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   Chapter 5 THE DISTURBANCE OF JUNE SEVENTH

Mr. Crewe's Career -- Volume 2 By Winston Churchill Characters: 32696

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:02


After Mr. Speaker Doby had got his gold watch from an admiring and apparently reunited House, and had wept over it, the Legislature adjourned. This was about the first of April, that sloppiest and windiest of months in a northern climate, and Mr. Crewe had intended, as usual, to make a little trip southward to a club of which he was a member. A sense of duty, instead, took him to Leith, where he sat through the days in his study, dictating letters, poring over a great map of the State which he had hung on the wall, and scanning long printed lists. If we could stand behind him, we should see that these are what are known as check-lists, or rosters of the voters in various towns.

Mr. Crewe also has an unusual number of visitors for this muddy weather, when the snow-water is making brooks of the roads. Interested observers -if there were any-might have remarked that his friendship with Mr. Hamilton Tooting had increased, that gentleman coming up from Ripton at least twice a week, and aiding Mr. Crewe to multiply his acquaintances by bringing numerous strangers to see him. Mr. Tooting, as we know, had abandoned the law office of the Honourable Hilary Vane and was now engaged in travelling over the State, apparently in search of health. These were signs, surely, which the wise might have read with profit: in the offices, for instance, of the Honourable Hilary Vane in Ripton Square, where seismic disturbances were registered; but the movement of the needle (to the Honourable Hilary's eye) was almost imperceptible. What observer, however experienced, would have believed that such delicate tracings could herald a volcanic eruption?

Throughout the month of April the needle kept up its persistent registering, and the Honourable Hilary continued to smile. The Honourable Jacob Botcher, who had made a trip to Ripton and had cited that very decided earthquake shock of the Pingsquit bill, had been ridiculed for his pains, and had gone away again comforted by communion with a strong man. The Honourable Jacob had felt little shocks in his fief: Mr. Tooting had visited it, sitting with his feet on the tables of hotel waiting-rooms, holding private intercourse with gentlemen who had been disappointed in office. Mr. Tooting had likewise been a sojourner in the domain of the Duke of Putnam. But the Honourable Brush was not troubled, and had presented Mr. Tooting with a cigar.

In spite of the strange omission of the State Tribune to print his speech and to give his victory in the matter of the Pingsquit bill proper recognition, Mr. Crewe was too big a man to stop his subscription to the paper. Conscious that he had done his duty in that matter, neither praise nor blame could affect him; and although he had not been mentioned since, he read it assiduously every afternoon upon its arrival at Leith, feeling confident that Mr. Peter Pardriff (who had always in private conversation proclaimed himself emphatically for reform) would not eventually refuse-to a prophet-public recognition. One afternoon towards the end of that month of April, when the sun had made the last snow-drift into a pool, Mr. Crewe settled himself on his south porch and opened the State Tribune, and his heart gave a bound as his eye fell upon the following heading to the leading editorial:-

A WORTHY PUBLIC SERVANT FOR GOVERNOR

Had his reward come at last? Had Mr. Peter Pardriff seen the error of his way? Mr. Crewe leisurely folded back the sheet, and called to his secretary, who was never far distant.

"Look here," he said, "I guess Pardriff's recovered his senses. Look here!"

The tired secretary, ready with his pencil and notebook to order fifty copies, responded, staring over his employer's shoulder. It has been said of men in battle that they have been shot and have run forward some hundred feet without knowing what has happened to them. And so Mr. Crewe got five or six lines into that editorial before he realized in full the baseness of Mr. Pardriff's treachery.

"These are times" (so ran Mr. Pardriff's composition) "when the sure and steadying hand of a strong man is needed at the helm of State. A man of conservative, business habits of mind; a man who weighs the value of traditions equally with the just demands of a new era; a man with a knowledge of public affairs derived from long experience;" (!!!) "a man who has never sought office, but has held it by the will of the people, and who himself is a proof that the conduct of State institutions in the past has been just and equitable. One who has served with distinction upon such boards as the Railroad Commission, the Board of Equalization, etc., etc." (!!!) "A stanch Republican, one who puts party before-" here the newspaper began to shake a little, and Mr. Crewe could not for the moment see whether the next word were place or principle. He skipped a few lines. The Tribune, it appeared, had a scintillating idea, which surely must have occurred to others in the State. "Why not the Honourable Adam B. Hunt of Edmundton for the next governor?"

