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Democracy An American Novel by Henry Adams

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her, and she carefully repeated to Madeleine the choice bits of
dialogue which she picked up in her wanderings.

"Your cousin, Mrs. Clinton, says you are a ca-ca-cat, Mrs. Lee."

"I don't believe it, Victoria. Mrs. Clinton never said anything of the

"Mrs. Marston says it is because you have caught a ra-ra-rat, and
Senator Clinton was only a m-m-mouse!"

Naturally all this unexpected publicity irritated Mrs. Lee not a
little, especially when short and vague paragraphs, soon followed
by longer and more positive ones, in regard to Senator Ratcliffe's
matrimonial prospects, began to appear in newspapers, along with
descriptions of herself from the pens of enterprising female
correspondents for the press, who had never so much as seen her.
At the first sight of one of these newspaper articles, Madeleine
fairly cried with mortification and anger. She wanted to leave
Washington the next day, and she hated the very thought of
Ratcliffe. There was something in the newspaper style so
inscrutably vulgar, something so inexplicably revolting to the
sense of feminine decency, that she shrank under it as though it
were a poisonous spider. But after the first acute shame had
passed, her temper was roused, and she vowed that she would
pursue her own path just as she had begun, without regard to all
the malignity and vulgarity in the wide United States. She did not
care to marry Senator Ratcliffe; she liked his society and was
flattered by his confidence; she rather hoped to prevent him from
ever making a formal offer, and if not, she would at least push it
off to the last possible moment; but she was not to be frightened
from marrying him by any amount of spitefulness or gossip, and
she did not mean to refuse him except for stronger reasons than
these. She even went so far in her desperate courage as to laugh at
her cousin, Mrs.

Clinton, whose venerable husband she allowed and even
encouraged to pay her such public attention and to express
sentiments of such youthful ardour as she well knew would
inflame and exasperate the excellent lady his wife.

Carrington was the person most unpleasantly affected by the
course which this affair had taken. He could no longer conceal
from himself the fact that he was as much m love as a dignified
Virginian could be. With him, at all events, she had shown no
coquetry, nor had she ever either flattered or encouraged him. But
Carrington, m his solitary struggle against fate, had found her a
warm friend; always ready to assist where assistance was needed,
generous with her money in any cause which he was willing to
vouch for, full of sympathy where sympathy was more than
money, and full of resource and suggestion where money and
sympathy failed. Carrington knew her better than she knew herself.
He selected her books; he brought the last speech or the last report
from the Capitol or the departments; he knew her doubts and her
vagaries, and as far as he understood them at all, helped her to
solve them.

Carrington was too modest, and perhaps too shy, to act the part of
a declared lover, and he was too proud to let it be thought that he
wanted to exchange his poverty for her wealth. But he was all the
more anxious when he saw the evident attraction which Ratcliffe's
strong will and unscrupulous energy exercised over her. He saw
that Ratcliffe was steadily pushing his advances; that he flattered
all Mrs. Lee's weaknesses by the confidence and deference with
which he treated her; and that in a very short time, Madeleine must
either marry him or find herself looked upon as a heartless
coquette. He had his own reasons for thinking ill of Senator
Ratcliffe, and he meant to prevent a marriage; but he had an
enemy to deal with not easily driven from the path, and quite
capable of routing any number of rivals.

Ratcliffe was afraid of no one. He had not fought his own way in
life for nothing, and he knew all the value of a cold head and
dogged self-assurance.

Nothing but this robust Americanism and his strong will carried
him safely through the snares and pitfalls of Mrs. Lee's society,
where rivals and enemies beset him on every hand. He was little
better than a schoolboy, when he ventured on their ground, but
when he could draw them over upon his own territory of practical
life he rarely failed to trample on his assailants.

It was this practical sense and cool will that won over Mrs. Lee,
who was woman enough to assume that all the graces were well
enough employed in decorating her, and it was enough if the other
sex felt her superiority. Men were valuable only in proportion to
their strength and their appreciation of women. If the senator had
only been strong enough always to control his temper, he would
have done very well, but his temper was under a great strain in
these times, and his incessant effort to control it in politics made
him less watchful in private life. Mrs. Lee's tacit assumption of
superior refinement irritated him, and sometimes made him show
his teeth like a bull-dog, at the cost of receiving from Mrs. Lee a
quick stroke in return such as a well-bred tortoise-shell cat
administers to check over-familiarity; innocent to the eye, but
drawing blood. One evening when he was more than commonly
out of sorts, after sitting some time in moody silence, he roused
himself, and, taking up a book that lay on her table, he glanced at
its title and turned over the leaves. It happened by ill luck to be a
volume of Darwin that Mrs. Lee had just borrowed from the
library of Congress.

"Do you understand this sort of thing?" asked the Senator abruptly,
in a tone that suggested a sneer.

"Not very well," replied Mrs. Lee, rather curtly.

"Why do you want to understand it?" persisted the Senator. "What
good will it do you?"

"Perhaps it will teach us to be modest," answered Madeleine, quite
equal to the occasion.

"Because it says we descend from monkeys?" rejoined the Senator,

"Do you think you are descended from monkeys?"

"Why not?" said Madeleine.

"Why not?" repeated Ratcliffe, laughing harshly. "I don't like the
connection. Do you mean to introduce your distant relations into

"They would bring more amusement into it than most of its present

rejoined Mrs. Lee, with a gentle smile that threatened mischief.
But Ratcliffe would not be warned; on the contrary, the only effect
of Mrs.

Lee's defiance was to exasperate his ill-temper, and whenever he
lost his temper he became senatorial and Websterian. "Such
books," he began, "disgrace our civilization; they degrade and
stultify our divine nature; they are only suited for Asiatic
despotisms where men are reduced to the level of brutes; that they
should be accepted by a man like Baron Jacobi, I can understand;
he and his masters have nothing to do in the world but to trample
on human rights. Mr. Carrington, of course, would approve those
ideas; he believes in the divine doctrine of flogging negroes; but
that you, who profess philanthropy and free principles, should go
with them, is astonishing; it is incredible; it is unworthy of you."

"You are very hard on the monkeys," replied Madeleine, rather
sternly, when the Senator's oration was ended. "The monkeys
never did you any harm; they are not in public life; they are not
even voters; if they were, you would be enthusiastic about their
intelligence and virtue. After all, we ought to be grateful to them,
for what would men do in this melancholy world if they had not
inherited gaiety from the monkeys--as well as oratory."

Ratcliffe, to do him justice, took punishment well, at least when it
came from Mrs. Lee's hands, and his occasional outbursts of
insubordination were sure to be followed by improved discipline;
but if he allowed Mrs. Lee to correct his faults, he had no notion of
letting himself be instructed by her friends, and he lost no chance
of telling them so. But to do this was not always enough. Whether
it were that he had few ideas outside of his own experience, or that
he would not trust himself on doubtful ground, he seemed
compelled to bring every discussion down to his own level.
Madeleine puzzled herself in vain to find out whether he did this
because he knew no better, or because he meant to cover his own

"The Baron has amused me very much with his account of
Bucharest society,"

Mrs. Lee would say: "I had no idea it was so gay."

"I would like to show him our society in Peonia," was Ratcliffe's
reply; "he would find a very brilliant circle there of nature's true

"The Baron says their politicians are precious sharp chaps," added


"Oh, there are politicians in Bulgaria, are there?" asked the
Senator, whose ideas of the Roumanian and Bulgarian
neighbourhood were vague, and who had a general notion that all
such people lived in tents, wore sheepskins with the wool inside,
and ate curds: "Oh, they have politicians there! I would like to see
them try their sharpness in the west."

"Really!" said Mrs. Lee. "Think of Attila and his hordes running an
Indiana caucus?"

"Anyhow," cried French with a loud laugh, "the Baron said that a
set of bigger political scoundrels than his friends couldn't be found
in all Illinois."

"Did he say that?" exclaimed Ratcliffe angrily.

"Didn't he, Mrs. Lee? but I don't believe it; do you? What's your
candid opinion, Ratcliffe? What you don't know about Illinois
politics isn't worth knowing; do you really think those Bulgrascals
couldn't run an Illinois state convention?"

Ratcliffe did not like to be chaffed, especially on this subject, but
he could not resent French's liberty which was only a moderate
return for the wooden nutmeg. To get the conversation away from
Europe, from literature, from art, was his great object, and chaff
was a way of escape.

Carrington was very well aware that the weak side of the Senator
lay in his blind ignorance of morals. He flattered himself that Mrs.
Lee must see this and be shocked by it sooner or later, so that
nothing more was necessary than to let Ratcliffe expose himself.
Without talking very much, Carrington always aimed at drawing
him out. He soon found, however, that Ratcliffe understood such
tactics perfectly, and instead of injuring, he rather improved his
position. At times the man's audacity was startling, and even when
Carrington thought him hopelessly entangled, he would sweep
away all the hunter's nets with a sheer effort of strength, and walk
off bolder and more dangerous than ever.

When Mrs. Lee pressed him too closely, he frankly admitted her

"What you say is in great part true. There is much in politics that
disgusts and disheartens; much that is coarse and bad. I grant you
there is dishonesty and corruption. We must try to make the
amount as small as possible."

"You should be able to tell Mrs. Lee how she must go to work,"
said Carrington; "you have had experience. I have heard, it seems
to me, that you were once driven to very hard measures against

Ratcliffe looked ill-pleased at this compliment, and gave
Carrington one of his cold glances that meant mischief. But he
took up the challenge on the spot:--

"Yes, I was, and am very sorry for it. The story is this, Mrs. Lee;
and it is well-known to every man, woman, and child in the State
of Illinois, so that I have no reason for softening it. In the worst
days of the war there was almost a certainty that my State would
be carried by the peace party, by fraud, as we thought, although,
fraud or not, we were bound to save it. Had Illinois been lost then,
we should certainly have lost the Presidential election, and with it
probably the Union. At any rate, I believed the fate of the war to
depend on the result. I was then Governor, and upon me the
responsibility rested. We had entire control of the northern
counties and of their returns. We ordered the returning officers in a
certain number of counties to make no returns until they heard
from us, and when we had received the votes of all the southern
counties and learned the precise number of votes we needed to
give us a majority, we telegraphed to our northern returning
officers to make the vote of their districts such and such, thereby
overbalancing the adverse returns and giving the State to us.

This was done, and as I am now senator I have a right to suppose
that what I did was approved. I am not proud of the transaction,
but I would do it again, and worse than that, if I thought it would
save this country from disunion. But of course I did not expect Mr.
Carrington to approve it. I believe he was then carrying out his
reform principles by bearing arms against the government."

"Yes!" said Carrington drily; "you got the better of me, too. Like
the old Scotchman, you didn't care who made the people's wars
provided you made its ballots.

