[Frontispiece: He appears on the balcony. There is a cheer that may be heard all over the South Side.]
The People's Idol
"Daniel Trentworthy," "Burritt Durand," "Geoffrey," "Jason Hortner," "King Darwin," etc.
DONOHUE, HENNEBERRY & CO.
COPYRIGHT, 1889, BY JOHN M'GOVERN.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
COPYRIGHT, 1891, BY JOHN M'GOVERN.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Book I - Davy
I. Harpwood and Lockwin II. The People's Idol III. Of Sneezes IV. Bad News All Around V. Dr. Floddin's Patient VI. A Reign of Terror VII. The Primaries VIII. Fifty Kegs of Beer IX. The Night Before Election X. Elected XI. Lynch-Law for Corkey XII. In Georgian Bay XIII. Off Cape Croker XIV. In the Conventional Days
Book II - Esther Lockwin
I. Extra! Extra! II. Corkey's Fear of a Widow's Grief III. The Cenotaph IV. A Knolling Bell
Book III - Robert Chalmers
I. A Difficult Problem II. A Complete Disguise III. Before the Telegraph Office IV. "A Sound of Revelry by Night" V. Letters of Consolation VI. The Yawl VII. A Rash Act VIII. A Good Scheme IX. A Heroic Act X. Esther as a Liberal Patron
Book IV - George Harpwood
I. Corkey's Good Scheme II. Happiness and Peace III. At 3 in the Morning IV. The Bridegroom V. At Six O'clock
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Frontispiece: He appears on the balcony. There is a cheer that may be heard all over the South Side.
Three of the most bashful arise and come to be kissed.
The boat drags him. He catches the boy's hand.
Her eye returns in satisfaction to the glittering black granite letters over the portal.
"It's a good scheme, Corkey."
But the bride still stands under the lamp on the portico, statuesque as Zenobia or Medea.
THE PEOPLE'S IDOL
HARPWOOD AND LOCKWIN
Esther Wandrell, of Chicago, will be worth millions of dollars.
It is a thought that inspires the young men of all the city with momentous ambitions. Why does she wait so long? Whom does she favor?
To-night the carriages are trolling and rumbling to the great mansion of the Wandrells on Prairie Avenue. The women are positive in their exclamations of reunion, and this undoubted feminine joy exhilarates, and entertains the men. The lights are brilliant, the music is far away and clever, the flowers and decorations are novel.
If you look in the faces of the guests you shall see that the affair cannot fail. Everybody has personally assured the success of the evening.
Many times has this hospitable home opened to its companies of selected men, and women. Often has the beautiful Esther Wandrell smiled upon the young men—upon rich and poor alike. Why is she, at twenty-seven years of age, rich, magnificent and unmarried?
Ask her mother, who married at fifteen. Ask the father, who for ten years worried to think his only child might go away from him at any day.
"I tell you," says Dr. Tarpion, "Harpwood will get her, and get her to-night. That is what this party is for. I've seen them together, and I know what's in the air."
"Is that so?" says David Lockwin.
"Yes, it is so, and you know you don't like Harpwood any too well since he got your primary in the Eleventh."
"I should say I didn't!" says Lockwin, half to himself.
At a distance, Esther Wandrell passes on Harpwood's arm.
"Who is Harpwood?" asks Lockwin.
"I'm blessed if I know," answers Dr. Tarpion.
"How long has he been in town?"
"Not over two years."
"Do you know anybody who knows him?"
"He owes me a bill."
"What was he sick of?"
The man and woman repass. The woman looks toward Lockwin and his dear friend the renowned Dr. Irenaeus Tarpion. Guests speak of Harpwood. His suit is bold. The lady is apparently interested.
"I should not think you would like that?" says the doctor.
"Why should I care, after all?" asks Lockwin.
"Well, if ever I have seen two men whose destinies are hostile, it seems to me that you and Harpwood fill the condition. If he gets into Wandrell's family you might as well give up politics."
"Perhaps I might do that anyhow."
"Well, you are an odd man. I'll not dispute that. What you will do at any given time I'll not try to prophesy."
The twain separate. However, of any two men in Chicago, perhaps David Lockwin and Dr. Tarpion are most agreeable to each other. From boyhood they have been familiar. If one has said to the other, "Do that!" it has been done.
"I fear you cannot be spared from your other guests, Esther," says Lockwin.
"I fear you are trying to escape to that dear doctor of yours. Now, are you not?"
"No. I have been with him for half an hour already. Esther, you are a fine-looking woman. Upon my honor, now—"
She will not tolerate it, yet she never looked so pleased before.
"Tell me," she says, "of your little boy."
"Of my foundling?"
"Yes, I love to hear you speak of him."
"Well, Esther, the truest thing I have heard of my boy was said by old Richard Tarbelle. He stopped me the other day. You know our houses adjoin. 'Mr. Lockwin,' said he, as he came home with his basket—he goes to his son's hotel each day for family stores—'I often say to Mary that the happiest moment in my day is when I give an apple or an orange to your boy, for the look on that child's face is the nearest we ever get to heaven on this earth."
"O, beautiful! beautiful! Mr. Lockwin."
"Yes, indeed, Esther. I took that little fellow three years ago. I had no idea he would grow so pretty. Folks said it was the oddest of pranks, but if I had bought fifteen more horses than I could use, or dogs enough to craze the neighborhood, or even a parrot, like my good neigbor Tarbelle, everybody would have been satisfied. Of course, I had to take a house and keep a number of people for whom a bachelor has no great need. But, Esther, when I go home there is framed in my window the most welcome picture human eye has ever seen—that little face, Esther!"
The man is enwrapped. The woman joins in the man's exaltation.
"He is the most beautiful child I have ever seen anywhere. It is the talk of everybody. You are so proud of him when you ride together!"
"Esther, I have seen him in the morning when he came to rouse me—his face as white as his gown; his golden hair long, and so fleecy that it would stand all about his head; his mouth arched like the Indian's bow; his great blue eyes bordered with dark brows and lashed with jet-black hairs a half-inch long. That picture, Esther, I fear no painter can get. I marvel why I do not make the attempt."
"He is as bright as he is beautiful," she says.
"Yes, Esther, I have looked over this world. Childhood is always beautiful—always sweet to me—but my boy is without equal, and nearly everybody admits it."
"He is not yours, David."
The man looks inquiringly.
"I have as good a right to love him as you have. I do love him."
The man has been eloquent and self-forgetful. The woman has lost her command. Tears are coming in her eyes. Shame is mantling her cheeks. David Lockwin is startled.
George Harpwood passes in the distance with Esther's mother on his arm.
"Esther, you know me, with all my faults. I think we could be happy together—we three—you and I and the boy. Will you marry me? Will you be a mother to my little boy? He is lonesome while I am gone!"
The matter is settled. It has come by surprise. If David Lockwin had foreseen it, he would have left the field open to Harpwood.
If Esther Wandrell had foreseen it, she would have shunned David Lockwin. It is her dearest hope, and yet—
THE PEOPLE'S IDOL
If David Lockwin had planned to increase all his prospects, and if all his plans had worked with precision, he could in nowise have pushed his interests more powerfully than by marrying Esther Wandrell.
It might have been said of Lockwin that he was impractical; that he was a dreamer. He had done singular things. He had not studied the ways of public opinion.
But now, to solidify all his future—to take a secure place in society, especially as his leanings toward politics are pronounced—to do these things—this palliates and excuses the adoption of the golden-haired boy.
Lockwin hears this from his friend, the doctor. Lockwin hears it from the world. The more he hears it the less he likes it.
But people, particularly the doctor, are happy in Lockwin. His popularity in the district is amazing. He will soon be deep in politics. He has put Harpwood out of the combat—so the doctor says.
And David Lockwin, when he comes home at night, still sees his boy at the window. What a noble affection is that love for this waif! Why should such a thought seize the man as he sits in his library with wife and son? Why should not David be tender and good to the woman who loves him so well, and is so proud of her husband?
Tender and good he is—as if he pitied her. Tender and good is she. So that if an orphan in the great city should be in the especial care of the Lord, why should not that orphan drop into this house, exactly as has happened, and no matter at all what society may have said?
"You must run for Congress!" the doctor commands.
It spurs Lockwin. He thinks of the great white dome at Washington. He thinks of his marked ability as an orator, everywhere conceded. He says he does not care to enter upon a life so active, but he is not truly in earnest.
"You must run for Congress!" the committee says the next week.
Feelings of friendliness for the incumbent of the office to give Lockwin a sufficient excuse for inaction.
The incumbent dies suddenly a week later.
"You must run to save the party," the committeemen announce.
A day later the matter is settled. The great editors are seen; the boss of the machine is satisfied; the ward-workers and the saloon-keepers are infused with party allegiance.
David Lockwin begins at one end of State street and drinks, or pretends to drink, at every bar between Lake and Fortieth streets. This libation poured on the altar of liberty, he is popularly declared to be in the race. The newspapers announce that he is the people's idol, and the boss of the machine sends word to the newspapers that it is all well enough, but it must be kept up.
David Lockwin rents head-quarters in the district, and shakes hands with all the touching committees. Twelve members of the Sons of Labor can carry their union over to him. It will require $100, as the union is mostly democratic.
They are told they must see Mr. Lockwin's central committee. But Mr. Lockwin must be prepared to deliver an address on the need of reform in the government, looking to the civil service, to retrenchment and to the complete allegiance of the officeholder to his employers, the voters.
Mr. Lockwin must listen with attention to a plan by which the central committee of the Sodalified Assembly can be packed with republicans at the annual election, to take place the next Sunday. This will enable Lockwin to carry the district in case he should get the nomination. To show a deep interest in the party and none in himself must arouse popular idolatry.
This popular idolatry must be kept awake, because Harpwood has opened head-quarters and is visited by the same touching committees. He has been up and down State street, and has drunk more red liquor than was seen to go down Lockwin's throat. In more ways than one, Harpwood shows the timber out of which popular idols are made.
The doctor is alarmed. He makes a personal canvass of all his patients. They do not know when the primaries will be held. They do not know who ought to go to Washington. All they know is that the congressman is dead and there must be a special election, which is going to cost them some extra money. If the boss of the machine will see to it, that will do!
But Lockwin is the man. This the boss has been at pains to determine. The marriage has made things clear.
