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as that, and no one takes much notice of them. Almost every businessman is trying to get the better of some other business man by fair means or foul.”

“You do not seem to have a very exalted idea of humanity,” said Joe.

“A large part of humanity is sick,” said John, “and it is as well to be prepared for the worst in any illness.”

“I wish you were not so tremendously calm, you know,” said Joe, looking thoughtfully into John’s face. “I am afraid it will injure you.”

“Why in the world should it injure me?” asked John, much astonished at the remark.

“I have a presentiment”–she checked herself suddenly. “I do not like to tell you,” she added.

“I would like to hear what you think, if you will tell me,” said John, gravely.

“Well, do not be angry. I have a presentiment that you will not be made senator. Are you angry?”

“No indeed. But why?”

“Just for that very reason; you are too calm. You are not enough of a partisan. Every one is a partisan here.”

John was silent, and his face was grave and thoughtful. The remark was profound in its way, and showed a far deeper insight into political matters than he imagined Joe possessed. He had long regarded Mrs. Wyndham as a woman of fine sense and judgment, and had often asked her opinion on important questions. But in all his experience she had never said anything that seemed to strike so deeply at the root of things as this simple remark of Josephine’s.

“I am afraid you are angry,” said Joe, seeing that he was grave and silent.

“You have set me thinking, Miss Thorn,” he answered.

“You think I may be right?” she said.

“The idea is quite new to me, I think it is perhaps the best definition of the fact that I ever heard. But it is not what ought to be.”

“Of course not,” Joe answered. “Nothing is just what it ought to be. But one has to take things as they are.”

“And make them what they should be,” added John, and the look of strong determination came into his face.

“Ah, yes,” said Joe, softly. “Make things what they should be. That is the best thing a man can live for.”

“Perhaps we might go home, Joe,” said Miss Schenectady, who had been conversing for a couple of hours with another old lady of literary tastes.

“Yes, Aunt Zoe,” said Joe, rousing herself, “I think we might.”

“Shall I see you to-morrow night at Mrs. Wyndham’s dinner?” asked John, as they parted.

“No, I refused. Good-night.”

As Joe sat by her aunt’s side in the deep dark carriage on the way home, her hands were cold and she trembled from head to foot. And when at last she laid her head upon her pillow there were tears in her eyes and on her cheeks.

“Is it possible that I can be so heartless?” she murmured to herself.

CHAPTER XI.

Ronald went to see Sybil Brandon at five o’clock, and as it chanced he found her alone. Mrs. Wyndham, she said, had gone out, or rather she had not yet come home; but if Ronald would wait, she would certainly be in.

Ronald waited, and talked to Miss Brandon in the mean while. He had a bereaved air when he arrived, which was calculated to excite sympathy, and his conversation was subdued in tone, and grave in subject. But Sybil did her best to cheer him, and in the fullness of her sympathy did perhaps more than was absolutely necessary. Ronald’s wound was not deep, but he had a firm conviction that it ought to be.

Any man would have thought the same in his place. Certainly, few people would have understood what they felt in such a position. He had grown up believing he was to marry a young and charming woman of whom he was really exceedingly fond, and now he was suddenly told that the whole thing was a mistake. It was enough to break a man’s heart, and yet Ronald’s heart was not broken, and to his great surprise beat nearly as regularly the day after his disaster as it had done during the whole two-and-twenty years of his life. He could not understand his own calmness, and he was sure that he ought to be profoundly grieved over the whole affair, so that his face was drawn into an expression of solemnity somewhat out of keeping with its singular youthful freshness of color and outline.

The idea of devoting himself to the infernal gods as a sacrifice to the blighted passion had passed away in the course of the drive on the previous afternoon. He had felt no inclination to drown his cares in drink during the evening, but on the contrary he had gone for a brisk walk in Beacon Street, and had ascertained by actual observation, and the assistance of a box of matches, the precise position of No. 936. This had occupied some time, as it is a peculiarity of Boston to put the number of the houses on the back instead of the front, so that the only certain course to follow in searching for a friend, is to reach the rear of his house by a circuitous route through side streets and back alleys, and then, having fixed the exact position of his residence by astronomical observation, to return to the front and inquire for him. It is true that even then one is frequently mistaken, but there is nothing else to be done.

It was perhaps not extraordinary that Ronald should be at some pains to find out where Mrs. Wyndham lived, for Sybil was the only person besides Joe and Miss Schenectady whom he had yet met, and he wanted company, for he hated and dreaded solitude with his whole heart. Having traveled all the night previous, he went home and slept a sounder sleep than falls to the lot of most jilted lovers.

The next day he rose early and “did” Boston. It did not take him long, and he said to himself that half of it was very jolly, and half of it was too utterly beastly for anything. The Common, and the Gardens, and Commonwealth Avenue, you know, were rather pretty, and must have cost a deuce of a lot of money in this country; but as for the State House, and Paul Revere’s Church, and the Old South, and the city generally, why, it was simply disgusting, all that, you know. And in the afternoon he went to see Sybil Brandon, and began talking about what he had seen.

She was, if anything, more beautiful than ever, and as she looked at him, and held out her hand with a friendly greeting, Ronald felt himself actually blushing, and Sybil saw it and blushed too, a very little. Then they sat down by the window where there were plants, and they looked out at the snow and the people passing. Sybil asked Ronald what he had been doing.

“I have been doing Boston,” he said. “Of course it was the proper thing. But I am afraid I do not know much about it.”

“But do you like it?” she asked. “It is much more important, I think, to know whether you like things or dislike them, than to know everything about them. Do not you think so?”

“Oh, of course,” said Ronald. “But I like Boston very much; I mean the part where you live. All this, you know–Commonwealth Place, and the Public Park, you know, and Beacon Avenue, of course, very much. But the city “–

“You do not like the city?” suggested Sybil, seeing he hesitated, and smiling at his strange confusion of names.

“No,” said Ronald. “I think it is so cramped and ugly, and all little narrow streets. But then, of course, it is such a little place. You get into the country the moment you walk anywhere.”

“It seems very big to the Bostonians,” said Sybil, laughing.

“Oh, of course. You have lived here all your life, and so it is quite different.”

“I? Dear me no! I am not a Bostonian at all.”

“Oh,” said Ronald, “I thought you were. That was the reason I was not sure of abusing the city to you. But it is not a bad place, I should think, when you know lots of people, and that was such a pretty drive we went yesterday.”

“Yes, it must seem very new to you. Everything must, I should think, most of all this casual way we have of receiving people. But there really is a Mrs. Wyndham, with whom I am staying, and she will be in before long.”

“Oh–don’t–don’t mention her,” said Ronald, hastily, “I mean it–it is of no importance whatever, you know.” He blushed violently.

Sybil laughed, and Ronald blushed again, but in all his embarrassment lie could not help thinking what a silvery ring there was in her voice.

“I am afraid Mrs. Wyndham would not like it, if she heard you telling me she was not to be mentioned, and was not of any importance whatever. But she is a very charming woman, and I am very fond of her.”

“She is your aunt, I presume, Miss Brandon?” said Ronald.

“My aunt?” repeated Sybil. “Oh no, not at all–only a friend.”

“Oh, I thought all unattached young ladies lived with aunts here, like Miss Schenectady.” Ronald smiled grimly at the recollections of the previous day.

“Not quite that,” said Sybil, laughing. “Mrs. Wyndham is not the least like Miss Schenectady. She is less clever and more human.”

“Really, I am so glad,” said Ronald. “And she talks so oddly–Joe’s–Miss Thorn’s aunt. Could you tell me, if it is not a rude question, why so many people here are never certain of anything? It strikes me as so absurdly ridiculous, you know. She said yesterday that ‘perhaps, if I rang the bell, she could send a message.’ And the man at the hotel this morning had no postage stamps, and said that perhaps if I went to the General Post Office I might be able to get some there.”

“Yes,” said Sybil, “it is absurd, and one catches it so easily.”

“But would it not be ridiculous if the guard called out at a station, ‘Perhaps this is Boston!’ or ‘Perhaps this is New York?’ It would be too utterly funny.”

“I am afraid that if you begin to make a list of our peculiarities yon will find funnier things than that,” said Sybil, laughing. “But then we always laugh at you in England, so that it is quite fair.”

“Oh, we are very absurd, I know,” said Ronald, “but I think we are much more comfortable. For instance, we do not have niggers about who call us ‘Mister.'”

“You must not use such words in Boston, Mr. Surbiton,” said Sybil. “Seriously, there are people who would be very much offended. You must speak of ‘waiters of color,’ or ‘the colored help;’ you must be very careful.”

“I will,” said Ronald. “Thanks. Is everything rechristened in that way? I am afraid I shall always be in hot water.”

“Oh yes, there are no men and women here. They are all ladies and gentlemen, or ‘the gurls,’ and ‘the fellows.’ But it is very soon learnt.”

“Yes, I can imagine,” said Ronald, very much amused. “But–by the bye, this is the season here, is not it?”

So they chattered together for nearly an hour about the merest nothings, not saying anything particularly witty, but never seeming to each other in the least dull. Ronald had gone to Sybil for consolation, and he was so well consoled that he was annoyed when Mrs. Wyndham came in and interrupted his _tete-a-tete_. Sybil introduced Ronald, and when he rose to go, after a quarter of an hour, Mrs. Wyndham asked him to dinner on the following day.

That night, when Ronald was alone in his room at the hotel, he took Josephine’s photograph from a case in his bag and set it before him on the table. He would think about her for a while, and reflect on his situation; and he sat down for that purpose, his chin resting on his folded hands. Dear Joe–he loved her so dearly, and she was so cruel not to marry him! But, somehow, as he looked, he seemed to see through the photograph, and another face came and smiled on him. Again and again he called his attention back, and tried to realize that the future would be very blank and dreary without Joe; but do what he would, it did not seem so blank and dreary after all; there was somebody else there.

“Joe is quite right,” he said aloud. “I am a brute.” And he went to bed, trying hard to be disgusted with himself. But his dreams were sweet, for he dreamed he was sitting among the ferns at Mrs. Wyndham’s house, talking to Sybil Brandon.

