A Novel by
ALFRED HENRY LEWIS
Author of "The Boss," "Wolfville Days," Etc.
New York A. S. Barnes and Company MDCCCCIV
To ETHEL OVIATT LEWIS
I. How Richard Began to Woo
II. How a President is Bred
III. How Mr. Gwynn Dined with the Harleys
IV. How a Speakership was Fought for
V. How Richard was Taught Many Things
VI. How Storri Had a Vivid Imagination
VII. How Richard Gained in Knowledge
VIII. How Storri Wooed Mrs. Hanway-Harley
IX. How Storri Made an Offer of His Love
X. How Storri Plotted a Vengeance
XI. How Mr. Harley Found Himself a Forger
XII. How Mr. Fopling was Inspired
XIII. How the San Reve Gave Storri Warning
XIV. How They Talked Politics at Mr. Gwynn's
XV. How Richard Met Inspector Val
XVI. How Richard Received a Letter
XVII. How Northern Consolidated was Sold
XVIII. How Storri Explored for Gold
XIX. How London Bill Took a Pal
XX. How Storri Foolishly Wrote a Message
XXI. How the Gold Came Down
XXII. How the San Reve Kept Her Storri
XXIII. How Richard and Dorothy Sailed Away
Across the Senator's Desk
One of the Most Reverend of the Senate Walruses
At the Door of the Caucus Room
It was a Kind of Prodigy
That Artist of Pursuit
"Sit Down!" Thundered Mr. Harley
He Held Her Close
"It'll Take Two Months to Dig that Tunnel"
HOW RICHARD BEGAN TO WOO
On this far-away November morning, it being ten by every steeple clock and an hour utterly chaste, there could have existed no impropriety in one's having had a look into the rooms of Mr. Richard Storms, said rooms being second-floor front of the superfashionable house of Mr. Lorimer Gwynn, Washington, North West. Richard, wrapped to the chin in a bathrobe, was sitting much at his ease, having just tumbled from the tub. There was ever a recess in Richard's morning programme at this point during which his breakfast arrived. Pending that repast, he had thrown himself into an easy-chair before the blaze which crackled in the deep fireplace. The sudden sharp weather made the fire pleasant enough.
The apartment in which Richard lounged, and the rooms to the rear belonging with it, were richly appointed. A fortune had been spilled to produce those effects in velvets and plushes and pictures and bronzes and crystals and chinas and lamps and Russia leathers and laces and brocades and silks, and as you walked the thick rugs you made no more noise than a ghost. It was Richard's caprice to have his environment the very lap of splendor, being as given to luxury as a woman.
Against the pane beat a swirl and white flurry of snow, for winter broke early that year. Richard turned an eye of gray indolence on the window. The down-come of snow in no sort disquieted him; there abode a bent for winter in his blood, throughout the centuries Norse, that would have liked a Laplander. Even his love for pictures ran away to scenes of snow and wind-whipped wolds with drifts piled high. These, if well drawn, he would look at; while he turned his back on palms and jungles and things tropical in paint, the sight of which made him perspire like a harvest hand. As Richard's idle glance came back from the window, it caught the brown eyes of Mr. Pickwick considering him through a silvery, fringy thicket of hair. Mr. Pickwick was said to be royally descended; however that might have been, indubitably his pedigree harbored somewhere both a door-mat and a mop.
"Rats!" observed Richard to Mr. Pickwick.
Richard did not say this because it was true, but to show Mr. Pickwick that the ties which bound them were friendly. On his side, Mr. Pickwick, albeit he stood well aware how there was never a rat in the room, arose vivaciously and went snuffling and scuffling behind curtains and beneath sofas, and all in a mood prodigiously dire.
The room being exhaustively searched, Mr. Pickwick came and sat by Richard, and with yelp and howl, and at intervals a little epileptic bark, proceeded to disparage all manners and septs of rats, and spake slightingly of all such vermin deer. Having freed his mind on the important subject of rats, Mr. Pickwick returned to silence and his cushion and curled up.
Matzai, the Japanese valet, brought in the breakfast—steak, potatoes, eggs, toast, marmalade, and coffee. The deft Matzai placed the tray on the mahogany at Richard's elbow. Richard did not like a multiplicity of personal attendants. Of the score of souls within the walls of that house, Richard would meet only Mr. Gwynn and Matzai. This was as the wisdom of Solomon, since neglect is born of numbers.
Mr. Lorimer Gwynn was a personage—clean and tall and slim and solemn and sixty years of age. He was as wholly English as Mr. Pickwick was wholly Skye, and exuded an indomitable respectability from his formal, shaven face. Rumor had it that Mr. Gwynn was fabulously rich.
It was in June when Mr. Gwynn came to town and leased the house just vacated by Baron Trenk, late head of the Austrian diplomatic corps. This leasing of itself half established Mr. Gwynn in a highest local esteem; his being English did the rest, since in the Capital of America it is better, socially, to come from anywhere rather than from home. In addition to those advantages of Baron Trenk's house and an English emanation, Mr. Gwynn made his advent indorsed to the Washington banks by the Bank of England; also he was received by the British Ambassador, on whom he made a call of respect the moment he set foot in town.
It became known that Mr. Gwynn was either widower or bachelor; and at that, coupled with his having taken a large house, the hope crept about that in the season he would entertain. The latter thought addressed itself tenderly to the local appetite, which was ready to be received wherever there abode good cooks and sound wines. Mr. Gwynn, it should be mentioned, was duly elected a member of the Metropolitan Club—where he never went; as was likewise Richard—who was seen there a great deal.
Richard had not come to town until both Mr. Gwynn and his house were established. When he did appear, it was difficult for the public to fix him in his proper place. He was reserved and icily taciturn, and that did not blandly set his moderate years; with no friends and few acquaintances, he seemed to prefer his own society to that of whomsoever came about him.
Who was he?
What was he?
What were his relations with Mr. Gwynn?
Surely, Richard could be neither son nor nephew of that English gentleman. Richard was too obviously the American of full blood; his high cheekbones, square jaw, and lean, curved nose told of two centuries of Western lineage. Could it be that Richard was Mr. Gwynn's secretary? This looked in no wise probable; he went about too much at lordly ease for that. In the end, the notion obtained that Richard must be a needy dependent of Mr. Gwynn, and his perfect clothes and the thoroughbred horse he rode were pointed to as evidences of that gentleman's generosity. Indeed, Mr. Gwynn was much profited in reputation thereby.
Richard, while not known, was not liked. He wore the air of one self-centered, and cold to all judgments except his own. This last makes no friends, but only enemies for him whose position is problematical. Richard's pose of insolent indifference would have been beautiful in a gentleman who counted his fortune by millions; in a dollarless beggar who lived off alms it was detestable. Wherefore, the town, so far as Richard encountered it, left our silent, supercilious one to himself, which neglect dove-tailed with his humor and was the precise lonely thing he sought. This gave still further edge to the public's disregard; no one likes you to accept with grace what is intended for punishment.
Matzai carried away the breakfast tray, and Richard lighted a cigar. Matzai returned and stood mute inside the door, awaiting new commands. Richard pointed through the cigar-smoke to the clock—one of those soundless, curious creatures of brass and glass and ivory which is wound but once in four hundred days, and of which the hair-hung pendulum twists and turns and does not swing.
"In an hour! Eleven o'clock!" said Richard.
At the risk of shaking him in general standing it should be called to your notice that Richard preceded breakfast with no strong waters. Richard would drink nothing more generous than coffee, and, speaking in the sense limited, tobacco was his only vice. Perhaps he stuck to cigars to retain his hold on earth, and avoid translation before his hour was ripe.
It was no pale morality that got between Richard and the wine cup. In another day at college he had emptied many. But early in his twenties, Richard discovered that he carried his drink uneasily; it gave a Gothic cant to his spirit, which, under its warm spell, turned warlike. Once, having sat late at dinner—this was in that seminary town in France where he attended school—he bestrode a certain iron lion, the same strange to him and guarding the portals of a public building. Being thus happily placed, he drew two huge American six-shooters, whereof his possession was wrapped in mystery even to himself, and blazed vacuously, yet ferociously, at the moon. Spoken to by the constabulary who came flying to the spot, Richard replied with acrimony.
"If you interfere with me," remarked Richard on that explosive occasion, addressing the French constables, "I'll buy your town and burn it." The last with a splendid disdain of limitations that was congenital.
Exploits similar to the above taught Richard the futility of alcoholic things, and thereupon he cultivated a Puritan sobriety upon coffee and tobacco.
Richard cast the half-burned cigar into the fire. Stepping to the mantel, he took from it a small metal casket, builded to hold jewels. What should be those gems of price which the metal box protected? Richard did not strike one as the man to nurse a weakness for barbaric adornment. A bathrobe is not a costume calculated to teach one the wearer's fineness. To say best, a bathrobe is but a savage thing. It is the garb most likely to obscure and set backward even a Walpole or a Chesterfield in any impression of gentility. In spite of this primitive regalia, however, Richard gave forth an idea of elevation, and as though his ancestors in their civilization had long ago climbed above a level where men put on gold to embellish their worth. What, then, did that casket of carved bronze contain?
