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Title: The Candidate - A Political Romance
Author: Altsheler, Joseph A. (Joseph Alexander), 1862-1919
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE CANDIDATE

A POLITICAL ROMANCE

BY

JOSEPH A. ALTSHELER

HARPER & BROTHERS
NEW YORK AND LONDON


Copyright, 1905, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



THE CANDIDATE



I

THE NOMINEE


The huge convention-hall still rang with the thunders of applause, and
most of the delegates were on their feet shouting or waving their hats,
when Harley slipped from his desk and made his way quietly to the little
side-door leading from the stage. It was all over now but the noise;
after a long and desperate fight Grayson, a young lawyer, with little
more than a local reputation, had been nominated by his party for the
Presidency of the United States, and Harley, alert, eager, and fond of
dramatic effects, intended to be the first who should tell him the
surprising fact.

He paused a moment, with his hand on the door, and, looking out upon the
hall with its multitude of hot, excited faces, ran quickly over the
events of the last three or four days. Ten thousand people had sat
there, hour after hour, waiting for the result, and now the result had
come. The rival parties had entered their conventions, full of doubt and
apprehension. There was a singular dearth of great men; the old ones
were all dead or disabled, and the new ones had not appeared; the nation
was conscious, too, of a new feeling, and all were bound to recognize
it; the sense of dependency upon the Old World in certain matters which
applied to the mental state rather than anything material was almost
gone; the democracy had grown more democratic and the republic was more
republican; within the nation itself the West was taking a greater
prominence, and the East did not begrudge it. It was felt by everybody
in either party that it would be wiser to nominate a Western man, and,
the first having done so, the second, as all knew it must, now followed
the good example.

Moreover, both conventions had nominated "dark horses," but the second
nominee was the "darker" of the two. James Madison Grayson,
affectionately called Jimmy Grayson by his neighbors and admirers, was
quite young, without a gray hair in his head, tall, powerfully built,
smooth-shaven, and with honest eyes that gazed straight into yours. He
was known as a brave man, with fine oratorical powers and a winning
personality, but he had come to the convention merely as a delegate, and
without any thought of securing the nomination for himself. Not a single
vote had been instructed for him, but in that lay his opportunity. All
the conspicuous candidates were weak; good men in themselves, a solid
political objection could be raised against every one of them, and for a
while the voting was scattered and desultory. Then Grayson began to
attract attention; as a delegate he had spoken two or three times,
always briefly, but with grace and to the point, and the people were
glad both to see him and to hear him.

At last a far-sighted old man from the same state knew that the moment
had come when the convention, staggering about in the dark, could be
led easily along any road that seemed the path of light. He mentioned
the name of Grayson, putting it forward mildly as a suggestion that he
would withdraw at the first opposition, but his very mildness warded off
attack. Received rather lightly at first, the suggestion soon made a
strong appeal to the delegates. Nothing could be urged against Grayson;
he was quite young, it was true, but youth was needed to make a great
campaign--the odds were heavily in favor of the other party. Nor were
there lacking those who, expecting defeat, said that a young man could
bear it better than an old one, and a beating now might train him for a
victory four years hence.

Grayson himself was surprised when he heard the report, nor could he
ever be convinced that he would be nominated; he regarded the whole
thing as absurd, a few votes, no more, might be cast for him, but, as
was fit and decent, he withdrew from the hall. All those whose names
were before the convention were expected to remain at home or elsewhere
in the city, and Jimmy Grayson and his wife stayed quietly in their
rooms at the hotel.

Harley had believed this evening that the nomination of Grayson was at
hand. It was an intuitive sense, a sort of premonition that the
battalions were closing in for the final conflict, and he did not doubt
the result. He had just returned from a war on the other side of the
world, where he had been present as the correspondent of a great New
York journal on many battle-fields, and he often noticed this strained,
breathless feeling that the moment had come, just before the combat was
joined. Now this convention-hall was none the less a battle-field though
the weapons were ballots, not bullets, and Harley believed in his
intuition. At midnight the flood-tide swept in, bearing Grayson on its
crest, and, when they saw that he was the man, everybody flocked to him,
making the nomination unanimous by a rising vote.

Harley now stood a moment at the door, listening to the cheers as they
swelled again, then he stepped out and ran swiftly down the street. A
fat policeman, taking him for a fleeing pickpocket, shouted to him to
stop, but he flitted by and was gone.

It was only two or three blocks to the hotel, where Mr. Grayson sat
quietly in his room, and Harley was running swiftly, but in the minute
or two that elapsed much passed through his mind. After his long stay
abroad he had returned with a renewed sense, not alone of the power and
might of his own country, but also of its goodness; it was here, and
here alone, that all careers were open to all; nowhere else in the world
could a relatively obscure young lawyer have been put forward, and
peacefully, too, for the headship of ninety million people. It was this
thought that thrilled him, and it was why he wished to be the first who
should tell the young lawyer of it. He had made the acquaintance of
Jimmy Grayson the day before; the two had talked for a while about
public questions, and each had felt that it was the beginning of a
friendship, so he had no hesitation now in making himself an unannounced
herald.

He ran into the hotel, darted up the stairway--Jimmy Grayson's rooms
were on the first floor--and knocked at the door of the nominee. A light
shone from the transom, and he heard a quick, strong step approaching.
Then the door was thrown open by Mr. Grayson himself, and Mrs. Grayson,
who stood in the centre of the room, looked with inquiry at the
correspondent.

"Why, Mr. Harley, I'm glad to see you," said Mr. Grayson, with a
welcoming tone in his voice. "Come in, but I warn you that you cannot
interview me any further I'm not worth it; I've told you all I know."

Harley said nothing, but stepped into the room, closing the door behind
him. He saw that they yet knew nothing--there had been no messenger, no
telephone call, and the news was his to tell. He bowed to Mrs. Grayson,
and then he felt a moment of embarrassment, but his long experience and
natural poise came quickly to his aid.

"I do want to interview you, Mr. Grayson," he said, quietly; "and it is
upon a subject to which we did not allude in our former talk."

Mr. Grayson glanced at his wife, and her look, replying to his,
indicated the same puzzling state. Both knew that the chief
correspondent of one of the greatest journals in the world would not
leave a Presidential convention in the hour of birth to secure an
irrelevant interview.

"If I can serve you, Mr. Harley, I shall be glad to do so," said Jimmy
Grayson, somewhat dryly; "but I really do not see how I can."

"I am quite sure that you can," said Harley, with emphasis.

He listened a moment, but he did not hear any step in the hall nor the
jingling of any telephone bell. Both Mr. and Mrs. Grayson waited
expectantly, curious to see what he had in mind.

"If you were to be nominated for the Presidency, I should like to tell
the _Gazette_ what your programme would be--that is, what sort of a
campaign you would conduct," said Harley, deliberately.

Mr. Grayson laughed and glanced again at his wife.

"It is a wise rule for a man in public life never to answer
hypothetical questions; of that I am sure, Mr. Harley," he said.

"I am sure of it, too," said Harley.

Jimmy Grayson bit his lip. It seemed to him that the correspondent would
make a jest, and the hour was unfitting.

"I shall answer your question when I am nominated," he said.

"Then you will answer it now," said Harley.

A sudden flush passed over Mr. Grayson's face and left it white. Mrs.
Grayson trembled and glanced again at her husband, still in a puzzled
state.

"Your meaning is not clear, Mr. Harley," he said.

"It should be. When I left the convention-hall, two minutes ago, they
had just made the nomination unanimous. I wished to be the first to tell
the news, and I have had my wish."

The eyes of the nominee looked straight into those of Harley, but the
correspondent did not flinch. It was obvious that he was telling the
truth.

"The notifying committee will be here in a few minutes," he said. "Ah, I
hear their step on the stair now."

The tread of men walking quickly and the sound of voices raised in
eagerness came to the room. The powerful figure of Jimmy Grayson
trembled slightly, then grew rigid.

"I did not dream of it," he said, as if to himself; "nor have I now
sought to take it from others."

"Nor have you done so," said Harley, boldly; "because it belonged to no
man."

Mrs. Grayson stepped forward, as if in fear that her husband was about
to be taken from her, because at that moment the volume of the voices
and the trampling increased and paused at her door. Then the crowd
poured into the room and hailed the victor.

Harley slipped to one side, and no one in the committee knew that the
nominee had been notified already, but the correspondent never ceased to
watch Jimmy Grayson. He saw how the nature of the man rose to the great
responsibility that had been put upon him, how he nerved himself for his
mighty task. He stood among them all, cool, dignified, and ready. Harley
was proud that this was one of his countrymen, and when his last
despatch was filed that night he wired to his editor in New York:
"Please send me on the campaign with Grayson. I think it is going to be
a great one." And back came the answer: "Stay with him until it is all
over, election night."

The eyes of Harley, like those of so many of his countrymen, had always
been turned eastward. To him New York was the ultimate expression of
America, and beyond the great city lay the influence of Europe, of that
Old World to which belonged the most of art and literature. The books
that he read were written chiefly by Europeans, and the remainder by the
men of New England and New York. He had never put it into so many words,
even mentally, but he had a definite impression that the great world of
affairs was composed of central and western Europe and a half-dozen
Northern coast states of the American Union; beyond this centre of light
lay a shadow land, growing darker as the distance from the central rays
increased, inhabited by people, worthy no doubt, but merely forming a
chorus for those who had the speaking parts.

The course of Harley's life confirmed him in this opinion, which perhaps
was due more to literature than to anything else. With his eyes fixed
on New York, the desire to go there followed, and when he succeeded,
early, and became the correspondent of a great journal, he was soon
immersed in the affairs of that world which seemed the world of action
to him; and, being so much occupied thus, he forgot the regions which
apparently lay in the shadow, including the greater portion of his own
country.

Hence the two great Presidential conventions, in each of which Western
influences were paramount, and in each of which a Western man was
chosen, created upon him a new and surprising impression. He found
himself in the presence of unexpected forces; he became aware that there
was another way of looking at things, and this powerful sensation was
deepened by the personality of Mr. Grayson, in whom he saw intuitively
that there was something fresh, original, and strong; he seemed less
hackneyed and more joyous than the types that he found in the old states
of the Union or the Old World, and, because of this, the interest of
Harley, whose mind had a singularly keen and inquiring quality, was
aroused; the regions that apparently lay in the shadow might have enough
light, after all, and, seeing before him a campaign not less exciting
than a war, he resolved to stay in it until the last battle was fought.

He took out the telegram from his editor and read it over again with
keen satisfaction. "Out of one war and into another," he murmured. The
conventions had been held early; it was now only the first week in June,
and the election would be in the first week of November; before him lay
five months of stress and perhaps storm, but he thought of it only with
pleasure.

Harley always travelled light, carrying only two valises, and an hour
sufficed for his packing. Then, like the old campaigner that he was, he
slept soundly, and early the next morning he went again to the hotel at
which the Graysons were staying. He felt a little hesitation in sending
up a card so soon, knowing what swarms of people Mr. Grayson had been
compelled to receive and how badly he must stand in need of rest, but
there was no help for it.

While he sat in the huge lobby waiting the return of the boy, the hum of
many voices about him rose almost to a roar, varied by the rustling of
many newspapers. The place was filled with men, talking over the
thrilling events of the night before, the nomination and the nominee,
while every newspaper bore upon its front page a great picture of the
new candidate.

The boy came back with a message that Mr. Grayson would see him; and
Harley, a minute later, was knocking at the door, which the candidate
himself opened. This man, who was his own usher, was the nominee of a
great party, he might become the President of the United States--of
ninety million people, of what was in nearly every material sense the
first power in the world; and yet Harley, when in Europe, seeking
information from the youngest and least _attaché_ of a legation, had
been compelled to go through an infinite amount of form and flummery.
The contrast was lasting.

"Come in," said Mr. Grayson, courteously, and Harley at once acted upon
the invitation. Mrs. Grayson, at the same moment, came from the inner
room, quiet and self-contained, and Harley bowed with respect.

"I dare say there is nothing you wish to ask me which a lady should not
hear," said Mr. Grayson, with a slight smile. "Mrs. Grayson is my chief
political adviser."

"It is no secret," replied Harley, also smiling. "I have merely come to
tell you that the _Gazette_, my paper, has instructed me to keep watch
over you from now until election night, and to describe at once and at
great length for its readers every one of your wicked deeds. So I am
here to tell you that I wish to go along with you. You are public
property, you know, and you can't escape."

"I know that," said Jimmy Grayson, heartily; "and I do not seek to
escape. I am glad the representative of the _Gazette_ is to be you. I do
not know what course your paper will take, but I am sure that we shall
be friends."

"The _Gazette_ is independent; its editor is likely to attack you for
some things and to praise you for others. But I am here to tell the
news."

"Then we are comrades for a long journey," said Jimmy Grayson.

Thus it was settled simply and easily by the two who were most
concerned, and Harley throughout the little interview was struck by the
difference between this man and many other famous men with whom in the
course of business he had held journalistic dealings. Here was a lack of
conventionality, and an even stronger note of simplicity and freshness.
The candidate, with his new honors, still held himself as one of the
people, it never occurred to him that he might assume a pose and the
public would accept it; he was democracy personified, and he was such
because he was unconscious of it. His perfect freedom of manner, which
Harley had not liked at first, now became more attractive.

"We leave at eleven o'clock for my home," said Mr. Grayson, "and arrive
there to-morrow morning. I have some preparations to make, but I shall
begin the campaign a day or two later."

"I intend to go with you to your town," said Harley. "You know the
compact; I cannot let you out of my sight."

Mrs. Grayson, a grave, quiet woman, spoke for the first time.

"You shall come along, not merely as a sentinel, but as one of our
little party, if you will, on one condition," she said.

"What is that?"

"On condition that you come to our house and take dinner with us
to-morrow."

Harley gave her a grateful look. He felt that the candidate's wife
approved of him, and he liked the approval of those who evidently knew
how to think. And it would be far pleasanter to travel with Jimmy
Grayson as a friend than as one suspected.

"I am honored, Mrs. Grayson," he said, "and I shall be happy to come."

Then he left them, and when he passed into the hall he saw that the
burden of greatness was being thrust already upon the Grayson family, as
callers of various types and with various requests were seeking their
rooms. But he hurried back to his own hotel, and as it was some distance
away he took the street-car. There he was confronted by long rows of
newspapers which hid the faces of men, and whenever a front page was
turned towards him the open countenance of Mr. Grayson looked out at him
with smiling eyes. Everybody was reading the account of the convention,
and now and then they discussed it; they spoke of the candidate
familiarly; he was "Jimmy" Grayson to them--rarely did they call him
Mr. Grayson; but there was no disrespect or disesteem in their use of
the diminutive "Jimmy." They merely regarded him as one of themselves,
and their position in the matter differed in no wise from that of Mr.
Grayson; it was a matter of course with both. To Harley, fresh from
other lands, it seemed in the first breath singular, and yet in the
second he liked it; the easy give-and-take promoted the smoothness of
life, and men might assume false values, but they were not able to keep
them. His thoughts returned for a moment to the least little _attaché_
whose manner was more important than that of a Presidential nominee.

Harley, with his two valises, was at the station somewhat ahead of time,
as he wished to see Mr. and Mrs. Grayson arrive, curious to know in what
sort of state or lack of it they would come.

Mr. Grayson's intention of going at once to his home was not published
in the press, and there was only the ordinary crowd at the station, some
coming, some leaving, but all bearing upon their faces the marks of
haste and impatience. As the people hurried to and fro, the sound of
many tongues arose. There was nearly every accent of Europe, but the
American rose over and enveloped all. Many writers from other lands,
seeking only the bad, had pronounced the Babel coarse, vulgar, and
sordid; but Harley, seeking the good, saw in it men and women toiling to
better their condition in the world, and that fact he knew was not bad.

Through the station windows he saw the tall buildings rise floor on
floor, and there was a clang of car-bells that never ceased. In the
fresh morning air it was inspiriting, and Harley felt himself a part of
the crowd. He was no hermit. Life and activity and the spectacle of
people filled with hope always pleased him.

An ordinary cab arrived, and Mr. and Mrs. Grayson, alighting from it,
bought their tickets at the window, just like anybody else, and then
sought inconspicuous seats in the corner of the waiting-room, as their
train would not be ready for five minutes. In the hastening crowd they
were not noticed at first, but even in the dusk of the corner the
smoothly shaven face and massive features of Mr. Grayson were soon
noticed. His picture had been staring at them all from the front page of
the newspapers, and here was the reality, too like to be overlooked.
There was a sudden delay in the crowd; the two streams, one flowing
outward and the other inward, wavered, then stopped and began to stare
at the candidate, not intrusively, but with a kindly curiosity that it
considered legitimate. Harley had quietly joined the Graysons, and they
gave him a sincere welcome. The people unfamiliar with his face began to
speculate audibly on his identity.

The crowd in the station, reinforced from many side-doors, thickened,
and Mr. and Mrs. Grayson, under the gaze of so many eyes, became uneasy
and shy. Harley, who had been made a member of their party, found
himself sharing this awkward feeling, and he was glad to hear the
announcement that the train was ready.

The three abreast moved towards the gate, and the crowd opened a way
just wide enough, down which they marched, still under the human battery
of a thousand eyes. To Harley, although little of this gaze was meant
for him, the sensation was indescribable. It was something to be an
object of so much curiosity, but the thrill was more than offset by the
weight that it put upon one's ease of manner.

He saw many of the people--it was a curious manifestation--reach out and
touch the candidate's sleeve lightly as he passed. But Mr. Grayson, if
he knew it, took no notice and marched straight ahead, all expression
discharged from his face. Harley saw that this was the disguise eminent
public men must assume upon occasions, and he was willing that they
should keep the task.

When the great iron gate leading to his train was closed behind him,
Harley felt a mighty sense of relief. It seemed to him that he had run a
gantlet not much inferior to that through which the Indians put the
captive backwoodsmen, and the dark-red walls of the car rose before him
a fortress of safety.

It was an ordinary Pullman, and Mr. and Mrs. Grayson had not secured the
drawing-room, but the usual berths like Harley's, and he joined them in
their seats. He felt now a certain pleasure in the situation. The
pressure of circumstances was making him, in a sense and for the time
being, a member of their family. He was glad that the other
correspondents would wait to join the candidate at his home, as it gave
him a greater chance to establish those personal relations needful on a
long campaign that must be made together.

The whistle blew, the train moved, and they passed through miles of
city, and then through suburbs growing thinner until they melted away
into the clean, green prairie, and Harley, opening the window, was glad
to breathe the unvexed air that came across a thousand miles of the
West. He leaned back in his seat and luxuriously watched the quietly
rolling country, tender with the breath of spring, as it spun past.
That mighty West of which he had thought so little seemed to reach out
with its arms and invite him, and he was glad to go.

Presently he was aware of an unusual movement of people down the aisles
of the car, accompanied by a certain slowing of the pace when they
passed the seats in which the Graysons and he sat. They were coming from
the other cars, too, and now and then the aisle would choke up a little,
but in a moment the shifting figures would relieve it, and the endless
procession of faces moved on.

The Graysons, following Harley's example, were gazing out of the window
at the cheerful country, but the correspondent knew that Mr. Grayson was
fully conscious of this human stream, and that he himself was the cause
of it. Yet he lost none of his good temper even when some, venturing
further, asked if he were not the nominee, adding that it was a pride to
them to meet him and speak to him. In fact, the change from silence to
conversation was a relief to Mr. Grayson, varying the monotony of that
fixed gaze to which he had been subjected so long, and it was now that
Harley saw him in a most favorable guise. His consciousness of a great
talent did not interfere with a perfect democracy; it did not cause him
to assume an air that said to these people, "I am better than you, keep
your distance," but he gave the impression of ability solely through his
simplicity of manner and the ease with which he adapted himself to the
caliber of the person who spoke to him.

Thus the train swung westward hour after hour, and the procession
through the car never ceased. The manner of the candidate did not
change; however weary he may have grown, he was always affable, but not
gushing, and Harley, watching keenly, judged that the impression he made
was always favorable. He strove, too, to interpret this manner and to
read the mind behind it. Was Mr. Grayson really great or merely a man of
ready speech and pleasing address? Harley was willing to admit that the
latter were qualities in themselves not far from great, but on the main
contention he reserved his judgment. He was still divided in his
opinions, sometimes approving the complete democracy of the candidate
and sometimes condemning. He had been born in the South, in a border
state, and he grew up there amid many of the forms and formalities of
the old school, and the associations of youth are not easily lost. Nor
had a subsequent residence in the East brushed them away. This world of
the West was still, in many respects, new to him.

He ate luncheon in the dining-car with the Graysons, and he noticed the
bubbling joy of the black waiter who served them, and who showed two
rows of white teeth in a perpetual smile. Harley appreciated him so much
that he doubled his tip, but, as they were still watched by many eyes in
the dining-car, he felt a certain nervousness in handling his knife and
fork, as if the penalty of greatness, even by association, were too
heavy for him. Once his eyes caught those of Mrs. Grayson, and a faint,
whimsical smile passed over her face, a smile so infectious, despite its
faintness, that Harley was compelled to reply in like fashion. It told
him that she understood his constraint, and that she, too, felt it, but
Harley doubted whether it was in like degree, as he believed that in the
main women are better fitted than men to endure such ordeals. Mr.
Grayson himself apparently took no notice.

Harley returned to their car with the Graysons, but in the afternoon he
detached himself somewhat, and came in touch with the fluctuating crowd
that passed down the aisle--it was always a part of his duty, as well as
his inclination, to know the thoughts and feelings of outsiders, because
it was outsiders who made the world, and it was from them, too, that the
insiders came.

Harley found here that the chief motive as yet was curiosity; the
campaign had not entered upon its sharp and positive state, and the
personality of Mr. Grayson and of his opponent still remained to be
defined clearly.

The train sped westward through the granary of the world, cutting in an
almost direct line across the mighty valley of the Mississippi, and they
were still hundreds of miles away from the Grayson home. In going west
both parties had gone very far west, and the two candidates not only
lived beyond the Mississippi, but beyond the Missouri as well.

The prairies were in their tenderest green, and the young grass bent
lightly before a gentle west wind. In a sky of silky blue little clouds
floated and trailed off here and there into patches of white like
drifting snow, and Harley unconsciously fell to watching them and
wondering where they went.

The sun, a huge red ball, sank in the prairie, twilight fell, the ordeal
of the dining-car was repeated, and not long afterwards Harley sought
his bed in the swaying berth. The next morning they were in the home
town, and there were a band and a reception committee, and Harley
slipped quietly away to his hotel, being reminded first by the Graysons
that he was to take dinner with them.

He spent most of the day wandering about the town, gathering hitherto
unnoticed facts about the early life of Mr. James Grayson, which in the
afternoon he despatched eastward. Then he prepared for dinner, but here
he was confronted by a serious problem--should one so far west wear
evening clothes or not? But he decided at last in the affirmative,
feeling that it would be the safe course, and, hiding the formality of
his raiment under a light overcoat, he went forth into the street. Five
minutes' walk took him to the house of Mr. Grayson, which stood in the
outskirts, a red brick structure two stories in height, plain and
comfortable, with a well-shaded lawn about it. It was now quite dark,
but lights shone from several windows, and Harley, without hesitation,
rang the bell.



II

THE MAID


Harley's ring was not answered at once, and as he stood on the step he
glanced back at the city, which, in the dark, showed only the formless
bulk of houses and the cold electric lights here and there. Then he
heard a light step, and the door was thrown open. He handed his card to
the maid, merely saying, "Mr. and Mrs. Grayson," and waited to be shown
into the parlor. But the girl, whose face he could not see, as the hall
was dimly lighted, held it in her hand, looking first at the name and
then at him. Harley, feeling a slight impatience, stepped inside and
said:

"I assure you that I am the real owner of it--that is, of the name on
the card."

"What proof have you?" she asked, calmly.

Harley had heard recently many phases of the servant-girl question, and
this development of it amused him. She must be one of those ignorant and
stubborn foreigners--a Swede or a German.

"Suppose you take the proof for granted and risk it," he said. "Mr. and
Mrs. Grayson can quickly decide for you, and tell you whether I am
right."

"They have gone out for a little walk," she said, still standing in the
way, "and so many strange people are coming here now that I don't know
whether to show you in or not. Maybe you are a reporter?"

"Well, and what then?"

"Or worse; perhaps you are a photographer."

"If I am, you can see that I have no camera."

"You might have a little one hidden under your overcoat."

"It is night, and cameras are used in the sunshine."

"We have electric lights."

Harley began to feel provoked. There were limits to perverseness, or
should be.

"I am expected to dinner by Mr. and Mrs. Grayson," he said. "Will you
kindly cease to keep me waiting and show me in? I shall not steal any of
the furniture."

The maid was annoyingly calm.

"Mr. and Mrs. Grayson have not yet returned from a little walk which
they were afraid to undertake until it grew dark," she said. "But I
think I'll risk it and show you in if you will hold up your hand and
swear that you haven't a camera hidden under your overcoat."

Harley's sense of humor came to his aid, and he held up his hand.

"I do solemnly swear," he said.

He tried to see the face of this maid, who showed a perversity that was
unequalled in an experience by no means limited, but she stood in the
duskiest part of the dim hall, and he failed. He knew merely that she
was tall and slender, and when she turned to lead the way he heard a
faint sound like the light tinkle of a suppressed laugh. Harley started,
and his face flushed with anger. He had encountered often those who
tried to snub him, and usually he had been able to take care of himself,
but to be laughed at by a housemaid was a new thing in his experience,
and he was far from liking it.

She indicated a small parlor with a wave of her hand and said:

"You can go in there and wait. You have promised not to steal the
furniture, and, as the room contains only a piano, a table, and some
chairs, all of which are too big to be hidden under your overcoat, I
think that you will keep your promise."

She sped lightly away, leaving Harley trembling so much with amazement
and anger that he forgot for at least two minutes to sit down. When he
took off his overcoat he murmured: "Before Mr. Grayson thinks of ruling
the United States he should discipline his own household."

The house was quiet; he heard no one stirring anywhere. The light from
an electric lamp in the street shone into the parlor, and by its rays he
saw Mr. and Mrs. Grayson coming up the street. Then the maid had told
the truth about the "little walk," and he was early.

He leaned back in his chair and watched the pair as they approached
their own house. Evidently they had stolen these few minutes in the dark
to be alone with each other, and Harley sympathized with them, because
it would be a long time before the wife could claim again that her
husband was her own. They entered a side-gate, passed through the lawn,
and a minute later were welcoming Harley.

"We did not expect to be gone so long," said Mrs. Grayson; "but we see
that you have found the right place."

"Oh yes," said Harley; "a maid showed me in." Then he added: "I am very
glad, indeed, to have been invited here, but if you want any more
privacy I don't think you should have asked me; my kind will soon be
down upon you like a swarm of locusts."

Mr. Grayson laughed and took a stack of telegraph envelopes six inches
thick from a table.

"You are right, Mr. Harley," he said. "They will be here to-morrow,
ready for the start. There are more than twenty applications for space
on our train, and all of them shall have it. I don't think that the boys
and I shall quarrel."

Mrs. Grayson excused herself, and presently they were summoned to
dinner. Stepping out of a dusky hall into a brilliantly lighted room,
Harley was dazzled for a moment, but he found himself bowing when she
introduced him to "My niece, Miss Morgan, of Idaho." Then he saw a tall,
slender girl, with a singularly frank and open countenance, and a hand
extended to him as familiarly as if she had known him all her life.
Harley, although he had not expected the offer of the hand, took it and
gave it one little shake. He felt an unaccountable embarrassment. He saw
a faint twinkle in the girl's eye, as if she found something amusing in
his appearance, and he feared that he had made a mistake in coming in
evening-dress. He flushed a little and felt a slight resentment towards
Mrs. Grayson, because she had not told him of this niece; but he was
relieved for the moment by an introduction to the third guest, Mrs.
Boyle, an elderly lady, also a relative, but more distantly so.

Mrs. Boyle merely bowed, and at once returned Harley to the custody of
the niece from Idaho, of whom he felt some fear, her singular freedom of
manner and the faint twinkle that still lurked in her eye putting him on
edge. Moreover, he was assigned to a seat next to her, and, as obviously
he was expected to entertain her, his fear increased. This girl was not
only Western, but Far Western, and, in his opinion, there was none so
wise who could tell what she would do or say. He repeated to himself the
word "Idaho," and it sounded remote, rough, and wild.

"Uncle James tells me that you are a correspondent, the representative
of the New York _Gazette_," she said.

"Yes."

"And that you are to go with him on the campaign and write brilliant
accounts of the things that never happen."

"I am sure that Mr. Grayson was not your authority for such a
statement," said Harley, with a smile, although he did not wholly relish
her banter.

"Oh no, Uncle James is a very polite man, and very considerate of the
feelings of others."

"Then it is a supposition of your own?"

"Oh no, not a supposition at all; the New York newspapers sometimes
reach us even in Idaho."

Harley did not respond to her banter, thinking it premature, as she had
never seen him before. He could not forget the reserve and shyness
natural to him, and he felt a sense of hostility. He glanced at her, and
saw a cheek ruddier than the cheeks of American women usually are, and a
chin with an unusually firm curve. Her hair was dark brown, and when the
electric light flashed upon her it seemed to be streaked with dull gold.
But the chin held him with an odd sort of fascination, and he strove to
read her character in it. "Bold and resolute," he decided, "but too
Western, entirely too Far Western. She needs civilizing." He was rather
glad that he was going away with Mr. Grayson on the morrow and would not
see her again.

"I should think," she said; "that the life of a newspaper correspondent
is extremely interesting. You have all the pleasures and none of the
responsibilities; you go to war, but you do not fight; you enter great
political campaigns, but you cannot be defeated; you are always with the
victor and never with the vanquished; you are not bound by geographical
limits nor by facts, nor--"

"Excuse me, Miss Morgan," interrupted Harley, with dignity. "In my
profession, as in all others, there are irresponsible persons, but the
great majority of its followers are conscientious and industrious. If
you only knew how--"

"That sounds as if it had been prepared in advance," she exclaimed. "I
am sure that you have used it many times before."

"You must not mind Sylvia," said Mrs. Grayson, smiling her grave, quiet
smile. "She seldom means what she says, or says what she means."

"Aunt Anna," exclaimed Miss Morgan, "you are really too hard upon your
beloved niece. I never before dined with the staff correspondent of a
great New York newspaper, and I am really seeking information. Now I
wish to know if in his profession imagination is the most valuable
quality, as I have heard it said."

"Do you wish to embroil me with the press so early?" asked Mr. Grayson,
laughing.

"I have heard great tales about them and their daring," she persisted.
"I am not sure that even now he has not a camera concealed under his
coat."

"Why, Sylvia, what a strange thing to say!" exclaimed Mrs. Grayson.

But Harley started in his seat and flushed a deep red. "Miss Morgan, I
shall have to ask your pardon," he exclaimed.

Mr. and Mrs. Grayson looked at them in surprise.

"Here is something that we do not understand," said Mr. Grayson.

"Why, Uncle James, there is nothing strange about what I have said,"
continued Miss Morgan, with the most innocent face. "I thought all of
them carried cameras, else how do we get all the wonderful pictures?"

Harley felt inclined to tell the entire table his experience, but on
second thought he remained silent, as the girl from Idaho began to pique
him, and he was not willing that the advantage should remain wholly with
her, especially when she was from the very Far West. So he affected
complete indifference, and, when they asked him about his adventures in
the recent war on the other side of the world, he talked freely about
them, which he had never done before, because, like most Americans, he
was a modest man, enduring in silence lectures on the sin of boasting
from others who boasted as they breathed. Most of the time he spoke
apparently to Mr. and Mrs. Grayson, but he kept a side-look upon the
girl from Idaho who had played with him and humiliated him.

She became silent, as if satisfied with the flight of the arrows that
had gone already from her quiver, and seemed to listen with an air of
becoming respect; but Harley surprised once or twice the lurking twinkle
in her eye, and he was not sure that she was wholly subdued. Opposition
and difficulties always increased his resolve, and he doubled his
efforts. He spoke lightly of the kingdoms and republics whose fortunes
he had followed in a casual way and of the men whom the heave of affairs
had brought to the surface for a space, and always he kept that
side-look upon her. These relations, surely, would impress, because
what could she, a child of the Idaho wilds, know of the great world? And
its very mystery would heighten to her its coloring and effect.

Harley could talk well, all the better because he talked so rarely of
himself, and even now it was of himself only by indirection, because he
spoke chiefly of men whom he had known and deeds that he had witnessed.
Watching the girl closely with that side-look, he did not see the
twinkle reappear in her eye; instead she sat demure and silent, and he
judged that he had taken her beyond her depth. At last he stopped, and
she said, in a subdued tone:

"Did I not tell you, Uncle James, that imagination was the great quality
the correspondents need?"

Harley flushed, but he could not keep from joining Mr. Grayson in his
laugh. The candidate, besides laughing, glanced affectionately at the
girl. It was evident that his niece was a favorite with Jimmy Grayson.

"I shall ask Miss Morgan to tell me about Idaho," said Harley.

"It's quite wild, you know," she said, gravely; "and all the people need
taming. But it would be a great task."

When they went back to the drawing-room Harley and the girl were behind
the others, and he lingered a moment beside her.

"Miss Morgan," he said, "I want to ask your pardon again. You know it
was in the dark, and mine was an honest mistake."

"I will if you will tell me one thing."

"What is it?"

"Have you really got a camera with you?"

"If I had I should take a picture of you and not of Mr. Grayson."

Harley remained awhile longer, and Miss Morgan's treatment remained
familiar and somewhat disconcerting, rather like the manner of an elder
sister to her young brother than of a girl to a man whom she had known
only two or three hours. When he rose to leave, she again offered him
her hand with perfect coolness. Harley, in a perfunctory manner,
expressed his regret that he was not likely to see her again, as he was
to leave the next day with Mr. Grayson. The provoking twinkle appeared
again in the corner of her eyes.

"I don't intend that you shall forget me, Mr. Harley," she said,
"because you _are_ to see me again. When you come to Washington in
search of news, I shall be there as the second lady of the land--Aunt
Anna will be first."

"Oh, of course, I forgot that," said Harley, but he was not sure that
she had Washington in mind, remembering Mrs. Grayson's assertion that
she did not always mean what she said nor say what she meant.

The night was quite dark, and when he had gone a few yards Harley
stopped and looked back at the house. He felt a distinct sense of
relief, because he was gone from the presence of the mountain girl who
was not of his kind, and whom he did not know how to take; being a man,
he could not retort upon her in her own fashion, and she was able to
make him feel cheap.

The drawing-room was still lighted, and he saw the Idaho girl pass in
front of one of the low windows, her figure completely outlined by the
luminous veil. It seemed to him to express a singular, flexible
grace--perhaps the result of mountain life--but he was loath to admit
it, as she troubled him. Harley, although young, had been in many lands
and among many people. He had seen many women who were beautiful, and
some who were brilliant, but it had been easy to forget every one of
them; they hardly made a ripple in the stream of his work, and often it
was an effort to recall them. He had expected to dismiss this Idaho girl
in the same manner, but she would not go, and he was intensely annoyed
with himself.

He went to the telegraph-office, wrote and filed his despatch, and then,
lighting a cigar, strolled slowly through the streets. It was not eleven
o'clock, but it seemed that everybody except himself was in bed and
asleep. The lights in all the houses were out, and there was no sound
whatever save that of the wind as it came in from the prairie and
stirred the new foliage of the trees. "And this is our wicked America,
for which my foreign friends used to offer me sincere condolences!"
murmured Harley.

But he returned quickly to his own mental disturbance. He felt as he
used to feel on the eve of a battle that all knew was coming off, there
on the other side of the world. He was then with an army which he was
not at all sure was in the right; but when he sat on a hill-top in the
night, looking at the flickering lights of the enemy ahead, and knowing
that the combat would be joined at dawn, he could not resist a feeling
of comradeship with that army to which, for a time--and in a sense,
perhaps, alien--he belonged. Those soldiers about him became friends,
and the enemy out there was an enemy for him, too. It was the same now
when he was to go on a long journey with Jimmy Grayson, who stood upon a
platform of which he had many doubts.

He turned back to the hotel, and when he entered the lobby a swarm of
men fell upon him and demanded the instant delivery of any news which
he might have and they had not. They were correspondents who had come by
every train that afternoon--Hobart, Churchill, Blaisdell, Lawson, and
others, making more than a score--some representing journals that would
support Grayson, and others journals that would call him names, many and
bad.

"We hear that you have been to dinner with the candidate," said
Churchill, the representative of the New York _Monitor_, a sneering
sheet owned by one foreigner and edited by another, which kept its eye
on Europe, and considered European opinion final, particularly in regard
to American affairs; "so you can tell us if it is true that he picks his
teeth at table with a fork."

"You are a good man for the _Monitor_, Churchill," said Harley, sharply.
"Your humor is in perfect accord with the high taste displayed, and you
show the same dignity and consideration in your references to political
opponents."

"Oh, I see," said Churchill, sneering just as he had been taught to
sneer by the _Monitor_. "He is the first guest to dine with the
Presidential nominee, and he is overpowered by the honor."

"You shut up, Churchill!" said Hobart, another of the correspondents.
"You sha'n't pick a quarrel with Harley, and you sha'n't be a
mischief-maker here. There are enough of us to see that you don't."

Harley turned his back scornfully upon Churchill, who said nothing more,
and began to tell his friends of Grayson.

"He is an orator," he said. "We know that by undoubted report, and his
manner is simple and most agreeable. He has more of the quality called
personal magnetism than any other man I ever saw."

"What of his ability?" asked Tremaine, the oldest of the correspondents.

Harley thought a little while before replying.

"I can't make up my mind on that point," he said. "I find in him, so far
as I can see, a certain simplicity, I might almost say an innocence,
which is remarkable. He is unlike the other public men whom I have met,
but I don't know whether this innocence indicates superficiality or a
tact and skill lying so deep that he is able to plan an ambush for the
best of his enemies."

"Well, we are to be with him five months," said Tremaine, "and it is our
business to find out."



III

THE START


They were to start at dawn the next day, going back to Chicago, where
the campaign would be opened, and Harley, ever alert, was dressing while
it was yet dusk. From a corner of the dining-room, where he snatched a
quick breakfast, he saw the sun shoot out of the prairie like a great
red cannon-ball and the world swim up into a sea of rosy light. Then he
ran for the special train, which was puffing and whistling at the
station, and the flock of correspondents was at his heels.

Harley saw Mr. and Mrs. Grayson alighting from a cab, and, satisfied
with the one glance, he entered the car and sought his place. Always,
like the trained soldier, he located his camp, or rather base, before
beginning his operations, and he made himself comfortable there with his
fellows until the train was well clear of the city and the straggling
suburbs that hung to it like a ragged fringe. Then he decided to go into
the next coach to see Mr. and Mrs. Grayson, making, as it were, a dinner
call.

The candidate and his wife had taken the drawing-room, not from any
desire of his for seclusion or as an artificial aid to greatness, but
because he saw that it was necessary if he would have any time for
thought or rest. Harley approached the compartment, expecting to be
announced by the porter, but a veiled lady in the seat next to it rose
up before him. She lifted the veil, which was not a disguise, instead
being intended merely as a protection against the dust that one gathers
on a railroad journey, and Harley stopped in surprise.

"And so you see, Mr. Correspondent," she said, "that your farewell was
useless. You behold me again inside of twelve hours. I wanted to tell
you last night that I was going on this train, as Uncle James has great
confidence in my political judgment and feels the constant need of my
advice, but I was afraid you would not believe me. So I have preferred
to let you see for yourself."

She gave Harley a look which he could not interpret as anything but
saucy, and his attention was called again by the bold, fine curve of her
chin, and he was saying to himself: "A wild life in the mountains surely
develops courage and self-reliance, but at the expense of the more
delicate and more attractive qualities." Then he said aloud, and
politely:

"I see no reason, Miss Morgan, why you should have credited me with a
lack of faith in your word. Have I said anything to induce such a belief
in your mind?"

"No, you have merely looked it."

"I do not always look as I feel," said Harley, in embarrassment, "and I
want to tell you, Miss Morgan, that I am very glad you are going with us
on this Chicago trip."

"You look as if you meant that," she said, gravely; "but if I am to take
you at your word, you mean nothing of the kind."

"I do mean it; I assure you I do," said Harley, hastily. "But are Mr.
and Mrs. Grayson ready to receive visitors?"

"That depends. I am not sure that I want Uncle James interviewed so
early in the day. At least I want to know in advance the subject of the
interview. You can give me, as it were, the heads of your discourse.
Come, tell me, and I will render a decision."

She regarded Harley with a grave face, and he was divided between
vexation and a sort of reluctant admiration of her coolness. She was
bold and forward, not to say impertinent, but she seemed wholly
unconscious of it, and, after all, she was from one of the wildest parts
of Idaho. He kindly excused much of her conduct on the ground of early
association.

"I do not seek to interview any one," he said; "I merely wish to pay my
respects to Mr. and Mrs. Grayson, having been their guest, as you know."

"Oh, then you can go in," she said, and, calling to the porter, she told
him to announce Mr. Harley, of the New York _Gazette_. "Of the New York
_Gazette_," she said again, with what Harley considered unnecessary
repetition and emphasis, and he had a new count against her.

Mr. and Mrs. Grayson received him with courtesy, even with warmth, and
Harley saw that he had made new progress in their esteem. He remained
with them only a few minutes, and he said nothing about the
objectionable conduct of Miss Morgan, who had set herself as a guard
upon their door. He deemed it wiser to make no reference to her at all,
because she was only an insignificant and momentary incident of the
campaign, not really relevant. Chicago was merely a beginning, and they
would drop her there. When he returned from the drawing-room, she was
still sitting near the door, and at his appearance she looked up pertly.

"Did you find him in a good-humor?" she asked.

"I think Mr. Grayson is always in a good-humor, or at least he is able
to appear so."

"I doubt whether perpetual good-humor, or the appearance of it, is
desirable. One ought to make a difference in favor of friends; I do not
care to present an amiable face to my enemies."

She pursed up her lips and looked thoughtful.

"When Uncle James goes to Washington to take the Presidency," she
continued, "he will need me to protect him from the people who have no
business with him."

"I hope the last remark is not personal?"

"Oh no," she said; "I recognize the fact that the press must be
tolerated."

Harley again felt piqued, and, not willing to retire with the sense of
defeat fresh upon him, he sat down near her and began to talk to her of
her Western life. He wished to know more about the genesis and progress
of a girl who seemed to him so strange, but he was not able to confine
her to certain channels of narrative. She was flippant and vague, full
of allusions to wild things like Indians or buffaloes or grizzly bears,
but with no detailed statement, and Harley gathered that her childhood
had been in complete touch with these primitive facts. Only such early
associations could account for the absence of so many conventions.

The correspondents who travelled with Harley were mostly men of
experience, readily adaptable, and the addition of a new member to Mr.
Grayson's party could not escape their attention. Harley was surprised
and shocked to find that all of them were well acquainted with Miss
Morgan inside of six hours, and that they seemed to be much better
comrades with her than he had been. Hobart, the most frivolous of the
lot, and the most careless of speech, returning from the Grayson car,
informed him that she was a "great girl, as fine as silk."

"That's a queer expression to apply to a lady," said Harley. "It smacks
of the Bowery."

"And what if it does?" replied Hobart, coolly. "I often find the Bowery
both terse and truthful. And in this case the expression fits Miss
Morgan. She's the real article--no fuss and frills, just a daughter of
the West, never pretending that she is what she isn't. I heard her speak
of you, Harley, and I don't think she likes you, old man. What have you
been doing?"

"I hope I have been behaving as a gentleman should," replied Harley,
with some asperity; "and if I have been unlucky enough to incur her
dislike, I shall endure it as best I can."

He spoke in an indifferent tone, as if his endurance would not be
severely tested.

"But you are missing a good time," said Hobart. "There are not less than
a dozen of us at her feet, and the Grayson car is full of jollity. I'm
going back."

He returned to the car, and Harley was left alone just then, as he
wished to be, and with an effort he dismissed Miss Morgan from his
thoughts. Mr. Grayson would speak that night in Chicago, and an audience
of twenty thousand people was assured; this fact and the other one, that
it would be his initial address, making the event of the first
importance.

Harley as a correspondent was able not only to chronicle facts, which is
no great feat, but also to tell why, to state the connection between
them, and to re-create the atmosphere in which those facts occurred and
which made them possible. He was well aware that a fact was dependent
for its quality--that is, for its degree of good or evil--upon its
surrounding atmosphere, just as a man is influenced by the air that he
breathes, and for this reason he wished to send in advance a despatch
about Mr. Grayson and his personality as created by his birth and
associations.

He rested his pad on the car-seat and began to write, but Miss Morgan
intruded herself in the first line. This question of character, created
by environment, would apply to her as well as to her uncle; but Harley,
angrily refusing to consider it, tore off the sheet of paper and,
throwing it on the floor, began again. The second trial was more
successful, and he soon became absorbed in the effort to describe Mr.
Grayson and his remarkable personality, which might be either deep and
complex or of the simplest Western type.

As he wrote Harley became more and more absorbed in his subject, and
with the absorption came spontaneity. He did not know how well he was
writing, nor what a vivid picture he was presenting to the vast Eastern
population to whom Jimmy Grayson was as yet but a name. It was a
despatch that became famous, reprinted all over the Union, and quoted as
the first description of the candidate as he really was--that is, of the
man. And yet Harley, reading it days later, recognized in it something
that nobody else saw. It was a blend. In every fourth line Sylvia Morgan
again, and despite his efforts, had obtruded herself. He had borrowed
something from her to add to Jimmy Grayson, and he felt that he had been
seeking excuses for her manner.

But this fact did not impinge upon Harley now, when he read the
despatch preparatory to filing it at Chicago. He merely felt that he had
made an attempt to solve Jimmy Grayson, and in doing so had fulfilled
his duty.

As he folded up the article the loud voice of Hobart hailed him from the
other end of the car, and he beheld that irresponsible man entering with
the candidate's niece.

"You see what he has been about all this time, Miss Morgan?" said
Hobart. "He has been at work. Harley, you know, is the only
conscientious man among us."

"I have remarked already his devotion to duty," she said, sedately; "but
do you think, Mr. Hobart, we should disturb him now? We do not know that
he has finished his task."

Harley flushed. He did not wish to be thought a prig or one who made a
pretence of great industry, and, although Miss Morgan's voice was
without expression, he believed that irony lay hidden somewhere in it.

"You are mistaken," he said; "my work is over, for the time, at least.
It was something that had to be done, or I should not have stolen off
here alone."

Then he went back with them to the Grayson car, where a joyous group had
gathered. Mr. and Mrs. Grayson were in the drawing-room, with the door
shut, working upon the candidate's speech at Chicago, Harley surmised,
and hence there was no restraint. Of this group the girl from Idaho was
the centre and the sun. She seemed to be on good terms with them all, to
the great surprise of Harley, who had known her longer than they, and
who had not been able to get on with her at all, and he sat rather on
the fringe of the throng, saying but little.

Again she inspired him with hostility; she seemed, as before, too bold,
too boisterous, too much the mountain maid, although he could not
analyze any particular incident as wrong in itself. And clearly she had
won the liking, even the admiration, of his associates, all of whom were
men of wide experience. Tremaine, the dean of the corps, a ruddy,
white-haired old fellow, who had written despatches from the
Russo-Turkish war, which was ancient history to Harley, warmed visibly
to Miss Morgan. "It is always the way with those old gallants," was
Harley's silent comment. But he had never before characterized Tremaine
in such a manner.

He was afraid of her sharp tongue, knowing that a woman in such respects
is never averse to taking an unfair advantage of a man; but she paid no
heed to him, talking with the others and passing over him as if he had
not been present; and, while this was what he wanted in the first place,
yet, now that he had it, he resented it as something undeserved. But if
she would not speak to him, he, too, would keep silence, a silence which
he was convinced had in it a disdainful quality; hence it was not
without a certain comfort and satisfaction.

But Harley was forced to admit that if she was of the bold and
boisterous type, she was a favorable specimen within those unfavorable
limits. While she was familiar, in a measure, with these men, yet she
was able to keep them at the proper distance, and no one presumed, in
any respect. She radiated purity and innocence, and it was to ignorance
only that Harley now charged her faults.

They reached Chicago the next morning, and at noon Hobart knocked at the
door of Harley's room at the hotel.

"There is some idle time this afternoon," said Hobart, "and Tremaine and
I have asked Miss Morgan to go driving. She has accepted, but it takes
four to make a party, and you are the lucky fourth."

He allowed no protestations, and, after all, Harley, who had been under
much strain for some time, was not averse to an hour or two in the fresh
air.

"Miss Morgan has never been in Chicago before," said Hobart, "and it is
our duty to show it to her."

Hobart, who drove, put Miss Morgan upon the seat beside him, and
Tremaine and Harley, who sat behind, occupied what was to some extent
the post of disadvantage; but Tremaine, safe in his years, would not
permit the rear seat to be neglected. He talked constantly, and her
face, of necessity, was often turned to them, giving Harley opportunity
to see that it had a most becoming flush.

She had an eager interest in everything--the tall buildings, the
wind-swept streets, and the glimpses of the wide, green lake. Harley saw
that Chicago bulked much more largely in her imagination than in his,
and he began to fear that he had been neglectful; it was the most
concrete expression of the West, and, as the greatest achievement of a
new people in city building, it deserved attention for qualities
peculiarly its own, and there could be no doubt either of Miss Morgan's
admiration or pleasure. She was seeking neither for the old nor the
picturesque, which are not always synonymous, but was in full sympathy
with the fresh, active, and, on the whole, joyous life around her. It
was sufficient to her to be a part of the human tide, and to feel by
contact the keenness and zest of the human endeavor. She was not
troubled by the absence of ruins.

"But the city is flat and unpicturesque," once said Harley.

"All the better," she rejoined. "I have so much of silence and grandeur
in Idaho that I enjoy the sight of two million people at work on this
billiard-table that is Chicago. I like my own kind, I like to talk to it
and have it talk to me. I suppose that the mountains have a voice, but
the voice is too big for perpetual conversation with a poor little
mortal like myself. After a while I want to come down to my own level,
and I find it here."

Harley glanced at her. The flush was still on her face, and there was a
soft light in her eyes. He could not doubt that she was sincere, and she
started in his mind thoughts that were not altogether new to him; he
wondered if excessive reverence for the antique did not indicate a
detachment from the present, and therefore from life itself, and, as a
logical sequence, a lack of feeling for one's own kind. He had heard an
elderly man from Chicago, dragged about by his wife and daughters in
Rome, exclaim in disgust, "I would not give a single street corner in
Chicago for all Rome!" The elderly Chicagoan had been drowned in
derisive laughter, but Harley could understand his point of view, and
now, as he remembered him, he had for him a fellow-feeling.

Hobart took them through many streets, one much like another, and then
over a white asphalt drive beside the great lake. The shores were low,
but to Harley the lake had the calm restlessness and expanse of the sea,
and the wind had the same keen tang that comes over miles of salt. He
saw the girl's eyes linger upon the vast sheet of green, and the
incipient hostility that he felt towards her disappeared for a time.
Somewhere in her nature, strait though the place might be, there was a
feeling for fine things, and he felt a kindred glow.

They were rather quiet when they drove back towards the hotel, but she
spoke at last of her uncle James and his speech that night, which might
justify the expectations of either his friends or his enemies. There had
grown up lately in the theatrical world a practice of "trying a new
piece on the dog"--that is, of presenting it first in some small town
which was not too particular--but now the political world was moving
differently in this particular case. The candidate was to make his first
appearance in one of the greatest of cities, before two million people,
so to speak, and the ordeal would be so severe that Harley found himself
apprehensive for Jimmy Grayson's sake. The feeling was shared by his
niece.

"You don't think he will fail, do you?" she said, in an appealing tone
to Hobart.

"Fail!" replied that irrepressible optimist. "He can't fail! The bigger
the crowd the better he will rise to the occasion."

But she did not seem to be wholly convinced by Hobart's cheerfulness,
which was too general in its nature--that is, inclusive of
everything--and turned to Harley and Tremaine as if seeking
confirmation.

"It will be a terrible test," said Harley, frankly, "but I feel sure
that Mr. Grayson will pass it with glory. He is a born orator, and he
has courage."

"I thank you for your belief," she said, giving Harley a swift glance of
gratitude, and unaccountably he felt a pleasing glow at the first
gracious words she had ever spoken to him.

"I could not bear it if he failed," she continued. "He is my uncle, and
he is our own Western man. What things would be in the newspapers
to-morrow!"

"If Mr. Grayson should fail to-night, he would recover himself at his
second speech; he has your spirit, you know," said the ancient Tremaine.

