"Heard you say you was goin' for a walk this morning, Cynthy," Jethro remarked, as they sat at breakfast the next morning.

"Why, of course," answered Cynthia, "Cousin Eph and I are going out to see Washington, and he is to show me the places that he remembers." She looked at Jethro appealingly. "Aren't you coming with us?" she asked.

"M-meet you at eleven, Cynthy," he said.

"Eleven!" exclaimed Cynthia in dismay, "that's almost dinner-time."

"M-meet you in front of the White House at eleven," said Jethro, "plumb in front of it, under a tree."

By half-past seven, Cynthia and Ephraim with his green umbrella were in the street, but it would be useless to burden these pages with a description of all the sights they saw, and with the things that Ephraim said about them, and incidentally about the war. After New York, much of Washington would then have seemed small and ragged to any one who lacked ideals and a national sense, but Washington was to Cynthia as Athens to a Greek. To her the marble Capitol shining on its hill was a sacred temple, and the great shaft that struck upward through the sunlight, though yet unfinished, a fitting memorial to him who had led the barefoot soldiers of the colonies through ridicule to victory. They looked up many institutions and monument, they even had time to go to the Navy Yard, and they saved the contemplation of the White House till the last. The White House, which Cynthia thought the finest and most graceful mansion in all the world, in its simplicity and dignity, a fitting dwelling for the chosen of the nation. Under the little tree which Jethro had mentioned, Ephraim stood bareheaded before the walls which had sheltered Lincoln, which were now the home of the greatest of his captains, Grant: and wondrous emotions played upon the girl's spirit, too, as she gazed. They forgot the present in the past and the future, and they did not see the two gentlemen who had left the portico some minutes before and were now coming toward them along the sidewalk.

The two gentlemen, however, slowed their steps involuntarily at a sight which was uncommon, even in Washington. The girl's arm was in the soldier's, and her face, which even in repose had a true nobility, now was alight with an inspiration that is seen but seldom in a lifetime. In marble, could it have been wrought by a great sculptor, men would have dreamed before it of high things.

The two, indeed, might have stood for a group, the girl as the spirit, the man as the body which had risked and suffered all for it, and still held it fast. For the honest face of the soldier reflected that spirit as truly as a mirror.

Ephraim was aroused from his thoughts by Cynthia nudging his arm. He started, put on his hat, and stared very hard at a man smoking a cigar who was standing before him. Then he stiffened and raised his hand in an involuntary salute. The man smiled. He was not very tall, he had a closely trimmed light beard that was growing a little gray, he wore a soft hat something like Ephraim's, a black tie on a white pleated shirt, and his eyeglasses were pinned to his vest. His eyes were all kindness.

"How do you do, Comrade?" he said, holding out his hand.

"General," said Ephraim, "Mr. President," he added, correcting himself, "how be you?" He shifted the green umbrella, and shook the hand timidly but warmly.

"General will do," said the President, with a smiling glance at the tall senator beside him, "I like to be called General."

"You've growed some older, General," said Ephraim, scanning his face with a simple reverence and affection, "but you hain't changed so much as I'd a thought since I saw you whittlin' under a tree beside the Lacy house in the Wilderness."

"My duty has changed some," answered the President, quite as simply. He added with a touch of sadness, "I liked those days best, Comrade."

"Well, I guess!" exclaimed Ephraim, "you're general over everything now, but you're not a mite bigger man to me than you was."

The President took the compliment as it was meant.

"I found it easier to run an army than I do to run a country," he said.

Ephraim's blue eyes flamed with indignation.

"I don't take no stock in the bull-dogs and the gold harness at Long Branch and—and all them lies the dratted newspapers print about you,"—Ephraim hammered his umbrella on the pavement as an expression of his feelings,—"and what's more, the people don't."

The President glanced at the senator again, and laughed a little, quietly.

"Thank you; Comrade," he said.

"You're a plain, common man," continued Ephraim, paying the highest compliment known to rural New England; "the people think a sight of you, or they wouldn't hev chose you twice, General."

"So you were in the Wilderness?" said the President, adroitly changing the subject.

