Page images
PDF
EPUB

law without the sanction of the man County Judge came slowly across to who therein sits enthroned by reason greet his young friend, a volume in of his great ability to minister to other one hand, a stub finger between the men's greediness. The vicious hypo- pages as a marker and his glasses, over, crisy is potent, and yet it endures. instead of through which his inscrut

When Glen came to the State capital ably deep eyes twinkled jovially, tilted the morning of the day upon which the on his Roman nose. Legislature by law was to convene, “That reminds me of a little story," he came alone, a stranger in a strange said the Major, removing the glasses city:

and tapping Glen's shoulder with their He went, as he had been directed, to steel rims. “A young chap up in Coos the Eagle Hotel, the famous hostelry and his lady love were attending a of the Capital city which, for two gen- protracted prayer meeting at the vilerations had been the headquarters lage church. Getting there late they of politicians and whose ancient walls, found the edifice filled, but a gentleif they might speak, could tell a his man arose and gave the lady his seat, tory of intrigue, political scheming while the young man was ushered and chicanery, which would put the away to a seat far down forward. The egotistical descendants of many a service grew warm and impressive. vaunted statesman to blush. He found 'Will those who want our prayers the corridor filled with men, tobacco please stand,' said the preacher. At smoke and the sound of rife discus this juncture the young man thought sion, and as he made his way to the it was getting late and that he would office desk his tall young form was con get his sweetheart and go homeward, spicious in the gathering.

but not just knowing where she was He was pointed out by some who seated he rose to his feet and looked knew him, as one of the new members, over the audience. The good pastor a young fellow who came from the smiled benignly down at him, and said: district where Burland lived, one who 'Young man, are you seeking salvahad made a stir in his section and who tion? To which the young man rewas an uncertain quantity in general, sponded: 'No, sir, I'm seeking Sal being a product of the political unrest Tomkins .'" which was affecting the entire State. "Well," said the Judge, adjusting his

He was assigned to a room and, after glasses, and looking sternly over them registering, he sought out Major Ter at his laughing auditors, "this won't rill, who had his quarters on an upper do. We'd better get over to the State floor. When he entered the room he House and see how the fat-frying is was at once recognized by one of the going on." independent workers and introduced to When the little company of outlaws those standing by as “that young colt arrived at the capitol building its anfrom over Stonestead way, who had cient and lofty-pillared corridors were kicked over the traces and with whom echoing with the tramp and Babel-like the machine leaders were experiencing voices of men. Pages were skurrying some difficulty in an attempt to hitch about, clerks with officious documents him to the administration band were diving in and out of the several wagon."

chambers and large-waisted men with In shaking hands all round some one large-waisted cigars between their remarked to Glen: “So you are looking lips were the centres of scattered for honor, too, eh?”

groups of less pompous individuals, all "Well, just at present I'm looking discussing the pros and cons of the for his honor, Major Terrill,” replied pregnant legislative session. Glen, and the reply evoked laughter, A page approached Glen as he was during which a bulky form stepped removing his overshoes and asked him from behind a screen at the window if he was "the gentleman from Stoneand the genial old attorney and former head." Upon being informed that he

hailed from that town, the lad said, in count of ballots as made on the night a whisper, that "the Boss would like of election by the poll officials, but to see you in the Sheriff's office." that count is not, in reality, official.

Glen smiled. “Tell Mr. Carpenter,” The conclusive results are obtained said he to the boy, "that I am busy, only after the ballots have gone under the House being about to convene, but the hands of the members of the Rethat if he desires to see me I will be turning Board. in the committee-room at the noon re Ordinarily the sessions of this board cess."

were quite perfunctory, and, in genThe page looked incredulous. No eral, the count of the poll wardens is such message of refusal had ever been accepted as sufficiently accurate and transmitted within his knowledge to final. The members of the Board met the State Boss upon his request, which regularly, after each election, as in duty was equivalent to an order, that he bound, and, at the rate of compensadesired to see a member in his office. tion of seven dollars per day, levied But as Glen moved off to the entrance upon the State treasury for several into the House and gave no token that weeks dilatory employment. Little his answer was other than sincere and public interest, however, was ordifinal, the boy sped away, filled with narily centred in the result of their a new importance.

labors. This year, however, owing to When he entered the presence of changes in the ordinary political Justin Carpenter, who sat surrounded status, and the number of unusual conby his retinue of servile lieutenants, he tests and party cleavage in many of delivered his message breathlessly and the electoral districts, none the less, then waited in silence, others in the it may be hazarded, as a result of the room eyeing one another askance and excuse thereby afforded for extraordipausing in conversation to note the ef- nary assault upon the State treasury, fect on their chief of the exceptional the sitting of the Returning Board had rejoinder.

been prolonged. All through the No shade of annoyance or other month it had continued in session, and testament of his feelings showed upon even now, with the Legislature about the great man's stolid features. He to convene, its arduous labors had not was too good a general of himself and been concluded. of other men to permit that. He con As the count of the towns was taken tinued uninterrupted to read the letter in alphabetical order, Stonestead, the he held in his hand, chewing the end third from the last on the roll, had of an unlighted cigar between his not yet been reached. massive jaws.