“Why, my dear,” said Mrs. Wyndham, when Ronald was gone, “he is perfectly charming. We have positively found a new man.”

“Yes,” said Sybil. “I am so glad you asked him to dinner. I do not think he is very clever, but he talks easily, and says funny things.”

“I suppose he has come over to marry his cousin–has not he?” inquired Mrs. Wyndham.

“No,” replied Sybil, “he is not going to marry Joe Thorn,” she answered absently; for she was thinking of something, and her tone indicated such absolute certainty in the matter that Mrs. Wyndham looked quickly at her.

“Well, you seem quite certain about it, any way,” she said.

“I? Oh–well, yes. I think it is extremely unlikely that he will marry her.”

“I almost wish I had offered to take him to the party to-night,” said Mrs. Wyndham, evidently unsatisfied. “However, as he is coming to-morrow, that will do quite as well. Sybil, dear, you look tired. Why don’t you go and lie down before dinner?”

“Oh, because–I am not tired, really. I am always pale, you know.”

“Well, I am tired to death myself, my dear, and as there is no one here I will say I am not at home, and rest till dinner.”

Mrs. Wyndham had been as much startled as any one by news of the senator’s death that morning, and though she always professed to agree with her husband she was delighted at the prospect of John Harrington’s election. She had been a good friend to him, and he to her, for years, and she cared much more for his success than for the turn of events. She had met him in the street that afternoon, and they had perambulated the pavement of Beacon Street for more than an hour in the discussion of the future. John had also told her that he was now certain that Vancouver was the writer of the offensive articles that had so long puzzled him; at all events that the especial one which had appeared the morning after the skating-party was undoubtedly from his pen. Mrs. Wyndham, who had long suspected as much, was very angry when she found that her suspicions had been so just, and she proposed to deal summarily with Vancouver. John, however, begged her to temporize, and she promised to be prudent.

“By the way,” she said to Sybil, as she was about to leave the room, “it was a special providence that you did not marry Vancouver. He has turned out badly.”

Sybil started slightly and looked up. Her experience with Pocock Vancouver was a thing she rarely referred to. She had undoubtedly given him great encouragement, and had then mercilessly refused him, to the great surprise of every one. But as that had occurred a year and a half ago, it was quite natural that she should treat him like any one else, now, just as though nothing had happened. She looked up at Mrs. Wyndham in some surprise.

“What has he done?” she asked.

“You know how he always talks about John Harrington?”

“He always says he respects him immensely.”

“Very well. It is he who has been writing those scurrilous articles that we have talked about so much.”

“How disgraceful!” exclaimed Sybil. “How perfectly detestable! Are you quite sure?”

“There is not the least doubt about it. John Harrington told me himself.”

“Oh, then of course it is true,” said Sybil. “How dreadful!”

“Harrington takes it in the calmest way, as though he had expected it all his life. He says they were never friends, and that Vancouver has a perfect right to his political opinions. I never saw anybody so cool in my life.”

“What a splendid fellow he is!” exclaimed Sybil. “There is something lion- like about him. He would forgive an enemy a thousand times a day, and say the man who injured him had a perfect right to his opinions.”

“Why gracious goodness, Sybil, how you talk!” cried Mrs. Wyndham; “you are not in love with the man yourself, are you, my dear?”

“I?” asked Sybil. Then she laughed. “No, indeed! I would not marry him if he asked me.”

“Why not?”

“Oh, I would never marry a celebrity like that. He is splendid, and noble, and honest; but everything in him is devoted to his career. There is no room for a woman at all.”

“I think the amount of solid knowledge about men that you dear, sweet, lovely, beautiful, innocent little girls possess is something just too perfectly amazing!” said Mrs. Wyndham, slowly, and with great emphasis.

“If we do,” said Sybil, “it is not surprising. I am sure I do not wonder at girls knowing a great deal about the world. Everything is discussed before them, and marriage and men are the usual topics of conversation. The wonder is that girls still make so many mistakes in their choice, after listening to the combined experience of all the married women of their acquaintance for several years. It shows that no one is infallible.”

“What a funny girl you are, Sybil!” exclaimed Mrs. Wyndham. “I think you turn the tables on me altogether.”

“Yes? Well, I have experiences of my own now,” said Sybil, leaning back against an enormous cushion.

Mrs. Wyndham came and sat upon the arm of the easy-chair, and put one arm round Sybil’s neck and kissed her.

“Sybil, dear,” she said affectionately, and then stopped.

They sat in silence for some time, looking at the great logs burning in the deep fire-place.

“Sybil, dear,” Mrs. Wyndham began again, presently, “why did you refuse Vancouver? You do not mind telling me, do you?”

“Why do you ask?” said Sybil. “It makes no difference now.”

“No, perhaps not. Only I always thought it strange. He must have done something you did not like, of course.”

“Yes, that was it. He did something I did not like. Mr. Harrington would have said he had a perfect right to do as he pleased. But I could not marry him after that.”

“Was it anything so very bad?” asked Mrs. Wyndham, affectionately, smoothing Sybil’s thick fair hair.

“It was not as deep as a well, nor as broad as a house,” said Sybil, with a faint, scornful laugh; “but it was enough. It would do.”

“I wish you would tell me, dear,” persisted Mrs. Wyndham. “I have a particular reason for wanting to know.”

“Well, I would not have told before this other affair came out,” said Sybil. “I would not marry him because he tried to find out from poor mamma’s man of business whether we were rich. And the day after he got the information that I was rich enough to suit him, he proposed. But mamma knew all about what had gone on and told me, and so I refused him. She said I was wrong, and would not have told me if she had known it would make any difference. And now you say I was right. I am sure I was; it was only a fancy I had for him, because he was so clever and well-bred. Besides, he is much too old.”

“He is old enough to be your father, my dear,” said Mrs. Wyndham; “but I think you were a little hard on him. Almost any man would do the same. We here in Boston, of course, always know about each other. It was a little mean of him, no doubt, but it was not a mortal crime.”

“I think it was low,” said Sybil, decisively. “To think of a man as rich as that caring for a paltry twenty or thirty thousand a year.”

“I know, my dear,” said Mrs. Wyndham, “it is mean; but they all do it, and life is uncertain, and so is business I suppose, and twenty or thirty thousand a year does make a difference to most people, I expect.”

Mrs. Wyndham looked at the fire reflectively, as though not absolutely certain of the truth of the proposition. Sam Wyndham was commonly reputed to be worth a dozen millions or so. He would have been very well off even in New York, and in Boston he was rich.

“It would make a great difference to me,” said Sybil, laughing, “for it is all I have in the world. But I am glad I refused Vancouver on that ground, all the same. If it had not been for that I should have married him–just imagine!”

“Yes, just imagine!” exclaimed Mrs. Wyndham. “And to have had him turn out such an abominable blackguard!”

“There is no mistaking what you think of him now, at all events,” said Sybil.

“No, my dear. And now we have talked so long that it is time to dress for dinner.”

How Mrs. Wyndham went to the party and met Joe Thorn has already been told. It was no wonder that Mrs. Sam treated Vancouver so coldly, and she repulsed him again more than once during the evening. When Joe was gone, John Harrington went up to her.

“I came very late,” he said, “and at first I could not find you, and then I had to say something to Miss Thorn. But I wanted to see you especially.”

“Give me your arm,” said Mrs. Wyndham, “and we will go into the conservatory. I have something especial to say to you, too.” Once out of the thick of the party, they sat down. “I have discovered something more about our amiable friend,” she continued. “It is a side-light on his character–something he did a year and a half ago. Do you remember his flirtation with Sybil Brandon at Saratoga and then at Newport?”

“Yes, I was in Newport most of the summer.”

“You don’t know why she refused him, though. It’s perfectly rich!” Mrs. Sam laughed dryly.

“No; I only know she did, and every one seemed very much astonished,” answered John. “She refused him because he had been trying to find out how much she was worth. It speaks volumes for the characters of both of them, does it not?”

“Yes, indeed,” said John. “What a Jew that man is! He is as rich as Croesus.”

“Oh, well, as I told her, most men would do it.”

“I suppose so,” John answered, laughing a little. “A man the other night told me he was going to make inquiries concerning the fortunes of his beloved one. He said he had no idea of buying a pig in a poke. That was graceful, was it not?”

Mrs. Wyndham laughed aloud. “He was honest, at all events. By the bye, do you know you have a fanatic admirer in Sybil Brandon?”

“No, really? I like her very much, too: and I am very glad if she likes me.”

“She said she would not marry you if you asked her, though,” said Mrs. Sam, laughing again. “You see you must not flatter yourself too much.”

“I do not. I should not think of asking her to marry me. Did she give any especial reason why she would inevitably refuse me?”

“Yes, indeed; she said you were lion-like, and, oh, the most delightful things! But she said she would not marry you if you asked her, because you are a celebrity and devoted to your career, so that there is no room for a woman in your life. Is that true?”

“I am not so sure,” said John, thoughtfully. “Perhaps she is right in the way she means. I never thought much about it.”

CHAPTER XII.

The idea Joe had formed about Vancouver was just, in the main, and she was not far wrong in disliking him and thinking him dangerous. Nevertheless John Harrington understood the man better. Vancouver was so constituted that his fine intellect and quick perception were unsupported by any strong principle of individuality. He was not capable of hatred–he could only be spiteful; he could not love, he could only give a woman what he could spare of himself. He would at all times rather avoid an open encounter, but he rarely neglected an opportunity of dealing a thrust at any one he disliked, when he could do so safely. He was the very opposite of John, who never said of any one what he would not say to themselves, and granted to every man the broadest right of judgment and freedom of opinion. Nevertheless there was not enough real strength in anything Vancouver felt to make him very dangerous as an opponent, nor valuable as a friend. Had it not been for the important position he had attained by his clever subtlety in affairs, and by the assistance of great railroad magnates who found in him a character and intelligence precisely suited to their ends, Pocock Vancouver would have been a neutral figure in the world, lacking both the enterprise to create an idea and the courage to follow it out. It was most characteristic of his inherent smallness, that in spite of his wealth and the very large operations that must be constantly occupying his thoughts, he could demean himself to write anonymous articles in a daily paper, in the hope of injuring a man he disliked.

