Mr. Crewe's Career
THE LEOPARD AND HIS SPOTS
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of Mr. Humphrey Crewe, of his
value to the town of Leith, and to the State at large, and in these pages only a
poor attempt at an appreciation of him may be expected. Mr. Crewe by no means
underestimated this claim upon the community, and he had of late been declaring
that he was no summer resident. Wedderburn was his home, and there he paid his
taxes. Undoubtedly, they were less than city taxes.
Although a young man, Mr. Crewe was in all respects a model citizen, and a
person of many activities. He had built a farmers' club, to which the farmers,
in gross ingratitude, had never gone. Now it was a summer residence and
distinctly rentable. He had a standing offer to erect a library in the village
of Leith provided the town would furnish the ground, the books, and permit the
name of Crewe to be carved in stone over the doorway. The indifference of the
town pained him, and he was naturally not a little grieved at the lack of proper
feeling of the country people of America towards those who would better their
conditions. He had put a large memorial window in the chapel to his family.
Mr. Crewe had another standing offer to be one of five men to start a farming
experiment station—which might pay dividends. He, was a church warden; president
of a society for turning over crops (which he had organized); a member of the
State Grange; president of the embryo State Economic League (whatever that was);
and chairman of the Local Improvement Board—also a creation of his own. By these
tokens, and others too numerous to mention, it would seem that the inhabitants
of Leith would have jumped at the chance to make such a man one of the five
hundred in their State Legislature.
To Whitman is attributed the remark that genius is almost one hundred per
cent directness, but whether or not this applied to Mr. Humphrey Crewe remains
to be seen. "Dynamics" more surely expressed him. It would not seem to be a very
difficult feat, to be sure, to get elected to a State Legislature of five
hundred which met once a year: once in ten years, indeed, might have been more
appropriate for the five hundred. The town of Leith with its thousand
inhabitants had one representative, and Mr. Crewe had made up his mind he was to
be that representative.
There was, needless to say, great excitement in Leith over Mr. Crewe's
proposed venture into the unknown seas of politics. I mean, of course, that
portion of Leith which recognized in Mr. Crewe an eligible bachelor and a person
of social importance, for these qualities were not particularly appealing to the
three hundred odd farmers whose votes were expected to send him rejoicing to the
"It is so rare with us for a gentleman to go into politics, that we ought to
do everything we can to elect him," Mrs. Pomfret went about declaring. "Women do
so much in England, I wonder they don't do more here. I was staying at Aylestone
Court last year when the Honourable Billy Aylestone was contesting the family
seat with a horrid Radical, and I assure you, my dear, I got quite excited. We
did nothing from morning till night but electioneer for the Honourable Billy,
and kissed all the babies in the borough. The mothers were so grateful. Now,
Edith, do tell Jack instead of playing tennis and canoeing all day he ought to
help. It's the duty of all young men to help. Noblesse oblige, you know. I can't
understand Victoria. She really has influence with these country people, but she
says it's all nonsense. Sometimes I think Victoria has a common streak in
her—and no wonder. The other day she actually drove to the Hammonds' in a buggy
with an unknown lawyer from Ripton. But I told you about it. Tell your gardener
and the people that do your haying, dear, and your chicken woman. My chicken
woman is most apathetic, but do you wonder, with the life they lead?"
Mr. Humphrey Crewe might have had, with King Charles, the watchword
"Thorough." He sent to the town clerk for a check-list, and proceeded to honour
each of the two hundred Republican voters with a personal visit. This is a fair
example of what took place in the majority of cases.
Out of a cloud of dust emerges an automobile, which halts, with protesting
brakes, in front of a neat farmhouse, guarded by great maples. Persistent
knocking by a chauffeur at last brings a woman to the door. Mrs. Jenney has a
pleasant face and an ample figure.
"Mr. Jenney live here?" cries Mr. Crewe from the driver's seat.
"Yes," says Mrs. Jenney, smiling.
"Tell him I want to see him."
"Guess you'll find him in the apple orchard."
The chauffeur takes down the bars, Mr. Jenney pricks up his ears, and
presently—to his amazement—perceives a Leviathan approaching him, careening over
the ruts of his wood road. Not being an emotional person, he continues to pick
apples until he is summarily hailed. Then he goes leisurely towards the
"Are you Mr. Jenney?"