It was scarcely a minute after the Finally he said: "Tell Marston page sent to summon Marston had I want him," and even the atmosphere disappeared on his errand, when the of the chamber surcharged with the Lieutenant Governor made his apmoment of his calmly spoken order. pearance, smirking and bowing to

The “Marston” referred to was none those present, and stood before The other than the Lieutenant Governor of Boss deferentially. the State, President of the Senate and For a moment the manipulator of designated by law equal with the Gov- men, who happened to be writing, ernor himself, His Excellency.

scratched on with his pen, the grating The Lieutenant Governor, also, was of its stub point over the linen paper designated by statute chairman, ex- the only sound in the room. Presently officio, of the Returning Board, a com- he said, without looking up: mission of high State officials created to "A Marston. Has the Board have the final and decisive counting of reached Stonehead yet in the count?" all ballots cast in general elections for "No; not yet," replied the Chairman the State officers. The town clerks of the Board, pulling one of his grey certify to the Secretary of State the side-whiskers nervously.

He was president of the bank in his had arrived when he should know his town and quite a body when at home. man positively, and had requested an Answering calls and cooling his heels interview as a tentative procedure to while waiting was not ordinary with that end. him, but he knew his indebtedness to The remainder of the day was taken the man who had summoned him and up in organizing both branches of the answered his question as one knowing Legislature, electing officers, announchis master.

ing standing committees, and early in “In fact," he continued, "we've only the afternoon adjournment was taken got down to Moultonville. It's been until the following day. quite a complicated count this year.” "Yes," remarked the Boss, and was

CHAPTER XXVI. silent, and none of those listening could say in what spirit it had been uttered. It would have been a toss-up in Presently the grating of the pen the mind of a stranger dropped ceased.

down suddenly in the capital city of "See me after adjournment,” said the the State the following morning, who Boss, looking up for the first time dur- chanced to read impartially all the seving the interview, piercing the little eral local papers and those others which man before him with the penetrating came in on early trains from far places, glance of his calm, gray eyes. “And, whose special reporters were on the Marston," as the Lieutenant Governor spot, whether the young man, Glen was turning away, "see to it that none Noble, whose name was so conspiciousof the other members go out of town, ly mentioned in story and dispatch, had We may want some counting done-ex wakened to find himself famous or inpeditiously.”

famous. Eye met eye in cautious inquiry The staunch administration organs, amongst the several political workers subsidized by political preferment, fat and trusty subordinates lounging about advertising contracts, railroad passes, the room. They were men well

versed or other or all of these inducements to in party politics of the sort termed a biased statement of the situation, repractical, astute men according to their viled him with venom and double leads. . lights, and they knew intuitively that They called him a "Judas," an "Arnold this calling of Marston from his post to the party"; they said he was a visas presiding officer of the senate, the ionary young man, elected by a fluke, inquiries made of him in relation to the who had set himself up as better than count, as affecting the home town of his party on a pinnacle of reform and the young representative who had sent was posing in the limelight of publicity back such an unheard-of reply to the to gratify his vanity. The more exLeader's demand for an interview, and, treme journals hinted strongly that he the orders given for the members to was insincere and was prepared to hold themselves in readiness, meant stand out for a bribe or promise of something of special import, and their larger office. fertile brains were busy devising what The independent Republican newsit might be.

papers, and those of Democratic proThe Boss had not fully believed that clivity which alligned themselves with Glen would answer his summons. He

the fusion element, hailed him, on the had taken pains to observe the repre- contrary, as a composite hero, each sentative from Stonestead from afar after his own manner and degree of on more than one occasion, and, being partisanship. an exceedingly shrewd judge of men, Major Terrill was just coming down as was necessary to his success, he the broad main stairway of the hotel, had drawn his own conclusions regard on his way to breakfast, when a man ing Glen's independence of spirit. The came hurriedly in through the outer Boss had simply decided that the time vestibule and accosted him. The two

talked in an undertone for a few mo When Glen entered the chamber of ments, and bystanders noticed that the the House, he was the centre of much usual kindly expression on the face of observation. As he made his way the old attorney changed to a hardened down the aisle to his seat he did not look, while his features flushed, as if in glance up to the gallery, and, thereanger. “The skunks, would they dare fore, missed seeing two brown eyes try it?" he was overheard to exclaim. bent upon him which would have been

His companion, it was apparent, was as a baptism of balm and courage in laboring under a stress of excitement, his hour of need. and when the Major turned to retrace He had met Major Terrill on the his way to his room, forgetful of his stairway as he came in. The old lawbreakfast, he followed him, evidently yer wore a look of fury on his brow. explaining some absorbing matter. “They're going to try it, Glen," he

Soon messengers were noticed on said, 'laying a kindly hand on the their way after other adherents of the younger man's broad shoulder. “The anti-machine faction and rumor flew hounds! It'll mean revolution and all that something of an untoward, if not law-abiding men in arms against 'em highly sensational, nature was brewing, if they succeed, but they're bent on Well-known opponents of the Boss and putting the election through and will administration methods came hurriedly scruple at nothing. The returning into the hotel lobby and were directed board had just adjourned. I've sent to the room occupied by the Major, for Judge Staples, but he's out of wherein he and Glen and several of town. If we can get to another Sutheir friends were already closeted. preme Court Judge before they break