It is true that his feeling against Harrington was as strong as anything in his nature. He detested John’s strength because he had once made him a confidence and John had done him a favor. He disliked him also because he knew that wherever they chanced to be together John received an amount of consideration and even of respect which he himself could not obtain with all his money and all his cleverness. His mind, too, delighted in detail and revolted against John’s sweeping generalities. For these several reasons Vancouver had taken great delight in writing and printing sundry vicious criticisms upon John in the absolute certainty of not being found out. The editor of the paper did not know Vancouver’s name, for the articles came through the post with a modest request that they might be inserted if they were of any use; and they were generally so pungent and to the point that the editor was glad to get them, especially as no remuneration was demanded.

As for the confidence Vancouver had once made to John, it was another instance of his littleness. At the time when Vancouver was anxious to marry Sybil Brandon, John Harrington was very intimate at the house, and was, in Vancouver’s opinion, a dangerous rival; at all events he felt that the contest was not an agreeable one, nor altogether to his own advantage. Accordingly he tried every means to clear the coast, as he expressed it; but although John probably had no intention of marrying Sybil, and Sybil certainly had never thought of marrying John, the latter was fond of her society, and of her mother’s, and came to the cottage on the Newport cliff with a regularity that drove Vancouver to the verge of despair. Pocock at last could bear it no longer and asked John to dinner. Over a bottle of Pommery Sec he confided his passion, and hinted that John was the obstacle to his wooing. Harrington raised his eyebrows, smiled, wished Vancouver all success, and left Newport the next day. If Vancouver had not disgusted Sybil by his inquiries concerning her fortune, he would have married her, and his feelings towards John would have been different. But to know that Harrington had done him the favor of going away, knowing that he was about to offer himself to Miss Brandon, and then to have failed in his suit was more than the vanity of Mr. Pocock Vancouver could bear with any sort of calmness, and the consequence was that he disliked John as much as he disliked anybody or anything in the world. There is no resentment like the resentment of wounded vanity, nor any self-reproach like that of a man who has shown his weakness.

When Mrs. Wyndham told John the story of Vancouver’s failure he could have told her the rest, had he chosen, and she would certainly have been very much amused. But John was not a man to betray a confidence, even that of a man who had injured him, and so he merely laughed and kept his own counsel. He would have scorned to speak to Vancouver about the articles, or to make any change in his manner towards him. As he had said to Josephine, he had expected nothing from the man, and now he was not disappointed.

Meanwhile Vancouver, who was weakly but frequently susceptible to the charms of woman, had made up his mind that if Josephine had enough pin- money she would make him an admirable wife, and he accordingly began to make love to her in his own fashion, as has been seen. A day or two earlier Joe would have laughed at him, and it would perhaps have amused her to hear what he had to say, as it amuses most young women to listen to pretty speeches. But Joe was between two fires, so to speak; she was under the two influences that were strongest with her. She loved John Harrington with all her heart, and she hated Vancouver with all her strength. It is true that her hatred was the only acknowledged passion, for her maidenly nature was not able yet to comprehend her love; and the mere thought that she cared for a man who did not care for her brought the hot blush to her cheek. But the love was in her heart all the same, strong and enduring, so that Vancouver found the fortress doubly guarded.

He could not entirely explain to himself her conduct at the party. She had always seemed rather willing to accept his attentions and to listen to his conversation, but on this particular evening, just when he wished to make a most favorable impression, she had treated him with surprising coldness. There was a supreme superiority in the way she had at first declined his services, and had then told him he might be permitted to get her a glass of water. The subsequent satisfaction of having ousted Mr. Bonamy Biggielow, the little poet, from his position at her side was small enough, and was more than counterbalanced and destroyed by her returning to her chaperon at the first soft-tongued insinuation of a desire to flirt, which Vancouver ventured to speak. Moreover, when Harrington almost pushed him aside and sat down by Josephine, Vancouver could bear it no longer, but turned on his heel and went away, with black thoughts in his heart. It seemed as though John was to be always in his way.

It would be hard to say what he would have felt had he known that Josephine Thorn, John Harrington, and Mrs. Sam Wyndham all knew of his journalistic doings. And yet it was nearly certain that no one of the three would ever speak to him on the subject. Joe would not, because she knew John would not like it; John himself despised the whole business too much to condescend to reproach Vancouver; and, finally, Mrs. Wyndham was too much a woman of the world to be willing to cause a scandal when it could possibly be avoided. She liked Vancouver too, and regretted what he had done. Her liking only extended to his conversation and agreeable manners, for she was beginning to despise his character; but he had so long been an _habitue_ about the house that she could not make up her mind to turn him out. But for all that, she could not help being cold to him at first.

John himself was too busy with important matters to bestow much thought on Vancouver or his doings. His day had been spent in interviews and letter- writing; fifty people had been to see him at his rooms, and he had dispatched more than that number of letters. At five o’clock he had slipped out with the intention of dining at his club before any one else was there, but he had met Mrs. Wyndham in the street, and had spent his dinner-hour with her. At half-past six he had another appointment in his rooms, and it was not till nearly eleven that he was able to get away and look in upon the party, when he met Joe. For a week this kind of life would probably last, and then all would be over, in one way or another, but meanwhile the excitement was intense.

On the next day Ronald came to see Joe before ten o’clock. The time hung heavily on his hands, and he found it impossible to occupy himself with his troubles. There were moments when the first impression of disappointment returned upon him very strongly, but he was conscious of a curious duplicity about his feelings, and he knew well enough in his inmost heart that he was only evoking a fictitious regret out of respect for what he thought he ought to feel.

“Tell me all about the people here, Joe,” said he, sitting down beside her almost as though nothing had happened. “Who is Mrs. Wyndham, to begin with?”

“Mrs. Wyndham–she is Sam Wyndham’s wife. Just that,” said Joe.

“And Sam Wyndham?”

“Oh–he is one of the prevalent profession. He is a millionaire. In fact he is one of the real ones.”

“When do they get to be real?” asked Ronald.

“Oh, when they have more than ten millions. The other ones do not count much. It is much more the thing to be poor, unless you have ten millions.”

“That is something in my favor, at all events,” said Ronald.

“Very much. You have been to see Mrs. Wyndham, then?”

“Oh yes, I went yesterday, and she has asked me to dinner to-night. It is awfully good of her, I must say.”

“You will like her very much, and Sybil Brandon too,” said Joe. “Sybil is an adorable creature.”

“She is most decidedly good-looking, certainly. There is no doubt about it.” Ronald pulled his delicate moustache a little. “Though she is quite different style from you, Joe,” he added presently, as though he had discovered a curious fact in natural history.

“Of course. Sybil is a great beauty, and I am only pretty,” answered Joe in perfectly good faith.

“I think you are a great beauty too,” said Ronald critically. “I am sure most people think so, and I have heard lots of men say so. Besides, you are much more striking-looking than she is.”

“Oh, nonsense, Ronald!”

“Joe–who is Mr. Vancouver?”

“Vancouver! Why do you ask especially?”

“It is very natural, I am sure,” said Ronald in a somewhat injured tone. “You wrote about him. He was the only person you mentioned in your letter- that is, he and a man called Harrington.”

“Mr. Vancouver–Mr. Pocock Vancouver–is a middle-aged man of various accomplishments,” said Joe, “more especially distinguished by the fact that Sybil Brandon refused to marry him some time ago. He is an enemy of Mr. Harrington’s, and they are both friends of Mrs. Wyndham’s.”

“Ah!” ejaculated Ronald, “and who is Harrington?”

“Mr. John Harrington is a very clever person who has to do with politics,” said Joe, without hesitation, but as she continued she blushed a little. “He is always being talked about because he wants to reform everything. He is a great friend of ours.”

“Oh–I thought so,” said Ronald. “What sort of a fellow is he?”

“I suppose he is five-and-thirty years old; he is neither tall nor short, and he has red hair,” said Joe.

“What a beauty!” laughed Ronald.

“He is not at all ugly, you know,” said Joe, still blushing.

“Shall I ever see him?”

“You will see him to-night at Mrs. Wyndham’s; he told me he was going.”

“Oh–are you going too, Joe?”

“No. I have another dinner-party. You will have to do without me.”

“I suppose I shall always have to do without you, now.” said Ronald disconsolately.

“Don’t be silly, Ronald!”

“Silly!” repeated Surbiton in injured tones. “You call it silly to be cut up when one is treated as you have treated me! It is too bad, Joe!”

“You are a dear, silly old thing,” said his cousin affectionately, “and I will say it as much as I please. It is ever so much better, because we can always be like brother and sister now, and we shall not marry and quarrel over everything till we hate each other.”

“I think you are very heartless, all the same,” said Ronald.

“Listen to me, Ronald”-

“You will go and marry one of these middle-aged people with red hair”–

“Be quiet,” said Joe, stamping her little foot. “Listen to me. I will not marry you because I like you and I do not love you, and I never mean to marry any middle-aged person. I shall not marry at all, most probably. Will you please to imagine what life would have been like if we had married first, and found out afterwards that we had made a mistake.”

“Of course that would have been awful,” said Ronald. “But then it would not be a mistake, because I love you–like anything, Joe!”

“Oh, nonsense! You are quite mistaken, my dear boy, because some day you will fall desperately in love with some one else, and you will like me just as much as ever”–

“Of course I should,” said Ronald indignantly. “Nothing would ever make any difference at all!”

“But, Ronald,” retorted Joe laughing, “if you were desperately in love with some one else, how could you still be just as fond of me?”

“I don’t know, but I should,” said Ronald. “Besides, it is absurd, for I shall never love any one else.”

“We shall see; but of course if you never do, we shall always be just the same as we are now.”

“Well–that would not be so bad, you know,” said Ronald with a certain air of resignation.

After this conversation Ronald became reconciled to the situation. Joe’s remark that he would be able to love some one else very much without being–any the less fond of herself made him reflect, and he came to the conclusion that the case was conceivable after all. He therefore agreed within himself that he would think no more about the matter for the present, but would take what came in his way, and trust that Joe would ultimately change her mind. But he went to Mrs. Wyndham’s that evening with a firm determination to dislike John Harrington to the best of his ability.

