumult aroused by
this name and this speech—much less General Doby. Although a man of presence,
measurable by scales with weights enough, our general has no more ponderosity
now than a leaf in a mountain storm at Hale—and no more control over the
hurricane. Behold him now, pounding with his gavel on something which should
give forth a sound, but doesn't. Who is he (to change the speech's figure—not
the general's), who is he to drive a wild eight-horse team, who is fit only to
conduct Mr. Flint's oxen in years gone by?
It is a memorable scene, sketched to life for the metropolitan press. The man
on the chair, his face lighted by a fanatic enthusiasm, is the Honourable
Hamilton Tooting, coatless and collarless, leading the cheers that shake the
building, that must have struck terror to the soul of Augustus P. Flint
himself—fifty miles away. But the endurance of the human throat is limited.
Why, in the name of political strategy, has United States Senator Greene been
chosen to nominate the Honourable Giles Henderson of Kingston? Some say that it
is the will of highest authority, others that the senator is a close friend of
the Honourable Giles—buys his coal from him, wholesale. Both surmises are true.
The senator's figure is not impressive, his voice less so, and he reads from
manuscript, to the accompaniment of continual cries of "Louder!" A hook for
Leviathan! "A great deal of dribble," said the senator, for little rocks
sometimes strike fire, "has been heard about the 'will of the people.'"
"The Honourable Giles Henderson is beholden to no man and to no corporation,
and will go into office prepared to do justice impartially to all."
"Bu—copia verborum—let us to the main business!"
To an hundred newspapers, to Mr. Flint at Fairview, and other important
personages ticks out the momentous news that the balloting has begun. No use
trying to hold your breath until the first ballot is announced; it takes time to
obtain the votes of one thousand men—especially when neither General Doby nor
any one else knows who they are! The only way is to march up on the stage by
counties and file past the ballot-box. Putnam, with their glitter-eyed duke, Mr.
Bascom, at their head—presumably solid for Adam B. Hunt; Baron Burrows, who
farms out the post-office at Edmundton, leads Edmunds County; Earl Elisha Jane,
consul at some hot place where he spends the inclement months drops the first
ticket for Haines County, ostensibly solid for home-made virtue and the
An hour and a quarter of suspense and torture passes, while collars wilt and
coats come off, and fans in the gallery wave incessantly, and excited
conversation buzzes in every quarter. And now, see! there is whispering on the
stage among the big-bugs. Mr. Chairman Doby rises with a paper in his hand, and
the buzzing dies down to silence.
The Honourable Giles Henderson of Kingston has..398
The Honourable Humphrey Crewe of Leith has... 353
The Honourable Adam B. Hunt of Edmundton has.. 249
And a majority being required, there is no choice!
Are the supporters of the People's Champion crest-fallen, think you? Mr.
Tooting is not leading them for the moment, but is pressing through the crowd
outside the hall and flying up the street to the Pelican and the bridal suite,
where he is first with the news. Note for an unabridged biography: the great man
is discovered sitting quietly by the window, poring over a book on the modern
science of road-building, some notes from which he is making for his first
message. And instead of the reek of tobacco smoke, the room is filled with the
scent of the floral tributes brought down by the Ladies' Auxiliary from Leith.
In Mr. Crewe's right-hand pocket, neatly typewritten, is his speech of
acceptance. He is never caught unprepared. Unkind, now, to remind him of that
prediction made last night about the first ballot to the newspapers—and useless.
"I told you last night they were buyin' 'em right under our noses," cried Mr.
Tooting, in a paroxysm of indignation, "and you wouldn't believe me. They got
over one hundred and sixty away from us."
"It strikes me, Mr. Tooting," said Mr. Crewe, "that it was your business to
There will no doubt be a discussion, when the biographer reaches this
juncture, concerning the congruity of reform delegates who can be bought. It is
too knotty a point of ethics to be dwelt upon here.
"Prevent it!" echoed Mr. Tooting, and in the strong light of the
righteousness of that eye reproaches failed him. "But there's a whole lot of 'em
can be seen, right now, while the ballots are being taken. It won't be decided
on the next ballot."