"Yes, General. I was pressed into orderly duty the first day—that's when I saw you whittlin' under the tree, and you didn't seem to have no more consarn than if it had been a company drill. Had a cigar then, too. But the second day; May the 6th, I was with the regiment. I'll never forget that day," said Ephraim, warming to the subject, "when we was fightin' Ewell up and down the Orange Plank Road, playin' hide-and-seek with the Johnnies in the woods. You remember them woods, General?"

The President nodded, his cigar between his teeth. He looked as though the scene were coming back to him.

"Never seen such woods," said Ephraim, "scrub oak and pine and cedars and young stuff springin' up until you couldn't see the length of a company, and the Rebs jumpin' and hollerin' around and shoutin' every which way. After a while a lot of them saplings was mowed off clean by the bullets, and then the woods caught afire, and that was hell."

"Were you wounded?" asked the President, quickly.

"I was hurt some, in the hip," answered Ephraim.

"Some!" exclaimed Cynthia, "why, you have walked lame ever since." She knew the story by heart, but the recital of it never failed to stir her blood! "They carried him out just as he was going to be burned up, in a blanket hung from rifles, and he was in the hospital nine months, and had to come home for a while."

"Cynthy," said Ephraim in gentle reproof, "I callate the General don't want to hear that."

Cynthia flushed, but the President looked at her with an added interest.

"My dear young lady," he said, "that seems to me the vital part of the story. If I remember rightly," he added, turning again to Ephraim, "the Fifth Corps was on the Orange turnpike. What brigade were you in?"

"The third brigade of the First Division," answered Ephraim.

"Griffin's," said the President. "There were several splendid New England regiments in that brigade. I sent them with Griffin to help Sheridan at Five Forks."

"I was thar too," cried Ephraim.

"What!" said the President, "with the lame hip?"

"Well, General, I went back, I couldn't help it. I couldn't stay away from the boys—just couldn't. I didn't limp as bad then as I do now. I wahn't much use anywhere else, and I had l'arned to fight. Five Forks!" exclaimed Ephraim. "I call that day to mind as if it was yesterday. I remember how the boys yelled when they told us we was goin' to Sheridan. We got started about daylight, and it took us till four o'clock in the afternoon to git into position. The woods was just comin' a little green, and the white dogwoods was bloomin' around. Sheridan, he galloped up to the line with that black horse of his'n and hollered out, 'Come on, boys, go in at a clean, jump or You won't ketch one of 'em.' You know how men, even veterans like that Fifth Corps, sometimes hev to be pushed into a fight. There was a man from a Maine regiment got shot in the head fust thing. 'I'm killed,' said he. 'Oh, no, you're not,' says Sheridan, 'pickup your gun and go for 'em.' But he was killed. Well, we went for 'em through all the swamps and briers and everything, and Sheridan, thar in front, had got the battle-flag and was rushin' round with it swearin' and prayin' and shoutin', and the first thing we knowed he'd jumped his horse clean over their logworks and landed right on top of the Johnnie's."

"Yes," said the President, "that was Sheridan, sure enough."

"Mr. President," said the senator, who stood by wonderingly while General Grant had lost himself in this conversation, "do you realize what time it is?"

"Yes, yes," said the President, "we must go on. What was your rank, Comrade?"

"Sergeant, General."

"I hope you have got a good pension for that hip," said the President, kindly. It may be well to add that he was not always so incautious, but this soldier bore the unmistakable stamp of simplicity and sincerity on his face.

Ephraim hesitated.

"He never would ask for a pension, General," said Cynthia.

"What!" exclaimed the President in real astonishment, "are you so rich as all that?" and he glanced at the green umbrella.

"Well, General," said Ephraim, uncomfortably, "I never liked the notion of gittin' paid for it. You see, I was what they call a war-Democrat."

"Good Lord!" said the President, but more to himself. "What do you do now?"

"I callate to make harness," answered Ephraim.

"Only he can't make it any more on account of his rheumatism, Mr. President," Cynthia put in.

"I think you might call me General, too," he said, with the grace that many simple people found inherent in him. "And may I ask your name, young lady?"