But she did not seem to relish his elderly gallantry. "How do you know I
have spirit?" she asked. "I have done nothing to indicate it."

"I inferred it," replied he, bowing, but she only lifted her chin
incredulously, and Tremaine subsided, his suppression giving Harley some
quiet enjoyment.

They returned, chiefly in silence, to the hotel. The dusk was coming
down over the great city, and with it a grayish mist that hid the walls
of the buildings, although the electric lights in lofty stories twinkled
through it like signal-fires from hill-tops. Miss Morgan seemed subdued,
and at the hotel door she said to them in dismissal: "I thank you; you
have given me much pleasure."

"I rather think that she is wrapped up in Mr. Grayson's success," said
Hobart, "and, as she intimates, it will come pretty near to breaking her
heart if he fails."

In the lobby Harley met Churchill, of the _Monitor_, and Churchill, as
usual, was sneering.

"I imagine that Grayson will make a display of provincialism to-night,"
he said. "America will have to blush for herself. I have copies of the
_Monitor_, and all our London cables show the greatest amazement in
Great Britain and on the Continent that we should put up such an _outré_
Western character for President, one of the Boys, you know."

"The Grayson of the _Monitor_ is not the Grayson of reality," replied
Harley, "and the opinion of Europe does not matter, because Europe knows
nothing about Mr. Grayson."

"Oh, I see! You are falling under the influence," said Churchill,
nastily.

"What do you mean?" demanded Harley.

But Churchill would not answer. He sauntered away still sneering. Harley
looked after him angrily, but concluded in a few moments that his wrath
was not worth while--Churchill, trained to look always in the wrong
direction could never see anything right.



IV

THE FIRST SPEECH


When Harley started at an early hour for the vast hall in which Mr.
Grayson was to speak, he realized that there was full cause for the
trepidation of his feminine kind--perhaps in such moments women tremble
for their men more than they ever tremble for themselves--and he had
plenty of sympathy for Mrs. Grayson and Miss Morgan. The city, astir
with the coming speech, was free to express in advance its opinion of
it, both vocally and through its press, which was fairly divided--that
is, one-half was convinced that it would be an overwhelming triumph, and
the other half was equally sure that it would be a failure just as
overwhelming.

Harley had in his pocket a copy of his own paper--the _Gazette_--the
latest to reach him, and he had read it with the greatest care, but he
saw that it remained independent; so far, it neither endorsed nor
attacked Grayson; and, also, he had a telegram from his editor
instructing him to narrate the events of the evening with the strictest
impartiality, not only as concerned facts, but, above all, to transmit
the exact color and atmosphere of the occasion. "I know that this is
hard to do," he said, but with the deft and useful little compliment
that a wise employer knows how to put in at the end, he added: "I am
sure that you can do it." And he knew his man; Harley would certainly
do it.

Harley, seated in an obscure corner of the stage, but one offering many
points of vantage for his own view, saw the vast crowd come quickly into
the hall, among the largest in the world, and he heard the hum of
voices, in which he thought he could distinguish two notes, one of favor
and one of attack. Yet the audience was orderly, and on the whole the
element of curiosity prevailed. The correspondent, quick to read such
signs, saw that the people had an open mind in regard to Jimmy Grayson;
it was left to the candidate to make his own impression. Churchill took
a seat near him and began to annoy him with depreciatory remarks about
Grayson, not spoken to Harley in particular, but to the wide world.
Hobart once said that Churchill needed no audience, preferring to talk
to the air, which could make no reply of its own, but must return an
echo.

Harley saw Mrs. Grayson and her niece slip quietly into a box, sitting
well back, where they could be seen but little by the audience; and
then, knowing that Mr. Grayson had arrived, he went behind the wings,
where the candidate sat waiting.

Mr. Grayson received him with a calm and pleasant word; if his family
were in a tremble, he was not; at least he was able to hide any
apprehension that he might feel, and he remarked, jestingly: "It is
apparent that I will have an audience, Mr. Harley; they will not ignore
me."

"No, you are a good puller," rejoined Harley.

There were some dry preliminaries--introductory remarks by the chairman
and other necessary bores--and then the audience began to call for
Grayson. The speech would be reported in full by short-hand, for which
mechanical work the staff correspondent always hires a member of that
guild, and Harley was free for the present. He resolved to go into the
box with Mrs. Grayson and Miss Morgan, but he changed his mind when he
glanced at their faces. There was pallor in their cheeks, and their
whole attitude was of strained and intense waiting. For them the crucial
moment had come, and Harley had too much humanity to disturb them, even
with well-meant efforts, at such a moment.

The hum in the crowd increased to a roar, a thunderous call for Grayson,
but there was a pause on the stage, where no figures moved. The chairman
glanced uneasily towards the wings and shuffled in his seat as if he did
not know what to do, but his apprehension did not last long.

The candidate appeared, coming forward with a steady step, his face pale
and apparently inexpressive; but Harley could see that the eyes, usually
so calm, were lighted up by a fire from within. Suddenly all his fear
for Grayson sank away; it came upon him with the finality of a lightning
flash that here was a man who would not fail, and by an unknown impulse
he looked from the candidate to the box in which Miss Morgan sat. She
seemed to have read his faith in his eyes, for a look of relief, even
joy, came over her face.

This intuition of the two was justified, as the candidate did not have
to conquer his audience. He held it in his spell from the opening
sentence; the golden and compelling oratory, afterwards so famous, was
here poured before the greater world for the first time. Harley listened
to the periods, smooth but powerful, and he could not throw off their
charm; some things were said of which he was not sure, and others with
which he positively disagreed, but for the time they all seemed true.
Jimmy Grayson believed them--there could be no doubt of it; every word
was tinged with the vivid hue of sincerity--that was why they held the
audience in a spell that it could not escape; these were convictions,
not arguments that he was speaking, and the people received them as
such. Moreover, he was always clear and direct, he had a Greek precision
of speech, and there was none in the audience who could not follow him.

Harley, no orator himself, had in the course of his profession heard
much oratory, some good, much bad, and even now he struggled against the
charm of Grayson's voice and manner, and sought to see what lay behind
them. Was there back of this golden veil any great originating or
executive power, or was he, like so many others who speak well, a voice
and nothing more? An orator might win the Presidency of the United
States, but his gift would not necessarily qualify him to administer the
office. It was a tribute to Harley's power of will or detachment that he
was able at such a time to ask himself such a question.

But he forgot these after-thoughts in the pleasurable sympathy that his
view of the candidate's wife and niece aroused. Their faces were
illumined with joy. Feeling his spell so strongly themselves, they knew
without looking that the audience felt it, too, and the evening could be
no fuller for them. Here he was, a hero not only for his womenkind, but
for all whom his womenkind could see, and Harley thought that under the
influence of this feeling Miss Morgan's features had become very soft
and feminine. The curve of the jaw was gentle rather than firm, and now
in her softer moments it seemed to Harley that something might be made
of this mountain girl, say by the deft hands of an Eastern and older
woman. Then he blushed at himself for such a condescending thought, and
turned to his task--that is, the effort to reproduce for readers in New
York, the next morning, the atmosphere of that evening in a Chicago
hall, and the exact relation that Mr. Grayson, the people, and the
events of the hour bore to each other.

Harley was a conscientious man, interested in his work, and when he gave
the last page of the despatch to a telegraph-boy the speech was nearly
over. He said emphatically that it was a success, that the audience was
brought thoroughly under the spell, but whether this spell would endure
after the candidate was gone he did not undertake to prophesy. The
coldest and most critical seeker after truth and nothing but the truth
could have found no fault with what he wrote.

He gave the last page of the despatch to the telegraph-boy, and entered
the secluded box that held Mrs. Grayson and Miss Morgan. Two elderly
Chicago men, who played at politics and who were warm enthusiasts for
Grayson, were there, and Harley was introduced to them. But he talked to
them only as long as politeness demanded, and then, with all sincerity,
he congratulated Mrs. Grayson on her husband's triumph.

"I never had a doubt of it," she replied, her voice tremulous, and
honestly forgetful in the glory of the moment of all the fears that had
been assailing her a few hours ago. "I knew what he could do."

Harley turned presently to Miss Morgan, and he spoke in the same vein to
her, but she asked, with some asperity, "Did you think he could fail?"

"Failure is possible, I suppose, in the case of anybody."

"But you do not know our Western spirit."

"I am learning."

Her gentleness was gone. She resented what she chose to consider an
attempt at patronage of the West, and Harley again was made the target
for the arrows of her sarcasm. Yet he did not resent it with his
original acerbity; custom was dulling the sharp edge of her weapons,
and, instead of wounding him, they rather provoked and drew him on. He
was able to reply lightly, to suggest vaguely the crudities of Idaho,
and to incite her to yet more strenuous battle for her beloved
mountains.

But both ceased to talk, because the candidate was approaching his
climax, and the grand swell of his speech had in it a musical quality
that did not detract from its power to carry conviction. Then he closed,
and the thunders of applause rose again and again. At last, after bowing
many times to the gratified audience, he came back to the box, and his
niece, her eyes shining with delight, sprang up, as if driven by an
impulse, and, throwing her arms about his neck, kissed him. The act was
seen by many, and it was applauded, but Harley did not like it; her
emotion seemed to him too youthful, to smack too little of restraint--in
short, to be too Western. Despite himself, he frowned, and when she
turned back towards the box she saw the frown still upon his face. There
was an instant fiery flash in her eye, and she drew herself up as if in
haughty defiance, but she said nothing then, nor did she speak later
when she left with the Graysons, merely giving him a cold good-night
bow.

Harley lingered a little with the other correspondents, and was among
the last to leave the building. He was thinking of the Idaho girl, but
he did not fail to notice what was going on, and he saw a group of
middle-aged or elderly men, the majority of them portly in figure and
autocratic in bearing, follow the trail of Jimmy Grayson. Although
familiar with the faces of only one or two in the group, he knew
instinctively who they were. It was a gathering of the great, moneyed
men of the party, eager to see the attitude of Grayson upon affairs that
concerned them intimately, and prompt to take action in accordance. They
were the guardians of "vested" interests, interests watched over as few
things in this world are, and they were resolved to see that they took
no harm. But the speech of the night had been general in its nature, a
preliminary as it were, and Harley judged that they would do nothing as
yet but skirmish upon the outskirts, keeping a wary eye for the main
battle when it should be joined.

"Did you notice them?" asked white-haired Tremaine in his ear.

"Oh yes," replied Harley, who knew at once what he meant; "I watched
them leave the hall."

"One gets to know them instinctively," said Tremaine. "I've seen them
like a herd of bull-dogs--if such animals travelled in herds--on the
heels of every presidential candidate for the last forty years, and that
covers ten campaigns. But I suppose they have as much right to look
after their interests as the farmer or mechanic has to look after his."

"Yet it is worth while to watch them," said Harley, and all in the group
concurred.

They were to leave in the afternoon for Milwaukee, which gave plenty of
time for rest, and Harley, who needed it, slept late. But when he rose
and dressed he went forth at once, after his habit, for the morning
papers, buying them all in order to weigh as well as he could the
Chicago opinion of Grayson. The first that he picked up was sensational
in character, and what he saw on the front page did not please him at
all. There was plenty of space devoted to Grayson, but almost as much
was given to an incident of the evening as to Grayson himself. There was
a huge picture of a beautiful young girl throwing her arms around Jimmy
Grayson's neck, and kissing him enthusiastically. The two occupied the
centre of the stage close to the footlights, and twenty thousand people
were frantically cheering the spectacle. By the side of this picture was
another, a perfectly correct portrait of Miss Morgan, evidently taken
from a photograph, and under it were the lines: "Jimmy Grayson's
Egeria--the Beautiful Young Girl Who Furnishes the Western Fire for His
Speeches."

And then in two columns of leaded type, under a pyramid of head-lines,
was told the story of Sylvia Morgan. Flushed with enthusiasm, the
account said, she had come from Idaho to help her uncle, the candidate.
Although only eighteen years of age--she was twenty-two--she had
displayed a most remarkable perception and grasp of politics and of
great issues. It was she, with her youthful zeal, who inspired Mr.
Grayson and his friends with courage for a conflict against odds. He
consulted her daily about his speeches; it was she who always put into
them some happy thought, some telling phrase that was sure to captivate
the people. In a pinch she could make a speech herself, and she would
probably be seen on the stump in the West. And she was as beautiful as
she was intellectual and eloquent; she would be the most picturesque
feature of this or any campaign ever waged in America. It continued in
this vein for two columns, employing all the latest devices of the
newest and yellowest journalism, of which the process is quite simple,
provided you have no conscience--that is, you take a grain of fact and
you build upon it a mountain of fancy, and the mountain will be shaped
according to the taste of the builder.

Harley would have laughed--these things always seemed to him childish or
flippant rather than wicked--if it had not been for the photograph. That
was too real; it was exactly like Sylvia Morgan, and it implied
connivance between the newspaper and some body else. In Idaho it might
have one look, but here in Chicago it would have another, and in New
York it would have still another and yet worse. She ought to see the
true aspect of these things. To Harley, reared with the old-fashioned
Southern ideals, from which he never departed, it was all inexpressibly
distasteful--he did not stop to ask himself why he should be more
concerned about the picture of Miss Morgan than those of many other
women whom he saw in the newspapers--and his feeling was not improved by
the entrance of Churchill and his sneering comment.

"A good picture of her," said Churchill. "These Western girls like such
things. Of course she sent it to the newspaper office."

"I do not know anything of the kind, nor do you, I think," replied
Harley, with asperity. "Nor am I aware that the West is any fonder than
the East of notoriety."

"Have it any way you wish," said Churchill, superciliously. "But I fail
to see why you should disturb yourself so much over the matter."

His tone was so annoying that Harley felt like striking him, but instead
ignored him, and Churchill strolled carelessly on, humming a tune, as he
had seen insolent people on the stage do in such moments.

Harley thrust the newspaper into his pocket, and went into one of the
ladies' parlors, where he saw Miss Morgan sitting by a window and
looking out at the hasty life of Chicago. She did not hear his approach
until he was very near, and then, starting at the sound of his
footsteps, she looked up, and her cheeks flushed.

"It should be a happy day for you," said Harley, "and I suppose that you
are enjoying the triumph."

"Why should I not?" she replied. "I have a share in it."

"So you have, and the press has recognized it."

"What do you mean?"

"I was just looking at a very good picture of you," said Harley, and he
spread the paper before her, hoping that she would express surprise and
distaste. But she showed neither.

"Oh, I've seen that already," she said, quite coolly. "Don't you think
it a good picture?"

"I have no fault to find with the likeness," replied Harley, with some
meaning in his tone.

"Then what fault have you to find?"

Harley was embarrassed, and hesitated, seeking for the right words--what
did it matter to him if she failed to show the reserve that he thought
part of a gentlewoman's nature.

"You infer more than I meant," he said, at last. "I merely felt surprise
that they should have obtained a photograph so quickly."

The slightly deepened flush in her cheeks remained and she surveyed him
with the same cool air of defiance.

"They would have had a picture, anyhow, something made up; was it not
better, then, to furnish them a real one than to have a burlesque
published?"

"It's hardly usual," said Harley, more embarrassed than ever. "But
really, Miss Morgan, I have no right to speak of it in any connection."

"No, but you were intending to do so. It was in your eye when I looked
up and saw you coming towards me."

Her voice had grown chilly, and her gaze was fixed on Harley. The
Western girl certainly had dignity and reserve when she wished them, but
he did not believe that she chose the right moments to display these
admirable qualities.

"I did not know that I had such a speaking countenance," said Harley.
"And even if so, you must not forget that you might read it wrong."

"I do not think so," she said, still chilly, and, glancing up at the
clock, she added: "It is almost twelve, and I promised Aunt Anna to be
with her a half-hour ago."

At the door she paused, turned back, and a flashing smile illuminated
her face for a moment.

"Oh, Mr. Harley," she said, "don't you wish some newspaper would print
your picture?"

Then she was gone, leaving him flushed and irritated. He was angry, both
at her and himself; at himself because he had expected to rebuke her, to
show her indirectly and in a delicate way where she was wrong, and he
had never even got as far as the attack. It was he who had been put upon
the defence, when he had not expected to be in such a state, and his
self-satisfaction suffered. But he told himself that she was a crude
Western girl, and that it was nothing to him if she forced herself into
the public gaze in a bold and theatrical manner.

A little later all left for Milwaukee, where Mr. Grayson was to make
another great speech in the evening, and Harley again refrained from
joining the group that soon gathered around Miss Morgan, and Mrs.
Grayson, also, who, being in a very happy mood, made a loan of her
presence as a chaperon, she said, although, being a young woman still,
it gave her pleasure to hear them speak of her husband's brilliant
triumph the night before, and to enjoy the atmosphere of success that
enveloped the car.

The run from Chicago to Milwaukee is short, but Harley, despite his
pique--he was young and naturally of a cheerful temperament--might have
joined them before their arrival if his attention had not been attracted
by another group, that body of portly, middle-aged men, heavy with
wealth and respectability, who had silently cast a dark shadow upon the
meeting at Chicago. They were men of power, men whose brief words went
far, and they held in their hands strings that controlled many and vast
interests when they pulled them, and their hands were always on the
strings. They were not like the great, voluble public; they worked, by
choice and by opportunity, in silence and the dark, and their kind has
existed in every rich country from Babylonia to the United States of
America. They were the great financial magnates of Jimmy Grayson's
party, and nothing that he might do could escape their notice and
consideration. It was more than likely that in the course of the
campaign he would feel a great power pressing upon him, and he would not
be able to say who propelled it.

Harley knew some of these men by name; one, the leader of the party, a
massive, red-faced man, was the Honorable Clinton Goodnight, a member of
the Lower House of Congress from New York, but primarily a manufacturer,
a man of many millions; and the younger and slenderer man, with the
delicately trimmed and pointed beard, was Henry Crayon, one of the
shrewdest bankers in Wall Street. These two, at least, he knew by face,
but no trained observer could doubt that the others were of the same
kind.

Although silent and as yet casting only a shadow, Harley felt that
sooner or later these men would cause trouble. He had an intuition that
the campaign before them was going to be the most famous in the Union,
dealing with mighty issues and infused with powerful personalities.
Great changes had occurred in the country in the last few years, its
centre of gravity was shifting, and the election in November would
decide many things. He felt as if all the forces were gathering for a
titanic conflict, and his heart thrilled with the omens and presages. It
was a pleasurable thrill, too, because he was going to be in the thick
of it, right beside the general of one of the great armies.

When they reached Milwaukee, Harley and all the correspondents went to
the same hotel with the Graysons, and they remarked jocularly to the
nominee that they would watch over him now night and day until the first
Tuesday in November, and he, being a man of tact and human sympathies,
without any affectations, was able to be a good fellow with them all,
merely a first among his equals.

There was a great crowd at the station, ready to welcome the candidate,
and the sound of shouting and joyous welcome arose; but Harley, anxious
to reach the hotel, slipped from the throng and sprang into a carriage,
one of a number evidently waiting for the Grayson party. It was a closed
vehicle, and he did not notice until he sat down that it was already
occupied, at least in part, by a lady. Then he sprang up, red-faced and
apologetic, but the lady laughed--a curious little laugh, ironic, but
not wholly unpleasant--and put out a detaining hand, detaining by way of
gesture, because she did not touch him.

"You are very much surprised to find me here, Mr. Harley," said Miss
Morgan. "You thought, of course, that I would be in the centre of that
crowd, receiving applause and shaking hands, just as if I were a
candidate, like my uncle James. You would not believe me if I told you
that I came here to escape it."

"Why shouldn't I believe it?"

"Because I am going to tell you that your displeasure over the picture
has made me feel so badly that I am resolved to do better, to be more
modest, more retiring."

"Miss Morgan, you do me wrong," said Harley, with reddening face. "I
have had no such thoughts."

"You fib in a good cause, but you cannot deceive me; I read your
thoughts, but I am very forgiving, and I am resolved that we shall have
a pleasant ride to the hotel together. Now, entertain me, tell me about
that war, of which you saw so much."

She was not in jest, and she compelled him to talk. It was far from the
station to the hotel, and she revealed a knowledge of the world's
affairs that Harley thought astonishing in one coming from the depths of
the Idaho mountains. She touched, too, upon the things that interested
him most, and drew him on until he was talking with a zest and interest
that permitted no self-consciousness. Resolved that he would not tell
what he had seen, and by nature reserved, he was, within five minutes,
under her deft questions, in the middle of a long narrative of events on
the other side of the world. He saw her listening, her eyes bright, her
lips slightly parted, and he knew that he held her attention. He was
aware, too, that he was flattered by the interest that he had been able
to create in the mind of this Idaho girl whose opinion he had been
holding so cheaply.

"I envy a man," she said, at last, sighing a little. "You can go where
you please and do what you please. Even our 'advanced women' have less
liberty than the man who is not advanced at all. And yet I do not want
to be a man. That, I suppose, is a paradox."

Harley was about to make a light reply, something in the tone of
perforced compliment, but a glimpse of her caused him to change his
mind. She seemed to have a touch of genuine sadness, and, instead, he
said nothing.

When the carriage reached the ladies' entrance of the hotel they were
still silent, and as Harley helped her from the carriage her manner was
unchanged. The little touch of sadness was yet there, and it appealed to
him. She surprised his look of sympathy, and the color in her cheeks
increased.

"I am tired," she said. "I just begin to realize how greatly so much
travelling and so many crowds weigh upon one."

Then, with the first smile of comradeship that she had given him, she
went into the hotel.

The Graysons, Miss Morgan, Harley, Hobart, and a few others formed a
family group again at the table, when they dined that evening, and all
the tensity and anxiety visible the day before was gone. Mr. Grayson's
success in Chicago had been too complete, too sweeping to leave doubt of
its continuance; he would be the hero and leader of his party, not a
weight upon it, and the question now was whether or not the party had
votes enough; hence there was a certain light and joyous air about them
which gave to their short stay in the dining-room a finer flavor than
any that a _chef_ could add.

Churchill, of the _Monitor_, was not one of this party. Churchill did
not confine his criticisms to his professional activities, but had a
disposition to carry them into private life, injecting roughness into
social intercourse, which ought to be smooth and easy. Therefore,
somewhat to his own surprise, which ought not to have been the case, he
had not become a member of this family group, and had much to say about
the "frivolous familiarity" of Jimmy Grayson and "his lack of dignity."

But on this evening Churchill had no desire to sit at table with the
Graysons, because he felt that something great was going to happen in
his life. For more than a day, now, he had been on the trail of a mighty
movement that he believed hidden from all save himself and those behind
this movement. He, too, had noticed the appearance at Chicago of the
heavy, rich, elderly men, and he had spoken to one or two of them with
all the respect and deference that their eminent position in the
financial world drew from every writer of the _Monitor_. And his
deference had been rewarded, because that afternoon he received a hint,
and it came from no less a personage than the Honorable Clinton
Goodnight himself, a hint that Churchill rightly thought was worth much
to him.

There was another large hotel in Milwaukee, and it was to this that the
financiers had gone, having ascertained first that Grayson would not be
there; nor did they intend to go to the speech that evening. They had
already, in the address at Chicago, weighed accurately the power of
Jimmy Grayson with his party, and with wary old eyes, long used to
watching the world and its people, they had seen that it would be great.
Hence he was a man to be handled with skill and care, to be led, not
knowing that he was led, by a bridle invisible to all save those who
held it--but they, the financiers, would know very well who held it.

It was these men to whom Churchill came, having slipped quietly away
from his associates, drawn by a hint that he might secure an interview
of great importance, two columns in length and exclusive. Churchill was
a true product of the _Monitor_, a worshipper of accomplished facts, a
supporter of every old convention, believing that anything new or in
rough attire was bad. Although he would have denied it if accused, he
nearly always confounded manners with morals, and to him the opinion of
Europe was final. Hence the _Monitor_ and Churchill were well suited to
each other. Moreover, Churchill enjoyed the society of the great--that
is, of those who seemed to him to be the great--and he had an admirable
flexibility of temperament; while easily able and willing to be very
nasty to those whom he thought of an inferior grade, he was equally able
and willing to be extremely deferential to those whose grade he
considered superior. He was also intolerant in opinion, thinking that
any one who differed from him on the subjects of the day was necessarily
a scoundrel, wherein he was again in perfect accord with the _Monitor_.

It was, therefore, with an acute delight, blossoming into exultation,
that Churchill slipped away from his associates and hastened towards the
hotel where the financial magnates were staying. These were really great
men, not the productions of a moment, thrown briefly into the
lime-light, but solid like the pyramids. Mr. Goodnight must be worth
forty millions, at the least, and he was a power in many circles.
Churchill thrilled with delight that such a being should hint to him to
come and be talked to, and he was more than ever conscious of his own
superiority to his professional associates.

Churchill was not awed by the hotel clerk, but haughtily asked that his
card be sent at once to Mr. Goodnight, and he concealed his pride when
the message came back that he be shown up as soon as possible. He
received it as the natural tribute to his importance, and he took his
time as he followed the guiding hall-boy. But at the door of Mr.
Goodnight his manner changed; it became deferential, as befitted modest
merit in the presence of true and recognized greatness.

Mr. Goodnight was hospitable; there was no false pride about him; he was
able in being great to be simple also, and Mr. Crayon and the others
present shared his attractive manner.

"Ah, Mr. Churchill," he said, as he shook hands heartily with the
correspondent, "it gives me pleasure, indeed, to welcome you here. We
noticed your bearing in Chicago, and we were impressed by it. We
therefore had an additional pleasure when we learned that you were the
correspondent of the _Monitor_, New York's ablest and most conservative
journal. The American press grows flippant and unreliable nowadays, Mr.
Churchill, but the waves of sensationalism wash in vain around the solid
base of the old _Monitor_. There she stands, as steady as ever, a
genuine light-house in the darkness."

Mr. Goodnight, being a member of Congress, was able to acquire and to
exhibit at convenient times a certain poetical fervor which impressed
several kinds of people. Now his associates rubbed their hands in
admiration, and Churchill flushed with pleasure. A compliment to the
_Monitor_ was also a compliment to him, for was he not the very spirit
and essence of the _Monitor_?

"Before we get to business," continued Mr. Goodnight, in the most
gratifyingly intimate manner, "suppose we have something just to wet our
throats and promote conversation. This town, I believe, is famous for
beer, but it is not impossible to get champagne here; in any event, we
shall try it."

He rang, the champagne was brought, opened, and drunk, and Churchill
glowed with his sense of importance. These were men of many millions,
twice his age, but he was now one with them. Certainly none of his
associates would have been invited by them to such a conference, and he
was able to appreciate the fact.

"We want you, Mr. Churchill, to tell us something about Grayson," said
Mr. Goodnight, in a most kindly tone; "not what all the world knows,
those superficial facts which the most careless observer may glean, but
something intimate and personal; we want you to give us an insight into
his character, from which we may judge what he is likely to do or
become. You know that he is from the West, the Far West, likely to be
afflicted with local and provincial views, not to say heresies, and
great vested interests within his own party feel a little shaky about
him. We cannot have a revolutionary, or even a parochial, character in
the presidential chair. Those interests which are the very bulwark of
the public must be respected. We must watch over him, and in order to
know how and what to watch, we must have information. We rely upon you
to furnish us this information."

Churchill was intensely gratified at this tribute to his merit, but he
was resolved not to show it even to these great men. Instead, he
carelessly emptied his champagne glass, rubbed his chin thoughtfully,
and then asked with a certain fulness of implication:

"Upon what precise point do you wish information, Mr. Goodnight? Of
course, I have not been with Mr. Grayson very long, but I can say
truthfully that I have observed him closely within that time, and
perhaps no phase of a rather complicated character has escaped me."

"We feel quite sure of that," said Mr. Crayon, speaking for the first
time, and using short, choppy sentences. "_Monitor_, as I happen to
know, is extremely careful in the selection of its men, and this, I am
journalist enough to understand, is most important errand upon which it
can now send member of its staff."

Churchill bowed courteously to the deserved compliment, and remained
silent while Mr. Goodnight resumed the thread of talk.

"What we want to know, Mr. Churchill," he said, "is in regard to the
elements of stability in his character. Will he respect those mighty
interests to which I have just alluded? Is he, as a comparatively young
man, and one wholly ignorant of the great world of finance, likely to
seek the opinion and advice of his elders? You know that we have the
best wishes in the world for him. His interests and ours, if he but
perceives it, run together, and it is our desire to preserve the utmost
harmony within the party."

Churchill bowed. Their opinion and his agreed in the most wonderful
manner. It was hard to say, in his present exalted state, whether this
circumstance confirmed their intelligence or his, but it certainly
confirmed somebody's.

"I have already taken note of these facts," he said, in the indifferent
tone of one whose advice is asked often, "and I have observed that Mr.
Grayson's character is immature, and, for the present at least,
superficial. But I think he can be led; a man with a will not very
strong can always be led, if those with stronger wills happen to be
near, and Mr. Grayson's faults are due to weakness rather than vice."

There was an exchange of significant looks among Mr. Goodnight, Mr.
Crayon, and their friends, and then an emphatic nodding of heads, all of
which indicated very clearly to Churchill that they admired his
acuteness of perception, and were glad to have their own opinion
confirmed by one who observed so well.

"Wouldn't it be well to lay these facts before the readers of the
_Monitor_?" suggested Mr. Goodnight, mildly. "We all know what a
powerful organ the _Monitor_ is, and what influence it has in
conservative circles. It would be a hint to Mr. Grayson and his friends;
it would show him the path in which he ought to walk, and it would save
trouble later on in the campaign."

Churchill's heart thrilled again. This was a greater honor even than he
had hoped for; he was to sound the mighty trumpet note of the campaign,
but his pride would not let him show the joy that he felt.

"In giving these views--and I appreciate their great importance--shall I
quote you and Mr. Crayon?" he asked, easily.

Mr. Goodnight mused a few moments, and twiddled his fingers.

"We want the despatch to appear in the shape that will give it the
greatest effect, and you are with us in that wish, Mr. Churchill," he
said, confidingly. "Now this question arises: if our names appear it
will look as if it were a matter between Mr. Grayson and ourselves
personally, which is not the case; but if it appears on the authority of
the _Monitor_ and your own, which is weighty, it will then stand as a
matter between Mr. Grayson and the people, and that is a fact past
denying. Now, what do you think of it yourself, Mr. Churchill?"

Since they left it so obviously to his intelligence, Churchill was bound
to say that they were right, and he would write the warning, merely as
coming from the great portion of the public that represented the solid
interests of the country, the quiet, thinking people who never indulged
in any foolish chase after a will-o'-the-wisp.

Mr. Goodnight and Mr. Crayon made many further suggestions about the
points of the despatch, but they admitted ingenuously that they were not
able to write, that they possessed no literary and effective style, that
it would be for Mr. Churchill to clothe their crude thoughts--that is,
if he approved of them--in trenchant phrase and brilliant style.

There was such an air of good-fellowship, and Churchill admitted to
himself so freely that these men might make suggestions worth while,
that he decided, moreover, as the hour was growing late, to write the
despatch there and then, and tell to the world through the columns of
the _Monitor_, not what Jimmy Grayson ought to do, but all the things
that he ought not to do, and they were many. The most important of these
related to the tariff and the currency, which, in the view of Mr.
Goodnight and his friends, should be left absolutely alone.

Paper was produced, and Churchill began to write, often eliciting words
of admiration from the others at the conciseness and precision with
which he presented his views. It was cause for wonder, too, that they
should find themselves agreeing with him so often, and they admired,
also, the felicity of phrasing with which he continued to present all
these things as the views of a great public, thus giving the despatch
the flavor of news rather than opinion. When it was finished--and it
would fill two full columns of the _Monitor_--the line was quite clearly
drawn between what Jimmy Grayson could do and what he could not do--and
Churchill was proud of the conviction that none but himself had drawn
it. Mr. Grayson, reading this--and he certainly would read it--must know
that it came from inspired sources, and he would see straight before him
the path in which it was wise for him to walk. Churchill knew that he
had rendered a great service, and he felt an honest glow.

"I think I shall file this at once," he said, "as it is growing late,
and there is an hour's difference between here and New York."

They bade him a most complimentary adieu, suggesting that they would be
glad to hear from him personally during the campaign, and announcing
their willingness to serve him if they could; and Churchill left the
hotel, contented with himself and with them. When he was gone, they
smiled and expressed to each other their satisfaction. In fifteen
minutes swift operators were sending Churchill's despatch eastward.



V

"KING" PLUMMER


Meanwhile the evening was proving of no less interest to Harley than to
Churchill, although in a quite different way. He had noticed, when they
parted at the hotel door, the apparent sadness, or, rather, the touch of
the pathetic in the manner of Miss Morgan, and he observed it again when
they were all reunited at the hotel table. Heretofore she had been
light, ironical, and bearing a full share in the talk, but now she
merely replied when spoken to directly, and her tone had the tinge of
melancholy. Mr. and Mrs. Grayson looked at her more than once, as if
they were about to refer to some particular subject, but always they
refrained; instead, they sought by light talk to divert attention from
her, and they succeeded in every case but that of Harley.

It was not a long dinner, and as they returned to the ladies' parlor
they were welcomed by a loud, joyous cry, and out of the dark of the
room a big man projected himself to greet them. His first words were for
Miss Morgan, whom he affectionately called "Little Girl," and whom he
seized by the hands and kissed on the forehead. It was a loud voice, but
round, full, and mellow, and Harley judged that it came from a big
nature as well as a big body.

When the man stepped into the light, Harley saw that he was over six
feet high, and with a width according. His broad face was covered with
short, iron-gray beard, and his head was thatched with hair equally
thick and of the same gray shade. In years he might have been fifty, and
it was Harley's first impression at this moment that the big man was
Miss Morgan's father--it came to him with a rather queer feeling that it
had never occurred to him to ask about her parents, whether they were
living or dead, and what kind of people they were or had been.

The stranger shook hands with Mr. and Mrs. Grayson, and expressed
vocally the pleasure that his eyes also conveyed. Harley and Hobart were
the only others present, and, turning to them, Mr. Grayson introduced
the stranger, Mr. William Plummer--"King Plummer, you know."

Then Harley remembered vaguely, and he began to place Mr. Plummer. He
recalled allusions in the press to one William Plummer, otherwise "King"
Plummer, who lived in the far Northwest, and who, having amassed
millions in ranching and mining, had also become a great power in the
political world, hence his term "King," which was more fitting in his
case than in that of many real kings. He had developed remarkable skill
in politics, and, as the phrase went, held Idaho, his own state, in the
hollow of his hand, and in a close election could certainly swing
Montana and Wyoming as he wished, and perhaps Utah and Washington, too.

Harley's interest instantly became keen, and he did not take his eyes
off "King" Plummer. Clearly he was a man of power; he fairly radiated
it, not merely physically, but mentally. His gestures, his voice, every
movement indicated a vast reserve strength. This was one of the great
men whose development the rough field of the new West had permitted.

Harley was not alone interested in "King" Plummer, but also in the kiss
that he had put upon the white forehead of Sylvia Morgan and his
boisterous joy at seeing her. Since he was not her father, it was likely
that he was her uncle, not by blood, as Jimmy Grayson was, but as the
husband of an aunt, perhaps. Yes, this must be it, he concluded, and the
kiss seemed more reasonable.

When "King" Plummer was introduced to Harley and Hobart, he shook hands
with them most cordially, but as keen a man as Harley could see that he
regarded them as mere youths, or "kids," as the "King" himself would
have said. There was nothing depreciatory in this beyond the difference
between age and great achievement and youth which had not yet had the
time to fulfil its promise, and Harley, because of it, felt no decrease
of liking and respect for "King" Plummer.

"The far Northwest is for you solidly, Jimmy," said the big man, with a
joyous smile. "Idaho is right in line at the head of the procession, and
Wyoming, Montana, and the others are following close after. They haven't
many votes, but they have enough to decide this election."

Jimmy Grayson smiled. He had reason to smile. He, too, liked "King"
Plummer, and, moreover, this was good news that he brought.

"I fancy that you have had something to do with this," he said. "You
still know how to whisper a sweet word in the ear of the people."

The big man shook himself, laughed again, and looked satisfied.

"Well, I have done a lot of whispering," he admitted, "if you call it
whispering, though most people, I'll gamble, would say it is like the
clatter of a mill. And I've done some riding, too, both train and horse.
The mountains are going to be all right. Don't you forget that, Jimmy."

"And it's lucky for me that 'King' Plummer is my friend," said Mr.
Grayson, sincerely.

During this talk of politics, Sylvia Morgan was silent, and once, when
"King" Plummer laid his big hand protectingly on her arm, she shrank
slightly, but so slightly that no one save Harley noticed, not even the
"King." The action roused doubts in his mind. Surely a girl would not
shrink from her uncle in this manner, not from a big, kindly uncle like
Plummer.

"I wanted to get down to Chicago and hear you at your first speech,"
went on "King" Plummer, in his big, booming voice, that filled the room,
"but I couldn't manage it. There was a convention at Boisé that needed a
little attention--one likes to look on at those things, you know"--his
left eye contracted slightly--"and as soon as that was over I hurried
down as fast as an express could bring me. But I've read in all the
papers what a howlin' success it was, an' I'm goin' to hear you give it
to the other fellows to-night--won't we, Sylvia?"

He turned to the girl for confirmation of what needed no confirmation,
and her eyes smiled into his with a certain pride. She seemed to Harley
to admire his bigness, his openness of manner and speech, and his
wholesome character. After all, he was her uncle; the look that she gave
him then was that of one who received protection, half paternal and half
elder-brotherly.

"And now, Jimmy, I guess I've taken up enough of your time," exclaimed
"King" Plummer, his big, resonant chest-tones echoing in the room, "and
it's for you to do all the talkin' that's left. But I'll be in a box
listenin', and just you do your best for the credit of the West and the
mountains."

Grayson smiled and promised, and "King" Plummer joined them in the
carriage that bore them to the hall. He took his place with them in such
a natural and matter-of-fact manner that Harley was confirmed in his
renewed opinion that he was Sylvia Morgan's uncle, or, at least, her
next of kin, after Mr. Grayson.

At the hall "King" Plummer, as he had promised, sat in a box with Mrs.
Grayson and Miss Morgan, and always he led the applause, which in
reality needed no leading, the triumph at Chicago being repeated in full
degree. Harley, watching him from his desk, saw that the big man was
filled with sanguine expectation of triumph, and, with the glow of Jimmy
Grayson's oratory upon him, could not see any such result as defeat. But
Miss Morgan was strangely silent, and all her vivacity of manner seemed
to be gone.

When the speech was nearly over Churchill sauntered in lazily by the
stage entrance and took a seat near Harley. Harley had not noticed his
previous absence until then.

"How's the speech to-night?" he asked, languidly; "same old chestnuts, I
suppose."

"As this is Mr. Grayson's second speech," replied Harley, sharply, "it
is a little early to call anything that he says 'same old chestnuts.'
Besides, I don't think that repetition will ever be one of his faults.
Why haven't you been here?"

"Oh, I've been cruising around a bit on the outside. The Associated
Press, of course, will take care of the speech, which is mere routine."

He spoke with such an air of supercilious and supreme satisfaction that
Harley looked at him keenly.

"Pick up anything?" he asked, briefly.

"Oh, a trifle or two; nothing, however, that you would care about."

"Now, I wonder what it is that makes him so content with himself,"
thought Harley, but he had little time to devote to Churchill, as his
own despatch was occupying his attention.

Harley could not go back to the hotel with the Grayson party when the
speech was over, as he had to file his despatch first, but he saw them
all the next morning at the breakfast-table. "King" Plummer was there,
too, as expansive as ever, and showing mingled joy and sorrow--joy over
the second triumph of the candidate, which was repeated at great length
in the morning papers, and sorrow because he could not continue with
them on the campaign, which moved to Detroit for the third night.

"I'd be a happy man if I could do it," he said, in his booming tones,
"happy for more reasons than one. It would be a big holiday to me.
Wouldn't I enjoy hearing you tear the enemy to pieces night after night,
Jimmy! and then I'd be with you right along, Sylvia."

He looked at the girl, and his look was full of love and protection. She
flushed and seemed embarrassed. But there was no hesitation or
awkwardness about the big man.

"Never you mind, little girl," he said; "when you are Mrs. Plummer--an'
that ain't far away, I hope--you'll be with me all the time. Besides,
I'm goin' to join Jimmy Grayson when he comes out West, an' make the
campaign there with him."

The color in Miss Morgan's face deepened, and she glanced, not at "King"
Plummer or her uncle, but at Harley, and when her eyes met his the color
in her cheeks deepened still further. Then she looked down at her plate
and was silent and embarrassed.

Harley, as he heard these words of the "King," felt a strange thrill of
disapproval. It was, as he told himself, because of the disparity in
ages. It was true that a man of this type was the very kind to restrain
Sylvia Morgan, but twenty and fifty should never wed, man and wife
should be young together and should grow old together. It was no
business of his, and there was no obligation upon him to look after the
happiness of either of these people, but it was an arrangement that he
did not like, violating as it did his sense of fitness.

"King" Plummer was to leave them an hour later, taking a train for St.
Paul, and thence for Idaho. He bade them all a hearty good-bye, shaking
hands warmly with Jimmy Grayson, to whom he wished a career of unbroken
triumph, repeating these good wishes to Mrs. Grayson, and again kissing
Sylvia Morgan on the forehead--the proper kiss, Harley thought, for
fifty to bestow upon twenty, unless twenty should happen to be fifty's
daughter.

"We won't be separated long, Sylvia, girl," he said, and she flushed a
deep red and then turned pale. To Harley he said:

"And I'll try to show you the West, young man, when you come out there.
This is no West; Milwaukee ain't West by a jugful. Just you wait till
you get beyond the Missouri, then we'll show you the real West, and real
life at the same time."

There was a certain condescension in the tone of "King" Plummer, but
Harley did not mind it; so far as the experience of life in the rough
was concerned, the "King" had a right to condescend.

"I shall hold you to your promise," he said.

Then "King" Plummer, waving good-byes with a wide-armed sweep, large and
hearty like himself, departed.

"There goes a true man," said Mr. Grayson, and Harley spontaneously
added confirmation. But Miss Morgan was silent. She waved back in
response to the King of the Mountains, but her face was still pale, and
she was silent for some time. Harley now knew that "King" Plummer was
not her uncle nor her next of kin after Jimmy Grayson in any way, but he
was unable to tell why this marriage-to-be had been arranged.

But he quickly learned the secret, if secret it was; it was told to him
on the train by Mrs. Grayson as they rode that afternoon to Detroit.

"If you were ever in Idaho," she said, "you would soon hear the story of
"King" Plummer and Sylvia. It is a tragedy of our West; that is, it
began in a great tragedy, one of those tragedies of the plains and the
mountains so numerous and so like each other that the historians forget
to tell about them. Sylvia's mother was Mr. Grayson's eldest sister,
much older than he. She and her husband and children were part of a
wagon-train that was going up away into the Northwest where the
railroads did not then reach.

"It was long ago--when Sylvia was a little girl, not more than seven or
eight--and the train was massacred by Utes just as they reached the
Idaho line. The Utes were on the war-path--there had been some sort of
an outbreak--and the train had been warned by the soldiers not to go on,
but the emigrants were reckless. They laughed at danger, because they
did not see it before their faces. They pushed on, and they were
ambushed in a deep canyon.

"There was hardly any fight at all, the attack was so sudden and
unexpected. Before the people knew what was coming half of them were
shot down, and then those awful savages were among them with tomahawk
and knife. Mr. Harley, I've no use for the Indian. It is easy enough to
get sentimental about him when you are away off in the East, but when
you are close to him in the West all that feeling goes. I heard Sylvia
tell about that massacre once, and only once. It was years ago, but I
can't forget it; and if I can't forget it, do you think that she can?
Her father was killed at the first fire from the bushes, and then an
Indian, covered with paint and bears' claws, tomahawked both her mother
and her little brother before her eyes--yes, and scalped them, too. He
ran for the girl next, but Sylvia--I think it was just physical
impulse--dashed away into the scrub, and the Indian turned aside for a
victim nearer at hand.

"Sylvia lay hid until night came, and there was silence over the
mountain, the silence of death, Mr. Harley, because when she slipped
back in the darkness to the emigrant train she found every soul that had
been in it, besides herself, dead. Think, Mr. Harley, of that little
girl alone in all those vast mountains, with her dead around her! Do you
wonder that sometimes she seems hard?"

"No, I don't," replied Harley. Despite himself a mist came to his eyes
over this pathetic tragedy of long ago.

"Sylvia has never said much about that night she spent there with the
dead, in the midst of the wrecked and plundered train, but when a number
of border men, alarmed about the emigrants, pushed on the next day to
save them if possible, what do you suppose they found her doing?"

"I can't guess."

"She had got a spade somewhere from one of the wagons, and, little as
she was, she was trying to bury her own dead. She was so busy that she
didn't see them ride up, and William Plummer, their leader--he was a
young man then--actually shed tears, so they say. Well, these men
finished the burial, and Mr. Plummer put Sylvia on his horse before him
and rode away. He adopted the little thing as his daughter. He said she
was the bravest creature he had ever seen, and, as he was not likely to
have any real daughter, she should take a place that ought to be filled.

"Were the Utes who did this massacre punished?"

"No one knows; the soldiers killed a number of them in battle, but
whether the slain were those who ambushed the train is not decided in
border history."

"I think I understand the rest of the story of Mr. Plummer and Miss
Morgan," said Harley.

"Yes, it is not hard to guess. Mr. Grayson and her other relatives
farther East did not hear of her rescue until long afterwards; they
supposed her dead--but no one could have cared for her better than Mr.
Plummer. He kept her first at his mining-hut in the mountains, but after
two or three years he took her into town to Boisé; he put her in the
care of a woman there and sent her to school. He loved her already like
a real daughter. She was just the kind to appeal to him, so brave and so
fond of the wild life. They say that at first she refused to stay in
Boisé. She ran away and tried to go on foot to him away up in the
mountains, where the mining-camp was. When he heard of it, they say he
laughed, and I suspect that he swore an oath or two--he lived among
rough men you know--but if he did, they were swear words of admiration;
he said it was just like her independence and pluck. But he made her
stay in Boisé."

"He knew what was right and what was due both him and her, because now
he was becoming a great man in the Northwest. He rose to power in both
financial and public life, and his daughter must be equal to her
fortune. But he spoiled her, you can see that, and how could he help
it?"

"She was fifteen before we heard that she was alive, and then Mr.
Grayson and her other relatives wanted to take her and care for her, but
Mr. Plummer refused to give her up, and he was right. He had saved her
when he found her a little girl alone in all those vast mountains, and
he was entitled to her. Don't you think so, Mr. Harley?"

"I do," replied Harley, with conviction.

"We yielded to his superior claim, but he sent her more than once to see
us. We loved her from the first, and we love her yet."

Here Mrs. Grayson paused and hesitated over her words, as if in
embarrassment.

"But it is not you and Mr. Grayson alone who love her," suggested
Harley.

"It is not we alone; in Boisé everybody loves her, and at the mines and
on Mr. Plummer's ranches they all love her, too."

"I did not mean just that kind of love."

Mrs. Grayson flushed a little, but she continued:

"You are speaking of Mr. Plummer himself; she was his daughter at first,
and so long as she was a little girl I suppose that he never dreamed of
her in any other light. But when she began to grow into a young woman,
Mr. Harley--and a beautiful one, too, as beautiful as she is good--he
began to look at her in a different way. When these elderly men, who
have been so busy that they have not had time to fall in love, do fall
in love, the fall is sudden and complete. Mr. Plummer was like the
others. And what else could she do? She was too young to have seen much
of the world. There was no young man, none of her own age, who had taken
her heart. Mr. Plummer is a good man, and she owed him everything. Of
course, she accepted him. I ask you, what else could she do?"

There was a defensive note in her voice when she said: "I ask you, what
else could she do?" and Harley replied, with due deliberation:

"Perhaps she could do nothing else, but sometimes, Mrs. Grayson, I have
my doubts whether twenty and fifty can ever go happily together."

"We like Mr. Plummer, and he is a great friend of my husband's."

Harley said nothing, but he, too, liked Mr. Plummer, and he held him in
the highest respect. It required little effort of the imagination to
draw a picture of the brave mountaineer riding from the Indian massacre
with that little girl upon his saddle-bow. And much of his criticism of
Sylvia Morgan herself was disarmed. She was more a child of the
mountains even than his first fancy had made her, and it was not a
wonder that her spirit was often masculine in its strength and boldness.
It was involuntary, but he thought of her with new warmth and
admiration. Incited by this feeling, he soon joined her and the group
that was with her. He had expected to find her sad and comparatively
silent, but he had never seen her in a more lively mood, full of light
talk and jest and a gay good-humor that could not have failed to infect
the most hardened cynic. Certainly he did not escape its influence, nor
did he seek to do so, but as he watched her he thought there was a
slight touch of feverishness to her high spirits, as if she had just
escaped from some great danger.

Before they reached Detroit he talked a while with Mr. Grayson, in the
private drawing-room of the car--Mrs. Grayson had joined the others--and
"King" Plummer was the subject of their talk.

"Is he really such a great political power in the Northwest?" asked
Harley.

"He is. Even greater than popular report makes him. I believe that in a
presidential election he could decide the vote of five or six of those
lightly populated states. He has so many interests, so many strings that
he holds, and he is a man of so much energy and will. You see, I want to
keep "King" Plummer my friend."

"I surely would, if I were in your place," said Harley, with conviction.



VI

ON THE ROAD


The great success of Grayson as an orator was continued at Detroit. A
vast audience hung breathless upon his words, and he played upon its
emotions as he would, now thrilling the people with passion, and then
stirring them to cheers that rolled like thunder. It became apparent
that this hitherto obscure man from the Far West was the strongest
nominee a somewhat disunited party could have named, and Harley, whose
interest at first had been for the campaign itself rather than its
result, began to have a feeling that after all Grayson might be
elected--at least he had a fighting chance, which might be more if it
were not for the shadow of Goodnight, Crayon, and their kind. Part of
these men had gone back, among them the large and important Mr.
Goodnight; but Harley saw the quiet Mr. Crayon still watching from a
high box at Detroit, and he knew that no act or word of the candidate
would escape the scrutiny of this powerful faction within the party.

Ample proof of his conclusion, if it were needed, came the next morning
in a copy of the New York _Monitor_, Churchill's paper, which contained
on its front page a long, double-leaded despatch, under a Milwaukee date
line. It was Hobart who brought it in to Mr. Grayson and his little
party at the breakfast-table.

"Excuse me for interrupting you, Mr. Grayson," he said, flourishing the
paper as if it were a sort of flag; "but here is something that you are
bound to see. It's what might be called a word in your ear, or, at
least, it seems to me to have that sound. I guess that Churchill got a
beat on us all in Milwaukee."

"I wish you would join us, Mr. Hobart, and read the whole article to us,
if you will be so kind," said the candidate, calmly.

Nothing could have pleased Hobart better, and he read with emphasis and
care, resolved that his hearers should not lose a word. Churchill had a
good style, and he possessed a certain skill in innuendo, therefore he
was able throughout the article to make his meaning clear. He stated
that among those surrounding the candidate--he could give names if he
would, but it was not necessary--there was a certain feeling that Mr.
Grayson was not quite--at least not yet--as large as the position for
which he had been nominated. Keen observers had noticed in him a
predisposition to rashness; he had spoken lightly more than once of
great vested interests.

"Uncle James, how could you be so lacking in reverence?" exclaimed
Sylvia Morgan.

Mr. Grayson merely smiled.

"Go on, Mr. Hobart," he said.

"'But some of the ablest minds in the country are closely watching Mr.
Grayson,'" continued the article, "'and where he needs support or
restraint he will receive it. There are certain issues not embodied in
the platform from which he will be steered.'"

"Now, I think that is too much!" exclaimed Mrs. Grayson, the indignant
red rising in her cheeks.

"Their printing it does not make it true, Anna," said the candidate,
mildly.

"As if you did not know enough to run your own campaign!" exclaimed the
indignant wife.

But Jimmy Grayson continued to smile. "We must expect this sort of
thing," he said; "it would be a dull campaign without it. Please go on,
Mr. Hobart."

A number of eminent citizens, the article continued, would make a
temporary sacrifice of their great business interests for the sake of
the campaign and the people, and with their restraining care it was not
likely that Mr. Grayson could go far wrong, as he seemed to be an
amiable man, amenable to advice. Thus it continued at much length, and
Harley, keen and experienced in such matters, knew very well whence
Churchill had drawn his inspiration.

"The editor, also, makes comment upon this warning," said Hobart, who
was undeniably enjoying himself.

"I should think that the despatch was enough," said Mrs. Grayson, whose
indignation was not yet cooled.

