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   Chapter 23 SUCCESS IN SILK

54-40 or Fight By Emerson Hough Characters: 4577

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


As things are, I think women are generally better creatures

than men.-S.T. Coleridge.

It was a part of my duties, when in Washington, to assist my chief in his personal and official correspondence, which necessarily was very heavy. This work we customarily began about nine of the morning. On the following day I was on hand earlier than usual. I was done with Washington now, done with everything, eager only to be off on the far trails once more. But I almost forgot my own griefs when I saw my chief. When I found him, already astir in his office, his face was strangely wan and thin, his hands bloodless. Over him hung an air of utter weariness; yet, shame to my own despair, energy showed in all his actions. Resolution was written on his face. He greeted me with a smile which strangely lighted his grim face.

"We have good news of some kind this morning, sir?" I inquired.

In answer, he motioned me to a document which lay open upon his table. It was familiar enough to me. I glanced at the bottom. There were two signatures!

"Texas agrees!" I exclaimed. "The Do?a Lucrezia has won Van Zandt's signature!"

I looked at him. His own eyes were swimming wet! This, then, was that man of whom it is only remembered that he was a pro-slavery champion.

"It will be a great country," said he at last. "This once done, I shall feel that, after all, I have not lived wholly in vain."

"But the difficulties! Suppose Van Zandt proves traitorous to us?"

"He dare not. Texas may know that he bargained with England, but he dare not traffic with Mexico and let that be known. He would not live a day."

"But perhaps the Do?a Lucrezia herself might some time prove fickle."

"She dare not! She never will. She will enjoy in secret her revenge on perfidious Albion, which is to say, perfidious Pakenham. Her nature is absolutely different from that of the Baroness von Ritz. The Do?a Lucrezia dreams of the torch of love, not the torch of principle!"

"The public might not approve, Mr. Calhoun; but at least there were advantages in this sort of aids!"

"We are obliged to find such help as we can. The public is not always able to tell which was plot and which counterplot in the accomplishment of some intricate things. The result excuses all. It was written t

hat Texas should come to this country. Now for Oregon! It grows, this idea of democracy!"

"At least, sir, you will have done your part. Only now-"

"Only what, then?"

"We are certain to encounter opposition. The Senate may not ratify this Texas treaty."

"The Senate will not ratify," said he. "I am perfectly well advised of how the vote will be when this treaty comes before it for ratification. We will be beaten, two to one!"

"Then, does that not end it?"

"End it? No! There are always other ways. If the people of this country wish Texas to belong to our flag, she will so belong. It is as good as done to-day. Never look at the obstacles; look at the goal! It was this intrigue of Van Zandt's which stood in our way. By playing one intrigue against another, we have won thus far. We must go on winning!"

He paced up and down the room, one hand smiting the other. "Let England whistle now!" he exclaimed exultantly. "We shall annex Texas, in full view, indeed, of all possible consequences. There can be no consequences, for England has no excuse left for war over Texas. I only wish the situation were as clear for Oregon."

"There'll be bad news for our friend Se?or Yturrio when he gets back to his own legation!" I ventured.

"Let him then face that day when Mexico shall see fit to look to us for aid and counsel. We will build a mighty country here, on this continent!"

"Mr. Pakenham is accredited to have certain influence in our Senate."

"Yes. We have his influence exactly weighed. Yet I rejoice in at least one thing-one of his best allies is not here."

"You mean Se?or Yturrio?"

"I mean the Baroness von Ritz. And now comes on that next nominating convention, at Baltimore."

"What will it do?" I hesitated.

"God knows. For me, I have no party. I am alone! I have but few friends in all the world"-he smiled now-"you, my boy, as I said, and Doctor Ward and a few women, all of whom hate each other."

I remained silent at this shot, which came home to me; but he smiled, still grimly, shaking his head. "Rustle of silk, my boy, rustle of silk-it is over all our maps. But we shall make these maps! Time shall bear me witness."

"Then I may start soon for Oregon?" I demanded.

"You shall start to-morrow," he answered.

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