"Cynthia Wetherell—General," she said smiling.

"That sounds more natural," said the President, and then to Ephraim, "Your daughter?"

"I couldn't think more of her if she was," answered Ephraim; "Cynthy's pulled me through some tight spells. Her mother was my cousin, General. My name's Prescott—Ephraim Prescott."

"Ephraim Prescott!" ejaculated the President, sharply, taking his cigar from his mouth, "Ephraim Prescott!"

"Prescott—that's right—Prescott, General," repeated Ephraim, sorely puzzled by these manifestations of amazement.

"What did you come to Washington for?" asked the President.

"Well, General, I kind of hate to tell you—I didn't intend to mention that. I guess I won't say nothin' about it," he added, "we've had such a sociable time. I've always b'en a little mite ashamed of it, General, ever since 'twas first mentioned."

"Good Lord!" said the President again, and then he looked at Cynthia. "What is it, Miss Cynthia?" he asked.

It was now Cynthia's turn to be a little confused.

"Uncle Jethro—that is, Mr. Bass" (the President nodded), "went to Cousin Eph when he couldn't make harness any more and said he'd give him the Brampton post-office."

The President's eyes met the senator's, and both gentlemen laughed. Cynthia bit her lip, not seeing any cause for mirth in her remark, while Ephraim looked uncomfortable and mopped the perspiration from his brow.

"He said he'd give it to him, did he?" said the President. "Is Mr. Bass your uncle?"

"Oh, no, General," replied Cynthia, "he's really no relation. He's done everything for me, and I live with him since my father died. He was going to meet us here," she continued, looking around hurriedly, "I'm sure I can't think what's kept him."

"Mr. President, we are half an hour late already," said the senator, hurriedly.

"Well, well," said the President, "I suppose I must go. Good-by, Miss Cynthia," said he, taking the girl's hand warmly. "Good-by, Comrade. If ever you want to see General Grant, just send in your name. Good-by."

The President lifted his hat politely to Cynthia and passed. He said something to the senator which they did not hear, and the senator laughed heartily. Ephraim and Cynthia watched them until they were out of sight.

"Godfrey!" exclaimed Ephraim, "they told me he was hard to talk to. Why, Cynthy, he's as simple as a child."

"I've always thought that all great men must be simple," said Cynthia; "Uncle Jethro is."

"To think that the President of the United States stood talkin' to us on the sidewalk for half an hour," said Ephraim, clutching Cynthia's arm. "Cynthy, I'm glad we didn't press that post-office matter it was worth more to me than all the post-offices in the Union to have that talk with General Grant."

They waited some time longer under the tree, happy in the afterglow of this wonderful experience. Presently a clock struck twelve.

"Why, it's dinner-time, Cynthy," said Ephraim. "I guess Jethro haint' a-comin'—must hev b'en delayed by some of them politicians."

"It's the first time I ever knew him to miss an appointment," said Cynthia, as they walked back to the hotel.

Jethro was not in the corridor, so they passed on to the dining room and looked eagerly from group to group. Jethro was not there, either, but Cynthia heard some one laughing above the chatter of the guests, and drew back into the corridor. She had spied the Duncans and the Worthingtons making merry by themselves at a corner table, and it was Somers's laugh that she heard. Bob, too, sitting next to Miss Duncan, was much amused about something. Suddenly Cynthia's exaltation over the incident of the morning seemed to leave her, and Bob Worthington's words which she had pondered over in the night came back to her with renewed force. He did not find it necessary to steal away to see Miss Duncan. Why should he have "stolen away" to see her? Was it because she was a country girl, and poor? That was true; but on the other hand, did she not live in the sunlight, as it were, of Uncle Jethro's greatness, and was it not an honor to come to his house and see any one? And why had Mr. Worthington turned hid back on Jethro, and sent for Bob when he was talking to them? Cynthia could not understand these things, and her pride was sorely wounded by them.

"Perhaps Jethro's in his room," suggested Ephraim.

And indeed they found him there seated on the bed, poring over some newspapers, and both in a breath demanded where he had been. Ephraim did not wait for an answer.