"But it isn't, Mrs. Grayson," said Hobart; "at least, the editor of the
_Monitor_ does not think so. Listen.

"'The campaign in behalf of our party has begun in the West, and we have
felt the need of thoroughly reliable news from that quarter, free from
the sensationalism and levity which we are sorry to say so often
disgrace our American newspapers, and make them compare unfavorably with
the graver and statelier columns of the English press.'"

"He is an Englishman himself," said Harley--"American opinion through an
English channel."

Even Jimmy Grayson laughed.

"'At last we have obtained this information,'" continued Hobart,
reading, "'and we are able to present it to-day to those earnest and
sincere people, the cultivated minority who really count, and who
constitute the leaven in the mass of the light and frivolous American
people. A trusted correspondent of ours, judicious, impartial,
absolutely devoid of prejudices, has obtained from high sources with
which common journalistic circles are never in touch----'"

"How the bird befouls its own nest!" said the elderly Tremaine.

"'--information that will throw much light upon a campaign and a
candidate both obscure hitherto. This we present upon another page, and,
as our cultivated readers will readily infer, the candidate, Mr.
Grayson, is not a bad man----'"

"Thanks for that crowning mercy," said Mr. Grayson.

"--but neither is he a great one; in short, he is, at least for the
present, narrow and provincial; moreover, he is of an impulsive
temperament that is likely to lead him into untrodden and dangerous
paths. Our best hope lies in the fact that Mr. Grayson, who has not
shown himself intractable, may be brought to see this, and will rely
upon the advice of those who are fitted to lead rather than upon the
reckless fancies of the Boys who are sure to surround him if he gives
them a chance. In this emergency we are sure that all the best in the
state will rally with us. The eyes of Europe are upon us, and we must
vindicate ourselves.'"

"Uncle James," said Sylvia Morgan, sweetly, "I trust that you will
remember throughout the campaign that the eye of Europe is upon you, and
conduct yourself accordingly. I have noticed that in many of your
speeches you seemed to be unconscious of the fact that Vienna and St.
Petersburg were watching you. Such behavior will never do."

Mr. Grayson smiled once more. He seemed to be less disturbed than any
one else at the table, yet he knew that this was in truth a warning
given by an important wing of the party, and, therefore, he must take
thought of it. A prominent politician of Michigan was present, the guest
of Mr. Grayson, and he did not take the threat as calmly as the
candidate.

"The writer of this despatch is with your party, I suppose," he said to
Mr. Grayson.

"Oh yes; it is Mr. Churchill. He has been with us since the start."

"I would not let him go a mile farther; a man who writes like that--why,
it's a positive insult to you!--should not be allowed on your train."

The Michigan man's face flushed red, and in his anger he brought his
hand down heavily on the table; but Harley did not look at him, his full
attention being reserved for the candidate. Here was a test of his
bigness. Would he prove equal to it?

"I am afraid that would be a mistake," said Jimmy Grayson, amiably, to
the Michigan man, "a mistake in two respects: our Constitution
guarantees the freedom of the press, and the _Monitor_ and its
correspondent have a right to write that way, if they wish to do so; and
if we were to expel Mr. Churchill, it would give them all the greater
ground for complaint. Now, perhaps I am, after all, a narrow and
ignorant person who needs restraint."

He spoke the last sentence in such a whimsical tone and with such a
frank smile that they were all forced to laugh, even the Michigan man.
But Harley felt relief. The candidate had shown no littleness.

"I was sure that you would return such an answer, Uncle James," said
Sylvia Morgan, and the look that she gave him was full of faith. "Now, I
mean to help you by converting Mr. Churchill."

"How will you do that?"

"I shall smile upon him, use my winning ways, and draw him into the
fold."

There was a slight edge to her voice, and Harley was not sure of her
meaning; but he and she were together in the parlor an hour later, when
they met Churchill, and he had a chance to see. Churchill evidently was
not expecting to find them there, but he assumed an important air,
knowing that his despatches had been received and read, and feeling,
therefore, that he was the author of a sensation. He anticipated
hostility; he believed that Mr. Grayson's relatives and friends would
assail him with harsh words, and he had spoken already to one or two
persons of the six months' ordeal that he would have to endure. "But we
must stand such things when they are incurred in the line of duty," he
said, "and I have a way which, perhaps, will teach them to be not so
ready in attacking me." He expected such a foray against him now, and
his manner became haughty in the presence of Sylvia Morgan and Harley.

"We--that is, all of us--have just been reading your despatch in the
_Monitor_," she said, in a most winning tone, "and on behalf of Uncle
James I want to thank you, Mr. Churchill."

Churchill looked surprised but doubtful, and did not abate the stiffness
of his attitude nor the severity of his gaze.

"We do feel grateful to you," she continued, in the same winning tone.
"There was never a man more willing than Uncle James to learn, and,
coming out of the depths of the West, he knows that he needs help. And
how beautifully you write, Mr. Churchill! It was all put so delicately
that no one could possibly take offence."

It was impossible to resist her manner, the honey of her words, and
Churchill, who felt that she was but giving credit where credit was due,
became less stern.

"Do you really like it, Miss Morgan?" he asked, and he permitted himself
a smile.

"Oh yes," she replied, "and I noticed that the _Monitor_ alone contained
an article of this character, all about those big men who are watching
over Uncle James, and will not let him go wrong. That is what you
correspondents call a beat, isn't it?"

Churchill gave Harley a glance of triumph, but he replied, gravely:

"I believe it is what we call a beat, Miss Morgan."

"And you will continue to help us in the same way, won't you, Mr.
Churchill?" she continued. "You know who those great men are; Mr.
Harley, here, I am sure does not, nor does Mr. Blaisdell nor Mr. Hobart;
you alone, as the _Monitor_ says, can come into touch with such
important circles, and you will warn us again and again in the columns
of the _Monitor_ when we are about to get into the wrong path. Oh, it
would be a great service, and I know that Uncle James would appreciate
it! You will be with us throughout the campaign, and you will have the
chance! Now, promise me, Mr. Churchill, that you will do it."

Her manner had become most appealing, and her face was slightly flushed.
It was not the first time that Harley realized how handsome she was, and
how winning she could be. It was his first thought, then, what a woman
this mountain maid would make, and his second that "King" Plummer should
continue to look upon her as his daughter--she was too young to be his
wife.

Nor was Churchill proof against her beauty and her blandishments. He
felt suddenly that for her sake he could overlook some of Mr. Grayson's
faults, or at least seek to amend them. It was not hard to make a
promise to a pair of lovely eyes that craved his help.

"Well, Miss Morgan," he said, graciously, "since it is you who ask it, I
will do my best. You know I am not really hostile to Mr. Grayson. The
_Monitor_ and I are of his party, and we shall certainly support him as
long as he will let us."

"You are so kind!" she said. "You have seen so much of the world, Mr.
Churchill, that you can help us greatly. Uncle James, as I told you, is
always willing to learn, and he will keep a sharp watch on the
_Monitor_."

"The _Monitor_, as I need not tell you," said Churchill, "is the chief
organ in New York of good government, and it is never frivolous or
inconsequential. I had hoped that what I sent from Milwaukee would have
its effect, and I am glad to see, Miss Morgan, that it has."

Churchill now permitted himself a smile longer and more complacent, and
Harley felt a slight touch of pity that any man should be blinded thus
by conceit. And Sylvia did not spare him; by alternate flattery and
appeal she drew him further into the toils, and Harley was surprised at
her skill. She did not seem to him now the girl from Idaho, the child of
the mountains and of massacre, but a woman of variable moods, and all of
them attractive, no whit inferior to her Eastern sisters in the
delicate airs and graces that he was wont to associate with feminine
perfection.

As for Churchill, he yielded completely to her spell, not without some
condescension and a memory of his own superiority, but he felt himself
willing to comply with her request, particularly because it involved no
sacrifice on his own part. He and the _Monitor_ would certainly keep
watch over Mr. Grayson, and he would never hesitate to write the words
of warning when ever he felt that they were needed.

"Why did you treat him that way?" asked Harley, when Churchill had gone.

"What do you mean by 'that way'?" she asked, and her chin took on a
saucy uplift.

"Well, to be plain, why did you make a fool of him?"

"Was my help needed?"

Harley laughed.

"Don't be too hard on Churchill," he said, "he's the creature of
circumstance. Besides, you must not forget that he is going to watch
over Mr. Grayson."

Churchill did not join the general group until shortly before the
departure for the evening speech, and then he approached with an
undeniable air of hostility and defence, expecting to be attacked and
having in readiness the weapons with which he had assured himself that
he could repel them. Miss Morgan, it is true, had received him well, but
she, so he had begun to believe, was a girl of perception and
discrimination, and the fine taste shown by her would not be exhibited
by others. The candidate, surprising him much, received him cordially,
though not effusively, and he was made welcome in similar manner by the
others. There was no allusion whatever to his despatch, but he found
himself included in the general gossip, just as if he were one of a
group of good comrades.

Yet Churchill was not wholly pleased. His great stroke seemed to be
ignored by all except Miss Morgan, when they ought to be stirred deeply
by it, and he felt a sense of diminished importance. There should be
confusion among them, or at least trepidation. He closely studied the
faces of Mr. Grayson and the others to see if they were merely masking
their fire, but no attack came either then or later.

Thus two or three days passed, and the campaign deepened and popular
interest increased. Not since the eve of the Civil War had there been
such complexity and intensity of interests, and never before had the
personal factor been so strong. Out of the vast turmoil quickly emerged
James Grayson as the most picturesque figure that ever appeared upon the
stage of national politics in America. His powerful oratory, his daring,
and his magnetic personality drew the eyes of all, and Harley saw that
wherever he might be there the fight would be thickest. The
correspondent's intuition had been right; he had come from a war on the
other side of the world to enter another and greater campaign, one in
which mind counted for more.

The candidate, in his rising greatness, was even a hero to his own
family; and from none did he draw greater admiration than from his
niece, Sylvia Morgan. A fierce champion of the West, she always bitterly
resented the unconscious patronage of the East, which was really the
natural patronage of age rather than of convinced superiority; and her
uncle's triumph filled her with delight, because, to her mind, it was
the triumph of the West that she loved so well. Inspired with this
feeling, she appealed to Harley about the sixth or seventh day of the
campaign for his opinion on its result, and the correspondent hesitated
over his answer. He found that his feeling towards her in this week had
changed greatly, the elements in her character, which at first seemed to
him masculine and forward, were now much modified and softened; always
the picture of that child in the mountains, alone among her dead, rose
before him, and then followed the picture of the little girl borne away
on his saddle-bow by the brave borderer. He would think of her now with
a singular softness, a real pity for those misty days which she herself
had almost forgotten. Hence he hesitated, because what he deemed to be
the truth would have in it a sting for her. But her clear eyes instantly
read his hesitation.

"You need not be afraid to tell me your real opinion, Mr. Harley," she
said. "If you think the chances are against Uncle James, I should like
you to say so."

"I do think they are against him now, although they may not be so later
on," replied he, equivocating with himself a little. "It is an uphill
fight, and then one can easily deceive one's self; in a nation of eighty
or ninety millions even a minority can surround a candidate with a
multitude of people and a storm of enthusiasm."

"But Uncle James is the greatest campaigner ever nominated for the
Presidency," she said, "and we shall yet win."

Harley said nothing in reply, but he gladly noticed her refusal to be
discouraged, like other people having an admiration for courage and
spirit. In fact, it seemed to him that she had a cheerfulness somewhat
beyond the occasion.

Three days later--they were in Pittsburg then--she received a letter
addressed in a strong, heavy hand, her name being spelled in large
letters. Sylvia Morgan was alone in the hotel parlor when it was brought
to her, and a strange shadow, or rather the shadow of a shadow, came
over her face as she held it uneasily in her fingers and looked at the
Idaho postmark in the corner. She knew the handwriting well, and she
knew that it was a true index to the character of its author--rough,
strong, and large. That handwriting could not lie, neither could he. She
continued to hesitate, with the letter in her hand; it was the first
time that she had ever done so with a letter of his, and she felt that
she was disloyal. She heard a voice in the other parlor--the wide doors
between were open; it was the voice of Harley speaking to her uncle, and
a flush crept into her cheeks. Then she shook herself in a sudden little
whirl of anger, and abruptly opened the letter with a swift, tearing
sound. It was a longer letter than he usually wrote, and he said:


     "MY DEAREST LITTLE SYLVIA--I have been here just two hours, and, I
     tell you, the sight of Idaho is good for the eyes, though it would
     be better if you were here with me, as you soon will be all the
     time, little one."


She paused a moment, looking away, and the shadow of the shadow came
back to her face. Then she murmured: "He is the best man in the world,"
and resolutely went on:


     "The more I see of the other states the better I like Idaho, and I
     like next best those that are most like it. Every peak out here
     nodded a welcome to me as I came in on the train. I've known them
     all for thirty years. I was a little afraid of them at first, they
     were so tall and solemn with their white crests, but we are old
     friends now--I'll have a white crest myself before long, and I'm
     fairly tall now, though perhaps I'll never be solemn. And I drew a
     deep breath and a long breath, the first one in days, the moment I
     crossed the Idaho line. The East sits rather heavy on me [he called
     Chicago the East], and my eyes get tired with so many people
     passing before them. Now, I'm not running down the East, which is
     all right in its own way, but I am glad we have so much mountain
     and unwatered plain out here, because then the people can never get
     so thick that they tread on you; not that they mean to do it, but
     crowds shove just because they can't help it."


Sylvia smiled, and for a moment there was a little moisture in her eyes.
"Good old daddy," she murmured. Somehow, the pet name "daddy" seemed
just to fit him. Then the resolute little frown came over her face again
and she went on.


     "As I said, Idaho is a good state. I like it when I am here, and I
     like it all the better when I come back to it. God's people live in
     these Rocky Mountain states, and that is a reason why I am so
     red-hot to have your uncle James elected. He is one of God's
     people, too, and they have never yet had a man of ours sitting in
     the White House down there at Washington and bossing the job. I
     think maybe he will teach them a new trick or two in running the
     old ship of state. But, Sylvia, I am not thinking so much even of
     him as I am of you. I know that I am a good deal older than you, as
     people count years, but I can truly say that my heart is young, and
     I think that I will be a husky chap for a good long time to come.
     You know I've had you nearly all your life, Sylvia, and we have the
     advantage of knowing each other. You are on to all my curves--that
     is, you don't have to get married to me to learn my failings.

     "I guess I haven't the polish that those Eastern fellows put on, or
     that is put on them, but out here in the mountains I amount to
     somebody--you must let me brag a little, Sylvia--and if a man
     doesn't bow pretty low to Mrs. William Plummer, I'll have to get
     out my old six-shooter--I haven't carried one now for ten
     years--and shoot all the hair off the top of his head."


"He thinks he's joking, but I believe he would do it. Dear old daddy!"
murmured Sylvia.


     "I think you ought to become Mrs. Plummer now, Sylvia, but I guess
     I'm willing to wait until this campaign is over. For one ought to
     be willing to wait, if by waiting he can get such a good thing.
     Still, I hate to think of you away off there in the East, so many
     thousands of miles away from me, where there are no friendly old
     mountains to look down on you and watch over you, and I'm glad that
     my little girl is coming West again soon. I'll try to get down part
     of the way, say to Nebraska or Kansas, to meet you. I feel safer
     when I have you close by; then, if any of those young Eastern
     fellows should try to kidnap you and run away with you, my old
     six-shooter might have a word to say."


The sudden flush rose to her cheeks at this new joke, but she murmured
nothing. The rest of the letter was about people whom they knew in Boisé
and elsewhere in Idaho, and it closed:


     "Don't think I'm growing gushing at my age, Sylvia, but Idaho, fine
     as she is, isn't near complete without you, and this is why I want
     you back in it just as soon as you can come.
                                       Yours, lovingly,
                                              "WILLIAM PLUMMER."


She folded the letter carefully and put it back in the envelope. Then
she sat for a long time, and her look was one of mingled tenderness and
sadness. Her mind, too, ran back into the past, and she had a dim vision
of the little child, who was herself, borne away on his saddle-horn by
the strong mountaineer, who held her safely in the hollow of his arm.
And then the years followed, and she always looked to the mountaineer
for the protection and the love that were never wanting, but it was
always the protection and love of one older and stronger than herself,
one who belonged to the generation preceding her own.

Mr. Grayson, Harley, and the others were gone, and she heard no voices
in the next parlor. She realized with suddenness how strongly and in how
brief a time this little group, travelling through a vast country, had
become welded together by the very circumstances of their travel--the
comradeship of the road--and she sighed. She and Mrs. Grayson were about
to leave them and return to the Grayson home in the West, because women,
no matter how nearly related, could not be taken all the way on an
arduous campaign of six months. She had enjoyed this life, which was
almost the life of a soldier--the crowds, the enthusiasm, the murmur,
then the cheers of thousands of voices, the flight on swift trains from
one city to another, the dash for the station sometimes before daylight,
and all the freshness and keenness of youth about her. She had
affiliated, she had become one of the group, and now that she was to
leave it for a while she had a deep sense of loss.

There was a step beside her, and Mrs. Grayson, the quiet, the tactful,
and the observant, entered.

"Why, Sylvia," she said, "you are sitting in the dark!"

She touched the button, turned on the electric lights, and noticed the
letter lying in the girl's hand. Her glance passed swiftly to Sylvia's
face and as swiftly passed away. She knew instinctively the writer of
the letter, but she said nothing, waiting for Sylvia herself to speak.

"I have a letter from Mr. Plummer," said Sylvia.

"What does he say?"

"Not much besides his arrival at Boisé--just some foolishness of his;
you know how he loves to jest."

"Yes, I have long known that," said Mrs. Grayson, but she noticed that
Sylvia made no offer to show the letter. Hitherto the letters of "King"
Plummer had been read by all the Graysons as a matter of course, just as
one shares interesting news.

"He is a good man, and he will be a good husband," said Mrs. Grayson.
She was for the moment ruthless with a purpose, and when she said the
words, although affecting not to watch, she saw the girl flinch--ever so
little, but still she flinched.

"The best man in the world," repeated Sylvia Morgan, softly.

"And yet there are other good men," said Mrs. Grayson, quietly. "One
good man does not exclude the existence of another."

Sylvia looked up at her, but she failed to take her meaning. Her quiet
aunt sometimes spoke in parables, and waited for events to disclose her
meaning.

Mrs. Grayson and Miss Morgan were to leave for the West the next
afternoon, and shortly before their departure Harley came to tell them a
temporary good-bye. Sylvia and he chanced to be alone for a little
while, and she genuinely lamented her departure--they had become franker
friends in these later days.

"I do not see why women cannot go through a political campaign from
beginning to end," she said; "I'm sure we can help Uncle James, and
there will be, too, so many interesting things to see. It will be like a
war without the wounds and death. I don't want to miss any of it."

"I half agree with you," said Harley, smiling, "and I know that it would
be a great deal nicer for the rest of us if you and Mrs. Grayson could
go along."

He paused, and he had a sudden bold thought.

"If anything specially interesting happens that the newspapers don't
tell about, will you let me write you an account of it?" he asked. "I
should really like to tell you."

She flushed ever so little, but she was of the free-and-open West, and
Harley always gave her the impression of courteous strength--he would
take no liberties.

"You can write," she said, briefly, and then she immediately regretted
her decision. It was the thought of "King" Plummer that made her regret
it, but she had too much pride to change it now.

Harley was at the train with Mr. Grayson when she and Mrs. Grayson left,
and Sylvia found that he had seen to everything connected with their
journey. Without making any noise, and without appearing to work much,
he accomplished a good deal. She had an impulse once to thank him, but
she restrained it, and she gave him a good-bye that was neither cool nor
warm, just sufficiently conventional to leave no inference whatever. But
when the train was gone and Mr. Grayson and he were riding back in the
cab to the hotel, the candidate spoke of her.

"She's a good girl, Harley," he said--he and Harley had grown to be such
friends that he now dropped the "Mr." when he spoke directly to the
correspondent. "She's real, as true as steel."

He spoke with emphasis, but Harley said nothing.

The group seemed to lose much of its vividness, color, and variety when
the women departed, but they settled down to work, the most intense and
exacting that Harley had ever known. All the great qualities of the
candidate came out; he seemed to be made of iron, and on the stump he
was without an equal; if any one in the audience was ready with a
troublesome question, he was equally ready with an apt reply; nor could
they disturb his good humor; and his smiling irony!--the rash fool who
sought to deride him always found the laugh turned upon himself.

Throughout the East the party was stirred to mighty enthusiasm, and
their antagonists, who had thought the election a foregone conclusion,
were roused from their security. Again the combat deepened and entered
upon a yet hotter phase. Meanwhile Mr. Goodnight, Mr. Crayon, and their
powerful faction within the party, kept quiet for the time. Mr. Grayson
was not yet treading on their toes, but he knew, and his friends knew,
that they were watching every motion of his with a hundred eyes.
Churchill's _Monitor_ was constantly coming, laden with suggestion,
advice, and warning, and Churchill himself alternately wore a look of
importance and disappointment. No one ever made the slightest reference
to his wise despatches. He had expected to be insulted, to be
persecuted, to be a martyr for duty's sake, and, lo! he was treated
always with courtesy, but his great work was ignored; he felt that they
must see it, but then they might be too dull to notice its edge and
weight. He now drew a certain consolation from his silent suffering, and
strengthened himself anew for the task which he felt required a delicate
and thoughtful mind.

Harley wrote several times to Sylvia Morgan, both at Boisé and at her
aunt's home--long, careful letters, in which he strove to confine
himself to the purely narrative form, and to make these epistles
interesting as documents. He spoke of many odd personal details by the
way, and even at the distance of two thousand miles he continued to
touch the campaign with the breath of life, although told at
second-hand.

The replies came in due time, brief, impersonal, thanking him for his
trouble, and giving a little news of Mrs. Grayson, "King" Plummer, and
herself. Harley was surprised to see with what terseness, strength, and
elegance she expressed herself. "Perhaps there is a force in those
mountains which unconsciously teaches simplicity and power," he found
himself thinking. He was surprised, too, one day, when he was packing
his valise for a hurried start, to see all her letters reposing neatly
in one corner of the aforesaid valise. "Now, why have I done that?" he
asked; "why have I saved those letters? They take up valuable space; I
will destroy them." But when he closed the valise the undamaged letters
were still neatly reposing in their allotted corner.

Now the campaign in the East came to its end, and their special train
swung westward into the states supposed to be most doubtful--first
across the Mississippi, and then across the Missouri. The campaign
entered upon a new phase amid new conditions--in a new world, in
fact--and it required no intuition for Harley to feel that strange
events were approaching.



VII

HIS GREATEST SPEECH


It was the candidate's eighth speech that day, but Harley, who was in
analytical mood, could see no decrease either in his energy or
spontaneity of thought and expression. The words still came with the old
dash and the old power, and the audience always hung upon them, the
applause invariably rising like the rattle of rifle-fire. They had
started at daylight, hurrying across the monotonous Western plains, in a
dusty and uncomfortable car, stopping for a half-hour speech here, then
racing for another at a second little village, and then a third race and
a third speech, and so on. Nor was this the first day of such labors; it
had been so week after week, and always it lasted through the day and
far into the darkness, sometimes after midnight. But there was no sign
to tell of it on the face of the candidate, save a slight redness around
the edge of the eyelids, and a little hoarseness between the speeches
when he talked to his friends in an ordinary tone.

The village in which Grayson was speaking was a tiny place of twelve or
fifteen houses, all square, unadorned, and ugly, standing in the centre
of an illimitable prairie that rolled away on either side exactly like
the waves of the sea, and with the same monotony. It was a
weather-beaten gathering. The prairie winds are not good for the
complexion, and the cheeks of these people were brown, not red. On the
outskirts of the crowd, still sitting on their ponies, were cowboys, who
had ridden sixty miles across the Wyoming border to hear Grayson speak.
They were dressed exactly like the cowboys of the pictures that Harley
had seen in magazine stories of the Western plains. They wore the
sombreros and leggings and leather belts, but there was no disorder, no
cursing, no shouting nor yelling. This was a phase that had passed.

They listened, too, with an eagerness that few Eastern audiences could
show. This was not to them an entertainment or anything savoring of the
spectacular; it was the next thing to the word of God. There was a
reverence in their manner and bearing that appealed to Harley, and he
read easily in their minds the belief that Jimmy Grayson was the
greatest man in the world, and that he alone could bring to their
country the greatness that they wished as much for the country as for
themselves. Churchill sneered at this tone of the gathering, but Harley
took another view. These men might be ignorant of the world, but he
respected their hero-worship, and thought it a good quality in them.

They heard the candidate tell of mighty corporations, of a vague and
distant place called Wall Street, where fat men, with soft, white
fingers and pouches under their eyes, sat in red-carpeted offices and
pulled little but very strong strings that made farmers on the Western
plains, two thousand miles away, dance like jumping-jacks, just as the
fat men wished, and just when they wished. These fat men were allied
with others in Europe, pouchy-eyed and smooth-fingered like themselves,
and it was their object to own all the money-bags of the world, and
gather all the profits of the world's labor. Harley, watching these
people, saw a spark appear in their eyes many times, but it was always
brightest at the mention of Wall Street. That both speaker and those to
whom his words were spoken were thoroughly sincere, he did not doubt for
a moment.

Grayson ceased, the engine blew the starting signal, the candidate and
the correspondent swung aboard, and off they went. Harley looked back,
and as long as he could see the station the little crowd on the lone
prairie was still watching the disappearing train. There was something
pathetic in the sight of these people following with their eyes until
the last moment the man whom they considered their particular champion.

It was but an ordinary train of day cars, the red plush of the seats now
whitened by the prairie dust, and it was used in common by the
candidate, the flock of correspondents, and a dozen politicians, the
last chiefly committeemen or their friends, one being the governor of
the state through which they were then travelling.

Harley sought sleep as early as possible that night, because he would
need all his strength for the next day, which was to be a
record-breaker. A tremendous programme had been mapped out for Jimmy
Grayson, and Harley, although aware of the candidate's great endurance,
wondered how he would ever stand it. They were to cut the state from
southeast to northwest, a distance of more than four hundred miles, and
twenty-four speeches were to be made by the way. Fresh from war, Harley
did not remember any more arduous journey, and, like an old campaigner,
he prepared for it as best he could.

It was not yet daylight when they were awakened for the start of the
great day. A cold wind moaned around the hamlet as they ate their
breakfast, and then hastened, valise in hand, and still half asleep, to
the train, which stood steam up and ready to be off. They found several
men already on board, and Churchill, when he saw them, uttered the brief
word, "Natives!" They were typical men of the plains, thin, dry, and
weather-beaten, and the correspondents at first paid but little
attention to them. It was common enough for some local committeeman to
take along a number of friends for a half-day or so, in order that they
might have a chance to gratify their curiosity and show their admiration
for the candidate.

But the attention of Harley was attracted presently by one of the
strangers, a smallish man of middle age, with a weak jaw and a look
curiously compounded of eagerness and depression.

The stranger's eye met Harley's, and, encouraged by his friendly look,
he crossed the aisle and spoke to the correspondent.

"You are one of them newspaper fellers that travels with Grayson, ain't
you?" he asked.

Harley admitted the charge.

"And you see him every day?" continued the little man, admiringly.

"Many times a day."

"My! My! Jest to think of your comin' away out here to take down what
our Jimmy Grayson says, so them fellers in New York can read it! I'll
bet he makes Wall Street shake. I wish I was like you, mister, and could
be right alongside Jimmy Grayson every day for weeks and weeks, and
could hear every word he said while he was poundin' them fellers in Wall
Street who are ruinin' our country. He is the greatest man in the
world. Do you reckon I could get to speak to him and jest tech his
hand?"

"Why, certainly," replied Harley. He was moved by the little man's
childlike and absolute faith and his reverence for Jimmy Grayson as a
demigod. It was not without pathos, and Harley at once took him into the
next car and introduced him to Grayson, who received him with the
natural cordiality that never deserted him. Plover, the little man said
was his name--William Plover, of Kalapoosa, Choctaw County. He regarded
Grayson with awe, and, after the hand-shake, did not speak. Indeed, he
seemed to wish no more, and made himself still smaller in a corner,
where he listened attentively to everything that Grayson said.

He also stood in the front row at each stopping-place, his eyes fixed on
Grayson's face while the latter made his speech. The candidate,
by-and-by, began to notice him there. It is often a habit with those who
have to speak much in public to fix the eye on some especially
interested auditor and talk to him directly. It assists in a sort of
concentration, and gives the orator a willing target.

Grayson now spoke straight to Plover, and Harley watched how the little
man's emotions, as shown in his face, reflected in every part the
orator's address. There was actual fire in his eyes, whenever Grayson
mentioned that ogre, Wall Street, and tears rose when the speaker
depicted the bad condition of the Western farmer.

"Wouldn't I like to go on to Washington with Jimmy Grayson when he takes
charge of the government!" exclaimed Plover to Harley when this speech
was finished--"not to take a hand myself, but jest to see him make
things hum! Won't he make them fat fellers in Wall Street squeal! He'll
have the Robber Barons squirmin' on the griddle pretty quick, an'
wheat'll go straight to a dollar a bushel, sure! I can see it now!"

His exultation and delight lasted all the morning; but in the afternoon
the depressed, crushed feeling which Harley had noticed at first in his
look seemed to get control.

Although his interest in Grayson's speeches and his devout admiration
did not decrease, Plover's melancholy grew, and Harley by-and-by learned
the cause of it from another man, somewhat similar in aspect, but larger
of figure and stronger of face.

"To tell you the truth, mister," said the man, with the easy freedom of
the West, "Billy Plover--and my cousin he is, twice removed--my name's
Sandidge--is runnin' away."

"Running away?" exclaimed Harley, in surprise. "Where's he running to,
and what's he running from?"

"Where he's runnin' to, I don't know--California, or Washington, or
Oregon, I guess. But I know mighty well what he's runnin' away from;
it's his wife."

"Ah, a family trouble?" said Harley, whose delicacy would have caused
him to refrain from asking more. But the garrulous cousin rambled on.

"It's a trouble, and it ain't a trouble," he continued. "It's the
weather and the crops, or maybe because Billy 'ain't had no weather nor
no crops, either. You see, he's lived for the last ten years on a
quarter-section out near Kalapoosa, with his wife, Susan, a good woman
and a terrible hard worker, but the rain's been mighty light for three
seasons, and Billy's wheat has failed every time. It's kinder got on
his temper, and, as they 'ain't got any children to take care of, Billy
he's been takin' to politics. Got an idea that he can speak, though he
can't, worth shucks, and thinks he's got a mission to whack Wall Street,
though I ain't sure but what Wall Street don't deserve it. Susan says he
ain't got any business in politics, that he ought to leave that to
better men, an' stay an' wrastle with the ground and the weather. So
that made them take to spattin'."

"And the upshot?"

"Waal, the upshot was that Billy said he could stand it no longer. So
last night he raked up half the spare cash, leavin' the rest and the
farm and stock to Susan, an' he loped out. But first he said he had to
hear Jimmy Grayson, who is mighty nigh a whole team of prophets to him,
and, as Jimmy's goin' west, right on his way, he's come along. But
to-night, at Jimmy's last stoppin'-place, he leaves us and takes a train
straight to the coast. I'm sorry, because if Susan had time to see him
and talk it over--you see, she's the man of the two--the whole thing
would blow over, and they'd be back on the farm, workin' hard, and with
good times ahead."

Harley was moved by this pathetic little tragedy of the plains, the
result of loneliness and hard times preying upon the tempers of two
people. "Poor devil!" he thought. "It's as his cousin says; if Susan
could only be face to face with him for five minutes, he'd drop his
foolish idea of running away and go home."

Then of that thought was born unto him a great idea, and he immediately
hunted up the cousin again.

"Is Kalapoosa a station on the telegraph line?" he asked.

"Oh yes."

"Would a telegram to that point be delivered to the Plover farm?"

"Yes. Why, what's up?"

"Nothing; I just wanted to know. Now, can you tell me what time
to-night, after our arrival, a man may take a train for the coast from
Weeping Water, our last stop?"

"We're due at Weepin' Water," replied the cousin, "at eleven to-night,
but I cal'late it'll be nigher twelve when we strike the town. You see,
this is a special train, runnin' on any old time, an' it's liable now
and then to get laid out a half an hour or more. But, anyhow, we ought
to beat the Denver Express, which is due at twelve-thirty in the
mornin', an' stops ten minutes at the water-tank. It connects at Denver
with the 'Frisco Express, an' I guess it's the train that Billy will
take."

"Does the Denver Express stop at Kalapoosa?"

"Yes. Kalapoosa ain't nothin' but a little bit of a place, but the
Pawnee branch line comes in there, and the express gets some passengers
off it. Say, mister, what's up?"

But Harley evaded a direct answer, having now all the information he
wished. He went back to the next car and wrote this despatch:


                                                        "KALAPOOSA.
     "SUSAN PLOVER,--Take to-day's Denver Express and get off to-night
     at Weeping Water. You will find me at Grayson's speaking, standing
     just in front of him. Don't fail to come. Will explain everything
     to you then.
                                                   "WILLIAM PLOVER."


Harley looked at this message with satisfaction. "I guess I'm a forger,"
he mused; "but as the essence of wrong lies in the intention, I'm doing
no harm."

He stopped at the next station, prepaid the message, and, standing by,
saw with his own eyes the operator send it. Then he returned to the
train and resumed his work with fresh zest.

And he had plenty to do. He had seen Jimmy Grayson make great displays
of energy, but his vitality on this terrible day was amazing. On and on
they went, right into the red eye of the sun. The hot rays poured down,
and the dust whirled over the plain, entering the car in clouds, where
it clothed everything--floors, seats, and men alike--until they were a
uniform whitey-brown. It crept, too, into Harley's throat and stung his
eyelids, but at each new speech the candidate seemed to rise fresher and
stronger than ever, and at every good point he made the volleys of
applause rose like rifle-shots.

Harley, at the close of a speech late in the day, sought his new friend,
Plover. The little man was crushed down in a seat, looking very gloomy.
Harley knew that he was thinking of Kalapoosa, the spell of Grayson's
eloquence being gone for the moment.

"Tired, Mr. Plover?" said Harley, putting a friendly hand on his
shoulder.

"A little bit," replied Plover.

"But it's a great day," continued Harley. "I tell you, old man, it's one
to be remembered. There never was such a campaign. The story of this
ride will be in all the papers of the United States to-morrow."

"Ain't he great! Ain't he great!" exclaimed Plover, brightening into
enthusiasm. "And don't he hit Wall Street some awful whacks?"

"He certainly is great," replied Harley. "But you wait until we get to
Weeping Water. That's the last stop, and he'll just turn himself loose
there. You mustn't miss a word."

"I won't," replied Plover. "I'll have time, because the Denver Express,
on which I'm going to 'Frisco, don't leave there till twelve-forty. No,
I won't miss the big speech at Weeping Water."

They reached Weeping Water at last, although it was full midnight, and
they were far behind time, and together they walked to the speaker's
stand.

Harley saw Plover in his accustomed place in the front rank, just under
the light of the torches, where he would meet the speaker's eye, his
face rapt and worshipful. Then he looked at his watch.

"Twelve-fifteen," he said to himself. "The Denver Express will be here
in another fifteen minutes, and Susan will fall on the neck of her
Billy."

Then he stopped to listen to Grayson. Never had Harley seen him more
earnest, more forcible. He knew that the candidate must be sinking from
physical weakness--his pale, drawn face showed that--but his spirit
flamed up for this last speech, and the crowd was wholly under the spell
of his powerful appeal.

Harley met, presently, the cousin, Sandidge.

"This is Grayson's greatest speech of the day," Harley said, "and how it
must please Mr. Plover!"

"That's so," replied Sandidge; "but Billy's all broke up over it."

"Why, what's the matter?" asked Harley, in sudden alarm.

"The Denver Express is nearly two hours and a half late--won't be here
until three, and at Denver it'll miss the 'Frisco Express; won't be
another for a day. So Billy, who's in a hurry to get to the coast--the
old Nick's got into him, I reckon--is goin' by the express on the B. P.;
the train on the branch line that goes out there at two-ten connects
with it, and so does the accommodation freight at two-forty. It's hard
on Billy--he hates to miss any of Jimmy Grayson's speeches, but he's
bound to go."

Harley was touched by real sorrow. He drew his pencil-pad from his
pocket, hastily wrote a few lines upon it, pushed his way to the stage,
and thrust what he had written into Mr. Grayson's hands. The speaker,
stopping to take a drink of water, read this note:


     "DEAR MR. GRAYSON,--The Denver Express is two hours and a half
     late. For God's sake speak until it comes; you will hear it at
     three, when it pulls into the station. It is a matter of life and
     death, and while you are speaking don't take your eye off the
     little man with the whiskers, who has been with us all day, and who
     always stands in front and looks up at you. I'll explain everything
     later, but please do it. Again I say it's a matter of life and
     death.
                                                     "JOHN HARLEY."


Grayson looked in surprise at Harley, but he caught the appealing look
on the face of the correspondent. He liked Harley, and he knew that he
could trust him. He knew, moreover, that what Harley had written in the
note must be true.

Grayson did not hesitate, and, nodding slightly to Harley, turned and
faced the crowd, like a soldier prepared for his last and desperate
charge. His eyes sought those of the little man, his target, looking up
at him. Then he fixed Plover with his gaze and began.

They still tell in the West of Jimmy Grayson's speech at Weeping Water,
as the veterans tell of Pickett's rush in the flame and the smoke up
Cemetery Hill. He had gone on the stage a half-dead man. He had already
been speaking nineteen hours that day. His eyes were red and swollen
with train dust, prairie dust, and lack of sleep. Every bone in him
ached. Every word stung his throat as it came, and his tongue was like a
hot ember in his mouth. Deep lines ran away from his eyes.

But Jimmy Grayson was inspired that night on the black prairie. The
words leaped in livid flame from his lips. Never was his speech more
free and bold, and always his burning eyes looked into those of Plover
and held him.

Closer and closer pressed the crowd. The darkness still rolled up,
thicker and blacker than ever. Grayson's shoulders sank away, and only
his face was visible now. The wind rose again, and whistled around the
little town and shrieked far out on the lonely prairie. But above it
rose the voice of Grayson, mellow, inspiring, and flowing full and free.

Harley looked and listened, and his admiration grew and grew. "I don't
agree with all he says," he thought, "but, my God! how well he says it."

Then he cowered in the lee of a little building, that he might shelter
himself from the bitter wind that was searching him to the marrow.

Time passed. The speaker never faltered. A half-hour, an hour, and his
voice was still full and mellow, nor had a soul left the crowd. Grayson
himself seemed to feel a new access of strength from some hidden source,
and his form expanded as he denounced the Trusts and the Robber Barons,
and all the other iniquities that he felt it his duty to impale, but he
never took his eyes from Plover; to him he was now talking with a force
and directness that he had not equalled before. Time went on, and, as if
half remembering some resolution, Plover's hand stole towards the
little old silver watch that he carried in the left-hand pocket of his
waistcoat. But just at that critical moment Grayson uttered the magical
name, Wall Street, and Plover's hand fell back to his side with a jerk.
Then Grayson rose to his best, and tore Wall Street to tatters.

A whistle sounded, a bell rang, and a train began to rumble, but no one
took note of it save Harley. The two-ten on the branch line to connect
with the 'Frisco Express on the B. P. was moving out, and he breathed a
great sigh of relief. "One gone," he said to himself; "now for the
accommodation freight."

The speech continued, but presently Grayson stopped for a hasty drink of
water. Harley trembled. He was afraid that Grayson was breaking down,
and his fears increased when he saw Plover's eyes leave the speaker's
face and wander towards the station. But just at that moment the
candidate caught the little man.

"Listen to me!" thundered Grayson, "and let no true citizen here fail to
heed what I am about to tell him."

Plover could not resist the voice and those words of command. His
thoughts, wandering towards the railroad station, were seized and
brought back by the speaker. His eyes were fixed and held by Grayson,
and he stood there as if chained to the spot.

Time became strangely slow. The accommodation freight must be more than
ten minutes late, Harley thought. He looked at his watch, and found that
it was not due to leave for five minutes yet. So he settled himself to
patient waiting, and listened to Grayson as he passed from one national
topic to another. He saw, too, that the lines in the speaker's face were
growing deeper and deeper, and he knew that he must be using his last
ounces of strength. His soul was stirred with pity. Yet Grayson never
faltered.

The whistle blew, the bell rang, and again the train rumbled. The
two-forty accommodation freight on the branch line to connect with the
'Frisco Express on the B. P. was moving out, and Plover had been held.
He could not go now, and once more Harley breathed that deep sigh of
relief. Twenty minutes passed, and he heard far off in the east a faint
rumble. He knew it was the Denver Express, and, in spite of his
resolution, he began to grow nervous. Suppose the woman should not come?

The rumble grew to a roar, and the train pulled into the station.
Grayson was faithful to the last, and still thundered forth the
invective that delighted the soul of Plover. The train whistled and
moved off again, and Harley waited in breathless anxiety.

A tall form rose out of the darkness, and a woman, middle-aged and
honest of face, appeared. The correspondent knew that it must be Susan.
It could be nobody else. She was looking around as if she sought some
one. Harley's eye caught Grayson's, and it gave the signal.

"And now, gentlemen," said the candidate, "I am done. I thank you for
your attention, and I hope you will think well of what I have said."

So saying, he left the stage, and the crowd dispersed. But Harley
waited, and he saw Plover and his wife meet. He saw, too, the look of
surprise and then joy on the man's face, and he saw them throw their
arms around each other's neck and kiss in the dark. They were only a
poor, prosaic, and middle-aged couple, but he knew they were now happy
and that all was right between them.

When Grayson went to his room, he fell from exhaustion in a half-faint
across the bed; but when Harley told him the next afternoon the cause of
it all, he laughed and said it was well worth the price.

They obtained, about a week later, the New York papers containing an
account of the record-breaking day. When Harley opened the _Monitor_,
Churchill's paper, he read these head-lines:


                             GRAYSON'S GAB

                HE IS TALKING THE FARMERS OF THE WEST TO
                                 DEATH

                  TWENTY-FOUR SPEECHES IN TWENTY-FOUR
                                 HOURS

                HE TALKS FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS IN ONE DAY,
                           AND SAYS NOTHING


But when he looked at the _Gazette_, he saw the following head-lines
over his own account:


                           HIS GREATEST SPEECH

                GRAYSON'S WONDERFUL EXHIBITION OF PLUCK
                              AND ENDURANCE

                AFTER RIDING FOUR HUNDRED MILES AND MAKING
                     TWENTY-THREE SPEECHES HE HOLDS
                       AN AUDIENCE SPELLBOUND FOR
                           THREE HOURS AT HIS
                             TWENTY-FOURTH

                SPEAKS FROM MIDNIGHT UNTIL THREE IN THE
                   MORNING IN THE OPEN AIR AND NOT A
                    SOUL LEAVES, THOUGH A BLIZZARD
                              WAS RAGING


Harley sighed with satisfaction.

"That managing editor of mine knows his business," he said to himself.



VIII

SYLVIA'S RETURN


Harley slept late the next day, and it was the heavy, somewhat nervous
slumber of utter exhaustion, like that which he had more than once
experienced in the war on the other side of the world, after days of
incessant marching. When he awoke, it was afternoon on the special
train, and as he joined the group he was greeted with a suppressed
cheer.

"I understand that you stayed the whole thing through last night, or
rather this morning," said Churchill, in a sneering tone. "There's
devotion for you, boys!"

"I was amply repaid," replied Harley, calmly. "His last speech was the
most interesting; in fact, I think it was the greatest speech that I
ever heard him make."

"I fear that Jimmy Grayson is overdoing it," said the elderly Tremaine,
soberly. "A Presidential nominee is not exactly master of himself, and I
doubt whether he should have risked his voice, and perhaps the success
of his party, speaking in that cold wind until three or four o'clock
this morning."

"He just loves to hear the sound of his own voice," said Churchill, his
ugly sneer becoming uglier. "I think it undignified and absurd on the
part of a man who is in the position that he is in."

Harley was silent, and he was glad now that he had said nothing in his
despatch about the real reason for Grayson's long speaking. He had had
at first a little struggle over it with his professional conscience,
feeling that his duty required him to tell, but a little reflection
decided him to the contrary. He had managed the affair, it was not a
spontaneous occurrence, and, therefore, it was the private business of
himself and Mr. James Grayson. It gave him great relief to be convinced
thus, as he knew that otherwise the candidate would be severely
criticised for it both by the opposition press and by a considerable
number of his own party journals.

But there was one person to whom Harley related the whole story. It was
told in a letter to Sylvia Morgan, who was then at the home of the
candidate with Mrs. Grayson. After describing all the details minutely,
he gave his opinion: he held that it was right for a man, even in
critical moments weighted with the fate of the many, to halt to do a
good action which could affect only one or two. A great general at the
height of a battle, seeing a wounded soldier helpless on the ground,
might take the time to order relief for him without at all impairing the
fate of the combat; to do otherwise would be a complete sacrifice of the
individual for the sake of a mighty machine which would banish all
humanity from life. He noticed that even Napoleon, in the midst of what
might be called the most strenuous career the world has known, turned
aside to do little acts of kindness.

He was glad to find, when her reply came a few days later, that she
agreed with him at least in the main part of his argument; but she
called his attention to the fact that it was not Mr. Grayson, but Harley
himself, who had injected this strange element into the combat when it
was at its zenith; her uncle James had merely responded to a strong and
moving appeal, which he would always do, because she knew the softness
of his heart; yet she was not willing for him to go too far. A general
might be able to turn aside for a moment at the height of the battle,
and then he might not. She wished her uncle James to be judicious in his
generosity, and not make any sacrifice which might prove too costly
alike to himself and to others.

"She is a compound of romance and strong common-sense," thought Harley,
musing over the letter. "She wants the romance without paying the price.
Now I wonder if that is not rather more the characteristic of women than
of men."

On the day following the receipt of this letter, a look of joy came over
the face of the candidate and there was a visible exhilaration
throughout his party. Men, worn, exhausted, and covered with the dust of
the great plains, began to freshen up themselves as much as they could;
there was a great brushing of soiled clothing, a hauling out of clean
collars, a sharpening of razors, and a general inquiry, "How do I look?"
The whole atmosphere of the train was changed, and it became much
brighter and livelier. It was the candidate himself who wrought the
transformation, after reading a letter, with the brief statement, "Mrs.
Grayson and Sylvia will join us to-morrow."

All had begun to pine for feminine society, as soldiers, long on the
march, desire the sight of women and the sound of their voices. It is
true that they saw women often, and many of them--some who were
beautiful and some who were not--as they sped through the West, but it
was always a flitting and blurred glimpse. "I haven't got an impression
of the features of a single one of them," complained the elderly beau,
Tremaine. Now two women whom they knew well and liked would be with them
for days, and they rejoiced accordingly.

It was at a little junction station in eastern Colorado, in the clear
blue-and-silver of a fine morning, that Mrs. Grayson and Sylvia met
them. Mr. Grayson and his party had been down about fifty miles on a
branch line for a speech at a town of importance, and they had begun the
return journey before daylight in order to make the connection. But when
the gray dawn came through the dusty car-windows, it was odd to see how
neat and careful all appeared, even under such difficult circumstances.

Harley was surprised to realize the eagerness with which he looked
forward to the meeting, and put it down to the long lack of feminine
society. But he wondered if Sylvia had changed, if the nearer approach
of her marriage with "King" Plummer would make her reserved and with her
outlook on the future--that is, as one apart.

He had a favorable seat in the car and he was the first to see them. The
junction was a tiny place of not more than a half-dozen houses standing
in the midst of a great plain, and it made a perfect silhouette against
the gorgeous morning sunlight. Harley saw two slender figures outlined
there in front of the station building, and, despite the distance, he
knew them. There was to him something typically American and typically
Western in these two women coming alone into that vast emptiness and
waiting there in the utmost calmness, knowing that they were as safe as
if they were in the heart of a great city, and perhaps safer.

He knew, too, which was Sylvia; her manner, her bearing, the poise of
her figure, had become familiar to him. Slender and upright, she was in
harmony with the majesty of these great and silent spaces, but she did
not now seem bold and forward to him; she was clothed in a different
atmosphere altogether.

There was a warm greeting for Mr. Grayson and the hand of fellowship for
the others. Harley held Sylvia's fingers in his for a moment--just a
moment--and said, with some emphasis:

"Our little party has not been the same without you, Miss Morgan."

"I'm glad to hear you say it," she replied, frankly, "and I'm glad to be
back with all of you. It's a campaign that I enjoy."

"It can be said for it that it is never monotonous."

"That's one reason why I like it."

She laughed a little, making no attempt to conceal her pleasure at this
renewed touch with fresh, young life, and, because it was so obvious,
Harley laughed also and shared her pleasure. He noticed, too, the new
charm that she had in addition to the old, a softening of manner, a
slight appeal that she made, without detracting in any wise from the
impression of strength and self-reliance that she gave.

"Where did you leave 'King' Plummer?" he asked, unguardedly.

"In Idaho," she replied, with sudden gravity. "He is well, and I believe
that he is happy. He is umpiring a great quarrel between the cattlemen
and the sheepmen, or, rather, he is compelling both to listen to him and
to agree to a compromise that he has suggested. So he is really enjoying
himself. You do not know the delight that he takes in the handling of
large and rather rough affairs."

"I can readily guess it; he seems to have been made for them."

But she said no more of "King" Plummer, quickly turning the talk to the
campaign, and showing at once that she had followed every phase of it
with the closest and most anxious attention. Mrs. Grayson had walked on
a little and was talking to her husband, but she glanced back and saw
what she had expected. She and her husband turned presently in their
walk, and she said, looking significantly at Harley and Miss Morgan:

"It is a great pleasure to Sylvia to be with your party again."

There was such a curious inflection to her voice that the candidate
exclaimed, "Why, what do you mean, Anna?" and she merely replied, "Oh,
nothing!" which meant everything. The candidate, understanding, looked
more attentively, and his eyes contracted a little, as if he were not
wholly pleased at what he saw.

"It's a free world," he said, "but I am glad that 'King' Plummer will be
with us again in a few days."

But his wife, able to see further than he, merely looked thoughtful and
did not reply.

Harley's solitary talk with Miss Morgan was brief; it could not be
anything else under the circumstances; Hobart, with all sail set, bore
down upon them.

"Come! Come, Harley!" he cried, with the perfect frankness that usually
distinguished him, "we don't permit any selfish monopolists here. We are
all cast away on a desert island, so to speak, and there are a lot of us
men and only two women, one of whom is mortgaged!"

Then he was welcoming Miss Morgan in florid style; and there, too, was
the ancient beau, Tremaine, displaying all his little arts of elegance
and despising Hobart's obvious methods; and Blaisdell, and all the
others, forming a court about her and giving her an attention which
could not fail to please her and bring a deeper red to her cheeks and a
brighter flash to her eyes. It seemed to Mrs. Grayson, looking on, that
the girl had been hungry for something which she had now found, and in
finding which she was happy, and, despite her sense of loyalty, she felt
a glow of sympathy.

But the sense of duty in Mrs. Grayson was strong, and while she
hesitated much and sought for mental excuses to avoid it, she wrote a
long letter to "King" Plummer that evening in the waiting-room of a
little wayside hotel. In many things that she said she was beautifully
vague; but she told him how glad she was that he would join them so
soon; she spoke of the quarrel between the cattlemen and the sheepmen as
a closed affair, and complimented him on his skill in bringing it to an
end so quickly; it was all the better because now he could come to them
at once, and she boldly said how much Sylvia was missing him. But when
she sealed and addressed the letter she reflected awhile before dropping
it in the box on the wall.

"Now, ought I to do this?" she asked herself. "Have I the right to
hasten or to divert the course of affairs?"

She decided that she had the right, and mailed the letter.

"King" Plummer came a few days later--he said that he "just blew in a
few days ahead of time"--and received a hearty welcome from everybody,
which he returned in double measure in his broad, spontaneous way. He
placed a sounding kiss upon the somewhat flushed brow of Sylvia Morgan,
and exclaimed, "Well, my little girl, aren't you glad to see me ahead of
time?" She replied quickly, though not loudly, that she was, and then he
announced that he would stay with them for a long while. "These are my
mountains," he said, "and I'll have to show you the way through them."