"Callate to be," says Mr. Jenney, pleasantly.
"I'm Humphrey Crewe."
"How be you?" says Mr. Jenney, his eyes wandering over the Leviathan.
"How are the apples this year?" asks Mr. Crewe, graciously.
"Fair to middlin'," says Mr. Jenney.
"Have you ever tasted my Pippins?" says Mr. Crewe. "A little science in
cultivation helps along. I'm going to send you a United States government
pamphlet on the fruit we can raise here."
Mr. Jenney makes an awkward pause by keeping silent on the subject of the
pamphlet until he shall see it.
"Do you take much interest in politics?"
"Not a great deal," answers Mr. Jenney.
"That's the trouble with Americans," Mr. Crewe declares, "they don't care who
represents 'em, or whether their government's good or bad."
"Guess that's so," replies Mr. Jenney, politely.
"That sort of thing's got to stop," declares Mr. Crewe; "I'm a candidate for
the Republican nomination for representative."
"I want to know!" ejaculates Mr. Jenney, pulling his beard. One would never
suspect that this has been one of Mr. Jenney's chief topics of late.
"I'll see that the interests of this town are cared for."
"Let's see," says Mr. Jenney, "there's five hundred in the House, ain't
"It's a ridiculous number," says Mr. Crewe, with truth.
"Gives everybody a chance to go," says Mr. Jenney. "I was thar in '78, and
enjoyed it some."
"Who are you for?" demanded Mr. Crewe, combating the tendency of the
conversation to slip into a pocket.
"Little early yet, hain't it? Hain't made up my mind. Who's the candidates?"
asks Mr. Jenney, continuing to stroke his beard.
"I don't know," says Mr. Crewe, "but I do know I've done something for this
town, and I hope you'll take it into consideration. Come and see me when you go
to the village. I'll give you a good cigar, and that pamphlet, and we'll talk
"Never would have thought to see one of them things in my orchard," says Mr.
Jenney. "How much do they cost? Much as a locomotive, don't they?"
It would not be exact to say that, after some weeks of this sort of
campaigning, Mr. Crewe was discouraged, for such writhe vitality with which
nature had charged him that he did not know the meaning of the word. He was
merely puzzled, as a June-bug is puzzled when it bumps up against a wire
window-screen. He had pledged to him his own gardener, Mrs. Pomfret's, the hired
men of three of his neighbours, a few modest souls who habitually took off their
hats to him, and Mr. Ball, of the village, who sold groceries to Wedderburn and
was a general handy man for the summer people. Mr. Ball was an agitator by
temperament and a promoter by preference. If you were a summer resident of
importance and needed anything from a sewing-machine to a Holstein heifer, Mr.
Ball, the grocer, would accommodate you. When Mrs. Pomfret's cook became
inebriate and refractory, Mr. Ball was sent for, and enticed her to the station
and on board of a train; when the Chillinghams' tank overflowed, Mr. Ball found
the proper valve and saved the house from being washed away. And it was he who,
after Mrs. Pomfret, took the keenest interest in Mr. Crewe's campaign. At length
came one day when Mr. Crewe pulled up in front of the grocery store and called,
as his custom was, loudly for Mr. Ball. The fact that Mr. Ball was waiting on
customers made no difference, and presently that gentleman appeared, rubbing his
"How do you do, Mr. Crewe?" he said, "automobile going all right?"
"What's the matter with these fellers?" said Mr. Crewe. "Haven't I done
enough for the town? Didn't I get 'em rural free delivery? Didn't I subscribe to
the meeting-house and library, and don't I pay more taxes than anybody else?"
"Certain," assented Mr. Ball, eagerly, "certain you do." It did not seem to
occur to him that it was unfair to make him responsible for the scurvy
ingratitude of his townsmen. He stepped gingerly down into the dust and climbed
up on the tool box.
"Look out," said Mr. Crewe, "don't scratch the varnish. What is it?"
Mr. Ball shifted obediently to the rubber-covered step, and bent his face to
his patron's ear.
"It's railrud," he said.
"Railroad!" shouted Mr. Crewe, in a voice that made the grocer clutch his arm
in terror. "Don't pinch me like that. Railroad! This town ain't within ten miles
of the railroad."