The Honourable Adam B. Hunt of Edmundton!

It is a pleasure to record, at this crisis, that Mr. Crewe fixed upon his secretary as steady an eye as though Mr. Pardriff's bullet had missed its mark.

"Get me," he said coolly, "the 'State Encyclopaedia of Prominent Men.'"

(Just printed. Fogarty and Co., Newcastle, publishers.)

The secretary fetched it, open at the handsome and lifelike steel-engraving of the Honourable Adam, with his broad forehead and kindly, twinkling eyes, and the tuft of beard on his chin; with his ample statesman's coat in natural creases, and his white shirt-front and little black tie. Mr. Crewe gazed at this work of art long and earnestly. The Honourable Adam B. Hunt did not in the least have the appearance of a bolt from the blue. And then Mr. Crewe read his biography.

Two things he shrewdly noted about that biography; it was placed, out of alphabetical order, fourth in the book, and it was longer than any other with one exception that of Mr. Ridout, the capital lawyer. Mr. Ridout's place was second in this invaluable volume, he being preceded only by a harmless patriarch. These facts were laid before Mr. Tooting, who was directed by telephone to come to Leith as soon as he should arrive in Ripton from his latest excursion. It was nine o'clock at night when that long-suffering and mud-bespattered individual put in an appearance at the door of his friend's study.

"Because I didn't get on to it," answered Mr. Tooting, in response to a reproach for not having registered a warning-for he was Mr. Crewe's seismograph. "I knew old Adam was on the Railroads' governor's bench, but I hadn't any notion he'd been moved up to the top of the batting list. I told you right. Ridout was going to be their next governor if you hadn't singed him with the Pingsquit bill. This was done pretty slick, wasn't it? Hilary got back from New York day before yesterday, and Pardriff has the editorial to-day. Say, I always told you Pardriff wasn't a reformer, didn't I?"

Mr. Crewe looked pained.

"I prefer to believe the best of people until I know the worst," he said.

"I did not think Mr. Pardriff capable of ingratitude."

What Mr. Crewe meant by this remark is enigmatical.

"He ain't," replied Mr. Tooting, "he's grateful for that red ticket he carries around with him when he travels, and he's grateful to the Honourable Adam B. Hunt for favours to come. Peter Pardriff's a grateful cuss, all-right, all right."

Mr. Crewe tapped his fingers on the desk thoughtfully.

"The need of a reform campaign is more apparent than ever," he remarked.

Mr. Tooting put his tongue in his cheek; and, seeing a dreamy expression on his friend's face, accidentally helped himself to a cigar out of the wrong box.

"It's up to a man with a sense of duty and money to make it," Mr. Tooting agreed, taking a long pull at the Havana.

"As for the money," replied Mr. Crewe, "the good citizens of the State should be willing to contribute largely. I have had a list of men of means prepared, who will receive notices at the proper time."

Mr. Hamilton Tooting spread out his feet, and appeared to be studying them carefully.

"It's funny you should have mentioned cash," he said, after a moment's silence, "and it's tough on you to have to be the public-spirited man to put it up at the start. I've got a little memorandum here," he added, fumbling apologetically in his pocket; "it certainly costs something to move the boys around and keep 'em indignant."

Mr. Tooting put the paper on the edge of the desk, and Mr. Crewe, without looking, reached out his hand for it, the pained expression returning to his face.

"Tooting," he said, "you've got a very flippant way of speaking of serious things. It strikes me that these expenses are out of all proportion to the simplicity of the task involved. It strikes me-ahem that you might find, in some quarters at least, a freer response to a movement founded on principle."