Thanks to the gratuitous advertis- their damn political necks over the ing which the political situation with precipice, we'll get a peremptory inrelation to the senatorial contest had junction and save the old State the disreceived in the papers, throngs of grace, but the time's mighty short. Keep people began flocking into the city 'em, boy, as long as you can and we'll early from nearby towns and outly- do the best we're able," and the old juing districts, and soon they also were rist dove down the steps with the agilinbued with the prevailing sentiment ity of youth, his regard for the fortunes that something portentious was about of his young friend in one balance, his to happen.

love for the honor of his State in the Amongst others, Constance and sev- other. eral of her school companions were The assembly was called to order driven over from Westborough, chap- with evident haste. The grey-haired eroned by one of the lady teachers of chaplain was bundled onto the speakthe seminary, the faculty availing the er's platform and off with the openseniors of the school of the nearby ing and the closing words of his benopportunity to gain a knowledge of ediction still on his lips. Roll was legislative methods, which, ordinarily, called and the first order of business they studied only in the abstract and was called for. theoretically.

"A report from the Committee of the In the meantime excitement in what Whole on Elections,” announced the was transpiring behind the scenes in- chairman of that committee. creased amongst the on-lookers, and “A report from the Committee of the the very air seemed electrified with Whole on Elections," mimicked the suspense. Rumor, denial and re- Honorable Speaker. “The clerk will assertion traversed from tongue to read the report." tongue. No one appeared to know any A silence as of death was in the thing definite, nor, indeed, what really chamber. Every one within the great had started the sudden commotion. room was strained to the utmost to Like news of war and pestilence it hear and see. Not a sound broke the traversed space unaided.

hush save the crackle of paper as the

clerk unfolded the communication and on, but like the surge of surf and sudprepared to read.

den break of storm following hard

upon the silence that portends a sumCHAPTER XXVII.

mer's gale, pandemonium broke loose

in the galleries and for a moment As the Clerk of the House rose in his cries, hisses, cat-calls, stampings and place and proceeded to read the re- loud exclamations of approval, triumph port of the Returning Board, the last and of denunciation, filled the great court of appeal, as it were, of the chamber in pulsing conflict. ballot, an audible indrawing of breaths The speaker hammered with his sounded over the assemblage; nerves gavel with the vigor of a boiler riveter relaxed and people sank back in their under the gaze of his section boss. seats and almost felt a sigh of relief The sergeant-at-arms strode up and from gallery to floor. Neighbor looked down the aisle, red-faced and impotent, at neighbor and smiled. The fuse of and members sawed the air vertically expectancy had burned down, and and criss-cross with their arms and nothing had occurred.

bellowed for recognition. Like an ingenious automaton the For a few moments it was as far clerk mouthed the jargon of technical from that "peacful conclave” to which phrases of the formal report, and the chaplain had referred during his lower and lower his monotonous voice meteoric passage up and down the fell under dominion of the droning rise steps of the speaker's rostrum a few and casual converse, growing louder, moments ago, as the Court of Love as more on-lookers lost interest and from Bedlam. settled back comfortably in their seats It was only when the Law's unior turned to neighbors for exchange formed officers made their appearance of sentiments.

in the gallery that there was appreOf a sudden, a word, through no ciable calm, and then could be heard changed inflection in the reader's the unbroken drone of the imperturbvoice, caught the plastic mind of some able clerk, still reading: "all of which is gallery on-looker and he bent quickly respectfully submitted," and then folforward toward the speaker's desk. As lowed the names of the members, the music calms, then ceases at soft "members of the State Returning contact of the felted hammer on the Board." vibrating strings of a pianoforte, so, Instantly, upon conclusion of the swiftly, the silence, as though the stay- reading of the report, a member in ing hand of a mighty player ran round a front seat was recognized by the the throng, swept over the floor and chair and with the celerity of precongallery, and again the great audience ceived scheming his motion to approve to the little drama drew tense, and was made and adopted. silently gaped to learn what it was that Men on the opposition side of the had so mysteriously impressed them. chamber were standing like animated

“And we further find," the clerk was exclamation points, clamoring for redroning, “that in the Town of Stone- cognition by the speaker, but that wellstead one hundred and seven imper- tutored worthy had, to all intent and fect ballots were cast, which were purpose, been suddenly striken deaf wrongfully counted by the wardens to and blind and could see no one. Again the credit of one Glen Noble, Inde- a babel of sound was rising in the galpendent-Republican, which, by reason lery and the conflict of voices, the of their imperfections should have been slamming of the gavel and the thud of thrown out, resulting in a majority of hurrying feet up and down the aisles three for Hollis, the regular Republi- echoed up into the vaulted ceiling, can nominee.

The floor leader of the administra"And we beg leave to report”--the tion rose in his place and for a brief sing-song voice of the clerk was going moment the strange affliction of the

« PreviousContinue »