"For the love of David," said Mr. Ball, "don't talk so loud, Mr. Crewe."
"What's the railroad got to do with it?" Mr. Crewe demanded.
Mr. Ball glanced around him, to make sure that no one was within shouting
"What's the railrud got to do with anything in this State?" inquired Mr.
"That's different," said Mr. Crewe, shortly, "I'm a corporation man myself.
They've got to defend 'emselves."
"Certain. I ain't got anything again' 'em," Mr. Ball agreed quickly. "I guess
they know what they're about. By the bye, Mr. Crewe," he added, coming
dangerously near the varnish again, and drawing back, "you hain't happened to
have seen Job Braden, have you?"
"Job Braden!" exclaimed Mr. Crewe, "Job Braden! What's all this mystery about
Job Braden? Somebody whispers that name in my ear every day. If you mean that
smooth-faced cuss that stutters and lives on Braden's Hill, I called on him, but
he was out. If you see him, tell him to come up to Wedderburn, and I'll talk
Mr. Ball made a gesture to indicate a feeling divided between respect for Mr.
Crewe and despair at the hardihood of such a proposition.
"Lord bless you, sir, Job wouldn't go."
"He never pays visits,—folks go to him."
"He'd come to see me, wouldn't he?"
"I—I'm afraid riot, Mr. Crewe. Job holds his comb rather high."
"Do you mean to say this two-for-a-cent town has a boss?"
"Silas Grantley was born here," said Mr. Ball—for even the worm will turn.
"This town's got a noble history."
"I don't care anything about Silas Grantley. What I want to know is, how this
rascal manages to make anything out of the political pickings of a town like
"Well, Job ain't exactly a rascal, Mr. Crewe. He's got a good many of them
hill farmers in a position of—of gratitude. Enough to control the Republican
"Do you mean he buys their votes?" demanded Mr. Crewe.
"It's like this," explained Mr. Ball, "if one of 'em falls behind in his
grocery bill, for example, he can always get money from Job. Job takes a
mortgage, but he don't often close down on 'm. And Job has been collectin'
credentials in Avalon County for upward of forty years."
"Yes. Gets a man nominated to State and county conventions that can't go, and
goes himself with a bunch of credentials. He's in a position to negotiate. He
was in all them railrud fights with Jethro Bass, and now he does business with
Hilary Vane or Brush Bascom when anything especial's goin' on. You'd ought to
see him, Mr. Crewe."
"I guess I won't waste my time with any picayune boss if the United
Northeastern Railroads has any hand in this matter," declared Mr. Crewe. "Wind
This latter remark was addressed to a long-suffering chauffeur who looked
like a Sicilian brigand.
"I didn't exactly like to suggest it," said Mr. Ball, rubbing his hands and
raising his voice above the whir of the machine, "but of course I knew Mr. Flint
was an intimate friend. A word to him from you—"
But by this Mr. Crewe had got in his second speed and was sweeping around a
corner lined with farmers' teams, whose animals were behaving like circus
horses. On his own driveway, where he arrived in incredibly brief time, he met
his stenographer, farm superintendent, secretary, housekeeper, and general
utility man, Mr. Raikes. Mr. Raikes was elderly, and showed signs of needing a
"Telephone Mr. Flint, Raikes, and tell him I would like an appointment at his
earliest convenience, on important business."
Mr. Raikes, who was going for his daily stroll beside the river, wheeled and
made for the telephone, and brought back the news that Mr. Flint would be happy
to see Mr. Crewe the next afternoon at four o'clock.
This interview, about which there has been so much controversy in the
newspapers, and denials and counter-denials from the press bureaus of both
gentlemen,—this now historic interview began at four o'clock precisely the next
day. At that hour Mr. Crewe was ushered into that little room in which Mr. Flint
worked when at Fairview. Like Frederick the Great and other famous captains, Mr.
Flint believed in an iron bedstead regime. The magnate was, as usual, fortified
behind his oak desk; the secretary with a bend in his back was in modest
evidence; and an elderly man of comfortable proportions, with a large gold
watch-charm portraying the rising sun, and who gave, somehow, the polished
impression of a marble, sat near the window smoking a cigar. Mr. Crewe
approached the desk with that genial and brisk manner for which he was noted and
held out his hand to the railroad president.