"We seen General Grant, Jethro," he cried; "while we was waitin' for you under the tree he come up and stood talkin' to us half an hour. Full half an hour, wahn't it, Cynthy?"

"Oh, yes," answered Cynthia, forgetting her own grievance at the recollection; "only it didn't seem nearly that long."

"W-want to know!" exclaimed Jethro, in astonishment, putting down his paper. "H-how did it happen?"

"Come right up and spoke to us," said Ephraim, in a tone he might have used to describe a miracle, "jest as if he was common folk. Never had a more sociable talk with anybody. Why, there was times when I clean forgot he was President of the United States. The boys won't believe it when we git back at Coniston."

And Ephraim, full of his subject, began to recount from the beginning the marvellous affair, occasionally appealing to Cynthia for confirmation. How he had lived over again the Wilderness and Five Forks; how the General had changed since he had seen him whittling under a tree; how the General had asked about his pension.

"D-didn't mention the post-office, did you, Ephraim?"

"Why, no," replied Ephraim, "I didn't like to exactly. You see, we was havin' such a good time I didn't want to spoil it, but Cynthy—"

"I told the President about it, Uncle Jethro; I told him how sick Cousin Eph had been, and that you were going to give him the postmastership because he couldn't work any more with his hands."

The training of a lifetime had schooled Jethro not to betray surprise.

"K-kind of mixin' up in politics, hain't you, Cynthy? P-President say he'd give you the postmastership, Eph?" he asked.

"He didn't say nothin' about it, Jethro," answered Ephraim slowly; "I callate he has other views for the place, and he was too kind to come right out with 'em and spoil our mornin'. You see, Jethro, I wahn't only a sergeant, and Brampton's gittin' to be a big town."

"But, surely," cried Cynthia, who could scarcely wait for him to finish, "surely you're going to give Cousin Eph the post-office, aren't you, Uncle Jethro? All you have to do is to tell the President that you want it for him. Why, I had an idea that we came down for that."

"Now, Cynthy," Ephraim put in, deprecatingly.

"Who else would get the post-office?" asked Cynthia. "Surely you're not going to let Mr. Sutton have it for Dave Wheelock!"

"Er—Cynthy," said Jethro, slyly, "w-what'd you say to me once about interferin' with women's fixin's?"

Cynthia saw the point. She perceived also that the mazes of politics were not to be understood by a young woman, of even by an old soldier. She laughed and seized Jethro's hands and pulled him from the bed.

"We won't get any dinner unless we hurry," she said.

When they reached the dining room she was relieved to discover that the party in the corner had gone.

In the afternoon there were many more sights to be viewed, but they were back in the hotel again by half-past four, because Ephraim's Wilderness leg had its limits of endurance. Jethro (though he had not mentioned the fact to them) had gone to the White House.

It was during the slack hours that our friend the senator, whose interest in the matter of the Brampton post office out-weighed for the present certain grave problems of the Administration in which he was involved, hurried into the Willard Hotel, looking for Jethro Bass. He found him without much trouble in his usual attitude, occupying one of the chairs in the corridor.

"Well," exclaimed the senator, with a touch of eagerness he did not often betray, "did you see Grant? How about your old soldier? He's one of the most delightful characters I ever met—simple as a child," and he laughed at the recollection. "That was a masterstroke of yours, Bass, putting him under that tree with that pretty girl. I doubt if you ever did anything better in your life. Did they tell you about it?"

"Yes," said Jethro, "they told me about it."

"And how about Grant? What did he say to you?"

"W-well, I went up there and sent in my card. D-didn't have to wait a great while, as I was pretty early, and soon he came in, smokin' a black cigar, head bent forward a little. D-didn't ask me to sit down, and what talkin' we did we did standin'. D-didn't ask me what he could do for me, what I wanted, or anything else, but just stood there, and I stood there. F-fust time in my life I didn't know how to commerce or what to say; looked—looked at me—didn't take his eye off me. After a while I got started, somehow; told him I was there to ask him to appoint Ephraim Prescott to the Brampton postoffice—t-told him all about Ephraim from the time he was locked in the cradle—never was so hard put that I could remember. T-told him how Ephraim shook butternuts off my fathers tree—for all I know. T-told him all about Ephraim's war record—leastways all I could call to mind—and, by Godfrey! before I got through, I wished I'd listened to more of it. T-told him about Ephraim's Wilderness bullets—t-told him about Ephraim's rheumatism,—how it bothered him when he went to bed and when he got up again."