One should study the boss. Why is he king? If we have a democracy how is it that everybody in office or in hope of office obeys the pontiff? It is the genius of the people for government. The boss is at a summer resort near the city.
To him comes Harpwood, and finds the great contractor, the promoter of the outer docks, the park commissioners, and a half-dozen other great men already on the ground.
"Harpwood," says the boss, "I am out of politics, particularly in your district. Yet, if you can carry the primaries, I could help you considerably. Carry the primaries, me boy, and I'll talk with you further. See you again. Good-bye."
The next day comes Lockwin.
There are no "me-boys" now. Here is the candidate. He must be put in irons.
"Lockwin, what makes you want to go to Congress?"
"I don't believe I do want to go, but I was told you wished to see me up here, privately."
"Well, you ought to know whether or not you want to go. Nobody wants you there if it isn't yourself. Harpwood will go if you don't."
"Yes, I suppose so."
"Well, if you want our support, we must have a pledge from you. I guess you want to go, and we are willing to put you there for the unexpired term and the next one. Then are you ready to climb down? Say the word. The mayor and the senator are out there waiting for me."
"All right. It is a bargain."
"And you won't feel bad when we knock you out, in three years?"
"No. I will probably be glad to come home."
"Very well; we will carry the primaries. But that district needs watching. Spend lots of money."
There is no chapter on sneezes in "Tristam Shandy." The faithful Boswell has recorded no sneeze of Dr. Johnson. Spinoza does not reckon it among the things the citizen may do without offense to a free state. Montesquieu does not give the Spirit of Sneezing, nor tell how the ancients sneezed. Pascal, in all his vanities of man, has no thought on sneezing. Bacon has missed it. Of all the glorious company of Shakespeare's brain, a few snored, but not one sneezed or spoke of sneezing. Darwin avoids it. Hegel and Schlegel haven't a word of it. The encyclopedias leave it for the dictionaries.
We might suppose the gentle latitudes and halcyon seas of Asia and the Mediterranean had failed to develop the sneeze, save that the immortal Montaigue, a friend in need to every reader, will point you that Aristotle told why the people bless a man who sneezes. "The gods bless you!" said the Athenian. "God bless you!" says the Irishman or Scotchman of to-day.
A sneeze is to enter the politics of the First District. Could any political boss, however prudent or scholarly, foresee it? A sneeze is to influence the life of David Lockwin. Does not providence move in a mysterious way?
A great newspaper has employed as its marine reporter a singular character. He once was rich—that is, he had $10,000 in currency. How had he made it? Running a faro bank. How did he lose it? By taking a partner, who "played it in"—that is, the partner conspired with an outside player, or "patron" of the house. Why did not our man begin over again? He was disheartened—tired of the business. Besides, it gives a gambler a bad name to be robbed—it is like a dishonored husband.
The marine reporter's ancestors were knights. The ancestral name was Coeur de Cheval. The attrition of centuries, and the hurry of the industrial period, have diminished this name in sound and dignity to Carkey, and finally to Corkey.
Naturally of a knightly fiber, this queer man has no sooner established himself in command of the port of Chicago than he has found his dearest dreams realized. To become the ornament of the sailor's fraternity is but to go up and down the docks, drinking the whisky which comes in free from Canada and sneezing.
"We steer toward Corkey's sneeze," the sailors declare.
To produce the greatest sneeze that was ever heard in the valley of the Mississippi, give us, then, a man who is called a "sawed-off" by those who love him—a very thick, very short, very tobaccofied, strong man in cavalry pants, with a jacket of the heaviest chinchilla—a restless, oathful, laconic, thirsty, never-drunk "editor." It is a man after the sailor's own heart. It is a man, too, well known to the gamblers, and they all vote in Lockwin's district.
Parlor entertainers make a famous sneeze by delegating to each of a group some vowel in the word "h—sh!" It shall be "hash" for this one, "hish" for that one, "hush" for still another, and so on. Then the professor counts three, at which all yell together, and the consolidated sound is a sneeze.
In a chorus the leader may tell you one singer is worth all the rest. So, if Corkey were in this parlor, and should render one unforeseen, unpremeditated sneeze, you would not know the parlorful had sneezed along with him. Corkey's sneeze is unapproachable, unrivaled, hated, feared, admired, reverenced. The devout say "God bless you!" with deep unction. The adventurous declare that such a sneeze would buckle the cabin-floor of a steamer like a wave in the trough of the sea.
When Corkey sneezes, sailors are moved to treat to the drinks. They mark it as an event. A sailor will treat you because it is Christmas, or because Corkey has sneezed.
Greatness consists in doing one thing better or worse than any one else can do it. Thus it is rare a man is so really great as Corkey.
BAD NEWS ALL AROUND
With thousands of gamblers in good luck, and thousands of sailors in port, why should not the saloons of the dock regions resound also with politics—a politics of ultra-marine color—Corkey recooking and warming the cold statesmanship of his newspaper, breaking the counter with his fist, paying gorgeously for both drinks and glasses, smiling when the sailors expel outside politicians and at last rocking the building with his sneeze.
It is thus settled that Corkey shall go to Congress from Lockwin's district. Because this is a sailor's matter it is difficult to handle it from the adversary's side. The political boss first hears of it through the information of a rival marine reporter on a democratic sheet.
This is on Wednesday. The primaries are to be held on Friday. The boss has never dealt with a similar mishap. He learns that ten wagons have been engaged by the president of the sailors' society. He observes that the season is favorable to Corkey's plans.
What, then, does Corkey want?
What is he after? He surely doesn't expect to go to Washington!
"That's what I expect. You just screw your nut straight that time, sure."
What does he want to go to Congress for?
"Well, my father got there. I guess my grandfather was in, too. My great-grandfather wasn't no bad player. But I don't care nothing for dead men. I'm going to Congress to start the labor party. I'm going to have Eight Hours and more fog-horns on the Manitous and the Foxes. I'm going to have a Syrena on the break-water."
The siren-horn is just now the wonder of the lake region.
"I tell you she'll be a bird."
The eyes grow brighter, the face grows dark, the mouth squares, the head vibrates, the little tongue plays about a mass of jet-black tobacco—the sneeze comes.
"That's a bird, too," says the political boss.
If Corkey is to start a labor party, why should he set out to carry a republican primary election?
"Oh, well, you're asking too many questions. Will you take a drink? Come down and see the boys. See how solid I've got 'em."
Lockwin's brow clouds as the boss tells of this new development.
"Those sailors will fight," he says.
"But Corkey reckons on the gamblers," explains the boss, "and we can fix the gamblers."
"What will you do?"
"Do? I'll do as I did in 1868, when I was running the Third. The eight-hour men had the ward."
"What did you do?"
"I carted over the West Side car company's laborers—a thousand on 'em."
David Lockwin starts for home. His heart is heavy. To-day has been hard. The delegations of nominating committees have been eager and greedy. The disbursements have been large. An anonymous circular has appeared, which calls attention to the fact that David Lockwin is a mere reader of books, an heir of some money who has married for more money. Good citizens are invited to cast aside social reasons and oust the machine candidate, for the nomination of Lockwin will be a surrender of the district into the clutches of the ring at the city hall.
There is more than political rancor in this handbill.
There is more than a well defined, easily perceived personal malice in this argument.
There is the poisoning sting of the truth—the truth said in a general way, but striking in a special and a tender place.
The house is reached. Lockwin has not enlarged his establishment. Politics, at least, has spared him the humiliation of moving on Prairie Avenue. Politics has kept him "among the people."
It is the house which holds his boy. Lockwin did not adopt the boy for money! The boy was not a step on the way to Congress! Lockwin did not become a popular idol because he became a father to the foundling!
It is a cooling and a comforting thought. Yesterday, while Lockwin sat in his study hurriedly preparing his statement to the party, on the needs of the nation and a reformed civil service, the golden head was as deep at a little desk beside. Pencil in hand, the child had addressed the voters of the First District, explaining to them the reasons why his papa should be elected. "Josephus," wrote curly-head; "Groceries," he added; "Ice," he concluded; A, B, C, D and so on, with a tail the wrong way on J.
It is a memory that robs politics of its bitterness. Lockwin opens the door and kisses his wife affectionately. After all, he is a most fortunate man. If there were a decent way he would let Harpwood go to Congress and be rid of him.
"Davy is very sick," she says, with a white face.
"What! My boy!! When was he taken? Is it diphtheria? What has the doctor said? Why wasn't I called? Where is he? Here, Davy, here's papa. Here's papa! Old boy! Old fel'! Oh, God, I'm so scared!"
All this as Lockwin goes up the stairs.
It is a wheezing little voice that replies; "S-u-h-p-e-s-o-J! What's that, papa?"
"Does that hurt, Davy? There? or there?"
"That's 'Josephus,' papa, on your big book, that I'll have some day—it I live. If I live I'll have all your books!"
DR. FLODDIN'S PATIENT
If there be one thing of which great Chicago stands in fear, it is that King Herod of the latter day, diphtheria.
This terror of the people is absolute, ignorant, and therefore supine. The cattle have a scourge, but the loss of money makes men active. When the rinderpest appears, governors issue proclamations. When horses show the glanders, quarantine is established. But when a father's flock is cut off, it is done before he can move, and other fathers will not or cannot interpose for their own protection.
All the other fathers do is to discount the worst—to dread the unseen sword which is suspended over all heads.
When David Lockwin heard that one of his tenants had a child dead with the contagion, the popular idol strove to recall his movements. Had he been in the sick-room? Had Davy been in that region? The thought which had finally alarmed Lockwin was the recollection that he had stopped with Davy in the grocery beneath the apartments of the dying child.
That was nine days before. Why is Dr. Tarpion absent? What a good fortune, however, that Dr. Floddin can be given charge. And if the disease be diphtheria, whisky will alleviate and possibly cure the patient. It is a hobby with Lockwin.
Dr. Floddin has come rather oddly by this practice. Who he is, no other regular doctor knows. But Dr. Floddin has an honest face, and keeps a little drug store on State street below Eighteenth. He usually charges fifty cents a visit, which is all he believes his services to be worth. This piece of quackery would ruin his name with Lockwin, were it known to him, or had Dr. Tarpion been consulted.
The regular fee is two dollars.
The poor come daily to Dr. Floddin's, and his fame is often in their mouths.