Richard took from its velvet interior the heel of a woman's shoe and kissed it. It was a little kissable heel, elegant in fashion; one could tell how it belonged aforetime to the footwear of a beautiful girl. Perhaps this thought was aided by the reverent preoccupation of Richard as he regarded it, for he set the boot-heel on the table and hung over it in a rapt way that had the outward features of idolatry. It was right that he should; the little heel spoke of Richard's first strong passion.
You will retrace the year to the 10th of June. Richard, after roving the Eastern earth for a decade, had just returned to his own land, which he hardly knew. Throughout those ten years of long idling from one European city to another, had Richard met the woman he might love, he would have laid siege to her, conquered her, and brought her home as his wife. But his instinct was too tribal, too American. Whether it were Naples or Paris or Vienna or St. Petersburg or Berlin, those women whom he met might have pleased him in everything save wedlock. In London, and for a moment, Richard saw a girl he looked at twice. But she straightway drank beer with the gusto of a barge-man, and the vision passed.
It was the evening after his return, and Richard at the Waldorf sat amusing himself with those tides of vulgar humanity that ebb and flow in a stretch of garish corridor known as Peacock Lane. Surely it was a hopeless place wherein to seek a wife, and Richard had no such thought. But who shall tell how and when and where his fate will overtake him? Who is to know when Satan—or a more benevolent spirit—will be hiding behind the hedge to play good folk a marriage trick? And Richard had been warned. Once, in Calcutta, price one rupee, a necromancer after fullest reading of the signs informed him that when he met the woman who should make a wife to him, she would come upon him suddenly. Wherefore, he should have kept a brighter watch, expecting the unexpected.
Richard's gaze went following two rustical people—clearly bride and groom. In a cloudy way he loathed the groom, and was foggily wondering why. His second thought would have told him that the male of his species—such is his sublime egotism—feels cheated with every wedding not his own, and, for an earliest impulse on beholding a woman with another man, would tear her from that other one by force. Thus did his skinclad ancestors when time was.
However, Richard had but scanty space wherein either to enjoy his blunt hatred of that bridegroom or theorize as to its roots. His ear caught a muffled scream, and then down the wide staircase in front of him a winsome girl came tumbling.
With a dexterity born of a youth more or less replete of football, Richard sprang forward and caught the girl in his arms. He caught and held her as though she were feather-light; and that feat of a brutal strength, even through her fright, worked upon the saved one, who, remembering her one hundred and thirty pounds, did not think herself down of thistles.
"Are you hurt?" asked Richard, still holding her lightly close.
Richard looked at the girl; black hair, white skin, lashes of ink, eyes of blue, rose-leaf lips, teeth white as rice, a spot of red in her cheeks—the last the fruit of fright, no doubt. He had never seen aught so beautiful! Even while she was in his arms, the face fitted into his heart like a picture into its frame, and Richard thought on that prophet of Calicut.
"Are you injured?" he asked again.
"Thanks to you—no," said the girl.
With a kind of modest energy, she took herself out of his arms, for Richard had held to her stoutly, and might have been holding her until now had she not come to her own rescue. For all that, she had leisure to admire the steel-like grasp and the deep, even voice. Her own words as she replied came in gasps.
"No," she repeated, "I'm not injured. Help me to a seat."
The beautiful rescued one limped, and Richard turned white.
"Your ankle!" he exclaimed.
"No; my heel," she retorted with a little flutter of a laugh. "My French heel caught on the stair; it was torn away. No wonder I limp!"
Then came the girl's mother and called her "Dorothy."
Richard, who was not without presence of mind, climbed six steps and secretly made prize of the baby boot-heel. Perhaps you will think he did this on the argument by which an Indian takes a scalp. Whatever the argument, he placed the sweet trophy over that heart which held the picture of the girl; once there, the boot-heel showed bulgingly foolish through his coat.
Richard returned to the mother and daughter; the latter had regained her poise. He introduced himself: "Mr. Richard Storms." The mother gave him her card: "Mrs. John Harley." She added:
"My name is Hanway-Harley, and this is my daughter, Dorothy Harley. Hanway is my own family name; I always use it." Then she thanked Richard for his saving interference in her child's destinies. "Just to think!" she concluded, and a curdling horror gathered in her tones. "Dorothy, you might have broken your nose!"
Richard ran a glance over Mrs. Hanway-Harley. She was not coarse, but was superficial—a woman of inferior ideals. He marveled how a being so fine as the daughter could have had a no more silken source, and hugged the boot-heel. The daughter was a flower, the mother a weed. He decided that the superiority of Dorothy was due to the father, and gave that absent gentleman a world of credit without waiting to make his acquaintance.
Mrs. Hanway-Harley said that she lived in Washington. Where did Mr. Storms live?
"My home has been nowhere for ten years," returned Richard. Then, as he looked at Dorothy, while his heart took a firmer grip on the picture: "But I shall live in Washington in a few months."
Dorothy, the saved, beneath whose boot-heel beat Richard's heart, looked up, and in the blue depths—so Richard thought—shone pleasure at the news. He could not be certain, for when the blue eyes met the gray ones, they fell to a furtive consideration of the floor.
"You are to take a house in Washington," said Richard to Mr. Gwynn an hour later.
Mr. Gwynn bowed.
You who read will now come back to that snow-filled day in November. Richard relocked his dear boot-heel in the casket; eleven and Matzai had entered the room together. Matzai laid out Richard's clothes, down to pin and puff tie. Richard shook off his bathrobe skin and shone forth in a sleeveless undershirt and a pair of those cotton trousers, cut short above the knee, which dramatic usage ascribes to fishermen and buccaneers.
As Richard stood erect, shoulders wide as a viking's, chest arched like the deck of a whale-back, he might have been a model for the Farnese Hercules, if that demigod were slimmed down by training and ten years off his age. He of Farnese should be about forty, if one may go by looks, while Richard was but thirty. Also, Richard's arms, muscled to the wrists and as long as a Pict's, would have been out of drawing from standpoints of ancient art. One must rescue Richard's head; it was not that nubbin of a head which goes with the Farnese one. Moreover, it showed wisest balance from base to brow; with the face free of beard and mustache, while the yellow hair owned no taint of curl—altogether an American head on Farnese shoulders refined.
Richard made no speed with his dressing. What with refusing several waistcoats—a fastidiousness which opened the slant eyes of Matzai, being unusual—and what with pausing to smoke a brooding cigar, it stood roundly twelve before he was ready for the street. One need not call Richard lazy. He was no one to retire or to rise with the birds; why should he? "Early to bed and early to rise" is a tradition of the copybooks. It did well when candlelight was cheap at a dollar the dozen, but should not belong to a day of electricity no dearer than the sun.
Before going out, Richard crossed to a writing cabinet and pressed a button, the white disk whereof showed in its mahogany side. It was not the bell he used for the wheat-hued Matzai, and owned a note peculiar to itself. As though in response came Mr. Gwynn, irreproachable, austere.
Upon the advent of Mr. Gwynn, one might have observed sundry amazing phenomena, innocent at that. Mr. Gwynn did not sit down, but stood in the middle of the room. On the careless other hand, Richard did not arise from the chair into which he had flung himself, but sat with his hat on, puffing blue wreaths and tapping his foot with a rattan.
"Mr. Gwynn," quoth Richard, "you will catch the four-o'clock limited to New York. Talon & Trehawke, Attorneys, Temple Court, have on sale a majority of the stock of the Daily Tory. Buy it; notify those in present charge of the editorial and business departments of the new proprietorship. There will be no changes in the personnel of the paper so far as refers to New York. You are to say, however, that you will give me charge in Washington. Talon & Trehawke can put you in control, and forty-eight hours should be enough to carry out my plans. The balance of the stock you will buy up at your leisure. This is Tuesday; have the bureau here ready for me by Thursday evening."
Mr. Gwynn inclined his head.
"Can you give me, sir, some notion of what Talon & Trehawke are to have?" asked Mr. Gwynn.
"Their letter addressed to you—here it is—says that sixty per cent. of the stock can be had for two millions eight hundred thousand."
"Very good, sir," and Mr. Gwynn bowed deeply.
Richard pulled on his gloves to depart, whereat Mr. Pickwick yelped frantically from his cushion. Richard tapped Mr. Pickwick with the lacquered rattan.
"Old man," said Richard, "I am going to take a look at the lady I love." Mr. Pickwick moaned querulously, while Richard sought the street.
Richard, the day before, dispatched a note and a card to Mrs. Hanway-Harley and had been told in reply that he might call to-day at three. Richard decided to repair to the club, and wait for three o'clock.
Richard, during his week in Washington, had found a deserted corner in the club and pre-empted it. At those times when he honored the club with his presence, he occupied this vantage point. From it he was given both a view of the street and a fair survey of the apartment itself. No one approached him; his atmosphere was repellant; beyond civil nods, curtailed to the last limit of civility, his intercourse with his fellows had not advanced.
On this afternoon as Richard smoked a solitary cigar and reviewed the thin procession of foot passengers trudging through the snow beneath his window, he was attracted by the loud talk of a coterie about a table. The center of the group was Count Storri—a giant Russ. This Storri did not belong to the Russian legation, did not indeed reside in town, and had been vouched into the club by one of his countrymen. He had onyx eyes, with blue-black beard and mustaches which half covered his face, and hair as raven as his beard. Also he valued himself for that a favorite dish with him was raw meat chopped fine with peppers and oil.