A middle-aged man with red hair! Five-and-thirty was undoubtedly middle- age. Short, too. But Joe had blushed, and there was no doubt about it; this was the man who had won her affections. Ronald would hate him cordially.

But John refused to be hated. His manner was easy and courteous, but not gentle. He was evidently no lady’s man. He talked to the men more than to the women, and he was utterly without affectation. Indeed, he was not in the least like what Ronald had expected.

Moreover, Ronald was seated next to Sybil Brandon at dinner, and drove every one away who tried to disturb the _tete-a-tete_ he succeeded in procuring with her afterwards. He was surprised at his own conduct, but he somehow connected it in his mind with his desire to hate Harrington. It was not very clear to himself, and it certainly would have been incomprehensible to any one else, but the presence of Harrington stimulated him in his efforts to amuse Miss Brandon.

Sybil, too, in her quiet way, was very willing to be amused, and she found in Ronald Surbiton an absolute freshness of ideas that gave her a new sense of pleasure. Her affair with Vancouver had made a deep impression on her mind, and her mother’s death soon afterwards had had the effect of withdrawing her entirely from the world. It was no wonder, therefore, that she liked this young Englishman, so different from most of the men she knew best. It was natural, too, that he should want to talk to her, for she was the only young girl present. At last, as Ronald began to feel that intimacy which sometimes grows out of a simple conversation between two sympathetic people, he turned to the subject he had most in mind, if not most in his heart.

“You and my cousin are very intimate, Miss Brandon, I believe?” he said.

“Yes–I have grown very fond of her in a few weeks.” Sybil wondered whether Ronald was going to make confidences. It seemed to her rather early in the acquaintance.

“Yes, she told me,” said Ronald. “She is very fond of you, too; I went to see her this morning.”

“I suppose you go every day,” said Sybil, smiling.

“No–not every day,” answered Ronald. “But this morning I was asking her about some of the people here. She seems to know every one.”

“Yes indeed, she is immensely popular. Whom did she tell you about?”

“Oh–Mrs. Wyndham, and Mr. Wyndham, and Mr. Vancouver, and Mr. Harrington. He is immensely clever, she says,” added Ronald, with a touch of irony in his voice. “What do you think about him, Miss Brandon?”

“I cannot judge very well,” said Sybil. “He is a great friend of mine, and I do not care in the least whether my friends are clever or not.”

“Joe does,” said Ronald. “She hates stupid people. She is very clever too, you know, and so I suppose she is right about Harrington.”

“Oh yes; I was only speaking of myself,” answered Sybil. “He is probably the strongest man in this part of the world.”

“He looks strong,” said Ronald, who was a judge of athletes.

“I mean in the way of brains,” said Sybil. “But he is more than that, for he is so splendidly honest.”

“But lots of people are honest,” said Ronald, who did not want to concede too much to the man he meant to dislike.

“Perhaps, but not so much as he is. I do not believe John Harrington ever in his life said anything that could possibly convey a false impression, or ever betrayed a confidence.” Sybil looked calmly across the room at John, who was talking earnestly to Sam Wyndham.

“But has he no defects at all? What a model of faultlessness!” exclaimed Ronald.

“People say he is self-centred, whatever that may mean. He is certainly a very ambitious man, but his ambitions are large, and he makes no secret of them. He will make a great stir in the world some day.”

Ronald would have liked to ask about Vancouver also, but he fortunately remembered what Joe had told him that morning, and did not ask his questions of Sybil. But he went home that night wondering what manner of man this Harrington might be, concerning whom such great things were said. He was conscious also that he had not been very wise in what he had asked of Sybil, and he was dissatisfied at not having heard anything about the friendship that existed between Harrington and Joe. But on the whole he had enjoyed the evening very much–almost too much, when he remembered the things Joe had said to him in the morning. It ought not to be possible, he thought, for a jilted lover to look so pleasantly on life.

“Well,” said Sam Wyndham to his wife when everybody was gone, and he had lit a big cigar; “well, it was a pleasant kind of an evening, was not it?”

“Yes,” said Mrs. Sam, sitting down in a low easy-chair for a chat with her husband. “What a nice boy that young Englishman is.”

“I was just going to say so,” said Sam. “He made himself pretty comfortable with Sybil, did he not? I could not help thinking they looked a very pretty pair as they sat in that corner. What is he?”

“He is Miss Thorn’s cousin. Sam, you really must not drop your ashes on the carpet. There are no end of saucers and things about.”

“Oh, bother the carpet, my dear,” said Sam good-naturedly; “tell me about that young fellow–what is his name?–Surbiton, is not it?”

“Yes–well, there is not very much to tell. He is here traveling for amusement, just like any other young Englishman. For my part I expected he had come here to marry his cousin, because Englishmen always marry their cousins. But Sybil says it is not true.”

“How does she come to know?” inquired Sam, rolling his cigar in his mouth and looking at the ceiling.

“I suppose Miss Thorn told her. She ought to know, any way.”

“Well, one would think so. By the way, this election is going to turn out a queer sort of a business, I expect. John says the only thing that is doubtful is that fellow Patrick Ballymolloy and his men. Now is not that just about the queerest thing you ever heard of? A set of Irishmen in the Legislature who are not sure they can manage to vote for a Democratic senator?”

“Yes, that is something altogether new,” said Mrs. Wyndham. “But it seems so funny that John should come telling you all about his election, when you are such a Republican, and would go straight against him if you had anything to say about it.”

“Oh, he knows I don’t vote or anything,” said Sam.

“Of course you don’t vote, because you are not in the Legislature. But if you did, you would go against him, would not you?”

“Well, I am not sure,” answered Sam in a drawl of uncertainty. “I tell you what it is, my dear, John Harrington is not such a bad Republican after all, though he _is_ a Democrat. And it is my belief he could call himself a Republican, and could profess to believe just the same things as he does now, if he only took a little care.”

CHAPTER XIII

A council of three men sat in certain rooms, in Conduit Street, London. There was nothing whatever about the bachelor’s front room overlooking the thoroughfare to suggest secrecy, nor did any one of the three gentlemen who sat in easy-chairs, with cigars in their mouths, in any way resemble a conspirator. They were neither masked nor wrapped in cloaks, but wore the ordinary garb of fashionably civilized life. For the sake of clearness and convenience, they can be designated as X, Y, and Z. X was the president on the present occasion, but the office was not held permanently, devolving upon each of the three in succession at each successive meeting.

X was a man sixty years of age, clean-shaved, with smooth iron-gray hair and bushy eyebrows, from beneath which shone a pair of preternaturally bright blue eyes. His face was of a strong, even, healthy red; he was stout, but rather thick and massive than corpulent; his hands were of the square type, with thick straight fingers and large nails, the great blue veins showing strongly through the white skin. He was dressed in black, as though in mourning, and his clothes fitted smoothly over his short heavy figure.

Y was very tall and slight, and it was not easy to make a guess at his age, for his hair was sandy and thick, and his military moustache concealed the lines about his mouth. His forehead was high and broad, and the extreme prominence between his brows made his profile look as though the facial angles were reversed, as in certain busts of Greek philosophers. His fingers were well shaped, but extremely long and thin. He wore the high collar of the period, with a white tie fastened by a pin consisting of a single large pearl, and it was evident that the remainder of his dress was with him a subject of great attention. Y might be anywhere from forty to fifty years of age.

Z was the eldest of the three, and in some respects the most remarkable in appearance. He was well proportioned, except that his head seemed large for his body. His face was perfectly colorless, and his thin hair was white and long and disorderly. A fringe of snowy beard encircled his throat like a scarf, but his lips and cheeks were clean-shaved. The dead waxen whiteness of his face was thrown into startling relief by his great black eyes, in which there was a depth and a fire when he was roused that contrasted strongly with his aged appearance. His dress was simple in the extreme, and of the darkest colors.

The three sat in their easy-chairs round the coal fire. It was high noon in London, and the weather was moderately fine; that is to say, it was possible to read in the room without lighting the gas. X held a telegram in his hand.

“This is a perfectly clear case against us,” he remarked in a quiet, business-like manner.

“It has occurred at such an unfortunate time,” said Y, who spoke very slowly and distinctly, with an English accent.

“We shall do it yet,” said Z, confidently.

“Gentlemen,” said the president, “it will not do to hesitate. There is an individual in this case who will not let the grass grow under his feet. His name is Mr. Patrick Ballymolloy. We all know about him, I expect?”

“I know him very well indeed,” said old Z. “It was I who put him in the book.” He rose quickly and took a large volume from a shelf near by. It was a sort of ledger, with the letters of the alphabet printed on the cut edges of the leaves.

“I don’t believe Y knows him,” said the president. “Please read him to us.” Z turned over the leaves quickly.

“B–Bally–Ballymolloy-Patrick–Yes,” he said, finding the place. “Patrick Ballymolloy. Irish iron man. Boston, Mass. Drinks. Takes money from both sides. Voted generally Democratic ticket. P.S. 1882, opposed B. in election for Governor. Iron interest increased. P.S. 1883, owns twenty votes in House. Costs more than he did. That is all,” said Z, shutting up the book.

“Quite enough,” said the president. “Mr. Patrick Ballymolloy and his twenty votes will bother us. What a pity J.H. made that speech!”

“It appears that as Patrick has grown rich, Patrick has grown fond of protection, then,” remarked Y, crossing one long leg over the other.

“Exactly,” said Z. “That is it. Now the question is, who owns Patrick? Anybody know?”

“Whoever can pay for him, I expect,” said the president.

“Now I have an idea,” said the old man suddenly, and again he dived into the book. “Did either of you ever know a man called Vancouver?”

“Yes–I know all about him,” said Y, and a contemptuous smile hinted beforehand what he thought of the man.

“I made an entry about him the other day,” said the president. “You will find a good deal against his name.”