"That's right," declared Mr. Tooting, "I've thought so myself. I've got mad, and told 'em so to their faces. But you've said yourself, Mr. Crewe, that we've got to deal with this thing practically."

"Certainly," Mr. Crewe interrupted. He loved the word.

"And we've got to get workers, haven't we? And it costs money to move 'em round, don't it? We haven't got a bushel basket of passes. Look here," and he pushed another paper at Mr. Crewe, "here's ten new ones who've made up their minds that you're the finest man in the State. That makes twenty."

Mr. Crewe took that paper deprecatingly, but nevertheless began a fire of cross-questions on Mr. Tooting as to the personality, habits, and occupations of the discerning ten in question, making certain little marks of his own against each name. Thus it will be seen that Mr. Crewe knew perfectly what he was about-although no one else did except Mr. Tooting, who merely looked mysterious when questioned on the streets of Ripton or Newcastle or Kingston. It was generally supposed, however, that the gentleman from Leith was going to run for the State Senate, and was attempting to get a following in other counties, in order to push through his measures next time. Hence the tiny fluctuations of Hilary Vane's seismograph an instrument, as will be shown, utterly out-of-date. Not so the motto toujours l'audace. Geniuses continue (at long intervals) to be born, and to live up to that motto.

That seismograph of the Honourable Hilary's persisted in tracing only a slightly ragged line throughout the beautiful month of May, in which favourable season the campaign of the Honourable Adam B. Hunt took root and flourished-apparently from the seed planted by the State Tribune. The ground, as usual, had been carefully prepared, and trained gardeners raked, and watered, and weeded the patch. It had been decreed and countersigned that the Honourable Adam B. Hunt was the flower that was to grow this year.

There must be something vitally wrong with an instrument which failed to register the great earthquake shock of June the seventh!

Now that we have come to the point where this shock is to be recorded on these pages, we begin to doubt whether our own pen will be able adequately to register it, and whether the sheet is long enough and broad enough upon which to portray the relative importance of the disturbance created. The trouble is, that there is nothing to measure it by. What other event in the history of the State produced the vexation of spirit, the anger, the tears, the profanity; the derision, the laughter of fools, the contempt; the hope, the glee, the prayers, the awe, the dumb amazement at the superb courage of this act? No, for a just comparison we shall have to reach back to history and fable: David and Goliath; Theseus and the Minotaur; or, better still, Cadmus and the Dragon! It was Cadmus (if we remember rightly) who wasted no time whatever, but actually jumped down the dragon's throat and cut him up from the inside! And it was Cadmus, likewise, who afterwards sowed the dragon's teeth.

That wondrous clear and fresh summer morning of June the seventh will not be forgotten for many years. The trees were in their early leaf in Ripton Square, and the dark pine patches on Sawanec looked (from Austen's little office) like cloud shadows against the shimmer of the tender green. He sat at his table, which was covered with open law-books and papers, but his eyes were on the distant mountain, and every scent-laden breeze wafted in at his open window seemed the bearer of a tremulous, wistful, yet imperious message-"Come!" Throughout the changing seasons Sawanec called to him in words of love: sometimes her face was hidden by cloud and fog and yet he heard her voice! Sometimes her perfume as to-day-made him dream; sometimes, when the western heavens were flooded with the golden light of the infinite, she veiled herself in magic purple, when to gaze at her was an exquisite agony, and she became as one forbidden to man. Though his soul cried out to her across the spaces, she was not for him. She was not for him!

With a sigh he turned to his law-books again, and sat for a while staring steadfastly at a section of the 'Act of Consolidation of the Northeastern Railroads' which he had stumbled on that morning. The section, if he read its meaning aright, was fraught with the gravest consequences for the Northeastern Railroads; if he read its meaning aright, the Northeastern Railroads had been violating it persistently for many years and were liable for unknown sums in damages. The discovery of it had dazed him, and the consequences resulting from a successful suit under the section would be so great that he had searched diligently, though in vain, for some modification of it since its enactment. Why had not some one discovered it before? This query appeared to be unanswerable, until the simple-though none the less remarkable-solution came to him, that perhaps no definite occasion had hitherto arisen for seeking it. Undoubtedly the Railroads' attorneys must know of its existence-his own father, Hilary Vane, having been instrumental in drawing up the Act. And a long period had elapsed under which the Northeastern Railroads had been a law unto themselves.