"We are both business men, and both punctual, Mr. Flint," he said, and sat
down in the empty chair beside his host, eyeing without particular favour him of
the watch-charm, whose cigar was not a very good one. "I wanted to have a little
private conversation with you which might be of considerable interest to us
both." And Mr. Crewe laid down on the desk a somewhat formidable roll of papers.
"I trust the presence of Senator Whitredge will not deter you," answered Mr.
Flint. "He is an old friend of mine."
Mr. Crewe was on his feet again with surprising alacrity, and beside the
"How are you, Senator?" he said, "I have never had the pleasure of meeting
you, but I know you by reputation."
The senator got to his feet. They shook hands, and exchanged cordial
greetings; and during the exchange Mr. Crewe looked out of the window, and the
senator's eyes were fixed on the telephone receiver on Mr. Flint's desk. As
neither gentleman took hold of the other's fingers very hard, they fell apart
"I am very happy to meet you, Mr. Crewe," said the senator. Mr. Crewe sat
down again, and not being hampered by those shrinking qualities so fatal to
success he went on immediately:—"There is nothing which I have to say that the
senator cannot hear. I made the appointment with you, Mr. Flint, to talk over a
matter which may be of considerable importance to us both. I have made up my
mind to go to the Legislature."
Mr. Crewe naturally expected to find visible effects of astonishment and joy
on the faces of his hearers at such not inconsiderable news. Mr. Flint, however,
looked serious enough, though the senator smiled as he blew his smoke out of the
"Have you seen Job Braden, Mr. Crewe?" he asked, with genial jocoseness.
"They tell me that Job is still alive and kicking over in your parts."
"Thank you, Senator," said Mr. Crewe, "that brings me to the very point I
wish to emphasize. Everywhere in Leith I am met with the remark, 'Have you seen
Job Braden?' And I always answer, 'No, I haven't seen Mr. Braden, and I don't
intend to see him."'
Mr. Whitredge laughed, and blew out a ring of smoke. Mr. Flint's face
"Now, Mr. Flint," Mr. Crewe went on, "you and I understand each other, and
we're on the same side of the fence. I have inherited some interests in
corporations myself, and I have acquired an interest in others. I am a director
in several. I believe that it is the duty of property to protect itself, and the
duty of all good men in politics,—such as the senator here,"—(bow from Mr.
Whitredge)—"to protect property. I am a practical man, and I think I can
convince you, if you don't see it already, that my determination to go to the
Legislature is an advantageous thing for your railroad."
"The advent of a reputable citizen into politics is always a good thing for
the railroad, Mr. Crewe," said Mr. Flint.
"Exactly," Mr. Crewe agreed, ignoring the non-committal quality of this
remark, "and if you get a citizen who is a not inconsiderable property holder, a
gentleman, and a college graduate,—a man who, by study and predilection, is
qualified to bring about improved conditions in the State, so much the better."
"So much the better," said Mr. Flint.
"I thought you would see it that way," Mr. Crewe continued. "Now a man of
your calibre must have studied to some extent the needs of the State, and it
must have struck you that certain improvements go hand in hand with the
prosperity of your railroad."
"Have a cigar, Mr. Crewe. Have another, Senator?" said Mr. Flint. "I think
that is safe as a general proposition, Mr. Crewe."
"To specify," said Mr. Crewe, laying his hand on the roll of papers he had
brought, "I have here bills which I have carefully drawn up and which I will
leave for your consideration. One is to issue bonds for ten millions to build
"Ten millions!" said Mr. Flint, and the senator whistled mildly.
"Think about it," said Mr. Crewe, "the perfection of the highways through the
State, instead of decreasing your earnings, would increase them tremendously.
Visitors by the tens of thousands would come in automobiles, and remain and buy
summer places. The State would have its money back in taxes and business in no
time at all. I wonder somebody hasn't seen it before—the stupidity of the
country legislator is colossal. And we want forestry laws, and laws for
improving the condition of the farmers—all practical things. They are all
there," Mr. Crewe declared, slapping the bundle; "read them, Mr. Flint. If you
have any suggestions to make, kindly note them on the margin, and I shall be
glad to go over them with you."
By this time the senator was in a rare posture for him—he was seated upright.
"As you know, I am a very busy man, Mr. Crewe," said the railroad president.