“Here he is,” said Z again. “Pocock Vancouver. Railways. Rep. Boston, Mass. Was taxed in 1870 for nearly a million dollars. Weak character, very astute. Takes no money. Believed to be dissipated, but he cleverly conceals it. Never votes. Has extensive financial interests. 1880, taxed for nearly three millions. 1881, paid ten thousand dollars to Patrick Ballymolloy (D) for carrying a motion for the Monadminck Railroad (see Railroads). 1882, voted for Butler”–

“Hollo!” exclaimed the president.

“Wait,” said Z, “there is more. 1883, thought to be writer of articles against J.H. in Boston ‘Daily Standard.’ Subsequently confirmed by J.H. That is all.”

“Yes,” said the president, “that last note is mine. Harrington wired it yesterday with other things. But I was hurried and did not read his old record. Things could not be much worse. You see Harrington has no book with him, or he would know all this, and be on the lookout.”

“Has he figured it out?” inquired Y.

“Yes, he has figured it out. He is a first-rate man, and he has the whole thing down cold. Ballymolloy and his twenty votes will carry the election, and if Vancouver cares he can buy Mr. Ballymolloy as he has done before. He does care, if he is going to take the trouble to write articles against J.H., depend upon it.”

“Well, there is nothing for it,” said Z, who, in spite of his age, was the most impulsive of the three. “We must buy Ballymolloy ourselves, with his twenty men.”

“I think that would be a mistake,” said the president.

“Do you?” said Z. “What do you say?” he asked, turning to Y.

“Nothing,” replied Y.

“Then we will argue it, I suppose,” said Z.

“Certainly,” said the president. “I will begin.” He settled himself in his chair and knocked the ashes from his cigar.

“I will begin by stating the exact position,” he said. “In the first place this whole affair is accidental, resulting from the death of the junior senator. No one could foresee this event. We had arranged to put in John Harrington at the regular vacancy next year, and we are now very busy with a most important business here in London. If we were on the spot, as one of us could have been had we known that the senator would die, it would have been another matter. This thing will be settled by next Saturday at the latest, but probably earlier. I am opposed to buying Ballymolloy, because it is an uncertain purchase. He has taken money from both sides, and if he has the chance he will do it again. If we were present it would be different, for we could hold him to his bargain.

“We do not like buying, and we only do it in very urgent cases, and when we are certain of the result. To buy without certainty is simply to begin a system of reckless bribery, which is exactly what we want to put down. Moreover, it is a bad plan to bribe a man who is interested in iron. The man in that business ought to be with us any way, without anything but a little talking to. When you have stated any reasons to the contrary I will tell you what I propose instead. That is all.”

During the president’s little speech, Y and Z had listened attentively. When he had finished, Z turned in his chair and took his cigar from his lips.

“I think,” said Z, “that the case is urgent. The question is just about coming to a head, and we want all the men we can get at any price. It will not do to let a chance slip. If we can put J.H. in the senate now, we may put another man in at the vacancy. That makes two men instead of one. I am aware that it would be an improbable thing to get two of our men in for Massachusetts; but I believe it can be done, and for that reason I think we ought to make an effort to get J.H. in now. It may cost something, but I do not believe it is uncertain. I expect Vancouver is not the sort of man to spend much just for the sake of spite. The question of buying as a rule is another matter. None of us want that; but if the case is urgent I think there is no question about its being right. Of course it is a great pity J.H. said anything about protection in that speech. He did not mean to, but he could not help it, and at all events he had no idea his election was so near. If we are not certain of the result, J.H. ought to withdraw, because it will injure his chance at the vacancy to have him defeated now. That is all I have to say.”

“I am of opinion,” said the president, “that our best plan is to let John Harrington take his chance. You know who his opponent is, I suppose?”

“Ira C. Calvin,” said Y and Z together.

“Calvin refused last night,” said the president, “and they have put Jobbins in his place. Here is the telegram. It is code three,” he remarked, handing it to Z.

Z read it, and his face expressed the greatest surprise.

“But Jobbins belongs to us,” he cried. “He will not move hand or foot unless we advise him!”

“Of course,” said the president. “But Mr. Ballymolloy does not know that, nor any other member of the Legislature. Harrington himself does not know it. Verdict, please.”

“Verdict against buying,” said Y.

“Naturally,” said Z. “What a set of fools they are! How about withdrawing Harrington?”

“I object,” said the president. “Proceed.”

“I think it will injure his chance at the vacancy to have him defeated now, as I said before. That is all,” said Z.

“I think it would be dangerous to withdraw him before so weak a man as Jobbins. It would hurt his reputation. Besides, our second man is in Washington arguing a case; and, after all, there is a bare chance that J.H. may win. If he does not, we win all the same, for Jobbins is in chains. Verdict, please.”

Y was silent, and smoked thoughtfully. For five minutes no one spoke, and the president occupied the time in arranging some papers.

“Let him stand his chance,” said Y, at last. In spite of the apparent informality of the meetings of the three, there was an unchangeable rule in their proceedings. Whenever a question arose, the member who first objected to the proposition argued the case briefly, or at length, with the proposer, and the third gave the verdict, against which there was no appeal.

These three strong men possessed between them an enormous power. It rarely happened that they could all meet together and settle upon their course of action by word of month, but constant correspondence and the use of an extensive set of telegraphic codes kept them in unbroken communication. No oaths or ceremonies bound them together, for they belonged to a small community of men which has existed from the earliest days of American independence, and which took its rise before that period.

Into this council of three, men of remarkable ability and spotless character were elected without much respect of age whenever a vacancy occurred. They worked quietly, with one immutable political purpose, with which they allowed no prejudiced party view to interfere. Always having under their immediate control some of the best talent in the country, and frequently commanding vast financial resources, these men and their predecessors had more than once turned the scale of the country’s future. They had committed great mistakes, but they had also brought about noble results. It had frequently occurred that all the three members of the council simultaneously held seats in the senate, or that one or more were high in office. More than one President since Washington had sat at one time or another in the triumvirate; secretaries of state, orators, lawyers, financiers, and philanthropists had given the best years of their lives to the duties of the council; and yet, so perfect was the organization, the tests were so careful, and so marvelously profound was the insight of the leaders into human character, that of all these men, not one had ever betrayed the confidence placed in him. In the truest sense they and their immediate supporters formed an order; an order of true men, with whom the love of justice, honor, and freedom took the place of oath and ceremonial, binding them by stronger obligations than ever bound a ring of conspirators or a community of religious zealots.

The great element of secrecy as regards the outer world lay in the fact that only two men at any one time knew of the existence of the council of three, and these were those who were considered fit to sit in the council themselves. Even these two did not know more than one of the three leaders as such, though probably personally and even intimately acquainted with all three. The body of men whom the council controlled was ignorant of its existence therefore, and was composed of the personal adherents of each of the three. Manifestly one member of the council could, with the consent and cooperation of the other two, command the influence of the whole body of political adherents in favor of one of his friends, at any time, leaving the individual in entire ignorance of the power employed for his advancement. When a vacancy occurred in the council, by death or old age of any member, one of the two already designated took the place, while the other remained ignorant of the fact that any change had occurred, unless the vacancy was caused by the withdrawal of the member he had known, in which case he was put in communication with that member with whom he was most intimately acquainted. By this system of management no one man knew more than one of the actual leaders until he was himself one of the three. At the present time Z had been in the council nearly thirty years, and X for upwards of twenty, while Y, who was in reality fifty years old, had received his seat fifteen years before, at the age of thirty-five. A year ago one of the men selected to fill a possible vacancy had died, and John Harrington was chosen in his place.

It has been seen that the three kept a sort of political ledger, which was always in the hands of the president for the time being, whose duty it was to make the insertions necessary from time to time. Some conception of the extent and value of the book may be formed from the fact that it contained upwards of ten thousand names, including those of almost every prominent man, and of not a few remarkable women in the principal centres of the country. The details given were invariably brief and to the point, written down in a simple but safe form of cipher which was perfectly familiar to every one of the three. This vast mass of information was simply the outcome of the personal experience of the leaders, and of their trusted friends, but no detail which could by any possibility be of use escaped being committed to paper, and the result was in many cases a positive knowledge of future events, which, to any one unacquainted with the system, must have appeared little short of miraculous.

“What time is it in Boston?” inquired the president, rising and going to the writing-table.

“Twenty-eight minutes past seven,” said Y, producing an enormous three- dial time-piece, set to indicate simultaneously the time of day in London, Boston, and Washington.

“All right, there is plenty of time,” answered X, writing out a dispatch on a broad white sheet of cable office paper. “See here–is this all right?” he asked, when he had done.

The message ran as follows: “Do not withdraw. If possible gain Ballymolloy and men, but on no account pay for them. If asked, say iron protection necessary at present, and probably for many years.”

Y and Z read the telegram, and said it would do. In ten minutes it was taken to the telegraph office by X’s servant.

“And now,” said X, lighting a fresh cigar, “we have disposed of this accident, and we can turn to our regular business. The question is broadly, what effect will be produced by suddenly throwing eight or ten millions of English money into an American enterprise?”

“When Englishmen are not making money, they are a particularly disagreeable set of people to deal with,” remarked Y, who would have been taken for an Englishman himself in any part of the world.

And so the council left John Harrington, and turned to other matters which do not in any way concern this tale.

John received the dispatch at half-past ten o’clock in the morning after the dinner at Mrs. Wyndham’s, and he read it without comprehending precisely the position taken by his instructor. Nevertheless, the order coincided with what he would have done if left to himself. He of course could not know that even if his opponent were elected it would be a gain to his own party, for the outward life of Mr. Jobbins gave no cause for believing that he was in anybody’s power. Harrington was left to suppose that, if he failed to get the votes of Patrick Ballymolloy and his party, the election would be a dead loss. Nevertheless, he rejoiced that the said Patrick was not to be bought. An honorable failure, wherein he might honestly say that he had bribed no one, nor used any undue pressure, would in his opinion be better than to be elected ten times over by money and promises of political jobbery.

The end rarely justifies the means, and there are means so foul that they would blot any result into their own filthiness. All that the world can write; or think, or say, will never make it honorable or noble to bribe and tell lies. Men who lie are not brave because they are willing to be shot at, in some instances, by the men their falsehoods have injured. Men who pay others to agree with them are doing a wrong upon the dignity of human nature, and they very generally end by saying that human nature has no dignity at all, and very possibly by being themselves corrupted.