The discovery was of grave import to Austen. A month before, chiefly through the efforts of his friend, Tom, who was gradually taking his father's place in the Gaylord Lumber Company, Austen had been appointed junior counsel for that corporation. The Honourable Galusha Hammer still remained the senior counsel, but was now confined in his house at Newcastle by an illness which made the probability of his return to active life extremely doubtful; and Tom had repeatedly declared that in the event of his non-recovery Austen should have Mr. Hammer's place. As counsel for the Gaylord Lumber Company, it was clearly his duty to call the attention of young Mr. Gaylord to the section; and in case Mr. Hammer did not resume his law practice, it would fall upon Austen himself to bring the suit. His opponent in this matter would be his own father.

The consequences of this culminating conflict between them, the coming of which he had long dreaded-although he had not foreseen its specific cause-weighed heavily upon Austen. It was Tom Gaylord himself who abruptly aroused him from his revery by bursting in at the door.

"Have you heard what's up?" he cried, flinging down a newspaper before

Austen's eyes. "Have you seen the Guardian?"

"What's the matter now, Tom?"

"Matter!" exclaimed Tom; "read that. Your friend and client, the

Honourable Humphrey Crewe, is out for governor."

"Humphrey Crewe for governor!"

"On an anti-railroad platform. I might have known something of the kind was up when he began to associate with Tooting, and from the way he spoke to me in March. But who'd have thought he'd have the cheek to come out for governor? Did you ever hear of such tommyrot?"

Austen looked grave.

"I'm not sure it's such tommyrot," he said.

"Not tommyrot?" Tom ejaculated. "Everybody's laughing. When I passed the Honourable Hilary's door just now, Brush Bascom and some of the old liners were there, reciting parts of the proclamation, and the boys down in the Ripton House are havin

g the time of their lives."

Austen took the Guardian, and there, sure enough, filling a leading column, and in a little coarser type than the rest of the page, he read:

DOWN WITH RAILROAD RULE!

The Honourable Humphrey Crewe of Leith, at the request of twenty prominent citizens, consents to become a candidate for the Republican Nomination for Governor.

Ringing letter of acceptance, in which he denounces the political power of the Northeastern Railroads, and declares that the State is governed from a gilded suite of offices in New Pork.

"The following letter, evincing as it does a public opinion thoroughly aroused in all parts of the State against the present disgraceful political conditions, speaks for itself. The standing and character of its signers give it a status which Republican voters cannot ignore."

The letter followed. It prayed Mr. Crewe, in the name of decency and good government, to carry the standard of honest men to victory. Too long had a proud and sovereign State writhed under the heel of an all-devouring corporation! Too long had the Northeastern Railroads elected, for their own selfish ends, governors and legislatures and controlled railroad commissions The spirit of 1776 was abroad in the land. It was eminently fitting that the Honourable Humphrey Crewe of Leith, who had dared to fling down the gauntlet in the face of an arrogant power, should be the leader of the plain people, to recover the rights which had been wrested from them. Had he not given the highest proof that he had the people's interests at heart? He was clearly a man who "did things."

At this point Austen looked up and smiled.

"Tom," he asked, "has it struck you that this is written in the same inimitable style as a part of the message of the Honourable Asa Gray?"

Tom slapped his knee.

"That's exactly what I said I!" he cried. "Tooting wrote it. I'll swear to it."

"And the twenty prominent citizens-do you know any of 'em, Tom?"

"Well," said Tom, in delighted appreciation, "I've heard of three of 'em, and that's more than any man I've met can boast of. Ed Dubois cuts my hair when I go to Kingston. He certainly is a prominent citizen in the fourth ward. Jim Kendall runs the weekly newspaper in Grantley-I understood it was for sale. Bill Clements is prominent enough up at Groveton. He wanted a trolley franchise some years ago, you remember."