Storri's education—which was wide—did not suffice to cover up in him the barbarian, videlicet, the Tartar—which was wider; and when a trifle uplifted of drink, it was his habit to brag profoundly in purring, snarling, half-challenging tones. Storri boasted most of his thews, which would not have disgraced Goliath. He was at the moment telling a knot of gaping youngsters of monstrous deeds of strength. Storri had crushed horseshoes in his hand; he had rolled silver pieces into bullets between thumb and finger.
"See, you children, I will show what a Russian can do!" cried Storri.
Storri came over to the fireplace, the rest at his heels. Taking up the poker—a round half-inch rod of wrought iron—he seized it firmly by one end with his left hand and with the right wound it twice about his left arm. The black spiral reached from hand to elbow; when he withdrew his arm the club poker was a Brobdingnagian corkscrew.
The youngsters stared wonder-bitten. Then a mighty chatter of compliments broke forth, and Storri swelled with the savage glory of his achievement.
Richard, the somber, who did not like noise, shrugged his shoulders. Storri, by the fireplace, caught the shrug and found it offensive. He made towards Richard, and offered the right hand, his white teeth gleaming in a sinister way through the fastnesses of his beard.
"Will you try grips with me?" cried Storri loudly. "Will you shake hands Russian fashion?"
"No," retorted Richard, all ice and unconcern. "I will not shake your hand Russian fashion."
Storri broke into an evil grin that made him look like a black panther.
"Some day you must put your fingers into that trap," said he, opening and closing his broad hand.
Richard making no return, Storri and the others went back to their decanters.
Richard might have said, and would have believed, that he did not like Storri because of a Siberian rudeness and want of breeding. It is to be thought, however, that his antipathy arose rather from having heard the day before Storri's name coupled with that of Dorothy Harley. The Russ was a caller at the Harley house, it seemed, and rumor gave it that he and Mr. Harley were together in speculations. At that Richard hated Storri with the dull integrity of a healthy, normal animal, just as he would have hated any man who raised his eyes to Dorothy Harley; for you are to know that Richard was in a last analysis even more savage than was Storri himself, and withal as jealously hot as a coal of fire. Presently Storri departed, and Richard forgot him in a reverie of smoke.
It stood the quarter of three, and Richard took up his walk to the Harleys'. It was no mighty journey, being but two blocks.
In the Harley drawing room whom should Richard meet but Storri. The Russ was on the brink of departure. At that meeting Richard's face clouded. Dorothy was alone with Storri; her mother had been called temporarily from the room. At sight of Dorothy's flower-like hand in Storri's hairy paw, Richard's eyes turned jade.
"Mr. Storms," said Dorothy, as Richard paused in the door, "permit me to present Count Storri."
"Ah!" whispered Storri, beneath his breath, "see now how my word comes true!"
With that he put out his hand like a threat.
Storri's exultation fell frost-nipped in greenest bud. It was as though some implacable destiny had seized his hand. In vain did Storri put forth his last resource of strength—he who crushed horseshoes and twisted pokers! Like things of steel Richard's fingers closed grimly and invincibly upon those of Storri. The Russian strove to recover his hand; against the awful force that held him his boasted strength was as the strength of children.
Storri looked into Richard's eyes; they were less ferocious, but infinitely more relentless than his own. There was that, too, in the other's look which appalled the Tartar soul of Storri—something in the drawn brow, the eye like agate, the jaw as iron as the hand! And ever more and a little more that fearful grip came grinding. The onyx eyes glared in terror; the tortured forehead, white as paper, became spangled with drops of sweat.
There arose a smothered feline screech as from a tiger whose back is broken in a deadfall. Richard gave his wrist the shadow of a twist, and Storri fell on one knee. Then, as though it were some foul thing, Richard tossed aside Storri's hand, from the nails of which blood came oozing in black drops as large as grapes.
"What was it?" gasped Dorothy, who had stood throughout the duel like one planet-struck; "what was it you did?"
"Storri on his knee?" asked Richard with a kind of vicious sweetness. There was something arctic, something remorselessly glacial, in the man. It caught and held Dorothy, entrancing while it froze. "Storri on his knee?" repeated Richard, looking where his adversary was staining a handkerchief with Tartar blood. "It was nothing. It is a way in which Russians honor me—that is, Russians whom I do not like!"
HOW A PRESIDENT IS BRED
Mr. Patrick Henry Hanway, a Senator of the United States, had the countenance of a prelate and the conscience of a buccaneer. His grandfather—it was at this old gentleman, for lack of information, he was compelled to stop his ancestral count—was a farmer in his day. Also, personally, he had been the soul of ignorance and religion, and of a narrowness touching Scriptural things that oft got him into trouble.
Grandfather Hanway read his Bible and believed it. He held that the earth was flat; that it had four corners; and that the sun went around the earth. He replied to a neighbor who assured him that the earth revolved, by placing a pan of water on his gate-post. Not a drop was spilled, not a spoonful missing, in the morning. He showed this to the astronomical neighbor as refutatory of that theory of revolution.
"For," said Grandfather Hanway, with a logical directness which among the world's greatest has more than once found parallel, "if the y'earth had turned over in the night like you allow, that water would have done run out."
When the astronomical one undertook a counter argument, Grandfather Hanway fell upon him with the blind, unreasoning fury of a holy war and beat him beyond expression. After that Grandfather Hanway was left undisturbed in his beliefs and their demonstrations, and tilled his sour acres and begat a son.
The son, Hiram Hanway, was sly and lazy, and not wanting in a gift for making money that was rather the fruit of avarice than any general length and breadth and depth of native wit. Having occasion to visit, as a young man, the little humdrum capital of his State, he stayed there, and engaged in the trade of lobbyist before the name was coined. He, too, married, and had children—Patrick Henry Hanway and Barbara Hanway. These his offspring were given a peculiar albeit not always a sumptuous bringing up.
When Patrick Henry Hanway was about the age of Oliver Twist at the time Bill Sykes shoved him through the window, Hiram Hanway caused him to be appointed page in the State Senate. There, for eight years, he lived in the midst of all that treason and mendacity and cowardice and rapacity and dishonor which as raw materials are ground together to produce laws for a commonwealth. He learned early that the ten commandments have no bearing on politics and legislation, and was taught that part of valor which, basing itself on greed and cunning and fear, is called discretion, and consists in first running from an enemy and then hiding from pursuit. Altogether, those eight years might have been less pernicious in their influence had Patrick Henry Hanway passed them with the chain gang, and he emerged therefrom, to cast his first vote, treacherous and plausible and boneless and false—as voracious as a pike and as much without a principle.
Patrick Henry Hanway did not follow in the precise footsteps of his sire. He resolved to make his money by pulling and hauling at legislation; but the methods should be changed. He would improve upon his father, and instead of pulling and hauling from the lobby, he would pull and haul from within. The returns were surer; also it was easier to knead and mold and bake one's loaf of legislation as a member, with a seat in Senate or Assembly, than as some unassigned John Smith, who, with a handful of bribes and a heart full of cheap intrigue, must do his work from the corridor. A legislative seat was a two-edged sword to cut both ways. You could trade with it, using it as a bribe, bartering vote for vote; that was one edge. Or you could threaten with it, promising nay for nay, and thus compel some member to save your bill to save his own; that was the other edge. A mere bribe from the lobby owned but the one edge; it was like a cavalry saber; you might make the one slash at a required vote, with as many chances of missing as of cutting it down. Every argument, therefore, pointed to a seat; whereat Patrick Henry Hanway bent himself to its acquirement, and at the age of twenty-six he was sworn to uphold the law and the Constitution and told to vote in the Assembly. In that body he flourished for ten years, while his manhood mildewed and his pockets filled.
The native State of Patrick Henry Hanway was a moss-grown member of the republic and had been one of the original thirteen. It possessed with other impedimenta a moss-grown aristocracy that borrowed money, devoured canvasbacks, drank burgundy, wore spotless tow in summer, clung to the duello, and talked of days of greatness which had been before the war. It carried moss-grown laws upon its statute books which arranged for the capture of witches, the flogging of Quakers at a cart's tail, the boring of Presbyterian tongues with red-hot irons, and the punishment of masters who oppressed their hapless slaves with terrapin oftener than three times a week. However, these measures, excellent doubtless in their hour, together with the aristocracy referred to, had fallen to decay.
The moss-grown aristocracy were aware in a lifeless, lofty way of Patrick Henry Hanway, and tolerating while they despised him as one without an origin, permitted him his place in the legislature. Somebody must go, and why not Patrick Henry Hanway? They, the aristocracy, would there command his services in what legislation touching game, and oysterbeds, and the foreclosure of mortgages they required, and that was all their need. The supple Patrick Henry Hanway thanked the aristocracy for the honor, took the place, and carried out their wishes for patrolling oysterbeds, protecting canvasbacks, and preventing foreclosures.
While these conditions of mutual helpfulness subsisted, and Patrick Henry Hanway kept his hat off in the presence of his patrons, nothing could be finer than that peace which was. But time went on, and storms of change came brewing. Patrick Henry Hanway, expanding beyond the pent-up Utica of a State Capitol, decided upon a political migration to the Senate of the United States.