"No one appreciates that more fully than I do, Mr. Flint," said Mr. Crewe; "I
haven't many idle hours myself. I think you will find the bills and my comments
on them well worth your consideration from the point of view of advantage to
your railroad. They are typewritten, and in concrete form. In fact, the
Northeastern Railroads and myself must work together to our mutual
advantage—that has become quite clear to me. I shall have need of your help in
passing the measures."
"I'm afraid I don't quite understand you, Mr. Crewe," said Mr. Flint, putting
down the papers.
"That is," said Mr. Crewe, "if you approve of the bills, and I am confident
that I shall be able to convince you."
"What do you want me to do?" asked the railroad president.
"Well, in the first place," said Mr. Crewe, unabashed, "send word to your man
Braden that you've seen me and it's all right."
"I assure you," answered Mr. Flint, giving evidence for the first time of a
loss of patience, "that neither the Northeastern Railroads nor myself, have any
more to do with this Braden than you have."
Mr. Crewe, being a man of the world, looked incredulous.
"Senator," Mr. Flint continued, turning to Mr. Whitredge, "you know as much
about politics in this State as any man of my acquaintance, have you ever heard
of any connection between this Braden and the Northeastern Railroads?"
The senator had a laugh that was particularly disarming.
"Bless your soul, no," he replied. "You will pardon me, Mr. Crewe, but you
must have been listening to some farmer's tale. The railroad is the bugaboo in
all these country romances. I've seen old Job Braden at conventions ever since I
was a lad. He's a back number, one of the few remaining disciples and imitators
of Jethro Bass: talks like him and acts like him. In the old days when there
were a lot of little railroads, he and Bijah Bixby and a few others used to make
something out of them, but since the consolidation, and Mr. Flint's presidency,
Job stays at home. They tell me he runs Leith yet. You'd better go over and fix
it up with him."
A somewhat sarcastic smile of satisfaction was playing over Mr. Flint's face
as he listened to the senator's words. As a matter of fact, they were very
nearly true as regarded Job Braden, but Mr. Crewe may be pardoned for thinking
that Mr. Flint was not showing him quite the confidence due from one business
and corporation man to another. He was by no means abashed,—Mr. Crewe had too
much spirit for that. He merely became—as a man whose watchword is "thorough"
will—a little more combative.
"Well, read the bills anyway, Mr. Flint, and I'll come and go over them with
you. You can't fail to see my arguments, and all I ask is that you throw the
weight of your organization at the State capital for them when they come up."
Mr. Flint drummed on the table.
"The men who have held office in this State," he said, "have always been
willing to listen to any suggestion I may have thought proper to make to them.
This is undoubtedly because I am at the head of the property which pays the
largest taxes. Needless to say I am chary of making suggestions. But I am
surprised that you should have jumped at a conclusion which is the result of a
popular and unfortunately prevalent opinion that the Northeastern Railroads
meddled in any way with the government or politics of this State. I am glad of
this opportunity of assuring you that we do not," he continued, leaning forward
and holding up his hand to ward off interruption, "and I know that Senator
Whitredge will bear me out in this statement, too."
The senator nodded gravely. Mr. Crewe, who was anything but a fool, and just
as assertive as Mr. Flint, cut in.
"Look here, Mr. Flint," he said, "I know what a lobby is. I haven't been a
director in railroads myself for nothing. I have no objection to a lobby. You
employ counsel before the Legislature, don't you—"
"We do," said Mr. Flint, interrupting, "the best and most honourable counsel
we can find in the State. When necessary, they appear before the legislative
committees. As a property holder in the State, and an admirer of its beauties,
and as its well-wisher, it will give me great pleasure to look over your bills,
and use whatever personal influence I may have as a citizen to forward them,
should they meet my approval. And I am especially glad to do this as a
neighbour, Mr. Crewe. As a neighbour," he repeated, significantly.
The president of the Northeastern Railroads rose as he spoke these words, and
held out his hand to Mr. Crewe. It was perhaps a coincidence that the senator
"All right," said Mr. Crewe, "I'll call around again in about two weeks. Come
and see me sometime, Senator." "Thank you," said the senator, "I shall be happy.