"Mr. Tooting," said Mr. Crewe, indubitably proving that he had the qualities
of a leader—if such proof were necessary, "go back to the convention. I have no
doubt of the outcome, but that doesn't mean you are to relax your efforts. Do
"I guess I do," replied Mr. Tooting, and was gone. "He still has his flag
up," he whispered into the Honourable Timothy Watling's ear, when he reached the
hall. "He'll stand a little more yet."
Mr. Tooting, at times, speaks a language unknown to us—and the second ballot
is going on. And during its progress the two principal lieutenants of the
People's Champion were observed going about the hall apparently exchanging the
time of day with various holders of credentials. Mr. Jane, too, is going about
the hall, and Postmaster Burrows, and Postmaster Bill Fleeting of Brampton, and
the Honourable Nat Billings, and Messrs. Bascom and Botcher, and Mr. Manning,
division superintendent, and the Honourable Orrin Young, railroad commissioner
and candidate for reappointment—all are embracing the opportunity to greet
humble friends or to make new acquaintances. Another hour and a quarter, with
the temperature steadily rising and the carbon dioxide increasing—and the second
ballot is announced.
The Honourable Giles Henderson of Kingston has.. 440
The Honourable Humphrey Crewe of Leith has.... 336
The Honourable Adam B. Hunt of Edmundton has... 255
And there are three votes besides improperly made out!
What the newspapers call indescribable excitement ensues. The three votes
improperly made out are said to be trip passes accidentally dropped into the box
by the supporters of the Honourable Elisha Jane. And add up the sum total of the
votes! Thirty-one votes more than there are credentials in the hall! Mystery of
mysteries how can it be? The ballot, announces General Doby, after endless
rapping, is a blank. Cheers, recriminations, exultation, disgust of decent
citizens, attempts by twenty men to get the eye of the president (which is too
watery to see any of them), and rushes for the platform to suggest remedies or
ask what is going to be done about such palpable fraud. What can be done? Call
the roll! How in blazes can you call the roll when you don't know who's here?
Messrs. Jane, Botcher, Bascom, and Fleming are not disturbed, and improve their
time. Watling and Tooting rush to the bridal suite, and rush back again to
demand justice. General Doby mingles his tears with theirs, and somebody calls
him a jellyfish. He does not resent it. Friction makes the air hotter and
hotter—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would scarce enter into this furnace,—and
General Doby has a large damp spot on his back as he pounds and pounds and
pounds until we are off again on the third ballot. No dinner, and three-thirty
P.M.! Two delegates have fainted, but the essential parts of them—the
credentials—are left behind.
Four-forty, whispering again, and the gavel drops.
The Honourable Giles Henderson of Kingston has.. 412
The Honourable Humphrey Crewe of Leith has... 325
The Honourable Adam B. Hunt of Edmundton has... 250
And there is no choice on the third ballot!
Thirteen delegates are actually missing this time. Scour the town! And now
even the newspaper adjectives describing the scene have given out. A persistent
and terrifying rumour goes the rounds, where's Tom Gaylord? Somebody said he was
in the hall a moment ago, on a Ripton credential. If so, he's gone out
again—gone out to consult the dark horse, who is in town, somewhere. Another
ominous sign: Mr. Redbrook, Mr. Widgeon of Hull, and the other rural delegates
who have been voting for the People's Champion, and who have not been observed
in friendly conversation with anybody at all, now have their heads together. Mr.
Billings goes sauntering by, but cannot hear what they are saying. Something
must be done, and right away, and the knowing metropolitan reporters are winking
at each other and declaring darkly that a sensation is about to turn up.