Why is Davy white and beautiful? Why is he gentle and so marvelously intelligent?
A year back, when his tonsils swelled, Dr. Tarpion said they must be cut out. The house-keeper said it was the worst possible thing to do. The cook said it should never be done. The peddling huckster's son said Dr. Floddin didn't believe in it.
Then Davy would wake in the night. "I tan't breathe," he would complain.
"Yes, you can, Davy. Papa's here. Lie down, Davy. Here's a drink."
And in the morning all would be well. Davy would be in the library preparing for a great article.
The tribe on the other street, back, played ball from morning until night. The toddler of the lot was no bigger than Davy. Every face was as round and red as a Spitzbergen apple.
Last summer Lockwin and Davy went for a ball and bat, the people along the cross-street as usual admiring the boy. A blacksmith shop was on the way. A white bulldog was at the forge. He leaped away from his master, and was on the walk in an instant. With a dash he was on Davy, his heavy paw in the neat little pocket, bursting it and strewing the marbles and the written articles. Snap! went the mouth on the child's face, but it was merely a caprice.
"Bulldog never bite a child," observed the blacksmith.
But Lockwin had time only to take his baby between his legs. "Please call in your dog," he said to the blacksmith. "Please call him in. Please call him in."
The dog was recalled. The child smiled, and yet he felt he had been ill served. The little hanging pocket testified that Lockwin must tarry in that hateful locality and pick up the treasure and documents.
Trembling in every joint, he called at the house of an acquaintance. "I dislike to keep you here," said the friend, "if you are afraid of the whooping-cough. We have it here in the house."
It seemed to David Lockwin that the city was an inhospitable place for childhood. The man and child traveled on and on. They reached the toy store. They stood before the soda fountain. They bought bat and ball.
It was too far. They rode by street car three miles in order to return the half mile. The child was asleep when they reached home.
"I drank sewer water," he observed to the housekeeper, speaking of the soda fountain, for sewer gas is a thing for Chicagoans to discuss with much learning.
So Davy and David went on the rear lot to play ball. The neighboring tribe offered their services for two-old-cat. The little white boy with the golden curls made a great hit.
"Bully for the codger!" quoth all the red-cheeked.
"We will cut off his curls and make him as healthy as those young ones," said Lockwin.
"You'll never do it!" said the housekeeper.
"Such as him do be too pretty for this life," said the cook, almost with tears in her eyes.
And just at this epoch of new hygiene Davy's eyes grew sore. "Take him to a specialist," said Dr. Tarpion.
The specialist made the eyes a little worse.
"Them's just such eyes as Dr. Floddin cured on my sister," said the peddling huckster's son at the kitchen door.
The housekeeper could say as much for a relative whom the cheap druggist had served.
"Can you cure my boy?" was Lockwin's question to Dr. Floddin.
"I think so," said the good man. He was gratified to be called to the relief of a person of so much consequence. Thereupon began a patient treatment of Davy's tonsils, his nose, and his eyes. As if Dr. Floddin knew all things, he foretold the day when the boy would reappear in his own countenance.
"Bless your little soul," the housekeeper would say, "I can't for the life of me laugh at you. But you do look so strange!"
"I thought," Lockwin would say, "I loved you for your beauty, Davy, but I guess it was for yourself."
"I guess you will love me better when I can play ball with the swear boys, won't you, papa?"
"Yes, you must get strong. We will cut off your curls then."
"And may I sit in your library and write articles if I will be very still and not get mud on me? They throwed mud on me once, papa."
Poor little swollen-eyed Davy! Yet richer than almost any other living thing in Chicago. None knew him but to love him. "I didn't think it would hit him," said even the barbarian who shied the clod at Davy.
When Esther Lockwin took charge of that home she found Davy all issued from the chrysalis of sores and swellings. If he had once been beautiful, he was now more lovely. The union of intelligence, affection, and seemliness was startling to Esther's mind.
It was a dream. It knit her close to her husband. The child talked of his papa all day. Because his new mother listened so intently, he found less time to write his articles, and no time at all out-doors.
"Don't let him study if you can help it," said Dr. Floddin.
The child stood at his favorite place in the window, waiting for old Richard Tarbelle to come home.
"'Bon-Ton Grocery,' mamma; what is 'Bon-Ton?'"
"That is the name of the grocery."
"Yes, I see that. It's on the wagon, of course, but does Mr. Bon-Ton keep your grocery?"
How, therefore, shall the book of this world be shut from Davy? But, is it not a bad thing to see the child burst out crying in the midst of an article?
"Don't write any more to-day, baby," the housekeeper would say.
"Come down and get the elephant I baked for yez, pet," the cook would beg.
And then Richard Tarbelle would come around the corner with his basket, his eye fastened on that window where the smiling child was pictured.
"Here, Davy. There was a banquet at the hotel last night. See that bunch of grapes, now!"
"You are very kind, Mr. Tarbelle."
"Mrs. Lockwin, I have been a hard man all my life. When I had my argument with the bishop on baptism—"
"Yes, Mr. Tarbelle, you are very kind."
"Mrs. Lockwin, as I said, I have been a hard man all my life, but your little boy has enslaved me. Sixty-three years! I don't believe I looked twice at my own three boys. But they are great men. Big times at the ho-tel, Mrs. Lockwin. Four hundred people on cots. Here, Davy, you can carry an orange, too. Well, Mary will be waiting for me. Your servant, madam. Good day. I hear your husband is up for Congress. Tell him he has my vote. Good day, madam. Yes, Mary, yes, yes. Good-bye, Davy. Good-bye, madam."
A REIGN OF TERROR
When a man is in politics—when the party is intrusting its sacred interests to his leadership—it is expected that he will stay at head-quarters. It is as good as understood that he will be where the touching committees can touch him. His clarion voice must be heard denouncing the evil plans of the political enemy.
The absence of David Lockwin from his head-quarters is therefore declared to be a "bomb-shell." In the afternoon papers it is said that he has undoubtedly withdrawn in favor of Harpwood.
The morning papers announce serious illness in Lockwin's family.
What they announce matters nothing to Lockwin. He cannot be seen.
If it be diphtheria Lockwin will use whisky plentifully. It is his hobby that whisky is the only antidote.
Dr. Floddin has taken charge. He believes that whisky would increase Davy's fever. "It is not diphtheria," he says. "Be assured on that point. It is probably asthma."
Whatever it may be, it is terrible to David Lockwin, and to Esther, and to all.
The child draws his breath with a force that sometimes makes itself heard all over the house. He must be treated with emetics. He is in the chamber this Wednesday night, on a couch beside the great bed. The room has been hot, but by what chance does the furnace fail at such a moment? It is David Lockwin up and down, all night—now going to bed in hope the child will sleep—now rising in terror to hear that shrill breathing—now rousing all hands to heat the house and start a fire at the mantel. Where is Dr. Cannoncart's book? Read that. Ah, here it is. "For asthma, I have found that stramonium leaves give relief. Make a decoction and spray the patient."
Off the man goes to the drug store for the packet of stramonium. It must be had quickly. It must be boiled, and that means an hour. It is incredible that the fire should go out! The man sweats a cold liquor. He feels like a murderer. He feels bereft. He is exhausted with a week of political orgy.
And yet along toward morning, as the gray morn grows red in response to the stained glasses and rich carpetings, the room is warm once more. The whistling in the child's throat is less shrill. The man and the woman sit by the little couch and the man presses the rubber bulb and sprays the air about the sick boy.
He will take no medicine. Never before did he refuse to obey. But now he is in deeper matters. It requires all his strength and all his thoughts to get his breath. As for medicine, he will not take it. For the spray he is grateful. His beautiful eyes open gloriously when a breath has come without that hard tugging for it.
At eight in the morning the man and the woman eat—a cup of coffee and a nubbin of bread. The mother of Esther arrives. She too is terrified by the ordeal through which the child is passing.
"Go to the head-quarters, David," she says. "You are needed. Pa says so. I will stay all day,"
"Oh, Mother Wandrell, what do you think?"
"Here is your Dr. Floddin, ask him."
The doctor speaks sadly. "He is much worse. What has happened?"
"The fires went out," answers Lockwin.
"Get some flaxseed at once. Get a stove in here. These fine houses kill many people. Keep the body enswathed in the double poultice, but don't let the emulsion touch his skin directly. What is the effect of the medicine? I see he has taken a little. The bottleful is not going fast enough."
"He has taken no medicine at all," says Esther. "It was spilled."
David Lockwin, starting for head-quarters, must now attend the fixing of a stove where there is little accommodation for a stove.
"Give me the child," says the cook, "and the fire will not go out."
"It would be murder for me to go to head-quarters, and I believe it would be double murder," he whispers to himself. He is in a lamentable state. At two o'clock, with the stove up, the flaxseed cooking, the boy warmly bandaged, the asthmatic sounds diminished, and the women certain they have administered some of the medicine to the stubborn patient, Lockwin finds that he can lie down. He sleeps till dark, while Corkey organizes for the most tumultuous primaries that were ever held in Chicago.
With the twilight settling in upon his bed Lockwin starts into wakefulness. He has dreamed of two-old-cat. "Bully for the codger!" the tribe of red-faces yell. In the other room he now hears the dismal gasps of his curly-head.
He rinses his mouth with water, not daring to ask if the worst is coming. He knows it is not coming, else he had been called. Yet he is not quick to enter the sick chamber.
"David, it is your duty to make him take it," the mother says, as she goes. "Esther, you look worse than David."
Thus the night begins. The child has learned to dislike the imprisonment of poultices. The air is heavy with flaxseed. The basin of stramonium water adds its melancholy odor to the room.
It is the first trouble Lockwin has ever seen. He is as unready and unwilling as poor little Davy. It is murder—that furnace going out. This thought comes to Lockwin over and over; perhaps the feeling of murder is because Davy is not an own son.
It is all wretched and hideous! The slime of politics and the smell of flaxseed unite to demoralize the man. O if Dr. Tarpion were only here! But Davy will take no medicine; how could Tarpion help Davy?
Yes, that medicine—ipecac! The name has been hateful to Lockwin from childhood.
Let Corkey win the primaries! What odds? Will not that release Lockwin from the touching committees? Does he wish to owe his election to a street car-company in another quarter of the city?