Nevertheless, so great is the interest which men, even upright and honorable men, take in the aims they follow, that they believe it possible to wade knee-deep through mud, and then ascend to the temple of fame without dragging the mud with them, and befouling the white marble steps.

“Political necessity!” What deeds are done in thy name! What a merciful and polite goddess was the necessity of the ancients, compared with the necessity of the moderns. Political necessity has been hard at work in our times from Robespierre to Sedan, from St. Helena to the Vatican, from the Tea-chests of Boston Harbor to the Great Rebellion. Political necessity has done more lying, more bribery, more murdering, and more stealing in a century, than could have been invented by all the Roman emperors together, with the assistance of the devil himself.

CHAPTER XIV.

In all the endless folk-lore of proverbs, there is perhaps no adage more true than that which warns young people to beware of a new love until they have done with the old, and as Ronald Surbiton reflected on his position, the old rhyme ran through his head. Ho was strongly attracted by Sybil Brandon, but, at the same time, he still felt that he ought to make an effort to win Joe back. It seemed so unmanly to relinquish her without a struggle, just because she said she did not love him. It could not be true, for they had loved each other so long.

When Ronald looked out of the window of his room in the hotel, on the morning after Mrs. Wyndham’s dinner, the snow was falling as it can only fall in Boston. The great houses opposite were almost hidden from view by the soft, fluttering flakes, and below, in the broad street, the horse- cars moved slowly along like immense white turtles ploughing their way through deep white sand. The sound of the bells was muffled as it came up, and the scraping of the Irishmen’s heavy spades on the pavement before the hotel followed by the regular fall of the great shovels full on the heap, as they stacked the snow, sounded like the digging of a gigantic grave.

Ronald felt that his spirits were depressed. He watched the drifting storm for a few minutes, and then turned away and looked for a novel in his bag, and filled a pipe with some English tobacco he had jealously guarded from the lynx-eyed custom-house men in New York, and then sat down with a sigh before his small coal fire, and prepared to pass the morning, in solitude.

But Ronald was not fond of reading, and at the end of half an hour he threw his book and his pipe aside, and stretched his long limbs. Then he rose and went to the window again with an expression of utter weariness such as only an Englishman can put on when he is thoroughly bored. The snow was falling as thickly as ever, and the turtle-backed horse-cars crawled by through the drifts, more and more slowly. Ronald turned away with an impatient ejaculation, and made up his mind that he would go and see Joe at once. He wrapped himself carefully in a huge ulster overcoat and went out.

Joe was sitting alone in the drawing-room, curled up in an old-fashioned arm-chair by the fire, with a book in her lap which she was not reading. She had asked her aunt for something about politics, and Miss Schenectady had given her the “Life of Rufus Choate,” in two large black volumes. The book was interesting, but in Joe’s mind it was but a step from the speeches and doings of the great and brilliant lawyer-senator to the speeches and doings of John Harrington. And so after a while the book dropped upon her knee and she leaned far back in the chair, her great brown eyes staring dreamily at the glowing coals.

“I was so awfully lonely,” said Ronald, sitting down beside her, “that I came here. You do not mind, Joe, do you?”

“Mind? No! I am very glad. It must be dreadfully lonely for you at the hotel. What have you been doing with yourself?”

“Oh–trying to read. And then, I was thinking about you.”

“That is not much of an occupation. See how industrious I am. I have been reading the ‘Life and Writings of Rufus Choate.’ I am getting to be a complete Bostonian.”

“Have you read it all? I never heard of him. Who was he?”

“He was an extremely clever man. He must have been very nice, and his speeches are splendid. You ought to read them.”

“Joe, you are going to be a regular blue-stocking! The idea of spending your time in reading such stuff. Why, it would be almost better to read the parliamentary reports in the ‘Times!’ Just fancy!” Ronald laughed at the idea of any human being descending to such drudgery.

“Don’t be silly, Ronald. You do not know anything about it,” said Joe.

“Oh, it is of no use discussing the question,” answered Ronald. “You young women are growing altogether too clever, with your politics, and your philosophy, and your culture. I hate America!”

“If you really knew anything about it, you would like it very much. Besides, you have no right to say you hate it. The people here have been very good to you already. You ought not to abuse them.”

“No–not the people. But just look at that snow-storm, Joe, and tell me whether America is a place for human beings to live in.”

“It is much prettier than a Scotch mist, and ever so much clearer than a fog in London,” retorted Joe.

“But there is nothing for a fellow to do on a day like this,” said Ronald sulkily.

“Nothing, but to come and see his cousin, and abuse everything to her, and try to make her as discontented as himself,” said Joe, mimicking his tone.

“If I thought you liked me to come and see you”–began Ronald.

“Well?”

“It would be different, you know.”

“I like you when you are nice and good-tempered,” said Joe. “But when you are bored you are simply–well, you are dreadful.” Joe raised her eyebrows and tapped with her fingers on the arm of the chair.

“Do you think I can ever be bored when I come to see you, Joe?” asked Ronald, changing his tone.

“You act as if you were, precisely. You know people who are bored are generally bores themselves.”

“Thanks,” said Ronald. “How kind you are!”

“Do say something nice, Ronald. You have done nothing but find fault since you came. Have you heard from home?”

“No. There has not been time yet. Why do you ask?”

“Because I thought you might say something less disagreeable about home than you seem able to say about things here,” said Joe tartly.

“You do not want me this morning. I will go away again,” said Ronald with a gloomy frown. He rose to his feet, as though about to take his leave.

“Oh, don’t go, Ronald.” He paused. “Besides,” added Joe, “Sybil will be here in a little while.”

“You need not offer me Miss Brandon as an inducement to stay with you, Joe, if you really want me. Twenty Miss Brandons would not make any difference!”

“Really?” said Joe smiling. “You are a dear good boy, Ronald, when you are nice,” she added presently. “Sit down again.”

Ronald went back to his seat beside her, and they were both silent for a while. Joe repented a little, for she thought she had been teasing him, and she reflected that she ought to be doing her best to make him happy.

“Joe–do not you think it would be very pleasant to be always like this?” said Ronald after a time.

“How–like this?”

“Together,” said Ronald softly, and a gentle look came into his handsome face, as he looked up at his cousin. “Together–only in our own home.”

Joe did not answer, but the color came to her cheeks, and she looked annoyed. She had hoped that the matter was settled forever, for it seemed so easy for her. Ronald misinterpreted the blush. For the moment the old conviction came back to him that she was to be his wife, and if it was not exactly love that he felt, it was a satisfaction almost great enough to take its place.

“Would it not?” said he presently.

“Please do not talk about it, Ronald. What is the use? I have said all there is to say, I am sure.”

“But I have not,” he answered, insisting. “Please, Joe dearest, think about it seriously. Think what a cruel thing it is you are doing.” His voice was very tender, but he was perfectly calm; there was not the slightest vibration of passion in the tones. Joe did not wholly understand; she only knew that he was not satisfied with the first explanation she had given him, and that she felt sorry for him, but was incapable of changing her decision.

“Must I go over it all again?” she asked piteously. “Did I not make it clear to you, Ronald? Oh–don’t talk about it!”

“You have no heart, Joe,” said Ronald hotly. “You don’t know what you make me suffer. You don’t know that this sort of thing is enough to wreck a man’s existence altogether. You don’t know what you are doing, because you have no heart–not the least bit of one.”

“Do not say that–please do not,” Joe entreated, looking at him with imploring eyes, for his words hurt her. Then suddenly the tears came in a quick hot gush, and she hid her face in her hands. “Oh, Ronald, Ronald–it is you who do not know,” she sobbed.

Ronald did not quite know what to do; he never did when Joe cried, but fortunately that disaster had not occurred often since he was very small. He was angry with himself for having disturbed and hurt her, but he did not know what to do, most probably because he did not really love her.

“Joe,” he said, looking at her in some embarrassment, “don’t!” Then he rose and rather timidly laid a hand on her shoulder. But she shrank from him with a petulant motion, and the tears trickled through her small white hands and fell upon her dark dress and on the “Life of Rufus Choate.”

“Joe, dear”–Ronald began again. And then, in great uncertainty of mind, he went and looked out of the window. Presently he came back and stood before her once more.

“I am awfully sorry I said it, Joe. Please forgive me. You don’t often cry, you know, and so”–He hesitated.

Joe looked up at him with a smile through her tears, beautiful as a rose just wet with a summer shower.

“And so–you did not think I could,” she said. She dried her eyes quickly and rose to her feet. “It is very silly of me, I know, but I cannot help it in the least,” said she, turning from him in pretense of arranging the knickknacks on the mantel.

“Of course you cannot help it, Joe, dear; as if you had not a perfect right to cry, if you like! I am such a brute–I know.”

“Come and look at the snow,” said Joe, taking his hand and leading him to the window. Enormous Irishmen in pilot coats, comforters, and india-rubber boots, armed with broad wooden spades, were struggling to keep the drifts from the pavement. Joe and Ronald stood and watched them idly, absorbed in their own thoughts.

Presently a booby sleigh drawn by a pair of strong black horses floundered up the hill and stopped at the door.

“Oh, Ronald, there is Sybil, and she will see I have been crying. You must amuse her, and I will come back in a few minutes.” She turned and fled, leaving Ronald at the window.

A footman sprang to the ground, and nearly lost his footing in the snow as he opened a large umbrella and rang the bell. In a moment Sybil was out of the sleigh and at the door of the house; she could not sit still till it was opened, although the flakes were falling as thickly as ever.

“Oh”–she exclaimed, as she entered the room and was met by Ronald, “I thought Joe was here.” There was color in her face, and she took Ronald’s hand cordially. He blushed to the eyes, and stammered.

“Miss Thorn is–she–indeed, she will be back in a moment. How do you do? Dreadful weather, is not it?”

“Oh, it is only a snowstorm,” said Sybil, brushing a few flakes from her furs as she came near the fire. “We do not mind it at all here. But of course you never have snow in England.”

“Not like this, certainly,” said Ronald. “Let me help you,” he added, as Sybil began to remove her cloak.