Where is Hilary Vane? Doesn't he realize the danger? Or—traitorous
thought!—doesn't he care? To see his son nominated would be a singular revenge
for the indignities which are said to have been heaped upon him. Does Hilary
Vane, the strong man of the State, merely sit at the keyboard, powerless, while
the tempest itself shakes from the organ a new and terrible music? Nearly, six
hours he has sat at the basswood table, while senators, congressmen, feudal
chiefs, and even Chairman Doby himself flit in and out, whisper in his ear, set
papers before him, and figures and problems, and telegrams from highest
authority. He merely nods his head, says a word now and then, or holds his
peace. Does he know what he's about? If they had not heard things concerning his
health,—and other things,—they would still feel safe. He seems the only calm man
to be found in the hall—but is the calm aberration?
A conference in the corner of the platform, while the fourth ballot is
progressing, is held between Senators Whitredge and Greene, Mr. Ridout and Mr.
Manning. So far the Honourable Hilary has apparently done nothing but let the
storm take its course; a wing-footed messenger has returned who has seen Mr.
Thomas Gaylord walking rapidly up Maple Street, and Austen Vane (most astute and
reprehensible of politicians) is said to be at the Widow Peasley's, quietly
awaiting the call. The name of Austen Vane—another messenger says—is running
like wildfire through the hall, from row to row. Mr. Crewe has no chance—so
rumour goes. A reformer (to pervert the saying of a celebrated contemporary
humorist) must fight Marquis of Queensberry to win; and the People's Champion,
it is averred, has not. Shrewd country delegates who had listened to the
Champion's speeches and had come to the capital prepared to vote for purity, had
been observing the movements since yesterday, of Mr. Tooting and Mr. Wading with
no inconsiderable interest. Now was the psychological moment for Austen Vane,
but who was to beard Hilary?
No champion was found, and the Empire, the fate of which was in the hands of
a madman, was cracking. Let an individual of character and known anti-railroad
convictions (such as the gentleman said to be at the Widow Peasley's) be
presented to the convention, and they would nominate him. Were Messrs. Bascom
and Botcher going to act the part of Samsons? Were they working for revenge and
a new regime? Mr. Whitredge started for the Pelican, not at his ordinary
senatorial gait, to get Mr. Flint on the telephone.
The result of the fourth ballot was announced, and bedlam broke loose.
The Honourable Giles Henderson of Kingston has.. 419 The Honourable Humphrey
Crewe of Leith has.... 337 The Honourable Adam B. Hunt of Edmundton has... 256
Total, one thousand and eleven out of a thousand! Two delegates abstained
from voting, and proclaimed the fact, but were heard only a few feet away. Other
delegates, whose flesh and blood could stand the atmosphere no longer, were
known to have left the hall! Aha! the secret is out, if anybody could hear it.
At the end of every ballot several individuals emerge and mix with the crowd in
the street. Astute men sometimes make mistakes, and the following conversation
occurs between one of the individuals in question and Mr. Crewe's chauffeur.
Individual: "Do you want to come in and see the convention and
Chauffeur: "I am Frenchman."
Individual: "That doesn't cut any ice. I'll make out the ballot,
and all you'll have to do is to drop it in the box."
Chauffeur: "All right; I vote for Meester Crewe."
Sudden disappearance of the individual.
Nor is this all. The Duke of Putnam, for example, knows how many credentials
there are in his county—say, seventy-six. He counts the men present and voting,
and his result is sixty-one. Fifteen are absent, getting food or—something else.
Fifteen vote over again. But, as the human brain is prone to error, and there
are men in the street, the Duke miscalculates; the Earl of Haines miscalculates,
too. Result—eleven over a thousand votes, and some nine hundred men in the hall!
How are you going to stop it? Mr. Watling climbs up on the platform and
shakes his fist in General Doby's face, and General Doby tearfully appeals for
an honest ballot—to the winds.
In the meantime the Honourable Elisha Jane, spurred on by desperation and
thoughts of a 'dolce far niente' gone forever; has sought and cornered Mr.
"For God's sake, Brush," cries the Honourable Elisha, "hasn't this thing gone
far enough? A little of it is all right—the boys understand that; but have you
thought what it means to you and me if these blanked reformers get in,—if a
feller like Austen Vane is nominated?"
That cold, hard glitter which we have seen was in Mr. Bascom's eyes.