And if you are ever in your automobile near the town of Ramsey, stop at my
little farm, Mr. Crewe. I trust to be able soon to congratulate you on a step
which I am sure will be but the beginning of a long and brilliant political
"Thanks," said Mr. Crewe; "by the bye, if you could see your way to drop a
hint to that feller Braden, I should be much obliged."
The senator shook his head and laughed.
"Job is an independent cuss," he said, "I'm afraid he'd regard that as an
unwarranted trespass on his preserves."
Mr. Crewe was ushered out by the stooping secretary, Mr. Freeman; who,
instead of seizing Mr. Crewe's hand as he had Austen Vane's, said not a word.
But Mr. Crewe would have been interested if he could have heard Mr. Flint's
first remark to the senator after the door was closed on his back. It did not
relate to Mr. Crewe, but to the subject under discussion which he had
interrupted; namely, the Republican candidates for the twenty senatorial
districts of the State.
On its way back to Leith the red motor paused in front of Mr. Ball's store,
and that gentleman was summoned in the usual manner.
"Do you see this Braden once in a while?" Mr. Crewe demanded.
Mr. Ball looked knowing.
"Tell him I want to have a talk with him," said Mr. Crewe. "I've been to see
Mr. Flint, and I think matters can be arranged. And mind you, no word about
"I guess I understand a thing or two," said Mr. Ball. "Trust me to handle
Two days later, as Mr. Crewe was seated in his study, his man entered and
stood respectfully waiting for the time when he should look up from his book.
"Well, what is it now, Waters?"
"If you please, sir," said the man, "a strange message has come over the
telephone just now that you were to be in room number twelve of the Ripton House
to-morrow at ten o'clock. They wouldn't give any name, sir," added the dignified
Waters, who, to tell the truth, was somewhat outraged, "nor tell where they
telephoned from. But it was a man's voice, sir."
"All right," said Mr. Crewe.
He spent much of the afternoon and evening debating whether or not his
dignity would permit him to go. But he ordered the motor at half-past nine, and
at ten o'clock precisely the clerk at the Ripton House was bowing to him and
handing him, deferentially, a dripping pen.
"Where's room number twelve?" said the direct Mr. Crewe.
"Oh," said the clerk, and possessing a full share of the worldly wisdom of
his calling, he smiled broadly. "I guess you'll find him up there, Mr. Crewe.
Front, show the gentleman to number twelve."
The hall boy knocked on the door of number twelve.
"C—come in," said a voice. "Come in."
Mr. Crewe entered, the hall boy closed the door, and he found himself face to
face with a comfortable, smooth-faced man seated with great placidity on a
rocking-chair in the centre of the room, between the bed and the marble-topped
table: a man to whom, evidently, a rich abundance of thought was sufficient
company, for he had neither newspaper nor book. He rose in a leisurely fashion,
and seemed the very essence of the benign as he stretched forth his hand.
"I'm Mr. Crewe," the owner of that name proclaimed, accepting the hand with
no exaggeration of cordiality. The situation jarred on him a trifle.
"I know. Seed you on the road once or twice. How be you?"
Mr. Crewe sat down.
"I suppose you are Mr. Braden," he said.
Mr. Braden sank into the rocker and fingered a waistcoat pocket full of
cigars that looked like a section of a cartridge-belt.
"T—try one of mine," he said.
"I only smoke once after breakfast," said Mr. Crewe.
"Abstemious, be you? Never could find that it did me any hurt."
This led to an awkward pause, Mr. Crewe not being a man who found profit in
idle discussion. He glanced at Mr. Braden's philanthropic and beaming
countenance, which would have made the fortune of a bishop. It was not usual for
Mr. Crewe to find it difficult to begin a conversation, or to have a companion
as self-sufficient as himself. This man Braden had all the fun, apparently, in
sitting in a chair and looking into space that Stonewall Jackson had, or an
ordinary man in watching a performance of "A Trip to Chinatown." Let it not be
inferred, again, that Mr. Crewe was abashed; but he was puzzled.
"I had an engagement in Ripton this morning," he said, "to see about some
business matters. And after I received your telephone I thought I'd drop in
"Didn't telephone," said Mr. Braden, placidly.
"What!" said Mr. Crewe, "I certainly got a telephone message."
"N—never telephone," said Mr. Braden.
"I certainly got a message from you," Mr. Crewe protested.