When this news was understood by men, the shocked aristocracy let their canvasbacks grow cold and their burgundy stand untasted. With horrified voice they commanded "No!" The United States Senate had been ever reserved for gentlemen, and Patrick Henry Hanway was a clod. The fiat went forth; Patrick Henry Hanway should not go to the Senate; a wide-eyed patrician wonder was abroad that he should have had the insolent temerity to harbor such a dream—he who was of the social reptilia and could not show an ancestor who had owned a slave!
This purple opposition did not surprise the astute Patrick Henry Hanway; it had been foreseen, and he met it with prompt money. He had made his alliances with divers railway corporations and other big companies, and set in to overturn that feudalism in politics which had theretofore been dominant. The aristocrats felt the attack upon their caste; they came forth for that issue and the war wagged.
But the war was unequal. The aristocrats, who, like the Bourbons, had learned nothing, forgotten nothing, plodded with horseback saddle-bag politics. Patrick Henry Hanway met them with modern methods of telegraph and steam. Right and left he sowed his gold among the peasantry. In the end he went over his noble enemies like a train of cars and his legislature sent him into Washington by a vote of three to one. He had been there now twelve years and was just entering upon his third term. Moreover, he had fortified his position; his enemies were now powerless to do him harm; and at the time this story finds him he had constructed a machine which rendered his hold upon his State as unshakable as Gibraltar's famous rock. Patrick Henry Hanway might now be Senator for what space he pleased, and nothing left for that opposing nobility but to glare in helpless rancor and digest its spleen.
When Patrick Henry Hanway came to Washington he was unhampered of even a shadow of concern for any public good. His sole thought was himself; his patriotism, if he ever possessed any, had perished long before. Some said that its feeble wick went flickering out in those earlier hours of civil war. Patrick Henry Hanway, rather from a blind impression of possible pillage than any eagerness to uphold a Union which seemed toppling to its fall, enlisted for ninety days. As he plowed through rain and mud on the painful occasion of a night march, he addressed the man on his right in these remarkable words:
"Bill, this is the last d——d time I'll ever love a country!"
And it was.
The expletive, however, marked how deep dwelt the determination of Patrick Henry Hanway; for even as a young man he had taught himself a suave and cautious conversation, avoiding profanity as of those lingual vices that never made and sometimes lost a dollar.
The Senate of this republic, at the time when Patrick Henry Hanway was given his seat therein, was a thing of granite and ice to all newcomers. The oldsters took no more notice of the novice in their midst than if he had not been, and it was Senate tradition that a member must hold his seat a year before he could speak and three before he would be listened to. If a man were cast away on a desert island, the local savage could be relied upon to meet him on the beach and welcome him with either a square meal or club. Not so in the cold customs of the Senate. The wanderer thrown upon its arctic shores might starve or freeze or perish in what way he would; never an oldster of them all would make a sign. Each sat in mighty state, like some ancient walrus on his cake of ice, and made the new one feel his littleness. If through ignorance or worse the new one sought to be heard, the old walruses goggle-eyed him ferociously. If the new one persisted, they slipped from their cakes of ice and swam to the seclusion of the cloakrooms, leaving the new one talking to himself. This snub was commonly enough to cause the collapse of the new one, after which the old walruses would return to their cakes of ice.
Senator Hanway—one should give him his title when now he has earned it—was not inclined to abide by those gag traditions that ruled the Senate beaches. He was supple, smooth, apologetic, deprecatory, and his nature was one which would sooner run a mile than fight a moment. For all that he was wise in his generation, fearing no one who could not reach him for his injury. He did not, for instance, fear the Senate walruses, goggle-eying him from their ice cakes. They could do him no harm; he did not take his seat by their permission. Upon deliberate plan, therefore, Senator Hanway had not been in his place a fortnight before he got the floor on an appropriation, and began to voice his views. The walruses at first goggle-eyed him in wrathful amazement; but he kept on. Then, as was their habit, they set sail for the cloakrooms, waving condemnatory flippers.
Senator Hanway had thought of this, and the cloakroom move did not disconcert him. He seized on one of the most reverend of the Senate walruses, one festooned with the very seaweed of Senate tradition, and, casting him, as it were, on the coals of his hot rhetoric, proceeded to roast him exhaustively. The cloakroom walruses smelled the odor of burning blubber and returned eagerly to their cakes of ice, for there is nothing so pleasing to your true walrus as the spectacle of a brother walrus being grilled. It was in time understood that if the walruses placed an affront upon Senator Hanway he would assail them singly or in the drove. Then the walruses made their peace with him and admitted him to fellowship before his time; for your walrus cannot carry on a war and is only terrible in appearance.
Now, when the seal of silence was taken from Senator Hanway and he found himself consented to as a full-grown walrus possessed of every right of the Senate beaches, he became deferential to his fellow Senators. He curried their favor by pretending to consult with them, personally and privately, on every Senate question that arose. He could be a great courtier when he pleased and had a genius for flattery, and now that his right to go without a gag was no longer disputed he devoted himself to healing what wounds he had dealt the vanity of the oldsters. By this he grew both popular and powerful; as a finale no man oftener had his Senate way.
Senator Hanway, modestly and unobtrusively, did sundry Senate things that stamped him a leader of men. He bore the labor of a staggering filibuster, and more than any other prevented a measure that was meant for his party's destruction. In the lists of that filibuster he met the champion of the opposition—a Senator of pouter-pigeon characteristics, more formidable to look upon than to face—and, forensically speaking, beat him like a carpet.
On another day when one of his party associates was to be unseated by so close a vote that a single member of the Committee on Privileges and Elections would determine the business either way, it was Senator Hanway, no one knew how, who in manner secret captured that member from the enemy. The captured one voted sheepishly in committee and continued thus sheepish on the open Senate floor, although a beautiful woman smiled and beamed upon him from the gallery as women smile and beam when granted favors.
It was during Senator Hanway's second term, however, that he accomplished the work which placed him at his party's fore and confirmed him as its chief. The Senate, following a certain national election, fell to be a tie. The party of Senator Hanway still had control of the committees and generally of the Senate organization; but that election had sent to be the Senate's presiding officer a Vice-President who belonged with the opposition. On a tie, Senator Hanway's party would find defeat by the vote of that new Vice-President.
It was then the pouter-pigeon chieftain moved that the Senate organization be given over to him and his fellows. The motion would seem to settle it. The vote on the floor would be equal, and the sagacious pouter-pigeon reckoned on the new Vice-President to decide for him and his. The party colleagues of Senator Hanway, many of them four terms old in Senate mysteries, were eaten of despair; they saw no gateway of escape. The pouter-pigeon would take possession, remake the committees, and, practically speaking, thereby remake the legislation of that Congress.
At this crisis, Senator Hanway took down the Constitution and showed by that venerable document how the power of the Vice-President went no farther than deciding ties on legislative questions; that when the business at bay was a matter of Senate organization, he had no more to say than had the last appointed messenger on the gallery doors. The situation, in short, did not present a tie, for the settlement of which the Vice-Presidential decision was possible; therefore, Senate things must remain as they then were.
Senator Hanway's reading of Vice-Presidential powers was right, as even the opposition confessed; he saved the Senate and thereby the nation to his party, and his rule was established unchallenged over his people, his least opinion becoming their cloud and their pillar of fire to guide them day and night. He was made far and away the dominant figure of the Senate.
Finding himself thus loftily situated and his hands so clothed with power, Senator Hanway, looking over the plains of national politics, conceived the hour ripe for another and a last step upward. For twelve years a White House had been his dream; now he resolved to seek its realization. From the Senate he would move to a Presidency; a double term should close his career where Washington and Jefferson and Jackson and other great ones of the past closed theirs.
True, Senator Hanway must win his party's nomination; and it was here he took counsel with his Senate colleagues. Being consulted, the word of those grave ones proved the very climax of flattery. Senators Vice and Price and Dice and Ice, and Stuff and Bluff and Gruff and Muff, and Loot and Coot and Hoot and Toot, and Wink and Blink and Drink and Kink—statesmen all and of snow-capped eminence in the topography of party—endorsed Senator Hanway's ambition without a wrinkle of distrust to mar their brows or a moment lost in weighing the proposal. The Senate became a Hanway propaganda. Even the opposition, so far as slightly lay with them, were pleasantly willing to help the work along, and Senator Hanway blushed to find himself a Senate idol. By the encouragement which his colleagues gave him, and the generous light of it, Senator Hanway saw the way clear to become the choice of his party's national convention. But he must work.
It was in that prior day when Senator Hanway served his State in the legislature that he wedded Dorothy Harley. It is to be assumed that he loved her dearly; for twelve years later when she died his grief was like a storm, and for the rest of his days he would as soon think of a top hat without a crown as without a mourning band.
When Senator Hanway married Dorothy Harley, her brother, John Harley, married Barbara Hanway. Whether this exchange of sisters by the two was meant for retort or for compliment lived a point of dispute—without being settled—among the friends of the high contracting parties for many, many months.
Not that anyone suffered by these double nuptials; the families owned equal social standing, having none at all, and were evenly balanced in fortune, since neither had a dollar. Both Senator Hanway and John Harley had their fortunes to make when, each with the other's sister on his arm, they called in the preacher that day; and after the wedding they set about the accumulation of those fortunes.