Perhaps Harpwood will win! How would that aid Davy? Ah, Davy! Davy! all comes back to him! It is a strange influence this little boy has thrown upon David Lockwin, child of fortune and people's idol.
It is a decent and wholesome thing—-the only good and noble deed which David Lockwin can just now credit to himself. He bathes his hot forehead again.
Yes, Davy! Davy! Davy—the very thought of Davy restores the fallen spirit. That water, too, seems to purify. Water and Davy! But it is the well Davy—the little face framed at the window, waiting for papa, waiting to know about Josephus—it is that Davy which stimulates the soul.
Is it not a trial, then, to hear this boy—this rock of Lockwin's better nature—in the grapple with Death himself?
If Davy were the flesh and blood of Lockwin, perhaps Lockwin might determine that the child should follow its own wishes as to the taking of ipecac. But this question of murder—this general feeling of Chicago that its babes are slaughtered willfully—takes hold of the man powerfully as he gathers his own scattered forces of life.
"Esther, will you not go to the rear chamber and sleep?"
The child appeals to her that her presence aids him.
"May I sit down here, Davy?"
There is a nod.
"Will you take some medicine now, Davy?"
"No, ma'am!" comes the gasping voice.
The man sprays with the stramonium. The doctor returns.
"Your boy is very ill with the asthma, Mr. Lockwin. He ought to be relieved. But I think he will pull through. Do not allow your nerves to be over-strained by the asthmatic respiration. It gives you more pain than it gives to Davy."
"Do you suffer, Davy?"
"Ah, well, he does not know what we mean. Get him to take the medicine, Mr. Lockwin. It is your duty."
Duty! Alas! Is not David Lockwin responding to both love and duty already? Is it not a response such as he did not believe he could make?
The doctor goes. The man works the rubber bulb until his fingers grow paralytic. Esther sleeps from exhaustion. The child gets oversprayed. The man stirs the flaxseed—how soon the stuff dries out! He adds water. He rinses his mouth. He arranges the mash on the cloths. It is cold already, and he puts it on the sheet-iron of the stove.
But Davy is still. How to get the poultices changed? The man feels about the blessed little body. A tide of tenderness sweeps through his frame. Alas! the poultices are cold again, and hard.
They are doing no good.
"Esther, I beg pardon, but will you assist me with the flaxseed?"
"Certainly, David. Have I slept? Why did you not call me sooner? Here, lamby! Here, lamby! Let mamma help you."
The poultices are to be heated again. The woman concludes the affair. The man sits stretched in a chair, hands deep in pockets, one ankle over the other, chin deep on his breast.
"Esther," he says at last, "it must be done! It must be done! Give him to me!"
"Oh, David, don't hurt him!"
The man has turned to brute. He seizes the child as the spoiler of a city might begin his rapine.
"Pour the medicine—quick!"
It is ready.
"Now, Davy, you must take this, or I don't know but papa will—I don't know but papa will kill you."
Up and down the little form is hurled. Stubbornly the little will contends for its own liberty. Rougher and rougher become the motions, darker and darker becomes the man's face—Satanic now—a murderer, bent on having his own will.
"Oh, David, David!"
"Keep still, Esther! I'll tolerate nothing from you!"
Has there been a surrender of the gasping child? The man is too murderous to hear it.
"I'll take it, papa! I'll take it, papa!"
It is a poor, wheezing little cry, barely distinguishable. How long it has been coming to the understanding of those terrible captors cannot be known.
How eagerly does the shapely little hand clutch the spoon. "Another," he nods. It is swallowed. The golden head is hidden in the couch.
And David Lockwin sits trembling on the bed, gazing in hatred on the medicine that has entered between him and his foundling.
"Papa had to do it! Papa had to do it! You will forgive him, pet?" So the woman whispers.
There is no answer.
The man sprays the air. "You won't blame papa, will you, Davy?"
The answer is eager. "No, please! Please, papa!"
It is a reign of terror erected on the government of love. It is chaos and asthma together.
"It is a horrible deed!" David Lockwin comments inwardly.
"Mother will be so glad," says Esther. She pities the man. She would not have been so cruel. She would have used gentler means, as she had been doing for twenty-eight hours! And Davy would have taken no medicine.
The room is at eighty degrees. The spray goes incessantly. The medicine is taken every half hour.
At three o'clock the emetic acts, giving immediate relief.
"I have heard my mother say," says Esther, "that a child is eased by a change of flannels. He is better now. I think I will put on a clean undershirt."
The woman takes the sick child in her lap and sits near the stove. The difficulties of the night return.
Why should the man's eyes be riveted on that captive's form! Ah! What a pitiful look is that on golden-head's face! The respiration is once more impeded. The little ribs start into sight. The little bellows of the body sucks with all its force. The breath comes at last. There is no complaint. There is the mute grandeur of Socrates.
"It is in us all!" the man cries.
"What is it in us all, David?" asks the woman.
"Cover him quickly, Esther, my dear," the man gasps, and buries his face in the pillow. "God of mercy, wipe that picture out of my memory!" he prays.
The sun of Friday morning shines brightly. The sparrows chirp, the wagons rattle, the boys cry the papers, and the household smiles.
The peddling huckster's son is not surprised. He knew Dr. Floddin would cure Davy.
The cook buys heavily. They'll eat now. "Mind what I'll fix for that darlint to-day!" she threatens.
The housekeeper has taken Esther's place at Davy's couch.
"You have undoubtedly saved the life of your boy by making him take the emetic. He will love you just as much. I know—Mrs. Lockwin was telling me how much it disturbed you. Don't lose your empire over him, and he will be all right in a week. He must not have a relapse—that might kill him."
"Doctor, I am risen out of hell, the third day. I cannot tell you what I have felt, especially since midnight. But I can tell you now what I want. I desire that you shall take my place on this case. My personal affairs are extremely pressing. What yesterday was impossible is now easy. In fact, it seems to me that only impossibilities are probable. Remember that money is of no account. Throw aside your other practice. See that the women keep my boy from catching that cold again and I will pay you any sum you may name."
In Lockwin's school money will purchase all things. Money will now keep Davy from a relapse. Money will carry the primaries. Money will win the election.
After all, Lockwin is inclined to smile at the terrors of the evening before. "I was in need of sleep," he says.
He has not slept since. Why is he so brave now? But brave he is. He carries an air of happiness all about him. He has left his Davy talking in his own voice, breathing with perfect freedom and ready to go to sleep.
The people's idol appears at head-quarters. He tells all the boys of his good fortune. They open his barrel and become more in hope of the country than ever before.
The great Corkey appears also at Lockwin's head-quarters. "Hear you've had sickness." he says. "Sorry, because I guess I've knocked you out while you was at home. I never like to take an unfair advantage of nobody."
"Glad to see you, Mr. Corkey. Go ahead! Nobody happier than me to-day."
"He beats me," said Corkey; "but he isn't goin' to be so sweet to-night."
"Oh, I'm elected, sure!" Corkey announces on the docks. "Harpwood he offer me the collectorship of the port if I git down. But I go round to Lockwin's, and he seem to hope I'd win. He beats me."
"Why, he's the machine man, Corkey. You don't expect to beat the machine?"
"Cert. All machines is knocked out, some time, ain't they?"
"Not by the marines, Corkey."
"I can lick the man who comes down on these docks to say I'm going to get the worst of it."
Corkey is accordingly elected, and all hands take a drink at the other fellow's invitation, for which the great Corkey demands the privilege of paying. With this prologue the crowds start for the primaries.
"Lockwin, I expect you to stand straight up to the work to-day. You went back on us a little through the week. I know how sickness is, but my wife died while I was in charge of one campaign. Politics is politics. Stand to the work to-day. Nothing's the matter. You've created a good feeling among the boys. I've got to give the car company some more streets anyhow. The residents are hot for facilities. So don't bother about their coming over. They will be over about three o'clock. Let Corkey have the precincts of the Second and Third. If he comes further, a-repeating, you folks must fight. He will vote the gamblers but they will put in vest-pocket tickets for you. Understand? Got all I said? Give Corkey two wards—-if he can get the sailors up."
Such are the day's injunctions of the political boss. It is only a special election in one district. It is practically settled already. The boss has a thousand other matters of equal moment.
This is a day on which the prominent citizen stays out of politics. The polling booths are built of stout timber in front of some saloon. The line which is in possession votes all day. Every vote counts one.
The sailors arrive and form in line before the various polls of the Second and Third wards.
A stranger—a tenderfoot—that is, a resident party man, entitled to vote—takes his place in the line.
"What did you tell me I lied for?" asks a very tough politician.
"I didn't tell you you lied."
"I lie, do I?"
Several toughs seize the infuriated politician and hold him while the resident escapes.
These wards will be carried for Corkey. In twice as many other precincts the situation is precisely the same, except that Harpwood and Lockwin, the recognized rivals, have the polls.
At three o'clock the wagons begin to unload, vote and reload. A place is made at the head of the line for these "passengers."
The "passenger" sailors vote at all of Corkey's precincts. They start for the other wards.
Now we may see the man Lockwin as commandant. He has the police and the touching committees. He is voting his own "passengers" by the thousands.
The sailors arrive in wagons.
"You can't unload here!" says Lockwin.
The sailors unload.
Eight men seize a sailor and land him back in the wagon.
Corkey sits on the wagon in front. He draws his revolver.
"Put up that gun!" cries Lockwin.
"Put up your pop, Corkey," cry a half-dozen friendly toughs.
"I hate to do it," says Corkey, "but I guess them fellers has got the drop on me."
The battle is over. The sailors are all in the wagon. They drive off toward another precinct.
Corkey is pronounced a white-flag man. It is recalled that he let a partner play in his faro bank and did not kill the traitor.
"Oh, Corkey ain't no good at all," say the bad men from Bitter Creek.
It heats their blood. They shake hands with Lockwin and deploy on the threatened precincts.
When the sailors unload at the next precinct of the Fourth ward the emissaries who have arrived with notice of Corkey's surrender—these great hearts lead the fight. A saloon-keeper rushes out with a bung-starter and hits a sailor on the head. An alderman bites off a sailor's ear. An athletic sailor fells the first six foes who advance upon him. A shot is fired. The long line at the polls dissolves as if by magic. The judges of election disappear out the back door.
There is nothing for the unoccupied alderman to do but to place 400 Lockwin ballots in the box.