"Didn't say it was from me—didn't say so—did they—"
"No," said Mr. Crewe, "but—"
"Told Ball you wanted to have me see you, didn't you?"
Mr. Crewe, when he had unravelled this sentence, did not fancy the way it was
"I told Ball I was seeing everybody in Leith," he answered, "and that I had
called on you, and you weren't at home. Ball inferred that you had a somewhat
singular way of seeing people."
"You don't understand," was Mr. Braden's somewhat enigmatic reply.
"I understand pretty well," said Mr. Crewe. "I'm a candidate for the
Republican nomination for representative from Leith, and I want your vote and
influence. You probably know what I have done for the town, and that I'm the
biggest taxpayer, and an all-the-year-round resident."
"S—some in Noo York—hain't you?"
"Well, you can't expect a man in my position and with my interests to stay at
home all the time. I feel that I have a right to ask the town for this
nomination. I have some bills here which I'll request you to read over, and you
will see that I have ideas which are of real value to the State. The State needs
waking up-progressive measures. You're a farmer, ain't you?"
"Well, I have be'n."
"I can improve the condition of the farmer one hundred per cent, and if my
road system is followed, he can get his goods to market for about a tenth of
what it costs him now. We have infinitely valuable forests in the State which
are being wasted by lumbermen, which ought to be preserved. You read those
bills, and what I have written about them."
"You don't understand," said Mr. Braden, drawing a little closer and waving
aside the manuscript with his cigar.
"Don't understand what?"
"Don't seem to understand," repeated Mr. Braden, confidingly laying his hand
on Mr. Crewe's knee. "Candidate for representative, be you?"
"Yes," replied Mr. Crewe, who was beginning to resent the manner in which he
deemed he was being played with, "I told you I was."
"M—made all them bills out before you was chose?" said Mr. Braden.
Mr. Crewe grew red in the face.
"I am interested in these questions," he said stiffly.
"Little mite hasty, wahn't it?" Mr. Braden remarked equably, "but you've got
plenty of time and money to fool with such things, if you've a mind to. Them
don't amount to a hill of beans in politics. Nobody pays any attention to that
sort of fireworks down to the capital, and if they was to get into committee
them Northeastern Railroads fellers'd bury 'em deeper than the bottom of Salem
pond. They don't want no such things as them to pass."
"Pardon me," said Mr. Crewe, "but you haven't read 'em."
"I know what they be," said Mr. Braden, "I've be'n in politics more years
than you've be'n livin', I guess. I don't want to read 'em," he announced, his
benign manner unchanged.
"I think you have made a mistake so far as the railroad is concerned, Mr.
Braden," said Mr. Crewe, "I'm a practical man myself, and I don't indulge in
moonshine. I am a director in one or two railroads. I have talked this matter
over with Mr. Flint, and incidentally with Senator Whitredge."
"Knowed Whitredge afore you had any teeth," said Mr. Braden, who did not seem
to be greatly impressed, "know him intimate. What'd you go to Flint for?"
"We have interests in common," said Mr. Crewe, "and I am rather a close
friend of his. My going to the Legislature will be, I think, to our mutual
"O—ought to have come right to me," said Mr. Braden, leaning over until his
face was in close proximity to Mr. Crewe's. "Whitredge told you to come to me,
Mr. Crewe was a little taken aback.
"The senator mentioned your name," he admitted.
"He knows. Said I was the man to see if you was a candidate, didn't he? Told
you to talk to Job Braden, didn't he?"
Now Mr. Crewe had no means of knowing whether Senator Whitredge had been in
conference with Mr. Braden or not.
"The senator mentioned your name casually, in some connection," said Mr.
"He knows," Mr. Braden repeated, with a finality that spoke volumes for the
senator's judgment; and he bent over into Mr. Crewe's ear, with the air of
conveying a mild but well-merited reproof, "You'd ought to come right to me in
the first place. I could have saved you all that unnecessary trouble of seein'
folks. There hasn't be'n a representative left the town of Leith for thirty
years that I hain't agreed to. Whitredge knows that. If I say you kin go, you
kin go. You understand," said Mr. Braden, with his fingers on Mr. Crewe's knee
Five minutes later Mr. Crewe emerged into the dazzling sun of the Ripton
square, climbed into his automobile, and turned its head towards Leith,
strangely forgetting the main engagement which he said had brought him to town.