"King" Plummer, although inclined to be masterful, was admitted at once
into the full membership of the party, and he entered upon what he
called his first long vacation. He showed the keenest enjoyment in the
speeches, the crowds, the enthusiasm, the travelling, and the
quick-shifting scenes. He was a boy with the boys, but the watchful Mrs.
Grayson noticed a shade of difference between Sylvia with the "King"
present and Sylvia with the "King" absent. With him present there was a
little restraint, a slight effort on her part to watch herself; but with
him away there was great spontaneity and freedom, especially with the
younger members like Harley and Hobart, and even Churchill, who
reluctantly admitted that Miss Morgan was a fine girl, "though rather
Western, you know."

Mrs. Grayson began to take thought with herself again, and the thought
was taken with great seriousness. Had she been right in bringing "King"
Plummer on so soon, although he did not even know that he was brought?
She resolutely asked herself, too, how much of her action had been due
to the knowledge that the "King" was a very important man to her
husband, controlling, as he probably could, the vote of several mountain
states. This question, which she could not answer, troubled her, and so
did the conduct of Sylvia, who, usually so frank and straightforward,
seemed to be suffering from a strange attack of perverseness. For years
she had obeyed "King" Plummer as her protector and as the one who had
rightful control, but now she began to give him orders and to criticise
many things that he did, to the unlimited astonishment of the "King,"
who had never expected anything of the kind.

"What is the matter with Sylvia? I never knew her to act in such a way
before," he said to Mrs. Grayson.

"As she is to be your wife, and not a sort of ward, she is merely giving
you a preliminary training," replied the candidate's wife, dryly.

"King" Plummer looked at her in doubt, but he pondered the question
deeply and was remarkably meek the next time Sylvia scolded him, whereat
she showed less pleasure than ever. "King" Plummer was still in a maze
and did not know what to say. The very next day he found himself deeper
in the tangle, being scolded by Mrs. Grayson herself.

They were waiting at a small station for some carriages which were to
take them across the prairie, and, the air being clear and bracing, they
stood outside, where Miss Morgan, as usual, held an involuntary court. A
cloud of dust arose, and behind it quickly came a great herd of cattle,
driven with much shouting and galloping of horses by a half-dozen
cowboys. The herd was passing to the south a few hundred yards from the
station, but Sylvia, thoroughly used to such sights, was not interested.
Not so some of the others who went out to see, and among them was "King"
Plummer, who began at once to calculate the number of cattle, their
value, and how far they had come, all of which he did with great
shrewdness.

The "King's" absorption in this congenial occupation was increased when
he recognized the leader of the cowboys as an old friend and former
associate in Idaho and Montana, with whom he could exchange much
interesting news. Borrowing a horse from one of the men, he rode on with
them for a mile or two.

Mrs. Grayson had seen "King" Plummer leave the group about Sylvia, and
she marked it with a disapproving eye. She would have spoken to him
then, but she had no chance, and she watched him until he borrowed the
horse and rode on with the cowboys. Then she looked the other way and
saw two figures walking up and down the station platform. They were
Sylvia and Harley, engrossed in talk and caring not at all for the
passage of the herd. The two brown heads were not far apart, and Mrs.
Grayson was near enough to see that Sylvia's color was beautiful.

The candidate's wife was annoyed, and, like any other good woman, she
was ready to vent her annoyance on somebody. She walked out a little
from the station, and presently she met "King" Plummer coming back. He
dismounted, returned the horse to its owner, and approached her, the
sparkle of enthusiasm in his eyes lighting up his brown face.

"That was a pleasant surprise, Mrs. Grayson," he exclaimed. "The leader
of those boys was Bill Ascott, whom I've known twenty years, an' he's
brought those cattle so cleverly all the way from Montana that they are
in as good condition now as they were the day they started. And I had a
fine gallop with them, too."

He had more to say, but he stopped when he noticed her deeply frowning
face.

"What is wrong, Mrs. Grayson?" he asked, in apprehension.

"Oh, you had a fine gallop, did you!" she said, in a tone of biting
irony. "I am glad of it. Mr. William Plummer ought to have his gallop,
under any circumstances!"

He stared at her in increasing amazement.

"I don't know that I'm counted a dull man, but you've got me now, Mrs.
Grayson."

She pointed to the station platform, where the two brown heads were
still not far apart.

"Without a word you left the woman that you are going to marry to look
at a lot of cattle."

"Why, Sylvia is only a child, an' we've been used to each other for
years. She understands."

"Yes, she will understand, or she isn't a woman," said Mrs. Grayson, and
if possible the biting irony of her tone increased. "You will see, too,
Mr. William Plummer, that one man at least did not neglect her for the
sake of some dusty cattle."

Mr. Plummer stared again at the pair on the platform, and a mingled look
of pain and apprehension came into his eyes.

"You surely can't mean anything of that kind! Why, little Sylvia has
promised--"

"All things are possible, Mr. Plummer. My husband is a lawyer, and I
have heard him quote often a maxim of the law which runs something like
this, 'He must keep who can.'"

She turned away and would not have another word to say to him then,
leaving Mr. Plummer in much perplexity and trouble.

Mrs. Grayson herself was in a similar perplexity and trouble throughout
the day. Her doubts about the letter she had written to "King" Plummer
increased. Perhaps it would have been wiser to let affairs take their
own course. The sight of the two brown heads and the two young faces on
the station platform had made her very thoughtful, and she drew
comparisons with "King" Plummer; there might be days in autumn which
resembled those of spring, but it was only a fleeting resemblance,
because autumn was itself, with its own coloring, its own fruits, and
its own days, and nothing could turn it into spring. "I will not meddle
again," she resolved, and then her mind was taken off the matter by an
incident in her husband's progress. In Nebraska the men left the train
for a few days, travelling by carriage, and here occurred the event
which created a great stir in its time.



IX

JIMMY GRAYSON'S SPELL


A night, after a beautiful, brown October day, came on dark and rainy,
with fierce winds off the Rocky Mountains; and Harley, who was in the
first carriage with the candidate, could barely see the heads of the
horses, gently rising and falling as they splashed through the mud.
Behind him he heard faintly the sound of wheels amid the wind and rain,
and he knew that the other correspondents and the politicians, who
always hung on the trail of Jimmy Grayson, shifting according to
locality, were following their leader in single file.

Mrs. Grayson and Sylvia had remained on the special car, and expected to
join them on the following day, although Sylvia was quite prepared to
take the carriage journey across the country and dare all the risks of
the darkness and possible bad weather. Indeed, with the fine spirit of
the West and her own natural high courage, she wanted to go, saying that
she could stand as much as a man, and only Mrs. Grayson's refusal to
accompany her and the consequent lack of a chaperone compelled her to
abandon the idea. Now Harley and Mr. Grayson were very glad that she was
not out in the storm.

Although the hood of the carriage was down and the collar of Harley's
heavy coat was turned up to his ears, the cold rain, lashed by the
wind, struck him in the face now and then.

"You don't do anything by halves out here on these Western plains," he
said.

"No," replied Jimmy Grayson, "we don't deal in disguises; when we're hot
we're hot, and when we're cold we're cold. Now, after a perfect day,
we're having the wildest kind of a night. It's our way."

It was then ten o'clock, and they had expected to reach Speedwell at
midnight, crossing the Platte River on the big wooden bridge; but the
rain, the darkness, and the singularly sticky quality of the black
Nebraska mud would certainly delay them until one o'clock in the
morning, and possibly much later. It was not a cheerful prospect for
tired and sleepy men.

"Mr. Grayson," said Harley, "without seeking to discredit you, I wish I
had gone to another war instead of coming out here with you. That would
have been less wearing."

The candidate laughed.

"But you are seeing the West as few men from New York ever see it," he
said.

The driver turned, and a little stream of water ran off his hat-brim
into Harley's face.

"It's the wind that holds us back, Mr. Grayson," he said; "if we leave
the road and cut across the prairie on the hard ground it will save at
least an hour."

"By all means, turn out at once," said the candidate, "and the others
will follow."

"Wise driver; considerate man!" remarked Harley.

There was marked relief the moment the wheels of the carriage struck the
brown grass. They rolled easily once more, and the off horse, lifting up
his head, neighed cheerfully.

"It means midnight, and not later, Harley," said the candidate, in a
reassuring tone.

Harley leaned back in his seat, and trusted all now to the wise and
considerate driver who had proposed such a plan. The night was just as
black as a hat, and the wind and rain moaned over the bleak and lonesome
plains. They were far out in Nebraska, and, although they were near the
Platte River, it was one of the most thinly inhabited sections of the
state. They had not seen a light since leaving the last speaking-place
at sundown. Harley wondered at the courage of the pioneers who crossed
the great plains amid such a vast loneliness. He and the candidate were
tired, and soon ceased to talk. The driver confined his attention to his
business. Harley fell into a doze, from which he was awakened after a
while by the sudden stoppage of the carriage. The candidate awoke at the
same time. The rain had decreased, there was a partial moonlight, and
the driver was turning upon them a shamefaced countenance.

"What's the matter?" asked the candidate.

"To tell you the truth, Mr. Grayson," replied the driver, in an
apologetic tone. "I've gone wrong somehow or other, and I don't know
just where we're at."

"Lost?" said Harley.

"If you wish to put it that way, I reckon you're right," said the
driver, with a touch of offence.

"What has become of the other carriages?" asked Harley, looking back for
them.

"I reckon they didn't see us when we turned out, and they kept on along
the road."

There was no doubt about the plight into which they had got themselves.
The plain seemed no less lonely than it was before the white man came.

"What's that line of trees across yonder?" asked the candidate.

"I guess it marks where the Platte runs," replied the driver.

"Then drive to it; if we follow the trees we must reach the bridge, and
then things will be simple."

The driver became more cheerful, the rain ceased and the moonlight
increased; but Harley lacked confidence. He had a deep distrust of the
Platte River. It seemed to him the most ridiculous stream in the United
States, making a presumptuous claim upon the map, and flowing often in a
channel a mile wide with only a foot of water. But he feared the marshes
and quicksands that bordered its shallow course.

They reached the line of gaunt trees, dripping with water and whipped by
the wind, and Harley's fears were justified. The river was there, but
they could not approach it, lest they be swallowed up in the sand, and
they turned back upon the prairie.

"We must find a house," said the candidate; "if it comes to the pinch we
can pass the night in the carriage, but I don't like to sleep sitting."

They bore away from the river, driving at random, and after an hour saw
a faint light under the dusky horizon.

"The lone settler!" exclaimed Harley, who began to cherish fond
anticipations of a bed. "Go straight for it, driver."

The driver was not loath, and even the horses, seeming to have renewed
hope, changed their sluggish walk to a trot. They had no hesitation in
seeking shelter at that hour, entire strangers though they were, such an
act being in perfect accordance with the laws of Western hospitality.

As they approached, a bare wooden house, unprotected by trees, rose out
of the plain. A wire fence enclosed a half-acre or so about it, and
apparently there had been a few rather futile attempts to make a lawn.

"Looks cheerless," said Harley.

"But it holds beds," said the candidate.

"You save your voice," said Harley; "I'll call the farmer, and I hope it
will be a man who can speak English, and not some new Russian or
Bohemian citizen."

He sprang out of the carriage, glad to relieve himself from his cramped
and stiff position, and walked towards the little gate in the wire
fence. There was a sudden rush of light feet, a stream of fierce barks
and snarls, and Harley sprang back in alarm as two large bull-dogs,
red-mouthed, flung themselves against the fence.

"I said you had no cause to regret that war," called the candidate from
the carriage.

The wires were strong, and they held the dogs; but the animals hung to
the fence, as fierce as wolves; and Harley, lifting up his voice, added
to the chorus with a "Hi! Hi! Mr. Farmer! Strangers want to stop with
you!"

The din was tremendous, and presently a window in the second story was
shoved up, and a man, fully dressed, carrying a long-barrelled rifle in
his hands, appeared at it. He called to the dogs, which ceased at once
their barking and snarling, and then he gazed down at the intruders in
no friendly manner. Harley saw him clearly, a tall, gaunt old man,
white-haired, but muscular and strong. He held the rifle as if he were
ready to use it--a most unusual thing in this part of the country, where
householders seldom kept fire-arms.

"What do you want?" he called, in a sharp, high voice.

"Beds!" cried Harley. "We are lost, and if you don't take us in we'll
have to sleep on the prairie, which is a trifle damp."

"Waal, I 'low it hez rained a right smart," said the old man, grimly.

Harley noticed at once the man's use of "right smart," an expression
with which he had been familiar in another part of the country, and it
encouraged him. He was sure now of hospitality.

"Who are you?" the old man called.

"Mr. Grayson, the nominee for President of the United States, is in the
carriage, and I am his friend, one of the newspaper correspondents
travelling with him."

"Wait a minute."

The window was closed, and in a few moments the old man came out at the
front door. He carried the rifle on his shoulder, but Harley attributed
the fact to his haste at the mention of Jimmy Grayson's name.

"My name is Simpson--Daniel Simpson," he said, hospitably. "Tell the
driver to put the horses in the barn."

He waved his hand towards a low building in the rear of his residence,
and then he invited the candidate and the correspondent to enter. He
looked curiously, but with reverence, at the candidate.

"You are really Jimmy Grayson," he said. "I'd know you off-hand by your
picture, which I guess hez been printed in ev'ry newspaper in the United
States. I 'low it's a powerful honor to me to hev you here."

"And it's a tremendous accommodation to us for you to take us," said
Jimmy Grayson, with his usual easy grace.

But Harley was looking at Simpson with a gaze no less intent than the
old man had bent upon Grayson. The accent and inflection of the host
were of a region far distant from Nebraska, but Harley, who was born
near that wild country, knew the long, lean, narrow type of face, with
the high cheek-bones and the watchful black eyes. Moreover, there was
something directly and personally familiar in the figure before him.

Under any circumstances the manner of the old man would have drawn the
attention of Harley, whose naturally keen observation was sharpened by
the training of his profession. The old man seemed abstracted. His
fingers moved absently on the stock of his rifle, and Harley inferred at
once that he had something of unusual weight on his mind.

"Me an' the ol' woman hev been settin' late," said Simpson. "When you
git ol' you don't sleep much. But it'll be a long time, Mr. Grayson,
before that fits you."

He led the way into a room better furnished than Harley had expected to
see. A coal fire smouldered on the hearth, and the arrangement of the
room showed some evidences of refinement and taste. An old woman was
bent over the fire, but she rose when the men entered, and turned upon
them a face which Harley knew at once to be that of one who had been
frightened by something. Her eyes were red, as if she had been weeping.
Harley looked from host to hostess with curious glance, but he was still
silent.

"This is Marthy, my wife, gen'lemen," said Simpson. "Marthy, this is Mr.
Grayson, the greatest man in this here United States, and the other is
one of the newspaper fellers that travels with him."

Jimmy Grayson bowed with great courtesy, and apologized so gracefully
for the intrusion that an ordinary person would have been glad to be
intruded upon in such a manner. The woman said nothing, but stared
vacantly at her guests. The old man came to her relief.

"Marthy ain't used to visitors, least of all a man like you, Mr.
Grayson, and it kind o' upsets her," he said. "You see, Marthy an' me
lives here all by ourselves."

The woman started and looked at him.

"All by ourselves," repeated the man, firmly; "but we'll do the best we
kin."

"Daniel," suddenly exclaimed the old woman, in high, shrill tones, "why
don't you put down your gun? Mr. Grayson'll think you're a-goin' to
shoot him."

The old man laughed, but the ever-watchful Harley saw that the laugh was
not spontaneous.

"I 'clar' to gracious," he said, "I clean forgot I had old Deadeye. You
see, Mr. Grayson, when I heerd the dogs barkin', sez I to myself 'it's
robbers, shore'; and before I h'ists the window up-stairs I reaches old
Deadeye off the hooks, and then, if it had 'a' been robbers, it wouldn't
'a' been healthy for 'em."

"I'm sure of that, Mr. Simpson," said Jimmy Grayson; "you don't look
like a man who would allow himself to be run over."

"An' I wouldn't," said the old man, with sudden, fierce emphasis. But he
put the rifle on the hooks over the fireplace. Such hooks as these were
not usual in Nebraska; but Jimmy Grayson was too polite to say anything,
and Harley was still watching every movement of the old man. The driver
returned at this moment from the stable, and, reporting that he had fed
the horses, took his place with the others at the fire.

"I 'low you-uns would like to eat a little," said the old man, laughing
in the same unnatural way. "Marthy, tote in suthin' from the kitchen as
quick as you kin."

The old woman raised her startled, frightened eyes, and for a moment her
glance met Harley's; it seemed to him to be full of entreaty; the whole
atmosphere of the place was to him tense, strained, and tragic; why, he
did not know, but he shook himself and decided that it was only the
result of weariness, the long ride, and the night in the storm.
Nevertheless, the feeling did not depart because he willed that it
should go.

"No, we thank you," Jimmy Grayson was saying; "we are not hungry; but we
should like very much to go to bed."

"It's jest with you," said Simpson. "Marthy, I'll show the gen'lemen to
their room, and you kin stay here till I come back."

The old woman did not speak, but stood in a crouched attitude looking at
Grayson and then at Harley and then at the driver; it seemed to the
correspondent that she did not dare trust her voice, and he saw fear
still lurking in her eyes.

"Come along, gen'lemen," said Simpson, taking from the table a small
lamp, that had been lighted at their entrance, and leading the way.

Harley glanced back once at the door, and the woman's eyes met his in a
look that was like one last despairing appeal. But there was nothing
tangible, nothing that he could not say was the result of an overwrought
fancy.

It was a small and bare room, with only a single bed, to which the old
man took them. "It's the best I've got," he said, apologetically. "Mr.
Grayson, you an' the newspaper man kin sleep in the bed, an' t'other
feller, I reckon, kin curl up on the floor."

"It is good enough for anybody," said Jimmy Grayson, gallantly. As a
matter of fact, both he and Harley had known what it was to fare worse.

"Good-night," the man said, and left them rather hastily, Harley
thought; but the others took no notice, and were soon in sound slumber,
the candidate because he had the rare power of going to sleep whenever
there was a chance, and the driver because he was indifferent and tired.

But Harley lay awake. An hour ago his dream of heaven was a bed, and
now, the bed attained, sleep would not come near. Out of the stillness,
after a while, he heard the gentle moving of feet below, and he sat up
on the bed, all his suspicions confirmed. Something unusual was going on
in this lone house! And it had been going on even before he and the
candidate came!

He listened to the moving feet for a few moments. Then the noise ceased,
but Harley knew that there was no further chance of sleep for him, with
his nerves on edge, and likely to remain there. He lay back on the edge
of the bed, trying to accustom his eyes to the darkness, and presently
he heard a sound, the most chilling that a man can hear. It was the
sound of a woman, alone and in the dark, between midnight and morning,
crying gently, but crying deeply, uncontrollably, and from her chest.

Harley's resolve was taken at once. He slipped on his clothes and went
to the door. His eyes were used now to the dark, and there was a window
that shed a half-light.

He stopped with his hand on the bolt, because he heard the low, wailing
note more plainly, and he was sure that it came from another room
across the narrow hall. He turned the bolt, but the door refused to
open. There was no key on the inside! They had been locked in, and for a
purpose!

Harley was fully aroused--on edge with excitement, but able to restrain
it and to think clearly. There was an old grate in the room, apparently
used but seldom, and, leaning against the wall beside it, an iron poker.
Tiptoeing, he obtained the poker and returned to the door. The lock was
a flimsy affair, and, inserting the point of the poker under the catch,
he easily pried it off and put it gently on the floor.

Then he stepped out into the dusky hall and listened. The woman was yet
crying, monotonously, but with such a note of woe that Harley was
shaken. He had thought in his own room that it was the old woman who
wept thus; but now in the hall he knew it to be a younger and fresher
voice.

He saw farther down another door, and he knew that it led to the room
from which came the sounds of grief. He approached it cautiously, still
holding the poker in his hands, and noticed that there was no key in the
lock. The woman, whoever she might be, was locked in, as he and his
comrades had been; but the empty keyhole gave him an idea. He blew
through it, making a sort of whistling sound with his puckered lips. The
crying ceased, all save an occasional low, half-smothered sob, as if the
woman were making a supreme effort to control her feelings.

Then Harley put his lips to the keyhole again and whispered: "What is
the matter? It is a friend who asks." There was no reply, only a tense
silence, even the occasional sobs ceasing. Then, after a few moments of
waiting, Harley whispered, "Don't be alarmed; I am about to force the
door."

The door was of flimsy pine, and it gave quickly to the poker's
leverage. Then, this useful weapon still in hand, Harley stepped into
the room, where he heard a deep-drawn sigh that expressed mingled
emotions.

There was a window at the end of the room, and the moonlight shone
clearly through, clothing with its full radiance a tall, slim girl, who
had risen from a chair, and who stood trembling before Harley, fully
dressed, although her long hair hung down her back and her eyes were red
with weeping.

She was handsome, but not with the broad face of the West. Hers was
another type, a type that Harley knew well. The cheek-bones were a
little high, the features delicate, the figure slender, and there was on
her cheeks a rosy bloom that never grew under the cutting winds of the
great plains.

Harley knew at once that she was the daughter of the old couple below
stairs.

"Do not be afraid of me," he said, gently. "I know that you are in great
trouble, but I will help you. I, too, am from Kentucky. I was born
there, and I used to live there, though not in the mountains, as you
did."

The appeal and terror in her eyes changed to momentary surprise. "What
do you know of me?" she exclaimed.

"Very little of you, but more of your father. Years ago I was at his
house in the Kentucky mountains. He was a leader in the Simpson-Eversley
feud. I knew him to-night, but I have said nothing. Now, tell me, what
is the matter?"

His voice was soothing--that of a strong man who would protect, and the
girl yielded to its influence. Brokenly she told the story. Many men had
been killed in the feud, and the few Eversleys who were left had been
scattered far in the mountains. Then old Daniel Simpson said that he
would come out on the Great Plains, more than a thousand miles, and they
had come.

"There was one of the Eversleys--Henry Eversley--he was young and
handsome. People said he was not bad. He, too, came to Nebraska. He
found out where we lived; he has been here."

"Ah!" said Harley. He felt that they were coming to the gist of the
matter.

The girl, with a sudden passionate cry, threw herself upon her knees.
"He is here now! He is here now!" she cried. "He is in the cellar, bound
and gagged, and my father is going to kill him! But I love him! He came
here to-night, and my father caught us together, and struck him down.
But we meant nothing wrong. I declare before God that we did not! We
were getting ready to run away together and to be married at Speedwell!"

Harley shuddered. The impending tragedy was more terrible than he had
feared.

"You can do nothing!" exclaimed the girl. "My father is armed. He will
have no interference! He cares nothing for what may come after! He
thinks--"

She could not say it all; but Harley knew well that what she would say
was, "He thinks that he has been robbed of his honor by a mortal enemy."

"Can you stay quietly in this room until morning?" he asked. "I know it
is hard to wait under such circumstances, but you must do it for the
sake of Henry Eversley."

"And will you save him?"

"He shall be saved."

"I will wait," she said.

Harley slipped noiselessly out, and, closing the door behind him, went
to his room, where he at once awakened the candidate.

Jimmy Grayson listened with intense attention to Harley's story. When
the tale was over, he and Harley whispered together long and earnestly,
and Jimmy Grayson frequently nodded his head in assent. Then they awoke
the driver, a heavy man, but with a keen Western mind that at once
became alert at the news of danger.

"Yes, I got my bearings now," he said, in reply to a question of
Harley's. "I asked the old fellow about it when I came up from the
stable, and Speedwell is straight north from here. I can take one of the
horses and hit the town before daylight. I know everybody there."

"But how about the dogs?" asked Jimmy Grayson. "Can you get past them?"

"No trouble there at all. After we came, the old fellow locked 'em up in
a stall in the stable and left 'em there. I guess he didn't want to look
to us as if he was too suspicious."

"Then go, and God go with you!" said Jimmy Grayson, with deep feeling.

The driver left at once, not by the stairway, near the foot of which the
old man might be watching, but by a much simpler road. He raised the
window of the room and swung out, sustained by Jimmy Grayson's powerful
arms until his feet were within a yard of the ground. Then he dropped,
ran lightly across the lawn, sprang over the wire fence, and soon
disappeared in the grove where the girl had said that the horses were
waiting. Jimmy Grayson closed the window with a deep sigh of relief.

"He will do his part," he said; "now for ours."

He did not seek to sleep again, and Harley could not think of it. One
task occupied him a little while--the replacing of the lock on the
door--but after that the hours passed heavily and in silence. The flush
of dawn appeared in the east at last, and then they heard a faint step
in the hall outside and the gentle turning of a key in a lock. Jimmy
Grayson and Harley looked at each other and smiled grimly, but they said
nothing. A half-hour later there was a loud knock on their door, and old
Daniel Simpson bade them rise and get ready for breakfast.

"It is chiefly in your hands now," said Harley, in a low tone to Jimmy
Grayson.

"We'll be down in a few minutes, and we have had a good night's sleep,
for which we thank you," he called to the old man.

"You're welcome to it," replied Simpson. "You'll find water and towels
on the porch down-stairs, and then you can come straight in to
breakfast."

They heard his step passing down the hall to the stairway, where it died
away, and then they dressed deliberately. On the porch they found the
water and towels as Simpson had said, and bathed and rubbed their faces.
A golden sun was just rising from the prairie, and beads of water from
the night's rain sparkled on the trees and grass. The wind came out of
the southwest, fresh and glorious.

They entered the dining-room, where the breakfast smoked on the table,
and the old man and his wife were waiting. Harley could not see that
they had changed in appearance in the morning glow. Simpson was still
rugged and grim, while the woman yet cowered and now and then raised
terrified and appealing eyes.

"Whar's your driver?" asked Simpson.

"He has gone down to the stable to feed and care for his horses,"
replied the candidate, easily. "He's a very careful man, always looks
after his horses before he looks after himself. He told us not to wait
for him, as he'll be along directly."

"Then be seated," said the old man, hospitably. "We've got corn-bread
and ham-and-eggs and coffee, an' I guess you kin make out."

"I should think so," said Jimmy Grayson. "Why, if I had not been as
hungry as a wolf already, it would make me hungry just to look at it."

The three sat down at the table, while Mrs. Simpson served them, going
back and forth to the little kitchen adjoining for fresh supplies of hot
food. Mr. Grayson did most of the talking, and it was addressed in an
easy, confidential manner to old Daniel Simpson. The candidate's gift of
conversational talk was equal to his gift of platform oratory, but never
before had Harley known him to be so interesting and so attractive. He
fairly radiated with the quality called personal magnetism, and soon the
old man ate mechanically, while his attention was riveted on Jimmy
Grayson. But by-and-by he seemed to remember something.

"That driver of yourn is tarnal slow," he said; "he ought to be comin'
in to breakfast."

"You have diagnosed his chief fault," said Jimmy Grayson, with an easy
laugh. "He is slow, extremely slow, but he will be along directly, and
he doesn't mind cold victuals."

Then he turned back to the easy flow of anecdote, chiefly about his
political campaign, and Harley saw that the interest of the old man was
centred upon him. The woman, without a word, brought in hot biscuits
from the kitchen, but she did not lose her frightened look, glancing
from one to another of the three with furtive, lowered eyes. But Jimmy
Grayson, the golden-mouthed, talked gracefully, and the note of his
discourse that morning was the sweetness and kindness of life; he saw
only the sunny side of things; people were good and true, and peace was
better than strife. His smiling, benevolent face and the mellow flow of
his words enforced the lesson.

The old man's face softened a little, and even Harley, though a prey to
anxieties, felt the influence of Jimmy Grayson's spell. The little
dining-room where they sat was at the rear of the house. Harley saw the
golden sunshine of a perfect October day, and the wind that sang across
the plain had the soft strain of a girl's voice. He felt that it was
good to live that morning, and his spirits rose as he saw the old man
fall further and further under the spell of Jimmy Grayson's eloquence.

But Simpson raised himself presently and glanced at the door.

"That driver of yourn is tarnal slow," he repeated. "Seems to me he'll
never finish feedin' an' curryin' them horses!"

"He is slow, extremely slow," laughed Jimmy Grayson. "If he were not so
we should not have got lost last night, and we should not be here now,
Mr. Simpson, trespassing on your hospitality. Perhaps the man does not
want any breakfast; it's not the first time since he's been with us that
he's gone without it."

Then he launched again into the stream of a very pretty story that he
had been telling, and the wavering attention of the old man returned.
Harley gave all assistance. Despite his anxiety and his listening for
sounds without, he kept his eyes fixed upon Jimmy Grayson's face as if
he would not miss a word.

The breakfast went on to an unusual length. The candidate and Harley
called again and again for hot biscuits and more coffee, and always the
old woman served them silently, almost furtively.

The story was finished, and just as it came to its end Simpson said,
with a grim inflection:

"It 'pears to me, Mr. Grayson, all you said about that driver of yourn
is true. He hasn't come from the stable yet."

There was the sound of a step in the hall, and the candidate said,
quickly:

"He's coming now; he'll be in presently, as soon as he washes his hands
and face on the porch. No, sit down, Mr. Simpson; he needs no
directions. We were speaking of the sacrifices that people make for one
another, and it reminds me of a very pretty story that I must tell you."

The old man sank into his chair, but his look wandered to the door. It
seemed to Harley that light sounds came from the other part of the
house, and the old man, too, seemed for a moment to be listening, but
Jimmy Grayson at once began his story, and Simpson's attention came
back.

"This is a story of the mountains of eastern Kentucky," began the
candidate, "and it is a love story--a very pretty one, I think."

Simpson moved in his chair, and a sudden wondering look appeared in his
eyes at the words "eastern Kentucky." The old woman, too, slightly
raised her bent form and gazed eagerly at the candidate. But Jimmy
Grayson took no notice, and continued.

"This," he said, "is the love story of two people who were young then,
but who are old now. Yet I am sure there is much affection and
tenderness in their hearts, and often they must think fondly of those
old days. The youth lived on the side of a mountain, and the girl lived
on the side of another mountain not far away. He was tall, strong, and
brave; she, too, was tall, as slender as one of the mountain saplings,
with glorious brown hair and eyes, and a voice as musical as a mountain
echo. Well, they met and they loved, loved truly and deeply. It might
seem that the way was easy now for them to marry and go to a house of
their own, but it was not. There was a bar."

"A feud!" breathed the old man. The old woman put her hands to her eyes.

"Yes, a feud; they seem strange things to us here, but to those distant
people in the mountains they seem the most natural thing in the world.
The youth and the girl belonged to families that were at war with each
other, and marriage between them would have been considered by all their
relatives a mortal sin."

The old man's eyes were fastened upon Jimmy Grayson's, but his look for
the moment was distant, as if it were held by old memories. The woman
was crying softly. Again the soft shuffle of feet in the other part of
the house came to Harley's ears, but the old couple did not hear; the
driver was forgotten; for all Simpson and his wife remembered, he might
still be finishing his morning toilet on the porch.

"They were compelled to meet in secret," continued Jimmy Grayson, "but
the girl was frightened for him because she loved him. She told him that
he must go away, that if her father and brothers heard of their meetings
they would kill him; it was impossible for them to marry, but she loved
him, she would never deny that. He listened to her gently and tenderly;
he was a brave youth, as I have said, and he would not go away. He said
that God had made them for each other, and she should be his wife; he
would not go away; he was not afraid."

"No, I was not afraid," breathed the old man, softly. The old woman had
straightened herself up until she stood erect. There was a delicate
flush on her face, and her eyes were luminous.

"This youth was a hero, a gallant and chivalrous gentleman," continued
Jimmy Grayson; "he loved the girl, and she loved him; there was no real
reason in the world why they should not marry, and he was resolved that
there should be none."

The candidate's head was bent forward over his plate. His face was
slightly flushed, and his burning eyes held Simpson's. Harley saw that
he thrilled with his own story and the crisis for which it was told.
Elsewhere in the building the faint noises went on, but Harley alone
heard.

"The youth did what I would have done and what you would have done, Mr.
Simpson," continued Jimmy Grayson. "He did what nature and sense
dictated. He overbore all resistance on the part of the girl, who in her
heart was willing to be overborne. One dark night he stole her from her
father's house and carried her away on his horse."

"How well I remember it!" exclaimed the old man, with eyes a-gleam. "I
had Marthy on the horse behind me, and my rifle on the pommel of the
saddle before me."

The old woman cried softly, but it seemed to Harley that the note of her
weeping was not grief.

"He stole her away," continued Jimmy Grayson, "and before morning they
were married. Then he took her to a house of his own, and he sent word
that if any man came to do them harm he would meet a rifle bullet. They
knew that he was the best shot in the mountains, and that he was without
fear, so they did not come. And that youth and that girl are still
living, though both are old now, but neither has ever for a moment
regretted that night."

"You speak the truth," exclaimed the old man, striking his fist upon the
table, while his eyes flashed with exultant fire. "We've never been
sorry for a moment for what we did, hev we Marthy?"

Harley had risen to his feet, and a signal look passed between him and
the candidate.

"And then," said Jimmy Grayson, "why do you deny to Henry Eversley the
right to do what you did, and what you still glory in after all these
years? Mr. Simpson, shake hands with your new son-in-law. He and his
bride are waiting in the doorway."

The old man sprang to his feet. His daughter and a youth, a handsome
couple, stood at the entrance. Behind them were three or four men, one
the driver, and another in clerical garb, evidently a minister.

"They were married in your front parlor while we sat at breakfast," said
Jimmy Grayson. "Mr. Simpson, your son-in-law is still offering you his
hand."

The bewildered look left the old man's eyes, and he took the
outstretched hand in a hearty grasp.

"Henry," he said, "you've won."



X

THE "KING'S" REQUEST


An hour later the candidate, Harley, and the driver were on the way to
the town at which they had intended to pass the preceding night. With
ample instructions and a brilliant morning sunlight there was no further
trouble about the direction, and they pursued their way in peace.

The air was crisp and blowy, and the earth, new-washed by the rain, took
on some of the tints of spring green, despite the lateness of the
season. Harley, relaxed from the tension of the night before, leaned
back in his seat and enjoyed the tonic breeze. No one of the three had
much to say; all were in meditation, and the quiet and loneliness of the
morning seemed to promote musing. They drove some miles across the
rolling prairie without seeing a single house, but at last the driver
pointed to a flickering patch of gold on the western horizon.

"That," said he, "is the weather-vane on the cupola of the new
court-house, and in another hour we'll be in town. I guess your people
will be glad to see you, Mr. Grayson."

"And I shall be glad to see them," said the candidate. A few minutes
later he turned to the correspondent.

"Harley," he asked, "will you send anything to your paper about last
night?"

"I have to do so," replied Harley, with a slight note of apology in his
tone--this had not been his personal doing. "For a presidential
candidate to get lost on the prairie in the dark and the storm, and then
spend the night in a house in which only his presence of mind and
eloquence prevent a murder, that is news--news of the first importance
and the deepest interest. I am bound not only to send a despatch about
it, but the despatch must be very long and full. And I suppose, too,
that I shall have to tell it to the other fellows when we reach the
town."

The candidate sighed.

"I know you are right," he said, "but I wish you did not have to do it.
The story puts me in a sensational light. It seems as if I were turning
aside from the great issues of a campaign for personal adventure."

"It was forced upon you."

"So it was, but that fact does not take from it the sensational look."

Harley was silent. He knew that Mr. Grayson's point was well made, but
he knew also that he must send the despatch.

The candidate made no further reference to the subject, and five minutes
later they saw horsemen rise out of the plain and gallop towards them.
As Harley had said, a presidential nominee was not lost in the dark and
the storm every night, and this little Western town was mightily
perturbed when Mr. Grayson failed to arrive. The others had come in
safely, but already all the morning newspapers of the country had
published the fact that the candidate was lost, swallowed up somewhere
on the dark prairie. And Mr. Grayson's instinct was correct, too,
because mingled with the wonder and speculation was much criticism. It
was boldly said in certain supercilious circles that he had probably
turned aside on an impulse to look after some minor matter, perhaps
something that was purely personal that had nothing to do with the
campaign. Churchill, late the night before, had sent to the _Monitor_ a
despatch written in his most censorious manner, in that vein of
reluctant condemnation that so well suited his sense of superiority. He
was loath to admit that the candidate was proving inadequate to his high
position, but the circumstances indicated it, and the proof was becoming
cumulative. He also sent a telegram to the Honorable Mr. Goodnight, in
New York, and the burden of it was the need of a restraining force, a
force near at hand, and able to meet every evil with instant cure.

But the Western horsemen who met Jimmy Grayson--they clung to their
affectionate "Jimmy"--were swayed by no such emotions. They repeated a
shout of welcome, and wanted to know how and where he had passed the
night, to all of which questions the candidate, with easy humor,
returned ready and truthful replies, although he did not say anything
for the present about the adventure of the old man and of the young one
who was now the old one's son-in-law.

The driver took them straight towards a large and attractive hotel, and
it seemed to Harley that half the population of the town was out to see
the triumphant entry of the candidate. With all the attention of the
crowd centred upon one man, Harley was able to slip quietly through the
dense ranks and enter the hotel, where he fell at once into the hands of
Sylvia Morgan. She came forward to meet him, impulsively holding out
her hands, the light of welcome sparkling in her eyes.

"We did not know what had become of you," she exclaimed. "We feared that
you had got lost in the quicksands of the river." And then, with a
sudden flush, she added, somewhat lamely, "We are all so glad that Uncle
James has got back safely."

Harley had read undeniable relief and welcome in her eyes, and it gave
him a peculiar thrill, a thrill at first of absolute and unthinking joy,
followed at once by a little catch. Before him rose the square and
massive vision of "King" Plummer, and he had an undefined sense of doing
wrong.

"We've brought him back safely," he said, after slight hesitation. "We
spent the night very comfortably in a farm-house on the prairie."

She noticed his hesitation, and her eyes became eager.

"I do believe that you have had an adventure," she exclaimed. "I know
that you have; I know by your look. You must tell it to me at once."

"We have had an adventure," admitted Harley, "and there is no reason why
I shouldn't tell you of it, as in a few hours a long account of it
written by me will be going eastward."

"I am waiting."

Harley began at once with his narrative, and they became absorbed in it,
he in the telling and she in the hearing. While he talked and she
listened "King" Plummer approached. Now the "King" in these later few
days had begun to study the ways of women, in so far as his limited
experience enabled him to do so, a task to which he had never turned his
attention before in his life. But the words of Mrs. Grayson rankled;
they kept him unhappy, they disturbed his self-satisfaction, and made
him apprehensive for the future. He had been in the crowd that welcomed
Jimmy Grayson, he had shaken the candidate's hand effusively, and now,
when he entered the hotel, he found Sylvia Morgan welcoming John Harley.

"King" Plummer did not like what he saw; it gave him his second shock,
and he paused to examine the two with a yellow eye, and a mind reluctant
to admit certain facts, among them the most obvious one, that they were
a handsome couple, and of an age. And this was a fact that did not give
the "King" pleasure. He did not dislike Harley; instead, he appreciated
his good qualities, but just then he regarded him with an unfriendly
glance; that reality of youth annoyed him. There was a glass on the
other side of the room, and the "King" looked at his own reflection. He
saw a large, powerful head and broad, strong features, the whole
expressing a man at the height of his powers, at the very flood-tide of
his strength. But it was not young. The hair was iron-gray, and there
were many deep lines in the face--not unhandsome lines, yet they were
lines.

"With all his shameless youth," were the "King's" unuttered thoughts, "I
could beat him at anything, except, perhaps, scribbling. I could live
and prosper where he would starve to death." And surging upon the "King"
came the memories of his long, triumphant, and joyous struggle with wild
nature. Then he approached the couple, and greeted Harley with the
good-nature that was really a part of him. Sylvia, with shining eyes,
told at second hand, though not with diminished effect, the story of the
night, and "King" Plummer was loud in his applause. He did not care
what criticism the supercilious might make, the act was to him
spontaneous and natural.

"But I don't see why you should have been with Jimmy Grayson then," he
said, frankly, to Harley. "You are an Easterner, new to these parts, and
it isn't right that just you should be along when the interestin' things
happen."

Harley could not help laughing at the naïve remark, but he liked "King"
Plummer all the better for it. The "King," however, gave him no more
chance to talk alone that day with Sylvia. Mr. Plummer showed the
greatest regard for Miss Morgan's health and comfort, and did not try to
hide his solicitude; he was continually about her, arranging little
conveniences for the journey, and introducing Idaho topics, familiar to
them, but to which Harley was necessarily a stranger. The "King," with
his wide sense of Western hospitality, would not have done this at
another time, but in view of the close relationship between himself and
Sylvia he regarded it as pardonable.

The watchful Mrs. Grayson saw it all, and at first she regarded the
"King" with an approving eye, but by-and-by the approval changed to a
frown. There was something forced in his manner; it was just the least
bit unconvincing. It was clear to her that he was overdoing it, and in
her opinion that was as bad as not doing it at all. Nor did she like the
spectacle of a middle-aged man of affairs trying to play the gallant;
there was another manner, one just as good, that would become him more.
She was impelled to admonish him again, but she restrained herself,
reflecting that she had not improved matters by her first warning, and
she might make them worse by her second. Nevertheless, she summoned the
nominee of a great party to the American Presidency to a conference, and
he came with more alacrity than he would have obeyed the call of a
conference of governors.

"Sylvia is doing what it is natural for her to do," she said, abruptly.

"Then, my dear, why find fault with me because of it?" replied the
mystified candidate.

"I don't find fault with you; I merely want your advice, although I know
that you can have none to give."

The candidate wisely kept silent, and waited for the speaker of the
house to proceed.

"Sylvia is your niece, and Mr. Plummer is your most powerful political
supporter in the West," she said. "If she jilts him because of any fancy
or impulse--well, you know such things can make men, especially elderly
men, do very strange deeds. I speak of it because I am sure it must have
been in your thoughts."

The candidate stirred uneasily.

"It is a thing that I do not like to take into consideration," he said.

"Nor do I, but it forces itself upon us."

"It is right that Harley should pay her attention. They are members of
this party, and they are of an age likely to make them congenial."

"That is where the danger lies. It may not amount at present to anything
more than a fancy, but a fancy can make a very good beginning."

They talked on at length and with much earnestness, but they could come
to no other conclusion than to use that last refuge, silence and
waiting.

Meanwhile Sylvia was enjoying herself. She was young and vigorous, and
she had a keen zest in life. She was surrounded by men, some young,
too, who had seen much of the world, and they interested her; neither
would she have been human, nor of her sex, if their attentions had not
pleased her; and there, too, was the great campaign throwing its glow
over everything. She was gracious even to the "King," whom she had been
treating rather worse than he deserved for several days. She seemed to
appreciate his increased gallantry, and it was "dear old daddy" very
often now, whether in the comparative privacy of the Grayson family
circle or in the larger group of the young correspondents and
politicians. The "King" was delighted with the change, and his own
manner became easy and happy. He looked once or twice at the lady whom
he considered his mentor, Mrs. Grayson, and expected to see approval and
satisfaction on her face, too, but she was stern and impenetrable, and
the "King" said to himself that after all she was not so startlingly
acute.

Sylvia was telling some anecdote of the West to her new friends, and, as
the incident was rather remarkable, she thought it necessary to have
confirmation.

"It happened before I was born, but you were there then, and you know
all about it, don't you, daddy?"

"King" Plummer quickly nodded confirmation and smiled at the memory. The
event had interested him greatly, and he was glad to vouch for its
truth. He was pleased all the more when he saw the others looking at him
with the respect and deference due to--his thoughts halted suddenly in
their course and turned into another channel. Then he found himself
frowning. He did not like the conjunction of "dear old daddy" and of a
thing that had happened many years ago.

The "King" quietly slipped away from the party, and he noticed with
intense gloom that his departure did not seem to make as much difference
as it should. For a whole afternoon he was silent, and many corrugations
formed temporarily in his brow, indicating resolved thought. Nor were
appearances wrong, because the "King" was laboriously dragging himself
up to the edge of a mighty resolution. He was physically as brave a man
as ever walked; in early and rougher days he had borne a ready
Winchester, but this emergency was something new in his experience, and
naturally he hesitated at the venture. However, just after supper, when
Sylvia was alone in the drawing-room of the car, he approached her. She
looked up at him and smiled, but the "King's" face was set with the
power of his resolve.

"Come in, daddy," she said.

The "King" did not smile, nor did he sit down.

"Sylvia," he said, "I have a favor to ask of you."

"Why certainly, daddy, anything in reason, and I know you would not ask
anything out of it."

"Sylvia, I want you to promise me never to call me daddy again, either
in private, as here between ourselves, or before others."

She looked up at him, her eyes wide with astonishment.

"Why," she exclaimed, "I've called you that ever since you found me a
little, little girl alone in the mountains."

"I know it, but it's time to stop. I'm no blood kin to you at all. And
I'm not so ancient. The history of the West didn't begin with me."

The wonder in her eyes deepened, and the "King" felt apprehensive,
though he stood to his guns. But when she laughed, a joyous,
spontaneous laugh, he felt hurt.

"I'll make you the promise readily enough," she said, "but I can't keep
it; I really can't. I'll try awful hard, but I'm so used to daddy that
it will be sure to pop out just when I'm expecting it least."

The "King" looked at her moodily, not sure whether she was laughing at
him or at her own perplexity.

"Then you just try," he said, at last, yielding to a mood of compromise,
and stalked abruptly out of the drawing-room.

Sylvia, watching him, saw how stiffly and squarely he held his
shoulders, and what long and abrupt strides he took, and her mood of
merriment was suddenly succeeded by one of sadness mingled just a little
with apprehension. She spoke twice under her breath, and the two brief
sentences varied by only a single word. The first was "Dear old daddy!"
and the second was "Poor old daddy!"



XI

THE HARRYING OF HERBERT


An unexpected addition and honor was now approaching, and it was Hobart
who told them of it.

"Our little party is about to receive a touch of real distinction and
dignity--something that it needs very much," he said, laying the
newspaper that he had been reading upon the dusty car seat and glancing
at Harley. They had returned to their special train.

"What do you mean?" asked Harley, though his tone betrayed no great
interest.

"I quote from the columns of our staid contemporary, the New York
_Monitor_, Churchill's sheet, the representative of solid, quiet, and
cultured worth," said Hobart, pompously. "'It has been felt for some
time by thoughtful leaders of our party in the East that Jimmy Grayson
and the "shirt-sleeves" Western politicians who now surround him are
showing too much familiarity with the people. A certain reserve, a
certain dignity of manner which, while holding the crowd at a distance
also inspires it with a proper respect, is desirable on the part of the
official head of a great party, a presidential nominee. The personal
democracy of Mr. Grayson is having a disconcerting effect upon important
financial circles, and also is inspiring unfavorable comments in the
English press, extracts from which we print upon another page.'"

"What on earth has the opinion of the English press to do with our
presidential race?" asked Harley.

"You may search me," replied Hobart. "I merely quote from the columns of
the _Monitor_. But in order to save time, I tell you that all this
preamble leads to the departure for the West of the Honorable Herbert
Henry Heathcote, who, after his graduation at Harvard, took a course at
Oxford, lived much abroad, and who now, by grace of his father's worth
and millions, is the national committeeman from his state. For some days
Herbert has been speeding in our direction, and to-morrow he will join
us at Red Cloud. It is more than intimated that he will take charge of
the tour of Jimmy Grayson, and put it upon the proper plane of dignity
and reserve."

Harley said no more, but, borrowing the paper, read the account
carefully, and then put it down with a sigh, foreseeing trouble. Herbert
Heathcote's father had been a great man in his time, self-created, a
famous merchant, an able party worker, in thorough touch with American
life, and he had served for many years as the honored chairman of the
national committee, although in a moment of weakness he had sent his son
abroad to be educated. Now he was dead, but remembered well, and as a
presidential campaign costs much money--legitimate money--and his son
was a prodigal giver, the leaders could not refuse to the younger
Heathcote the place of national committeeman from his state.

"What do you think of it?" asked Harley, at last.

"I refuse to think," replied Hobart. "I shall merely wait and see."

But the Honorable William Plummer expressed his scorn in words befitting
his open character.

The paper was passed on until it reached Mrs. Grayson and Sylvia. Mrs.
Grayson, with her usual reserve, said nothing. Sylvia was openly
indignant.

"I shall snub this man," she said, "unless he is of the kind that thinks
it cannot be snubbed."

"I fear that it is his kind," said Harley.

"It looks like it," she said.

At noon the next day, when they were at Red Cloud, Herbert Henry
Heathcote arrived on the train from the East, and the arrival of him was
witnessed by Harley, Hobart, Mr. Plummer, and several others, who had
gone to the station for that purpose and none other.

Mr. Heathcote, as he alighted from the train, was obviously a person of
importance, his apparel, even had his manner been hidden, disclosing the
fact to the most casual observer. A felt hat, narrow-brimmed and
beautifully creased in the crown, sat gracefully upon his head. His
light overcoat was baggy enough in the back to hold another man, as Mr.
Heathcote was not large, and white spats were the final touch of an
outfit that made the less sophisticated of the spectators gasp. "King"
Plummer swore half audibly.

"I wish my luggage to be carried up to the hotel," said Mr. Heathcote,
importantly, to the station agent.

"He calls it 'luggage,' and this in Colorado!" groaned Hobart.

"Your what?" exclaimed the station agent, a large man in his
shirt-sleeves, with a pen thrust behind his ear.

"My luggage; my trunk," replied Mr. Heathcote.

"Then you had better carry it yourself; I've nothing to do with it,"
said the agent, with Western brusqueness, as he turned away.

Harley, always ready to seize an opportunity, and resolved to mitigate
things, stepped forward.

"I beg your pardon, but this is Mr. Heathcote, is it not?" he asked,
courteously.

The committeeman put a glass in his eye and regarded him quite coolly.
Harley, despite his habitual self-control, shuddered. He did not mind
the supercilious gaze, but he knew the effect of the monocle upon the
crowd.

"Yes, I am Mr. Heathcote," said the committeeman, "and you ah--I--don't
believe--ah--"

"I haven't been introduced," said Harley, with a smile, "but I can
introduce myself; it's all right here in the West. I merely wanted to
tell you that you had better get them at the hotel to send the porter
down for your trunk. There are no carriages, but it's only a short walk
to the hotel. It's the large white building on the hill in front of
you."

"Thank you--ah--Mr. Hardy."

"Harley," corrected the correspondent, quietly.

"I was about to say--ah--that the press can make itself useful at
times."

Harley flushed slightly.

"Yes, even under the most adverse circumstances," he said.

But Mr. Heathcote was already on the way to the hotel, his white spats
gleaming in the sunshine. It was evident that he intended to keep the
press in its proper place.

"You made a mistake when you volunteered your help, Harley," said
Hobart. "A man like that should be received with a club. But you just
wait until the West gets through with him. Your revenge will be brought
to you on a silver plate."

"I'm not thinking of myself," replied Harley, gravely. "It's the effect
of this on Jimmy Grayson's campaign that's bothering me. Colorado is
doubtful, and so are Utah and Wyoming and Idaho; can we go through them
with a man like Heathcote, presumably in charge of our party?"

Proof that Harley's fears were justified was forthcoming at once. The
crowd at the station, drawn by various causes, had been usually large,
and Mr. Heathcote was received with a gasp of amazement. But nothing was
said until the white spats of the committeeman disappeared in the hotel.
Then the people crowded around the correspondents, with whom a six
hours' stop was sufficient to make them familiar. "Who is he?" they
asked. "Is he a plutocrat?" "It's a Wall Street shark, sure." "Does
Jimmy Grayson mean to hobnob with a man like that?" "Then we can't trust
him either. He's going to be a monopolist, too, and his claiming to be
champion of the people is all a bluff."

Harley explained with care that Mr. Heathcote was important. To run a
great presidential campaign required much money--special trains must be
paid for, halls had to be hired for speakers, there was a vast amount of
printing to be done, and many other expenses that must be met. Their
party was poor, as everybody knew, most of the wealth being on the other
side; and, when a man like Heathcote was willing to contribute his
thousands, there was nothing to do but to take him. But they need not be
alarmed; he could not corrupt Jimmy Grayson; the candidate was too
stanch, too true, too much of a real man to be turned from the right
path by any sinister Eastern influence.

But the people were not mollified; they resented Mr. Heathcote's manner
as well as his dress. Why had he not stopped at the station a few
minutes, and shaken hands with those who would have been glad to meet
him for the sake of fellowship in the party? Harley heard again the word
"Plutocrat," and, deeming it wise to say nothing more for the present,
walked back to the hotel. On the long porch sat a row of men in
rocking-chairs--correspondents, town officials, and politicians,
following in the wake of Jimmy Grayson. A state senator, a big,
white-bearded man named Curtis, who had been travelling with them for
three days, jerked his finger over his shoulder, pointing to the
interior of the hotel, and said, mysteriously, to Harley:

"Where did you get it?"

"New York," replied Harley, sadly.

"Can't you lose it?"

"I don't know," replied Harley, hopefully, "but we can try."

