Mr. Crewe's Career


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 State capital.

"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."

"Where's that?"

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 Leviathan.

"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 there?"

"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 matters over."

"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 hands together.

"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 distance.

"What's the railrud got to do with anything in this State?" inquired Mr. Ball, craftily.

"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 with him."

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."

"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 Leith."

"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 caucus."

"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."

"Collecting credentials?"

"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 her up."

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 vacation.

"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 senator's chair.

"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 quickly.

"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 window.

"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 remained sober.

"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 State roads."

"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 rose also.

"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 career."

"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 this, Ball."

"I guess I understand a thing or two," said Mr. Ball. "Trust me to handle it."

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 here."

"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 put.

"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 advantage."

"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, didn't he?"

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. Crewe.

"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 once more.

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.

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