"You fellers have got the colic," was the remark of the arch-rebel. "Do you
think old Hilary doesn't know what he's about?"
"It looks that way to me," said Mr. Jane.
"It looks that way to Doby too, I guess," said Mr. Bascom, with a glance of
contempt at the general; "he's lost about fifteen pounds to-day. Did Hilary send
you down here?" he demanded.
"No," Mr. Jane confessed.
"Then go back and chase yourself around the platform some more," was Mr.
Bascom's unfeeling advice, "and don't have a fit here. All the brains in this
hall are in Hilary's room. When he's ready to talk business with me in behalf of
the Honourable Giles Henderson, I guess he'll do so."
But fear had entered the heart of the Honourable Elisha, and there was a
sickly feeling in the region of his stomach which even the strong medicine
administered by the Honourable Brush failed to alleviate. He perceived Senator
Whitredge, returned from the Pelican. But the advice—if any—the president of the
Northeastern has given the senator is not forthcoming in practice. Mr. Flint,
any more than Ulysses himself, cannot recall the tempests when his own followers
have slit the bags—and in sight of Ithaca! Another conference at the back of the
stage, out of which emerges State Senator Nat Billings and gets the ear of
"Let 'em yell," says Mr. Billings—as though the general, by raising one
adipose hand, could quell the storm. Eyes are straining, scouts are watching at
the back of the hall and in the street, for the first glimpse of the dreaded
figure of Mr. Thomas Gaylord. "Let 'em yell;" counsels Mr. Billings, "and if
they do nominate anybody nobody'll hear 'em. And send word to Putnam County to
come along on their fifth ballot."
It is Mr. Billings himself who sends word to Putnam County, in the name of
the convention's chairman. Before the messenger can reach Putnam County another
arrives on the stage, with wide pupils, "Tom Gaylord is coming!" This momentous
news, Marconi-like, penetrates the storm, and is already on the floor. Mr.
Widgeon and Mr. Redbrook are pushing their way towards the door. The conference,
emboldened by terror, marches in a body into the little room, and surrounds the
calmly insane Lieutenant-general of the forces; it would be ill-natured to say
that visions of lost railroad commissionerships, lost consulships, lost
postmasterships,—yes, of lost senatorships, were in these loyal heads at this
It was all very well (so said the first spokesman) to pluck a few feathers
from a bird so bountifully endowed as the Honourable Adam, but were not two
gentlemen who should be nameless carrying the joke a little too far? Mr. Vane
unquestionably realized what he was doing, but—was it not almost time to call in
the two gentlemen and—and come to some understanding?
"Gentlemen," said the Honourable Hilary, apparently unmoved, "I have not seen
Mr. Bascom or Mr. Botcher since the sixteenth day of August, and I do not intend
Some clearing of throats followed this ominous declaration,—and a painful
silence. The thing must be said and who would say it? Senator Whitredge was the
Mr. Thomas Gaylord has just entered the convention hall, and is said to be
about to nominate—a dark horse. The moment was favourable, the convention
demoralized, and at least one hundred delegates had left the hall. (How about
the last ballot, Senator, which showed 1011?)
The Honourable Hilary rose abruptly, closed the door to shut out the noise,
and turned and looked Mr. Whitredge in the eye.
"Who is the dark horse?" he demanded.
The members of the conference coughed again, looked at each other, and there
was a silence. For some inexplicable reason, nobody cared to mention the name of
The Honourable Hilary pointed at the basswood table.
"Senator," he said, "I understand you have been telephoning Mr. Flint. Have
you got orders to sit down there?"
"My dear sir," said the Senator, "you misunderstand me."
"Have you got orders to sit down there?" Mr. Vane repeated.
"No," answered the Senator, "Mr. Flint's confidence in you—"
The Honourable Hilary sat down again, and at that instant the door was
suddenly flung open by Postmaster Bill Fleeting of Brampton, his genial face
aflame with excitement and streaming with perspiration. Forgotten, in this
moment, is senatorial courtesy and respect for the powers of the feudal system.