Carrington had missed his point. The man who has committed a
murder for his country, is a patriot and not an assassin, even when
he receives a seat in the Senate as his share of the plunder. Women
cannot be expected to go behind the motives of that patriot who
saves his country and his election in times of revolution.

Carrington's hostility to Ratcliffe was, however, mild, when
compared with that felt by old Baron Jacobi. Why the baron should
have taken so violent a prejudice it is not easy to explain, but a
diplomatist and a senator are natural enemies, and Jacobi, as an
avowed admirer of Mrs. Lee, found Ratcliffe in his way. This
prejudiced and immoral old diplomatist despised and loathed an
American senator as the type which, to his bleared European eyes,
combined the utmost pragmatical self-assurance and overbearing
temper with the narrowest education and the meanest personal
experience that ever existed in any considerable government. As
Baron Jacobi's country had no special relations with that of the
United States, and its Legation at Washington was a mere job to
create a place for Jacobi to fill, he had no occasion to disguise his
personal antipathies, and he considered himself in some degree as
having a mission to express that diplomatic contempt for the
Senate which his colleagues, if they felt it, were obliged to
conceal. He performed his duties with conscientious precision. He
never missed an opportunity to thrust the sharp point of his
dialectic rapier through the joints of the clumsy and hide-bound
senatorial self-esteem. He delighted in skilfully exposing to
Madeleine's eyes some new side of Ratcliffe's ignorance. His
conversation at such times sparkled with historical allusions,
quotations in half a dozen different languages, references to
well-known facts which an old man's memory could not recall
with precision in all their details, but with which the Honourable
Senator was familiarly acquainted, and which he could readily
supply. And his Voltairian face leered politely as he listened to
Ratcliffe's reply, which showed invariable ignorance of common
literature, art, and history. The climax of his triumph came one
evening when Ratcliffe unluckily, tempted by some allusion to
Molière which he thought he understood, made reference to the
unfortunate influence of that great man on the religious opinions
of his time. Jacobi, by a flash of inspiration, divined that he had
confused Molière with Voltaire, and assuming a manner of
extreme suavity, he put his victim on the rack, and tortured him
with affected explanations and interrogations, until Madeleine was
in a manner forced to interrupt and end the scene. But even when
the senator was not to be lured into a trap, he could not escape
assault. The baron in such a case would cross the lines and attack
him on his own ground, as on one occasion, when Ratcliffe was
defending his doctrine of party allegiance, Jacobi silenced him by
sneering somewhat thus:

"Your principle is quite correct, Mr. Senator. I, too, like yourself,
was once a good party man: my party was that of the Church; I was

Your party system is one of your thefts from our Church; your
National Convention is our OEcumenic Council; you abdicate
reason, as we do, before its decisions; and you yourself, Mr.
Ratcliffe, you are a Cardinal. They are able men, those cardinals; I
have known many; they were our best friends, but they were not
reformers. Are you a reformer, Mr. Senator?"

Ratcliffe grew to dread and hate the old man, but all his ordinary
tactics were powerless against this impenetrable eighteenth
century cynic. If he resorted to his Congressional practise of
browbeating and dogmatism, the Baron only smiled and turned his
back, or made some remark in French which galled his enemy all
the more, because, while he did not understand it, he knew well
that Madeleine did, and that she tried to repress her smile.

Ratcliffe's grey eyes grew colder and stonier than ever as he
gradually perceived that Baron Jacobi was carrying on a set
scheme with malignant ingenuity, to drive him out of Madeleine's
house, and he swore a terrible oath that he would not be beaten by
that monkey-faced foreigner. On the other hand Jacobi had little
hope of success: "What can an old man do?" said he with perfect
sincerity to Carrington; "If I were forty years younger, that great
oaf should not have his own way. Ah! I wish I were young again
and we were in Vienna!" From which it was rightly inferred by
Carrington that the venerable diplomatist would, if such acts were
still in fashion, have coolly insulted the Senator, and put a bullet
through his heart.

Chapter VI

IN February the weather became warmer and summer-like. In
Virginia there comes often at this season a deceptive gleam of
summer, slipping in between heavy storm-clouds of sleet and
snow; days and sometimes weeks when the temperature is like
June; when the earliest plants begin to show their hardy flowers,
and when the bare branches of the forest trees alone protest against
the conduct of the seasons. Then men and women are languid; life
seems, as in Italy, sensuous and glowing with colour; one is
conscious of walking in an atmosphere that is warm, palpable,
radiant with possibilities; a delicate haze hangs over Arlington,
and softens even the harsh white glare of the Capitol; the struggle
of existence seems to abate; Lent throws its calm shadow over
society; and youthful diplomatists, unconscious of their danger, are
lured into asking foolish girls to marry them; the blood thaws in
the heart and flows out into the veins, like the rills of sparkling
water that trickle from every lump of ice or snow, as though all the
ice and snow on earth, and all the hardness of heart, all the heresy
and schism, all the works of the devil, had yielded to the force of
love and to the fresh warmth of innocent, lamb-like, confiding
virtue. In such a world there should be no guile--but there is a great
deal of it notwithstanding. Indeed, at no other season is there so
much. This is the moment when the two whited sepulchres at
either end of the Avenue reek with the thick atmosphere of bargain
and sale. The old is going; the new is coming. Wealth, office,
power are at auction. Who bids highest? who hates with most
venom? who intrigues with most skill? who has done the dirtiest,
the meanest, the darkest, and the most, political work? He shall
have his reward.

Senator Ratcliffe was absorbed and ill at ease. A swarm of
applicants for office dogged his steps and beleaguered his rooms in
quest of his endorsement of their paper characters. The new
President was to arrive on Monday. Intrigues and combinations, of
which the Senator was the soul, were all alive, awaiting this
arrival. Newspaper correspondents pestered him with questions.
Brother senators called him to conferences. His mind was
pre-occupied with his own interests. One might have supposed
that, at this instant, nothing could have drawn him away from the
political gaming-table, and yet when Mrs. Lee remarked that she
was going to Mount Vernon on Saturday with a little party,
including the British Minister and an Irish gentleman staying as a
guest at the British Legation, the Senator surprised her by
expressing a strong wish to join them. He explained that, as the
political lead was no longer in his hands, the chances were nine in
ten that if he stirred at all he should make a blunder; that his
friends expected him to do something when, in fact, nothing could
be done; that every preparation had already been made, and that
for him to go on an excursion to Mount Vernon, at this moment,
with the British Minister, was, on the whole, about the best use he
could make of his time, since it would hide him for one day at

Lord Skye had fallen into the habit of consulting Mrs. Lee when
his own social resources were low, and it was she who had
suggested this party to Mount Vernon, with Carrington for a guide
and Mr. Gore for variety, to occupy the time of the Irish friend
whom Lord Skye was bravely entertaining.

This gentleman, who bore the title of Dunbeg, was a dilapidated
peer, neither wealthy nor famous. Lord Skye brought him to call
on Mrs. Lee, and in some sort put him under her care. He was
young, not ill-looking, quite intelligent, rather too fond of facts,
and not quick at humour. He was given to smiling in a deprecatory
way, and when he talked, he was either absent or excited; he made
vague blunders, and then smiled in deprecation of offence, or his
words blocked their own path in their rush. Perhaps his manner
was a little ridiculous, but he had a good heart, a good head, and a
title. He found favour in the eyes of Sybil and Victoria Dare, who
declined to admit other women to the party, although they offered
no objection to Mr.

Ratcliffe's admission. As for Lord Dunbeg, he was an enthusiastic
admirer of General Washington, and, as he privately intimated,
eager to study phases of American society. He was delighted to go
with a small party, and Miss Dare secretly promised herself that
she would show him a phase.

The morning was warm, the sky soft, the little steamer lay at the
quiet wharf with a few negroes lazily watching her preparations for

Carrington, with Mrs. Lee and the young ladies, arrived first, and
stood leaning against the rail, waiting the arrival of their
companions. Then came Mr. Gore, neatly attired and gloved, with
a light spring overcoat; for Mr.

Gore was very careful of his personal appearance, and not a little
vain of his good looks. Then a pretty woman, with blue eyes and
blonde hair, dressed in black, and leading a little girl by the hand,
came on board, and Carrington went to shake hands with her. On
his return to Mrs. Lee's side, she asked about his new
acquaintance, and he replied with a half-laugh, as though he were
not proud of her, that she was a client, a pretty widow, well known
in Washington. "Any one at the Capitol would tell you all about

She was the wife of a noted lobbyist, who died about two years

Congressmen can refuse nothing to a pretty face, and she was their
idea of feminine perfection. Yet she is a silly little woman, too.
Her husband died after a very short illness, and, to my great
surprise, made me executor under his will. I think he had an idea
that he could trust me with his papers, which were important and
compromising, for he seems to have had no time to go over them
and destroy what were best out of the way. So, you see, I am left
with his widow and child to look after. Luckily, they are well
provided for."

"Still you have not told me her name." "Her name is Baker--Mrs.
Sam Baker. But they are casting off, and Mr.

Ratcliffe will be left behind. I'll ask the captain to wait." About a
dozen passengers had arrived, among them the two Earls, with a
footman carrying a promising lunch-basket, and the planks were
actually hauled in when a carriage dashed up to the whatf, and Mr.
Ratcliffe leaped out and hurried on board. "Off with you as quick
as you can!" said he to the negro-hands, and in another moment the
little steamer had begun her journey, pounding the muddy waters
of the Potomac and sending up its small column of smoke as
though it were a newly invented incense-burner approaching the
temple of the national deity. Ratcliffe explained in great glee how
he had barely managed to escape his visitors by telling them that
the British Minister was waiting for him, and that he would be
back again presently. "If they had known where I was going," said
he, "you would have seen the boat swamped with office-seekers.
Illinois alone would have brought you to a watery grave." He was
in high spirits, bent upon enjoying his holiday, and as they passed
the arsenal with its solitary sentry, and the navy-yard, with its one
unseaworthy wooden war-steamer, he pointed out these evidences
of national grandeur to Lord Skye, threatening, as the last terror of
diplomacy, to send him home in an American frigate. They were
thus indulging in senatorial humour on one side of the boat, while
Sybil and Victoria, with the aid of Mr. Gore and Carrington, were
improving Lord Dunbeg's mind on the other.

Miss Dare, finding for herself at last a convenient seat where she
could repose and be mistress of the situation, put on a more than
usually demure expression and waited with gravity until her noble
neighbour should give her an opportunity to show those powers
which, as she believed, would supply a phase in his existence.
Miss Dare was one of those young persons, sometimes to be found
in America, who seem to have no object in life, and while
apparently devoted to men, care nothing about them, but find
happiness only in violating rules; she made no parade of whatever
virtues she had, and her chief pleasure was to make fun of all the
world and herself.