If Jethro had glanced at his companion, he would have seen the senator was shaking with silent and convulsive laughter.

"All the time I talked to him I didn't see a muscle move in his face," Jethro continued, "so I started in again, and he looked—looked—looked right at me. W-wouldn't wink—don't think he winked once while I was in that room. I watched him as close as I could, and I watched to see if a muscle moved or if I was makin' any impression. All he would do was to stand there and look—look—look. K-kept me there ten minutes and never opened his mouth at all. Hardest man to talk to I ever met—never see a man before but what I could get him to say somethin', if it was only a cuss word. I got tired of it after a while, made up my mind that I had found one man I couldn't move. Then what bothered me was to get out of that room. If I'd a had a Bible I believe I'd a read it to him. I didn't know what to say, but I did say this after a while:—"'W-well, Mr. President, I guess I've kept you long enough—g-guess you're a pretty busy man. H-hope you'll give Mr. Prescott that postmastership. Er—er good-by.'

"'Wait, sir,' he said.

"'Yes,' I said, 'I-I'll wait.'

"Thought you was goin' to give him that postmastership, Mr. Bass,' he said."

At this point the senator could not control his mirth, and the empty corridor echoed his laughter.

"By thunder! what did you say to that?"

"Er—I said, 'Mr. President, I thought I was until a while ago.'

"'And when did you change your mind?' says he."

Then he laughed a little—not much—but he laughed a little.

"'I understand that your old soldier lives within the limits of the delivery of the Brampton office,' said he."

"'That's correct, Mr. President,' said I."

"'Well,' said he, 'I will app'int him postmaster at Brampton, Mr. Bass.'"

"'When?' said I."

Then he laughed a little more.

"I'll have the app'intment sent to your hotel this afternoon,' said he."

"'Then I said to him, 'This has come out full better than I expected, Mr. President. I'm much obliged to you.' He didn't say nothin' more, so I come out."

"Grant didn't say anything about Worthington or Duncan, did he?" asked the senator, curiously, as he rose to go.

"G-guess I've told you all he said," answered Jethro; "'twahn't a great deal."

The senator held out his hand.

"Bass," he said, laughing, "I believe you came pretty near meeting your match. But if Grant's the hardest man in the Union to get anything out of, I've a notion who's the second." And with this parting shot the senator took his departure, chuckling to himself as he went.

As has been said, there were but few visitors in Washington at this time, and the hotel corridor was all but empty. Presently a substantial-looking gentleman came briskly in from the street, nodding affably to the colored porters and bell-boys, who greeted him by name. He wore a flowing Prince Albert coat, which served to dignify a growing portliness, and his coal-black whiskers glistened in the light. A voice, which appeared to come from nowhere in particular, brought the gentleman up standing.

"How be you, Heth?"

It may not be that Mr. Sutton's hand trembled, but the ashes of his cigar fell to the floor. He was not used to visitations, and for the instant, if the truth be told, he was not equal to looking around.

"Like Washington, Heth—like Washington?"

Then Mr. Sutton turned. His presence of mind, and that other presence of which he was so proud, seemed for the moment to have deserted him.

"S-stick pretty close to business, Heth, comin' down here out of session time. S-stick pretty close to business, don't you, since the people sent you to Congress?"

Mr. Sutton might have offered another man a cigar or a drink, but (as is well known) Jethro was proof against tobacco or stimulants.

"Well," said the Honorable Heth, catching his breath and making a dive, "I am surprised to see you, Jethro," which was probably true.

"Th-thought you might be," said Jethro. "Er—glad to see me, Heth—glad to see me?"

As has been recorded, it is peculiarly difficult to lie to people who are not to be deceived.