It was a very sudden change of company for Ronald; five minutes ago he was trying, very clumsily and hopelessly, to console Joe Thorn in her tears, feeling angry enough with himself all the while for having caused them. Now he was face to face with Sybil Brandon, the most beautiful woman he remembered to have seen, and she smiled at him as he took her heavy cloak from her shoulders, and the touch of the fur sent a thrill to his heart, and the blood to his cheeks.

“I must say,” he remarked, depositing the things on a sofa, “you are very courageous to come out, even though you are used to it.”

“You have come yourself,” said Sybil, laughing a little. “You told me last night that you did not come here every day.”

“Oh–I told my cousin I had come because I was so lonely at the hotel. It is amazingly dull to sit all day in a close room, reading stupid novels.”

“I should think it would be. Have you nothing else to do?”

“Nothing in the wide world,” said Ronald with a smile. “What should I do here, in a strange place, where I know so few people?”

“I suppose there is not much for a man to do, unless he is in business. Every one here is in some kind of business, you know, so they are never bored.”

Ronald wished he could say the right thing to reestablish the half- intimacy he had felt when talking to Sybil the night before. But it was not easy to get back to the same point. There was an interval of hours between yesterday and to-day–and there was Joe.

“I read novels to pass the time,” he said, “and because they are sometimes so like one’s own life. But when they are not, they bore me.”

Sybil was fond of reading, and she was especially fond of fiction, not because she cared for sensational interests, but because she was naturally contemplative, and it interested her to read about the human nature of the present, rather than to learn what any individual historian thought of the human nature of the past.

“What kind of novels do you like best?” she asked, sitting down to pass the time with Ronald until Josephine should make her appearance.

“I like love stories best,” said Ronald.

“Oh, of course,” said Sybil gravely, “so do I. But what kind do you like best? The sad ones, or those that end well?”

“I like them to end well,” said Ronald, “because the best ones never do, you know.”

“Never?” There was something in Sybil’s tone that made Ronald look quickly at her. She said the word as though she, too, had something to regret.

“Not in my experience,” answered Surbiton, with the decision of a man past loving or being loved.

“How dreadfully gloomy! One would think you had done with life, Mr. Surbiton,” said Sybil, laughing.

“Sometimes I think so, Miss Brandon,” answered Ronald in solemn tones.

“I suppose we all think it would be nice to die, sometimes. But then the next morning things look so much brighter.”

“I think they often look much brighter in the evening,” said Ronald, thinking of the night before.

“I am sure something disagreeable has happened to you to-day, Mr. Surbiton,” said Sybil, looking at him. Ronald looked into her eyes as though to see if there were any sympathy there.

“Yes, something disagreeable has happened to me,” he answered slowly. “Something very disagreeable and painful.”

“I am sorry,” said Sybil simply. But her voice sounded very kind and comforting.

“That is why I say that love stories always end badly in real life,” said Ronald. “But I suppose I ought not to complain.” It was not until he had thought over this speech, some minutes later, that he realized that in a few words he had told Sybil the main part of his troubles. He never guessed that she was so far in Joe’s confidence as to have heard the whole story before. But Sybil was silent and thoughtful.

“Love is such an uncertain thing,” she began, after a pause; and it chanced that at that very moment Joe opened the door and entered the room. She caught the sentence.

“So you are instructing my cousin,” she said to Sybil, laughing. “I approve of the way you spend your time, my children!” No one would have believed that, twenty minutes earlier, Joe had been in tears. She was as fresh and as gay as ever, and Ronald said to himself that she most certainly had no heart, but that Sybil had a great deal,–he was sure of it from the tone of her voice.

“What is the news about the election, Sybil?” she asked. “Of course you know all about it at the Wyndhams’.”

“My dear, the family politics are in a state of confusion that is simply too delightful,” said Sybil.

“You know it is said that Ira C. Calvin has refused to be a candidate, and the Republicans mean to put in Mr. Jobbins in his place, who is such a popular man, and so good and benevolent-quite a philanthropist.”

“Does it make very much difference?” asked Joe anxiously. “I wish I understood all about it, but the local names are so hard to learn.”

“I thought you bad been learning them all the morning in Choate,” put in Ronald, who perceived that the conversation was to be about Harrington.

“It does make a difference,” said Sybil, not noticing Ronald’s remark, “because Jobbins is much more popular than Calvin, and they say he is a friend of Patrick Ballymolloy, who will win the election for either side he favors.”

“Who is this Irishman?” inquired Ronald.

“He is the chief Irishman,” said Sybil laughing, “and I cannot describe him any better. He has twenty votes with him, and as things stand he always carries whichever point he favors. But Mr. Wyndham says he is glad he is not in the Legislature, because it would drive him out of his mind to decide on which side to vote–though he is a good Republican, you know.”

“Of course he could vote for Mr. Harrington in spite of that,” said Joe, confidently. “Anybody would, who knows him, I am sure. But when is the election to come off?”

“They say it is to begin to-day,” said Sybil.

“We shall never hear anything unless we go to Mrs. Wyndham’s,” said Joe. “Aunt Zoe is awfully clever, and that, but she never knows in the least what is going on. She says she does not understand politics.”

“If you were a Bostonian, Mr. Surbiton,” said Sybil, “you would get into the State House and hear the earliest news.”

“I will do anything in the world to oblige you,” said Ronald gravely, “if you will only explain a little”–

“Oh no! It is quite impossible. Come with me, both of you, and we will get some lunch at the Wyndhams’ and hear all about it by telephone.”

“Very well,” said Joe. “One moment, while I get my things.” She left the room. Ronald and Sybil were again alone together.

“You were saying when my cousin came in, that love was a very uncertain thing,” suggested Ronald, rather timidly.

“Was I?” said Sybil, standing before the mirror above the mantelpiece, and touching her hat first on one side and then on the other.

“Yes,” answered Ronald, watching her. “Do you know, I have often thought so too.”

“Yes?”

“I think it would be something different if it were quite certain. Perhaps it would be something much less interesting, but much better.”

“I think you are a little confused, Mr. Surbiton,” said Sybil, and as she smiled, Ronald could see her face reflected in the mirror.

“I–yes–that is–I dare say I am,” said he, hesitatingly. “But I know exactly what I mean.”

“But do you know exactly what you want?” she asked with a laugh.

“Yes indeed,” said he confidently. “But I do not believe I shall ever get it.”

“Then that is the ‘disagreeable and painful thing’ you referred to, as having happened this morning, I suppose,” remarked Sybil, calmly, as she turned to take up her cloak which lay on the sofa. Ronald blushed scarlet.

“Well–yes,” he said, forgetting in his embarrassment to help her.

“It is so heavy,” said Sybil. “Thanks. Do you know that you have been making confidences to me, Mr. Surbiton?” she asked, turning and facing him, with a half-amused, half-serious look in her blue eyes.

“I am afraid I have,” he answered, after a short pause. “You must think I am very foolish.”

“Never mind,” she said gravely. “They are safe with me.”

“Thanks,” said Ronald in a low voice.

Josephine entered the room, clad in many furs, and a few minutes later all three were on their way to Mrs. Wyndham’s, the big booby sleigh rocking and leaping and ploughing in the heavy dry snow.

CHAPTER XV.

Pocock Vancouver was also abroad in the snowstorm. He would not in any case have stayed at home on account of the weather, but on this particular morning he had very urgent business with a gentleman who, like Lamb, rose with the lark, though he did not go to bed with the chickens. There are no larks in Boston, but the scream of the locomotives answers nearly as well.

Vancouver accordingly had himself driven at an early hour to a certain house not situated in the West End, but of stone quite as brown, and having a bay window as prominent as any sixteen-foot-front on Beacon Street; those advantages, however, did not prevent Mr. Vancouver from wearing an expression of fastidious scorn as he mounted the steps and pulled the polished German silver handle of the door-bell. The curl on his lip gave way to a smile of joyous cordiality as he was ushered into the presence of the owner of the house.

“Indeed, I’m glad to see you, Mr. Vancouver,” said his host, whose extremely Celtic appearance was not belied by unctuous modulation of his voice, and the pleasant roll of his softly aspirated consonants.

This great man was no other than Mr. Patrick Ballymolloy. He received Vancouver in his study, which was handsomely furnished with bright green wall-paper, a sideboard on which stood a number of decanters and glasses, several leather easy-chairs, and a green china spittoon.

In personal appearance, Mr. Patrick Ballymolloy was vastly more striking than attractive. He was both corpulent and truculent, and his hands and feet were of a size and thickness calculated to crush a paving-stone at a step, or to fell an ox at a blow. The nails of his fingers were of a hue which is made artificially fashionable in eastern countries, but which excites prejudice in western civilization from an undue display of real estate. A neck which the Minotaur might have justly envied surmounted the thickness and roundness of Mr. Ballymolloy’s shoulders, and supported a head more remarkable for the immense cavity of the mouth, and for a quantity of highly pomaded sandy hair, than for any intellectuality of the brows or high-bred fineness of the nose. Mr. Ballymolloy’s nose was nevertheless an astonishing feature, and at a distance called vividly to mind the effect of one of those great glass bottles of reddened water, behind which apothecaries of all degrees put a lamp at dusk in order that their light may the better shine in the darkness. It was one of the most surprising feats of nature’s alchemy that a liquid so brown as that contained in the decanters on Patrick’s sideboard should be able to produce and maintain anything so supernaturally red as Patrick’s nose.

Mr. Ballymolloy was clad in a beautiful suit of shiny black broadcloth, and the front of his coat was irregularly but richly adorned with a profusion of grease-spots of all sizes. A delicate suggestive mezzotint shaded the edges of his collar and cuffs, and from his heavy gold watch- chain depended a malachite seal of unusual greenness and brilliancy.

Vancouver took the gigantic outstretched hand of his host in his delicate fingers, with an air of cordiality which, if not genuine, was very well assumed.

“I’m glad to see you, sir,” said the Irishman again.

“Thanks,” said Vancouver, “and I am fortunate in finding you at home.”

Mr. Ballymolloy smiled, and pushed one of his leather easy-chairs towards the fire. Both men sat down.