"What a noble river!" remarked Lord Dunbeg, as the boat passed
out upon the wide stream; "I suppose you often sail on it?"

"I never was here in my life till now," replied the untruthful Miss
Dare; "we don't think much of it; it s too small; we're used to so
much larger rivers."

"I am afraid you would not like our English rivers then; they are
mere brooks compared with this."

"Are they indeed?" said Victoria, with an appearance of vague
surprise; "how curious! I don't think I care to be an Englishwoman
then. I could not live without big rivers."

Lord Dunbeg stared, and hinted that this was almost unreasonable.

"Unless I were a Countess!" continued Victoria, meditatively,
looking at Alexandria, and paying no attention to his lordship; "I
think I could manage if I were a C-c-countess. It is such a pretty

"Duchess is commonly thought a prettier one," stammered
Dunbeg, much embarrassed. The young man was not used to chaff
from women.

"I should be satisfied with Countess. It sounds well. I am surprised
that you don't like it." Dunbeg looked about him uneasily for some
means of escape but he was barred in. "I should think you would
feel an awful responsibility in selecting a Countess. How do you
do it?"

Lord Dunbeg nervously joined in the general laughter as Sybil

"Oh, Victoria!" but Miss Dare continued without a smile or any
elevation of her monotonous voice:

"Now, Sybil, don't interrupt me, please. I am deeply interested in
Lord Dunbeg's conversation. He understands that my interest is
purely scientific, but my happiness requires that I should know
how Countesses are selected.

Lord Dunbeg, how would you recommend a friend to choose a

Lord Dunbeg began to be amused by her impudence, and he even
tried to lay down for her satisfaction one or two rules for selecting
Countesses, but long before he had invented his first rule, Victoria
had darted off to a new subject.

"Which would you rather be, Lord Dunbeg? an Earl or George

"George Washington, certainly," was the Earl's courteous though
rather bewildered reply.

"Really?" she asked with a languid affectation of surprise; "it is
awfully kind of you to say so, but of course you can't mean it.

"Indeed I do mean it."

"Is it possible? I never should have thought it."

"Why not, Miss Dare?"

"You have not the air of wishing to be George Washington."

"May I again ask, why not?"

"Certainly. Did you ever see George Washington?"

"Of course not. He died fifty years before I was born."

"I thought so. You see you don't know him. Now, will you give us
an idea of what you imagine General Washington to have looked

Dunbeg gave accordingly a flattering description of General
Washington, compounded of Stuart's portrait and Greenough's
statue of Olympian Jove with Washington's features, in the Capitol
Square. Miss Dare listened with an expression of superiority not
unmlxed with patience, and then she enlightened him as follows:

"All you have been saying is perfect stuff--excuse the vulgarity of
the expression. When I am a Countess I will correct my language.
The truth is that General Washington was a raw-boned country
farmer, very hard-featured, very awkward, very illiterate and very
dull; very bad tempered, very profane, and generally tipsy after

"You shock me, Miss Dare!" exclaimed Dunbeg.

"Oh! I know all about General Washington. My grandfather knew
him intimately, and often stayed at Mount Vernon for weeks
together. You must not believe what you read, and not a word of
what Mr. Carrington will say.

He is a Virginian and will tell you no end of fine stories and not a
syllable of truth in one of them. We are all patriotic about
Washington and like to hide his faults. If I weren't quite sure you
would never repeat it, I would not tell you this. The truth is that
even when George Washington was a small boy, his temper was so
violent that no one could do anything with him. He once cut down
all his father's fruit-trees in a fit of passion, and then, just because
they wanted to flog him, he threatened to brain his father with the
hatchet. His aged wife suffered agonies from him. My grandfather
often told me how he had seen the General pinch and swear at her
till the poor creature left the room in tears; and how once at Mount
Vernon he saw Washington, when quite an old man, suddenly rush
at an unoffending visitor, and chase him off the place, beating him
all the time over the head with a great stick with knots in it, and all
just because he heard the poor man stammer; he never could abide

Carrington and Gore burst into shouts of laughter over this
description of the Father of his country, but Victoria continued in
her gentle drawl to enlighten Lord Dunbeg in regard to other
subjects with information equally mendacious, until he decided
that she was quite the most eccentric person he had ever met. The
boat arrived at Mount Vernon while she was still engaged in a
description of the society and manners of America, and especially
of the rules which made an offer of marriage necessary. According
to her, Lord Dunbeg was in imminent peril; gentlemen, and
especially foreigners, were expected, in all the States south of the
Potomac, to offer themselves to at least one young lady in every
city: "and I had only yesterday," said Victoria, "a letter from a
lovely girl in North Carolina, a dear friend of mine, who wrote me
that she was right put out because her brothers had called on a
young English visitor with shot guns, and she was afraid he
wouldn't recover, and, after all, she says she should have refused

Meanwhile Madeleine, on the other side of the boat, undisturbed
by the laughter that surrounded Miss Dare, chatted soberly and
seriously with Lord Skye and Senator Ratcliffe. Lord Skye, too, a
little intoxicated by the brilliancy of the morning, broke out into
admiration of the noble river, and accused Americans of not
appreciating the beauties of their own country.

"Your national mind," said he, "has no eyelids. It requires a broad
glare and a beaten road. It prefers shadows which you can cut out
with a knife. It doesn't know the beauty of this Virginia winter

Mrs. Lee resented the charge. America, she maintained, had not
worn her feelings threadbare like Europe. She had still her story to
tell; she was waiting for her Burns and Scott, her Wordsworth and
Byron, her Hogarth and Turner. "You want peaches in spring," said
she. "Give us our thousand years of summer, and then complain, if
you please, that our peach is not as mellow as yours. Even our
voices may be soft then," she added, with a significant look at Lord

"We are at a disadvantage in arguing with Mrs. Lee," said he to
Ratcliffe; "when she ends as counsel, she begins as witness. The
famous Duchess of Devonshire's lips were not half as convincing
as Mrs. Lee's voice."

Ratcliffe listened carefully, assenting whenever he saw that Mrs.
Lee wished it. He wished he understood precisely what tones and
half-tones, colours and harmonies, were.

They arrived and strolled up the sunny path. At the tomb they
halted, as all good Americans do, and Mr. Gore, in a tone of
subdued sorrow, delivered a short address--

"It might be much worse if they improved it," he said, surveying its
proportions with the æsthetic eye of a cultured Bostonian. "As it
stands, this tomb is a simple misfortune which might befall any of
us; we should not grieve over it too much. What would our
feelings be if a Congressional committee reconstructed it of white
marble with Gothic pepper-pots, and gilded it inside on
machine-moulded stucco!"

Madeleine, however, insisted that the tomb, as it stood, was the
only restless spot about the quiet landscape, and that it
contradicted all her ideas about repose in the grave. Ratcliffe
wondered what she meant.

They passed on, wandering across the lawn, and through the house.
Their eyes, weary of the harsh colours and forms of the city, took
pleasure in the worn wainscots and the stained walls. Some of the
rooms were still occupied; fires were burning in the wide
fire-places. All were tolerably furnished, and there was no
uncomfortable sense of repair or newness. They mounted the
stairs, and Mrs. Lee fairly laughed when she was shown the room
in which General Washington slept, and where he died.

Carrington smiled too. "Our old Virginia houses were mostly like
this," said he; "suites of great halls below, and these gaunt barracks
above. The Virginia house was a sort of hotel. When there was a
race or a wedding, or a dance, and the house was full, they thought
nothing of packing half a dozen people in one room, and if the
room was large, they stretched a sheet a cross to separate the men
from the women. As for toilet, those were not the mornings of cold
baths. With our ancestors a little washing went a long way."

"Do you still live so in Virginia?" asked Madeleine.

"Oh no, it is quite gone. We live now like other country people,
and try to pay our debts, which that generation never did. They
lived from hand to mouth. They kept a stable-full of horses. The
young men were always riding about the country, betting on
horse-races, gambling, drinking, fighting, and making love. No one
knew exactly what he was worth until the crash came about fifty
years ago, and the whole thing ran out."

"Just what happened in Ireland!" said Lord Dunbeg, much
interested and full of his article in the Quarterly; "the resemblance
is perfect, even down to the houses."

Mrs. Lee asked Carrington bluntly whether he regretted the
destruction of this old social arrangement.

"One can't help regretting," said he, "whatever it was that produced
George Washington, and a crowd of other men like him. But I
think we might produce the men still if we had the same field for

"And would you bring the old society back again if you could?"
asked she.

"What for? It could not hold itself up. General Washington himself
could not save it. Before he died he had lost his hold on Virginia,
and his power was gone."

The party for a while separated, and Mrs. Lee found herself alone
in the great drawing-room. Presently the blonde Mrs. Baker
entered, with her child, who ran about making more noise than
Mrs. Washington would have permitted.

Madeleine, who had the usual feminine love of children, called the
girl to her and pointed out the shepherds and shepherdesses carved
on the white Italian marble of the fireplace; she invented a little
story about them to amuse the child, while the mother stood by and
at the end thanked the story-teller with more enthusiasm than
seemed called for. Mrs. Lee did not fancy her effusive manner, or
her complexion, and was glad when Dunbeg appeared at the

"How do you like General Washington at home?" asked she.

"Really, I assure you I feel quite at home myself," replied Dunbeg,
with a more beaming smile than ever. "I am sure General
Washington was an Irishman.

I know it from the look of the place. I mean to look it up and write
an article about it."

"Then if you have disposed of him," said Madeleine, "I think we
will have luncheon, and I have taken the liberty to order it to be
served outside."

There a table had been improvised, and Miss Dare was inspecting
the lunch, and making comments upon Lord Skye's cuisine and

"I hope it is very dry champagne," said she, "the taste for sweet
champagne is quite awfully shocking."

The young woman knew no more about dry and sweet champagne
than of the wine of Ulysses, except that she drank both with equal
satisfaction, but she was mimicking a Secretary of the British
Legation who had provided her with supper at her last evening
party. Lord Skye begged her to try it, which she did, and with great
gravity remarked that it was about five per cent. she presumed.
This, too, was caught from her Secretary, though she knew no
more what it meant than if she had been a parrot.

The luncheon was very lively and very good. When it was over, the
gentlemen were allowed to smoke, and conversation fell into a
sober strain, which at last threatened to become serious.

"You want half-tones!" said Madeleine to Lord Skye: "are there not
half-tones enough to suit you on the walls of this house?"

Lord Skye suggested that this was probably owing to the fact that
Washington, belonging, as he did, to the universe, was in his taste
an exception to local rules.

"Is not the sense of rest here captivating?" she continued. "Look at
that quaint garden, and this ragged lawn, and the great river in
front, and the superannuated fort beyond the river! Everything is
peaceful, even down to the poor old General's little bed-room. One
would like to lie down in it and sleep a century or two. And yet
that dreadful Capitol and its office-seekers are only ten miles off."