In a half-sense the two became partners; for while a lawmaker can be highly useful to a man of energy outside the halls of legislation, the converse is every inch as true. They must be folk of course who know and trust one another; and, aside from marrying sisters—a fact calculated to quickly teach two gentlemen the worst and the best about each other—John Harley and Senator Hanway had been as Damon and Pythias for a decade. Not that either would have died for the other, but he would have lied and plotted and defrauded and stopped at nothing short of murder for him, which, considering the money appetites of the pair and those schemes they had for feeding them, should be vastly more important.
When Senator Hanway came to Washington, John Harley and his wife, Barbara Hanway-Harley as she preferred to style herself, came with him. Senator Hanway made his home with the Harleys, when now he was a widower; and the trio, with the daughter, Dorothy—named for the Senator's wife—who lost her boot heel when Richard lost his heart, made up a family of four, and took their place in Capital annals.
John Harley had a red and jovial face that promised conviviality. It was the custom with John Harley to slap a new acquaintance on the shoulder and hail him as "Old Man." He was long of body, short of leg, apoplectic as to neck—a girthy, thick, explosive, boisterous gentleman, who could order a good dinner and could eat one. He could find you a fair bottle of wine, and then assist in emptying it. He aimed at the open and frank and generous, and was willing you should think him of high temper, one who would on provocation deal a knock-down blow.
Senator Hanway was his opposite, being of no more color than a monk and of manners as precisely soft as a lady's. He never raised his voice, never lost his temper; he strove for an accurate gentility—to give the lie to noble foes at home—and far from owning any ferocities of fist, retorted to a heated person who charged him with flat falsehood by a mere shrug of the shoulders and a simple:
"I refuse to discuss it, sir!"
And all with a high air that left his opponent gasping and helpless and floundering with the feeling that he had been somehow most severely and completely, not to say most righteously, rebuked.
There you have vague charcoal sketches of Senator Hanway and John Harley; you may note as wide a difference between the two as lies between warclubs and poisons. And yet they fitted with each other like the halves of a shell. Also they were masters of intrigue; only John Harley intrigued like a Wolsey and Senator Hanway like a Richelieu.
John Harley played the business man, and was rough and plain and blunt—a man of no genius and with loads of common sense. He made a specialty of unpalatable truths and discarded sentiment. Indeed, he was so good a business man that he got possession of a rotund interest in a group of coal mines without the outlay of a dollar, and later became the owner of sundry sheaves of railway stocks on the same surprising terms.
Not that the coal and the railway companies lost by John Harley. When it was known that he possessed an interest in the mines, certain armor plate mills and shipbuilding concerns, as well as nineteen steamboat lines, came forward to buy the coal. As for the railway, whereas prior to John Harley's introduction as shareholder and director it could get no consideration in the way of freights from those giant corporations which have to do with beef and sugar and oil—it being both slow and crooked as a railroad—thereafter it was given all it could haul at rates even with the best, and its prosperity became such that fifty-five points were added to the quoted value of its stock.
It is possible that John Harley's nearness to Senator Hanway had something to do with founding for him a railway and a coal-mine popularity. The vote of a Senator may be important to armor plate and shipbuilding concerns; as much might be said of companies that deal in beef and sugar and oil. The action of a Senator may even become of moment to a steamship line. The last was evidenced on a day when those nineteen suddenly refused to purchase further coal from the Harley mines. They were buying five millions of tons a year, those five millions finding their way to the sea over the railway of which John Harley was a director and in which he owned those sheaves of stocks, and a fortune rose or fell by that refusal. The steamboats said they would have no more Harley coal; it was stones and slates, they said.
Senator Hanway at once introduced a bill, with every chance of its passage, which provided for a tariff reduction of ten per cent. ad valorem on goods brought to this country in American ships. Since the recalcitrant nineteen were, to the last rebellionist among them, foreign ships, flying alien flags, this threatened preference of American ships took away their breath. The owners of those lines went black with rage; however, their anger did not so obscure them but what they saw their penitent way to readopt the Harley coal, and with that the mining and carriage and sale of those annual five millions went forward as before. The Hanway bill, which promised such American advantages, perished in the pigeon holes of the committee; but not before the press of the country had time to ring with the patriotism of Senator Hanway, and praise that long-headed statesmanship which was about to build up a Yankee merchant marine without committing the crime of subsidy.
John Harley and Senator Hanway at the time when Dorothy suffered that momentous mishap of the heel, were both enrolled by popular opinion among the country's millionaires. Each had been the frequent subject of articles in the magazines, recounting his achievements and offering him to the youth of America as a "Self-Made Man," whose example it would be wise to steer by. In the Presidential plans of Senator Hanway, John Harley nourished a flaming interest. With his pale brother-in-law in the White House, what should better match the genius of John Harley than the role of Warwick. He would pose as a President-maker. When the President was made, and the world was saying "President Hanway," that man should be dull indeed who did not look upon John Harley as the power behind the curtain. He would control the backstairs; he would wear a White House pass-key as a watch-charm! John Harley as well as Senator Hanway had his dreams.
Both Dorothy and her mother were profound partisans of Senator Hanway. Dorothy loved her "Uncle Pat" as much as she loved her father. Dorothy, who could weigh a woman,—being of the sex,—might have felt occasional misgivings as to her mother. She might now and again observe an insufficiency that was almost the deficient. But of her father and "Uncle Pat" she never possessed a doubt; the one was the best and the other the greatest of men.
Dorothy was so far justified of her affection that to both John Harley and Senator Hanway she stood for the model of all that was good and beautiful in life. Hard and keen and never honest with the world at large, the love of those two for the girl Dorothy was gold itself. Neither said "No" to Dorothy; and neither made a dollar without thinking how one day it would go to her. She was the joint darling; they would divide her between them as the recipient of their loves while they lived and their fortunes when they died. And many thought Dorothy lucky with two such fathers to cherish her, two such men to conquer wealth wherewith to feather-line her future.
John Harley made no secret of Senator Hanway's Presidential prospects, and if he did not talk them over with his helpmeet, he listened while she talked them over with him. Mrs. Hanway-Harley, who insisted more vigorously than ever upon the hyphenation, would of necessity preside over the White House. She saw and said this herself. The Harley family would move to the White House. Anything short of that would be preposterous.
Under such conditions and facing such a future, the tremendous responsibilities of which already cast their shadow on her, Mrs. Hanway-Harley was driven to take an interest in her brother's canvass; and she took it. She gave her husband, John Harley, all sorts of advice, and however much it might fail in quality, no one would have said that in the matter of quantity Mrs. Hanway-Harley did not heap the measure high. Senator Hanway himself she was not so ready to approach. He never mentioned the question of his Presidential hopes and fears, holding to the position of one who is sought. Under the circumstances, Mrs. Hanway-Harley felt that it would be gross and forward to force the subject with her brother, although she was certain that her silence meant unmeasured loss to him. Mrs. Hanway-Harley was one of those excellent women whereof it is the good fortune of the world to have such store, who cherish the knowledge, not always shared by others, that whatever they touch they benefit and wherever they advise they improve.
"Barbara," said Senator Hanway, on the morning of that day when Richard meddled so crushingly with Storri's hand, "Barbara, there is a matter in which you might please me very much."
Mrs. Hanway-Harley looked across the table at her brother, for the four were at breakfast.
"I promise in advance," said she.
"There is a gentleman," went on Senator Hanway, "I met him for a moment—a Mr. Gwynn. You ladies know how to arrange these things. I want to have him—not too large a party, you know—have him meet Gruff and Stuff and two or three of my Senate friends. He is vastly rich, with tremendous railway connections. I need not explain; but conditions may arise that would make Mr. Gywnn prodigiously important—extremely so. I don't know how you'll manage; he is exceedingly conventional—one of your highbred English who must be approached just so or they take alarm. But I'm sure, Barbara, you'll bring the matter about; and I leave it to you with confidence."
HOW MR. GWYNN DINED WITH THE HARLEYS
Any man who says that he is a gentleman is not a gentleman. A gentleman no more tells you that he is a gentleman than a brave man tells you he is brave. Gentility is a quality which the possessor never seeks to establish as his own by word of mouth; he leaves it to inference and the rule has no exception. This brilliant speechlessness arises not through modesty, but ignorance. However clearly gentility reveals itself to others, he who possesses it has no more knowledge on that faultless point than have your hills of the yellow gold they hold within their breasts.
Storri was one who went far and frequently out of his conversational way to assure you that he was a gentleman. Though he did no more than just recount how he gave his seat to a woman in a car, or passed the salt at dinner, or made a morning call, somewhere in the narrative you were sure to hear that he was "a gentleman," or "a Russian gentleman," commonly the latter; and he always accompanied the news with a straightening of his heavy shoulders and a threatening pull at his mustache as though he expected to find his word disputed and planned a terrible return.
It could not be called Storri's fault that it was not three hundred years since his forebears wore sheepskins, carried clubs, and made a fire by judiciously rubbing one stick against another. None the less, this nearness to a stone age left him barbarous in his heart; and the layer of civilization that was upon him was not a layer, but a polish—a sheen, and neither so thick nor so tangible as moonshine on a lake. The savageries of Richard were quite as vivid as Storri's, perhaps; but at least they had been advantageously hidden beneath a top-dressing of eleven civilizing centuries instead of three; and those eight extra centuries made all the difference in life. They gave Richard steadiness and self-control; for the first separation between civilization and barbarism lies in this, that a civilized man is more readily quieted after a stampede than is your barbarous one. Also he is not so wide open to original surprise.