The Lockwin ballot contains the name of delegates who are sworn for all time to the alderman.
The police finally arrest all the fighting sailors and hurry them to the station.
The attempt of Corkey to carry any wards or precincts outside of the First and Second is futile. It passes the practicable. In theory it was good.
Twelve wagon-loads of fighting sailors ought to be able to vote anywhere.
A Napoleon would have massed his forces and conquered precincts.
But Napoleon himself sometimes displayed the white feather.
And that is the only way in which Corkey resembles Napoleon.
FIFTY KEGS OF BEER
"It is estimated," says the opposition press, "that Lockwin, the rich man's candidate, backed by the machine, the organized toughs of the 'Levee,' and the gamblers, has spent over $25,000 of corruption money. The primaries, which were held yesterday, were the most disgraceful political exhibitions which have ever been offered in our civic history. Harpwood was counted out in every ward but one. Corkey, the sailors' candidate, carried two wards by the same tactics which the police made use of elsewhere. In the First and Second, the officers arrested all 'disturbers' on complaint of Corkeyites. Everywhere else Corkeyites were either forced off the field or are now in the bull-pens at the stations.
"As our interview with the mayor shows, he is unacquainted with facts which everybody else possesses. It is well enough to repeat that we shall never have a real mayor until the present rule-or-ruin machine shall be destroyed.
"It is to be hoped that the split which threatens the convention of to-day will herald the dawn of law-and-order rule, when bossism, clamor for office, and saloon primaries will happily be things of the past."
The primaries which were held on Friday elected delegates to the convention of Saturday. If we scan the large body which is now gathering, it may be seen that the business of to-day is to be done by men who either hold or control office. The sidewalk inspectors, the health inspectors, the city and county building men, the men of the "institutions;" and the men of the postoffice are delegates. It may be safely guessed that they have no desire other than to hold their places until better places can be commanded. The party can trust its delegates. In this hall is gathered the effective governing force of the whole city. To these men a majority of the citizens have relinquished the business of public service. All those citizens who object are in the minority, and a majority of the minority object, only because it is desired that a different set of men should perform the same labors in the same way.
The political boss is not in sight. Eight delegations of Harpwood men are admitted because they cannot be kept out. The convention is called to order by a motion that a Lockwin man shall be chairman.
Four saloon-keepers stand upon chairs and shout.
Four bouncers of four rival saloons pull the orators down to the floor. The saloon-keepers are unarmed—their bung-starters are at home. The Lockwin man is in the chair. He has not been elected. Election in such a hubbub is impossible, and is not expected.
But the assumption of the chair by anybody is a good thing. The convention is thus enabled to learn that Corkey is making a speech. A chair is held on top of another chair. On this conspicuous perch the hero of the docks holds forth.
Corkey is an oddity. He is a new factor in politics. The rounders are curious to hear what he is saying.
"Your honor!" cries Corkey in a loud voice.
There is a sensation of merriment, which angers the orator.
"Oh, I know you're all no-gooders," he says. "I know that as well as any of ye."
There is a hurricane of cat-calls from the galleries.
There are cries of "Come down!" "Pull down his vest!" "See the sawed-off!"
"Yes, 'come down'!" yells the speaker in a white heat. "That's what you bloodsuckers make Lockwin do. He come down! I should say he did! But I'm no soft mark—you hear me? You bet your sweet life!"
The merriment is over. This is outrageous. The dignity of this convention has been compromised. There is a furious movement in the rear. The tumult is again unrestrained. Corkey has blundered.
The chairman pounds for order. The police begin to "suppress the excitement."
"Mr. Corkey, I understand, has an important announcement to make," cries the chair.
"You bet I have!" corroborates the navigator.
"Spit it out!"
"Make the turn, Corkey!"
"Everything goes as it lays!"
Such are the preparatory comments of the audience.
Corkey has been "pulled" for gambling. His public addresses heretofore have been made before the police justice.
"YOUR HONOR, MR. CHAIRMAN, AND MR. DELEGATES:—We're goin' to quit you. We're goin' to walk, to sherry, to bolt. We didn't have no fair chance to vote our men yesterday. We carried our wards just as you carried your'n. We've just as good a right to the candidate as you have. We therefore with-with-with-go out—and you can bet your sweet life we stay out! and you hear me—"
"Goon!" "Goon!" "Ki-yi!" "Yip-yip!"
Such are the flattering outbursts. Why does the orator pause?
His head quakes and vibrates, his face grows black, the mouth opens into a parallelogram, the sharp little tongue plays about the mass of black tobacco.
The convention leaps to its feet. The Sneeze has come.
"That settles it!" cry the delegates. "Bounce any man that'll do such a thing as that! Fire him out!"
The irresistible movement has reached Corkey's eyrie. Four faithful Corkeyites are holding Corkey's platform. The assault on these supports, these Atlases, brings the collapse of Corkey. He goes down fighting, and he fights like a hero. One of the toughs who saw Corkey put away his revolver at the primary is badly battered before he can retreat.
The melee is a good-sized one. "It is to be observed," writes the keen-eyed reporters, "that the consumption of peanuts rises to its maximum during the purgation of a convention."
The convention is purged. The fumes of whisky and tobacco increase. The crash of peanuts ceases. The committee on credentials reports. Harmony is to be the watchword. In this interest it has been agreed to seat four Harpwood delegates and eight Lockwin delegates in each of the contests.
Although the Harpwood delegates howl with indignation, it is only a howl. None of them go out. They will all vote. But their votes will not affect the nomination. If otherwise, the convention can be again purged and the correct result established. That would be bloody and difficult. Wait until it shall be necessary.
"It is one of the workings of the status quo," writes the reporter of the single-tax weekly, "that friction is everywhere reduced to the minimum of the system. There is little waste of bloody noses in politics."
"It is getting past dinner time. Why not be through with this? What is the matter?"
These are the questions of the sidewalk inspectors, who perhaps ache to return to their other public duties.
"It is Corkey's fault—Corkey's fault! But here's the platform, now!"
"We point with the finger of scorn—" reads the clerk in a great voice.
"That's the stuff!" respond the faithful, shaking hands one with another.
"Order!" scream the bouncers and police. They desire to hear the platform. It is the hinge on which liberty hangs. It is the brass idol of politics.
"And the peace, prosperity and general happiness of the American people will ever remain dear to the party which saved the union and now reaches a fraternal hand across the bloody chasm!" So reads the clerk.
"That's what! We win on that! They can't answer to that!"
"We demand a free ballot and a fair count!"
"No more bulldozing!" exclaims the bouncer who has heard the plank.
"We guarantee to the sovereign electors of the First district, and to the whole population of the nation a reform of the civil service and an entire abolition of the spoils system."
"I suppose," says the bouncer, "that things is going on too open in Washington."
The reading ceases.
"Ki-yi!" "Hooray!" "He-e-e-e-e-e!" "Zip-zip-zippee!"
There is a crash of peanuts, a tornado of bad air, a tempest of wild and joyous noise.
"The platform was received with genuine enthusiasm. It was adopted without a dissenting voice." Thus the reporters write hurriedly.
There has been an uproar ever since the question was put. Now, if the delegate quicken his ear, he may hear the chairman commanding:
"All those in favor will vote 'aye!'"
Again there is the tempest. The Harpwood delegates have voted aye!
"What is it?" ask most of the delegates.
"Lockwin is nominated by acclamation," comes the answer from the front.
"Oh, is he?" say the delegates, Harpwood men and all.
There is a numerous outgo for liquor. A man is escorted to the stage. He is cheered by those who see him. Most of the leading delegates are bargaining for places on the central committee. The Harpwood men are to be taken care of.
The speech goes on. "It is," says the orator, "the proudest day of my life, I assure you."
"Do you suppose he's gone broke?" inquire the committee men.
"It is the matchless character of our institutions—" continues the candidate.
"We'd be done up if the other fellows should indorse Corkey," says a hungry saloon-keeper.
"—The matchless character of our institutions that the people hold the reins of government."
The orator is gathering an audience. "The people" are hungry, but love of oratory is a still weaker place in their armor. The voice rises. The eye flashes. The cheeks turn crimson. The form straightens.
The orator weeps and he thunders.
"Hi—hi!" says the hungry saloon-keeper, in sudden admiration.
"America! My fellow-countrymen, it is the palm of the desert—the rock of liberty.
"We have a weapon firmer set, And better than the bayonet; A weapon that comes down as still As snowflakes fall upon the sod; But executes a freeman's will As lightning does the will of God."
The effect is electric.
"Jiminy!" whistles the hungry saloonkeeper, "ain't we lucky we put him up? I could sell fifty kag if he spoke anywhere in the same block."
THE NIGHT BEFORE ELECTION
"The art of declamation," says Colton, "has been sinking in value from the moment that speakers were foolish enough to publish and readers wise enough to read."
All speakers are not foolish enough to publish; all readers are not wise enough to read. Besides, there is still a distinct art of oratory which has not lost its hold on the ears of men.
The orator weeps and he thunders. His audience by turns laments and clamors. But the orator, on the inner side of his spirit, is more calm. The practice of his wiles has dulled the edge of his feelings.
It may be, therefore, that the orator's art is not honest. Yet who knows that the painter himself really admires the landscape which, in his picture, gathers so much fame for him? The interests of the nation are now to be husbanded in this First Congressional district. The silvery voice of the gifted orator is to reclaim the wandering or lagging voter.
The man who has lost faith in the power of the ballot is to be revived with the stimulus of human speech. It can be done. It is done in every campaign.
Lockwin is doing it each afternoon and night. Bravely he meets the cry of "Money and machine." One would think he needed no better text.
But his secret text is Davy. Davy, whose life has been intrusted to Dr. Floddin, the friend of the poor, the healer who healed the eyes of the peddling huckster's son's sister, the eyes of the housekeeper's relatives, and the eyes of Davy himself.
The orator's speech may be impassioned, but he is thinking of Davy.
The orator may be infusing the noblest of patriotism in his hearers' hearts, but often he hardly knows what he is saying.
At a telling point he stops to think of Davy.
The hearer confesses that the question is unanswered.
Is Davy safe? Of course. "Then, my fellow-citizens, behold the superb rank of America among nations!" [Cheers.]