"And didn't get it."

Mr. Crewe's answer was characteristically terse and businesslike. The overwhelming compliment of a request from such gentlemen must be treated in the nature of a command-and yet he had hesitated for several weeks, during which period he had cast about for another more worthy of the honour. Then followed a somewhat technical and (to the lay mind) obscure recapitulation of the iniquities the Northeastern was committing, which proved beyond peradventure that Mr. Crewe knew what he was talking about; such phrases as "rolling stock," "milking the road"-an imposing array of facts and figures. Mr. Crewe made it plain that he was a man who "did things." And if it were the will of Heaven that he became governor, certain material benefits would as inevitably ensue as the day follows the night. The list of the material benefits, for which there was a crying need, bore a strong resemblance to a summary of the worthy measures upon which Mr. Crewe had spent so much time and labour in the last Legislature.

Austen laid down the paper, leaned back in his chair, and thrust his hands in his pockets, and with a little vertical pucker in his forehead, regarded his friend.

"What do you think of that?" Tom demanded. "Now, what do you think of it?"

"I think," said Austen, "that he'll scare the life out of the

Northeastern before he gets through with them."

"What!" exclaimed Tom, incredulously. He had always been willing to accept Austen's judgment on men and affairs, but this was pretty stiff. "What makes you think so?"

"Well, people don't know Mr. Crewe, for one thing. And they are beginning to have a glimmer of light upon the Railroad."

"Do you mean to say he has a chance for the nomination?"

"I don't know. It depends upon how much the voters find out about him before the convention."

Tom sat down rather heavily.

"You could have been governor," he complained reproachfully, "by raising your hand. You've got more ability than any man in the State, and you sit here gazin' at that mountain and lettin' a darned fool millionaire walk in ahead of you."

Austen rose and crossed over to Mr. Gaylord's chair, and, his hands still in his pockets, looked down thoughtfully into that gentleman's square and rugged face.

"Tom," he said, "there's no use discussing this delusion of yours, which seems to be the only flaw in an otherwise sane character. We must try to keep it from the world."

Tom laughed in spite of himself.

"I'm hanged if I understand you," he declared, "but I never did. You think Crewe and Tooting may carry off the governorship, and you don't seem to care."

"I do care," said Austen, briefly. He went to the window and stood for a moment with his back to his friend, staring across at Sawanec. Tom had learned by long experience to respect these moods, although they were to him inexplicable. At length Austen turned.

"Tom," he said, "can you come in to-morrow about this time? If you can't, I'll go to your office if you will let me know when you'll be in. There's a matter of business I want to talk to you about."

Tom pulled out his watch.

"I've got to catch a train for Mercer," he replied, "but I will come in in the morning and see you."

A quarter of an hour later Austen went down the narrow wooden flight of stairs into the street, and as he emerged from the entry almost bumped into the figure of a young man that was hurrying by. He reached out and grasped the young man by the collar, pulling him up so short as almost to choke him.

"Hully gee!" cried the young man whose progress had been so rudely arrested. "Great snakes!" (A cough.) "What're you tryin' to do? Oh," (apologetically) "it's you, Aust. Let me go. This day ain't long enough for me. Let me go."

Austen kept his grip and regarded Mr. Tooting thoughtfully.

"I want to speak to you, Ham," he said; "better come upstairs."

"Say, Aust, on the dead, I haven't time. Pardriff's waitin' for some copy now."

"Just for a minute, Ham," said Austen; "I won't keep you long."

"Leggo my collar, then, if you don't want to choke me. Say, I don't believe you know how strong you are."

"I didn't know you wore a collar any more, Ham," said Austen.

Mr. Tooting grinned in appreciation of this joke.

"You must think you've got one of your Wild West necktie parties on," he gasped. "I'll come. But if you love me, don't let the boys in Hilary's office see me."

"They use the other entry," answered Austen, indicating that Mr. Tooting should go up first-which he did. When they reached the office Austen shut the door, and stood with his back against it, regarding Mr. Tooting thoughtfully.