Wherefore, when Richard and Storri stood glaring at one another after the episode of the hands, Richard had vastly the better of Storri, who fell into a three-ply mood of amazement, fright, and rage. Finally, Storri seemed to mutter threats while he retreated; and at the last got himself out of the Harley front door in rather an incoherent way. It was understood that he mumbled "Good-afternoon!" to Dorothy; and that "he would talk with him again," to Richard; and all as he found his hat with his left hand, the right meanwhile wrapped in a handkerchief which was a smudge of blood. It could not be described as a graceful exit and had many of the features of a rout; but it was effective, and took Storri successfully into the street. Dorothy, still transfixed, turned with round eyes to Richard:
"What was it you did?" she asked again.
"It was nothing," replied Richard with a shrug. "Or if anything, then a piece of primitive sarcasm. Really, I'm sorry, since you were here; but I had no choice."
"Will there be a duel?" gurgled Dorothy, catching her breath.
Dorothy, among other valuable ideas derived from novels, had gained a middle-age impression that made flashing blades and gaping wounds a romantic probability.
"Storri is not so self-sacrificing," returned Richard with a grin, "and I am much too modern." Then in a bantering tone: "How much better was the old day when men might differ nobly foot to foot, with the fair lady to the victor and a funeral to the vanquished as the natural upshot. It is too bad! In the name of progress we have come too far and thrown away too much!"
It was among the marvels how Richard changed. As he talked with Dorothy those eyes, late flint, became tender and laughingly honest in a fashion good to see. He appeared younger by half, for anger is ancient and piles on the years.
"Really, Miss Harley," continued Richard, with a heroic determination to change the subject, "I haven't as yet paid my respects to you. Your mother said I might call. She was very kind!" And here Richard pressed the little hand in that one which had so discouraged Storri, while Mrs. Hanway-Harley suddenly swept into the room as if "Mother" were her cue.
"Mamma," cried Dorothy, presenting Richard, "this is Mr. Storms. You remember; he saved my—my nose."
Certainly Mrs. Hanway-Harley remembered. She recalled the event in a manner superbly amiable and condescending.
"And you told us then," said Mrs. Hanway-Harley, "that you would presently dwell in Washington. Is it your plan to make the town your permanent residence?"
"My plans depend on the plans of others, madam. I have become chained to their chariot and cannot call myself free." Here Richard looked audaciously sly at Dorothy, who interested herself with certain flowers that stood in the window.
"Ah! I see," returned Mrs. Hanway-Harley, who did not see at all. "You mean Mr. Gwynn." She had heard of Mr. Gwynn, so far as the town knew that personage, from her husband. "But you said 'others'?"
"Yes, madam; besides Mr. Gwynn, there are Matzai and Mr. Pickwick." Then, responding to Mrs. Hanway-Harley's inquiring brows, Richard went forward with explanations. "Matzai is my valet, while Mr. Pickwick is a terrier torn by an implacable hatred of rats; which latter is the more strange, madam, for I give you my word Mr. Pickwick never saw a rat in his life."
"What an extraordinary young man!" ruminated Mrs. Hanway-Harley, and she bestowed upon Richard a searching glance to see if by any miracle of impertinence he was poking fun at her.
That well-balanced gentleman realized the peril, and faced it with a countenance as blankly, not to say as blandly vacuous as the wrong side of a tombstone. He ran the less risk; for the lady could not conceive how anyone dare take so gross a liberty with a Hanway-Harley; one, too, whose future held tremendous chances of a White House. Being satisfied of Richard's seriousness, and concluding privily that he was only a dullard whom the honor of her notice had confused, she said:
"Umph! Matzai and Mr. Pickwick! Yes; certainly!"
Then Mrs. Hanway-Harley set herself to ask questions, the bald aggressiveness whereof gave the daughter a red brow. Richard answered readily, as though glad of the chance, and did not notice the crimson that painted Dorothy's face.
The latter young lady was as much puzzled by their caller as was her mother, without accounting for his oddities on any argument of dullness. Indeed, she could see how he played with them: that there flowed an undercurrent of irony in his replies. Moreover, while by his manner he had pedestaled and prayed to her as to a goddess, when they were alone and before her mother came, Dorothy now observed that Richard carried himself in a manner easy and masterful, and as one who knows much in the presence of ones who know little. This air of the ineffably invincible made Dorothy forget the adoration which had aforetime glowed in his eyes, and she longed to box his ears.
"Is Mr. Gwynn your relative?" asked the cool, though somewhat careless, Mrs. Hanway-Harley.
"No, madam; no relative." There drifted about the corners of Richard's mouth the shadow of a smile. "He is all English; I am all American."
"I'm sure I'm sorry," remarked the lady musingly. Then without saying upon what her sorrow was hinged, she proceeded. "Mr. Gwynn, I hear—I don't know him personally, but hope soon to have that pleasure—is a gentleman of highest breeding. My brother assures me that he has most delightful manners. I know I shall adore him. If there's anything I wholly admire it is an old-school English gentleman—they have so much refinement, so much elevation!"
"It might not become me," returned Richard, in what Mrs. Hanway-Harley took to be a spirit of diffidence, "to laud the deportment of Mr. Gwynn. But what should you expect in one who all his life has had about him the best society of England?"
"Ah! I can see you like him—venerate him!" This with ardor.
"I won't answer for the veneration," returned Richard. "I like him well enough—as Mr. Gwynn."
Mrs. Hanway-Harley stared in matronly reproof.
"You don't appear over grateful to your benefactor."
"No;" and Richard shook his head. "I'm quite the churl, I know; but I can't help it."
Richard found a chance to say to Dorothy,
"I see that you love flowers."
This was when Dorothy had taken refuge among those blossoms.
"I worship flowers," returned Dorothy.
"Now I don't wonder," exclaimed Richard. "You and they have so much in common."
Mrs. Hanway-Harley was for the moment preoccupied with thoughts of Mr. Gwynn, and plans for the small Senate dinner at which that austere gentleman would find himself in the place of honor. However, she caught some flash of Richard's remark. For the fraction of an instant it bred a doubt of his dullness. What if he should come philandering after Dorothy? Mrs. Hanway-Harley's feathers began to rise. No beggar fed by charity need hope for her daughter's hand; she was firm-set as to that. Perhaps Mr. Gwynn intended to make him rich by his will. At this Mrs. Hanway-Harley's feathers showed less excitement. Mr. Gwynn should be sounded on the subject of bequests. Why not put the question to Mr. Storms? It would at least lead to the development of that equivocal gentleman's expectations.
"Has Mr. Gwynn any family in England?" asked Mrs. Hanway-Harley.
"A nephew or two, I believe; possibly a brother."
"But he will make you his heir."
"Me?" Richard gave a negative shake of the head. "The old fellow wouldn't leave me a shilling. Why should he? Nor would I accept it if he did." Richard's sidelong look at Mrs. Hanway-Harley was full of amusement. "No, the old rogue hates me, if he would but tell the truth—which he won't—and if it were worth my while and compatible with my self-respect, I've no doubt I'd hate him."
This sentiment was delivered with the blase air of weariness worn out, that should belong with him who has seen and heard and known a world's multitude; which manner is everywhere recognized as the very flower of good breeding.
Mrs. Hanway-Harley sat tongue-tied with astonishment. In the end she recalled herself. Mrs. Hanway-Harley scented nothing perilous in the situation. In any event, Dorothy would wed whomsoever she decreed; Mrs. Hanway-Harley was deservedly certain of that. While this came to her mind, Richard the enterprising went laying plans for the daily desolation of an entire greenhouse.
"Dorothy," observed Mrs. Hanway-Harley, after Richard had gone his way, "there you have a young man remarkable for two things: his dullness and his effrontery. Did you hear how he spoke of his benefactor? The wretch! After all that good, poor Mr. Gwynn has done for him!"
"How do you know what Mr. Gwynn has done for him?"
Dorothy, while she confessed the justice of her mother's strictures, felt uncommonly inclined to defend the absent one. Her memory of those tender glances was coming back.
"Why, it is all over town! Mr. Storms is dependent on Mr. Gwynn. By the way, I hope Count Storri did not meet him?" This was given in the rising inflection of a query.
"Only for a moment," returned Dorothy, breaking into a little crow of laughter. "The Count did not seem to like him." Dorothy thought of that combat of the hands, and how Storri was beaten to his knee, and how fiercely glorious Richard looked at that instant.
"What should you expect?" observed Mrs. Hanway-Harley. "The Count is a nobleman. And that reminds me: Dorothy, he appears a bit smitten. What if it were to prove serious?"
"You wouldn't have me marry him, mamma?"
"What! Not marry a Count!" Mrs. Hanway-Harley was shocked as only an American mother could have been shocked. She appealed to the ceiling with her horrified hands. "Oh! the callousness of children!" she cried. Following this outburst of despair, Mrs. Hanway-Harley composed herself. "We need not consider that now; it will be soon enough when the Count offers us his hand." Mrs. Hanway-Harley sank back in her chair with closed eyes and saw a vision of herself at the Court of the Czar. Then she continued her thoughts aloud. "It's more than likely, my dear, that the Czar would appoint Count Storri Ambassador to Washington."
"It would be extremely intelligent of the Czar, I'm sure," returned Dorothy with a twinkle.