Hobart, who was in the next chair, put his right foot across his left
knee and nursed it judicially.

"It is eating its dinner now," he said. "It said: 'Landlord, I want a
table alone. I do not wish to be disturbed.' And just think, Harley,
this is Colorado! Landlord, otherwise Bill Jeffreys, was so taken aback
that he said, 'All right.' But the Honorable Herbert Henry Heathcote is
being watched. There are three cowboys, at this very moment, peeping in
at his window."

There was a dead silence for at least a minute, broken at last by
Barton.

"Gentlemen," he said, "you do not yet know the full, the awful truth; I
accidentally heard Heathcote telling Jeffreys about it."

"Why, what can be worse?" asked Harley, and he was in earnest.

"Mr. Heathcote's man--his valet, do you understand--arrives to-night. He
is to have a place in the car, and to travel with us, in order that he
may wait on his master."

"King" Plummer uttered an oath.

"The West can stand a good many things, but it won't stand that," he
exclaimed. "A national committeeman of our party travelling with his
valet on the train with Jimmy Grayson! It'll cost us at least six
states. We ain't women!"

There succeeded a gloomy silence that lasted until Heathcote himself
appeared upon the porch, fresh, dapper, and patronizing.

"I hope you enjoyed your dinner, Mr. Heathcote," said Harley, ever ready
to be a peacemaker.

"Thank you, Mr. Hardy--ah, Harley; it did very well for the
frontier--one does not expect much here, you know."

Harley glanced uneasily at the men in the chairs, but Mr. Heathcote went
on, condescendingly:

"I am now going for an interview with Mr. Grayson in his room. We shall
be there at least an hour, and we wish to be quite alone, as I have many
things of importance to say."

No one spoke, but twenty pairs of eyes followed the committeeman as he
disappeared in the hotel on his way to Jimmy Grayson's room. Then
Alvord, the town judge, a man of gigantic stature, rose to his feet and
said, in a mimicking, feminine voice:

"Gentlemen, I am going to the bar, and I shall be there at least an
hour; I wish to be quite alone, as I shall have many important things to
drink."

There was a burst of laughter that relieved the constraint somewhat, and
then, obedient to an invitation from the judge, they filed solemnly in
to the bar.

The candidate was to speak in the afternoon, and as he would raise some
new issues, sure to be of interest to the whole country, Harley,
following his familiar custom, went in search of Mr. Grayson for
preliminary information. The hour set aside by Mr. Heathcote had passed
long since, and Harley thought that he would be out of the way.

Jimmy Grayson's room was on the second floor, and Harley walked slowly
up the steps, but at the head of the stairway he was met by Mr.
Heathcote himself.

"Good-afternoon," said Harley, cheerfully. "I hope that you had a
pleasant talk with Mr. Grayson. I'm going in to see him now myself; a
presidential nominee can't get much rest."

Mr. Heathcote drew himself up importantly.

"I beg your pardon," he said, "but you cannot--ah--see Mr. Grayson.
There has been a feeling with us in the East--we are in a position there
to judge, being in thorough touch with the great world--that it was not
advisable for Mr. Grayson to speak to or to come in direct contact with
the press. This familiar talk with the newspapers rather impairs the
confidence of our great magnates and prejudices us in the eyes of
Europe. It is better--ah--that his remarks should be transmitted through
a third person, who can give to the press what is fitting and reserve
the remainder."

Harley gazed at Heathcote in amazement, but there was nothing in his
manner to indicate that he was not in earnest.

"And you are the third person, I suppose?" said Harley.

"I have so constituted myself," replied Mr. Heathcote, and his tone was
aggravatingly quiet and assured. "As one conversant with great affairs,
I am the most fit."

"Has Mr. Grayson agreed to this?" asked Harley.

"My dear man, I cannot permit you to cross-examine me. But, really, I
wish to be on good terms with the press, which is quite a useful
institution within its limits. Now, you seem to be rather more sedate
than the others, and I wish you would have the goodness to explain to
them how I have taken affairs in hand."

Harley flushed at his patronizing tone, and for a moment he was tempted
to thrust him out of his way and proceed with his errand to Jimmy
Grayson's room, but he reflected that it was better to let the
committeeman make the rope for his own hanging, and he turned away with
a quiet, "Very well, I shall forego the interview."

But as he went back down the stairs he could not help asking himself the
question, "Does Jimmy Grayson know? Could he have consented to such an
arrangement?" and at once came the answer--"Impossible."

He returned to the porch, where all the chairs were filled, although the
talk was slow. He noticed, with pleasure, that Churchill was absent. The
descending sun had just touched the crests of the distant mountains, and
they swam in a tremulous golden glow. The sunset radiance over nature in
her mighty aspects affected all on the porch, used as they were to it,
and that was why they were silent. But they turned inquiring eyes upon
Harley when he joined them.

"What has become of Heathcote?" asked Barton.

"He is engaged upon an important task just now," replied Harley.

"And what is that?"

"He is editing Jimmy Grayson's speech."

Twenty chairs came down with a crash, and twenty pairs of eyes stared in
indignant astonishment.

"King" Plummer's effort to hold himself in his chair seemed to be a
strain.

"He may not be doing that particular thing at this particular moment,"
continued Harley, "but he told me very distinctly that he was here for
that purpose, and he has also just told me that I could not see Jimmy
Grayson, that he intended henceforth to act as an intermediary between
the candidate and the press."

"And you stood it?" exclaimed Hobart.

"For the present, yes," replied Harley, evenly; "and I did so because I
thought I saw a better way out of the trouble than an immediate quarrel
with Heathcote--a better way, above all, for Jimmy Grayson and the
party."

The Western men said nothing, though they looked their deep disgust, and
presently they quitted the porch, leaving it, rocking-chairs and all, to
the correspondents.

"Boys," said Harley, earnestly, "I've a request to make of you. Let me
take the lead in this affair; I've a plan that I think will work."

"Well, you are in a measure the chief of our corps," said Warrener, one
of the Chicago men. "I don't know why you are, but all of us have got
to looking on you in that way."

"I, for one, promise to be good and obey," said Hobart, "but I won't
deny that it will be a hard job. Perhaps I could stand the man, if it
were not for his accent--it sounds to me as if his voice were coming out
of the top of his head, instead of his chest, where a good, honest voice
ought to have its home."

"Now you listen," said Harley, "and I will my tale unfold."

Then they put their heads together and talked long and earnestly.

The shaggy mountains were in deep shadow, and the sunset was creeping
into the west when Jimmy Grayson came out on the porch where the
correspondents yet sat. Harley at once noticed a significant change in
his appearance; he looked troubled. Before, if he was troubled, he
always hid it and turned a calm eye to every issue; but this evening
there was something new and extraordinary about Jimmy Grayson; he was
ashamed and apologetic obviously so, and Harley felt a thrill of pity
that a man so intensely proud under all his democracy, or perhaps
because of it, should be forced into a position in which he must be,
seemingly at least, untrue to himself.

The candidate hesitated and glanced at the correspondents, his comrades
of many a long day, as if he expected them to ask him questions, but no
one spoke. The sinking sun dropped behind the mountains, and the
following shadow also lay across Jimmy Grayson's face. He was the
nominee of a great party for President of the United States, but there
was a heart in him, and these young men, who had gone with him through
good times and bad times, through weary days and weary nights, were to
him like the staff that has followed a general over many battle-fields.
He glanced again at the correspondents, but, as they continued to stare
resolutely at the dark mountains, he turned and walked abruptly into the
hotel.

"Boys," exclaimed Barton, "it's tough!"

"Yes, damned tough," said Hobart.

"King" Plummer, who was with them, maintained a stony silence.

An hour later the valet of the Honorable Herbert Henry Heathcote, a
smooth, trim young Englishman, arrived in Red Cloud, and never before in
his vassal life had he been a person of so much importance. The news had
been spread in Red Cloud that a rare specimen was coming, a kind
hitherto unknown in those regions. When John--that was his
name--alighted from the train in the dusk of a vast, desolate Western
night, a crowd of tanned, tall men was packed closely about him,
watching every movement that he made. Harley saw him glance fearfully at
the dark throng, but no one said a word. As he moved towards the hotel,
a valise in either hand, the way opened before him, but the crowd,
arranging itself in a solid mass behind him, followed, still silent,
until he reached the shelter of the building and the protecting wing of
his master. Then it dispersed in an orderly manner, but the only subject
of conversation in Red Cloud was the Honorable Herbert Henry Heathcote
and his "man," especially the "man."

At the appointed hour the candidate spoke from a stage in the public
square, and it would not be fair to say that his address fell flat; but
for the first time in the long campaign Harley noticed a certain
coldness on the part of the audience, a sense of aloofness, as if Jimmy
Grayson were not one of them, but a stranger in the town whom they must
treat decently, although they might not approve of him or his ways. And
Harley did not have to seek the cause, for there at a corner of the
stage sat a dominating presence, the Honorable Herbert Henry Heathcote,
his neck encircled by a very high collar, his trousers turned up at the
bottom, and his white spats gleaming through the darkness. More eyes
were upon him than upon the candidate, but Mr. Heathcote was not
daunted. His own gaze, as it swept the audience, was at times
disapproving and at other times condescending.

About the middle of the speech the night, as usual, grew chilly, and Mr.
Heathcote's "man," stepping upon the stage, assisted him on with a light
overcoat. A gasp went up from the crowd, and the candidate, stopping,
looked back and saw the cause. Again that shadow came over his face, but
in a moment he recovered himself and went on as if there had been no
interruption. When the speech was finished Mr. Heathcote stood a moment
by the table at which Harley was still writing, and said:

"I think you and your associates should leave out of your report that
part about our foreign relations. However well received in the West, I
doubt whether it would have a very good effect in the East."

"But he said it," exclaimed Harley, looking up in surprise.

"Quite true, but there should be a certain reserve on the part of the
press. These expressions have about them a trace of rawness, perhaps
inseparable from a man like our nominee, who is the product of Western
conditions. I trust that I shall be able to correct this unfortunate
tendency."

Harley was burning with anger, but the long practice of self-control
enabled him to hide it. He did not reply, but resumed his work. Mr.
Heathcote spoke to him again, but Harley, his head bent over his pad,
went on with his writing. Nor did any of the other correspondents speak.
The committeeman, astonished and indignant, left the stage, and,
followed by his "man," returned to the hotel between two silent files of
spectators.

"Experience number one," was the only comment of the correspondents, and
it came from Barton.

When Harley went into the hotel he saw Jimmy Grayson leaning against the
clerk's desk as if he were waiting for something. He glanced at Harley,
and there was a tinge of reproach in his look. Harley's resolution
faltered, but it was only for a moment, and then, taking his key from
the clerk, he went in silence to his room. He understood the position of
Jimmy Grayson, he knew how much the party was indebted to Mr. Heathcote
for payment of the campaign's necessary expenses, but he was determined
to carry out his plan, which he believed would succeed.

But there was one man in Jimmy Grayson's group to whom the appearance of
Mr. Heathcote was welcome, and this was Churchill, who was sure that he
recognized in him a kindred spirit. He sent a long despatch to the
_Monitor_, telling of the very beneficial effect the committeeman's
presence already exercised upon the campaign, particularly the new tone
of dignity that he had given to it. He also cultivated Mr. Heathcote,
and was willing to furnish him deferential advice.

As the special train was to leave early the next morning for the
northern part of the state, they ate breakfast in a dim dawn, with only
the rim of the sun showing over the eastern mountains. Mr. Heathcote
came in late and found every chair occupied. No one moved or took any
notice. Jimmy Grayson looked embarrassed, and said in a propitiatory
tone to the proprietor, who stood near the window:

"Can't you fix a place for Mr. Heathcote?"

"Oh, I guess I kin bring in a little table from the kitchen," replied
Bill Jeffreys, negligently, "but he'll have to hustle; that train goes
in less than ten minutes."

The table was brought in, and Mr. Heathcote ate more quickly than ever
before in his life, although he found time for caustic criticism of the
hotel accommodations in Red Cloud. Just as he put down his half-emptied
coffee-cup the train blew a warning whistle.

"That engineer is at least three minutes ahead of time," said Barton.

"He's a lively fellow," said Hobart. "I was up early, and he told me he
wasn't going to wait a single minute, even if he did have a Presidential
nominee aboard."

The eyes of Barton and Hobart met, and Barton understood.

"We'd better run for it," said Barton, and they hurried to the train,
Mr. Heathcote borne on in the press. As they settled into their seats
Barton pointed out of the window, and cried: "Look! Look! The 'man' is
about to get left!"

John, a valise in one hand and a hat-box in the other, was rushing for
the train, which had already begun to move. But the conductor reached
down the steps, grasped him by the collar, and dragged him, baggage and
all, aboard. John appeared humbly before his master, who was silent,
however, merely waving him to a seat. Mr. Heathcote was apparently
indignant about something. By-and-by he stated that his valet had been
forced to leave Red Cloud without anything to eat. Nobody had looked
after the man, and he could not understand such neglect. He would like
to have a porter bring him something. Old Senator Curtis, who was with
them, spoke up from a full heart:

"He'll have to go hungry. There's no dining-car on this train, and he
can't get a bite, even for a bagful of money, till we get to Willow
Grange at two o'clock this afternoon."

The senator was not excessively polite, and Mr. Heathcote opened his
mouth as if to speak, but, changing his mind, closed it. He glanced at
Jimmy Grayson, who looked troubled, although he, also, maintained
silence. Neither would any one else speak; but every one was taking
notice. Harley in his heart felt sorry for the poor valet, who seemed to
be an inoffensive fellow, suited to his humble trade; but a political
campaign in the Rocky Mountain West was no place for him; he must take
what circumstances dealt out to him.

The committeeman presently recovered his sense of his own worth and
dignity, and spoke in a large manner of the plans that he would take to
raise the tone of the campaign. The candidate still looked troubled and
made no comment. The local public men, the correspondents, and all on
the little train were silent, staring out of the windows, apparently
engrossed in the scenery, which was now becoming grand and beautiful.
Ridge rose above ridge, and afar the peaks, clad in eternal snow, looked
down like heaven's silent sentinels.

Mr. Heathcote was very courteous to Mrs. Grayson, but at first he
scarcely noticed Sylvia, although a little later he expressed admiration
for her beauty, not doubting, however, that he would find her the
possessor of an uncultivated mind.

Towards the noon hour a tragic discovery was made. After the candidate's
last speech in the evening the train would leave immediately for Utah,
and all continuing on the way must sleep aboard. Room had been found in
some manner for Mr. Heathcote, but every other berth, upper and lower,
had been assigned long ago, and there was nothing left for his man. But
Mr. Heathcote, resolved not to be trampled upon, went in a state of high
indignation to the conductor.

"I must have a place for my man. I cannot travel without an attendant."

"Jimmy Grayson does," replied the conductor, a rude Democrat of the
West; "and your fellow can't have any, because there ain't any to be
had; besides, it's 'cordin' to train rules that dogs an' all such-like
should travel in the baggage-car."

Mr. Heathcote refused to speak again to such a man, and complained to
the candidate. But Jimmy Grayson could do nothing.

"This train on which we now are is paid for jointly by the committeemen
of Colorado, Utah, and Idaho," he said, "and I have nothing to do with
the arrangements. I should not like to attempt interference."

Mr. Heathcote looked at old Senator Curtis, who seemed to be in charge,
but, apprehending a blow to his dignity, he refrained from pressing the
point, and the lackey slept that night as well as he could on a seat in
the smoking-car.

The next few days, which were passed chiefly in Utah, were full of color
and events. Life became very strenuous for the Honorable Herbert Henry
Heathcote. He learned how to take his meals on the wing, as it were, to
run for trains, to snatch two hours' sleep anywhere between midnight and
morning, and to be jostled by rude crowds that failed to recognize his
superiority. The full-backed light overcoat, during its brief existence
the focus of so much attention, was lost in a dinner rush and never
reappeared. But, above all, Mr. Heathcote had upon his hands the care of
the helpless, miserable lackey, and never did a sick baby require more
attention. John was lost amid his strange and terrible surroundings. At
mountain towns crowds of boys, and sometimes men, would surround him and
jeer at his peculiar appearance, and his master would be compelled to
come forcibly to his rescue. He never learned how to run for the car,
with his arms full of baggage, and once, boarding a wrong train, he was
run off on a branch line a full fifty miles. He was rescued only after
infinite telegraphing and two days' time, when he reappeared,
crestfallen and terrified.

And there was trouble--plenty of it--aboard the train. There was never a
berth for the lackey, who was relegated permanently to the smoking-car.
Mr. Heathcote himself sometimes had to fight, bribe, and intrigue for
one--and often he failed to get breakfast or dinner through false
information or the carelessness of somebody. He made full acquaintance
with the pangs of hunger, and many a time, when every nerve in him
called for sleep, there was no place to lay his weary head.

Now the iron entered the soul of the Honorable Herbert, and he became a
soured and disappointed man, but he stuck gravely to his chosen task.
Harley, despite his dislike, could not keep from admiring his tenacity.
Nobody, except the candidate, paid the slightest attention to him; even
Sylvia and Mrs. Grayson ignored him; if he made suggestions, nobody said
anything to the contrary, but they were never adopted, and Mr. Heathcote
noticed, too, that the others seemed to be enduring the life easily,
while it was altogether too full for him. If there was any angle, he
seemed somehow to knock against it; and if there was any pitfall, it was
he who fell into it. But he gave no sign of returning to the East, and
his misfortunes continued. From time to time they got copies of the
Western papers containing full reports of Jimmy Grayson's canvass, and
none of them, except the _Monitor_, ever spoke flatteringly of the
Honorable Herbert or his efforts to put the campaign on a higher plane.

Churchill spoke once to the group of correspondents and politicians
about the lack of deference paid to the committeeman, but he was invited
so feelingly to attend to his own business that he never again risked
it. However, he said in his despatches to the _Monitor_ that even Mr.
Heathcote's efforts could not keep the campaign on a dignified level.

At last, on one dreadful day, they lost the lackey again, and this time
there was no hope of recovery. He had been seen, his hands full of
baggage, running for the wrong train, and when they heard from him he
was far down in Colorado, stranded, and there was no possible chance for
him to overtake the "special." Accordingly, his master, acting under
expert advice, telegraphed him money and a ticket and ordered him back
to New York. When the news was taken to the candidate Harley saw an
obvious look of relief on his face. That valet had been a terrible
weight upon the campaign, and none knew it better than Jimmy Grayson.

Mr. Heathcote now became morose and silent. Much of his lofty and
patronizing air disappeared, although the desire to instruct would crop
out at times. Usually he was watchful and suspicious, but the struggle
for bread and a place to sleep necessarily consumed a large portion of
his energies. As time dragged on his manner became that of one hunted,
but doggedly enduring, nevertheless. The candidate always spoke to him
courteously, whenever he had a chance, but then there was little time
for conversation, as the campaign was now hot and fast. Mr. Heathcote
was, in fact, a man alone in the world, and outlawed too. The weight
upon him grew heavier and heavier as his path became thornier and
thornier; the angles, the corners, and the pitfalls seemed to multiply,
and always he was the victim. Jimmy Grayson looked now and then as if he
would like to interfere, but there was no way for him to interfere, nor
any one with whom he could interfere.

Mr. Heathcote still clung bravely to some portions of his glorious
wardrobe. The white spats he yet sported, in the face of a belligerent
Western democracy, and he paid the full price. Harley acknowledged this
merit in him, and once or twice, when the committeeman, amid the
comments of the ribald crowd, turned a pathetic look upon him, he was
moved to pity and a desire to help; but the last feeling he resolutely
crushed, and held on his way.

The campaign swung farther westward and northward, and into a primitive
wilderness, where the audiences were composed solely of miners and
cowboys. Old Senator Curtis and several other of the Colorado men were
still with them, and one night they spoke at a mining hamlet on the
slope of a mountain that shot ten thousand feet above them. The
candidate was in great form, and made one of his best speeches, amid
roars of applause. The audience was so well pleased that it would not
disperse when he finished, and wished vociferously to know if there were
not another spellbinder on the stage. Then the spirit of mischief
entered the soul of Hobart.

The Honorable Herbert sat at the corner of the stage, the white spats
still gleaming defiance, his whole appearance, despite recent
modifications, showing that he was a strange bird in a strange land.
Hobart constituted himself chairman for the moment, and, pointing to Mr.
Heathcote, said:

"Gentlemen, one of the ablest and most famous of our national
committeemen is upon the stage, and he will be glad to address you."

The audience cheered, half in expectation and half in derision, but the
Honorable Herbert, who had never made a speech in his life, rose to the
cry. His figure straightened up, there was a new light in his eye, and
Harley, startled, did not know Mr. Heathcote. As he advanced to the edge
of the stage the shouts of derision overcame those of expectation.
Harley heard the words "Dude!" "Tenderfoot!" mingled with the cries, but
the Honorable Herbert gave no sign that he heard. He reached the edge of
the stage, waved his hand, and then there was silence.

"Friends," he said--"I call you such, though you have not received me in
a friendly manner--"

The crowd breathed hard, and some one uttered a threat, but another man
commanded silence. "Give him a chance!" he said.

"You have not received me in a friendly manner," resumed the Honorable
Herbert, "but I am your friend, and I am resolved that you shall be
mine. I cannot make a speech to you, but I will tell you a story which
perhaps will serve as well."

"Go on with the story," said the men, doubtfully. On the stage there was
a general waking-up. Correspondents and politicians alike recognized the
Honorable Herbert's new manner, and they bent forward with interest.

"My story," said Mr. Heathcote, "is of a man who had a fond and perhaps
too generous father. This father had suffered great hardships, and he
wished to save his son from them. What more natural? But perhaps, in his
tenderness, he did the son a wrong. So this son grew up, not seeing the
rough side of life, and finding all things easy. He lived in a part of
the country that is old and rich, where what is called necessity you
call luxury. He knew nothing of the world except that portion of it to
which he was used. What more natural? Is not that human nature
everywhere? He saw himself petted and admired, and in the course of time
he felt himself a person of importance. Is not that natural, too?"

He paused and looked over the audience, which was silent and attentive,
held by the interest of something unusual and the deep, almost painful,
earnestness of Mr. Heathcote's manner.

"What's he coming to?" whispered Hobart.

"I don't know; wait and see," replied Harley.

"Thus the man grew up to know only a little world," the Honorable
Herbert went on, "and he did not know how little it was. He was like a
prisoner in a gorgeous room, who sees, without, snow and storm that
cannot touch him, but who is a prisoner nevertheless. Those whom he met
and with whom he lived his daily life were like him, and they thought
they were the heart of this world. Everything about them was golden;
they saw that people wished to hear of them, to read of them, to know
all that they did, and their view of their importance grew every day.
What more natural? Was not that human nature?"

"I think I see which way he is going," whispered Hobart.

Harley nodded. The audience was still and intent, hanging on the words
of the speaker.

"This youth," continued Mr. Heathcote, "was sent by-and-by to Europe to
have his education finished, and there all the ideas formed by his life
in this country were confirmed in him. He saw a society, organized
centuries ago, in which every man found a definite place for life
assigned to him, in accordance with what fortune had done for him at
birth. There he received deference and homage, even more than before,
and the great, changing world, with its mighty tides and storms that
flowed about his little group, leaving it untouched, was yet unknown to
him.

"He came back to his own country, and the strong father who had
sheltered him died. He was filled with an ambition to be a political
power, as his father had been, and the dead hand brought him the place.
Then he came into the West to join in a great political campaign, but it
was his first real excursion into the real world, and his ignorance was
heavy upon him."

A deep "Ah!" ran through the crowd, and Harley noticed a sudden look of
respect upon the brown faces. They were beginning to see where the
thread of the story would lead. Then Harley glanced at old Senator
Curtis, whose lips moved tremulously for a moment. "King" Plummer was
regarding the committeeman with astonished interest.

"This man, I repeat," continued Mr. Heathcote, "came West with his
ignorance, I might almost say with his sins heavy upon him, but it was
not his fault; it was the fault, rather, of circumstances. He seemed a
strange, a grotesque figure to these people of the West, but they should
not have forgotten that they also seemed strange to him. It has been
said that it takes many kinds of people to make a world, and they cannot
all be alike. One point of view may differ from another point of view,
and both may be right. If this man did anything wrong--and he admits
that he did--he did it in ignorance. There were some with him who knew
both points of view who might have helped him, but who did not; instead,
they made life hard; they put countless difficulties in his way; they
made him feel very wretched, very mean, and very little. He saw the
other point of view at last, but he was not permitted to show that he
saw it; he was put in such a position that his pride would not let him."

The crowd suddenly burst into cheers. The keen Western men understood,
and the mountain-slope gave back the echo, "Hurrah for Heathcote!" The
Honorable Herbert's figure swelled and his eyes flashed. Grateful water
was falling at last on the parched desert sands.

"But, friends," he continued, "this man, though his lesson has been
rough, comes to you with no resentment. He has broken the bars of his
prison; he is in the real world at last, and he comes to you asking to
be one of you, to give and take with the crowd. Will you have him?"

"Yes!" a chorus of a thousand voices roared against the side of the
mountain and came back in a thunderous echo.

Old Senator Curtis sprang to his feet, seized Mr. Heathcote by the hand,
and shouted:

"Gentlemen, I, too, need to apologize, and also I want to introduce to
you a real man, Mr. Herbert Henry Heathcote."

"Put me down for an apology, too," said "King" Plummer, in his big,
booming tones.

Jimmy Grayson, on the outskirts of the crowd, returning to learn what
the noise was about, saw and heard all, and murmured to a friend:

"There is now a new member of our group, and all is well again."



XII

CHURCHILL STRIKES


The conversion and adoption of Mr. Heathcote, as Hobart called it, was a
pleasant incident in several senses, bringing much quiet gratification
to them all, and particularly and obviously to the candidate. A hostile
element, one intended by others to be hostile and interfering, had
become friendly, which, of itself, was a great gain. Moreover, the
smoothness of social intercourse was increased, and there, too, was a
new type, adding to the variety and interest of the group.

The only one not pleased was Churchill, who had expected much from Mr.
Heathcote, and who now, as he considered it, saw the committeeman turn
traitor. It was not a matter that he could handle fully in his
despatches to the _Monitor_, being too intangible to allow of bald
assertion, and he was reduced to indirect statement. This not satisfying
him at all, he wrote a long letter to Mr. Goodnight, both for the sake
of the cause and for the sake of his own feelings, which had been much
lacerated. Its production cost him a great deal of thought and labor;
but he had his reward, as its perusal after completion proved to him
that it was a masterpiece.

Churchill showed quite clearly to Mr. Goodnight the steady decay of the
candidate's character and the lower levels to which his campaign was
falling. In the security of a private letter it was not necessary for
him to spare words, and Churchill spoke his mind forcibly about the
manner in which Jimmy Grayson was pandering to the "common people," the
"ignorant mob," the "million-footed." Churchill himself, although not
old, had taken long ago the measure of these foolish common people, and
he despised them, his contempt giving him a very pleasant conviction of
his own superiority.

He also poured a few vials of wrath upon the head of Mr. Heathcote, whom
he characterized as a coward, not able to stand up against petty
persecution, and from the committeeman he passed on to others of Mr.
Grayson's immediate following, taking "King" Plummer next. Mr. Plummer,
in his opinion, was an excellent type of democracy run to riot. He was
one of the "boys" in every sense. He was wofully wanting in personal
dignity, speaking to everybody in the most familiar manner, and
encouraging the same form of address towards himself; he failed utterly
to recognize the superiority of some other men, and he was grossly
ignorant, knowing nothing whatever of Europe and the vast work that had
been done there for civilization and order. Moreover, he could not be
induced, even by the well-informed, to take any interest in the Old
World, and once had had the rudeness to say to Churchill himself, "What
in the devil is Europe to us?"

Churchill thus subjected the views of "King" Plummer to the process of
elaboration because they had made a vivid impression upon him. He and
the "King" had never been able to get on together, the mountaineer
treating him with rough indifference, and Churchill returning it with a
hauteur which he considered very effective. To Churchill men of "King"
Plummer's type seemed the greatest danger the country could have. Their
lack of respect for diplomacy, their want of form and ceremony, their
brutal habit of calling things by their names, were in his opinion
revolutionary. He did not see how dealings with foreign nations, which
always loomed very large to him, could be conducted by such men. Always
in his mind was the question, What would they say in London and Vienna
and Berlin? and the _Monitor_, which he served faithfully, confirmed him
through its tone in this mental state. Still drawing his inspiration
from the _Monitor_, he regarded a sneer as invariably the best weapon;
if you were opposed to anything, the proper way to attack it was by
sneering at it; then, not having used argument, you never put yourself
in a position to have your arguments refuted.

From "King" Plummer, Churchill passed to some of his associates--like
the _Monitor_, he never hesitated to befoul his own nest--and he told
Mr. Goodnight how the candidate was using them, how they had wholly
fallen under the spell of his undeniable charm of manner, and how they
wrote to please him rather than to tell the truth.

As he sealed his long letter, Churchill felt the conscious glow of
right-doing and stern self-sacrifice. He had written thus for the good
of the party and the good of the country, and he was strengthened, too,
by the feeling that he could not possibly be wrong. The _Monitor_
cultivated the sense of omniscience, which it communicated in turn to
all the members of its staff.

He passed Sylvia Morgan on his way from the hotel reading-room to the
lobby to mail his letter, and when he met her he quickly turned down
the address on the envelope, in order that she might not see it. It was
done by impulse, and Churchill, for the first time, had a feeling of
guilt that made him angry.

"That must be a love letter, Mr. Churchill," said Sylvia, teasing him
with the easy freedom of the West. "Do you write her twenty-four pages,
or only twenty?"

"I have no love except my work, Miss Morgan," replied Churchill,
assuming his most grandiose air.

"Is that a permanent affection, or a passing fancy?"

Her face expressed the most eager interest, as if she could not possibly
be happy until she had Churchill's answer. The words were frivolous, but
her manner was most deferential, and Churchill concluded that she was
expressing respect in as far as what he considered her shallow nature
could do so.

"It is, I hope, a permanent passion, Miss Morgan," he replied, gravely.
"There is a pleasure in doing one's duty, particularly under
disagreeable circumstances, which I am happy to say I have felt more
than once, and custom usually strengthens one who walks in the right
path."

Still in this mood of contemplation, he regarded her, and he thought he
saw a slight look of awe appear in her eyes. His opinion of her rose at
once. While not able to show merit of the highest degree, she could
perceive it in others, and this differentiated her from the rest of the
group. Churchill allowed himself to see that she had a fine face and a
slender, beautiful figure, and he felt it a pity that she should be
thrown away on a crude, rough old mountaineer like Plummer.

"I often think, Miss Morgan," he said, "that if you had lived in the
East awhile you could have been quite a match for any woman whom I have
ever known."

"Thank you," she replied, humbly. "Oh, if I could only have lived in the
East just a little while!"

"But I assure you, Miss Morgan, I have met some very remarkable women."

"I do not doubt it, and they have had an equal good-fortune."

Churchill looked suspiciously at her, but there was the same touch of
deference in her manner, and he still honored her with his conversation.
He permitted himself to discourse a little upon the affairs which he had
embodied--"embodied" he felt was the word--in his letter, and she, with
all a woman's intuition, and much of masculine reasoning power, guessed
what the letter contained, although she did not know to whom it was
going. Nor did she feel it wrong to be very attentive, as Churchill
talked, because he was doing it of his own free will, and she had the
fate of her uncle deeply at heart.

Churchill spoke of the campaign, venturing upon polite criticisms of
certain features that seemed objectionable to him, and, listening to
him, she confirmed her opinion that he was the personal representative
with Mr. Grayson of the chief elements within the party that could cause
trouble. And she felt sure, too, that the letter he held in his hand
would add fuel to the fire already burning. She happened also to be
present several days later when a messenger-boy handed him a telegram,
and, when he opened it, he made an involuntary motion to hide it, just
as he had done with the letter. She pretended not to see, and walked
away, but she knew as well as if he had told her that the telegram was
the reply to the letter.

Mr. Goodnight himself sent the despatch, and he thanked Churchill warmly
for the very important information told so luminously in his letter. The
solid and respectable portion of the party had hoped much from the
presence of Mr. Heathcote, but as he had yielded to the influence of
another, instead of exerting his own, it would be necessary to take
additional action later. Meanwhile he requested Mr. Churchill to keep
him accurately and promptly informed of everything, and Churchill at
once telegraphed: "Despatch received. Will be glad to comply with your
request."

Then he congratulated himself, and felt good, his complacent demeanor
forming a contrast to that of several others in the party. The latter
were "King" Plummer, Sylvia Morgan, and John Harley, all of whom were
unhappy.

Harley was troubled by his conscience, and he could not do anything to
keep it from sticking those little pins into him. Sylvia Morgan, despite
herself, drew him on, not the less because his first feeling towards her
had been one of hostility. She had a piquant touch, a manner full of
unconscious allurement--the radiation of a pure soul, though it
was--that he had never seen in any other woman, and the harder he fought
against it, the more surely it conquered him. He took from his valise a
copy of that old Chicago newspaper, with her picture on the front page,
and wondered how he could have intimated that she was the cause of its
being there. As he knew her better, he knew that she could not have done
it, and he knew, too, that she would have scornfully resented any
insinuation of having done so by refusing to deny it.

The "King" was unhappy, too, in his way, and that was very bad indeed
for him. He had tried an effusive gallantry, and it did not seem to
succeed any better than obedience to his own impulses--on the whole,
rather worse; and now, not knowing what else to do, he sulked. It was
not any sly sulking, but genuine, open sulking in his large, Western
way, thus leaving it apparent to all that the great "King" Plummer was
sad. And that meant much to the party, because in a sense it was now
personally conducted by him. In his joyous mood, which was his usual
mood until the present, he had a large and pervasive personality that
was a wonderful help to travel and social intercourse. They missed his
timely, if now and then a trifle rough, jests, his vast knowledge of the
mountains, which had some good story of every town to which they came,
and his infinite zest and humor, which also communicated more zest and
humor to every one with him. It was a grievous day for them all when
"King" Plummer began to mourn. More than one guessed the cause, but
wisely they refrained from any attempt to remove it. They could do
nothing but endure the gloom in silence, until the clouds passed, as
they hoped they would pass.

The candidate, too, was troubled, and sought the privacy of the special
car's drawing-room more than usual. Sylvia Morgan had given him a hint
that attacks upon him from a certain source were likely to be renewed,
and, moreover, would increase in virulence. He soon found that she was
right, as the copies of the _Monitor_ that they now obtained were
frankly cynical and unbelieving. All of its despatches from the West,
Churchill's as well as others, were depreciatory. The candidate was
invariably made to appear in a bad light--which is an easy matter to
do, in any case, without sacrifice of the truth--that is, verbally, only
the spirit being changed--and the editor reinforced them with strong
criticisms, in which quotations from English writers and a French phrase
now and then were freely employed. The whole burden of it was, "We
support this candidate; but, oh, how hard it is for us to do it, how
badly we feel about it, and how much easier it would be for us to
support any other man!" It also printed many contributions from readers,
in all of which the contributors spoke of themselves as belonging by
nature and cultivation to the select few, "the saving remnant," who
really knew what was good for the country. Here much latitude of
expression was allowed, as the paper was not directly responsible for
what these gentlemen said. They wrote of the way in which the dignity of
a great party had been destroyed by the uncouth and talkative Westerner
who had been lucky enough to secure the nomination. They felt that they
had been shamed in the face of the world, and more than once asked the
burning and painful question, "What will Europe say?" They asked, also,
if it were yet too late to amend the error, and they threw forth the
suggestion that the intelligent and cultured minority within the party
might refrain from voting, when election day came, or, in a pinch, might
vote for the other man.

These communications were signed, sometimes, with Latin names, and
sometimes with names in modern English, but always they indicated a
certain sense of superiority and of detachment from the crowd on the
part of the signers.

The annoyance of the candidate increased as he read copies of the
_Monitor_, which were sent to him in numbers. He knew that the paper was
the chief spokesman of an influential minority within the party, and
the divergence between the majority and the minority was already
manifest. It was evident, too, that it was bound to become greater, and
that was why the candidate was troubled. He wished to become President;
it was his great desire, and he did not seek to conceal it; he
considered it a legitimate, a noble ambition, one that any American had
a right to have, and he was in the first flush of his great powers, when
such a position would appeal most to a strong man. Now, even when the
fight, with a united party, was desperate at best, he foresaw a
defection, and hot wrath rose up in his veins against Goodnight, the
_Monitor_, and all their following.

But the worst of the whole position to a man of Grayson's open and
direct temperament was the necessity to keep silent, even to dissemble,
or, at least, to do that which seemed to him very near to dissembling.
Although he was under so fierce a fire, he would not allow any one to
find fault with Churchill for his despatches; and this was not always
easy to do, because many of the local politicians, who were on the train
from time to time, would grow hot at sight of the criticisms, and want
to attack the writer. But Jimmy Grayson always interfered, and reminded
them that it was the right of the press to speak so if it wished.
Churchill still wondered, why he was not a martyr, and wasted his
regrets. Mrs. Grayson and Sylvia maintained an eloquent silence.

Meanwhile, an event destined to give Churchill and the _Monitor_ a yet
greater shock was approaching.



XIII

THE THIRD DEGREE


The candidate and his company were due one night at Grayville, a brisk
Colorado town, dwelling snugly in the shadow of high mountains and
hopeful of a brilliant future, based upon the mines within its limits
and the great pastoral country beyond, as any of its inhabitants, asked
or unasked, would readily have told you. Hence there was joy in the
train, from Jimmy Grayson down, because the next day was to be Sunday, a
period of rest, no speeches to be made, nothing to write, but just rest,
sleeping, eating, idling, bathing, talking--whatever one chose to do.
Only those who have been on arduous campaigns can appreciate the luxury
of such a day now and then, cutting like a sweep of green grass across
the long and dusty road.

There was also quite a little group of women on the train, the wives of
several Colorado political leaders having joined Sylvia and Mrs. Grayson
for a while, and they, too, looked forward to a day of rest and the
restoration of their toilets.

"They tell me that Grayville has one of the best hotels in the
mountains," said Barton to Harley, his brother correspondent. "That you
can get a dinner in a dozen courses, if you want it, and every course
good; that it has real porcelain-lined bath-tubs, and beds sure to cure
the worst case of insomnia on earth. Do you think this improbable, this
extravagant but most fascinating tale can be true, Harley?"

"I live in hope," replied Harley.

"Jimmy Grayson has been here before," interrupted Hobart, "and he says
it's true, every word of it; if Jimmy Grayson vouches for a thing, that
settles it; and here is a copy of the Grayville _Argus_; it has to be a
pretty good town that can publish as smart a daily as this."

He handed a neat sheet to Barton, who laughed.

"There speaks the great detective," he said. "You know, Harley, how
Hobart is always arguing from the effect back to the cause."

Hobart, in fact, was not a political writer, but a "murder mystery" man,
and the best of his kind in New York, but the regular staff
correspondent of his paper, the _Leader_, being ill, he had been sent in
his place. He was a Harvard graduate and a gentleman with a taste for
poetry, but he had a peculiar mind, upon which a murder mystery acted as
an irritant--he could not rest until he had solved it--and his paper
always put him on the great cases, such as those in which a vast
metropolis like New York abounds. Now he was restless and discontented;
the tour seemed to him the mere reporting of speeches and obvious
incidents that everybody saw; there was nothing to unravel, nothing that
called for the keen edge of a fine intellect.

"Grayville, with all its advantages as a place of rest, is sure to be
like the other mountain towns," he said, somewhat sourly--"the same
houses, the same streets, the same people, I might almost say the same
mountains. There will be nothing unusual, nothing out of the way."

Harley had taken the paper from Barton's hands and was reading it.

"At any rate, if Grayville is not unusual, it is to have an unusual
time," he interrupted.

"How so?"

"It is to hear Jimmy Grayson speak Monday, and it is going to hang a man
Tuesday. See, the two events get equal advance space, two columns each,
on the front page."

He handed the paper to Hobart, who looked at it a little while and then
dropped it with an air of increasing discontent.

"That may mean something to the natives," he said; "it may be an
indication to them that their place is becoming important--a metropolis
in which things happen--but it is nothing to me. This hanging case is
stale and commonplace; it is perfectly clear; a young fellow named Boyd
is to be hanged for killing his partner, another miner; no doubt about
his guilt, plenty of witnesses against him, his own denial weak and
halting--in fact, half a confession; jury out only five minutes; whole
thing as bald and flat as this plain through which we are running."

He tapped with his finger on the dusty car-window, and his expression
was so gloomy that the others could not restrain a laugh.

"Cheer up, old man," said Barton. "Four more hours and we are in
Grayville; just think of that wonderful hotel, with its more wonderful
beds and its yet more wonderful kitchen."

The hotel was all that they either expected or hoped, and the dawn
brought a beautiful Sunday, disclosing a pretty little frontier city
with its green, irrigated valley on one side and the brown mountains,
like a protecting wall, on the other. Harley slept late, and after
breakfast came out upon the veranda to enjoy the luxury of a
rocking-chair, with the soft October air around him and the majesty of
the mountains before him. He hoped to find Sylvia there, but neither she
nor any of the ladies was present. Instead, there was a persistent,
inquiring spirit abroad which would not let him rest, and this spirit
belonged to Hobart, the "mystery" man.

Harley had not been enjoying the swinging ease of the rocking-chair five
minutes before Hobart, the light of interest in his eyes, pounced upon
him.

"Harley, old fellow," he exclaimed, "this is the first place we've
struck in which Jimmy Grayson is not the overwhelming attraction."

"The hanging, I suppose," said Harley, carelessly.

"Of course. What else could there be? It occurred to me last night, when
I was reading the paper, that I might scare up a feature or two in the
case, and I was out of my bed early this morning to try. It was a
forlorn hope, I'll admit, but anything was better than nothing, and I've
had my reward. I've had my reward, old fellow!"

He chuckled outright in his glee. Harley smiled. Hobart always
interested and amused him. The instinctive way in which he unfailingly
rose to a "case" showed his natural genius for that sort of thing.

"I haven't seen Boyd yet," continued Hobart, excitedly, "but I've found
out this much already--there are people in Grayville who believe Boyd
innocent. It is true that he and Wofford--the murdered man--had been
quarrelling in Grayville, and Boyd was taken at the shanty with the
blood-stained knife in his hand; but that doesn't settle it."

Harley could not restrain an incredulous laugh. "It seems to me those
two circumstances, omitting the other proof, are pretty convincing," he
said.

Hobart flushed. "You just wait until I finish," he said, somewhat
defiantly. "Now Boyd, as I have learned, was a good-hearted, generous
young fellow. The quarrel amounted to very little, and probably had been
patched up before they reached their shack."

"That is a view which the jury evidently could not take."

"Juries are often wooden-headed."

"Of course--in the eyes of superior people."

"Now don't you try to be satirical--it's not your specialty. I mean to
finish the tale. If you read the paper, you will recall that the shanty
where the murder occurred was only a short distance from the
mountain-road, and there were three witnesses--Bill Metzger, a dissolute
cowboy who was passing, and who, attracted by Wofford's death-cry, ran
to the cabin and found Boyd, blood-stained knife in hand, bending over
the murdered man; Ed Thorpe, a tramp miner, who heard the same cry and
who came up two or three minutes later; and, finally, Tim Williams, a
town idler, who was on the mountain-side, hunting. The other two heard
him fire his gun a few hundred yards away, and called to him. When he
arrived, Boyd was still dazed and muttering to himself, as if
overpowered by the horror of his crime."

"If that isn't conclusive, then nothing is," said Harley, decisively.

"It is not conclusive; there was no real motive for Boyd to do such a
thing."

"To whom did the knife belong?"

"It was a long bread-knife that the two used at the cabin."

"There you are! Proof on proof!"

"Now, you keep silent, Harley, and come with me, like a good fellow, and
see Boyd in the jail. If you don't, I swear I'll pester the life out of
you for a week."

Harley rose reluctantly, as he knew that Hobart would keep his word. He
believed it the idlest of errands, but the jail was only a short
distance from them, and the business would not take long. On the way
Hobart talked to him about the three witnesses. Metzger, the cowboy, on
the day of the murder, had been riding in from a ranch farther down the
valley; the other two had been about the town until a short time before
the departure of Boyd and Wofford for their cabin.

They reached the jail, a conspicuous stone building in the centre of the
town, and were shown into the condemned man's cell. The jailer announced
them with the statement:

"Tim, here's two newspaper fellers from the East wants to see you."

The prisoner was lying on a pallet in the corner of his cell, and he
raised himself on his elbow when Harley and Hobart entered.

"You are writers for the papers?" he said.

"Yes, clean from New York; they are with Jimmy Grayson," the jailer
answered for them.

"I don't know as I've got anythin' to say to you," continued the
prisoner. "I 'ain't got no picture to give you, an' if I had one I
wouldn't give it. I don't want my hangin' to be all wrote up in the
papers, with pictures an' things, too, jest to please the people in the
East. If I've got to die, I'd rather do it quiet and peaceful, among the
boys I know. I ain't no free circus."

"We did not come to write you up; it was for another purpose," Harley
hastened to say.

He was surprised at the youth of the prisoner, who obviously was not
over twenty-one, a mere boy, with good features and a look half defiant,
half appealing.

"Well, what did you come for, then?" asked the boy.

Harley was unable to answer this question, and he looked at Hobart as if
to indicate the one who would reply. The "mystery" man did not seek to
evade his responsibility in the least, and promptly said:

"Mr. Boyd, I think you will acquit us of any intention to intrude upon
you. It was the best of motives that brought us to you. I have always
had an interest in cases of this sort, and when I heard of yours in the
train, coming here, I received an impression then which has been
strengthened on my arrival in Grayville. I believe you are innocent."

The boy looked up. A sudden flash of gratitude, almost of hope, appeared
in his eyes.

"I am!" he cried. "God knows I didn't kill Bill Wofford. He wuz my
partner and we wuz like brothers. We did quarrel that mornin'--I don't
deny it--and we both had been liquorin'; but I'd never hev struck him a
blow of any kind, least of all a foul one."

"Was it not true that you were found with the bloody knife in your hand,
standing over his yet warm body?" asked Hobart.

"It's so, but it was somebody else that used the knife. Bill went on
ahead, and when I come into the place I saw him on the floor an' the
knife in 'im. I was struck all a-heap, but I did what anybody else would
'a' done--I pulled the knife out. And then the fellers come in on me. I
was rushed into a trial right away. Of course, I couldn't tell a
straight tale; the horror of it was still in my brain, and the effect
o' the liquor, too. I got all mixed up--but before God, gen'lemen, I
didn't do it."

His tone was strong with sincerity, and his expression was rather that
of grief than remorse. Harley, who had had a long experience with all
kinds of men in all kinds of situations, did not believe that he was
either bad or guilty. Hobart spoke his thoughts aloud.

"I don't think you did it," he said.

"Everybody believes I did," said Boyd, with pathetic resignation, "and I
am to be hanged for it. So what does it matter now?"

"I am going to look for the guilty man," said Hobart, decidedly.

Boyd shook his head and lay back on his pallet. The others, with a few
words of hope, withdrew, and, when they were outside, Harley said:

"Hobart, were you not wrong to sow the seed of hope in that man's mind
when there is no hope?"

"There is hope," replied Hobart; "I have a plan. Don't ask me anything
about it--it's vague yet--but I may work it."

Harley glanced at him, and, seeing that he was intense and eager, with
his mind concentrated upon this single problem, resolved to leave him to
his own course; so he spent part of the day, a wonderful autumn Sunday,
in a rocking-chair on the piazza of the hotel, and another part walking
with Sylvia. He told her of the murder case and Hobart's action, and her
prompt sympathy was aroused.

"Suppose he should really be innocent?" she said. "It would be an awful
thing to hang an innocent man."

"So it would. He certainly does not look like a bad fellow, but you
know that those who are not bad are sometimes guilty. In any event I
fail to see what Hobart can do."

After the walk, which was all too brief, he returned to his
rocking-chair on the piazza, but Grayville, being a small place, he knew
everything that was going on within it, by means of a sort of mental
telepathy that the born correspondent acquires. He knew, for instance,
that Hobart was all the time with one or the other of the three
witnesses--Metzger, Thorpe, or Williams--for the moment the most
important persons in Grayville by reason of their conspicuous connection
with the great case.

When Hobart returned, the edge of the sun was behind the highest
mountains; but he took no notice of Harley, walking past him without a
word and burying himself somewhere in the interior of the hotel. Harley
learned subsequently that he went directly to Jimmy Grayson's room, and
remained there at least half an hour, in close conference with the
candidate himself.

The next day was a break in the great campaign. Owing to train
connections, which are not trifles in the Far West, it was necessary, in
order to complete the schedule, to spend an idle day at some place, and
Grayville had been selected as the most comfortable and therefore the
most suitable. And so the luxurious rest of the group was continued for
twenty-four hours for all--save Hobart.

Harley had never before seen the "mystery" man so eager and so full of
suppressed excitement. He frequently passed his comrades, but he rarely
spoke to them, or even noticed them; his mind was concentrated now upon
a great affair in which they would be of no avail. Harley learned,
however, that he was still much in the company of the three witnesses,
although he asked him no questions. Late in the afternoon he saw him
alone and walking rapidly towards the hotel. It seemed to Harley that
Hobart's head was borne somewhat high and in a manner exultantly, as if
he were overcoming obstacles, and he was about to ask him again in
regard to his progress, but Hobart once more sped by without a word and
went into the hotel. Harley learned later that he held a secret
conference with Jimmy Grayson.

In the evening everybody went to the opera-house to hear the candidate,
but on the way Hobart said, casually, to Harley: "Old man, I don't think
I'll sit in front to-night. I wish you would let me have your notes
afterwards." "Of course," replied Harley, as he passed down the aisle
and found his chair at the correspondents' table on the stage.

There Harley watched the fine Western audience come into the theatre and
find seats, with some noise but no disorder, a noise merely of men
calling each other by name, and commenting in advance on what Jimmy
Grayson would say. The other correspondents entered one by one--all
except Hobart, and took their seats on the stage. Sylvia and Mrs.
Grayson were with some ladies in a box. Harley looked for Hobart, and
two or three times he saw him near the main entrance of the building.
Once he was talking with a brown and longish-haired youth, and Harley,
by casual inquiry, learned that it was Metzger, the cowboy. A man not
greatly different in appearance, to whom Hobart spoke occasionally, was
Thorpe, the tramp miner, and yet another, a tall fellow with a bulging
underlip, Harley learned, was Williams, the third witness.

Evidently the witnesses would attend Jimmy Grayson's meeting, which was
natural, however, as every body in Grayville was sure to come, and
Harley also surmised that Hobart had taken upon himself the task of
instructing them as to the methods, the manner, and the greatness of the
candidate. He had done such a thing himself, upon occasion, the Western
interest in Jimmy Grayson being so great that often appeals were made to
the correspondents for information about him more detailed than the
newspapers gave.

Harley studied the faces of the three witnesses as attentively as the
distance and the light would admit, but they remained near the door,
evidently intending to stand there, back to the wall, a plan sometimes
adopted by those who may wish to slip out quietly before a speech is
finished. Harley, the trained observer, saw that Hobart, without their
knowledge, was shepherding them as the shepherd gently makes his sheep
converge upon a common spot.

The correspondent could draw no inference from the faces of the three
men, which were all of usual Western types, without anything special to
distinguish them, and his attention turned to the audience. He had
received an intimation that Jimmy Grayson intended to deliver that
evening a speech of unusual edge and weight. He would indict the other
party in the most direct and forcible manner, pointing out that its sins
were moral as well as political, but that a day of reckoning would come,
when those who profited by such evil courses must pay the forfeit; it
was a part of the law of nature, which was also the law of retribution.

The candidate was a little late, and the opera-house was filled to the
last seat, with many people standing in the aisles and about the doors.
Harley, glancing again at the rows and rows of faces, saw the three
witnesses almost together, and just to the right of the main entrance,
where they leaned against the wall, facing the stage. Hobart fluttered
about them, holding them in occasional talk, and Harley was just about
to look again, and with increasing attention, but at that instant the
great audience, with a common impulse and a kind of rushing sound, like
the slide of an avalanche, rose to its feet. The candidate, coming from
the wings, had just appeared upon the stage, and the welcome was
spontaneous and overwhelming. Jimmy Grayson was always a serious man,
but Harley noticed that evening, when he first appeared before the
footlights, that his face looked tense and eager, as if he felt that a
great task which he must assume lay just before him.

He wasted no time, but went at once to the heart of his subject, the
crime of a great party, the wicked ways by which it had attained its
wicked ends, and from the opening sentence he had his big audience with
him, heart and soul.