"No! that is more than I can bear!" broke in Miss Victoria in a
stage whisper, "that dreadful Capitol! Why, not one of us would be
here without that dreadful Capitol! except, perhaps, myself."

"You would appear very well as Mrs. Washington, Victoria."

"Miss Dare has been so very obliging as to give us her views of
General Washington's character this morning," said Dunbeg, "but I
have not yet had time to ask Mr. Carrington for his."

"Whatever Miss Dare says is valuable," replied Carrington, "but
her strong point is facts."

"Never flatter! Mr. Carrington," drawled Miss Dare; "I do not need
it, and it does not become your style. Tell me, Lord Dunbeg, is not
Mr. Carrington a little your idea of General Washington restored to
us in his prime?"

"After your account of General Washington, Miss Dare, how can I
agree with you?"

"After all," said Lord Skye, "I think we must agree that Miss Dare
is in the main right about the charms of Mount Vernon. Even Mrs.
Lee, on the way up, agreed that the General, who is the only
permanent resident here, has the air of being confoundedly bored
in his tomb. I don't myself love your dreadful Capitol yonder, but I
prefer it to a bucolic life here. And I account in this way for my
want of enthusiasm for your great General. He liked no kind of life
but this. He seems to have been greater in the character of a
home-sick Virginia planter than as General or President. I forgive
him his inordinate dulness, for he was not a diplomatist and it was
not his business to lie, but he might once in a way have forgotten
Mount Vernon."

Dunbeg here burst in with an excited protest; all his words seemed
to shove each other aside in their haste to escape first. "All our
greatest Englishmen have been home-sick country squires. I am a
home-sick country squire myself."

"How interesting!" said Miss Dare under her breath.

Mr. Gore here joined in: "It is all very well for you gentlemen to
measure General Washington according to your own private
twelve-inch carpenter's rule. But what will you say to us New
Englanders who never were country gentlemen at all, and never
had any liking for Virginia? What did Washington ever do for us?
He never even pretended to like us. He never was more than barely
civil to us. I'm not finding fault with him; everybody knows that he
never cared for anything but Mount Vernon. For all that, we
idolize him. To us he is Morality, Justice, Duty, Truth; half a
dozen Roman gods with capital letters. He is austere, solitary,
grand; he ought to be deified. I hardly feel easy, eating, drinking,
smoking here on his portico without his permission, taking
liberties with his house, criticising his bedrooms in his absence.
Suppose I heard his horse now trotting up on the other side, and he
suddenly appeared at this door and looked at us. I should abandon
you to his indignation. I should run away and hide myself on the
steamer. The mere thought unmans me."

Ratcliffe seemed amused at Gore's half-serious notions. "You
recall to me,"

said he, "my own feelings when I was a boy and was made by my
father to learn the Farewell Address by heart. In those days
General Washington was a sort of American Jehovah. But the
West is a poor school for Reverence. Since coming to Congress I
have learned more about General Washington, and have been
surprised to find what a narrow base his reputation rests on. A fair
military officer, who made many blunders, and who never had
more men than would make a full army-corps under his command,
he got an enormous reputation in Europe because he did not make
himself king, as though he ever had a chance of doing it. A
respectable, painstaking President, he was treated by the
Opposition with an amount of deference that would have made
government easy to a baby, but it worried him to death. His official
papers are fairly done, and contain good average sense such as a
hundred thousand men in the United States would now write. I
suspect that half of his attachment to this spot rose from his
consciousness of inferior powers and his dread of responsibility.
This government can show to-day a dozen men of equal abilities,
but we don't deify them. What I most wonder at in him is not his
military or political genius at all, for I doubt whether he had much,
but a curious Yankee shrewdness in money matters. He thought
himself a very rich man, yet he never spent a dollar foolishly. He
was almost the only Virginian I ever heard of, in public life, who
did not die insolvent."

During this long speech, Carrington glanced across at Madeleine,
and caught her eye. Ratcliffe's criticism was not to her taste.
Carrington could see that she thought it unworthy of him, and he
knew that it would irritate her.

"I will lay a little trap for Mr. Ratcliffe," thought he to himself;
"we will see whether he gets out of it." So Carrington began, and
all listened closely, for, as a Virginian, he was supposed to know
much about the subject, and his family had been deep in the
confidence of Washington himself.

"The neighbours hereabout had for many years, and may have still,
some curious stories about General Washington's closeness in
money matters. They said he never bought anything by weight but
he had it weighed over again, nor by tale but he had it counted, and
if the weight or number were not exact, he sent it back. Once,
during his absence, his steward had a room plastered, and paid the
plasterer's bill. On the General's return, he measured the room, and
found that the plasterer had charged fifteen shillings too much.
Meanwhile the man had died, and the General made a claim of
fifteen shillings on his estate, which was paid. Again, one of his
tenants brought him the rent. The exact change of fourpence was

The man tendered a dollar, and asked the General to credit him
with the balance against the next year's rent. The General refused
and made him ride nine miles to Alexandria and back for the
fourpence. On the other hand, he sent to a shoemaker in
Alexandria to come and measure him for shoes. The man returned
word that he did not go to any one's house to take measures, and
the General mounted his horse and rode the nine miles to him. One
of his rules was to pay at taverns the same sum for his servants'
meals as for his own. An inn-keeper brought him a bill of
three-and-ninepence for his own breakfast, and three shillings for
his servant. He insisted upon adding the extra ninepence, as he did
not doubt that the servant had eaten as much as he. What do you
say to these anecdotes? Was this meanness or not?"

Ratcliffe was amused. "The stories are new to me," he said. "It is
just as I thought. These are signs of a man who thinks much of
trifles; one who fusses over small matters. We don't do things in
that way now that we no longer have to get crops from granite, as
they used to do in New Hampshire when I was a boy."

Carrington replied that it was unlucky for Virginians that they had
not done things in that way then: if they had, they would not have
gone to the dogs.

Gore shook his head seriously; "Did I not tell you so?" said he.
"Was not this man an abstract virtue? I give you my word I stand in
awe before him, and I feel ashamed to pry into these details of his
life. What is it to us how he thought proper to apply his principles
to nightcaps and feather dusters? We are not his body servants, and
we care nothing about his infirmities. It is enough for us to know
that he carried his rules of virtue down to a pin's point, and that we
ought, one and all, to be on our knees before his tomb."

Dunbeg, pondering deeply, at length asked Carrington whether all
this did not make rather a clumsy politician of the father of his

"Mr. Ratcliffe knows more about politics than I. Ask him," said

"Washington was no politician at all, as we understand the word,"
replied Ratcliffe abruptly. "He stood outside of politics. The thing
couldn't be done to-day. The people don't like that sort of royal

"I don't understand!" said Mrs. Lee. "Why could you not do it

"Because I should make a fool of myself;" replied Ratcliffe,
pleased to think that Mrs. Lee should put him on a level with
Washington. She had only meant to ask why the thing could not be
done, and this little touch of Ratcliffe's vanity was inimitable.

"Mr. Ratcliffe means that Washington was too respectable for our

interposed Carrington.

This was deliberately meant to irritate Ratcliffe, and it did so all
the more because Mrs. Lee turned to Carrington, and said, with
some bitterness:

"Was he then the only honest public man we ever had?"

"Oh no!" replied Carrington cheerfully; "there have been one or
two others."

"If the rest of our Presidents had been like him," said Gore, "we
should have had fewer ugly blots on our short history."

Ratcliffe was exasperated at Carrington's habit of drawing
discussion to this point. He felt the remark as a personal insult, and
he knew it to be intended. "Public men," he broke out, "cannot be
dressing themselves to-day in Washington's old clothes. If
Washington were President now, he would have to learn our ways
or lose his next election. Only fools and theorists imagine that our
society can be handled with gloves or long poles. One must make
one's self a part of it. If virtue won't answer our purpose, we must
use vice, or our opponents will put us out of office, and this was as
true in Washington's day as it is now, and always will be."

"Come," said Lord Skye, who was beginning to fear an open
quarrel; "the conversation verges on treason, and I am accredited
to this government. Why not examine the grounds?"

A kind of natural sympathy led Lord Dunbeg to wander by the side
of Miss Dare through the quaint old garden. His mind being much
occupied by the effort of stowing away the impressions he had just
received, he was more than usually absent in his manner, and this
want of attention irritated the young lady. She made some
comments on flowers; she invented some new species with
startling names; she asked whether these were known in Ireland;
but Lord Dunbeg was for the moment so vague in his answers that
she saw her case was perilous.

"Here is an old sun-dial. Do you have sun-dials in Ireland, Lord

"Yes; oh, certainly! What! sun-dials? Oh, yes! I assure you there
are a great many sun-dials in Ireland, Miss Dare."

"I am so glad. But I suppose they are only for ornament. Here it is
just the other way. Look at this one! they all behave like that. The
wear and tear of our sun is too much for them; they don't last. My
uncle, who has a place at Long Branch, had five sun-dials in ten

"How very odd! But really now, Miss Dare, I don't see how a
sun--dial could wear out."

"Don't you? How strange! Don't you see, they get soaked with
sunshine so that they can't hold shadow. It's like me, you know. I
have such a good time all the time that I can't be unhappy. Do you
ever read the Burlington Hawkeye, Lord Dunbeg?"

"I don't remember; I think not. Is it an American serial?" gasped
Dunbeg, trying hard to keep pace with Miss Dare in her reckless
dashes across country.

"No, not serial at all!" replied Virginia; "but I am afraid you would
find it very hard reading. I shouldn't try."

"Do you read it much, Miss Dare?"

"Oh, always! I am not really as light as I seem. But then I have an
advantage over you because I know the language."

By this time Dunbeg was awake again, and Miss Dare, satisfied
with her success, allowed herself to become more reasonable, until
a slight shade of sentiment began to flicker about their path.

The scattered party, however, soon had to unite again. The boat
rang its bell for return, they filed down the paths and settled
themselves in their old places. As they steamed away, Mrs. Lee
watched the sunny hill-side and the peaceful house above, until she
could see them no more, and the longer she looked, the less she
was pleased with herself. Was it true, as Victoria Dare said, that
she could not live in so pure an air? Did she really need the denser
fumes of the city? Was she, unknown to herself; gradually
becoming tainted with the life about her? or was Ratcliffe right in
accepting the good and the bad together, and in being of his time
since he was in it? Why was it, she said bitterly to herself; that
everything Washington touched, he purified, even down to the
associations of his house?

and why is it that everything we touch seems soiled? Why do I feel
unclean when I look at Mount Vernon? In spite of Mr. Ratcliffe, is
it not better to be a child and to cry for the moon and stars?