The next morning a colored youth clad in the garish livery of an Avenue florist made his appearance on the Harley premises bearing aloft an armful of flowers as large as a sheaf of wheat. By the card they were for "Miss Harley." The morning following, and every morning, came the colored youth bearing an odorous armful. Who were they from? The card told nothing; it was the handwriting of the florist.
"Don't you think it might be Count Storri?" said Dorothy demurely, taking her pretty nose—the nose Richard saved—out of the flowers. "Those Russians are so extravagant, so eccentric!"
"Suppose I thank him for them," observed Mrs. Hanway-Harley; "that would bring him out!"
"No, no," exclaimed Dorothy hastily; "it might embarrass the Count."
"Pshaw! I'll ask the florist."
"No; that would offend the Count. You see, mamma, he thinks that we will know without asking. He would hardly regard our ignorance as a compliment," and Dorothy pouted. "You'd spoil everything."
Mrs. Hanway-Harley saw the force of this and yielded, though it cost her curiosity a pang.
Dorothy's dearest friend was with them—a tall, undulating blonde, who was sometimes like a willow and sometimes like a cat. When Mrs. Hanway-Harley had left the room, and Miss Marklin and Dorothy were alone, the former said firmly:
"Dorothy, who sent them?"
"Now, how should I know, Bess? You read the card."
"When a woman receives flowers, she always knows from whom," returned this wise virgin oracularly.
"Well, then," said Dorothy resignedly, drawing the golden head of the pythoness down until the small, pink ear was level with her lips, "if you must know, let me whisper."
There are people who hold that everybody they do not understand is a fool. There be others who hold that everybody who doesn't understand them is a fool. Mrs. Hanway-Harley belonged to the former class, and not making Richard out, she marked him "fool," and so informed Mr. Harley as she penned the dinner invitation to Mr. Gwynn.
"Of course, we shall not ask this Mr. Storms to the dinner. He would be misplaced by his years for one thing. Besides, I'm sure Mr. Gwynn wouldn't like it. I saw enough of Mr. Storms to doubt if, in their own house, he dines at the same table with Mr. Gwynn."
"At any rate," remarked the cautious Mr. Harley, "it's safe to leave him out this time. We'll establish his proper level, socially, by talking with Mr. Gwynn."
Mr. Gwynn came back from New York on Thursday afternoon. His traffic with Talon & Trehawke was successful, and he had bought the Daily Tory.
Richard was put in charge of the Washington correspondence. He was given a brace of assistants to protect, as he said, the subscribers; for be it known that Richard of the many blemishes knew no more of newspaper work than he did of navigation.
Mr. Gwynn found Mrs. Hanway-Harley's dinner invitation awaiting him; it was for the next evening. He brought it to Richard.
"You will go, Mr. Gwynn," said that gentleman. "I will consider; and to-morrow I will tell you what you are to say."
Richard has been referred to as a soul of many blemishes. The chief of these was his cynicism, although that cynicism had a cause if not a reason. With other traits, the same either virtues or vices according to the occasion and the way they were turned, Richard was sensitive. He was as thin-skinned as a woman and as greedy of approval. And yet his sensitiveness, with nerves all on the surface, worked to its own defeat. It rendered Richard fearful of jar and jolt; with that he turned brusque, repelled folk, and shrunk away from having them too near.
For a crowning disaster, throughout his years of manhood, Richard had had nothing to do. He had been idle with no work and no object to work for. You can suffer from brain famine and from hand famine. You may starve your brain and your hand with idleness as readily as you starve your stomach with no food. And Richard's nature, without his knowing, had pined for lack of work.
There had been other setbacks. Richard lost his mother before he could remember, and his father when he was twelve. He was an only child, and his father, as well as his mother, had been an only child. Richard stood as utterly without a family as did the first man. He grew up with schoolmasters and tutors, looked after by guardians who, infected of a fashion, held that the best place to rear an American was Europe. These maniacs kept Richard abroad for fairly the fifteen years next before he meets you in these pages. The guardians were honest men; they watched the dollars of their ward with all the jealous eyes of Argus. His mind they left to chance-blown influences, all alien; and to teachers, equally alien, and as equally the selection of chance. And so it came that Richard grew up and continued without an attachment or a friendship or a purpose; and with a distrust of men in the gross promoted to feather-edge. Altogether he should be called as loveless, not to say as, unlovable, a character as any you might encounter, and search throughout a summer's day.
Most of all, Richard had been spoiled by an admiration for Democritus, which Thracian's acquaintance he picked up at school. He saw, or thought he saw, much in the ease of the Abderite to remind him of his own; and to imitate him he traveled, professed a chuckling indifference to both the good and the ill in life, and, heedful to laugh at whatever turned up, humored himself with the notion that he was a philosopher. Democritus was Richard's affectation: being only an affectation Democritus did not carry him to the extreme of putting out his own eyes as a help to thought.
Richard, to reach his thirtieth year, had traveled far by many a twisting road. And for all the good his wanderings overtook, he would have come as well off standing still. But a change was risping at the door. In Dorothy Richard had found one to love. Now in his sudden role of working journalist, he had found work to do. Richard caught his bosom swelling with sensations never before known, as he loafed over a cigar in his rooms. Love and ambition both were busy at his heart's roots. He would win Dorothy; he would become a writer.
Richard, his cynicism touching the elbow of his dream, caught himself sourly smiling. He shook himself free, however, and was surprised to see how that ice of cynicism gave way before a little heat of hope. It was as if his nature were coming out of winter into spring; whereat Richard was cheered.
"Who knows?" quoth Richard, staring about the room in defiance of what cynic imps were present. "I may yet become a husband and an author before a twelvemonth."
Richard later took counsel with the gray Nestor of the press gallery—a past master at his craft of ink.
"Write new things in an old way," said this finished one whose name was known in two hemispheres; "write new things in an old way or old things in a new way or new things in a new way. Do not write old things in an old way; it will be as though you strove to build a fire with ashes."
"And is that all?" asked Richard.
"It is the whole of letters," said the finished one. With that Richard, nursing a stout heart, began his grind.
Every writer, not a mere bricklayer of words, has what for want of better epithet is called a style. There be writers whose style is broad and deep and lucid like a lake. It shimmers bravely as some ray of fancy touches it, or it tosses in billows with some stormy stress of feeling. And yet, you who read must spread some personal sail and bring some gale of favoring interest all your own, to carry you across. There be writers whose style is swift and flashing like a river, and has a current to whirl you along. The style seizes on you and takes you down the page, showing the right and the left of the subject as a river shows its banks. You are swept round some unexpected bend of incident, and given new impressions in new lights. Addison was the king of those who wrote like a lake; Macaulay of those who wrote like a river. The latter is the better style, giving more and carrying further and tiring less.
Richard belonged by native gift to the Macaulay school. He tasted the incense of his occupation when, having sent his first story, the night manager wired:
"Great! Keep it up."
Richard read and re-read the four words, and it must be confessed felt somewhat ashamed at the good they did him—being the first words of encomium that had ever come his way. They confirmed his ambition; he had found a pleasant, unexpected window from which to reconsider existence.
It was seven o'clock and Richard sat turning over a pile of papers which related to the purchase of the Daily Tory; they had been left by Mr. Gwynn. These he compared with a letter or two that had just come in.
"What a fool and old rogue it is!" cried Richard disgustedly. Then he pushed the button that summoned Mr. Gwynn.
That severe Briton appeared in flawless evening dress. It was the occasion of the Harley dinner, and Mr. Gwynn had ordered his carriage for half after seven.
"Mr. Gwynn," said Richard, "the Harley purpose is the Presidential hopes of Senator Hanway. You will offer aid in all of Senator Hanway's plans. Particularly, you are to let him know that the Daily Tory is at his service. Say that I, as its correspondent, shall make it my first duty to wait upon him."
"Very good, sir," said Mr. Gwynn.
"Another moment, Mr. Gwynn," said Richard, as the other was about to go. "Give me your personal check for eleven thousand six hundred and forty dollars."
Mr. Gywnn's face twitched; he hesitated, rocking a little on his feet. Richard had turned to scribble something; with that, repressing whatever had been upon his lips, Mr. Gwynn withdrew. He was instantly back with a strip of paper fluttering in his fingers. Richard placed it in his desk. Taking a similar strip from his writing pad he gave it to Mr. Gwynn.
"My own check for eleven thousand six hundred and forty dollars, Mr. Gwynn," said Richard. "I make you a present of it. That is to save your credit. Hereafter, when you see a chance to play the scoundrel, before you embrace it, please measure the probable pillage and let me know. I will then give you the amount. In that way you will have the profits of every act of villainy you might commit, while missing the mud and mire of its accomplishment. Remember, Mr. Gwynn; I will not tolerate a rascal."
"You are extremely good, sir," said the frozen Mr. Gwynn.
Mrs. Hanway-Harley placed Mr. Gwynn on her right hand, a distinction which that personage bore with a petrified grace most beautiful to look upon. Senator Hanway was on the other side of Mr. Gwynn. The party was not large—eight in all—and, besides the trio named and Mr. Harley, counted such partisans of Senator Hanway as Senators Gruff and Kink and Wink and Loot and Price. Mr. Gwynn was delighted to meet so much good company, and intimated it in a manner decorously conventional.
"Isn't he utterly English, and therefore utterly admirable?" whispered Mrs. Hanway-Harley to Senator Loot.