The indictment was terrible: in a masterly way he summed up the charges
and the proof, as a general marshals his forces for battle, and the
crowd, so clear were his words and so strong his statements, could see
them all marching in unison, like the battalions and brigades, towards
the common point, the exposed centre of the enemy. The faces of Sylvia
and Mrs. Grayson, in the box, glowed with pride.

Again and again, at the pauses between sentences, the cheers of the
audience rose and echoed, and then Harley would glance once more towards
the door; there, always, he saw Hobart with the three witnesses,
gathered under his wing, as it were, all looking raptly and intently at
Jimmy Grayson.

The candidate, by-and-by, seemed to concentrate his attention upon the
four men at the door, and spoke directly to them. Harley saw one of the
group move as if about to leave, but the hand of Hobart fell upon his
arm and he stayed. Harley, too, was conscious presently of an unusual
effect having the quality of weirdness. The lights seemed to go down in
the whole opera-house, except near the door. Jimmy Grayson and the
correspondents were in a semi-darkness, but Hobart and his three new
friends beside the door stood in a light that was almost dazzling
through contrast. The three witnesses now seemed to be fixed in that
spot, and their eyes never wandered from Jimmy Grayson's face.

Familiar as he was with the candidate's oratorical powers, Harley was
surprised at his strength of invective that evening. He had proved the
guilt, the overwhelming guilt, of the opposition party, and he was
describing the punishment, a punishment sure to come, although many
might deem it impossible:

"But there would be a day of judgment; justice might sleep for a while,
but she must awake at last, and, the longer vengeance was delayed, the
more terrible it became. Then woe to the guilty."

The audience was deeply impressed by the eloquence of Jimmy Grayson,
coinciding so well with their own views. Harley saw a look of awe appear
upon the faces of many--Sylvia's face was pale--and the house, save for
the voice of Jimmy Grayson, was as still as death. Harley felt the
effect himself, and the weird, unreal quality that he observed before
increased. Once, when he went over to make some notes, he noticed that
the words written a half-hour before were scarcely visible, but, when
he glanced at the opposite end of the theatre, there stood Hobart and
the three witnesses, gathered about him, in the very heart of a dazzling
light that showed every changing look on the faces of the four. Harley's
gaze lingered upon them, and again he tried to find something peculiar,
something distinctive in at least one of the three witnesses, but, as
before, he failed; they were to him just ordinary Westerners following
with rapt attention every word and gesture of Jimmy Grayson.

The candidate went on with his story of the consequences; the crime had
been committed; the profits had been reaped and enjoyed, but slumbering
justice, awake at last, was at hand; it was time for the wicked to
tremble, the price must be repaid, doubly, trebly, fivefold. Now he
personified the guilty party, the opposition, which he treated as an
individual; he compared it to a man who had committed a deed of horror,
but who long had hidden his crime from the world; others might be
suspected of it, others might be punished for it, but he could never
forget that he himself was guilty; though he walked before the world
innocent, the sense of it would always be there, it would not leave him
night or day; every moment, even, before the full exposure it would be
inflicting its punishment upon him; it would be useless to seek escape
or to think of it, because the longer the guilty victim struggled the
more crushing his punishment would be. The correspondents forgot to
write, and, like the audience, hung upon every word and gesture of Jimmy
Grayson, as he made his great denunciatory speech; they felt that he was
stirred by something unusual, that some great and extraordinary motive
was impelling him, and they followed eagerly where he led them.

Harley saw the look of awe on the faces of the audience grow and deepen.
With their overwhelming admiration of Jimmy Grayson, they seemed to have
conceived, too, a sudden fear of him. His long, accusing finger was
shaken in their faces, he was not alone denouncing a guilty man, but he
was seeking out their own hidden sins, and presently he would point at
them his revealing finger.

Hobart stood with the three witnesses beside the door, still in the
dazzling light. Harley was sure that not one of the four had moved in
the last half-hour, and Jimmy Grayson still held them all with his gaze.
Harley suddenly saw something like a flash of light, a signal glance, as
it were, pass between him and Hobart, and the next instant the voice of
the candidate swelled into greater and more accusing volume.

"Now you behold the guilty man!" said Jimmy Grayson. "I have shown him
to you. He seems to the world full of pride and power, but he knows that
justice is pursuing him, and that it will overtake him; he trembles, he
cowers, he flees, but the avenging footsteps are behind him, and the
sound of them rings in his frightened ears like a death-knell to his
soul. A wall rises across his way. He can flee no farther; he turns back
from the wall, raises his terror-stricken eyes, and there before him the
hand of fate is raised; its finger points at him, and a terrible voice
proclaims, 'Thou art the guilty man!"

The form of Jimmy Grayson swelled and towered, his hand was raised, the
long forefinger pointed directly at the four who stood in the dazzling
light, and the hall resounded with the tremendous echoes of his cry,
"Thou art the guilty man!"

As if lifted by a common impulse, the great audience rose with an
indescribable sound and faced about, following Jimmy Grayson's long,
accusing finger.

The man Williams threw his arm before his face, as if to protect
himself, and, with a terrible cry, "Yes, I did it!" fell in a faint on
the floor.


They were all on the train the next day, and Harley was reading from a
copy of the Grayville _Argus_ an account of Boyd's release and the
ovation that the people had given him.

"How did you trace the crime to Williams, Hobart?" asked Harley.

"I didn't trace it; it was Jimmy Grayson who brought it out by giving
him 'the third degree,'" replied Hobart, though there was a quiet tone
of satisfied pride in his voice. "You know that in New York, when they
expose a man at Police Headquarters to some such supreme test, they call
it giving him 'the third degree,' and that's what we did here. It seems
that Williams was in the saloon when Boyd and his partner quarrelled,
and he knew they had a lot of gold from the claim in their cabin. His
object was robbery. When he saw Wofford go on ahead, he followed him
quickly to the cabin, and killed him with the knife which lay on a
table. He expected to have time to get the gold before Boyd came, but
Boyd arrived so soon that he was barely able to slip out. Then Williams,
cunning and bold enough, came back as if he were a chance passer-by, and
had been called by Metzger and Thorpe. The other two were as innocent as
you or I.

"I could not make up my mind which of the three was guilty, and I
induced Jimmy Grayson to help me. It was right in line with his
speech--no harm done even if the test had failed--and then the man who
managed the lights at the opera-house, a friend of Boyd's, helped me
with the stage effects. Jimmy Grayson, of course, knew nothing about
that. I borrowed the idea. I have read somewhere that Aaron Burr by just
such a device once convicted a guilty man who was present in court as a
witness when another was being tried for the crime."

"Well, you have saved his life to an innocent man," said Harley.

"And I have cost a guilty one his." And then, after a moment's pause,
Hobart added, with a little shiver:

"But I wouldn't go through such an ordeal again at any price. When Jimmy
Grayson thundered out, 'Thou art the guilty man,' it was all I could do
to keep from crying, 'Yes, I am, I am!'"



XIV

THE DEAD CITY


As they left the hall, Churchill overtook Harley and tapped him on the
shoulder. Harley turned and saw an expression of supreme disgust on the
face of the _Monitor's_ correspondent, but Harley himself only felt
amusement. He knew that Churchill meant attack.

"I never saw anything more theatrical and ill-timed," said Churchill.
"Of course, it was all prearranged in some manner. But the idea of a
Presidential nominee taking such a risk!"

"He has saved an innocent man's life, and I call that no small
achievement."

"Because the trick was successful; but it was a trick, all the same, and
it was beneath the dignity of a Presidential nominee."

"There was but little risk of any kind," said Harley, shortly, "and even
had it been larger, it would have been right to take it, when the stake
was a man's life. Churchill, you are hunting for faults, you know you
are, or you would not be so quick to see them."

Churchill made no audible reply, but Harley could see that he was
unconvinced, and, in fact, he sent his newspaper a lurid despatch about
it, taking events out of their proper proportion, and hence giving to
them a wholly unjustifiable conclusion. But Sylvia Morgan was devotedly
loyal to her uncle. There were few deeds of his of which she approved
more warmly than this of saving Boyd's life, and Hobart, the master
spirit in it, she thanked in a way that made him turn red with pleasure.
But the discussion of the whole affair was brief, because fast upon its
heels trod another event which stirred them yet more deeply.

When the special train was at Blue Earth, in Montana, among the high
mountains, there came to Jimmy Grayson an appeal, compounded of pathos
and despair, that he could not resist. It was from the citizens of
Crow's Wing, forty miles deeper into the yet higher and steeper
mountains, and they recounted, in mournful words, how no candidate ever
came to see them; all passed them by as either too few or too difficult,
and they had never yet listened to the spell of oratory; of course, they
did not expect the nominee of a great party for the Presidency of the
United States to make the hard trip and speak to them, when even the
little fellows ignored their existence; nevertheless, they wished to
inform him in writing that they were alive, and on the map, at least,
they made as big a dot as either Helena or Butte.

The candidate smiled when he read the letter. The tone of it moved him.
Moreover, he was not deficient in policy--no man who rises is--and while
Crow's Wing had but few votes, Montana was close, and a single state
might decide the Union.

"Those people at Crow's Wing do not expect me, but I shall go to them,"
he said to his train.

"Why, it's a full day's journey and more, over the roughest and rockiest
road in America," said Mr. Curtis, the state senator from Wyoming, who
was still with them.

"I shall go," said Jimmy Grayson, decisively. "There is a break here in
our schedule, and this trip will fit in very nicely."

The others were against it, but they said nothing more in opposition,
knowing that it would be of no avail. Obliging, generous, and
soft-hearted, the candidate, nevertheless, had a temper of steel when
his mind was made up, and the others had learned not to oppose it. But
all shunned the journey with him to Crow's Wing except Harley, Mr.
Plummer, Mr. Herbert Heathcote--because there is no zeal like that of
the converted--and one other.

That "other" was Sylvia, and she insisted upon going, refusing to listen
to all the good arguments that were brought against it. "I know that I
am only a woman--a girl," she said, "but I know, too, that I've lived
all my life in the mountains, and I understand them. Why, I've been on
harder journeys than this with daddy before I was twelve years old.
Haven't I, daddy?" As she had predicted, she forgot his request not to
call him "daddy."

Thus appealed to, Mr. Plummer was fain to confess the truth, though with
reluctance. However, he said, rather weakly:

"But you don't know what kind of weather we'll have, Sylvia."

Then she turned upon him in a manner that terrified him.

"Now, daddy, if I couldn't get up a better argument than that I'd quit,"
she said. "Weather! weather! weather! to an Idaho girl! Suppose it
should rain, I'm made of neither sugar nor salt, and I won't melt. I've
been rained on a thousand times. Aunt Anna says I may go if Uncle James
is willing, and he's willing--he has to be; besides, he's my chaperon.
If you don't say 'yes,' Uncle James, I shall take the train and go
straight home."

They were forced to consent, and Harley was glad that she insisted,
because he liked to know that she was near, and he thought that she
looked wonderfully well on horseback.

The going of Harley with the candidate was taken as a matter of course
by everybody. Silent, tactful, and strong, he had grown almost
imperceptibly into a confidential relationship with the nominee, and Mr.
Grayson did not realize how much he relied upon the quiet man who could
not make a speech but who was so ready of resource. As for Mr.
Heathcote, being an Easterner, he wished to see the West in all its
aspects.

They started at daybreak, guided by a taciturn mountaineer, Jim Jones,
called simply Jim for the sake of brevity, and, the hour being so early,
few were present to see them ride up the hanging slope and into the
mighty wilderness.

But it was a glorious dawn. The young sun was gilding the sea of crags
and crests with burnished gold and the air had the sparkle of youth. Mr.
Heathcote threw back his slightly narrow chest, and, drawing three deep
breaths of just the same length, he said, "I would not miss this trip
for a thousand dollars!"

"And I wouldn't for two thousand!" exclaimed Sylvia, joyously.

Harley said nothing, but he, too, looked out upon the morning world with
a kindling eye. Far below them was a narrow valley, a faint green line
down the centre showing where the little river ran, with the irrigated
farms on either side, like beads on a string. Above them towered the
peaks, white with everlasting snow.

"A fine day for our ride," said the candidate to Jim.

"Looks like it now, though I never gamble on mountain weather," replied
the taciturn man.

But the promise held good for a long time, the sun still shining and the
winds coming fresh and brisk along the crests and ridges. The trail
wound about the slopes and steadily ascended. Vegetation ceased, and
before them stretched the bare rocks. Harley knew very well now that
only the sunshine saved them from grimness and desolation. The
loneliness became oppressive. Even Sylvia was silent. It was the
wilderness in reality as well as seeming; nowhere did they see a miner's
hut or a hunter's cabin, only nature in her most savage form.

The little group of horsemen forgot to talk. The candidate's head was
bowed and his brow bent. Clearly he was immersed in thought. Mr.
Heathcote, unused to such arduous journeys, leaned forward in his saddle
in a state of semi-exhaustion. But Sylvia, although a girl, was
accustomed to the mountains, and she showed few signs of fatigue. Harley
said at last to the guide, "A wild country, one of the wildest, I think,
that I ever saw."

"Yes, a wild country, and a bad 'un, too," responded Jim. "See off there
to the left?"

He pointed to a maze of bare and rocky ridges, and when he saw that
Harley's gaze was following his long forefinger, he continued:

"I say it's a bad 'un, because over there Red Perkins and his gang of
horse-thieves, outlaws, and cut-throats used to have their hiding-place.
It's a tangled-up stretch o' mountain, so wild, so rocky, so full of
caves that they could have hid there till jedgment-day from all
Montana. Yes, that's where they used to hang out."

"Used to?"

"Yes, 'cause I 'ain't heard much uv them fur some time. They came down
in the valley and tried to stampede them new blooded horses from
Kentucky on Sifton's ranch, but Sifton and his men was waitin', and when
the smoke cleared off most uv the gang was wiped out. Red and two or
three uv his fellers got away, but I 'ain't heard uv 'em since. Guess
they've scattered."

"Wisest thing they could do," said Harley.

The guide made no answer, and they plodded on in silence until about two
o'clock in the afternoon, when they stopped in a little cove to eat
luncheon and refresh their horses.

It was the first grateful spot they had seen in hours. A brook fed by
the snows above formed a pool in the hollow, and then, overflowing it,
dropped down the mountain-wall. But in this sheltered nook and around
the life-giving water green grass was growing, and there was a rim of
goodly trees. The horses, when their riders dismounted, grazed eagerly,
and the riders themselves lay upon the grass and ate with deep content.

Sylvia talked little. She seemed thoughtful, and, when neither of them
was looking, she glanced now and then at Harley and "King" Plummer. Had
they noticed they would have seen a shade of sadness on her face. Mr.
Plummer did not speak, and it was because there was a growing anxiety in
his mind. He was sorry now that they had let Sylvia come, and he
silently called himself a weak fool.

"Shall we reach Crow's Wing by dark?" asked the candidate of the guide.

Jim had risen, and, standing at the edge of the cove, was gazing out
over the rolling sea of mountains. Harley noticed a troubled look on his
face.

"If things go right we kin," he replied, "but I ain't shore that things
will go right."

"What do you mean?"

"Do you see that brown spot down there in the southwest, just a-top the
hills? Waal, it's a cloud, an' it's comin' this way. Clouds, you know,
always hev somethin' in 'em."

"That is to say we shall have rain," said the candidate. "Let it come.
We have been rained on too often to mind such a little thing--eh,
Sylvia? You see, I take you at your word."

The girl nodded.

"I don't think it'll be rain," said the guide. "We are so high up here
that more 'n likely it'll be snow. An' when there's a snow-storm in the
mountains you can't go climbin' along the side o' cliffs."

The others, too, looked grave now. Perhaps, with the exception of "King"
Plummer, they had not foreseen such a difficulty, but the guide came to
their relief with more cheering words--after all, the cloud might not
continue to grow, "an' it ain't worth while to holler afore we're hit."

This seemed sound philosophy to the others, and, dismissing their cares,
they started again, much refreshed by their stop in the little cove. The
road now grew rougher, the guide leading and the rest following in
single-file, Sylvia just ahead of Harley. By-and-by their cares
returned. Harley glanced towards the southwest and saw there the same
cloud, but now much bigger, blacker, and more threatening. The sunshine
was gone, and the wrinkled surface of the mountains was gray and sombre.
The air had grown cold, and down among the clefts there was a weird,
moaning wind. Harley glanced at the guide, and noticed that his face was
now decidedly anxious. But the correspondent said nothing. Part of his
strength lay in his ability to wait, and he knew that the guide would
speak in good time.

"Don't any of you be discouraged because of me," said Sylvia; "I'm not
afraid of storms--even snowstorms. Am I not a good mountaineer, daddy?"

The "King" nodded his head. He knew that she was a better mountaineer
than any in the party except the guide and himself, and he felt less
alarm for her than was in the mind of Grayson or Harley.

But Harley was thrilled by her courage. Here, amid these wild mountains,
with the threat of darkness and the storm, she was unafraid and still
feminine. "This is a woman to be won," was his unuttered thought.

Another hour passed, and the air grew darker and colder. Then Jim
stopped.

"Gentlemen," he said, "there's a snow-storm comin' soon. I didn't expect
one so early, even on the mountains, but it's comin', anyhow, an' if we
keep on for Crow's Wing they'll have to dig our bones out o' the meltin'
drifts next summer. We've got to make for Queen City."

"Queen City!" exclaimed Mr. Heathcote. "I didn't know there was another
town anywhere near here."

"She's a-standin' all the same," replied the guide, brusquely, "an' I
wouldn't never hev started on the trip to Crow's Wing if there hadn't
been such a stoppin'-place betwixt an' between, in case o' trouble with
the weather. An' let me whisper to you, Queen City's quite a sizable
place. We'll pass the night there. It's got a fine hotel, the finest
an' biggest in the mountains."

He looked grimly at Mr. Heathcote, as much as to say, "Ask me as much
more as you please, but I'll answer you nothing." Then he added,
glancing at Sylvia:

"It's a wild night for a gal."

"But you said that the biggest and finest hotel in the mountains was
waiting for me," replied Sylvia, with spirit.

The guide bowed his head admiringly, and said no more.

Something cold and damp touched Harley's cheek. He looked up, and
another flake of snow, descending softly, settled upon his face. The
clouds rolled over them, heavy and dark, and shut out all the mountains
save a little island where they stood. The snow, following the first few
flakes, fell softly but rapidly.

"It's Queen City or moulderin' in the drifts till next summer!" cried
Jim, and he turned his horse into a side-path. The others followed
without a word, willing to accept his guidance through the greatest
peril they had yet faced in an arduous campaign. Despite the danger,
which he knew to be heavy and pressing, and his anxiety for Sylvia,
Harley's curiosity was aroused, and he wished to ask more of Queen City,
but the saturnine face of the guide was not inviting. Nevertheless, he
risked one question.

"How far is this place, Queen City?" he asked.

"Bout two miles," replied Jim, with what seemed to Harley a derisive
grin, "an' it's tarnal lucky for us that it's so near."

Harley said no more, but he was satisfied with nothing in the guide's
reply save the fact that the town was only two miles away; any shelter
would be welcome, because he saw now that a snow-storm on the wild
mountains was a terrible thing.

The guide led on; Jimmy Grayson, with bent head, followed; Mr.
Heathcote, shrunk in his saddle, came next; then "King" Plummer; and
after him Sylvia and Harley, who were as nearly side by side as the
narrow path would permit.

"It won't be far, Miss Morgan," said Harley; the others could not hear.

She felt rather than heard the note of apprehension in his voice, and
she knew it was for her. A thrill of singular sweetness passed over her.
It was pleasant for some one, _the_ one, to be afraid for her sake. She
looked out at the driving snow and the dim peaks, but she had no fear
for herself. She was glad, too, that she had come.

"I know the way of the mountains," she replied. "The guide will take us
in safety to this city of his, of which he speaks so highly."

Harley saw her smile through the snow. The others rode on before, heads
bowed, and did not look back. He and she felt a powerful sense of
comradeship, and once, when he leaned over to detach her bridle rein
from the horse's mane, he touched her hand, which was so soft and warm.
Again the electric thrill passed through them both, and they looked into
each other's eyes.

Now and then the vast veil of snow parted before the wind, as if cleft
down the centre by a sword-blade, and Harley and Sylvia beheld a grand
and awful sight. Before them were all the peaks and ridges, rising in
white cones and pillars against the cloudy sky, and the effect was of
distance and sublimity. From the clefts and ravines came a desolate
moaning. Harley felt that he was much nearer to the eternal here than he
could ever be in the plains. Then the rent veil would close again, and
he saw only his comrades and the rocks twenty feet away.

They turned around the base of a cliff rising hundreds of feet above
them, and Harley caught the dull-red glare of brick walls, showing
through the falling snow. He was ready to raise a shout of joy. This he
knew was Queen City, lying snugly in its wide valley. There was the
typical, single mountain street, with its row of buildings on either
side; the big one near-by was certainly the hotel, and the other big one
farther on was as certainly the opera-house. But nobody was in the
streets, and the whole place was dark; not a light appeared at a single
window, although the night had come.

"We're here," Harley said to Sylvia, "but I confess that this does not
look promising. Certainly there is nobody running to meet us."

She was gazing with curiosity.

"It's like no other town that I ever saw," she said.

Harley rode up by the side of the guide.

"The place looks lonesome," he said.

"Maybe they've all gone to bed; there ain't anythin' here to keep 'em
awake," replied the guide, with the old puzzling and derisive smile.

Harley turned coldly away. He did not like to have any one make fun of
him, and that he saw clearly was the guide's intention. Jimmy Grayson
was still thinking of things far off, and Mr. Heathcote, chilled and
shrunk, seemed to have lost the power of speech. "King" Plummer, for
reasons of his own, was silent too.

The guide rode slowly towards the large brick building that Harley took
to be the hotel, and, at that moment, the snow slackened for a little
while; the last rays of the setting sun struck upon the dun walls and
gilded them with red tracery; some panes of glass gave back the ruddy
glare, but mostly the windows were bare and empty, like eyeless sockets.
Harley looked farther, and all the other buildings--the opera-house, the
stores, and the residences--were the same, desolate and decaying. About
the place were snow-covered heaps, evidently the refuse of mining
operations, but they saw no human being.

The effect upon all save the guide was startling. Harley saw the look of
chilled wonder grow on Jimmy Grayson's face. Mr. Heathcote raised
himself in his saddle and stared, uncomprehending. Harley had been deep
in the desert, but never before had he seen such desolation and ruin,
because here was the body, but all life had gone from it. He felt as one
alone with ghosts. Sylvia was silent, her confidence gone for the
moment. The guide laughed dryly.

"You guessed it," he said, looking at Harley. "It's a dead city. Queen
City has been as dead as Adam these half-dozen years. When the mines
played out, it died; there was no earthly use for Queen City any longer,
and by-and-by everybody went away. But I've seen the old town when it
was alive. Five thousand people here. Money a-flowin', drinks passin'
over the counter one way and the coin the other, the gamblin'-houses an'
the theatre chock-full, an' women, any kind you please. But there ain't
a soul left now."

The snow thinned still more, and the buildings rose before them gaunt
and grim.

"We'll stop to-night at the Grand Hotel--that is, if they ain't too much
crowded; it'll be nice for the lady," said the guide, who had had his
little joke and who now wished to serve his employers as best he could;
"but first we'll take the horses into the dinin'-room; nobody will
object; I've done it afore."

He rode towards a side-door, but over the main entrance Harley saw in
tessellated letters the words "Grand Hotel," and he tried to shake off
the feeling of weirdness that it gave him.

The door to the dining-room, which was almost level with the ground, was
gone, and with some driving the horses were persuaded to enter. They
were tethered there, sheltered from the storm, and, when they moved,
their feet rumbled hollowly on the wooden floor. Sylvia, the candidate,
and his friends, driven by the same impulse, turned back into the snow
and re-entered the house by the front door.

They passed into a wide hall, and at the far end they saw the clerk's
desk. Lying upon it were some fragments of paper fastened to a chain,
and Harley knew that it was what was left of the hotel register. It
spoke so vividly of both life and death that the five stopped.

"Would you like to register, Mr. Grayson?" asked Harley, wishing to
relieve the tension.

The candidate laughed mirthlessly.

"Not to-night, Harley," he said; "but, gloomy as the place is, we ought
to be thankful that we have found it. See how the storm is rising."

He glanced at Sylvia, and deep gratitude swelled up in his breast.
Grewsome as it might look, Queen City was now, indeed, a place of
refuge. But he had no word of reproach for her, because she had insisted
upon coming. He knew that a snow-storm had not entered into her
calculations, as it had not entered into his, and, moreover, no one in
the party had shown more courage or better spirits.

The snow drove in at the unsheltered windows, and a long whine arose as
the wind whirled around the old house. The guide came in with cheerful
bustle and stamp of feet.

"Don't linger here, gentlemen and ladies," he said. "The house is yours.
Come into the parlor. We've had a piece of luck. Now and then a lone
tramp or a miner seeks shelter in this town, just as we have done; they
come mostly to the hotel, and some feller who gathered up wood failed to
burn it all. I'll have a fire in the parlor in five minutes, and then we
can ring for hot drinks for the men, a lemonade for the lady, and a warm
dinner for all. I'll take straight whiskey, an' after that I ain't
partic'ler whether I get patty-de-foy-graw or hummin'-bird tongues."

His good-humor was infectious, and they were thankful, too, for the
shelter, desolate though the place was. All the wood had been stripped
away except the floors, and the brick walls were bare. In the great
parlor they had nothing to sit on save their saddles, but it was a noble
apartment, many feet square, built for a time when there was life in
Queen City.

"I've heard the Governor of Montana speak to more than two hundred
people in this very room," said Jim, reminiscently. "He was to have
spoke in the public square, but snow come up, an' Bill Fosdick, who run
the hotel, and run her wide open, invited 'em all right in here, an'
they come."

Harley could well believe it, knowing, as he did, the miners and the
mountains, and, by report, early Montana.

At one end of the room was an immense grate, and in this Jim heaped the
wood so generously left by the unknown tramp or miner, igniting it with
a ready match. The ruddy blaze leaped upward and threw generous shadows
on the floor. The travellers, sitting close to it, felt the grateful
warmth and were content.

All the saddle blankets also had been brought in and piled on one of the
saddles. On these Sylvia sat and spread out her hands to the ruddy
blaze. To Harley, with the flame of the firelight on her face and the
glow of the coals throwing patches of red and gold on her hair, she
seemed some brilliant spirit come to light up the gloomy place. Here all
was warmth and brightness; outside, the storm moaned through the
mountains and the darkness.

"Do you know, I enjoy this," she said, as she looked into the crackling
fire.

"So Queen City ain't so bad, ma'am?" said the guide, with dry
satisfaction.

"Not bad at all, but very good," she replied, gayly. "Don't you think
so, Mr. Harley?"

"I certainly agree with you," replied Harley, devoutly, "but I'm glad
that Queen City is just where it is."

She laughed.

"Daddy has been many a time in the mountains without his Queen
City--haven't you, daddy?"

"Often," said "King" Plummer, looking at her with a pleased smile. But
he wished that she would not call him "daddy," at least before Harley;
it seemed that she could never remember his request; but she had warned
him.

"An old hand travellin' in the mountains always purvides for a snowy
day," said the guide, and he took from his saddle-bags much food and a
large bottle.

They drank a little, all except Sylvia, and ate heartily. The last touch
of cold departed, and the fire still sparkled with good cheer, casting
its comforting shadows across the stained floor.

"I've brought in the horse-blankets," said the guide, "an' with them
under us, our overcoats over us, an' the fire afore us, we ought to
sleep here as snug an' warm as a beaver in its house."

Sylvia was accustomed to camping in the mountains, and made no fuss, but
quietly leaned back against the saddle and the wall, and drew her heavy
cloak around her. She was soon half asleep, and the flames, moving off
into the distance, seemed to be dancing about in a queer, light-minded
fashion.

Harley walked to the window and looked out. The night was black, save
for the driving snow, and when he glanced back at the room it seemed a
very haven of delight. But the strangeness of their situation, the weird
effect of the dead city, with the ghost-like shapes of its houses
showing through the snow, was upon his nerves, and he did not feel
sleepy.

Muttering some excuse to the others, he went into the hall. It was dark,
and a gust of cold air from the open window at the end struck him in the
face. At the same moment Harley saw what he took to be a light farther
down the hall, but when he looked again it was gone.

It might be a delusion, but the matter troubled him; if a lone tramp or
miner were in the building, he wished to know. Any stranger would have a
right in the hotel, but there was comradeship and welcome in Jimmy
Grayson's party.

Harley's instinct said that all was not right, and, taking off his
boots, he crept down the hall and among the cross-halls with noiseless
feet. He did not see the light again, but he heard in another room the
hum of voices, softened so that they might not reach any one save those
for whom they were intended. But they reached Harley, crouching just
behind the edge of the door, and, hearing, he shuddered. A great danger
threatened the nominee for the Presidency of the United States. Such a
thing as the present had never before happened in the history of the
country.

And that same danger, but in a worse form, perhaps, threatened Sylvia.
It was not Harley's fault that a girl had then a greater place than a
Presidential nominee in his mind. He shuddered, and then closed his lips
firmly in resolve.

The door was still on its hinges, and it was still slightly ajar.
Harley, peeping through the crack, saw the eight occupants of the room
by the faint light from the window, and because the man who did the
talking, and who showed himself so evidently the leader, had red hair,
he knew him instinctively. It was Red Perkins and the remnant of his
gang, not scattered to the winds of the West, as Jim and everybody else
thought, but here in Montana, in their old haunts. And Harley, listening
to their talk, measured the extent of their knowledge, which was far too
much; they knew who Jimmy Grayson was, they had known of his departure
from Blue Earth, and they had followed him here; presently they would
take him away, and the whole world would be thrilled. No such prize had
ever fallen into the hands of robbers in America, and it would be worth
a million to them.

Harley was in a chill as he listened, because he heard them speak next
of Sylvia, and one of them laughed in a way that made the correspondent
want to spring at his throat. Sylvia and the candidate must be saved.

But Harley, thinking his hardest, could not think how. There were eight
men well armed in the room before him; the guide and Mr. Plummer,
probably, had pistols, but he had none, and he was sure that Jimmy
Grayson and Mr. Heathcote were without them. He paused there a long
time, undecided, and at last he crept down the hall again and towards
the great parlor. Then he put on his boots, re-entered the room, and
spoke in a low voice to his comrades.

The guide's fighting blood was on fire at once. "I've a revolver," he
said; "we kin barricade the room and hold 'em off. There are two windows
here, opening out on the snow, but they are so high they can hardly
reach 'em with their hands. We kin make a good fight of it."

"I've a pistol, too," said Mr. Plummer, "and we must make it a fight to
the death."

He spoke quietly, but with determination and a full knowledge of all the
danger that threatened. He glanced at Sylvia, who, coming back from her
half-dream, had risen to her feet. Then he walked to the door, because
the "King" was ever alert in the face of danger.

"What is it?" Sylvia asked of Harley. She knew by their manner that
something strange and terrifying had happened, and in such a situation
it was now an involuntary act with her to turn to Harley.

"Sylvia," he said--the others had followed "King" Plummer to the door
"you ought to know."

He noticed that, though pale, she was quiet and firm.

"If it is danger, I have faced it before," she said, proudly.

"As you will face it now, like the bravest woman in the West. 'Red'
Perkins's gang of outlaws are out there, and they mean to take Mr.
Grayson to hold for ransom, and you--"

Her eyes looked straight into his, and suddenly they shone with all the
fulness of love and confidence.

"They will not take me while you are here," she said.

"Not if we have to die together. Sylvia, I believed that your heart was
mine, and in this moment of danger I know it."

He spoke truly. In the crisis their souls were bare to each other. He
seized her hands, and the brilliant color flamed into her cheeks.

"Sylvia!" he exclaimed, in a thrilling whisper.

"Hush!" she said. "The others are about to come back."

She gently withdrew her hands from his, and when "King" Plummer turned
away from the door he saw nothing.

"There's not a shot to be fired," said Jimmy Grayson, "because I've a
better plan. How long do you think it will be before they come for me,
Harley?"

"About fifteen minutes, I should say; at least that is what I gathered
from their talk."

"And they have not examined the building or the town?"

"No; they merely came down the trail behind us and slipped into that
room, waiting their chance."

"Very good. Jim, you told me a while ago that the Governor of Montana
once spoke to two hundred people in this room; it was a fortunate remark
of yours, because I shall speak to as many people to-night in this same
room. Shut the door there, put the saddles before it, and then build
the fire as high as possible."

The candidate's voice was sharp, decisive, and full of command. The born
leader of men was asserting himself, and the guide, without pausing to
reason, hastened to obey. He shut the door, put the saddles before it,
and heaped upon the fire all the remaining wood except a stump reserved
by Jimmy Grayson's express command. The fire leaped higher, and the room
was brilliantly lighted.

Jimmy Grayson stood by, erect, calm, and grave.

"Now, gentlemen," he said, "you are a crowd come from Crow's Wing to
meet me here, and to hear what I have to say. I trust that you will like
it, and indicate your liking by your applause."

The stump was placed in the middle of the floor, and Jimmy Grayson
stepped upon it. His face at that height was visible through the window
to any one outside, although the others would be hidden. Just as he took
his place Harley thought he heard the soft crunch of a footstep on the
snow beneath the window. He felt a burning curiosity to rise and look
out, but he restrained it and did not move. The guide was staring at the
candidate in open-mouthed amazement, but he, too, did not speak. A few
big white flakes drove in at the open window, but they did not reach the
men before the fire that blazed so brightly. Harley again thought he
heard the soft shuffle of footsteps on the snow outside, but then the
burning wood crackled merrily, and Jimmy Grayson was about to speak.

Sylvia stood erect against the wall, her glowing eyes full of
admiration. Her quick mind had grasped the whole plan.

"Gentlemen of Crow's Wing," said the candidate, in his full,
penetrating voice, which the empty old building gave back in many an
echo, "it is, indeed, a pleasure to me to meet you here. The
circumstances, the situation, are such as to inspire any one who has
been so honored. I should like to have seen your little town, the home
of brave and honest men, nestling as it does among these mighty
mountains, and far from the rest of the world, but strong and
self-reliant. I appreciate, too, your kindness and your thought for me.
Seeing the advance of the storm, and knowing its dangers, you have come
to meet me in this place, once so full of life. I find something
singularly appealing and pathetic in this. Once again, if only for a
brief space, Queen City shall ring with human voices and the human
tread."

The candidate paused a moment, as if the end of a rounded period had
come and he were gathering strength for another. Then suddenly arose a
mighty chorus of applause. It was Harley, "King" Plummer, Heathcote, and
Jim, and their act was spontaneous, the inspiration of the moment, drawn
from Jimmy Grayson's own inspiration. The guide beat upon the floor with
both hands and both feet, and the other three were not less active.
Moreover, the guide opened his mouth and let forth a yell, rapid,
cumulative, and so full of volume that it sounded like the whoop of at
least a half-dozen men. The room resounded with the applause, and it
thundered down the halls of the great empty building. When it died,
Harley, listening again intently, heard once more the crunch of feet on
the snow outside, but now it was a rapid movement as if of surprise. But
the sound came to him only a moment, because the candidate was speaking
once more, and he was worth hearing. He only looked away to see Sylvia,
who still stood against the wall with her glowing eyes fixed in
admiration on her uncle. Once or twice she, too, glanced aside, and her
gaze was for Harley. But it was a different look that she gave him.
There was admiration in it, too, and also a love that no woman ever
gives to a mere uncle. In those moments the color in her cheeks
deepened.

As an orator Jimmy Grayson was always good, but sometimes he was better
than at other times, and this evening was one of his best times. The
audience from Crow's Wing, the consideration they had shown in meeting
him here in the dead city, and the wildness of the night outside seemed
to inspire him. He showed the greatest familiarity with the life of the
mountains and the needs of the miners; he was one of them, he
sympathized with them, he entered their homes, and if he could he would
make their lives brighter.

Never had the candidate spoken to a more appreciative audience. With
foot and hand and voice it thundered its applause; the building echoed
with it, and all the time the fire burned higher and higher, and the
merry crackling of the wood was a minor note in the chorus of applause.
But Jimmy Grayson's own voice was like an organ, every key of which he
played; it expressed every human emotion; full and swelling, it rose
above the applause, and Harley, watching his expressive face, saw that
he felt these emotions. Once he believed that the candidate, carried
away by his own feelings, had become oblivious of time and place, and
thought now only of the troubles and needs of the mountain men.

Harley's attention turned once more to the windows. He thought what a
lucky chance it was that no one standing on the ground outside was high
enough to look through them into the room. He blessed the unknown
builder, and then he tried to hear that familiar shuffle on the snow,
but he did not hear it again.

Jimmy Grayson spoke on and on, and the applause kept pace, until at last
the guide slipped quietly from the room. When he returned, a quarter of
an hour later, the candidate was still speaking, but Jim gave him a
signal look and he stopped abruptly.

"They are gone," said Jim. "They must have been gone a full hour. The
snow has stopped, and I guess they are at least ten miles from here,
runnin' for their lives. They knew that if the men of Crow's Wing put
hands on 'em they'd be hangin' from a limb ten minutes after."

Jimmy Grayson sank down on the stump, exhausted, and wiped his hot face.

"Say, Mr. Harley," whispered the guide to the correspondent, "I've heard
some great speeches in my time, but to-night's was the greatest."

The candidate spoke the next day at Crow's Wing, and his audience was
delighted. But Jim was right. The speech was not as great as the one he
had made at Queen City.



XV

WORDS BY THE WAY


Rumors of the adventure in the dead city had spread throughout the
little mountain town in which Jimmy Grayson made his speech the day
after the stop in Queen City, and when he began the return journey an
escort, from which all the bandits in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains
would have turned aside, was ready for him. It was a somewhat noisy
band, but orderly and full of enthusiasm, secretly wishing that a second
attempt would be made, and their devotion to Jimmy Grayson and his cause
found an answering sympathy in Harley.

They had passed the night in Crow's Wing, and the start was made when
the first sunlight brought a sudden uplifting of a white world into a
dazzling burst of blue and yellow and red. But no more snow was falling,
and those who knew said that the day would continue fair.

Sylvia Morgan had not been present at the speech the night before. Even
she, bred amid hardships and dangers, was forced to admit that her
nerves were somewhat unstrung, and she rested quietly in a warm room at
the hotel. Harley knocked once on her door, and received the reply that
she was all right. Then he turned away and went slowly down the hall,
thoughtful, and, for the first time in many days, thoroughly
understanding himself. To the world, when the world should hear of it,
the candidate would always be the central figure in the episode of the
dead city, but Harley knew that their adventure in the old hotel was
more momentous to him than it had been to the candidate. His doubts and
his hesitation were gone; he knew what Sylvia Morgan represented to him,
and with that knowledge came a certain peace; it would have been a
greater peace had not the shadow of "King" Plummer been so dark.

When Sylvia reappeared for the return there was nothing to indicate that
she had ever been tired or nervous. She seemed to Harley the incarnation
of fresh, young life, and there was a singular softness and gentleness
in her manner, all the more winning because she had let it appear more
rarely hitherto. She held out her hand to Harley.

"You see that I have passed through our adventure without harm to my
nerves," she said.

"I knew that you would do so," replied Harley.

He would have said more, but the armed escort, to a man, was bowing
respectfully, and making no very great effort to conceal its admiration
at the sight of a lady, young and beautiful, such an infrequent visitor
to their lonely hamlet. Nor was this admiration diminished by the fact,
known to them all, that she had taken the hazardous journey over the
mountains with Jimmy Grayson. They considered it a special honor and
dignity conferred upon themselves, and as the candidate introduced them,
one by one, the bows were repeated but with greater depth. Sylvia Morgan
knew how to receive them. She was a child of the mountains herself, and
without any sacrifice of her own dignity she could make them feel that
they knew her and liked her.

All Crow's Wing saw them off, and they rode away over the mountains in
the splendid red and gold of the dawn. Mr. Grayson and "King" Plummer
were near the head of the troop, and Harley and Sylvia were near the
rear, where they remained a part of the general group for a long time,
but at last dropped back behind all the others.

"Won't Mr. Churchill be shocked when he hears of our adventure in the
dead city?" said Sylvia.

"He will think that it is the climax," was the reply.

Harley laughed, but in a few moments he became grave. Yet there was an
expression of much sweetness about his firm mouth.

"Still I am glad that it happened," he said. "I saw a new illustration
of our candidate's powers, and I learned, too, much more than that."

She glanced at him, and as she read something in his face she looked
quickly away, and a sudden flush rose to her cheeks. Despite herself,
her heart began to beat fast and her hand trembled on the bridle rein.

Harley expected her to ask what it was that he had learned, but when he
saw her averted face he went on:

"I learned then, Sylvia, what I should have known long before, that I
love you, that you are the one woman in the world for me. And I do not
believe, Sylvia, that you care only a little for me."

He was bold, masterful, and the ring of confidence was in his voice. His
hand, for a moment, touched her trembling hand on the bridle rein, and
she thrilled with the answering touch.

"Sylvia," he said, with grave sweetness, "I mean to win you."

"You must not talk so," she said, and a sudden pallor replaced the
color in her face. "You know that I cannot in honor hear it. I am
promised, and of my own accord, to another, and to one to whom every
sacred obligation commands me to keep my promise."

"I do not forget your promise--Mr. Plummer was in my mind when I was
speaking--nor do I urge you to break it."

"Why, then, do you speak? Why do you say that you mean to win me?"

"Because Mr. Plummer must break this bargain himself. He, of his own
accord, must give your promise back to you. I mean to make him do so. I
do not yet know how, but I shall find a way. Oh, I tell you, Sylvia,
this marriage of his and yours is not right. It's against nature. You do
not love him; you cannot--do not protest--not in a way that a woman
should love the man whom she is going to marry. You love me instead, and
I mean to make you keep on loving me, just as I mean to make Mr. Plummer
give you back your promise."

"Have you not undertaken two large tasks?" she said, smiling faintly.

But Harley, usually so short and terse, had made this long speech with
fire and heat, as the "still waters" were now running very deep, and he
went on:

"I have given you fair warning, Sylvia. Neither you nor Mr. Plummer can
say that I have begun any secret campaign. I have told you that I mean
to make you marry me."

She thought that she ought to stop him, to tell him that he must never
speak of such a thing again. Before her rose the figure of the man whom
she had promised to marry, square, massive, and iron-gray, but, solid as
the figure was, it quickly faded in the light of the real and earnest
young face beside her. Youth spoke to youth, and she did not stop him,
because what he was saying to her was very pleasant, though it might be
wrong.

The morning was brilliant and vivid on the mountains. Far away the white
peaks melted dimly into the blue sky, and below them lay the valleys,
cup after cup, white with snow. The others rode on ahead, not noticing,
and Harley was not one to let time slip through his fingers.

"You must not speak in this way to me again," she said, at last,
although her tone was not sad, only firm, "because it is not right. I
knew that it was wrong, even while you were saying it, but I could not
stop you. You know you cannot change what is fixed, and I must marry Mr.
Plummer."

Harley laughed joyously. Later he did not know why he was so confident
then, but the air of the mountains and a new fire, too, were sparkling
in his veins, and at that moment he had no doubts.

"You will not marry Mr. Plummer," he repeated, with energy, "and it is
not you that will break the promise. It is he that shall give it back to
you."

For the time she felt his faith, and her face glowed, but her courage
left her when the "King," who had been ahead with the candidate, dropped
back towards the rear and joined them.

"King" Plummer, too, had begun that return journey with feelings of
exhilaration. Everything in the trip from Crow's Wing appealed to him,
because it was so thoroughly in consonance with his early life in the
mountains. The adventure in Queen City had stirred his blood, and around
him were familiar things. He, too, wished that an organized band of
bandits would come, because in his younger days he had helped to hunt
down some of the worst men in the mountains, and the old fighting blood
mounted as high as ever in his veins.

He had seen that Sylvia was entirely recovered from the alarms of the
night at Queen City, and then, because he felt that it was his duty, and
because there was a keen zest in it, too, he rode on ahead with the
candidate, to whom he pointed out dim blue peaks that he knew, and to
whom he laid down the proposition that those mountains were full of
minerals, and would one day prove a source of illimitable wealth to the
nation.

The crispness of the morning, the vast expanse of mountain, and the
feeling of deep, full life made the "King's" blood tingle. His years of
hardship, danger, and joy--and he had enjoyed his life greatly--swept
before him, and he laughed under his breath; life was still very good.
After a while the thought of Sylvia came to him, and he smiled again,
because Sylvia was truly good to look upon. He rode back towards her,
and then he received a blow--a blow square in the face, and dealt
heavily.

"King" Plummer's was not a mind trained to look upon the more delicate
shades of life--he dealt rather with the obvious; but when he saw Harley
and Sylvia he knew. Mrs. Grayson's warning, which at first he had only
half accepted, had come true, and it had come quickly. His instant
impulse was that of the primitive man to raise his fist and strike down
this foolish, this presumptuous youth who had dared to cross the path of
him, the King of the Mountains; but he did not raise it, because "King"
Plummer was a gentleman; instead, he strove to conceal the fact that he
was breathing hard and deep, and he spoke to them in a tone that he
sought to render careless, but which really had an unnatural sound.
Sylvia gave him a glance that was half fear, and had the "King" taken
notice it would have filled him with deep pain, but Harley, who alone of
the three retained his self-possession, spoke lightly of passing things.
The feeling of exulting strength was not yet gone from him; in the
presence of this man of great achievement he was not afraid, and,
moreover, the desire to protect Sylvia, to turn attention from her, was
strong within him.

For these reasons Harley carried the whole burden of the talk, and
carried it well. Neither of the others wished to interrupt him; Sylvia
being full of these new emotions, half joy and half fear, that agitated
her, and Mr. Plummer trying to evolve from chaos a way to act.

Although the "King" had suppressed the muscular manifestation, he was
none the less burned by internal fire. Sylvia was his: it was he who had
found her in the mountains; it was he who had given her the years of
care and tenderness, and by every right, including that of promise, she
belonged to him. Nor was he one to give her up for a fancy. He had seen
the look of love on her face when she spoke to Harley, but she was only
a girl--from the crest of his years the "King" thought that he saw the
truth, and knew it--and as soon as this campaign was over, and the
Eastern youth had disappeared, she would forget him.

Mr. Plummer regarded this youth out of the corner of his eye, and while
he pitied him for his ignorance of life, he was bound to admit that
Harley was a handsome fellow, tall, well knit, and with an air of
self-reliance. Evidently there was good stuff in him, and he would
amount to something when he was trained and mature, although the "King"
concluded that he needed a great deal of training. But he could not fail
to feel respect for Harley's presence of mind, his calm, and his ease.
The youth showed no fear of him, no sign of apprehension, and the
mountaineer gave him credit for it.

Sylvia was glad when they stopped in one of the lower glades to rest and
eat of the food which had been so amply provided for them. But she was
proud of Harley and the manner in which he had taken upon himself all
the burden. His conduct went far to justify in her eyes his confident
prediction, and, secretly approving, she watched the ease with which he
bore himself among the blunt mountaineers and the handsome manner in
which he affiliated. She noticed that they seemed to think of Harley as
one like Jimmy Grayson--that is, one of themselves--and they never
considered him raw or green in any respect.

Her confidence in Harley and the momentary elation returned as they
stood there in this cup in the mountain-side and looked out upon the
expanse of peak and plain. She ate, too, with an appetite that the
mountain air sharpened, and she thrilled with strength and hope.

Mr. Plummer, from some motive that she did not understand, kept himself
in the background during the stop; nor did she know how his big heart
was filled with wrath and gloom. But as he stood silently at the
farthest rim of the circle, he resolved to push his fortunes, which was
in accordance with his nature.

"Will you walk to the edge of the cove with me?" he said to the
candidate, when he saw that the latter had finished his luncheon, and
Mr. Grayson, without a word, complied with his request.

Jimmy Grayson must have had some premonition of what was to come,
because he obeyed his first impulse, and glanced at Harley and Sylvia,
who were standing together. He was confirmed in his thought when he saw
the look of gloom and resolve upon the face of his friend.

"I want to speak to you of Sylvia," said "King" Plummer, in tones of
hurry, as if it cost him an effort. "It's about our marriage. I think I
ought to hurry it up a little. You see--well, you can't help seeing,
that, compared with Sylvia, I'm old. I'm not really old, but I'm old
enough to be her father, an' youth has a way that's pretty hard to break
of turnin' to youth."

"Yes," said Jimmy Grayson.

"Sylvia's just a girl; she don't seem much more 'n a child to me, an'
lately she's been travellin' about a heap, an' she's met new people.
Now, I don't blame her, don't think that, because it's natural, but here
is this young writin' chap."

"Harley, you mean?"

"Yes. An' I'm not sayin' anythin' against him, either, though writin'
has never been much in my line, but he an' Sylvia seem to have taken a
sort of shine to each other--I don't know whether it amounts to any more
than that, though I suppose it could if it was give a chance; but down
there in Queen City he did more for her than I did, or anybody else, and
I suppose that tells with a girl. Well, you saw 'em together as we
walked out here, an' I'm bound to admit that they make a powerful likely
couple."

He hesitated, as if he were waiting for the candidate to speak, but Mr.
Grayson was silent. He glanced once at the strong face of Plummer,
drawn as if in pain, and then he looked into the valley a thousand feet
below. Jimmy Grayson did not care to speak.

"I ain't a blind man," continued the "King." "I may not be too smart,
but still things don't have to be driven into me with a wedge. If Sylvia
and Harley were left to themselves, they would fall deep in love, I can
see that; but I tell you, Mr. Grayson, she's mine, she belongs to me,
because I've earned her, and because she's promised herself to me, too,
an' I can't give her up. Still, if it's wrong, if I ought to let her
have her promise back, I'll do it anyhow. An' that's why I've asked you
to walk out here. I don't like much to speak to another man of a thing
right next to my heart, but I want to ask you, Mr. Grayson--you are her
uncle an' my best friend--what do you think I ought to do?"

It was hard to embarrass Jimmy Grayson, but he was embarrassed now. He
would rather any other man in the world had asked him any other
question. Sylvia was his niece, and her happiness was dear to him.
Harley, too, had found a place in his heart. And when he glanced at them
again and saw them still together, it seemed fit and right that they
should continue so through life. But there was "King" Plummer, an honest
man, and his claim could not be denied. And his mind could not help
asking this insidious little question, "If Sylvia is allowed to throw
over 'King' Plummer, will he not sulk and allow the Mountain States,
passing from her uncle, to go into the other column?" Jimmy Grayson
would not have been human if he had not heard this little question
demanding an answer, but he resolutely resisted it.

"What do you say?" asked Mr. Plummer. "I'd risk much on your advice."

"I was studying your question, because in a case like this a man has to
think of so many things, and then may miss the right one. But, Mr.
Plummer, I don't know what to say; I think, however, I'd wait. Sylvia is
a good girl, and I know you can trust her. But they are beckoning to us;
they are ready to start."

He was glad of that start, because it saved him from further discussion
of the problem, and Mr. Plummer went back with him moodily.

Yet the resolve in the "King's" mind had only been strengthened by his
talk with the candidate. The danger of Sylvia slipping through his
fingers because of his own want of precaution made her all the more dear
to him, and he was determined to take that precaution now. So he was
watchful throughout the remainder of the journey, seeking his
opportunity, and it came towards the twilight, as they saw the first
houses of the railroad station rise upon the horizon.

Mrs. Grayson, Hobart, Blaisdell, the state politicians, and, all the
others came out to meet them, and for a while there was a turmoil of
voices asking questions and answering them. Presently Sylvia slipped
from the group, and Mr. Plummer followed her towards the hotel.

"Sylvia," he said, "wait for me. I have some thing to say."

She recognized an unusual tone in his voice and she was frightened. She
felt an almost irresistible impulse to run and to hide herself in some
dim room of the hotel. But she did not do it; instead, she waited and
walked by his side.

"Sylvia," he said, "the perils and hardships of the trip we are just
finishin' have set me to thinkin' hard."

She trembled again. She felt as if he were going to say something that
she would not like to hear.

"That trip was full of dangers for you, and, as we go through all this
Western country, there may be more to come. I want the right, Sylvia, to
look after you, to look after you more closely than I've ever done
before, and to do that, Sylvia, I've got to be your husband."

"I have promised."

"I know you have, an' I know you'll keep your promise. But I want you to
keep it now. Why couldn't we get married, say next week, and make this
campaign one big weddin' tour. I think it would be grand, Sylvia, an'
it's right easy to arrange."

He paused, awaiting her answer, but she had suddenly lost all her color,
and, despite herself, she trembled violently.