The little Baker girl came up to her where she stood, and began
playing with her parasol.

"Who is your little friend?" asked Ratcliffe.

Mrs. Lee rather vaguely replied that she was the daughter of that
pretty woman in black; she believed her name was Baker.

"Baker, did you say?" repeated Ratcliffe.

"Baker--Mrs. Sam Baker; at least so Mr. Carrington told me; he
said she was a client of his."

In fact Ratcliffe soon saw Carrington go up to her and remain by
her side during the rest of the trip. Ratcliffe watched them sharply
and grew more and more absorbed in his own thoughts as the boat
drew nearer and nearer the shore.

Carrington was in high spirits. He thought he had played his cards
with unusual success. Even Miss Dare deigned to acknowledge his
charms that day.

She declared herself to be the moral image of Martha Washington,
and she started a discussion whether Carrington or Lord Dunbeg
would best suit her in the rôle of the General.

"Mr. Carrington is exemplary," she said, "but oh, what joy to be
Martha Washington and a Countess too!"

Chapter VII

WHEN he reached his rooms that afternoon, Senator Ratcliffe
found there, as he expected, a choice company of friends and
admirers, who had beguiled their leisure hours since noon by
cursing him in every variety of profane language that experience
could suggest and impatience stimulate. On his part, had he
consulted his own feelings only, he would then and there have
turned them out, and locked the doors behind them. So far as silent
maledictions were concerned, no profanity of theirs could hold its
own against the intensity and deliberation with which, as he found
himself approaching his own door, he expressed between his teeth
his views in respect to their eternal interests. Nothing could be less
suited to his present humour than the society which awaited him in
his rooms. He groaned in spirit as he sat down at his writing-table
and looked about him. Dozens of office-seekers were besieging the
house; men whose patriotic services in the last election called
loudly for recognition from a grateful country.

They brought their applications to the Senator with an entreaty that
he would endorse and take charge of them. Several members and
senators who felt that Ratcliffe had no reason for existence except
to fight their battle for patronage, were lounging about his room,
reading newspapers, or beguiling their time with tobacco in
various forms; at long intervals making dull remarks, as though
they were more weary than their constituents of the atmosphere
that surrounds the grandest government the sun ever shone upon.

Several newspaper correspondents, eager to barter their news for
Ratcliffe's hints or suggestions, appeared from time to time on the
scene, and, dropping into a chair by Ratcliffe's desk, whispered
with him in mysterious tones.

Thus the Senator worked on, hour after hour, mechanically doing
what was required of him, signing papers without reading them,
answering remarks without hearing them, hardly looking up from
his desk, and appearing immersed in labour. This was his
protection against curiosity and garrulity.

The pretence of work was the curtain he drew between himself and
the world.

Behind this curtain his mental operations went on, undisturbed by
what was about him, while he heard all that was said, and said
little or nothing himself. His followers respected this privacy, and
left him alone. He was their prophet, and had a right to seclusion.
He was their chieftain, and while he sat in his monosyllabic
solitude, his ragged tail reclined in various attitudes about him,
and occasionally one man spoke, or another swore. Newspapers
and tobacco were their resource in periods of absolute silence.

A shade of depression rested on the faces and the voices of Clan
Ratcliffe that evening, as is not unusual with forces on the eve of
battle. Their remarks came at longer intervals, and were more
pointless and random than usual. There was a want of elasticity in
their bearing and tone, partly coming from sympathy with the
evident depression of their chief; partly from the portents of the
time. The President was to arrive within forty-eight hours, and as
yet there was no sign that he properly appreciated their services;
there were signs only too unmistakeable that he was painfully
misled and deluded, that his countenance was turned wholly in
another direction, and that all their sacrifices were counted as
worthless. There was reason to believe that he came with a
deliberate purpose of making war upon Ratcliffe and breaking him
down; of refusing to bestow patronage on them, and of bestowing
it wherever it would injure them most deeply. At the thought that
their honestly earned harvest of foreign missions and consulates,
department-bureaus, custom-house and revenue offices,
postmasterships, Indian agencies, and army and navy contracts,
might now be wrung from their grasp by the selfish greed of a
mere accidental intruder--a man whom nobody wanted and every
one ridiculed--their natures rebelled, and they felt that such things
must not be; that there could be no more hope for democratic
government if such things were possible. At this point they
invariably became excited, lost their equanimity, and swore. Then
they fell back on their faith in Ratcliffe: if any man could pull
them through, he could; after all, the President must first reckon
with him, and he was an uncommon tough customer to tackle.

Perhaps, however, even their faith in Ratcliffe might have been
shaken, could they at that moment have looked into his mind and
understood what was passing there. Ratcliffe was a man vastly
their superior, and he knew it. He lived in a world of his own and
had instincts of refinement. Whenever his affairs went
unfavourably, these instincts revived, and for the time swept all his
nature with them. He was now filled with disgust and cynical
contempt for every form of politics. During long years he had done
his best for his party; he had sold himself to the devil, coined his
heart's blood, toiled with a dogged persistence that no day-labourer
ever conceived; and all for what? To be rejected as its candidate;
to be put under the harrow of a small Indiana farmer who made no
secret of the intention to "corral" him, and, as he elegantly
expressed it, to "take his hide and tallow." Ratcliffe had no great
fear of losing his hide, but he felt aggrieved that he should be
called upon to defend it, and that this should be the result of
twenty years' devotion. Like most men in the same place, he did
not stop to cast up both columns of his account with the party, nor
to ask himself the question that lay at the heart of his grievance:
How far had he served his party and how far himself? He was in no
humour for self-analysis: this requires more repose of mind than he
could then command. As for the President, from whom he had not
heard a whisper since the insolent letter to Grimes, which he had
taken care not to show, the Senator felt only a strong impulse to
teach him better sense and better manners. But as for political life,
the events of the last six months were calculated to make any man
doubt its value. He was quite out of sympathy with it. He hated the
sight of his tobacco-chewing, newspaper-reading satellites, with
their hats tipped at every angle except the right one, and their feet
everywhere except on the floor. Their conversation bored him and
their presence was a nuisance. He would not submit to this slavery
longer. He would have given his Senatorship for a civilized house
like Mrs. Lee's, with a woman like Mrs. Lee at its head, and twenty
thousand a year for life. He smiled his only smile that evening
when he thought how rapidly she would rout every man Jack of his
political following out of her parlours, and how meekly they would
submit to banishment into a back-office with an oil-cloth carpet
and two cane chairs.

He felt that Mrs. Lee was more necessary to him than the
Presidency itself; he could not go on without her; he needed
human companionship; some Christian comfort for his old age;
some avenue of communication with that social world, which
made his present surroundings look cold and foul; some touch of
that refinement of mind and morals beside which his own seemed
coarse. He felt unutterably lonely. He wished Mrs. Lee had asked
him home to dinner; but Mrs. Lee had gone to bed with a
headache. He should not see her again for a week. Then his mind
turned back upon their morning at Mount Vernon, and bethinking
himself of Mrs. Sam Baker, he took a sheet of note-paper, and
wrote a line to Wilson Keen, Esq., at Georgetown, requesting him
to call, if possible, the next morning towards one o'clock at the
Senator's rooms on a matter of business. Wilson Keen was chief of
the Secret Service Bureau in the Treasury Department, and, as the
depositary of all secrets, was often called upon for assistance
which he was very good-natured in furnishing to senators,
especially if they were likely to be Secretaries of the Treasury.

This note despatched, Mr. Ratcliffe fell back into his reflective
mood, which led him apparently into still lower depths of
discontent until, with a muttered oath, he swore he could "stand no
more of this," and, suddenly rising, he informed his visitors that he
was sorry to leave them, but he felt rather poorly and was going to
bed; and to bed he went, while his guests departed, each as his
business or desires might point him, some to drink whiskey and
some to repose.

On Sunday morning Mr. Ratcliffe, as usual, went to church. He
always attended morning service--at the Methodist Episcopal
Church--not wholly on the ground of religious conviction, but
because a large number of his constituents were church-going
people and he would not willingly shock their principles so long as
he needed their votes. In church, he kept his eyes closely fixed
upon the clergyman, and at the end of the sermon he could say
with truth that he had not heard a word of it, although the
respectable minister was gratified by the attention his discourse
had received from the Senator from Illinois, an attention all the
more praiseworthy because of the engrossing public cares which
must at that moment have distracted the Senator's mind. In this last
idea, the minister was right. Mr. Ratcliffe's mind was greatly
distracted by public cares, and one of his strongest reasons for
going to church at all was that he might get an hour or two of
undisturbed reflection. During the entire service he was absorbed
in carrying on a series of imaginary conversations with the new
President. He brought up in succession every form of proposition
which the President might make to him; every trap which could be
laid for him; every sort of treatment he might expect, so that he
could not be taken by surprise, and his frank, simple nature could
never be at a loss. One object, however, long escaped him.
Supposing, what was more than probable, that the President's
opposition to Ratcliffe's declared friends made it impossible to
force any of them into office; it would then be necessary to try
some new man, not obnoxious to the President, as a candidate for
the Cabinet. Who should this be? Ratcliffe pondered long and
deeply, searching out a man who combined the most powerful
interests, with the fewest enmities. This subject was still
uppermost at the moment when service ended. Ratcliffe pondered
over it as he walked back to his rooms. Not until he reached his
own door did he come to a conclusion:

Carson would do; Carson of Pennsylvania; the President had
probably never heard of him.

Mr. Wilson Keen was waiting the Senator's return, a heavy man
with a square face, and good-natured, active blue eyes; a man of
few words and those well-considered. The interview was brief.
After apologising for breaking in upon Sunday with business, Mr.
Ratcliffe excused himself on the ground that so little time was left
before the close of the session. A bill now before one of his
Committees, on which a report must soon be made, involved
matters to which it was believed that the late Samuel Baker,
formerly a well-known lobby-agent in Washington, held the only
clue. He being dead, Mr. Ratcliffe wished to know whether he had
left any papers behind him, and in whose hands these papers were,
or whether any partner or associate of his was acquainted with his

Mr. Keen made a note of the request, merely remarking that he had
been very well acquainted with Baker, and also a little with his
wife, who was supposed to know his affairs as well as he knew
them himself; and who was still in Washington. He thought he
could bring the information in a day or two. As he then rose to go,
Mr. Ratcliffe added that entire secrecy was necessary, as the
interests involved in obstructing the search were considerable, and
it was not well to wake them up. Mr. Keen assented and went his

All this was natural enough and entirely proper, at least so far as
appeared on the surface. Had Mr. Keen been so curious in other
people's affairs as to look for the particular legislative measure
which lay at the bottom of Mr.