That statesman agreed to this as well as he could with a mouth at work on fish.
"Mr. Gwynn," said Mrs. Hanway-Harley affably, "I shall make the most of you while I may. You know I only intend to see you gentlemen safely launched, and then I shall retire."
Mr. Gwynn bowed gravely. Mr. Gwynn's strength lay in bowing. He was also remarkable for the unflagging attention which he paid to whatever was said to him. On such occasions his unblinking stare, wholly receptive like an underling taking orders, and never a glimmer of either contradiction or agreement or even intelligence to show therein, was almost disconcerting. Mrs. Hanway-Harley, however, declared that this receptive, inane stare was the hall-mark of exclusive English circles. Mr. Gwynn gave another proof of culture; he pitched upon the best wine and stuck to it, tasting and relishing with educated palate. This set him up with Mr. Harley.
"Yes, I shall make the most of you, Mr. Gwynn," said Mrs. Hanway-Harley.
By way of making the most of Mr. Gwynn, Mrs. Hanway-Harley spoke of meeting Mr. Storms. In her opinion that young man did not appreciate the goodness of Mr. Gwynn, and was far from grateful for those benefits which the latter showered upon him. At this intelligence, Mr. Gywnn was taken so aback that Mrs. Hanway-Harley stopped abruptly and shifted the conversation. Mrs. Hanway-Harley was one of those who have half-tact; they know enough to back out and not enough to keep out of a blunder.
The dinner was neither long nor formal. Mrs. Hanway-Harley at last removed the restraint of her presence, and thereupon Mr. Harley drank twice as much wine to help him bear her absence. Mr. Gwynn's health was proposed by Mr. Harley, and Mr. Gwynn bowed his thanks. It should be understood that Mr. Gwynn bowed like a Mandarin from beginning to end of the feast. There were no speeches; no man can make a speech to an audience of six. Cicero himself would have been dumb under such meager conditions.
When Mr. Harley drank Mr. Gwynn's health for the tenth time, and attempted, assisted by Senators Gruff and Price, to sing a song in his honor, Senator Hanway adroitly brought the dinner to a close. He was the more stirred to this as the plaster of Paris countenance of Mr. Gwynn, when Mr. Harley began to sing, betrayed manifest alarm.
After dinner Senator Hanway got Mr. Gwynn into a corner. Thereupon, in a manner creditable to himself, Mr. Gwynn gave Senator Hanway to know that he was his friend. The Daily Tory should be his; Richard should be his; Mr. Gwynn and all he called his own should be his; Senator Hanway was to make whatever use of Richard and the Daily Tory and Mr. Gwynn his experience and his interests might suggest. Indeed, Mr. Gwynn talked very well in private and in whispers; and Senator Hanway said later to Senator Kink that he was the deepest man he had ever met.
"And," said Senator Hanway, squeezing Mr. Gwynn's hand as that gentleman made ready for home, "tell your young man that I shall be glad to see him. There are certain contingencies touching the next Speakership of the House which should interest his paper. I shall see you to-morrow, Mr. Gwynn—with your permission. You can and should play a most important part in selecting that same Speaker. Your measureless interests in the great Anaconda Airline warrant me in the assertion."
HOW A SPEAKERSHIP WAS FOUGHT FOR
Fate now and then turns jester in a bitter way, and stoops to ironies and grinning sarcasm. Often it gives with the right hand only to take with the left, and blinded ones are set to chop and saw and plane those trees which in the end make gallows for their hopes. The story of the world shows many an inadvertent Frankenstein and deeply justifies the grewsome Mrs. Shelley.
Something less than two years prior to that evening when Senator Hanway took the congealed Mr. Gwynn into a corner and told him how, with his great Anaconda Airline, he should cut a figure in the selection of a next Speaker for the House of Representatives, it had been that statesman's fortune to so reconstruct a tariff that it gave unusual riches and thereby unusual comfort to the dominant ones of a certain manufacturing Northeastern State. This commonwealth at the time was politically in the hands of the party opposed to Senator Hanway. Mollified by the friendly tariff and anxious to mark their gratitude, those dominant ones arose and in the following autumn elected to be Governor of said State a middle-aged individual, eminent for obstinacy and a kind of bovine integrity that nothing might corrupt or turn aside. The Obstinate One of course belonged with the party of Senator Hanway.
At this pinch a vile chance befell. No sooner was the Obstinate One given the Governorship of a State doubtful and accounted the enemy's country, than straightway he was looked upon as White House timber by sundry architects of politics, and thereafter his name went more or less linked with a possible Presidency. The situation stirred the spleen of Senator Hanway. It was discouraging to have those identical tariff triumphs, which had been intended as an argument favorable to himself, give birth to a rival; one also who, for his geography and the popularity which those personal obstinacies and thick-skulled integrities invoked, might work a grave disturbance in his plans. To make bad worse, the Obstinate One possessed a sinister luck of his own and with closed eyes backed into a fight on the right side and won it against a pack of lobby wolves who were yelping and snapping about the State Treasury. This, although the Obstinate One of all men least appreciated what he had done, confirmed him as a valuable asset of party; pending further honors the public to reward him gave him the title of Governor Obstinate.
In his white, still, rippleless way, Senator Hanway hated in his soul's soul the name of Governor Obstinate. Night and day he carried that dull, fortunate gentleman on his swell of thought and never ceased to consider how he might deal him a blow or withstand him in any Presidential stepping forward. And yet at no time had Senator Hanway—and himself the master of every art of cord and creese in politics—felt more helpless. If Governor Obstinate had been no more than just a finished politician, a mere Crillon of political fence, Senator Hanway might have flashed his ready point between his ribs. But the other's very crudities defended him. He was primitive to the verge of despair. Even his strength was primitive, inasmuch as it dwelt among the people rather than with the machinists of party. Senator Hanway's monkish brow went often puckered of a most uncanonical frown as he thought upon that sardonic Destiny which had thrust this Governor Obstinate forward to become a stumbling block in his way. In his angry contempt he could compare him to nothing save a grizzly bear.
Whatever the justice of this last shaggy simile, even Senator Hanway could not deny its formidable side. A grizzly, whether in fact or in hyperbole, is no one good to meet. There is a supremacy of the primitive; when the natural and the artificial have collided the latter has more than once come limping off. Our soldiers cannot make the Indians fight their fashion; the Indians make the soldiers fight their fashion. If the soldiers were dense enough to insist upon their formation, the Indians—fighting all over the field and each red warrior for himself—would fill them as full of holes as a colander. When, therefore, Senator Hanway called Governor Obstinate a grizzly, it was a name of respect. The usual methods would not prevail in his stubborn case. Most of all, money could not be employed to overthrow him; for his foundations, like the foundations of any other grizzly, were original and beyond the touch of money.
Now all this served to palsy the strength of Senator Hanway. In one shape or another, and whether by promise or actual present production, money was his one great tool; and where the tool has lost its power the artisan is also powerless. It is not to Senator Hanway's discredit that he would fail where money failed; Richelieu, wanting money, would have been a turtle on its back. Wherefore, let it be rewritten that Senator Hanway in the face of those clumsy, uncouth, half-seeing yet tremendous potentialities of his enemy was seized of a helplessness never before felt. To oppose the other with only those narrow means of money was like trying to put down a Sioux uprising with a resolution of the Board of Trade. Still, he must do his best; he must hold this Governor Obstinate as much as he might in check, trusting to the chapter of accidents, which in politics is a very lair of surprises, to suggest final ways and means to baffle his advance.
For the business of making him President, the complaisant Senate had become the workshop of Senator Hanway. Now, on the brink of a new Congress, one which would be in session when the nominating convention of his party was called to order and therefore might be supposed to own power over its action and the Presidential ticket it would put up, Senator Hanway resolved to add the House of Representatives to his machine. He would elect its Speaker, and make the House an annex to his workshop of a Senate. He would hook up House and Senate as a coachman hooks up his team, and driving them tandem or abreast as the exigencies of the hour suggested, see how far two such powerful agencies might take him on his White House road.
It was on the side of Senator Hanway a brilliant thought and a daring one, this plan to seize a Speakership and apply it to his personal fortunes; for your Speakership is that office second only to a Presidency, and comes often to be the latter's superior in practical force. Those wise ones who designed the government intended the House of Representatives to be a republic. Through its own groveling abjections, however, it long ago sunk to an autocracy with the Speaker in the role of autocrat. It sold its birthright for no one knows what mess of pottage to pass its slavish days beneath a tyranny of the gavel. The Speaker settles all things. No measure is proposed, no bill passes, no member speaks except by the Speaker's will. He constructs the committees and selects their chairmen and lays out their work. With a dozen members, every one of whom votes and acts beneath his thumb, the Speaker transacts the story of the House. So far as the other three hundred and forty odd members are concerned, the folk who sent them might as well have written a letter. They live as much without art or part or lot in planning and executing House affairs as do the caged menagerie animals in the planning and execution of the affairs of what show they happen to exist as the attractions. These caged ones of the House are never regarded and but seldom heard. The best that one of them may gain is "Leave to print"; which is a kind of consent to be fraudulent, and permits a member to pretend through the Congressional Record that he made a speech (which he never made) and was overwhelmed by applause (which he did not receive) which swept down in thunderous peals (during moments utterly silent) from crowded galleries (as empty as a church).