Is Dr. Tarpion to be gone another week, and is the cook right when she says Davy must eat? "Can we not, my friends and neighbors, lend our humble aid in restoring these magnificent institutions of liberty to their former splendor?" [Cries of "Hear!" "Hear!" "Down in front!"]
"The winning candidate," says the majority press, "is making a prodigious effort. It is confidentially explained that he was wounded by the charges of desertion or lukewarmness, which were circulated during the week of the primaries."
Dr. Floddin is therefore to take care of Davy. Dr. Floddin's horse is sick. It is a poor nag at best—a fifty-cents-a-call steed. The doctor meantime has a horse from the livery.
Davy is to continue the emetic treatment. He sits on the floor in the parlor and turns his orguinette. "Back to Our Mountains" is his favorite air. He has twenty-eight tunes, and he plays Verdi's piece twenty-eight times as often as any of the others.
"Oh, Davy, you'll kill us!" laments the housekeeper, for the little orguinette is stridulent and loud.
"He'll kill himself," says the cook. "He's not strong enough to grind that hand-organ. He eats nothing at all, at all."
"Papa isn't here any more, but I take my medicine," the child says. The drug is weakening his stomach.
"It is the only way," says Dr. Floddin, "to relieve his lungs."
"Are you sure he is safe?" asks Esther. "Are you sure it was asthma?"
"Oh, yes. Did you not see the white foam? That is asthma."
"You do not come often enough, doctor. I know Mr. Lockwin would be angry if he knew."
"My horse will be well to-morrow and I can call twice. But the child has passed the crisis. You must soon give him air. Let him play a while in the back yard. His lungs must be accustomed to the cold of winter."
"I presume Mr. Lockwin will take us south in December."
"Yes, I guess he'd better."
But Esther does not let Davy go out. The rattle is still in the little chest.
Lockwin is home at one o'clock in the morning. He visits Davy's bed. How beautiful is the sleeping child! "My God! if he had died!"
Lockwin is up and away at seven o'clock in the morning. "Be careful of the boy, Esther," he says. "What does the doctor seem to think?"
"He gives the same medicine," says Esther, "but Davy played his orguinette for over an hour yesterday."
"He did! Good! Esther, that lifts me up. I wish I could have heard him!"
"David, I fear that you are overtasking yourself. Do be careful! please be careful!"
Tears come in the fine eyes of the wife. Lockwin's back is turned.
"Good! Good!" he is saying. "So Davy played! I'll warrant it was 'Back to Our Mountains!'"
"Yes," says the wife.
"Good! Good! That's right. By-bye, Esther."
And the man goes out to victory whistling the lament of the crooning witch, "Back to Our Mountains! Back to Our Mountains!"
"Why should Davy be so fond of that?" thinks the whistler.
But this week of campaign cannot stretch out forever. It must end, just as Lockwin feels that another speech had killed him. It must end with Lockwin's nerves agog, so that when a book falls over on the shelves he starts like a deer at a shot.
It is Monday night, and there will be no speeches by the candidates. Esther has prepared to celebrate the evening by a gathering of a half-dozen intimate friends to hear an eminent violinist, whose performances are the delight of Chicago. The violinist is doubly eminent because he has a wife who is devoted to her husband's renown.
Lockwin sits on a sofa with his pet nestled at the side. What a sense of rest is this! How near heaven is this! He looks down on his little boy and has but one wish—that he might be across the room to behold the picture. Perhaps the man is extravagantly fond of that view of curly head, white face, dark brow and large, clear eyes!
Would the violinist make such an effect if his wife were not there to strike those heavy opening chords of that "Faust" fantasie?
"Will they play 'Back to Our Mountains?'" whispers the child.
"Keep still, Davy," the man says, himself silenced by a great rendition.
"The doctor's horse is sick," whispers Davy, hoarsely.
"Yes, I know," says the man. "Bravo, professor, bravo! You are a great artist."
"But the doctor's both horses is sick," insists Davy.
"Bravo! professor, bravo!"
Now comes the sweetest of cradle-songs, the professor with damper on his strings, the professor's wife scarcely touching the piano.
The strain ends. The man is in tears—not the tears of an orator. He glances at the child and the great eyes are likewise dim. "Kiss me, Davy!"
But it is as if Davy were too hard at work with an article. He must break from the room, the man suddenly wishing that the child could find its chief relief in him.
"Yet I made him take the medicine," thinks the man, in terror of that night.
The professor will take some little thing to eat—a glass of beer, perhaps—but he must not stay.
They go below, where Davy has told the cook of the extraordinary professor who can scarcely speak English. Davy has asked him if he could spell Josephus. "After all," says Davy, "I'd be ashamed to play so loud if I couldn't spell Josephus. It hurt my head."
"Yes, you darlint," says the cook; "here's some ice cream. I don't want you to wait. Eat it now."
"I can't eat anything but medicine," says Davy, "and I have to eat that or papa wouldn't love me. Do you think he loves me?"
"Ah, yes, darlint. Don't ye's be afraid of that. Thim as don't love the likes of ye's is scarcer than hen's teeth."
"T-double-e-t-h," observes the scholarly Davy.
"My! my!" cries the cook.
At the table, the professor will not care for any beer. Well, let it be a little. Well, another glass. Yes, the glasses are not large. Another? Yes.
"Ah! Meester Lockwin," he says at last, "I like to play for you. You look very tired, I hear you will go to the—to the—"
The professor must be aided by his good wife.
"To the Congress—ah, yes, to the Congress."
"If I shall be elected to-morrow," smiles the candidate.
The friends go to their homes. It is not late. Esther has explained the need her husband has of both diversion and rest. "He is naturally an unhappy man," she says, "but Davy and I are making him happier."
"Of all the men I have ever known," says one of the guests to his wife, as they walk the few steps they must take, "I think David Lockwin is the most blessed. All that money could do was dedicated to his education. He is a brilliant man naturally. He has married Esther Wandrell. He is sure to be elected to-morrow, and I heard a very prominent man say the other day that he wouldn't be surprised if Lockwin should some day be President of the United States. They call him the people's idol. I don't know but he is."
"I don't believe he appreciates his good fortune," says the wife. "Perhaps he has had too much."
Yes, this is distinctly happy—this night at home, in the chamber after the music, with Davy to sleep over here, too.
"There, Davy," urges Esther, "you have romped and romped. You have not slept a wink to-day. It is far too late for children to be up, David. I only took down the stove to-day, for fear we might need it."
But it is difficult to moderate the spirits of the boy. He is playing all sorts of pranks with his father. The little lungs come near the man's ear. There is a whistling sound.
The north wind has blown for two weeks. It is howling now outside the windows.
"Pshaw!" the man laughs, "it is that cut-throat wind!"
For orators dislike the north wind.
"Pshaw! Esther!" he repeats, "I mistook the moaning of the wind in the chimney." But he is pale at the thought.
"I hardly think you did, David. I can hear him wheeze over here."
"You can! Come here, Davy." But the child must be caught. His eyes flash. He is all spirit. His laugh grows hoarse.
"How stupid I am," thinks the man. He seizes the arch boy and clasps him in his arms.
Then Lockwin takes that white and tiny wrist. He pulls his watch. In five seconds he has fifteen beats. Impossible! Wait a few minutes.
"Sit still for papa. Please, Davy."
The indefinable message is transmitted from the man's heart to the child's. The child is still. The animation is gone.
Now, again. The watch goes so slowly. Is it going at all? Let us see about that.
The watch is put to ear. Yes, it is going fast enough now. Of course it is going. Is it not a Jurgensen of the costliest brand? Well, then, we will count a full minute.
"Hold still, Davy, pet."
What is Congress and President now, as the wheeze settles on this child, and the north wind batters at the windows?
The man looks for help to Esther. "Esther," he says, "I have counted 140 pulsations."
"Is that bad for a child, David? I guess not."
"I am probably mistaken. I will try again."
The child lays the curly head against Lockwin's breast. The full vibration of the struggling lungs resounds through the man's frame.
"The pulse is even above 140. Oh! Esther, will he have to go through that again?"
"No, David, no. See, he's asleep. Put him here. You look like a ghost. Go right to bed. To-morrow will be a trying day. Davy is tired out. To be sure, he must be worse when he is tired."
"Does the doctor come at all in the night?"
"Why, no, of course not. It is a chronic case now, he says. It requires the same treatment."
The voice is soft consoling and sympathetic. The man is as tired as Davy.
"We ought not to have had the folks here," he says.
"No," says Esther.
"I wish the stove were up," he thinks.
"I wish David were not in politics," the woman thinks.
There is in and about that chamber, then, the sleep of a tired man, the whistling of a cold and hostile wind, such as few cities know, the half-sleeping vigil of a troubled woman, and the increasing shrillness of Davy's breathing.
"It sounds like croup to me," she whispers to herself. "It has always sounded like croup to me. I wonder if it could be diphtheria? I wonder what I ought to do? But David needs sleep so badly! I'm sorry I had the company. I told David I was afraid of the child's health. But David needed the music. Music rested him, he said."
The milk-wagons are rattling along the street once more. Will they never cease? The man awakes with a start.
"What is that?" he demands. He has just dreamed how he treated 150 people to cigars and drinks on the day Dr. Floddin brought Davy through. He has been walking with Davy among the animals in Lincoln Park. "There's Santa Claus' horses," said Davy, of the elks.
There is a loud noise in the room.
"What on earth is it?" he asks. He is only partly awake.
"It is poor little Davy," Esther answers. "Oh, David!" The woman is sobbing. She herself has awakened her husband.
The man is out of bed in an instant. The room is cold. There is no stove. There is no stramonium. There is no flaxseed. There is no hot water.
It is not the lack of these appliances that drives Lockwin into his panic. He may keep his courage by storming about these misadventures.
But in his heart—in his logic—there is NO HOPE.
He hastens to the drug store. He has alarmed the household.
"Davy is dying!" he has said, brutally.
The drug clerk is a sound sleeper. "Let them rattle a little while," he soliloquizes with professional tranquillity.
"Child down again?" he inquires later on, in a conciliatory voice. "Wouldn't give him any more of that emetic if it was my child. I've re-filled that bottle three times now."
The stove must be gotten up. The pipe enters the mantel. There, that will insure a hot poultice. But why does the thing throw out gas? Why didn't it do that before?