Ratcliffe's inquiries, he might have searched among the papers of
Congress a very long time and found himself greatly puzzled at
last. In fact there was no measure of the kind. The whole story was
a fiction. Mr. Ratcliffe had scarcely thought of Baker since his
death, until the day before, when he had seen his widow on the
Mount Vernon steamer and had found her in relations with
Carrington. Something in Carrington's habitual attitude and
manner towards himself had long struck him as peculiar, and this
connection with Mrs. Baker had suggested to the Senator the idea
that it might be well to have an eye on both. Mrs. Baker was a silly
woman, as he knew, and there were old transactions between
Ratcliffe and Baker of which she might be informed, but which
Ratcliffe had no wish to see brought within Mrs. Lee's ken. As for
the fiction invented to set Keen in motion, it was an innocent one.
It harmed nobody. Ratcliffe selected this particular method of
inquiry because it was the easiest, safest, and most effectual. If he
were always to wait until he could afford to tell the precise truth,
business would very soon be at a standstill, and his career at an

This little matter disposed of; the Senator from Illinois passed his
afternoon in calling upon some of his brother senators, and the
first of those whom he honoured with a visit was Mr. Krebs, of
Pennsylvania. There were many reasons which now made the
co-operation of that high-minded statesman essential to Mr.
Ratcliffe. The strongest of them was that the Pennsylvania
delegation in Congress was well disciplined and could be used
with peculiar advantage for purposes of "pressure." Ratcliffe's
success in his contest with the new President depended on the
amount of "pressure" he could employ. To keep himself in the
background, and to fling over the head of the raw Chief Magistrate
a web of intertwined influences, any one of which alone would be
useless, but which taken together were not to be broken through; to
revive the lost art of the Roman retiarius, who from a safe distance
threw his net over his adversary, before attacking with the dagger;
this was Ratcliffe's intention and towards this he had been
directing all his manipulation for weeks past. How much
bargaining and how many promises he found it necessary to make,
was known to himself alone. About this time Mrs. Lee was a little
surprised to find Mr. Gore speaking with entire confidence of
having Ratcliffe's support in his application for the Spanish
mission, for she had rather imagined that Gore was not a favourite
with Ratcliffe. She noticed too that Schneidekoupon had come
back again and spoke mysteriously of interviews with Ratcliffe; of
attempts to unite the interests of New York and Pennsylvania; and
his countenance took on a dark and dramatic expression as he
proclaimed that no sacrifice of the principle of protection should
be tolerated. Schneidekoupon disappeared as suddenly as he came,
and from Sybil's innocent complaints of his spirits and temper,
Mrs. Lee jumped to the conclusion that Mr. Ratcliffe, Mr. Clinton,
and Mr.

Krebs had for the moment combined to sit heavily upon poor
Schneidekoupon, and to remove his disturbing influence from the
scene, at least until other men should get what they wanted. These
were merely the trifling incidents that fell within Mrs. Lee's
observation. She felt an atmosphere of bargain and intrigue, but
she could only imagine how far it extended. Even Carrington,
when she spoke to him about it, only laughed and shook his head:

"Those matters are private, my dear Mrs. Lee; you and I are not
meant to know such things."

This Sunday afternoon Mr. Ratcliffe's object was to arrange the
little manoeuvre about Carson of Pennsylvania, which had
disturbed him in church.

His efforts were crowned with success. Krebs accepted Carson and
promised to bring him forward at ten minutes' notice, should the
emergency arise.

Ratcliffe was a great statesman. The smoothness of his
manipulation was marvellous. No other man in politics, indeed no
other man who had ever been in politics in this country, could--his
admirers said--have brought together so many hostile interests and
made so fantastic a combination. Some men went so far as to
maintain that he would "rope in the President himself before the
old man had time to swap knives with him." The beauty of his
work consisted in the skill with which he evaded questions of
principle. As he wisely said, the issue now involved was not one of
principle but of power.

The fate of that noble party to which they all belonged, and which
had a record that could never be forgotten, depended on their
letting principle alone. Their principle must be the want of
principles. There were indeed individuals who said in reply that
Ratcliffe had made promises which never could be carried out, and
there were almost superhuman elements of discord in the
combination, but as Ratcliffe shrewdly rejoined, he only wanted it
to last a week, and he guessed his promises would hold it up for
that time.

Such was the situation when on Monday afternoon the
President-elect arrived in Washington, and the comedy began. The
new President was, almost as much as Abraham Lincoln or
Franklin Pierce, an unknown quantity in political mathematics. In
the national convention of the party, nine months before, after
some dozens of fruitless ballots in which Ratcliffe wanted but
three votes of a majority, his opponents had done what he was now
doing; they had laid aside their principles and set up for their
candidate a plain Indiana farmer, whose political experience was
limited to stump-speaking in his native State, and to one term as
Governor. They had pitched upon him, not because they thought
him competent, but because they hoped by doing so to detach
Indiana from Ratcliffe's following, and they were so successful
that within fifteen minutes Ratcliffe's friends were routed, and the
Presidency had fallen upon this new political Buddha.

He had begun his career as a stone-cutter in a quarry, and was, not
unreasonably, proud of the fact. During the campaign this incident
had, of course, filled a large space in the public mind, or, more
exactly, in the public eye. "The Stone-cutter of the Wabash," he
was sometimes called; at others "the Hoosier Quarryman," but his
favourite appellation was "Old Granite," although this last
endearing name, owing to an unfortunate similarity of sound, was
seized upon by his opponents, and distorted into "Old Granny." He
had been painted on many thousand yards of cotton sheeting,
either with a terrific sledge-hammer, smashing the skulls (which
figured as paving-stones) of his political opponents, or splitting by
gigantic blows a huge rock typical of the opposing party. His
opponents in their turn had paraded illuminations representing the
Quarryman in the garb of a State's-prison convict breaking the
heads of Ratcliffe and other well-known political leaders with a
very feeble hammer, or as "Old Granny" in pauper's rags,
hopelessly repairing with the same heads the impossible roads
which typified the ill-conditioned and miry ways of his party. But
these violations of decency and good sense were universally
reproved by the virtuous; and it was remarked with satisfaction
that the purest and most highly cultivated newspaper editors on his
side, without excepting those of Boston itself; agreed with one
voice that the Stone-cutter was a noble type of man, perhaps the
very noblest that had appeared to adorn this country since the
incomparable Washington.

That he was honest, all admitted; that is to say, all who voted for

This is a general characteristic of all new presidents. He himself
took great pride in his home-spun honesty, which is a quality
peculiar to nature's noblemen. Owing nothing, as he conceived, to
politicians, but sympathising through every fibre of his unselfish
nature with the impulses and aspirations of the people, he affirmed
it to be his first duty to protect the people from those vultures, as
he called them, those wolves in sheep's clothing, those harpies,
those hyenas, the politicians; epithets which, as generally
interpreted, meant Ratcliffe and Ratcliffe's friends.

His cardinal principle in politics was hostility to Ratcliffe, yet he
was not vindictive. He came to Washington determined to be the
Father of his country; to gain a proud immortality and a

Upon this gentleman Ratcliffe had let loose all the forms of

which could be set in motion either in or out of Washington. From
the moment when he had left his humble cottage in Southern
Indiana, he had been captured by Ratcliffe's friends, and smothered
in demonstrations of affection. They had never allowed him to
suggest the possibility of ill-feeling. They had assumed as a matter
of course that the most cordial attachment existed between him
and his party. On his arrival in Washington they systematically cut
him off from contact with any influences but their own. This was
not a very difficult thing to do, for great as he was, he liked to be
told of his greatness, and they made him feel himself a colossus.
Even the few personal friends in his company were manipulated
with the utmost care, and their weaknesses put to use before they
had been in Washington a single day.

Not that Ratcliffe had anything to do with all this underhand and
grovelling intrigue. Mr. Ratcliffe was a man of dignity and
self-respect, who left details to his subordinates. He waited calmly
until the President, recovered from the fatigues of his journey,
should begin to feel the effect of a Washington atmosphere. Then
on Wednesday morning, Mr. Ratcliffe left his rooms an hour
earlier than usual on his way to the Senate, and called at the
President's Hotel: he was ushered into a large apartment in which
the new Chief Magistrate was holding court, although at sight of
Ratcliffe, the other visitors edged away or took their hats and left
the room. The President proved to be a hard-featured man of sixty,
with a hooked nose and thin, straight, iron-gray hair. His voice was
rougher than his features and he received Ratcliffe awkwardly. He
had suffered since his departure from Indiana. Out there it had
seemed a mere flea-bite, as he expressed it, to brush Ratcliffe
aside, but in Washington the thing was somehow different.

Even his own Indiana friends looked grave when he talked of it,
and shook their heads. They advised him to be cautious and gain
time; to lead Ratcliffe on, and if possible to throw on him the
responsibility of a quarrel. He was, therefore, like a brown bear
undergoing the process of taming; very ill-tempered, very rough,
and at the same time very much bewildered and a little frightened.
Ratcliffe sat ten minutes with him, and obtained information in
regard to pains which the President had suffered during the
previous night, in consequence, as he believed, of an
over-indulgence in fresh lobster, a luxury in which he had found a
diversion from the cares of state. So soon as this matter was
explained and condoled upon, Ratcliffe rose and took leave.

Every device known to politicians was now in full play against the
Hoosier Quarryman. State delegations with contradictory requests
were poured in upon him, among which that of Massachusetts
presented as its only prayer the appointment of Mr. Gore to the
Spanish mission. Difficulties were invented to embarrass and
worry him. False leads were suggested, and false information
carefully mingled with true. A wild dance was kept up under his
eyes from daylight to midnight, until his brain reeled with the
effort to follow it. Means were also found to convert one of his
personal, confidential friends, who had come with him from
Indiana and who had more brains or less principle than the others;
from him every word of the President was brought directly to
Ratcliffe's ear.

Early on Friday morning, Mr. Thomas Lord, a rival of the late
Samuel Baker, and heir to his triumphs, appeared in Ratcliffe's
rooms while the Senator was consuming his lonely egg and chop.
Mr. Lord had been chosen to take general charge of the
presidential party and to direct all matters connected with
Ratcliffe's interests. Some people might consider this the work of a
spy; he looked on it as a public duty. He reported that "Old
Granny" had at last shown signs of weakness. Late the previous
evening when, according to his custom, he was smoking his pipe
in company with his kitchen-cabinet of followers, he had again
fallen upon the subject of Ratcliffe, and with a volley of oaths had
sworn that he would show him his place yet, and that he meant to
offer him a seat in the Cabinet that would make him "sicker than a
stuck hog." From this remark and some explanatory hints that
followed, it seemed that the Quarryman had abandoned his scheme
of putting Ratcliffe to immediate political death, and had now
undertaken to invite him into a Cabinet which was to be specially
constructed to thwart and humiliate him.