"Say, boys," he cried, "Putnam County's voting, and there's be'n no
nomination and ain't likely to be. Jim Scudder, the station-master at Wye, is
here on credentials, and he says for sure the thing's fizzled out, and Tom
Gaylord's left the hall!"
Again a silence, save for the high hum let in through the open doorway. The
members of the conference stared at the Honourable Hilary, who seemed to have
forgotten their presence; for he had moved his chair to the window, and was
gazing out over the roofs at the fast-fading red in the western sky.
An hour later, when the room was in darkness save for the bar of light that
streamed in from the platform chandelier, Senator Whitredge entered.
"Hilary!" he said.
There was no answer. Mr. Whitredge felt in his pocket for a match, struck it,
and lighted the single jet over the basswood table. Mr. Vane still sat by the
window. The senator turned and closed the door, and read from a paper in his
hand; so used was he to formality that he read it formally, yet with a feeling
of intense relief, of deference, of apology.
"Fifth ballot:—The Honourable Giles Henderson of Kingston has... 587; The
Honourable Adam B. Hunt of Edmundton has... 230; The Honourable Humphrey Crewe
of Leith has... 154.
"And Giles Henderson is nominated—Hilary?"
"Yes," said Mr. Vane.
"I don't think any of us were—quite ourselves to-day. It wasn't that we
didn't believe in you—but we didn't have all the threads in our hands, and—for
reasons which I think I can understand—you didn't take us into your confidence.
I want to—"
The words died on the senator's lips. So absorbed had he been in his
momentous news, and solicitous over the result of his explanation, that his eye
looked outward for the first time, and even then accidentally.
"Hilary!" he cried; "for God's sake, what's the matter? Are you sick?"
"Yes, Whitredge," said Mr. Vane, slowly, "sick at heart."
It was but natural that these extraordinary and incomprehensible words should
have puzzled and frightened the senator more than ever.
"Your heart!" he repeated.
"Yes, my heart," said Hilary.
The senator reached for the ice-water on the table.
"Here," he cried, pouring out a glass, "it's only the heat—it's been a hard
But Hilary did not raise his arm. The door opened others coming to
congratulate Hilary Vane on the greatest victory he had ever won. Offices were
secure once more, the feudal system intact, and rebels justly punished; others
coming to make their peace with the commander whom, senseless as they were, they
had dared to doubt.
They crowded past each other on the threshold, and stood grouped beyond the
basswood table, staring—staring—men suddenly come upon a tragedy instead of a
feast, the senator still holding the glass of water in a hand that trembled and
spilled it. And it was the senator, after all, who first recovered his presence
of mind. He set down the water, pushed his way through the group into the hall,
where the tumult and the shouting die. Mr. Giles Henderson, escorted, is timidly
making his way towards the platform to read his speech of acceptance of a
willing bondage, when a voice rings out:—"If there is a physician in the house,
will he please come forward?"
And then a hush,—and then the buzz of comment. Back to the little room once
more, where they are gathered speechless about Hilary Vane. And the doctor comes
young Dr. Tredway of Ripton, who is before all others.
"I expected this to happen, gentlemen," he said, "and I have been here all
day, at the request of Mr. Vane's son, for this purpose."
It was Hilary who spoke.
"I have sent for him," said the doctor. "And now, gentlemen, if you will
They withdrew and the doctor shut the door. Outside, the Honourable Giles is
telling them how seriously he regards the responsibility of the honour thrust
upon him by a great party. But nobody hears him in the wild rumours that fly
from mouth to mouth as the hall empties. Rushing in against the tide outpouring,
tall, stern, vigorous, is a young man whom many recognize, whose name is on many
lips as they make way for him, who might have saved them if he would. The door
of the little room opens, and he stands before his father, looking down at him.
And the stern expression is gone from his face.
"Austen!" said Mr. Vane.
"Take me away from here. Take me home—now—to-night."
Austen glanced at Dr. Tredway.
"It is best," said the doctor; "we will take him home—to-night."