"It is astonishing how much time can be lost in a crisis," the man observes. He must carry his Davy into another room, couch and all, for he will not suffer the little body to be chilled any further. "If this cup may be kept from my lips," he prays, "I will be a better man."
The sun is high before the child is swathed with hot flaxseed. The man sprays the stramonium. The child has periods of extreme difficulty. He is nauseated in every fiber.
"God forgive me!" prays Lockwin.
"Mamma, will I have to play with the swear boys?"
"No, my darling."
"And will my curls be cut off before you get a picture?"
The man remembers that Davy has been sick much of late. They have no likeness of him since he grew beautiful.
"And may I go to Sunday-school if I don't play with the swear boys? For the teacher said—"
The canal tightens in the throat. The old battle begins.
The man sprays furiously. The child lisps: "Please don't, papa."
The man is hurt to think he has mistaken the child's needs.
The air gets dry again. The child signals with its hand.
"More spray, Davy? Ah! that helps you!"
The man is eased.
"Esther, where is that doctor?"
They had forgotten him. The case is chronic. All the household are doctors. So now by his coming there is only to be one more to the lot of vomiters and poulticers.
Yet it dismays all hands to think they have forgotten the famous savior of Davy. They telephoned for him hours ago. "Ah me!" each says.
The child's feet grow cold. "Hot bottles! Hot bottles!" is the cry. The first lot without corks. And at last Lockwin goes to the closet and gets the rubber bags made for such uses.
At one o'clock the doctor arrives. Lockwin has gone to the drug store to get more flaxseed If he get it himself it will be done. If he order it some fatal hour might pass. The cold air revives him. He sees a crowd of men down the street. It is a polling-booth.
He strives to gather the fact that it is election day. Corkey is running as an independent democrat, because the democratic convention did not indorse him after he bolted from the Lockwin convention.
But for that strange fillip of politics Lockwin must have been beaten before he began the campaign. Well, what is the election now? Davy dying all the week, and not a soul suspecting it!
"Girls wanted!" The sign is on the basement windows. Yes, that accounts for the strange disorganization of the household. That, in some way, explains the cold furnaces and lack of the most needful things.
Never mind the girls. Plenty of them to be had. That doctor—what can he say for himself?
The man starts as he enters the house. What was it Davy said last night? That "the doctor's both horses were sick!" It is a disagreeable recollection, therefore banish it, David Lockwin. Go up and see the doctor.
The door is reached. Perhaps the child is already easier. The door is opened. The smell of flaxseed reproduces every horror of Davy's first attack. After the man has grown used to the flaxseed he begins to detect the odor of stramonium. The pan is dry. Carry it back to the stove and put some hot water in it. But look at Davy first.
"Esther, how is he?"
"I think he is growing better, David."
"The room here is not warm enough. Let us carry him back where the stove is."
The cook is on the stairs and beholds the little cortege. "Lord! Lord!" she wails, and the housekeeper silences the cry. "They carry them like that at the hospital," the frightened woman explains. "But they are always dead!"
In the kitchen sits a woman, visiting the cook. Her face is the very picture of trouble. She rocks her body as she talks.
"I buried seven," she says.
"Yes, and every one with membrainyous croup. They may call it what they please. Ah! I know; I know!"
She rocks her body, and laughs almost a silly laugh.
"Every one of them had a terrible attack, and then was well for a week. Two of 'em dropped dead at play. They seems so full of life just before they go. When my husband broke his leg I lost one. When I caught the small-pox they let one die. Oh, my! Oh, my!"
The woman rocks her body and laughs.
Lockwin wants more boiling water. It gives him something to do to get it. He enters the kitchen.
"Davy has the asthma," he says to the desolate mother as he passes.
"Davy has the membrainyous croup," she replies: "I saw that a week ago. Makes no difference what the doctors say; they can't help no child."
"Where is that doctor, Esther?" the man says.
"He was here while you were gone. He said he would return soon. He said it was a relapse, but he thought there was no danger."
"It is lucky," the man inwardly comments, "that we are all doctors."
"He should have stayed here and attended to his business," the man observes audibly, as he makes a new poultice.
"Mamma!" It is Davy.
"Yes, mamma is here."
"Why don't the doctor come?"
"Are you suffering, precious?"
"I don't know."
"There, let us warm your feet. Don't take them away, pet. See, you breathe easily now."
"Thank God!" says the man "that we are all doctors."
The afternoon wanes.
"Georgie Day, mamma."
"I want him to have my sleeve-buttons. He can play base-ball, not two-old-cat. He can play real base-ball."
"Yes, Georgie shall come to see you to-morrow."
Lockwin goes to the speaking tube.
"Go and get Dr. Floddin at once. Tell him to come and stay with us. Tell him we have difficulty in keeping the child warm."
The sun has poured into the window and gone on to other sick chambers. The flaxseed and stramonium seem like reminders of the past stage of the trouble. Richard Tarbelle, never before in a room where the tide of life was low, looks down on Davy.
"Mr. Lockwin, I'm not rich, but I'd give a thousand dollars—a thousand dollars!"
"My God, doctor! why have you been so slow getting here?"
"My horses have been taken sick as fast as I got them."
The doctor advances to the child. The child is smiling on Richard Tarbelle.
"What ails you?"
It is Lockwin, looking in scorn on his doctor, who now, pale as a ghost, throws his hands up and down silly as the crone downstairs by the kitchen-range.
"Nothing can be done! Nothing can be done!"
"They say it hasn't been asthma at all," sobs Esther. "I suppose it's diphtheria."
"The man who can't tell when a child is sick, can't tell when he's dying," sneers Lockwin. "Doctor, when were you here yesterday?"
"I haven't been here since to-morrow week. My horses have been sick and the child was well."
Davy is white as marble. His breath comes hard. But why he should be dying, and why this fifty-cent doctor should know that much, puzzles and dumfounds the father. Davy may die next week, perhaps. Not dying now!
"It's a lie. It's not so," the father says.
"Mr. Lockwin, I don't want to say it, but it is so." It is the kind voice of Richard Tarbelle.
"Very well, then. It is diphtheria." It is the one goblin that for years has appalled Lockwin. Well it might, when it steals on a man like this. "To think I never gave him a drop of whisky. Oh! God! Get us a surgeon."
A medical college is not far away. The surgeon comes quickly, although Lockwin has gone half-way to meet him. The two men arrive. Dr. Floddin continues to throw his hands up and down. He loved Davy. Perhaps Dr. Floddin is a brave man to stay now. Perhaps he would be brave to go.
"Well, Mr. Surgeon, look at that child."
"Your boy is dying," says the surgeon, as the men retire to a back room.
"What is to be done?" asks the father, resolutely.
"We can insert a tube in his throat."
"Will that save his life?"
"It will prolong his life if the shock do not result fatally."
"If it were your own child would you do this operation?"
"Yes, I think so."
"Would you do it, certainly?"
"Let us go in."
"Esther, we shall have to give him air through his throat."
"No, no!" shrieks the woman. "No, no!"
The child's eyes, almost filmy before, are lifted in beautiful appeal to the mother. "No, Davy. It shall not be!"
"It must be," says Lockwin.
"I have not brought my instruments," says the surgeon. "It is now very late in the case, anyway."
"Thank God!" is the thought of the father.
The child smiles upon his mother. He smiles upon Richard Tarbelle.
"How can he smile on papa, when papa was to cut that white and narrow throat?" It is David Lockwin putting his unhappy cheek beside the little face.
Now, if all these flaxseed rags and this stramonium sprayer and pan could be cleared out! If it were only daylight, so we could see Davy plainer!
Then comes a low cry from the kitchen. It is the forlorn mother, detailing the treacherous siege of membraneous croup.
David Lockwin can only think of the hours last night, while Davy was in Gethsemane. The cradle song was the death song. The doctors sit in the back room. Esther holds the little hands and talks to the ears that have gone past hearing. "There is a sublime patience in women," thinks Lockwin, for he cannot wait.
"Inconceivable! Inconceivable! Davy never at the window again! Take away my miserable life, oh, just nature! Just God!"
The white lips are moving:
"Books, papa! J-o-s-e-p—"
"Yes, Davy. Josephus. Papa knows. Thank you, Davy. I can't say good-bye, Davy, for I hope I can go with you!"
The man's head is in the pillow. "Oh, to take a little child like this, and send him out ahead of us—ahead of the strong man. Is it not hard, Richard Tarbelle?"
"Mr. Lockwin, as I said, I am not a rich man, but I would give a thousand dollars—a thousand dollars—I guess you had better look at him, Mr. Lockwin."
Davy is dead.
Never yet has that father showered on the child such a wealth of love as lies in that father's heart. It would spoil the boy, and Lockwin, himself almost a spoiled son, has had an especial horror of parental over-indulgence.
So, therefore, he is now free to take that little form in his arms. The women will rid it of the nightgown and put on a cleaner garment. And while they do this act, the man will kiss that form, beginning at the soles of the feet.
—Those holy fields Over whose acres walked those blessed feet Which fourteen hundred years ago were nailed For our advantage on the bitter cross.—
Why do these lines course through the man's brain? Curses on that flaxseed and that vile drug which made these fields so hard for these little feet. Any way, the man may gather this clay in his arms. No one else shall touch it! It is a long way down these stairs! Never at the window again, Davy. "I would give a thousand dollars." Well, God bless Richard Tarbelle. If it were a longer distance to carry this load, it would be far better! Light up the back parlor! Let us have that ironing-board! Fix the chairs thus! He must have a good book. It shall be Josephus. Oh, God! "Josephus, papa." Yes, yes, Davy. Put curly-head on Josephus.
The man is crooning. He is happy with his dead.
He talks to the nearest person and to Davy.
There is a great noise at the head of the street. There is an inflow of the people. The shrill flageolet, the brass horns, the bass drums, the crash of the general brass and the triangle—these sounds fill the air.
Where is the people's idol, elected to Congress by to-night's count, already conceded at Opposition head-quarters?
The orator stands over his dead. What is that? Elected to Congress? A speech?
"It will be better," says Richard Tarbelle. "Come up on the balcony, Mr. Lockwin. It will be better."
This noise relieves the father's brain. How fortunate it has come. The orator goes up by a rear stairway. He appears on the balcony. There is a cheer that may be heard all over the South Side.
"He looks haggard," says the first citizen.
"You'd look tired if you opened your barrel the way he did," vouchsafes the second citizen.