At first Mr. Tooting returned the look with interest swagger-aggression would be too emphatic, and defiance would not do. His was the air, perhaps, of Talleyrand when he said, "There seems to be an inexplicable something in me that brings bad luck to governments that neglect me:" the air of a man who has made a brilliant coup d'etat. All day he had worn that air-since five o'clock in the morning, when he had sprung from his pallet. The world might now behold the stuff that was in Hamilton Tooting. Power flowed out of his right hand from an inexhaustible reservoir which he had had the sagacity to tap, and men leaped into action at his touch. He, the once, neglected, had the destiny of a State in his keeping.

Gradually, however, it became for some strange reason difficult to maintain that aggressive stare upon Austen Vane, who shook his head slowly.

"Ham, why did you do it?" he asked.

"Why?" cried Mr. Tooting, fiercely biting back a treasonable smile. "Why not? Ain't he the best man in the State to make a winner? Hasn't he got the money, and the brains, and the get-up-and-git? Why, it's a sure thing. I've been around the State, and I know the sentiment. We've got 'em licked, right now. What have you got against it? You're on our side, Aust."

"Ham," said Austen, "are you sure you have the names and addresses of those twenty prominent citizens right, so that any voter may go out and find 'em?"

"What are you kidding about, Aust?" retorted Mr. Tooting, biting back the smile again. "Say, you never get down to business with me. You don't blame Crewe for comin' out, do you?"

"I don't see how Mr. Crewe could have resisted such an overwhelming demand," said Austen. "He couldn't shirk such a duty. He says so himself, doesn't he?"

"Oh, go on!" exclaimed Mr. Tooting, who was not able to repress a grin.

"The letter of the twenty must have been a great surprise to Mr. Crewe. He says he was astonished. Did the whole delegation go up to Leith, or only a committee?"

Mr. Tooting's grin had by this time spread all over his face-a flood beyond his control.

"Well, there's no use puffin' it on with you, Aust. That was done pretty slick, that twenty-prominent-citizen business, if I do say it myself. But you don't know that feller Crewe-he's a full-size cyclone when he gets started, and nothin' but a range of mountains could stop him."

"It must be fairly exciting to-ride him, Ham."

"Say, but it just is. Kind of breathless, though. He ain't very well known around the State, and he was bound to run-and I just couldn't let him come out without any clothes on."

"I quite appreciate your delicacy, Ham."

Mr. Tooting's face took on once more a sheepish look, which changed almost immediately to one of disquietude.

"Say, I'll come back again some day and kid with you. I've got to go,

Aust-that's straight. This is my busy day."

"Wouldn't you gain some time if you left by the window?" Austen asked.

At this suggestion Mr. Tooting's expressive countenance showed genuine alarm.

"Say, you ain't going to put up any Wild West tricks on me, are you? I heard you nearly flung Tom Gaylord out of the one in the other room."

"If this were a less civilized place, Ham, I'd initiate you into what is known as the bullet dance. As it is, I have a great mind to speed you on your way by assisting you downstairs."

Mr. Hamilton Tooting became ashy pale.

"I haven't done anything to you, Aust. Say-you didn't-?" He did not finish.

Terrified by something in Austen's eye, which may or may not have been there at the time of the Blodgett incident, Mr. Tooting fled without completing his inquiry. And, his imagination being great, he reproduced for himself such a vivid sensation of a bullet-hole in his spine that he missed his footing near the bottom, and measured his length in the entry. Such are the humiliating experiences which sometimes befall the Talleyrands-but rarely creep into their biographies.

Austen, from the top of the stairway, saw this catastrophe, but did not smile. He turned on his heel, and made his way slowly around the corner of the passage into the other part of the building, and paused at the open doorway of the Honourable Hilary's outer office. By the street windows sat the Honourable Brush Bascom, sphinx-like, absorbing wisdom and clouds of cigar smoke which emanated from the Honourable Nat Billings.

"Howdy, Austen?" said Brush, genially, lookin' for the Honourable Hilary? Flint got up from New York this morning, and sent for him a couple of hours ago. He'll be back at two."