The President, it appeared, warmly applauded the remark of one
counsellor, that Ratcliffe was safer in the Cabinet than in the
Senate, and that it would be easy to kick him out when the time

Ratcliffe smiled grimly as Mr. Lord, with much clever mimicry,
described the President's peculiarities of language and manner, but
he said nothing and waited for the event. The same evening came a
note from the President's private secretary requesting his
attendance, if possible, to-morrow, Saturday morning, at ten
o'clock. The note was curt and cool. Ratcliffe merely sent back
word that he would come, and felt a little regret that the President
should not know enough etiquette to understand that this verbal
answer was intended as a hint to improve his manners. He did
come accordingly, and found the President looking blacker than
before. This time there was no avoiding of tender subjects. The
President meant to show Ratcliffe by the decision of his course,
that he was master of the situation. He broke at once into the
middle of the matter: "I sent for you,"

said he, "to consult with you about my Cabinet. Here is a list of the
gentlemen I intend to invite into it. You will see that I have got
you down for the Treasury. Will you look at the list and say what
you think of it?"

Ratcliffe took the paper, but laid it at once on the table without
looking at it. "I can have no objection," said he, "to any Cabinet
you may appoint, provided I am not included in it. My wish is to
remain where I am. There I can serve your administration better
than in the Cabinet."

"Then you refuse?" growled the President.

"By no means. I only decline to offer any advice or even to hear
the names of my proposed colleagues until it is decided that my
services are necessary. If they are, I shall accept without caring
with whom I serve."

The President glared at him with an uneasy look. What was to be
done next?

He wanted time to think, but Ratcliffe was there and must be
disposed of. He involuntarily became more civil: "Mr. Ratcliffe,
your refusal would knock everything on the head. I thought that
matter was all fixed. What more can I do?"

But Ratcliffe had no mind to let the President out of his clutches
so easily, and a long conversation followed, during which he
forced his antagonist into the position of urging him to take the
Treasury in order to prevent some undefined but portentous
mischief in the Senate. All that could be agreed upon was that
Ratcliffe should give a positive answer within two days, and on
that agreement he took his leave.

As he passed through the corridor, a number of gentlemen were
waiting for interviews with the President, and among them was the
whole Pennsylvania delegation, "ready for biz," as Mr. Tom Lord
remarked, with a wink.

Ratcliffe drew Krebs aside and they exchanged a few words as he
passed out.

Ten minutes afterwards the delegation was admitted, and some of
its members were a little surprised to hear their spokesman,
Senator Krebs, press with extreme earnestness and in their names,
the appointment of Josiah B. Carson to a place in the Cabinet,
when they had been given to understand that they came to
recommend Jared Caldwell as postmaster of Philadelphia. But
Pennsylvania is a great and virtuous State, whose representatives
have entire confidence in their chief. Not one of them so much as

The dance of democracy round the President now began again with
wilder energy. Ratcliffe launched his last bolts. His two-days' delay
was a mere cover for bringing new influences to bear. He needed
no delay. He wanted no time for reflection. The President had
undertaken to put him on the horns of a dilemma; either to force
him into a hostile and treacherous Cabinet, or to throw on him the
blame of a refusal and a quarrel. He meant to embrace one of the
horns and to impale the President on it, and he felt perfect
confidence in his own success. He meant to accept the Treasury
and he was ready to back himself with a heavy wager to get the
government entirely into his own hands within six weeks. His
contempt for the Hoosier Stone-cutter was unbounded, and his
confidence in himself more absolute than ever.

Busy as he was, the Senator made his appearance the next evening
at Mrs.

Lee's, and finding her alone with Sybil, who was occupied with her
own little devices, Ratcliffe told Madeleine the story of his week's

He did not dwell on his exploits. On the contrary he quite ignored
those elaborate arrangements which had taken from the President
his power of volition. His picture presented himself; solitary and
unprotected, in the character of that honest beast who was invited
to dine with the lion and saw that all the footmarks of his
predecessors led into the lion's cave, and none away from it. He
described in humorous detail his interviews with the Indiana lion,
and the particulars of the surfeit of lobster as given in the
President's dialect; he even repeated to her the story told him by
Mr. Tom Lord, without omitting oaths or gestures; he told her how
matters stood at the moment, and how the President had laid a trap
for him which he could not escape; he must either enter a Cabinet
constructed on purpose to thwart him and with the certainty of
ignominious dismissal at the first opportunity, or he must refuse an
offer of friendship which would throw on him the blame of a
quarrel, and enable the President to charge all future difficulties to
the account of Ratcliffe's "insatiable ambition." "And now, Mrs.
Lee," he continued, with increasing seriousness of tone; "I want
your advice; what shall I do?"

Even this half revelation of the meanness which distorted politics;
this one-sided view of human nature in its naked deformity playing
pranks with the interests of forty million people, disgusted and
depressed Madeleine's mind. Ratclife spared her nothing except
the exposure of his own moral sores. He carefully called her
attention to every leprous taint upon his neighbours' persons, to
every rag in their foul clothing, to every slimy and fetid pool that
lay beside their path. It was his way of bringing his own qualities
into relief. He meant that she should go hand in hand with him
through the brimstone lake, and the more repulsive it seemed to
her, the more overwhelming would his superiority become. He
meant to destroy those doubts of his character which Carrington
was so carefully fostering, to rouse her sympathy, to stimulate her
feminine sense of self-sacrifice.

When he asked this question she looked up at him with an
expression of indignant pride, as she spoke:

"I say again, Mr. Ratcliffe, what I said once before. Do whatever is
most for the public good."

"And what is most for the public good?"

Madeleine half opened her mouth to reply, then hesitated, and
stared silently into the fire before her. What was indeed most for
the public good?

Where did the public good enter at all into this maze of personal
intrigue, this wilderness of stunted natures where no straight road
was to be found, but only the tortuous and aimless tracks of beasts
and things that crawl?

Where was she to look for a principle to guide, an ideal to set up
and to point at?

Ratcliffe resumed his appeal, and his manner was more serious
than ever.

"I am hard pressed, Mrs. Lee. My enemies encompass me about.
They mean to ruin me. I honestly wish to do my duty. You once
said that personal considerations should have no weight. Very
well! throw them away! And now tell me what I should do."

For the first time, Mrs. Lee began to feel his power. He was
simple, straightforward, earnest. His words moved her. How
should she imagine that he was playing upon her sensitive nature
precisely as he played upon the President's coarse one, and that this
heavy western politician had the instincts of a wild Indian in their
sharpness and quickness of perception; that he divined her
character and read it as he read the faces and tones of thousands
from day to day? She was uneasy under his eye. She began a
sentence, hesitated in the middle, and broke down. She lost her
command of thought, and sat dumb-founded. He had to draw her
out of the confusion he had himself made.

"I see your meaning in your face. You say that I should accept the
duty and disregard the consequences."

"I don't know," said Madeleine, hesitatingly; "Yes, I think that
would be my feeling."

"And when I fall a sacrifice to that man's envy and intrigue, what
will you think then, Mrs. Lee? Will you not join the rest of the
world and say that I overreached myself; and walked into this trap
with my eyes open, and for my own objects? Do you think I shall
ever be thought better of; for getting caught here? I don't parade
high moral views like our friend French. I won't cant about virtue.
But I do claim that in my public life I have tried to do right. Will
you do me the justice to think so?"

Madeleine still struggled to prevent herself from being drawn into
indefinite promises of sympathy with this man. She would keep
him at arm's length whatever her sympathies might be. She would
not pledge herself to espouse his cause. She turned upon him with
an effort, and said that her thoughts, now or at any time, were folly
and nonsense, and that the consciousness of right-doing was the
only reward any public man had a right to expect.

"And yet you are a hard critic, Mrs. Lee. If your thoughts are what
you say, your words are not. You judge with the judgment of
abstract principles, and you wield the bolts of divine justice. You
look on and condemn, but you refuse to acquit. When I come to
you on the verge of what is likely to be the fatal plunge of my life,
and ask you only for some clue to the moral principle that ought to
guide me, you look on and say that virtue is its own reward. And
you do not even say where virtue lies."

"I confess my sins," said Madeleine, meekly and despondently;
"life is more complicated than I thought."

"I shall be guided by your advice," said Ratcliffe; "I shall walk into
that den of wild beasts, since you think I ought. But I shall hold
you to your responsibility. You cannot refuse to see me through
dangers you have helped to bring me into."

"No, no!" cried Madeleine, earnestly; "no responsibility. You ask
more than I can give."

Ratcliffe looked at her a moment with a troubled and careworn
face. His eyes seemed deep sunk in their dark circles, and his voice
was pathetic in its intensity. "Duty is duty, for you as well as for
me. I have a right to the help of all pure minds. You have no right
to refuse it. How can you reject your own responsibility and hold
me to mine?"

Almost as he spoke, he rose and took his departure, leaving her no
time to do more than murmur again her ineffectual protest. After
he was gone, Mrs.

Lee sat long, with her eyes fixed on the fire, reflecting upon what
he had said. Her mind was bewildered by the new suggestions
which Ratcliffe had thrown out. What woman of thirty, with
aspirations for the infinite, could resist an attack like this? What
woman with a soul could see before her the most powerful public
man of her time, appealing--with a face furrowed by anxieties, and
a voice vibrating with only half-suppressed affection--to her for
counsel and sympathy, without yielding some response? and what
woman could have helped bowing her head to that rebuke of her
over-confident judgment, coming as it did from one who in the
same breath appealed to that judgment as final? Ratcliffe, too, had
a curious instinct for human weaknesses. No magnetic needle was
ever truer than his finger when he touched the vulnerable spot in
an opponent's mind. Mrs. Lee was not to be reached by an appeal
to religious sentiment, to ambition, or to affection.

Any such appeal would have fallen flat on her ears and destroyed
its own hopes. But she was a woman to the very last drop of her
blood. She could not be induced to love Ratcliffe, but she might be
deluded into sacrificing herself for him. She atoned for want of
devotion to God, by devotion to man.

She had a woman's natural tendency towards asceticism,
self-extinction, self-abnegation. All through life she had made
painful efforts to understand and follow out her duty. Ratcliffe
knew her weak point when he attacked her from this side. Like all
great orators and advocates, he was an actor; the more effective
because of a certain dignified air that forbade familiarity.

He had appealed to her sympathy, her sense of right and of duty, to
her courage, her loyalty, her whole higher nature; and while he
made this appeal he felt more than half convinced that he was all
he pretended to be, and that he really had a right to her devotion.
What wonder that she in her turn was more than half inclined to
admit that right. She knew him now better than Carrington or
Jacobi knew him. Surely a man who spoke as he spoke, had noble
instincts and lofty aims? Was not his career a thousand times more
important than hers? If he, in his isolation and his cares, needed
her assistance, had she an excuse for refusing it? What was there
in her aimless and useless life which made it so precious that she
could not afford to fling it into the gutter, if need be, on the bare
chance of enriching some fuller existence?