The orator lifts his voice. It is the proudest moment of his life, he assures them. In this eventful day's work the nation has been offered a guarantee of its welfare. The sanctity of our institutions has been vindicated.
Here the tin-horns, the cat-calls, the drunken congratulations—the whole Babel—rises above the charm of oratory. But the people's idol does not stop. The words roll from his mouth. The form sways, the finger points.
"He's the boy!" "Notice his giblets!" "He will be President—if his barrel lasts." Thus the first, second and third saloon-keepers determine.
There is a revulsion in the crowd. What is the matter at the basement gate?
It is the cook and the housekeeper in contention.
"I tell ye's I'm goin' to fasten it on the door! Such doings as this I never heard of. Oh, Davy, my darlint! Oh! Davy, my darlint!"
The crowd is withdrawing to the opposite curb, But the crush is tremendous. There are ten thousand people in the street. Only those near by know what is happening.
The cook escapes from the housekeeper. She climbs the steps of the portico. She flaunts the white crape. "Begone, ye blasphemous wretches!" she cries.
"What the devil is that?" asks the first citizen.
The cook is fastening the white gauze and the white satin ribbon on the bell knob.
"Do ye see that, ye graveyard robbers? Will ye blow yer brass bands and yer tin pipes now, ye murtherin' wretches?"
The host has seen the signal of death, as it flaunts under the flickering light of the gas lamp. There is an insensible yet rapid departure. There were ten thousand hearers. There are, perhaps, ten hundred whose eyes are as yet fixed upward on the orator.
"Our republic will forever remain splendid among nations," comes the rich voice from the balcony. One may see a form swaying, an arm reaching forth in the dim light.
The ten hundred are diminishing. It is like the banners of the auroral light. The ten hundred were there a moment ago. Now it is but a memory. No one is there. The street is so empty that a belated delivery wagon may rattle along, stopping at wrong houses to fix the number.
The orator speaks on. He weeps and he thunders.
Hasten out on that balcony, Richard Tarbelle, and stop this scandal! Lead that demented orator in! Pluck him by the sleeve! Pluck harder!
"The voice of the people, my fellow-citizens," cries the people's idol, "is the voice—is the voice of God."
"God, and Holy Mary, and the sweet angels!" comes a low, keening cry from the kitchen.
LYNCH-LAW FOR CORKEY
It is a month after the election. Lockwin has been out of bed for a week.
"You astound me!" cries Dr. Tarpion.
The doctor is just back from his mine in Mexico. The doctor has climbed the volcano of Popocatapetl. His six-story hotel in Chicago is leased on a bond for five years. He has a nugget of gold from his mine. His health is capital. He is at the mental and physical antipodes of his friend. Talk of Mexican summer resorts and Chicago real estate is to the doctor's taste. He is not prepared for Lockwin's recital.
"Your Davy, my poor fellow, had no constitution. Mind you, I do not say he would have died had I remained at my office. I do not say that. Of course, it was highly important that his stomach should be preserved. You fell in the hands of a Dr. Flod—let me see our list. Why, by heavens! his name is not down at all!"
Dr. Floddin's name is not in the medical peerage. Dr. Floddin, therefore, does not exist.
"Well, David, let us speak of it no more. You were entrapped. How about this Congress? I tell you that you must go. You must do exactly as our leader directs."
Lockwin is elected, and he is not. He received the most votes, but great frauds were openly perpetrated. Without the false votes Corkey would have been elected. There is to be a contest in the lower House. The majority of the party in the House is only three, with two republicans on sick beds in close districts.
Interest in the Chicago affair is overshadowing. The President's private secretary has commissioned the Chicago political boss to fix it up.
Corkey is an unknown factor. The boss assures the administration that the district would be lost if Corkey should win.
What does Corkey want?
"I was elected," says Corkey.
"You don't carry the papers," answers the boss.
"I just made you fellers screw your nut for 2,000 crooked votes," says Corkey.
"None of your sailors had the right to vote," says the boss. "Now, here, Corkey, you are going to lose that certificate. It doesn't belong to you, and we've got the House. Here's a telegram from a high source: 'Lockwin must get the election at all hazards. See Corkey.' I'll tell you what you do. You and Lockwin go on and see the President."
"That will never do," says Corkey. "But I'll tell you what I will do."
"Do you know I've a notion that Lockwin ain't goin' to serve. If he resigns, I want it. If he catches on, all right. I want him or you to get me collector of the port. You hear me? Collector of the port. His nobs, this collector we have now—he must get out, I don't care how. But he must sherry. I can't fool with these sailors. If they see me trading with Lockwin they will swear I sell out. See? Well, I want to see Lockwin, just the same. Now, I'll tell you what I'll do: You Send Lockwin to Washington to explain the situation. Get in writing what is to be done. Don't let there be any foolin' on that point. Tell Lockwin to return by the way of Canada, and get to Owen Sound. I know a way home that will leave us alone for two days or more. In that time I can tell what I'll do."
"All right; Lockwin shall go."
"I'll give it out that I've gone to Duluth for the newspaper. But I've no use for newspapers no more. It's collector or Congress, sure. Don't attempt no smart plays. Tell that to the jam-jorum at Washington. If they want me to take down my contest and cover up the hole you ballot-box-stuffers is in here at home, let 'em fix me."
"It's all right if Lockwin meets me at Owen Sound. I've got the papes to send a lot of you duffers to the pen if you don't come to time."
Corkey therefore sails for Duluth. It increases his standing with the sailors to make these trips late in the year.
Lockwin is to go to Washington. It is evident, say his friends, that he is greatly exhausted with the efforts of the campaign. Dr. Tarpion has hinted that Lockwin is not the ambitious man that he has seemed to be. Dr. Tarpion has hinted that it was only through strong personal influence that Lockwin has been held faithful to the heavy party duty that now lies upon him.
Dr. Tarpion has hinted that Lockwin did not want the office if it did not belong to him.
But Lockwin has had brain fever for nearly a month. What could you expect of a man who made so many speeches at so many wigwams?
"Besides," says the political boss, "he had sickness in his family."
"Some one died, didn't they?" asks a rounder where these reports are bandied.
"Yes, a little boy. Good-looking little fellow, too. I saw him with Lockwin."
"When I was a young man," said the boss, "old Sol Wynkoop got in the heat of the canvass, just like Lockwin. Old Sol was just about as good a speaker. He would talk right on, making 'em howl every so often. Well, his wife and his daughter they both died and was buried, and Old Sol he didn't miss his three dates a day. He didn't come home at all. I had a notion to tell Lockwin that. Oh, he ain't no timber for President, or even for senator. I did tell Lockwin how my wife died. I got to the funeral, of course, for this is a city, and Old Sol was forty miles away, with muddy roads. But, boys, when I get tired I just have to go up to the lake and catch bass. I tell you, politics is hard. I must find Lockwin right away. Good-bye, boys. Charge those drinks to me."
It is Sunday. David Lockwin is walking toward the little church where Davy went to Sunday-school. He passes a group at a gate near the church. "Every week, just at this time, there goes by the most beautiful child. Stay and see him. See how he smiles up at our window."
"He is dead and buried," says Lockwin in their ear. They are young women. They are startled, and run in the cottage.
Lockwin walks as in a dream. To-morrow he goes to Washington. "Politics is hard," he says, but he does not feel it. He feels nothing. He feels at rest. Nothing is hard. He is weak from an illness, of which he knows little. He has never been in this infant-room. Many a time he has left Davy at the door.
The pastor's wife is the shepherdess. She has a long, white crook. Before her sit seven rows of wee faces and bodies. It is sweeter than a garden of flowers. They are too small to read books, but they learn at the fastest pace. The shepherdess gets Lockwin a chair. There are tears in her eyes. The audience is quick to feel. Tears come in the eyes of little faces nearly as beautiful as Davy's. Roses are sweetest when the dew sparkles on them.
"Oh, my dear sir, no. None of them are as pretty as he was." Such is the opinion of the shepherdess. "We see only one like him in a lifetime," she testifies. A wee, blue chair is vacant in the first row at the end—clearly the place of honor. A withered wreath lies on the chair. The man's eyes are fastened on that spot. Here is a world of which he knew nothing. Here he follows in the very footsteps.
"Listen, listen," says the motherly teacher. "This is Davy's father."
Three of the most bashful arise and come to be kissed. Strange power of human pity!
"Little Davy is with Jesus," says the shepherdess. "Now all you who want to be with Jesus, raise your hands."
Every right hand is up. Their faith is implicit, but many a left hand is pulling a neighboring curl. Busy is that long shepherd crook, to defeat those wicked left hands.
A head obtrudes in the door. "Excuse me," says the political boss. "Mr. Lockwin, can you spare a moment? Hello, Jessie! no, papa will not be home to-night. Tell mamma, will you?"
A curly head is saddened. Lockwin thanks the shepherdess, and follows his boss.
"The train goes East at 4:45. Don't lose a moment. Lucky I found you."
The newspaper press is in possession of a sensation. On Monday morning we quote: "A plot has been revealed which might have resulted in the loss of the First district, and possibly of Congress, just at the moment the re-apportionment bill was to be passed. Notice of contest has been served on Congressman Lockwin as a blind for subsequent operations, and yesterday the newly elected member left hurriedly for Washington to consult with the attorney general. It is evident that the federal authorities will inquire into the high-handed outrages which swelled the votes of Corkey and the other unsuccessful candidates on election day.
"The time is coming," concludes the article, "when lynch law will be dealt out to the repeaters who haunt the tough precincts at each election day."
The prominent citizens say among themselves: "We ought to do something pretty soon, or these ward politicians will be governing the nation!"
IN GEORGIAN BAY
Corkey is at Owen Sound. The political bee is buzzing in his bonnet. Collector of the port—this office seems small to a man who really polled more votes than Lockwin. The notion has taken hold of Corkey that, by some hook or crook, Lockwin will get out and Corkey will get in.
When he thinks of this, Corkey rises and walks about his chair, sitting down again.
This is a gambler's habit.
There follows this incantation an incident which flatters his ambition. Having changed his tobacco from the right to the left side of his mouth, he strangles badly. It takes him just five minutes to get a free breath. This is always a good sign. Thereupon the darkest of negro lads, with six fingers, a lick, left-handed and cross-eyed, enters the barroom of the hotel.