"Oh no!" she cried, "not now! It would be better to wait. Why break up
this pleasant--Oh, I don't mean that! I mean, why not go on as we are
through the campaign, and afterwards we could talk of--of--what you
propose? Anything else now would be so unusual. I think we'd better
wait!"

She spoke almost breathlessly under impulse, and then she stopped
suddenly as if afraid. The color poured back into her face, and she
waited timidly.

The King of the Mountains, who had never known fear, was gripped by a
cold chill. He had delivered his master-stroke and it had failed.

"We'll wait, Sylvia," he said, gloomily. "Of course a woman's wish in
such a matter as this is law, and more than law."

"Oh, daddy, don't you see how it is?" she cried, moved by his tone. "I'm
but twenty-two. I don't want to marry just yet. I haven't seen enough of
this big world. Why can't we wait a little?"

"Don't be afraid, child; no one shall make you marry when you don't want
to," he said, soothingly and protectingly, and this rôle became him
superbly. "The subject sha'n't be mentioned to you again while the
campaign lasts."

"You are the best man in the world, daddy!" she exclaimed. Suddenly she
rose on tiptoe, kissed him lightly on the cheek, and then ran away.
"King" Plummer walked gravely back to the lobby of the hotel, where a
crowd was gathered.

Harley was one of this crowd, and on entering the room he had been met
at once by Churchill, upon whose face was a look of consternation.

"Harley," he asked, "is the report true that Grayson was in danger of
being kidnapped by bandits on this trip to Crow's Wing?"

"It is true, every word of it."

"My God! what will Europe say?" exclaimed Churchill, aghast.

Harley laughed, but he did not attempt to reason with Churchill. He knew
that the correspondent of the _Monitor_ was too far gone to be reached
by argument.

Churchill sent a lurid despatch to the _Monitor_, describing in detail
the folly and recklessness of the candidate, and the manner in which he
neglected the great issues of the campaign for the sake of impulses,
which always terminated in frivolous or dangerous adventures. And the
_Monitor_ fully backed up its correspondent, because, when the issue of
the paper that published the despatch reached them, it also contained
an editorial, in which the editor wrote in anguish of heart:


     "We have supported Mr. Grayson in this campaign with as much zeal
     and energy as our moral sense would permit. We have given him full
     credit for all the virtues that he may possess, and we have been
     willing at all times for him to profit by our experience and
     advice. But our readers will bear witness that we have never failed
     in courage to denounce the wrong, even if it should be in our own
     house. Our easy, and on the whole superficial, American temperament
     condones too many things. Never was it more noticeable than in the
     vital issues of this Presidential campaign. The yellow journals are
     making a great noise over Mr. Grayson; they shout about his
     oratory, his generosity, and his noble impulses until the really
     serious minority of us can scarcely hear; but the grave, thoughtful
     people, those who are recognized in Europe as the real leaders of
     American opinion, will not be put down. Despite the turmoil of the
     childish, we have never lost our heads. The _Monitor_, from the
     very first, has perceived the truth, and it has the courage to tell
     it. We contribute this advice willingly and without charge to those
     who are conducting the campaign.

     "The youthful and flamboyant qualities must be eradicated from Mr.
     Grayson. Our young republic cannot afford to be discredited in the
     eyes of Europe by the sensational or frivolous actions of one who
     is nominated by a great party for the high office of President.
     This last adventure with brigands in the mountains is really more
     than our patience will bear, and our readers know that our patience
     is great. We have suggested, we have advised, and we have even
     threatened by indirection, but thus far it has all been futile.

     "Now we mean to speak with the bluntness and decision demanded by
     the circumstances. A committee of men, mature in years and solid in
     judgment, some of whom we can name, must be put in control of the
     campaign. Mr. Grayson must be kept within strict limits; he must
     take advice before delivering his speeches, and he must not be
     permitted to turn aside for irrelevant issues. And since the
     _Monitor_ speaks reluctantly, and in the utmost kindness, we
     suggest that he become a faithful reader of our columns. A word to
     the wise is sufficient."


The day this issue of the _Monitor_ arrived Sylvia said to Churchill:

"Mr. Churchill, I want to thank you in behalf of my uncle for that
beautiful editorial in the _Monitor_. It was put in the very way that
would appeal to him most."

"Do you really think so, Miss Morgan?" said Churchill, blushing with
borrowed pride.

"Oh yes, but it was so typical, it had so much of a certain personal
quality in it, that I am sure you must have telegraphed it to the
_Monitor_ yourself."

"King" Plummer, who stood by and who had very little to say these days,
smiled sourly.



XVI

BY THE FIRELIGHT


The special train now entered one of the most mountainous portions of
Utah, and, as the strenuous nature of the campaign continued, its
exigencies permitted little time for other things. Personal feelings,
fears, and hopes had to be buried, or at least hidden for the time, and
Harley, like all the rest, was absorbed in work. Nevertheless, his
feeling of confidence, even exhilaration, remained. He believed that he
would yet discover a way.

He found this part of the campaign pleasant, physically as well as
mentally. The alternation of huge mountain and fertile valley was
grateful to the eye, and, however severe the day's journey might be,
they knew there would be good rest at the end.

It had been nearly a week since the episode of the dead city, when
Hobart bustled back to Harley and said:

"Harley, we shall have the noble red man to hear us to-night. We stop
just at the edge of the Indian reservation, and a lot of the braves,
with their squaws, too, I suppose, will attend. Of course they will be
duly impressed by Jimmy Grayson's oratory."

Sylvia Morgan was present when this news was announced, and Hobart
suddenly stopped short and glanced at her. She had turned pale, and
then, remembering that old tragedy in her life when she was a little
child, he ascribed her pallor to her horror at the mention of Indians.
But Hobart did not know that they were approaching the scene of the
memorable massacre.

The train now curved southward and entered a fertile valley lying like a
bowl among the high mountains. They saw here fields that had been golden
with wheat, ripe fruit yet hung from the trees, and the touch of green
was still visible, although autumn had come. By the railway track a
clear mountain stream flowed, sparkling in the thin, pure air, and there
was more than one full-grown man in the candidate's party who, with
memories of his youth before him, longed to pull off shoes and socks and
wade in it with bare feet.

The sight was most refreshing after so much mountain and arid expanse,
and the tired travellers brightened up visibly.

"One of the states has the motto, 'Here we rest'--I've forgotten which
it is--but it ought to be Utah," said Hobart, "and now's the time."

He was not disappointed. They came before noon to Belleville, the
metropolis of the valley, the place where the candidate was going to
speak, one of the prettiest little towns that ever built its nest in the
Rocky Mountains. They were all enthusiastic over it, with its trim
houses, its well-paved streets, the clear water flowing beside the
curbs, and its air of completion. The people, too, had all the Western
courage and energy, without its roughness and undue expression, and so
the candidate and his party luxuriated.

"You wouldn't think that this gem of a town was harried more by Indians
in its infancy than perhaps any other place in the West, would you?"
said Hobart to Harley.

"Hobart, what a nuisance you are!" replied Harley; "you are always
prowling around in search of useless facts. Now, I don't want to hear
anything about bloodshed and massacre, when Belleville is the picture of
neatness and comfort that it is to-day. Look at that little opera-house
over there! You couldn't find anything handsomer in a city of fifty
thousand in the East."

"Harley," said Hobart, with emphasis, "I wouldn't have your lack of
curiosity for anything in the world," and he wandered away in disgust to
pour his ancient history into the ears of a more willing listener.

At twilight they ate an admirable dinner, and then Harley, Hobart, who
had returned from his explorations, Blaisdell, and two or three others,
after their custom, filled in the interval between supper and the
speeches with a stroll through the village, Mr. Plummer going along as a
sort of mentor. The keeper of the hotel informed them that many of the
Indians already were in town and were "tanking up." Harley found this to
be true, and the red men failed to arouse in him either respect or
admiration. If they had ever had any nobility of the wilderness, it was
gone now, and they seemed to him a sodden, depressed, and repellent
race. A half-dozen or so, in various stages of drunkenness, through
whiskey surreptitiously obtained, increased the feeling of aversion.

In the dusk they stumbled over a figure lying squarely across the path,
and Harley drew back with a word of disgust. An old Indian, dilapidated
and in the last stages of intoxication, was stretched out on his face. A
local resident named Walker, who had joined them, laughed.

"That," said he, "is a chief, a great man, or at least he was once. It's
old Flying Cloud--poetical name, though he don't look poetical now by a
long shot. Here, get out of this; you're blocking up the road!"

With true Western directness he administered a kick to the prostrate
form, but the old chief, buried in a sodden dream, only stirred and
muttered; then the resident opened up a battery of kicks, and presently
the Indian rose to his feet and slunk off, muttering, in the darkness.

"They're no good at all," said Walker. "Only a lot of sots, whenever
they get the chance."

But Harley was thinking of the contrast between what he had just seen
and what he had imagined might be the freedom and nobility of the
wilderness.

It was a beautiful autumn night, and the candidate spoke in the open, in
the village square, with the mountains that circled about him as his
background. Sylvia Morgan was not among the listeners. Usually she
enjoyed these speeches in the evening, with the crowds, the enthusiasm,
and the encircling darkness. But to-night she would not come, nor would
she tell the reason to Harley or any of his friends. She merely said
that she wished to stay in her room at the hotel.

The audience was quiet and attentive, and Harley noticed here and there
on the outskirts the dark faces of the Indians. They interested him so
much that he left the platform presently to watch them. He was wondering
if they had any conception at all of Jimmy Grayson's words or of a
Presidential campaign. Nor did he gain any knowledge by his examination.
They listened gravely, and their faces were without expression.

The nearest of them all to the stand Harley recognized as the old chief,
Flying Cloud, whom Walker had kicked off the sidewalk. He seemed to have
recovered physical command of himself, and stood erect. There was a red
feather in his felt hat, and a shawl in brilliant stripes was drawn
across his shoulders.

The candidate spoke in a specially happy vein that night, and the
background of the mountains added impressiveness to his words. To
Harley, again the analyst, and seeking to put himself in the Indian's
place, there was a rhythm and power in what Jimmy Grayson said, although
he, as an Indian, might not understand a word. He could interpret it as
a chant of battle or victory, and such, he had no doubt, was the view of
Flying Cloud.

The chief, so Harley judged, was still half under the influence of
drink, but he was paying close attention to the speaker, and the
correspondent at last saw in his eyes what he took to be the stir of
some emotion. It was a light, as of memories of his own triumphs, and
the chief's figure began to sway gently to the music of Jimmy Grayson's
voice. They had built a bonfire near the speaker's stand, and by its
flare Harley clearly saw old Flying Cloud smile.

Hobart came up at that moment, and, Harley pointed out to him the
transformation in the old chief's appearance. Hobart's opinion agreed
with Harley's.

"It's a battle-song that Flying Cloud is hearing," he said. "It's Jimmy
Grayson that's stirring him up, though maybe the old fellow doesn't
understand it that way."

The speeches ended after a while, and the people began to leave.
Presently only a few were left in the square, and among them was
Harley, who felt no touch of sleepiness. He looked at the quiet town,
then up at the ridges and peaks, crested with snow and silhouetted
against the moonlit sky, and thought again of that little girl, alone
with her dead and in the night among the vast mountains.

The next moment he believed that it was a telepathic feeling, because at
his elbow was Sylvia Morgan herself, a red-striped shawl over her head
to protect her from the cold, and "King" Plummer, who had evidently
brought her from the hotel, not far away.

"Are they all gone?" she asked.

"No," replied Harley; "the Indians and a few more are left."

Harley, in the moonlight, clearly saw her shiver.

"I was restless, and I could not sleep," she said. "I came out for the
sake of the air. But I'll go back."

"No," said Harley, "don't go. Stay with us, please. Now what can that
mean?"

A wild, barbaric chant arose near the bonfire behind them.

"Come!" exclaimed Harley, keen to see and hear. "I think it's old Flying
Cloud, and he's ready to turn himself loose. We can't miss this!"

Sylvia was about to turn away, but as "King" Plummer came up on the
other side of her, and seemed to have a curiosity like Harley's, she
yielded at last, though with reluctance, and the three walked towards
the fire.

Harley's surmise was correct, as old Flying Cloud, jumping back and
forth, was singing some kind of war-song. There was a group about him,
and in it was Hobart, who Harley guessed had been a moving spirit in
this scene. Jimmy Grayson's fire and eloquence had done the rest.

The flames burned down a little, but they cast a weird light on the old
chief's face, bringing out like brown carving the high cheek-bones, the
great, hooked nose, and the seamed cheeks. The thin lips fell away from
long, yellow teeth, and heightened the effect of cruelty which his whole
expression gave.

Hobart came over to them, and said: "See how the old fellow is changing!
We've got him to sing one of his ancient war-songs, and I guess he
thinks he's beating Jimmy Grayson now!"

Sylvia Morgan shuddered, but she said nothing. She seemed to be held by
the fascination of the serpent.

The chief continued to make his queer little jumps back and forth, and
went on with his chant. As he had begun in English for his auditors, so
he continued, although he was now oblivious of their presence. Harley,
watching him, knew it, and he knew, too, that the chief's mind was far
back in the past. His was not the song of the broken derelict, but of
the barbarous and triumphant warrior, and as he sang he gathered fire
and strength.

The circle of white faces grew around the old chief. Every loiterer was
there, and others came back. Not one spoke. All were fascinated by the
singular and weird scene. The moon, low down on the mountain's crest,
still shed a pallid, grayish light that mingled with the fitful red
glare from the glowing coals, the two together casting an unearthly
tinge. But Harley's eyes never left the chief, as he saw his figure
continue to expand and grow with ancient memories of prowess, and the
eyes of Sylvia beside him, as she too listened, expressed many and
strong emotions.

Flying Cloud told of hunting triumphs, of the slaughter of the buffalo,
of fierce encounters with the mountain-lion, of hand-to-hand combat with
the grizzly bear, and then he glided into war. Now his voice rose, full
and prolonged, without any of the tremor or shrillness of age, and his
eccentric dancing grew more violent. His emotions, too, were shown on
his face in all their savagery as he told of the foray and the fight.

At first it was Indian against Indian, and never was any mercy
shown--always woe to the conquered; then it was the whites. An emigrant
train was coming over the mountains--men, women, and children. There was
danger in their path; a Ute war-band was abroad, but the fools knew it
not. They travelled on, and at night the children played and laughed by
the camp-fire, but the shadow of the Utes was always there. Flying Cloud
led the war-band, but held them back until the time should come. He was
waiting for a place that he knew. At last they reached it, a deep cañon
with bushes on either side, and the train entered the defile.

Harley suddenly felt a hand upon his arm. It was the fingers of Sylvia
grasping him, but unconscious of the act. He looked up and saw her face
as white as death, and a yard away the eyes of "King" Plummer were
burning like two coals.

Flying Cloud's figure swayed, and his voice trembled with a curious joy
at the old memories. He was approaching the great moment of triumph. He
told how the warriors lay among the bushes, watching the foolish train
come on, how they looked at each other and rejoiced in advance over an
easy victory. Some would have fired too soon, but Flying Cloud would
not let them. His was the cunning mind, as well as the bold heart, and
he omitted nothing. The trap was perfect. The fools never suspected.
They stopped to make a camp, and still they did not know that a ring of
death was about them. They built their fires, and again the children
laughed and played by the coals. It was the last time.

The old chief was now wholly the wilderness slayer, the Indian of an
earlier time. His glittering eyes at times swept the circle of white
faces about him, but he did not see them, only that old massacre.

The narrative went on. Flying Cloud told each of his warriors to select
a victim, and fire true when he gave the word. He chose for himself a
large man who stood by one of the wagons, a man who had with him a woman
and a little boy and a little girl, and the little girl had long curls.

A groan burst from Plummer, and Harley saw his great figure gather as if
for a spring. But Harley, quick as lightning, seized the man in a
powerful grasp, and cried in his ear: "Not now, Mr. Plummer, not now,
for God's sake! Wait until the end!"

Harley felt the "King" quiver in his hands, and then cease to struggle.
Sylvia stood by, still as white as death and absolutely motionless. The
others, held by the old chief's song, did not see nor hear.

Flying Cloud's eyes were glittering with cruel triumph as he continued
his chant. The rifles were raised, the white fools yet suspected
nothing, but laughed and jested with each other as if there would be a
to-morrow.

Then he gave the word, and all the rifles were fired at once. The cañon
was filled with smoke and the whistling of bullets. Most of the men in
the train were killed at once, and then the warriors sprang among those
who were left. Flying Cloud had shot the tall man by the wagon, and then
he sought the woman and the two children. He slew the woman and the
little boy, and he scalped them both. Then he sprang at the girl, but
the child of the Evil Spirit slipped among the bushes, and he could not
find her.

The old chief stopped a moment, and once more his glittering eyes swept
the circle of white faces, but saw them not. Then that fierce cry burst
again from Plummer. Suddenly he threw off Harley as if he had been a
child, and sprang through the ring of white faces into the circle of the
firelight. The tall, pale girl, still not saying a word, stood by, like
an avenging goddess.

"Murderer!" cried the "King." "It is not too late to punish you!"

He seized the old chief by the throat, but the white men threw
themselves upon him and tore him off.

Flying Cloud reeled back, gazed a moment at Plummer, and then drew a
knife.

"It was when there was war between us, and I will not swing at the end
of the white man's rope," he said.

So speaking, he plunged the blade into his own heart and fell dead,
almost at the feet of the woman whose kin he had slain.

"Whatever the red scoundrel was," said Hobart, later, "I shall always
use the old text for him, and say that nothing in this life became him
like the leaving of it."

But there were no such feelings in the heart of Sylvia Morgan. When
"King" Plummer sprang upon Flying Cloud, Harley turned involuntarily to
Sylvia, and he saw the pallor replaced by a sudden flush; then, when the
chief slew himself with his own knife, the flush passed, and whiter than
ever she sank down gently. But Harley caught her in his arms before she
fell, and in a moment or two she revived. It seemed to be her first
thought that she was held by him, and she struggled a little.

"Let me go," she said; "I can stand. I assure you I can. It was just a
passing weakness."

But Harley wished to make certain that it was not more than that before
he released her, and the friendly darkness and the interest of the crowd
centred on Flying Cloud aided him. A minute later Mrs. Grayson and the
wife of a local political leader, Mrs. Meadows, took her from him and
carried her to the hotel. Mrs. Grayson, who had heard the chief's chant,
understood the story, but Mrs. Meadows, who knew nothing of Sylvia's
relation to it, but who guessed something from the talk of the others,
was devoured by curiosity. However, she prevailed over it, for the time,
and was silent as she went with Sylvia back to the hotel, although she
made a vow which she kept--that she would find out the full truth in the
morning.

Harley lingered a little by the firelight and joined Hobart and the
crowd. The tragedy had cut deep into his thoughts--and he did not care
to talk, but the others had plenty to say.

"What a singular coincidence," said Tremaine, stroking his fine, white,
pointed mustache, of which he was very proud. "I call it very remarkable
that this savage should have told the story of that old tragedy the very
night when the only survivor of it was present."

"I do not call it remarkable at all," said Hobart. "It is not even a
coincidence in the usual meaning of the word. It came about naturally,
each chapter in the story being the logical sequence of the chapter that
preceded it."

"It may all be very clear to a man like you, one who makes a study of
crime and mysteries," said Tremaine, ironically, as he gave his mustache
an impatient tug, "but it is far from being so to me. I still call it a
coincidence."

"That is because you haven't taken time to think about it, Tremaine.
Your mind is entirely too good to accept such a theory as coincidence.
In the first place, Mr. Grayson is making a thorough tour of the West,
all the more thorough because these are supposed to be doubtful states.
Now what more natural than his coming to Belleville, which is one of the
most important towns in northern Utah, and, having come, what more
probable than the presence of the Indians at his speech, because such
attractions are rare in Belleville, and the Indian would come to see
what it is that stirs up so much his white friend and brother. Of
course, the Indian in his degenerate days, would take the chance to get
drunk, and, being in a whiskey stupor, he naturally supposed that Mr.
Grayson was chanting a chant of victory, and quite as naturally he
chanted in return his own chant, and also quite as naturally this chant
was about the deed that he considered the greatest of his life. So,
there you are; the chain is complete, the result is natural; any other
result would have been unnatural."

Tremaine laughed.

"You have worked it out pretty well, Hobart," he said, "but I have my
own opinion."

"You are entitled to it," rejoined Hobart, briskly, "but be sure you
keep it to yourself, and then you won't suffer from the criticisms of
the intelligent."

Tremaine laughed good-naturedly, and then avowed his concern about that
beautiful girl, Miss Morgan, who suddenly and under such peculiar
circumstances had been brought face to face with the slayer of her
people; he had perceived from the first her noble qualities, and he felt
for her the deepest sympathy. Tremaine, while a great lover of the
ladies, had in reality less perception than any of the others in affairs
of the heart. He was, perhaps, the only one in the group who did not
know what was going on, and for that reason he talked at length of
Sylvia, no one being able to stop him. He thought it a pity that Sylvia
should be wasted on "King" Plummer, who was a good man, a fine old Roman
soul, but then he had his doubts about Sylvia's love for him--that is,
as a husband. Mr. Plummer was too old for her. Tremaine, by a curious
inconsistency, never looked upon himself as old, and thought it
perfectly natural that he should carry on a mild flirtation with any
girl, provided she be handsome, although young enough to be his
daughter.

Harley was uneasy, and would have left them had not the act called
attention to himself too pointedly, and he was forced to listen to
Tremaine's rambling comment, knowing that all the others had him in
their thoughts as they heard. Fortunately, Tremaine did not require any
comment from others, preferring an unbroken stream of his own talk, and
Harley was able to regain his hotel in silence.

They were confronted the next morning by an announcement that sent
sorrow through the whole group. Mrs. Grayson felt that the events of the
night before were too much for a young girl, and unless she were
removed for a time to quieter scenes and a less arduous life they would
leave lasting effects. Moreover, the campaign was about to enter upon a
phase in which women would prove burdensome, hence she and Sylvia were
going to Salt Lake City for a stay of two weeks, and then they would
rejoin the party at some point in the Northwest.

It was with no counterfeit grief that they heard this news. The ladies
had added brightness and variety to a most toilsome campaign, and their
daily travel would seem very black indeed without them. Even Churchill
was loud in his regrets, because Churchill had some of the instincts of
a gentleman, and he never failed in what was due to Mrs. Grayson and
Sylvia. But he could not keep from making one nasty little stab at
Harley.

"Harley," he said, "do you know that they are going to have a very
stalwart escort to Salt Lake?"

"I do not," replied Harley, in some surprise. "I think they are quite
able to take care of themselves."

"Perhaps they are, but 'King' Plummer is going with them, nevertheless.
At his age it is well for a man to keep watch over a young girl whom he
expects to marry, or some husky youth may carry her off."

Harley was surprised at the strength of his desire to strike Churchill
in the face, and he was also surprised at the fact that he resisted it.
He accounted for it by his theory that Churchill could not help being
mean at times, and, therefore, was not wholly responsible. So he
contented himself with saying:

"Churchill, you are a fool now and then, but you never know it."

Then he walked carelessly away before Churchill had made up his mind
whether to get angry or to return a sarcastic reply. Churchill liked to
use sarcasm, as it made him feel superior.

But Harley was much disturbed by Churchill's statement. Sylvia was going
away, and her stay of two weeks might lengthen into months or become
permanent. And Mr. Plummer was going with her. Harley's own absence
would put him at a great disadvantage, and for a moment he suspected
that this stop at Salt Lake City was an artful movement on the part of
the "King," but reflection made him acquit Mr. Plummer, first, because
the "King" was too honest to do such a thing, and, second, because he
was not subtle enough to think of it.

While he was planning what he would do to face this unforeseen
development, a boy from the hotel handed him a note. Harley's heart
jumped when he saw that it was in the handwriting of Sylvia Morgan, and
it fluttered still further when she asked to see him in the hotel parlor
for a few minutes. He was apprehensive, too, because if she had anything
good to tell him she certainly would not send for him.

Sylvia was sitting in the parlor beside a window that looked out upon a
vast range of snow-covered mountains, rising like the serrated teeth of
a saw, and, although she heard his footsteps, she did not turn her face
until Harley stood beside her. Then she said, irrelevantly:

"Isn't that a grand view!"

"You did not send for me to tell me that," said Harley, with a certain
protecting tenderness in his tone, because what he took to be the
sadness in her face appealed to his manly qualities.

"No, I did not. I have been thinking over what we said to each other
when we were coming back from Crow's Wing, and I have concluded that it
was wrong."

"Why was it wrong? I love you, and I had the right to tell you so."

"No, you did not. You would have had were I free, but I am promised to
another. I was wrong to let you speak; I was wrong to listen to you."

"I will not admit it," said Harley, doggedly, "because Mr. Plummer is
going to give you up. He will see that he ought not to hold you to this
promise."

She smiled sadly.

"I must be loyal to him," she said, "and before starting for Salt Lake
City I want to tell you that you must not again speak to me of this."

"But I shall write to you in Salt Lake."

"You must not write of this. If you do, I will not open another one of
your letters."

"I promise not to write to you of love, but I make no promise after
that. You are not going from Salt Lake to Idaho? This is not an excuse
to leave us for good?"

Her eyes wavered before his. It may be that she had intended to abandon
the campaign permanently, but, with his straight and masterful glance
demanding an honest answer, she could not say it.

"Yes, I will come back," she said, and then, with a sudden burst of
feeling: "Oh, I like your group; I like all of you. This great journey
has been something fresh and wonderful to me, and I do not want to leave
it!"

"I thought not," said Harley, with returning confidence, "and I am glad
that you sent for me here, because it has given me a chance to tell you
that, while you mean to keep your promise, I also mean to keep mine.
Mr. Plummer will yet yield you up. You are mine, not his, you know you
are!"

He bent suddenly and kissed her lightly on the forehead, and every nerve
in her tingled at the first touch of the lips of the man whom she loved.
Yet with the sense of right, of loyalty to another, strong within her,
she was about to protest, but he was gone, and the first kiss still
tingled on her forehead. She felt as if he had put there an invisible
seal, and that now in very truth she belonged to him.

The two ladies under the escort of Mr. Plummer left an hour later for
Salt Lake City, and everybody was at the station to see them go. Mrs.
Grayson was quiet as usual, and Sylvia was noticeably subdued, a fact
which most of them ascribed to the tragedy of Flying Cloud and her
coming absence of two weeks from a most interesting campaign.

"You ought to cheer up, Miss Sylvia," said Hobart, "because you are not
half as unlucky as we are. You can spare us much more easily than we can
spare you."

"I am really sorry that I must go," she said, sincerely.

"But you will come back to us?"

"I have promised to do so."

"That is enough; we know that you will keep a promise, Miss Sylvia."

Sylvia at first would not look at Harley. His kiss still burned upon her
brow, and she yet felt that it was his seal, his claim upon her. And her
conscience hurt her for it, because there was "King" Plummer, strong,
protecting, and overflowing with love for her and faith in her. But as
she was telling them all good-bye she was forced to say it to Harley,
too, in his turn, and when he took her hand he pressed it ever so
little, and said, for her ear only:

"I am still hoping. I refuse to give you up."

She retreated quickly into the Salt Lake car to hide her blush.

When they saw the last smoke of the train melting into the blue sky,
Harley and Mr. Heathcote walked back to the hotel together. A strong
friendship had grown up between these two, and each valued the other's
opinion.

"A fine woman," said Mr. Heathcote, looking towards the silky blue of
the sky where the smoke had been.

"Yes, Mrs. Grayson has always impressed me as a woman of great dignity
and strength," said Harley, purposely misunderstanding him.

"That is apparent, but I was not speaking of her. I meant Miss Morgan;
she seems to me to be of a rare and noble type. The man who gets her,
whoever he may be, ought to think himself lucky."

Harley noticed that Mr. Heathcote did not take it for granted that
"King" Plummer would get her, but he said nothing in reply.



XVII

THE SPELLBINDER


An hour after the smoke of the Salt Lake train was lost in the blue sky,
the special car bearing the candidate whirled off in another direction,
deep into the wonderland of the mountains. Now white peaks were on one
side and mighty chasms on the other; then both chasm and peak were lost
behind them, and they shot through an irrigated valley, brown with the
harvest, neat villages snuggling in the centre. But always, whether near
or far, the mountains were around them, blue on the middle slopes, white
at the crests, unless those crests were lost in the clouds and mists.

The people in the car were more quiet than usual, the candidate absorbed
in somewhat sad thoughts, the state politicians respecting his silence,
and the correspondents planning their despatches. But all missed Mrs.
Grayson and Miss Morgan, who, whether they talked or not, always
contributed brightness and a gentler note to their long campaign. "King"
Plummer, too, with his loud laugh and his large, sincere manner, left a
vacancy. Every one felt that there was now nothing ahead but
business--cold, hard business--and so it proved.

Every campaign enters upon successive phases, in which the contestants
advance, through politeness and consideration, first to wary feint and
parry, and then to the stern death-grip of the battle which can mean
nothing but the victory of one and the defeat of the other. They were
now approaching this last stage, and great piles of Eastern newspapers,
which reached them in Utah, reflected all the progress of the combat.

It was obvious to all of those skilled readers and interpreters that the
breach within the party was widening, and that this breach could become
a chasm before the election. The _Monitor_ and other papers, the chosen
or self-appointed champions of vested interests, were almost openly in
revolt; in Harley's mind their course amounted to the same thing; they
printed in their news columns many things derogatory to Grayson, and
likely to shatter public faith in his judgment, and in nearly all of
them appeared signed contributions from members of the wealthy faction
led by the Honorable Mr. Goodnight, attacking every speech made by the
candidate, and intimating that he was a greater danger to the country
than the nominee of the other side.

"The split will have to come," was Harley's muttered comment, "and the
sooner the better for us."

The journals of the rival party were a singular contrast to those of
Grayson's side, as they expressed unbounded and sincere confidence. In
all that had occurred they could not read anything but victory for them,
and Harley was bound to admit that their exultation was justified.

But amid all these troubles the candidate preserved his remarkable
amiability of disposition, and Harley witnessed another proof that he
was a man first and a statesman afterwards.

The train was continually thronged with local politicians and others
anxious to see Mr. Grayson, and at a little station in a plain that
seemed to have no end they picked up three men, one of whom attracted
Harley's notice at once. He was young, only twenty four or five, with a
bright, quick, eager face, and he was not dressed in the usual careless
Western fashion. His trousers were carefully creased, his white shirt
was well-laundered, and his tie was neat. But he wore that strange
combination--not so strange west of the Mississippi--a sack-coat and a
silk-hat at the same time.

The youth was not at all shy, and he early obtained an introduction to
Mr. Grayson. Harley thus learned that his name was Moore--Charles Moore,
or Charlie Moore, as those with him called him. Most men in the West,
unless of special prominence, when presented to Jimmy Grayson, shook
hands warmly, exchanged a word or two on any convenient topic, and then
gave way to others, but this fledgling sought to hold him in long
converse on the most vital questions of the campaign.

"That was a fine speech of yours that you made at Butte, Mr. Grayson,"
he said, in the most impulsive manner, "and I endorse every word of it,
but are you sure that what you said about Canadian reciprocity will help
our party in the great wheat states, such as Minnesota and the Dakotas?"

The candidate stared at him at first in surprise and some displeasure,
but in a moment or two his gaze was changed into a kindly smile. He read
well the youth before him, his amusing confidence, his eagerness, and
his self-importance, that had not yet received a rude check.

"There is something in what you say, Mr. Moore," replied Jimmy Grayson,
in that tone absolutely without condescension that made every man his
friend; "but I have considered it, and I think it is better for me to
stick to my text. Besides, I am right, you know."

"Ah, yes, but that is not the point," exclaimed young Mr. Moore; "one
may be right, but one might keep silent on a doubtful point that is
likely to influence many votes. And there are several things in your
speeches, Mr. Grayson, with which some of us do not agree. I shall have
occasion to address the public concerning them--as you know, a number of
us are to speak with you while you are passing through Utah."

There was a flash in Jimmy Grayson's eye, but Harley could not tell
whether it expressed anger or amused contempt. It was gone in a moment,
however, and the candidate again was looking at the fledgling with a
kindly, smiling, and tolerant gaze. But Churchill thrust his elbow
against Harley.

"Oh, the child of the free and bounding West!" he murmured. "What
innocence, and what a sense of majesty and power!"

Harley did not deign a reply, but he made the acquaintance, by-and-by,
of the men who had joined the train with Moore. One of these was a
county judge named Basset, sensible and middle-aged, and he talked
freely about the fledgling, whom he seemed to have in a measure on his
mind. He laughed at first when he spoke of the subject, but he soon
became serious.

"Charlie is a good boy, but what do you think he is? Or, rather, what do
you think he thinks he is?"

"I don't know," replied Harley.

"Charlie thinks he's a spellbinder, the greatest ever. He's dreaming by
night, and by day, too, that he's to be the West's most wonderful
orator, and that he's to hold the thousands in his spell. He's a coming
Henry Clay and Daniel Webster rolled into one. He's read that story
about Demosthenes holding the pebble in his mouth to make himself talk
good, and they do say that he slips away out on the prairie, where
there's nobody about, and with a stone in his mouth tries to beat the
old Greek at his own game. I don't vouch for the truth of the story, but
I believe it."

Harley could not keep from smiling.

"Well, it's at least an honest ambition," he said.

"I don't know about that," replied the judge, doubtfully. "Not in
Charlie's case, because as a spellbinder he isn't worth shucks. He can't
speak, and he'll never learn to do it. Besides, he's leaving a thing he
was just made for to chase a rainbow, and it's breaking his old daddy's
heart."

"What is it that he was made for?"

"He's a born telegraph-operator. He's one of the best ever known in the
West. They say that at eighteen he was the swiftest in Colorado. Then he
went down to Denver, and a month ago he gave up a job there that was
paying him a hundred and fifty a month to start this foolishness. They
say he might be a great inventor, too, and here he is trying to speak on
politics when he doesn't know anything about public questions, and he
doesn't know how to talk, either; I don't know whether to be mad about
it or just to feel sorry, because Charlie's father is an old friend of
mine."

Harley shared his feelings. He had seen the round peg in the square hole
so many times with bad results to both the peg and the hole that every
fresh instance grieved him. He was also confirmed in the soundness of
Judge Basset's opinion by his observation of young Moore as the journey
proceeded. The new spellbinder was anxious to speak whenever there was
an occasion, and often when there was none at all. The discouragement
and even the open rebukes of his elders could not suppress him. The
correspondents, comparing notes, decided that they had never before seen
so strong a rage for speaking. He took the whole field of public affairs
for his range. He was willing at any time to discuss the tariff,
internal revenue, finance, and foreign relations, and avowed himself
master of all. Yet Harley saw that he was in these affairs a perfect
child, shallow and superficial, and depending wholly upon a few
catchwords that he had learned from others. Even the former Populists
turned from him. But their sour faces when he spoke taught him nothing.
He was still, to himself, the great spellbinder, and he looked forward
to the day when he, too, a nominee for the Presidency, should charm
multitudes with his eloquence and logic. He had no hesitation in
confiding his hopes to Harley, and the correspondent longed to tell him
how he misjudged himself. Yet he refrained, knowing that it was not his
duty; and that even if it were, his words would make no impression.

But in other matters than those of public life and oratory Jimmy
Grayson's people found young Moore likable enough. He was helpful on the
train; now and then when the telegraph-operators had more material than
they could handle, he gave them valuable aid; he was a fine comrade,
taking good luck and bad luck with equal philosophy, and never
complaining. "If only he wouldn't try to speak!" groaned Hobart, for
whom he had sent a telegraphic message with skill and despatch.

But that very afternoon Moore talked to them on the subject of national
finance, until they fell into a rage and left the car. That evening
Harley was sitting with the candidate, when an old man, bent of figure
and gloomy of face, came to them.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Grayson," he said, "for intruding on you, but
I've come to ask a favor. I'm Henry Moore, of Council Grove, the father
of Charlie Moore, who was the best telegraph-operator in Denver, and who
is now the poorest public speaker in Colorado."

The old man smiled, but it was a sad smile, cut off early. Jimmy Grayson
was full of sympathy at once, and he shook Mr. Moore's hand warmly.

"I know your son," he said; "he is a bright boy."

"Yes, he's nothing but a boy," said his father, as if seeking an excuse.
"I suppose all boys must have their foolish spells, but he appears to
have his mighty hard and long."

The old man sighed, and the look of sympathy on Jimmy Grayson's face
deepened.

"Charlie is a good boy," continued Mr. Moore, "and if he could have this
foolish notion knocked out of his head--there's no other way to get it
out--he would be all right; and that's why I've come to you. You know
you are to speak at Pueblo to-morrow night in a big hall, and one of the
biggest crowds in the West will be there to hear you. Two or three
speakers are to follow you, and what do you think that son of mine has
done? Somehow or other he has got the committee to put him on the
programme right after you, and he says he is going to demolish what he
calls your fallacies."

Harley saw the candidate's lips curve a little, as if he were about to
smile, but the movement was quickly checked. Jimmy Grayson would not
willingly hurt the feelings of any man.

"Your boy has that right," he said to Mr. Moore.

"No, he hasn't!" burst out the old man. "A boy hasn't any right to be so
light-headed, and I want you, Mr. Grayson, when he has finished his
speech, to come right back at him and wipe him off the face of the
earth. It will be an easy thing for so big a man as you to do. Charlie
doesn't know a thing about public affairs. He'll make lots of
statements, and every one of 'em will be wrong. Just show him up. Make
all the people laugh at him. Just sting him with your words till he
turns red in the face. Roll him in the dust, and tread on him till he
can't breathe. Then hold him up before all that audience as the biggest
and wildest fool that ever came on a stage. Nothing else will cure him;
it will be a favor to him and to me; and I, his father, who loves him
more than anybody else in the world, ask you to do it."

Harley was tempted to smile, and at the same moment water came into his
eyes. No one could fail to be moved by the old man's intense
earnestness, his florid and mixed imagery, and his appealing look.
Certainly Jimmy Grayson was no exception. He glanced at Harley, and saw
his expression of sympathy, but the correspondent made no suggestion.

"I appreciate your feelings and your position, Mr. Moore," he said, "but
this is a hard thing that you ask me to do. I cannot trample upon a boy,
even metaphorically, in the presence of five thousand people. What will
they think of me?"

"They'll understand. They'll know why it's done, and they'll like you
for it. It's the only way, Mr. Grayson. Either you do it or my boy's
life is ruined."

Jimmy Grayson walked up and down the room, and his face was troubled. He
looked again and again at Harley, but the correspondent made no
suggestion; he had none to make. At last he stopped.

"I think I can save your son, and promise to make the trial, but I will
not say a word just yet. Now don't ask me any more about it, and never
mind the thanks. I understand; maybe I shall have a grown son myself,
some day, to be turned from the wrong path. Good-night. I'll see you
again at Pueblo. Harley, I wish you would stay awhile longer. I want to
have further talk with you."

The candidate and Harley were in deep converse for some time, and, when
they finished, much of the trouble had disappeared from Jimmy Grayson's
eyes. "I think it can be done," he said.

"So do I," repeated Harley, with confidence.

The next day, which was occupied with the run down to Pueblo and
occasional stops for speeches at way-stations, was uneventful save for
the growing obsession of Charlie Moore. He was overflowing with pride
and importance. That night, in the presence of five thousand people, he
was going to reply to the great Jimmy Grayson, and show to them and to
him his errors. Mr. Grayson was sound in most things, but there were
several in which he should be set right, and he, Charlie Moore, was the
man to do it for him.

The fledgling proudly produced several printed programmes with his name
next to that of the candidate, and talked to the correspondents of the
main points that he would make, until they fled into the next car. But
he followed them there and asked them if they would not like to take in
advance a synopsis of his speech, in order that they might be sure to
telegraph it to their offices in time. All evaded the issue except
Harley, who gravely jotted down the synopsis, and, with equal gravity,
returned his thanks for Mr. Moore's consideration.

"I knew you wouldn't want to miss it," said the youth, "I come on late,
you know, and, besides, I remembered that the difference in time between
here and New York is against us."

Mr. Moore, the father, was on the train throughout the day, but he did
not speak to his son. He spent his time in the car in which Jimmy
Grayson sat, always silent, but always looking, with appeal and pathos,
at the great leader. His eyes said plainly: "Mr. Grayson, you will not
fail me, will you? You will save my son? You will beat him, and tread on
him until he hasn't left a single thought of being a famous orator and
public leader? Then he will return to the work for which God made him."

Harley would look at the old man awhile, and then return to the next
car, where the youth was chattering away to those who could not escape
him.

The speech in Pueblo was to be of the utmost importance, not alone to
those whose own ears would hear it, but to the whole Union, because the
candidate would make a plain declaration upon a number of vexed
questions that had been raised within the last week or two. This had
been announced in all the press on the authority of Jimmy Grayson
himself, and the speech in full, not a word missing, would have to be
telegraphed to all the great newspapers both East and West.

In such important campaigns as that of a Presidential nominee, the two
great telegraph companies always send operators with the correspondents,
in order that they may despatch long messages from small way-stations,
where the local men are not used to such heavy work. Now Harley and his
associates had with them two veterans, Barr and Wymond, from Chicago,
who never failed them. They were relieved, too, on reaching Pueblo, to
find that the committee in charge had been most considerate. Some
forethoughtful man, whom the correspondents blessed, had remembered the
three hours' difference in time between Pueblo and New York, and against
New York, and he had run two wires directly into the hall and into a
private box on the left, where Barr and Wymond could work the
instruments, so far from the stage that the clicking would not disturb
Jimmy Grayson or anybody else, but would save much time for the
correspondents.

The audience gathered early, and it was a splendid Western crowd,
big-boned and tanned by the Western winds.

"They have cranks out here, but it's a land of strong men, don't you
forget that," said Harley to Churchill, and Churchill did not attempt a
sarcastic reply.

They were both sitting at the edge of the stage, and in front of them,
nearer the footlights, was young Moore, proud and eager, his fingers
moving nervously. His father, too, had found a seat on the stage, but he
was in the background, next to the scenery and behind the others; he was
not visible from the floor of the house. There he sat, staring gloomily
at his son, and now and then, with a sort of despairing hope, glancing
at Jimmy Grayson.

There were some short preliminary speeches and introductions, and then
came the turn of the candidate. The usual flutter of expectation ran
over the audience, followed by the usual deep hush, but just at that
moment there was an interruption. A boy in the uniform of a telegraph
company hurried upon the stage.

"You must come at once, sir," he said to Harley. "Mr. Wymond hasn't
turned up. We don't know what's become of him. And Mr. Barr has took
sick, sudden and bad. The Pueblo manager says he'll get somebody here as
quick as he can, but he can't do it under half an hour, anyway!"

The other correspondents stared at each other in dismay, and then at the
hired stenographer who was to take down the speech in full. But Harley,
always thoughtful and resourceful, responded to the emergency. He had
noticed Moore raise his head with an expression of lively interest at
the news of the disaster, and he stepped forward at once and put his
hand on the fledgling's shoulder.

"Mr. Moore," he exclaimed, in stirring appeal, "this is a crisis for us,
and you must save us. You have eaten with us, and you have lived with
us, and you cannot desert us now. We have all heard that you are a great
operator, the greatest in the West. You must send Mr. Grayson's speech.
What a triumph it will be for you--to send his speech and then get upon
this stage and demolish it afterwards!"

The feeling in Harley's voice was real, and the boy was thrilled by it
and the situation. Every natural impulse in him responded. It was the
chivalrous thing for him to do, and an easy one. He could send a speech
as fast as the fastest man living could deliver it. He rose without a
word, his heart beating with thoughts of the coming battle, in which he
felt proudly that he should be a victor, and made his way to the
telegraphers' box.

Moore had lived in Pueblo, and nearly everybody in the audience knew
him. When they saw him take his seat at one of the instruments, their
quick Western minds divined what he was going to do, and the roar of
applause that they had just given to the candidate, who was now on his
feet, was succeeded by another; but the second was for Charlie Moore,
the telegraph-operator.

The fledgling had no time to think. He had scarcely settled himself in
his chair when the deep, full voice of Jimmy Grayson filled the great
hall, and he was launched upon a speech for which the whole Union was
waiting. The short-hand man was already deep in his work, and the copy
began to come. But the boy felt no alarm; he was not even flustered; the
feel of the key was good, and the atmosphere of that box which enclosed
the telegraph apparatus was sweet in his nostrils. He called up Denver,
from which the speech would be repeated to the greater cities, and with
a sigh of deep satisfaction settled to his task.

They tell yet in Western telegraph circles of Charlie Moore's great
exploit. The candidate was in grand form that night, and his speech came
rushing forth in a torrent. The missing Wymond was still missing, and
the luckless Barr was still ill, but the fledgling sat alone in the box,
his face bent over the key, oblivious of the world around him, and sent
it all. Through him ran the fire of battle and great endeavor. He heard
the call and replied. He never missed a word. He sent them hot across
the prairie, over the slopes and ridges, and across the brown plains
into Denver. And there in the general office the manager muttered more
than once: "That fellow is doing great work! How he saves time!"

The audience liked Jimmy Grayson's speech, and again and again the
applause swelled and echoed. Then they noticed how the boy in the
telegraphers' box--a boy of their own--was working. Mysterious voices,
too, began to spread among them the news how Charlie Moore had saved the
day--or, rather, the night--and now and then in Jimmy Grayson's pauses
cries of "Good boy, Charlie!" arose.

Harley, while doing his writing, nevertheless kept a keen eye upon all
the actors in the drama. He saw the light of hope appear more strongly
upon old man Moore's face, and then turn into a glow as he beheld his
son doing so well.

The candidate spoke on and on. He had begun at nine o'clock, but that
was a great and important speech, and no one left the hall. Eleven
o'clock, and then midnight, and Jimmy Grayson was still speaking. But it
was not his night alone; it belonged to two men, and the other partner
was Charlie Moore, who fulfilled his task equally well, and whom the
audience still observed.

But the boy was thinking only of his duty that he was doing so well. The
victory was his, as he knew that it would be. He kept even with the
speech. Hardly had the last word of the sentence left Jimmy Grayson's
lips before the first of it was on the way to Denver, and in newspaper
offices two thousand miles away they were putting every paragraph in
type before it was a half-hour old.

The boy, by-and-by, as the words passed before him on the written page,
began to notice what a great speech it was. How the sentences cut to the
heart of things! How luminous and striking was the phraseology! And
around him he heard, as if in a dream, the liquid notes of that
wonderful, golden voice. Suddenly, like a stroke of lightning, he
realized how empty were his own thoughts, how bare and hard his speech,
and how thin and flat his voice! His heart sank with a plunge, and then
rose again as his finger touched the familiar key and the answering
touch thrilled back through his body. He glanced at the audience, and
saw many faces looking up at him, and on them was a peculiar look. Again
the thrill ran through him, and, bending his head lower, he sent the
words faster than ever on their eastern journey.

At last Jimmy Grayson stopped, and then the audience cheered its
applause for the speech. When the echoes died, some one--it was Judge
Basset--sprang up on a chair and exclaimed:

"Gentlemen, we have cheered Mr. Grayson, and he deserves it; but there
is some one else whom we ought to cheer, too. You have seen Charlie
Moore, a Pueblo boy, one of our own, there in the box sending the speech
to the world that was waiting for it. Perhaps you do not know that if he
had not helped us to-night the world would have had to wait too long."

They dragged young Moore, amid the cheers, upon the stage, and then,
when the hush came, the candidate said:

"You seem to know him already; but as all the speaking of the evening is
now over, I wish to introduce to you again Mr. Charlie Moore, the
greatest telegraph-operator in the West, the genius of the key, a man
destined to rise to the highest place in his profession."

When the last echo of the last cheer died, there died with it the last
ambition of Charlie Moore to be a spellbinder, and straight before him,
broad, smooth, and alluring, lay the road for which his feet were
fitted.

But the words most grateful to Jimmy Grayson were the thanks of the
fledgling's father. The little drama of the side-box and the
telegraph-key was known to but five people--the candidate, Harley, the
two operators, and happy Mr. Moore. The old gentleman, indeed, said
something about Mr. Grayson having helped him, but it was taken by the
others to mean that a mere chance, a lucky combination of circumstances,
had come to his aid, and they failed to see in it anything of
prearrangement or even intention. Hence there appeared on the surface
nothing to be criticised even by Churchill, ever on the lookout for an
incident that seemed to him incongruous or irrelevant.

Harley made it an excuse for something that he wished very much to do.
About this time Mrs. Grayson, returning from Salt Lake City, rejoined
them, but she did not bring Sylvia with her, leaving her in the Mormon
capital for a further stay with relatives. But Harley wrote a long
letter to Sylvia, beginning with the story of the spellbinder, and he
told her that his admiration for the candidate steadily increased,
because Mr. Grayson was able, at all times, even in the heat of the
hottest campaign that the Union had ever known, to put the highest
attributes of the human heart--mercy, gentleness, help--before his own
political good or even that of his party. Mr. Grayson might be beaten,
but he would make a record that must become a source of pride, not to
his party alone, but to the whole country. In fact, Mr. Grayson belonged
to humanity, and the race might lay claim to him as one of its finest
types.

Then from Mr. Grayson he glided to the other, and, to Harley, greater
topic--herself. He told her that nothing had occurred to make him change
his wishes or his hopes; since her absence began his resolve had grown.
He felt more than ever that the claim of Mr. Plummer upon her, though of
a high and noble nature, even if he did hold her promise, must yield to
the love of the husband for the wife. Mr. Plummer would come to see
this, and he would come to see it in time. He had no desire to interfere
with the natural affection of the man who had done so much for Sylvia,
nor did he feel that he was making such interference.

Harley was not sure that he would receive a reply to this letter, but it
came in due time, nevertheless, and it was Jimmy Grayson himself who
handed it to him. The handwriting of the address was known, of course,
to Mr. Grayson, and he could scarcely have failed to notice it, but he
said nothing, and apparently the fact passed unheeded by him.

Sylvia, in the course of her letter, confined herself to impartial
narrative, and began with the event of the spellbinder, which Harley had
told to her in detail. Indeed, it seemed to Harley that she devoted a
very remarkable amount of space to its consideration, especially as she
agreed with him that Mr. Grayson's action was right; nevertheless, she
discussed it from all points of the compass, and then she wrote with
almost equal amplitude of her sight-seeing in Salt Lake City.

Harley knew that Mormons were no novelty to Sylvia, as she had seen many
of them in Idaho, but she seemed to feel it necessary to describe with
particularity all the great Mormon buildings, and also to speak fully of
the manners and customs of the people. All this might have been very
interesting to him at another time and from another pen, but now he saw
only the handwriting and wished her to devote attention to that little
codicil in his own letter in which he so earnestly avowed again his love
and his belief in its ultimate triumph. She made no allusion whatever to
it, and he felt his heart sink. Nor did she speak of "King" Plummer, and
he could not gather from the letter whether he was yet in Salt Lake City
or had gone back to Idaho. She had carefully avoided all the subjects on
which he hoped she would write, and as he closed the letter and put it
in his pocket he was still rather blue.

But reflection put him in a different and much more pleasant frame of
mind. The fact that she had replied was a good omen, and her very
avoidance of the most delicate of all subjects was proof that she did
not forbid it to him. Harley was a bold man, and, being ready to push
his fortune to the utmost in a cause that he believed righteous, he
resolved to write her another letter in a few days, and to repeat in it
much that he had said in his first, or to say words to the same effect.

Meanwhile his countenance assumed a joyous cast, which was noticeable
because he was habitually of grave demeanor, and his associates,
observing the change, taxed him with the fact and demanded an
explanation, Hobart in particular wishing to know. Harley lightly
ascribed it to the rarefied air, as they were ascending a plateau, and
the others, though calling it the baldest and poorest of replies, were
forced to be content.

But one man who noticed Harley, and who said nothing, guessed much
closer to the cause. It was Mr. Grayson himself, who had seen the
address on the envelope, and it aroused grave thoughts in him. Nor were
these thoughts unkind to Sylvia or Harley. It was the custom of the
candidate to subject himself at intervals to a searching mental
examination, and now he made James Grayson walk out before him again and
undergo this minute process.

He was extremely fond of Sylvia, whose grace, intelligence, and loyalty
appealed to the best in him, and he was anxious to secure her happiness
and her position in life, on which, in a measure, the former depended.
For these reasons he had received with pleasure the news that Sylvia was
going to marry Mr. Plummer. Despite the disparity of ages, the match
seemed fitting to him; he knew the worth and honor of the "King" to be
so great that the happiness of any young girl, especially that of one
who owed so much to him, ought to be safe in his keeping. But now the
doubts which had begun to form were growing stronger. He saw that nature
was playing havoc with mere material fitness, and there came to him the
question of his own duty.