“I suppose you are pretty busy over this election, Mr. Ballymolloy,” said Vancouver; blandly.

“Now, that’s just it, Mr. Vancouver,” replied the Irishman. “That’s just exactly what’s the matter with me, for indeed I am very busy, and that’s the truth.”

“Just so, Mr. Ballymolloy. Especially since the change last night. I remember what a good friend you have always been to Mr. Jobbins.”

“Well, as you say, Mr. Vancouver, I have been thinking that I and Mr. Jobbins are pretty good friends, and that’s just about what it is, I think.”

“Yes, I remember that on more than one occasion you and he have acted together in the affairs of the state,” said Vancouver, thoughtfully.

‘”Ah, but it’s the soul of him that I like,” answered Mr. Ballymolloy very sweetly. “He has such a beautiful soul, Mr. Jobbins; it does me good, and indeed it does, Mr. Vancouver.”

“As you say, sir, a man full of broad human sympathies. Nevertheless I feel sure that on the present occasion your political interests will lead you to follow the promptings of duty, and to vote in favor of the Democratic candidate. I wish you and I did not differ in politics, Mr. Ballymolloy.”

“And, indeed, there is not so very much difference, if it comes to that, Mr. Vancouver,” replied Patrick in conciliating tones. “But it’s just what I have been thinking, that I will vote for Mr. Harrington. It’s a matter of principle with me, Mr. Vancouver, and that’s it exactly.”

“And where should we all be without principles, Mr. Ballymolloy? Indeed I may say that the importance of principles in political matters is very great.”

“And it’s just the greatest pity in the world that every one has not principles like you, Mr. Vancouver. I’m speaking the truth now.” According to Mr. Patrick Ballymolloy’s view of destiny, it was the truth and nothing but the truth. He knew Vancouver of old, and Vancouver knew him.

“You flatter me, sir,” said Pocock, affecting a pleased smile. “To tell the truth, there is a little matter I wanted to speak to you about, if you can spare me half an hour.”.

“Indeed, I’m most entirely delighted to be at your service, Mr. Vancouver, and I’m glad you came so early in the morning.”

“The fact is, Mr. Ballymolloy, we are thinking of making an extension on one of our lines; a small matter, but of importance to us.”

“I guess it must be the branch of the Pocahontas and Dead Man’s Valley you’ll be speaking of, Mr. Vancouver,” said the Irishman, with sudden and cheerful interest.

“Really, Mr. Ballymolloy, you are a man of the most surprising quickness. It is a real pleasure to talk with you on such matters. I have no doubt you understand the whole question thoroughly.”

“Well, it’s of no use at all to say I know nothing about it, because I _have_ heard it mentioned, and that’s the plain truth, Mr. Vancouver. And it will take a deal of rail, too, and that’s another thing. And where do you think of getting the iron from, Mr. Vancouver?”

“Well, I had hoped, Mr. Ballmolly,” said Vancouver, with some affected hesitation, “that as an old friend, we might be able to manage matters with you. But, of course, this is entirely unofficial, and between ourselves.”

Mr. Ballymolloy nodded with something very like a wink of one bloodshot eye. He knew what he was about.

“And when will you be thinking of beginning the work, Mr. Vancouver?” he inquired, after a short pause.

“That is just the question, or rather, perhaps, I should say the difficulty. We do not expect to begin work for a year or so.”

“And surely that makes no difference, then, at all,” returned Patrick. “For the longer the time, the easier it will be for me to accommodate you.”

“Ah–but you see, Mr. Ballymolloy, it may be that in a year’s time these new-fangled ideas about free trade may be law, and it may be much cheaper for us to get our rails from England, as Mr. Vanderbilt did three or four years ago, when he was in such a hurry, you remember.”

“And, indeed, I remember it very well, Mr. Vancouver.”

“Just so. Now you see, Mr. Ballymolloy, I am speaking to you entirely as a friend, though I hope I may before long bring about an official agreement. But you see the difficulty of making a contract a year ahead, when a party of Democratic senators and Congressmen may by that time have upset the duty on steel rails, don’t you?”

“And indeed, I see it as plain as day, Mr. Vancouver. And that’s why I was saying I wished every one had such principles as yourself, and I’m telling you no lie when I say it again.” Verily Mr. Ballymolloy was a truthful person!

“Very well. Now, do not you think, Mr. Ballymolloy, that all this talk about free trade is great nonsense?”

“And, surely, it will be the ruin of the whole country, Mr. Vancouver.”

“Besides, free trade has nothing to do with Democratic principles, has it? You see here am I, the best Republican in Massachusetts, and here are you, the best Democrat in the country, and we both agree in saying that it is great nonsense to leave iron unprotected.”

“Ah, it’s the principle of you I like, Mr. Vancouver!” exclaimed Ballymolloy in great admiration. “It’s your principles are beautiful, just!”

“Very good, sir. Now of course you are going to vote for Mr. Harrington to-day, or to-morrow, or whenever the election is to be. Don’t you think yon might say something to him that would be of some use? I believe he is very uncertain about protection, you see. I think you could persuade him, somehow.”

“Well, now, Mr. Vancouver, it’s the truth when I tell you I was just thinking of speaking to him about it, just a little, before I went up to the State House. And indeed I’ll be going to him immediately.”

“I think it is the wisest plan,” said Vancouver, rising to go, “and we will speak about the contract next week, when all this election business is over.”

“Ah, and indeed, I hope it will be soon, sir,” said Ballymolloy. “But you’ll not think of going out again in the snow without taking a drop of something, will you, Mr. Vancouver?” He went to the sideboard and poured out two stiff doses of the amber liquid.

“Since you are so kind,” said Vancouver, graciously taking the proffered glass. He knew better than to refuse to drink over a bargain.

“Well, here goes,” he said.

“And luck to yourself, Mr. Vancouver,” said Ballymolloy.

“I think you can persuade him, somehow,” said Vancouver, as his host opened the street-door for him to go out.

“And, indeed, I think so too,” said Ballymolloy. Then he went back to his study and poured out a second glass of whiskey. “And if I cannot persuade him,” he continued in soliloquy, “why, then, it will just be old Jobbins who will be senator, and that’s the plain truth.”

Vancouver went away with a light heart, and the frank smile on his delicate features was most pleasant to see. He knew John Harrington well, and he was certain that Mr. Ballymolloy’s proposal would rouse the honest wrath of the man he detested.

Half an hour later Mr. Ballymolloy entered Harrington’s room in Charles Street. John was seated at the table, fully dressed, and writing letters. He offered his visitor a seat.

“So the election is coming on right away, Mr. Harrington,” began Patrick, making himself comfortable, and lighting one of John’s cigars.

“So I hear, Mr. Ballymolloy,” answered John with a pleasant smile. “I hope I may count on you, in spite of what you said yesterday. These are the times when men must keep together.”

“Now Mr. Harrington, you’ll not believe that I could go to the House and vote against my own party, surely, will you now?” said Patrick. But there was a tinge of irony in his soft tones. He knew that Vancouver could make him great and advantageous business transactions, and he treated him accordingly. John Harrington was, on the other hand, a mere candidate for his twenty votes; he could make John senator if he chose, or defeat him, if he preferred it, and he accordingly behaved to John with an air of benevolent superiority. “I trust you would do no such thing, Mr. Ballymolloy,” said John gravely. “Without advocating myself as in any way fit for the honors of the Senate, I can say that it is of the utmost importance that we should have as many Democrats in Congress as possible, in the Senate as well as in the House.”

“Surely you don’t think I doubt that, Mr. Harrington? And indeed the Senate is pretty well Democratic as it is.”

“Yes,” said John, smiling, “but the more the better, I should think. It is a very different matter from the local legislature, where changes may often do good.”

“Indeed and it is, Mr. Harrington. And will you please to tell me what you will do about free trade, when you’re in the Senate, sir?”

“I am afraid I cannot tell you anything that I did not tell you yesterday, Mr. Ballymolloy. I am a tariff reform man. It is a great Democratic movement, and I should be bound to support it, even if I were not myself so thorough a believer in it as I am.”

“Now see here, Mr. Harrington, it’s the gospel truth I’m telling you, when I say you’re mistaken. Here are plenty of us Democrats who don’t want the least little bit of free trade. I’m in the iron business, Mr. Harrington, and you won’t be after thinking me such an all-powerful galoot as to cut my own nose off, will you?”

“Well, not exactly,” said John, who was used to many peculiarities of language in his visitors. “But, of course, iron will be the thing last on the tariff. I am of opinion that it is necessary to put enough tax on iron to protect home-producers at the time of greatest depression. That is fair, is not it?”

“I dare say you may think so, Mr. Harrington,” said Ballymolloy, knocking the ashes from his cigar. “But you are not an iron man, now, are you?”

“Certainly not,” said John. “But I have studied the question, and I know its importance. In a reformation of the tariff, iron would be one of the things most carefully provided for.”

“Oh, I know all that,” said Ballymolloy, somewhat roughly, “and there’s not much you can tell me about tariff reform that I don’t know, neither. And when you have reformed other things, you’ll be for reforming iron, too, just to keep your hands in. And, indeed, I’ve no objection whatever to your reforming everything you like, so long as you don’t interfere with me and mine. But I don’t trust the principles of the thing, sir; I don’t trust them the least little bit, and for me I would rather there were not to be any reforming at all, except for the Chinamen, and I don’t care much for them, neither, and that’s a fact.”

“Very good, Mr. Ballymolloy. Every man has a right to his free opinion. But we stand on the reform platform, for there is no country in the world where reform is more needed than it is here. I can only repeat that the interests of the iron trade stand high with the Democratic party, and that it is highly improbable that any law will interfere with iron for many years. I cannot say more than that and yet stick to facts.”

“Always stick to facts, Mr. Harrington. You will find the truth a very important thing indeed, and good principles too, in dealing with plain- spoken men like myself, sir. Stick to the truth, Mr. Harrington, forever and ever.”

“I propose to, Mr. Ballymolloy,” answered John, internally amused at the solemn manner of his interlocutor.

“And then I will put the matter to you, Mr. Harrington, and indeed it’s a