Chapter VIII

OF all titles ever assumed by prince or potentate, the proudest is
that of the Roman pontiffs: "Servus servorum Dei"--"Servant of the
servants of God."

In former days it was not admitted that the devil's servants could
by right have any share in government. They were to be shut out,
punished, exiled, maimed, and burned. The devil has no servants
now; only the people have servants. There may be some mistake
about a doctrine which makes the wicked, when a majority, the
mouthpiece of God against the virtuous, but the hopes of mankind
are staked on it; and if the weak in faith sometimes quail when
they see humanity floating in a shoreless ocean, on this plank,
which experience and religion long since condemned as rotten,
mistake or not, men have thus far floated better by its aid, than the
popes ever did with their prettier principle; so that it will be a long
time yet before society repents.

Whether the new President and his chief rival, Mr. Silas P.
Ratcliffe, were or were not servants of the servants of God, is not
material here. Servants they were to some one. No doubt many of
those who call themselves servants of the people are no better than
wolves in sheep's clothing, or asses in lions' skins. One may see
scores of them any day in the Capitol when Congress is in session,
making noisy demonstrations, or more usefully doing nothing. A
wiser generation will employ them in manual labour; as it is, they
serve only themselves. But there are two officers, at least, whose
service is real--the President and his Secretary of the Treasury. The
Hoosier Quarryman had not been a week in Washington before he
was heartily home-sick for Indiana. No maid-of-all-work in a
cheap boarding-house was ever more harassed. Everyone
conspired against him. His enemies gave him no peace. All
Washington was laughing at his blunders, and ribald sheets,
published on a Sunday, took delight in printing the new Chief
Magistrate's sayings and doings, chronicled with outrageous
humour, and placed by malicious hands where the President could
not but see them. He was sensitive to ridicule, and it mortified him
to the heart to find that remarks and acts, which to him seemed
sensible enough, should be capable of such perversion. Then he
was overwhelmed with public business. It came upon him in a
deluge, and he now, in his despair, no longer tried to control it. He
let it pass over him like a wave. His mind was muddied by the
innumerable visitors to whom he had to listen. But his greatest
anxiety was the Inaugural Address which, distracted as he was, he
could not finish, although in another week it must be delivered. He
was nervous about his Cabinet; it seemed to him that he could do
nothing until he had disposed of Ratcliffe.

Already, thanks to the President's friends, Ratcliffe had become
indispensable; still an enemy, of course, but one whose hands must
be tied; a sort of Sampson, to be kept in bonds until the time came
for putting him out of the way, but in the meanwhile, to be
utilized. This point being settled, the President had in imagination
begun to lean upon him; for the last few days he had postponed
everything till next week, "when I get my Cabinet arranged;"
which meant, when he got Ratcliffe's assistance; and he fell into a
panic whenever he thought of the chance that Ratcliffe might

He was pacing his room impatiently on Monday mormng, an hour
before the time fixed for Ratcliffe's visit. His feelings still
fluctuated violently, and if he recognized the necessity of using
Ratcliffe, he was not the less determined to tie Ratcliffe's hands.
He must be made to come into a Cabinet where every other voice
would be against him. He must be prevented from having any
patronage to dispose of. He must be induced to accept these
conditions at the start. How present this to him in such a way as
not to repel him at once? All this was needless, if the President had
only known it, but he thought himself a profound statesman, and
that his hand was guiding the destinies of America to his own
re-election. When at length, on the stroke of ten o'clock, Ratcliffe
entered the room, the President turned to him with nervous
eagerness, and almost before offering his hand, said that he hoped
Mr. Ratcliffe had come prepared to begin work at once. The
Senator replied that, if such was the President's decided wish, he
would offer no further opposition. Then the President drew himself
up in the attitude of an American Cato, and delivered a prepared
address, in which he said that he had chosen the members ot his
Cabinet with a careful regard to the public interests; that Mr.
Ratcliffe was essential to the combination; that he expected no
disagreement on principles, for there was but one principle which
he should consider fundamental, namely, that there should be no
removals from office except for cause; and that under these
circumstances he counted upon Mr. Ratcliffe's assistance as a
matter of patriotic duty.

To all this Ratcliffe assented without a word of objection, and the
President, more convinced than ever of his own masterly
statesmanship, breathed more freely than for a week past. Within
ten minutes they were actively at work together, clearing away the
mass of accumulated business.

The relief of the Quarryman surprised himself. Ratcliffe lifted the
weight of affairs from his shoulders with hardly an effort. He knew
everybody and everything. He took most of the President's visitors
at once into his own hands and dismissed them with great rapidity.
He knew what they wanted; he knew what recommendations were
strong and what were weak; who was to be treated with deference
and who was to be sent away abruptly; where a blunt refusal was
safe, and where a pledge was allowable. The President even
trusted him with the unfinished manuscript of the Inaugural
Address, which Ratcliffe returned to him the next day with such
notes and suggestions as left nothing to be done beyond copying
them out in a fair hand. With all this, he proved himself a very
agreeable companion. He talked well and enlivened the work; he
was not a hard taskmaster, and when he saw that the President was
tired, he boldly asserted that there was no more business that could
not as well wait a day, and so took the weary Stone-cutter out to
drive for a couple of hours, and let him go peacefully to sleep in
the carriage. They dined together and Ratcliffe took care to send
for Tom Lord to amuse them, for Tom was a wit and a humourist,
and kept the President in a laugh. Mr. Lord ordered the dinner and
chose the wines. He could be coarse enough to suit even the
President's palate, and Ratcliffe was not behindhand. When the
new Secretary went away at ten o'clock that night, his chief; who
was in high good humour with his dinner, his champagne, and his
conversation, swore with some unnecessary granite oaths, that
Ratcliffe was "a clever fellow anyhow," and he was glad "that job
was fixed."

The truth was that Ratcliffe had now precisely ten days before the
new Cabinet could be set in motion, and in these ten days he must
establish his authority over the President so firmly that nothing
could shake it. He was diligent in good works. Very soon the court
began to feel his hand. If a business letter or a written memorial
came in, the President found it easy to endorse: "Referred to the
Secretary of the Treasury." If a visitor wanted anything for himself
or another, the invariable reply came to be: "Just mention it to Mr.
Ratcliffe;" or, "I guess Ratcliffe will see to that."

Before long he even made jokes in a Catonian manner; jokes that
were not peculiarly witty, but somewhat gruff and boorish, yet
significant of a resigned and self-contented mind. One morning he
ordered Ratcliffe to take an iron-clad ship of war and attack the
Sioux in Montana, seeing that he was in charge of the army and
navy and Indians at once, and Jack of all trades; and again he told
a naval officer who wanted a court-martial that he had better get
Ratcliffe to sit on him for he was a whole court-martial by himself.
That Ratcliffe held his chief in no less contempt than before, was
probable but not certain, for he kept silence on the subject before
the world, and looked solemn whenever the President was

Before three days were over, the President, with a little more than
his usual abruptness, suddenly asked him what he knew about this
fellow Carson, whom the Pennsylvanians were bothering him to
put in his Cabinet. Ratcliffe was guarded: he scarcely knew the
man; Mr. Carson was not in politics, he believed, but was pretty
respectable--for a Pennsylvanian. The President returned to the
subject several times; got out his list of Cabinet officers and
figured industriously upon it with a rather perplexed face; called
Ratcliffe to help him; and at last the "slate" was fairly broken, and
Ratcliffe's eyes gleamed when the President caused his list of
nominations to be sent to the Senate on the 5th March, and Josiah
B. Carson, of Pennsylvania, was promptly confirmed as Secretary
of the Interior.

But his eyes gleamed still more humorously when, a few days
afterwards, the President gave him a long list of some two score
names, and asked him to find places for them. He assented
good-naturedly, with a remark that it might be necessary to make a
few removals to provide for these cases.

"Oh, well," said the President, "I guess there's just about as many
as that had ought to go out anyway. These are friends of mine; got
to be looked after. Just stuff 'em in somewhere."

Even he felt a little awkward about it, and, to do him justice, this
was the last that was heard about the fundamental rule of his

Removals were fast and furious, until all Indiana became easy in
circumstances. And it was not to be denied that, by one means or
another, Ratcliffe's friends did come into their fair share of the
public money.

Perhaps the President thought it best to wink at such use of the
Treasury patronage for the present, or was already a little
overawed by his Secretary.

Ratcliffe's work was done. The public had, with the help of some
clever intrigue, driven its servants into the traces. Even an Indiana
stone-cutter could be taught that his personal prejudices must yield
to the public service. What mischief the selfishness, the ambition,
or the ignorance of these men might do, was another matter. As the
affair stood, the President was the victim of his own schemes. It
remained to be seen whether, at some future day, Mr. Ratcliffe
would think it worth his while to strangle his chief by some quiet
Eastern intrigue, but the time had gone by when the President
could make use of either the bow-string or the axe upon him.

All this passed while Mrs. Lee was quietly puzzling her poor little
brain about her duty and her responsibility to Ratcliffe, who,
meanwhile, rarely failed to find himself on Sunday evenings by her
side in her parlour, where his rights were now so well established
that no one presumed to contest his seat, unless it were old Jacobi,
who from time to time reminded him that he was fallible and
mortal. Occasionally, though not often, Mr. Ratcliffe came at other
times, as when he persuaded Mrs. Lee to be present at the
Inauguration, and to call on the President's wife. Madeleine and
Sybil went to the Capitol and had the best places to see and hear
the Inauguration, as well as a cold March wind would allow. Mrs.
Lee found fault with the ceremony; it was of the earth, earthy, she
said. An elderly western farmer, with silver spectacles, new and
glossy evening clothes, bony features, and stiff; thin, gray hair,
trying to address a large crowd of people, under the drawbacks of a
piercing wind and a cold in his head, was not a hero. Sybil's mind
was lost in wondering whether the President would not soon die of
pneumonia. Even this experience, however, was happy when
compared with that of the call upon the President's wife, after
which Madeleine decided to leave the new dynasty alone in future.
The lady, who was somewhat stout and coarse-featured, and whom
Mrs. Lee declared she wouldn't engage as a cook, showed qualities
which, seen under that fierce light which beats upon a throne,
seemed ungracious. Her antipathy to Ratcliffe was more violent
than her husband's, and was even more openly expressed, until the
President was quite put out of countenance by it. She extended her
hostility to every one who could be supposed to be Ratcliffe's
friend, and the newspapers, as well as private gossip, had marked
out Mrs. Lee as one who, by an alliance with Ratcliffe, was aiming
at supplanting her own rule over the White House.

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