"Have you read the pronunciamento?" inquired Mr. Billings. "Say, Austen, knowin' your sentiments, I wonder you weren't one of the twenty prominent citizens."

"All you anti-railroad fellers ought to get together," Mr. Bascom suggested; "you've got us terrified since your friend from Leith turned the light of publicity on us this morning. I hear Ham Tooting's been in and made you an offer."

News travels fast in Ripton.

"Austen kicked him downstairs," said Jimmy Towle, the office boy, who had made a breathless entrance during the conversation, and felt it to be the psychological moment to give vent to the news with which he was bursting.

"Is that straight?" Mr. Billings demanded. He wished he had done it himself. "Is that straight?" he repeated, but Austen had gone.

"Of course it's straight," said Jimmy Towle, vigorously. A shrewd observer of human nature, he had little respect for Senator Billings. "Ned Johnson saw him pick himself up at the foot of Austen's stairway."

The Honourable Brush's agate eyes caught the light, and he addressed Mr. Billings in a voice which, by dint of long training, only carried a few feet.

"There's the man the Northeastern's got to look out for," he said. "The Humphrey Crewes don't count. But if Austen Vane ever gets started, there'll be trouble. Old man Flint's got some such idea as that, too. I overheard him givin' it to old Hilary once, up at Fairview, and Hilary said he couldn't control him. I guess nobody else can control him. I wish I'd seen him kick Ham downstairs."

"I'd like to kick him downstairs," said Mr. Billings, savagely biting off another cigar.

"I guess you hadn't better try it, Nat," said Mr. Bascom.

Meanwhile Austen had returned to his own office, and shut the door. His luncheon hour came and went, and still he sat by the open window gazing out across the teeming plain, and up the green valley whence the Blue came singing from the highlands. In spirit he followed the water to Leith, and beyond, where it swung in a wide circle and hurried between wondrous hills like those in the backgrounds of the old Italians: hills of close-cropped pastures, dotted with shapely sentinel oaks and maples which cast sharp, rounded shadows on the slopes at noonday; with thin fantastic elms on the gentle sky-lines, and forests massed here and there-silent, impenetrable hills from a story-book of a land of mystery. The river coursed between them on its rocky bed, flinging its myriad gems to the sun. This was the Vale of the Blue, and she had touched it with meaning for him, and gone.

He drew from his coat a worn pocket-book, and from the pocket-book a letter. It was dated in New York in February, and though he knew it by heart he found a strange solace in the pain which it gave him to reread it. He stared at the monogram on the paper, which seemed so emblematic of her; for he had often reflected that her things-even such minute insignia as this-belonged to her. She impressed them not only with her taste, but with her character. The entwined letters, Y. F., of the design were not, he thought, of a meaningless, frivolous daintiness, but stood for something. Then he read the note again. It was only a note.

"MY DEAR MR. VANE: I have come back to find my mother ill, and I am taking her to France. We are sailing, unexpectedly, to-morrow, there being a difficulty about a passage later. I cannot refrain from sending you a line before I go to tell you that I did you an injustice. You will no doubt think it strange that I should write to you, but I shall be troubled until it is off my mind. I am ashamed to have been so stupid. I think I know now why you would not consent to be a candidate, and I respect you for it.

"Sincerely your friend,

"VICTORIA FLINT."

What did she know? What had she found out? Had she seen her father and talked to him? That was scarcely possible, since her mother had been ill and she had left at once. Austen had asked himself these questions many times, and was no nearer the solution. He had heard nothing of her since, and he told himself that perhaps it was better, after all, that she was still away. To know that she was at Fairview, and not to be able to see her, were torture indeed.

The note was formal enough, and at times he pretended to be glad that it was. How could it be otherwise? And why should he interpret her interest in him in other terms than those in which it was written? She had a warm heart-that he knew; and he felt for her sake that he had no right to wish for more than the note expressed. After several unsuccessful attempts; he had answered it in a line, "I thank you, and I understand."

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