"Why, certainly I am," answered the Honorable Heth, swallowing hard, "certainly I am, Jethro. I meant to have got to Coniston this summer, but I was so busy—"

"Peoples' business, I understand. Er—hear you've gone in for high-minded politics, Heth—r-read a highminded speech of yours—two high-minded speeches. Always thought you was a high-minded man, Heth."

"How did you like those speeches, Jethro?" asked Mr. Sutton, striving as best he might to make some show of dignity.

"Th-thought they was high-minded," said Jethro.

Then there was a silence, for Mr. Sutton could think of nothing more to say. And he yearned to depart with a great yearning, but something held him there.

"Heth," said Jethro after a while, "you was always very friendly and obliging. You've done a great many favors for me in your life."

"I've always tried to be neighborly, Jethro," said Mr. Sutton, but his voice sounded a little husky even to himself.

"And I may have done one or two little things for you, Heth," Jethro continued, "but I can't remember exactly. Er—can you remember, Heth."

Mr. Sutton was trying with becoming nonchalance to light the stump of his cigar. He did not succeed this time. He pulled himself together with a supreme effort.

"I think we've both been mutually helpful, Jethro," he said, "mutually helpful."

"Well," said Jethro, reflectively, "I don't know as I could have put it as well as that—there's somethin' in being an orator."

There was another silence, a much longer one. The Honorable Heth threw his butt away, and lighted another cigar. Suddenly, as if by magic, his aplomb returned, and in a flash of understanding he perceived the situation. He saw himself once more as the successful congressman, the trusted friend of the railroad interests, and he saw Jethro as a discredited boss. He did not stop to reflect that Jethro did not act like a discredited boss, as a keener man might have done. But if the Honorable Heth had been a keener man, he would not have been at that time a congressman. Mr. Sutton accused himself of having been stupid in not grasping at once that the tables were turned, and that now he was the one to dispense the gifts.

"K-kind of fortunate you stopped to speak to me, Heth. N-now I come to think of it, I hev a little favor to ask of you."

"Ah!" exclaimed Mr. Sutton, blowing out the smoke; "of course anything I can do, Jethro—anything in reason."

"W-wouldn't ask a high-minded man to do anything he hadn't ought to," said Jethro; "the fact is, I'd like to git Eph Prescott appointed at the Brampton post-office. You can fix that, Heth—can't you—you can fix that?"

Mr. Sutton stuck his thumb into his vest pocket and cleared his throat.

"I can't tell you how sorry I am not to oblige you, Jethro, but I've arranged to give that post-office to Dave Wheelock."

"A-arranged it, hev You—a-arranged it?"

"Why, yes," said Mr. Sutton, scarcely believing his own ears. Could it be possible that he was using this patronizingly kind tone to Jethro Bass?

"Well, that's too bad," said Jethro; "g-got it all fixed, hev you?"

"Practically," answered Mr. Sutton, grandly; "indeed, I may go as far as to say that it is as certain as if I had the appointment here in my pocket. I'm sorry not to oblige you, Jethro; but these are matters which a member of Congress must look after pretty closely." He held out his hand, but Jethro did not appear to see it,—he had his in his pockets. "I've an important engagement," said the Honorable Heth, consulting a large gold watch. "Are you going to be in Washington long?"

"G-guess I've about got through, Heth—g-guess I've about got through," said Jethro.

"Well, if you have time and there's any other little thing, I'm in Room 29," said Mr. Sutton, as he put his foot on the stairway.

"T-told Worthington you got that app'intment for Wheelock—t-told Worthington?" Jethro called out after him.

Mr. Sutton turned and waved his cigar and smiled in acknowledgment of this parting bit of satire. He felt that he could afford to smile. A few minutes later he was ensconced on the sofa of a private sitting room reviewing the incident, with much gusto, for the benefit of Mr. Isaac D. Worthington and Mr. Alexander Duncan. Both of these gentlemen laughed heartily, for the Honorable Heth Sutton knew the art of telling a story well, at least, and was often to be seen with a group around him in the lobbies of Congress.

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