The candidate now knew well enough that Sylvia did not love Mr. Plummer
as a girl should love the man whom she is going to marry, but that she
did love Harley. He conceived it, too, to be a true and lasting love
with both the young man and the young woman, and again came to him that
question of his own duty, a question not only troublesome, but dangerous
to him in his present situation. He knew that Sylvia, despite all, would
marry "King" Plummer unless the unforeseen occurred, and make herself
unhappy all her life. Should he, then, tell "King" Plummer, or have his
wife tell him in the more indirect and delicate way women have, that the
burden of the situation rested upon him, and that he ought to release
Sylvia? The candidate shrank from such a task; he could not meddle, even
when it was his own niece whom he wished to save, and there was another
thought, too, in the background which he strove honestly to keep out of
his mind; it was the old apprehension lest the "King" in his rage,
particularly when it was the candidate himself who took from him his
heart's desire, should rebel, or at least sulk and put the Mountain
States in the opposing column. It was no less true now than in the
Middle Ages that men disappointed in love some times did desperate
things, and "King" Plummer was a full-blooded, impulsive man.

Brooding much upon the question, a rare frown came to the face of Jimmy
Grayson, and stayed there so long that his followers noticed it, and
wondered much. They decided that it was the revolt within the party, and
did not disturb him, but his wife, more acute, knew that it was not
politics, and, sitting down beside him, waited silently until he should
speak, as she knew he would in time. A full hour passed thus, and
scarcely any one in the train uttered a word. The candidate gazed
gloomily out of the window, but he did not see the mountains and the
cañons as they shot by. Most of the state politicians slept in their
seats, and the correspondents either wrote or communed with themselves.

Mr. Grayson rose at last, and, saying to his wife, "I should like a word
with you in private," led the way to the drawing-room. She followed,
knowing that he wished to speak of the trouble on his mind, and she made
a shrewd guess as to its nature.

"Anna, it is something that I have been trying to put away from me," he
said, when they were in the privacy of the drawing-room, "but it won't
stay away. I suppose I ought to have spoken to you of it some time ago,
but I could not make up my mind to do it."

She smiled a little.

"I, too, have been dreading the subject," she said, "if it is what I
think it is. You are going to speak of Sylvia, Mr. Plummer, and Mr.
Harley."

"Yes, Harley has a letter from Sylvia, and he will have more. She
doesn't want to write to him, but she will. The girl is breaking her
heart, and I am not sure that you and I are doing what we ought to do."

"And you do not think that Mr. Plummer would make a suitable husband for
her?"

She regarded him keenly from under lowered eyelids--the question was
merely intended to lead to something else.

"That is not the point. Harley is the man she loves, and Harley is the
man she should marry."

"Should she not decide this question for herself?"

The candidate studied the face of his wife. Her words, if taken simply
as words, would seem metallic and cold, but there was an expression that
gave them a wholly different meaning to him.

"Under ordinary circumstances, yes," he said, "but the circumstances in
which Sylvia finds herself are not ordinary, and I am not sure how far
we are responsible for them."

"I undertook to act once, and I was sorry that I did so."

The candidate did not speak again for several moments, but Mrs. Grayson
read his expressive face.

"You have thought of something else," she said, "that is or seems to be
connected with this affair of Sylvia's."

"I have, and I am afraid it is that which has been holding me back."

The eyes of the two met, and, although they said no more upon that
point, they understood each other perfectly.

"Anna," said the candidate, with decision, "you must write to Mr.
Plummer. I do not shift this burden from myself to you because of any
desire to escape it, but because I know you will write the letter so
much better than I can."

Her eyes met his again, and hers shone with admiration--he was not less
brave than she had thought him.

"I do not know what will come of it," he said; "perhaps nothing, but in
any event we ought to write it."

"I will write," she said, firmly.

The candidate said nothing more but he bent down and kissed his wife on
the forehead.

When Jimmy Grayson returned from the drawing-room, they noticed that the
frown was gone from his face, and at once there was a new atmosphere in
the car. The sleepy politicians awoke and made new or old jokes; the
correspondents ceased writing, and asked Mr. Grayson what he intended to
put in his next speech. Obviously the current of life began to run full
and free again, and the incomparable scenery gliding by their
car-windows no longer passed without comment. But Mrs. Grayson, in the
drawing-room, taking much thought and care, was writing this letter,
which she addressed to Mr. Plummer, in Boisé, where she heard that he
was going from Salt Lake City:


     "DEAR MR. PLUMMER,--I want to tell you how we are getting on,
     because I know how deeply you are interested in the campaign, and
     all of us have enjoyed the way in which you affiliated with our
     little group. We have been so long together now that we have become
     a sort of family--speakers, writers, and well-wishers, with Mr.
     Grayson as the head in virtue of his position as nominee. You have
     had a large place in this family--what shall I call it?--a kind of
     elder brother, one who out of the fund of his experience could
     wisely lead the younger and more impulsive."


Mrs. Grayson stopped here and tapped her finger thoughtfully with the
staff of her pen. "That paragraph," she mused, "should bring home to him
the fact that he is old as compared with Sylvia and Mr. Harley, and that
is the first thing I wish to establish in his mind." Then, dipping her
pen in the ink again, she wrote:


     "This, I think, is one of the reasons that our young people have
     missed you so much. You were always prepared to take your part in
     the entertainment of the day, but your gravity and your years,
     which, without being too many, become you so much, exercised a
     restraining influence upon them, and showed them the line at which
     they should stop. I think that you acquired over them an influence,
     in its way paternal, and it is in such a capacity that they miss
     you most."


The lady's smile deepened, and in her mind was the thought that if he
did not wince at this bolt he was, indeed, impervious. Then she
continued:


     "My interest in this campaign is not alone political nor personal
     to Mr. Grayson, which also means myself, but I have become much
     interested in those who travel with us--that is, those who have
     become the members of our new family. There is Mr. Heathcote, who
     was sent West as our enemy, and quickly turned to a friend. There
     is Mr. Tremaine, who is such a gay old beau, and who never realizes
     that he is too old for the young women with whom he wishes to
     flirt."


The lady stopped again, and her smile was deeper than ever. "Now that
was unintended," she mused, "but it comes in very happily." She resumed:


     "And there is Mr. Hobart, who loves mysteries, especially murder
     mysteries, and who saved the life of that innocent boy. I find him
     a most interesting character, but, after all, he is read with less
     difficulty than Mr. Harley, who, though silent and reserved, seems
     to me to be deeper and more complex. His, I am sure, is a very
     strong nature--Mr. Grayson, you know, is quite fond of him, and in
     certain things has got into the habit of leaning upon him. Mr.
     Harley seems to me to be fitted by temperament and strength to be
     the shield and support of some one. He could make the girl who
     should become his wife very happy, and I am wondering if he will go
     out of our West without forming such an attachment."


"That surely," thought the lady, "will bring him to the question which I
present to his mind, and he will answer it whether he will or not, by
saying this attachment has been formed, and it is for Sylvia." She
continued:


     "Like Mr. Grayson, I am very fond of Mr. Harley, who has proved
     himself a true friend to us, and I should like to see him
     happy--that is, married to a true woman, who would not alone
     receive strength, but give it, too. In the course of his vocation,
     he has already roamed about the world enough, and it is time now
     for him to settle down. If I had my way I should select for him one
     of our fine Western girls; about twenty-one or two, I think, would
     be the right age for him--there is a fitness in these things."


"I wonder if that is blunt?" she mused. "No, he will think it just
popped out, and that I was unconscious of it. I shall let it stay." Then
she resumed:


     "It ought to be a girl with a temperament that is at once a match
     and foil for his own. She should have a sense of humor, a gift for
     light and ironic speech that can stir him without irritating him,
     because he is perhaps of a cautious disposition, and hence would be
     well matched with one a little bit impulsive, each exercising the
     proper influence upon the other. She should be strong, too,
     habituated to physical hardship, as our Western girls are. Such a
     marriage, I think, would be ideal, and I expect you, Mr. Plummer,
     when you rejoin us, to help me make it, should the opportunity
     arise.
                                  Yours sincerely,
                                            "ANNA GRAYSON."


She folded the sheets, put them in the envelope, and addressed them. It
was the second time that she had written to Mr. Plummer, but with a very
different motive, and she had more confidence in the second letter than
she had ever felt in the first.

"That will cause him pain," she reflected, "but the task cannot be done
without it."

In her heart she was genuinely sorry for Mr. Plummer, thinking at that
moment more of his grief than of her husband's risk, but she was
resolute to mail the letter, nevertheless. She read it a little later to
Mr. Grayson, and he approved.

"It is likely to bring 'King' Plummer raging down from Idaho, but it
ought to go," he said.

A half-hour later, this letter, written in a delicate, feminine hand,
but heavy with fate, was speeding northwestward.



XVIII

THE SACRIFICE


A few days after writing this letter, Mrs. Grayson announced that Sylvia
would rejoin them on the following afternoon, having shortened her stay
in Salt Lake City, as her relations were about to depart on a visit to
California.

"She wants very much to go on with us," said Mrs. Grayson, "and rather
than send her either to Boisé or to our home, where she would be alone,
we are willing for her to continue."

"I should think you would be!" exclaimed Hobart. "Why, Mrs. Grayson,
much as we esteem you, we would start a violent rebellion if you should
send Miss Morgan away, a rebellion attended by bloodshed and desperate
deeds."

Mrs. Grayson smiled and glanced at Harley, who was silent. But she did
not fail to see the flash of pleasure under his veiled eyelids.

"Keep your pistol in your pocket and your sword in its sheath, Mr.
Hobart," she said; "I shall not give you occasion to use either."

"Then I declare for peace."

Sylvia joined them at the time mentioned by Mrs. Grayson, quiet,
slightly pale, and disposed, in the opinion of the Graysons, to much
thought. "The girl has something on her mind which she cannot put off,"
said Tremaine, and in this case he was right.

Sylvia, while in Salt Lake City, far from the influences which recently
had brought to her acute pain and joy alike, considered her position
with as much personal detachment as she could assume. Away from Harley
and the magic of his presence and his confident voice, she strengthened
her resolve to keep her word--if "King" Plummer claimed her, he should
yet have her. But this same examination showed her another fact that was
unalterable. She loved Harley, and, though she might marry another man,
she would continue to love him. In a way she gloried in the truth and
her recognition of it. It was a love she intended to hide, but it
brought her a sad happiness nevertheless.

It was this feeling, spiritual in its nature, that gave to Sylvia a new
charm when she came back, a touch of sorrow and womanly dignity that all
noticed at once, and to which they gave tribute. It melted the heart of
Jimmy Grayson, who knew so well the reason why, and he was glad now that
his wife had written to "King" Plummer.

Sylvia said nothing about Mr. Plummer; if she knew whether he would
return and when, she kept it to herself, and Mrs. Grayson, who was
waiting in anxiety for an answer to her letter--an answer that did not
come--was in a state of apprehension, which she hid, however, from all
except Mr. Grayson. This agitation was increased by an event in her
husband's career, so unexpected in its nature and so extraordinary that
it was the sensation of the country, and exercised an unfavorable
influence upon the campaign. If any one in the United States, whether
friend or enemy, had been asked if such a thing could occur, he would
have said that it was impossible.

In their travels they came presently to Egmont, a snug town, lying in a
hollow of the land, from which they were going to conduct what Hobart
called a circular campaign--that is, it was the centre from which they
were to make journeys to a ring of smaller places lying in a circle
about it, returning late at night for sleep and rest.

They were all pleased with Egmont; though less than ten years old, it
had houses of brick and stone, a trim look, and the smoothness of life
and comfort that usually come only with age. It was a pleasure to return
to it every night from the newer and cruder villages in the outer ring,
and enjoy good beds and fresh sheets.

But the candidate spoke first in Egmont, and the chairman of the
committee that managed the meeting was the solid man of the town. Harley
and his comrades required no information on this point; it was visible
at once in the important manner of the Honorable John Anderson, the cool
way in which he assumed authority, and his slight air of patronage when
he came in contact with the correspondents. Harley and his comrades only
laughed; they had often noticed the same bearing in men much better
known in the world than the Honorable John Anderson, of Egmont, Montana,
and they generally set it down as one of the faults of success;
therefore they could smile.

But Mr. Anderson was hospitable, insisting that the candidate and his
family, instead of spending the first night at the hotel, should go with
him to his house. "I have room and to spare," he said, with a slight
touch of importance. "My house will be honored if it can shelter
to-night the next President of the United States."

"Thank you for the invitation," said Jimmy Grayson, gravely. "I shall be
glad to join you with my family and Mr. Harley. Mr. Harley has become in
a sense one of my advisers, almost a lieutenant, I might say."

Mr. Anderson was not intending to ask Harley, as the correspondent knew,
but the candidate had included him so deftly that the important citizen
must do so, too, and he widened the invitation with courtesy. Harley,
always in search of new types, always anxious to explore the secrets of
new lands, accepted as promptly as if the request had been spontaneous.

Although his house was only a few hundred yards away, Mr. Anderson took
them there in his two-seated, highly polished carriage, drawn by a pair
of seal-brown trotters. "Good horses," he said, as he cracked his whip
contentedly over them. "I brought them all the way from Kentucky. Cost
me a lot, too."

The Anderson house was really fine, built of light stone, standing far
back on a wide lawn, and Harley could see that the good taste of some
one had presided at its birth. It had an Eastern air of quiet and
completion. When Mr. Anderson, glancing at his guests, beheld the look
of approval on their faces, he was pleased, and said, in an easy,
off-hand manner:

"Been up only four years; planned it myself, with a little help from
wife and daughter."

Harley at once surmised that the good effect was due to the taste of the
wife or daughter, or both, and he was confirmed in the opinion when he
met Mrs. Anderson, a slight, modest woman, superior to her husband in
some respects that Harley thought important. The daughter did not appear
until just before dinner, but when she came into the parlor to meet the
guest the correspondent held his breath for a moment.

Rare and beautiful flowers bloom now and then on the cold plains of the
great Northwest, and Harley said in his heart that Helen Anderson was
one of the rarest and most beautiful of them all. It was not alone the
beauty of face and figure, but it was, even more, the nobility of
expression and a singular touch of pathos, as if neither youth nor
beauty had kept from her a great sadness. This almost hidden note of
sorrow seemed to Harley to make perfect her grace and charm, and he
felt, stranger though he was, that he was willing to sacrifice himself
to protect her from some blow unknown to him. Speaking of it afterwards,
he found that she had the same effect upon the candidate. "I felt that I
must be her champion," said Mr. Grayson. "Why, I did not know, but I
wanted to fight for her."

Miss Anderson herself was unconscious of the impression that she
created, and she strove only to entertain her father's guests, a task in
which she achieved the full measure of success. Mr. Anderson mentioned,
casually, how he had sent her to Wellesley, and Harley saw that her
horizon was wider than that of her parents. But the pathetic, appealing
look came now and then into her beautiful eyes, and Harley was convinced
of her unhappiness. Once he saw a sudden glance, as of sympathy and
understanding, pass between her and Sylvia.

It was not long before the secret of Helen Anderson was told to him,
because it was no secret at all. The whole town was proud of her, and
everybody in it knew that she was in love with Arthur Lee, the young
lawyer whose sign hung on the main street of Egmont before an office
which was yet unvisited by clients. It was true love on both sides,
they said, with sympathy; they had been boy and girl together, and
during her long stay in the East at school she had never forgotten him.
But Mr. Anderson would have none of the briefless youth; his prosperity
had fed his pride--a lawyer without a case was not a fit match for his
daughter. "If you were famous, if it were common talk that some day you
might be governor or United States senator, I might consent, but, sir,
you have done nothing," he had said, with cruel sarcasm to Lee.

It was a bitter truth, and Lee himself, high and honorable in all his
nature, saw it. The girl, too, had old-fashioned ideas of duty to
parents, and when her father bade her think no more of Lee she humbly
bowed her head. But the town said, and the town knew, that the more she
sought to put him out of her heart, the more strongly intrenched was he
there; that while she now tried to think of him not at all, she thought
of him all the time.

The whole story was brought to Harley; it was not in his nature to pry
into the sacred mysteries of a young girl's heart, but the tale moved
him all the more deeply when he saw young Lee, a man with a high, noble
brow and clear, open eyes, through which his honest soul shone, that all
might see. But upon his face was the same faint veil of sadness that
hovered over Helen Anderson's, as if hope were lacking.

Harley met young Lee two or three times, and on each occasion purposely
prolonged the talk, because the young lawyer without a case aroused his
interest and sympathy. He soon discovered that Lee had an uncommon mind,
acute, penetrating, and on fire with noble ideals. But it was a fire
that smouldered unseen. He had never had a chance; it would come to him
some day, Harley knew, but it might be, it surely would be, too late.
Harley had seen much of the world, its glory and its shame alike, and he
was convinced that nothing else in it was worth so much to man as the
spontaneous love of a pure woman and a happy marriage. He knew from dear
experience how much Lee was losing--nay, had lost already--and his pity
was deeply stirred. He wished to speak of it to Sylvia, but the thought
of such words only made his own wound the deeper. The whole town was on
the side of the lovers, but it was bound and helpless; the father's
command and Lee's own honor were barriers that could not be passed.

The people about Egmont were so much delighted with Mr. Grayson's speech
that they demanded a second from him, and, with his usual good-nature,
he yielded, although Harley knew that he was feeling the strain of such
a long and severe campaign. The evening of the fifth day after his
arrival was set for the time, and he was expected to deliver the address
at a late hour, when he returned from one of the circle of villages.

On the night before the second speech, the candidate and Harley, who
were now staying at the hotel, after making their excuses to the others,
slipped out for a walk in the cool and silence of the dark. The rarest
thing in Jimmy Grayson's life now was privacy, and he longed for it as a
parched throat longs for water; it was only at such times as this, with
a late hour and a favoring night, that he could secure it.

Nearly all Egmont was in bed, and they turned from the chief street into
the residence quarter, where a few lights twinkled amid the lawns and
gardens. No one had noticed them, and Jimmy Grayson, with a sigh of
relief, drew breaths of the crisp, cool air that came across a thousand
miles of clean prairie.

"What a splendid night!" he said. "What a grand horizon!"

They stood upon a slight elevation, and they looked down the street and
out upon the prairie, which rippled away, silver in the moonlight, like
the waves of the sea. A wind, faint, like a happy sigh, was blowing.

"An evening for lovers," said the candidate, and he smiled as his mind
ran back to some happy evenings in his own life. "Now, why should such a
moonlight as this ever be spoiled by a political speech?" he continued.

"I was thinking of lovers myself," said Harley, "because here is the
Anderson house before us. Don't you see its white walls shining through
the trees?"

"Poor girl!" said the candidate. "It is a terrible thing for a woman to
be separated from the man she loves. A woman, I think, can really love
but once. And yet her father's pride is natural; young Lee has not even
made a start in life."

"All he needs is a chance, which he will get--when it is too late," said
Harley.

The house and its grounds, surrounded by a stone wall not more than
three feet high, occupied an entire square in the outskirts of the
little city, and the candidate and Harley followed the least frequented
of the streets--one running beside the stone wall, which was shaded
presently by thick and arching boughs of trees that grew within. As they
entered the shadow they saw a man leap over the low barrier and
disappear in the Anderson grounds.

"A burglar!" exclaimed Harley. His first thought was of Helen Anderson
and her beautiful, appealing face, and without a moment's hesitation he
sprang over the wall to pursue. Jimmy Grayson looked at him in
astonishment, and then followed.

Harley stopped for an instant inside the grounds, and saw the dark
figure just ahead of him, but now walking with such slowness that
pursuit was easy. Evidently the burglar was making sure of the way
before he sought to enter the Anderson mansion; but Harley was
surprised, in a few moments, to notice something familiar in the
shoulders and bearing of the man whom he followed. His burglar never
looked back, but entered an open space; and then Harley, his surprise
increasing, stopped when he saw him approach a little summer-house of
lattice-work. The hand of the candidate fell at that moment upon his
arm, and a deep voice said in his ear:

"I think we have gone far enough, don't you, Harley?"

"I do," replied Harley, with conviction.

A woman was coming, a woman with a beautiful, pale face, more lovely and
sad than ever in the moonlight, and the two men knew at once that Helen
was about to meet her lover. They would have turned and fled from the
grounds, because a woman's pure love was sacred, to be hidden from all
eyes and ears save those of one, but her face was towards them, and had
they stepped from the shadow of the oak she would have seen the two.

"Ah, Helen!" said Lee, as he met her and took her hands in his.

"Arthur, for the last time!" she exclaimed.

"Yes, I know it is for the last time," said Arthur, and there was a
moving sadness in his voice.

Their faces were turned towards the two there in the shadow of the
great oak, although unwitting that others were so near, and neither man
dared to move. The moonlight, in softened silver, fell upon the faces of
the lovers, disclosing all the beauty of the woman's and all the
loftiness of the man's. Harley thought he had never seen a nobler pair.

The man took both the girl's hands in his and held them for a few
moments. Then he walked back and forth, taking quick little steps. Every
motion of his figure expressed agony and despair. The girl stood still,
and her face, clearly shown in the moonlight, was turned towards Harley;
it, too, expressed agony and despair; but her stillness showed
resignation, Lee's fierce movements were full of rebellion.

"I am going away, Helen," said Arthur. "I have decided upon it. I shall
not be here more than a week or two longer. I cannot be in the same
town, seeing you every day and knowing that you cannot be mine. I could
not stand it."

"I suppose it is best," said Helen; "but, Arthur, I love you. I have
told you that, and I am proud of it. I shall never love any one else. It
is not possible."

Her beautiful, pale face was still turned towards Harley, and he saw
again upon it that touch of ineffable sadness and resignation that had
moved him so deeply. Lee stopped his despairing walk back and forth and
looked at Helen. Then he uttered a little cry and seized her hands
again.

"Helen," he said, "I cannot do it! I came here to give you up forever,
to tell you that I was going away, and I meant to go, but I cannot do
it. We love each other--then who has the right to separate us? I thought
that I could stand this, that I had hardened myself to endure it, but
when the time comes I find that it is too much. My right to you is
greater than that of father or mother. Come with me; we can go to
Longford to-night, and in three hours we shall be man and wife."

He still held her hands in his, and his face was flushed and his eyes
shining with an eager but noble passion.

Harley and the candidate, in the shrubbery, never stirred. They
listened, but they forgot that they were listening.

The girl lifted her eyes to those of her lover, and there was in them no
reproach, only a high, sad courage.

"You do not mean what you say now, Arthur," she said. "I have given my
promise to my father, and you must help me to be strong, for alone I am
weak, very weak. None can help me but you. You must go, as you said you
would go, but your face shall always be with me here. Though I may not
be your wife, I shall be true to you all my life."

"In such moments as these the woman is always stronger than the man,"
breathed Jimmy Grayson.

Lee dropped her hands again and walked a step or two away.

"Helen," he said, "forgive me, and forget what I said. I was base when I
spoke. But I have found it too hard!--too hard!"

Her eyes still expressed no reproach; there was in them something almost
divine. She loved him the more because of his weakness, although she
would not yield to it.

"It is hard, very hard for us both," she whispered, "but it must be
done. But, Arthur, I love you. I have told you that, and I am not
ashamed of it. I shall never love any one else. It is not possible."

"I know it. I know, too, that your heart will always be mine, but, as
the world sees it, your father is right. I am nothing. I have no right
to a wife--above all, to one such as you. I feel that I have a power
within me, the power to do things which the world would call good, but
there is no chance. I suppose that the chance will come some day--when
it is too late."

Harley started. The words were the echo of his own. "We must go," he
whispered to the candidate. "No one has a right to listen, even without
intention, at this, their last meeting." Jimmy Grayson had already
turned away, and by the faint moonlight sifting through the branches
Harley saw a mist in his eyes. But their movement made a sound, and the
lovers looked up.

"Did you hear a noise? What was it?" asked Helen.

"Only a lizard in the grass or a squirrel rattling the bark of a tree,"
replied Arthur.

They listened a moment, but they heard nothing more, save the faint
stirring of the wind among the leaves and the grass.

"Are you really going, Arthur?" asked Helen, as if, approving it once,
she would like now to hear him deny it.

He looked at her, his face flushing and his eyes alight, as if at last
he heard her ask him to stay; but he saw in her gaze only brave resolve.
She could love him, and yet she had the strength to sacrifice that love
for what she considered her duty. He drew courage from her, and he
lifted his head proudly, although his eyes expressed grief alone.

"Yes, I have only to start," he replied; "you know I have little to
take. I make just one more public appearance in Egmont. Mr. Grayson
speaks here again to-morrow night, and the committee, by some chance--a
chance it must have been--has put me on the list of speakers."

"Oh, Arthur, it may be an opportunity for you!"

She was eager, flushed, her eyes flaming and uplifted to his.

"It might be, Helen, at any other time, but this is evil fortune. I am
of the other party; I must speak against him--we are fair to both sides
here; he will have the right of rejoinder, and you know what he is,
Helen--the greatest orator in America, perhaps in all the world. No one
yet has ever been able to defeat him, and what chance have I, with no
experience, against the most formidable debater in existence? I should
shirk it, Helen, if the people would not think me a coward."

"Oh, Arthur, what an ordeal!" She looked up at him with wet, tender
eyes.

Harley, at the mention of Jimmy Grayson's name, glanced away from the
lovers and towards the candidate. He saw him start, and a singular, soft
expression pass over his face, to be followed by one of doubt.

"Now I shall go, Helen," said Arthur. "It was wrong of me to ask you to
meet me here, but I could not go away without seeing you alone and
speaking to you alone, as I do now."

"I was glad to come."

He took her hands again, and for a few moments they stood, gazing into
each other's eyes, where they saw all the grief of a last parting.
Harley wished to turn his gaze away, but, somehow, he could not. There
was silence in the grounds, save that gentle, sighing sound of the wind
through the leaves and grass, and only the moon looked down.

Suddenly the youth bent his head, kissed the girl on the lips, and then
ran swiftly through the shrubbery, as if he could not bear to hesitate
or look back.

"It was their first kiss," murmured Harley.

"I did not see it," said Jimmy Grayson, turning his eyes away.

"And their last," murmured Harley.

The girl stood like a statue, still deadly pale, but Harley saw that her
eyes were luminous. It was the man whom she loved who had taken her
first kiss; nothing could alter that beautiful fact. She listened, as if
she could hear his last retreating footstep on the grass dying away like
an echo. Harley and the candidate watched her until her slender figure
in the white draperies was hid by the house, and then they, too, went
back to the street.

Neither spoke until they passed the low stone wall, and then the
candidate said, brusquely:

"Harley, unless this moonlight deceives me, there is moisture on your
eyelids. What do you mean by such unmanly weakness?"

Harley smiled, but, refraining from the _tu quoque_, left Jimmy Grayson
to lead the way, and he noticed that he chose a course that did not take
them back to the hotel. Moreover, he did not speak again for a long
time, and Harley walked on by his side, silent, too, but thoughtful and
keenly observant. He saw that his friend was troubled, and he divined
the great struggle that was going on in his mind. Whether he could do it
if he were in the place of the candidate he was unable to say, and he
was glad that the decision did not lie with himself.

They walked on and on until they left the town and were out upon the
broad prairie, where the wind moaned in a louder key, and the
candidate's face was still troubled.

"Harley," said the candidate, at last, "I cannot get rid of the look in
that girl's eyes."

"I do not wish to do so," said Harley.

It was nearly midnight when he turned and began to walk back towards the
town. The moonlight, breaking through a cloud, again flooded Jimmy
Grayson's face, and Harley, who knew him so well, saw that the look of
trouble had passed. The lips were compressed and firm, and in his eyes
shone the clear light of decision. Harley's feelings, as he saw, were
mingled, a strange compound of elation and apprehension. But at the
hotel he said, gravely, "Good-night," and the candidate replied with
equal seriousness, "Good-night." Neither referred to what they had seen
nor to what they expected.

The second speech at Egmont drew an even greater audience than the
first, as the fame of Jimmy Grayson's powers spread fast, and there
would be, too, the added spice of combat; members of the other party
would accept his challenge, replying to his logic if they could, and the
hall was crowded early with eager people. Harley, sitting at the back of
the stage, saw the Honorable John Anderson come in, importantly, his
wife under one arm and his daughter under the other. Helen looked paler
than ever, but here under the electric lights her sad loveliness made
the same appeal to Harley. Lee arrived late, and although, as one of the
speakers, he was forced to sit on the stage, he hid himself behind the
others. But a single glance passed between the two, and then the girl
sat silent and pale, hoping against hope for her lover.

The candidate spoke well. His voice was as deep and as musical as ever,
and his sentences rolled as smoothly as before. All his charm and
magnetism of manner were present; the old spell which he threw over
everybody--a spell which was from the heart and the manner as well as
from the meaning of his words--was not lacking, but to Harley, keenly
attentive, there seemed to be a flaw in his logic. The reasoning was not
as clear and compact as usual. Only a man with a penetrating, analytical
mind would observe it, but there were openings here and there where his
armor could be pierced. Blaisdell, one of the correspondents, noticed
the fact, and he whispered to Harley:

"It's a good thing that Jimmy Grayson has no great speaker against him
to-night; I never knew him to wander from the point before."

"Where's your great speaker?" asked Harley, with irony.

But the crowded audience was oblivious. It heard only the music of the
candidate's voice and felt only the spell of his manner; therefore, it
was with a sort of contempt that it looked upon Lee, the young lawyer
without a case, who rose to reply. Lee was pale, but there was a fire in
his eyes, as if he, too, had noticed something, and Harley, observing,
caught his breath sharply.

The correspondent again looked down at the girl, and he saw a deep flush
sweep over her face, and then, passing, leave it deadly pale. The next
moment she averted her eyes as if she would not see the failure of her
lover, not the less dear to her because he was about to go away forever.
But though he did not see her face now, Harley, as he looked at the bent
head, could read her mind. He knew that she was quivering; he knew that
she, too, had been completely under the spell of the candidate's great
voice and manner, and she feared the painful contrast.

Harley glanced once at Jimmy Grayson, sitting quietly, all expression
dismissed from his face, and then he looked back at the girl; she should
receive all his attention now. Presently he saw her raise her head, the
color returned to her face, and a sudden look of wonder and hope
appeared in her eyes. Arthur was speaking, not timidly, not like one
beaten, but in a strong, clear voice, and with a logic that was keen and
merciless he drove straight at the weak points in the candidate's
address. Even Harley was surprised at his skill and penetration.

The correspondent watched Helen, and he read every step of her lover's
progress in her eyes. The wonder and hope there grew, and the hope
turned to delight. She looked up at her father, as if to tell him how
much he had misjudged Arthur, and that here, in truth, was the beginning
of greatness; and the important man, as he felt her eyes upon him, moved
uneasily in his seat.

The feelings of the audience were mingled, but among them amazement led
all the rest. The great Jimmy Grayson, the Presidential nominee, the
unconquerable, the man of world-wide fame, the victor of every campaign,
was being beaten by a young townsman of their own, not known twenty
miles from home. Incredible as it seemed, it was true; the fact was
patent to the dullest in the hall. Harley saw a look of astonishment and
then dismay overspread the faces of Mrs. Grayson and Sylvia, and he knew
that of all in the hall they were suffering most acutely.

The keen, cutting voice went on, tearing Jimmy Grayson's argument to
pieces, clipping off a section here and a section there, and tossing
the fragments aside. By-and-by the amazement of the people gave way to
delight. Their home pride was touched. This boy of their own was doing
what no other had ever been able to do. They began to thunder forth
applause, and the women waved their handkerchiefs. Hobart leaned over
and whispered to Harley:

"Old man, what does this mean? Is Jimmy Grayson sick?"

"He was never better than he is to-night."

Hobart gave him an inquiring look.

"I'll ask more about this later," he said.

But Harley already had turned his attention back to Helen, and as he
watched the growing joy on her face his own heart responded. It was
relief, elation, that he felt now, and, for the moment, no apprehension.
He saw the color yet flushing her cheeks, and the eyes alight with life
and joy. He saw her suddenly clasp her father's arm in both hands, and,
though he was too far away to hear, he knew well that she was telling
him what a great man Arthur was going to be. For her all obstacles were
driven away by this sudden flood of fortune, and Harley again saw the
important man move uneasily while a look, half fear, half shame, came
into his eyes.

The speech was finished, and young Lee, a man now on a pedestal, sat
down amid thunders of applause. Jimmy Grayson undertook to respond, but
for the first time in his life he was weak and halting. He wandered on
lamely, and at last retired amid faint cheers, to be followed quickly by
an astonished silence. Then, when the people recovered themselves, they
poured in a tumult from the hall; but the hero to whom they turned
admiringly was Arthur Lee, their own youthful townsman, and not the
candidate.

The next day Hobart told Harley that Lee had won everything. Mr.
Anderson, sharing the pride of Egmont, could resist no longer, and had
withdrawn his refusal. Arthur and Helen would be married in the winter.

"You see," said Hobart, "young Lee is now a hero."

"But not the greatest hero," said Harley.

"That is true," said Hobart, and then he added, after a moment's pause,
"I could never have done it."

But that night, when Jimmy Grayson left the hall, he went at once to the
hotel with Mrs. Grayson. Luckily there was a side-door, out of which
they slipped so quietly and quickly that not many people had a chance
either to pity him or to exult over him, at least in his presence. Yet
he did not fail to notice more than one sneer on the faces of those who
belonged to the other party, and his cheeks burned for a moment, as
James Grayson, the candidate, had his full store of human pride.

In the hall the amazed crowd lingered, and the correspondents, not less
surprised than the people, gathered in a group to talk it over. Sylvia
was there, too, and she was almost in tears. To none had the blow been
harder than to her, and she was so stunned that she could yet scarcely
credit it. All of the group were sad except Churchill, who felt all the
glory of an I-told-you-so come to judgment.

"It was bound to happen, sooner or later," he said, when he noticed that
Sylvia was not listening; "the man is all froth and foam, but who could
have thought that the bubble would be pricked by an obscure little
Western attorney? Was ever anything more ignominious?"

Then the ancient beau, Tremaine, spoke from a soul that was stirred to
the depths.

"Churchill," he exclaimed, "I've been travelling about the world forty
years, but there are times when I think you are the meanest man I ever
met."

Churchill flushed and clinched his fist, but thought better of it, and
turned off the matter with an uneasy laugh.

"Tremaine," he said, "the older you grow the fonder you become of
superlatives."

"I admired Jimmy Grayson in his triumphs, and I admire him more than
ever in his defeat," said Tremaine, still bristling, and fiercely
twisting his short, gray mustache.

"Mr. Tremaine, I want to thank you," said Sylvia, who, turning to them,
had heard Tremaine's warm speech; and she put her hand in his for a
moment, which was to him ample repayment.

Harley stood by, and was silent because he did not know what to say. To
state that Mr. Grayson had allowed himself to be beaten for a purpose
would have an incredible look in print--it would seem the poorest of
excuses; nor did he wish to make use of it in the presence of Churchill,
who would certainly jeer at it and present it in his despatches as a
ridiculous plea. He had begun to have a certain sensitiveness in regard
to the candidate, and he did not wish to be forced into a quarrel with
Churchill.

But Sylvia caught a slight smile, a smile of irony, in the eyes of
Harley, and the tears in her own dried up at once. She felt
instinctively, with all the quickness of a woman's intuition, that
Harley knew something about the speech which she did not know, but she
meant to know it, and she watched for an opportunity.

They were turning out the lights in the hall and the people began to go
away, the correspondents closing up the rear. Sylvia fell back with
Harley, and touched his arm lightly.

"There is something that you are not telling me," she said.

"I am willing to tell it to you, because you will believe it."

Tremaine, with ever-ready gallantry, was about to join them, but Sylvia
said:

"I thank you, Mr. Tremaine, but Mr. Harley has promised to see me to the
hotel."

Her tone was light, but so decisive that Tremaine turned back at once,
and Hobart, who was ahead, hid a smile.

"Now, I want to know what it is," she said, eagerly, to Harley. "That
was a good speaker, an able man, but I don't believe that he or anybody
else could beat Uncle James. How did it happen?"

Harley did not answer her at once, because it seemed to him just then
that the action of Jimmy Grayson was an illustration, and the idea was
hot in his mind.

"Perhaps there is nothing to tell, after all," she said, and her face
fell.

"There is something to tell; I hesitated because I was looking for the
best way to tell it. Mr. Grayson to-night made a sacrifice of himself,
purposely and willingly."

"A sacrifice of himself! How could he have done such a thing?"

"For the best reason that makes a man do such a thing. For love."

She stared at him a moment, and then broke into a puzzled but ironic
laugh.

"You are certainly dreaming a romance. Uncle James and Aunt Anna have
been happily married for years, and there is nothing now that could
force him to make such a sacrifice."

Harley smiled, and his smile was rarely tender, because he was thinking
at that moment of Sylvia.

"The sacrifice was not to help his own cause, but the cause of another,
the cause of the man who beat him--that is, seemed to beat him. Mr. Lee,
through his victory to-night, wins the girl whom he loves, and he could
have won her in no other way. There are people who can do great deeds
and make great sacrifices for love, even to help the love of two others.
It will be printed in every paper of the United States in the morning
that Mr. Grayson was defeated in debate to-night by a young local
lawyer. His prestige will be greatly impaired."

Her eyes glowed, and her face, too, became rarely tender.

"Uncle James was truly great to-night!" she exclaimed.

"At his greatest. I know of no other man who could have done it. After
all, Sylvia, don't you think love is the greatest and purest of motives,
and that we should consider it first?"

"John," she said, and it was the first time that she had ever called him
by his first name, "you must not tempt me to break my sacred word to the
man to whom I owe all things. Oh, John, don't you see how hard it is for
me, and won't you help me to bear it, instead of making the burden
heavier?"

She turned upon him a face of such pathetic appeal that Harley was
abashed.

"Sylvia," he replied, almost in a whisper, "God knows that I do not wish
to make you unhappy, nor do I wish to make you do what is wrong. I spoke
so because I could not help it. Do you think that I can love you, and
know you to be what you are, and then stand idly by and see you passing
to another? I believe in silence and endurance, but not in such silence
and endurance as that. It is too much! God never asks it of a man!"

She looked at him. Her eyes were dewy and tender, filled with love, a
love tinged with sorrow, but he saw the brave resolution shining there,
and he knew that, despite all, she would keep her word unless "King"
Plummer himself willingly released her from it. And he loved her all the
more because she was so true.

"Sylvia," he said, "I was wrong. I should not have spoken to you in such
a manner. I am a weak coward to make your duty all the harder for you."

They were at the "ladies' entrance" of the hotel, and the others either
had gone in or had turned aside. They were alone, and she bent a little
towards him.

"The things that you say may be wrong," she whispered, "but--oh, John--I
love to hear you say them!"

Then she went into the hotel, and Harley wisely did not seek to follow.



XIX

AN IDAHO STORM


Among the mountains of Idaho, a dark storm-cloud, ribbed with flashes of
steel-edged lightning, was growing. For thirty years "King" Plummer had
lived a life after his own mind, and it had been a very free life. In
four or five states he was a real monarch, and there was nothing at all
derisive about his nickname. At fifty he was at his mental and physical
zenith, never before had he felt so strong, both in body and mind, so
capable of doing great deeds, and with so keen a zest in life. The blood
flowed in a rich, red tide through his veins, and he breathed the breath
of morning like a youth.

To this big, strong man, rioting in the very fulness of life, came Mrs.
Grayson's letter. He was not in Boisé when it arrived there, but it was
forwarded to him at a mining-camp in the very highest mountains. He read
it early one morning sitting on a big rock at the edge of a valley that
dropped off three thousand feet below, and first there was a shade of
annoyance on his face, to be followed by a frown, which gave way in its
turn to an angry red flush.

But while the shade of annoyance was still on his face the "King" asked,
"What is she driving at?" and then, when it was replaced by the frown,
he muttered, "Why does she waste so much time on Harley and a marriage
for him?" and then, when the red flush came, he exclaimed, "Damn the
Eastern kid!" In the mind of "King" Plummer everybody who did not live
west of the Missouri River was Eastern.

He read the letter over four or five times, and it sank deeper and
deeper into his soul, and as it sank it burned like fire. All that he
had feared, but which he had refused to believe when he came away, was
true. Sylvia did not love him, but she loved that raw youngster Harley.
And here was Mrs. Grayson, the wife of a man who was under obligations
to him, whom he could ruin, hinting that he give her up, and she a woman
whom he had supposed to be endowed with at least ordinary intelligence.

In his wrath, which was mighty, "King" Plummer swore at the whole tribe
of women as fickle, heartless creatures. Then he rose to his feet,
clinched his fist, shook it at the opposite mountain across the valley,
and swore aloud at all creation. And "King" Plummer knew how to swear;
he was no mealy-mouthed man; his had been a wild and tumultuous youth,
and though he would never use oaths in the presence of Sylvia, he could
still, in the seclusion of mountain or desert, let fly an imprecating
volley that would burn the rocks themselves. It was apparent to some
miners coming up the slope that their chief was no extinct volcano, and
they wisely passed in silence on the other side.

For the present there was little grief in the "King's" outpouring; the
tide of wrath was too full and sparkling to be tinged yet awhile by
other currents, and just now it flowed most against Mrs. Grayson, who
had been bold enough to tell him what he was least willing to hear. His
heart, too, was full of unspoken threats, as "King" Plummer was a
passionate man who had lived a rough life, close to the ground, and full
of primitive emotions. And the threats he expressed in words were such
as these: "They shall pay for it!" "I helped put that husband of hers
where he is, I helped make him, and I can help unmake him; and, by
thunder, I will do it, too!" In the hour of his wrath he hated Jimmy
Grayson, and his head was filled with sudden schemes. He would "teach
the man what it was to play the King of the Mountains for a sucker,"
and, still raging, he cast from him all the ties of party and
association.

Within an hour he was on his swiftest horse, riding furiously towards
Boisé, his heart full of anger and his head full of plans for revenge.

Nor was he sparing in speech when he reached Boisé. His words cracked so
loud that the echo of them travelled several hundred miles and reached
Mrs. Grayson, who was waiting vainly for a reply to a letter that she
had written nearly two weeks before. Now, no reply was necessary,
because this news was what she had feared, but which she had hoped would
not come.

The report was winged and full of alarms. "King" Plummer, shooting out
of the mountains like a cannon-ball, had made his appearance in the
streets of Boisé, openly denouncing Jimmy Grayson, calling him a
traitor, and saying that he would beat him if he had to ruin himself to
do it. What had caused this sudden change nobody knew, but it must be
something astonishing, and it behooved the candidate to explain himself
quickly.

The loyal soul of the candidate's wife flashed back an angry reply
across the five hundred miles of mountain and desert. If "King" Plummer
was not the man she had hoped he was, then they preferred that they
should fight him rather than have him as a false friend. Yet there was
in her heart a throb of admiration for him, because he was willing to
throw everything overboard for the love of a woman.

The defection clothed the whole train in the deepest gloom. Tremaine
spoke for the group when he said it was all up with Jimmy Grayson, and
the others did not have the heart even to pretend to a different belief.
With a Plummer defection on one side and a Goodnight falling away on the
other, there was no hope left for a party which even with these wings
faithful had only a desperate fighting chance.

Harley was thoroughly miserable. He could guess--no, he did not guess,
he knew the cause of "King" Plummer's bolt, and he knew, too, that if it
were not for himself it would never have occurred; he had wrecked all
the future of others, nor in making such a wreck had he secured his own
happiness, provided even that he was selfish enough to be happy when
others were ruined.

Sylvia, too, was sunk in the depths. She did not have to be told that
her aunt had written to Mr. Plummer; she guessed that Mr. Plummer had
received some warning, some message, it did not matter from whom,
nothing else could cause him to burst forth with such violence, and the
very nature of the case forbade her from speaking; she could only keep
silent, knowing that significant talk was going on all around her, and
pass sleepless nights and troubled days.

The situation brought a thrill of satisfaction and interest to one man
on the train, and he was Churchill. The cumulative effect of "King"
Plummer's bolt might force Jimmy Grayson off the track, and it was not
yet too late to put up another candidate. Such a thing had never been
done, but that was no reason why it could not succeed, and he
telegraphed Mr. Goodnight that Mr. Grayson was very despondent, and that
those about him knew he did not have a ghost of a chance.

Churchill guessed close to the cause of the Plummer bolt, but he was not
sure, and for that and other reasons he at once sought an interview with
the nominee.

Mr. Grayson was courteous, and seemingly not as despondent as Churchill
had described him. He said that he could not speak of Mr. Plummer's
defection, because he had no official knowledge of the fact; it was
merely report, and hence he could not comment on what was not proved.
Mr. Churchill, he knew, would readily recognize the unfitness of such a
thing, nor could he tell what he should do in supposititious cases,
because, even if the latter came true, circumstances might give them
another appearance.

Churchill skirmished as delicately as he could about the subject of
Sylvia and the surmise that she was the key to the situation, which, if
true, would make one of the greatest stories told in a newspaper; but
here the candidate was impervious. Not only was he impervious, but he
seemed to be densely ignorant; all the hints of Churchill glided off him
like arrows from a steel breast-plate, all the most delicate and skilful
art of the interviewer failed. So far as concerned the subject of
politics, Sylvia was unknown to Mr. Grayson. Baffled upon this
interesting point, Churchill retired to write his interview; but as he
rested his pad upon the car-seat and sharpened his pencil he flung out a
feeler or two.

"I say, Hobart," he said to the mystery man, who sat just in front of
him, "I think there's something at the bottom of this Plummer revolt
that we haven't probed. Now, isn't it the truth that Miss Morgan has
thrown him over, and that he is taking his revenge on her uncle?"

Hobart glanced up the car, and noticed that Harley was not within
hearing. Then he replied, gravely:

"Churchill, I don't believe that Miss Morgan has broken her engagement
with the 'King'--she'll marry him yet if he says so--but I do believe
that she has some connection with this affair. What it is, I don't know,
and I'm mighty glad that I don't have to speak of it in my despatches;
it's too intangible."

But Churchill was not so scrupulous. Without giving any names, he wove
into his four-thousand-word despatch a very beautiful and touching
romance, in which Jimmy Grayson figured rather badly--in fact, somewhat
as an evil genius--and the _Monitor_, dealing in the fine vein of irony
which it considered its strongest card, wrote scornfully of a campaign
into which personal issues were obtruding to such an extent that they
were shattering it. The _Monitor_ still affected to see some good in Mr.
Grayson, but put the bad in such high relief that the good merely set it
off, like those little patches that ladies wear on their faces. And the
mystery of the Plummer bolt, involving a young and beautiful woman, just
hinted at in the despatches, heightened the effect of the story. "King"
Plummer himself appeared to the reading public as a martyr, and even to
many old partisans party rebellion seemed in this case honorable and
heroic.

For a day or so Harley scarcely spoke to any one, and, as far as was
possible within the limited confines of a train, he avoided Sylvia. He
did not wish to see her, because he was strengthening himself to carry
out a great resolution which he meant to take. In this crisis he turned
to only one person, and that was Mr. Heathcote, who he felt would give
him advice that was right and true.

When Harley told Mr. Heathcote of his purpose, the committeeman's face
became grave, but he said, "It is the hard thing for you to do, although
it is the best thing." An hour later, Harley sent to his editor in New
York a despatch, asking to be recalled; he said there had arisen
personal reasons which would make him valueless for the rest of the
campaign, and he felt that the _Gazette_ would be the gainer if he were
transferred to another field of activity.

Harley felt a deep pang, and he did not attempt to disguise it from
himself, when he sent this telegram, but after it was gone his
conscience came to his relief, although he still avoided the presence of
Sylvia with great care. But the pang was repeated many times, as he sat
silent among his companions and calculated how he could leave them that
night and get a train for New York in the morning.

He was still sitting among them about the twilight hour when the
conductor handed him a telegraphic despatch, and Harley knew that it was
from his editor, who had a high appreciation of his merits, both
personal and professional. The message was brief and pointed. It said:
"Can't understand your request for a transfer. Your despatches from the
campaign best work you have ever done; not only have all news, but write
from the inside; you present the candidate as he is. Have telegraphed
Mr. Grayson asking if there is any quarrel, and in reply he makes
special request that you represent _Gazette_ with him to the end. Stay
till you are sent for, and don't bother me again."

Harley read it over a second time. Despite himself he smiled, and he
smiled because he felt a throb of pleasure. "Good old chief," he said,
and he understood now that a refusal of his request was a hope that he
had dared not utter to himself. But he knew that he should have taken
the great risk.

He showed the despatch to Mr. Heathcote, and the committeeman was
sincerely glad.

"Your editor has done his duty," he said.

Mr. Grayson did not allude to the subject, and Harley respected his
silence, although devoutly grateful for the reply that he had made.

Other telegrams caused by the threatened revolt in the mountains were
also passing; some of them stopped at the house of Mr. Plummer, in
Boisé, and upon the trail of one of these telegrams, a forcible one,
came a thin-faced and quiet but alert man, Mr. Henry Crayon, who in his
way was a power in both the financial and political worlds. Mr. Crayon
was perhaps the most trusted of the lieutenants of the Honorable Clinton
Goodnight, and the two had held a long conference before his departure
for the West, agreeing at the end of it that "it was time to make a
move, and after that move to spring a live issue."

Mr. Crayon was fairly well informed of the causes that agitated the soul
of "King" Plummer, and as he shot westward on a Limited Continental
Express he considered the best way of approach, inclining as always to
delicate but incisive methods. Long before he reached Boisé his mind was
well made up, and he felt content because he anticipated no difficulty
in handling the crude mountaineer, who was unused to the ways of
diplomacy.

He found the "King" in Boisé, still hot and sulky. Mr. Plummer had not
heard anything in person from the Graysons, nor had he sent any message
to them, and the mountains were full of talk about his bolt, which was
now spoken of as an accepted fact.

Mr. Crayon's first meeting with Mr. Plummer came about in quite an
accidental and easy way--Mr. Crayon saw to that--and the Easterner was
deferential, as became one who had so little experience of the West,
who, in case he was presumptuous, was likely to be reminded that Idaho
was nearly twenty times as large as Connecticut and twice as large as
the state of New York itself. After making himself pleasant by humility
and requests for advice, Mr. Crayon glided warily into the subject of
politics. He disclosed to Mr. Plummer how much a powerful faction in the
party was displeased with Mr. Grayson, and the equally important fact
that this faction felt the necessity of speedy action of some kind.

They were at that moment in a secluded corner of the reading-room of the
chief hotel in Boisé, and Mr. Crayon had ordered a pleasant and powerful
Western concoction which he and Mr. Plummer sipped as they talked. The
"King's" face was red, partly with the sun and partly with the anger
that still burned him. Mr. Crayon's words fell soothingly upon his
ear--Mr. Crayon had a quiet, mellow voice--and his sense of injury at
the hands of Jimmy Grayson deepened. What right had Jimmy Grayson or
Jimmy Grayson's wife, which was the same thing, to interfere in his
private affairs? And it was only a step from one's private life to one's
public life. Wrong in one, wrong in the other. Mr. Crayon, watching him
keenly though covertly, was pleased with the varying expressions that
passed over the unbearded portions of the "King's" face. He read there
anger, jealousy, and revenge, and he said to himself that he would bend
this man, big and strong as he was, to his will.

Mr. Crayon now grew bolder. He said that the minority within the party,
which, for the present, he represented, was resolved to come to an issue
with Mr. Grayson; the destinies of a great party, and possibly the
country, could not be put in the hands of a man who had neither the
proper dignity nor the proper sense of responsibility. Thus far he went,
and then the wily Mr. Crayon stopped to notice the effect.

It seemed to him to be favorable, and Mr. Crayon was an acute man. The
"King" drank a little of his liquor and nodded his head. Yes, he had
been fooled in Jimmy Grayson, he had thought that he was as true as
steel, but there was a flaw in the steel; Jimmy Grayson had done him a
great injury, and he was not a man who turned one cheek when the other
was smitten; he smote back with all his might, and his own hand was
pretty heavy.

Mr. Crayon smiled--all things were certainly going well; he had caught
Mr. Plummer at the right moment, and there was no doubt of the
impression that he was making. Then he went a little further; he
suggested that a certain important issue not hitherto discussed in the
campaign was going to be brought up, even now they were proposing to
present it in the West, and Mr. Grayson would have to declare himself
either for or against it--there was no middle ground. Mr. Crayon again
stopped and observed the "King" with the same covert but careful
glance. The face of Mr. Plummer obviously bore the stamp of approval;
moreover, he nodded, and, thus encouraged, Mr. Crayon went further and
further, telling why the issue was so great, and why it must be
presented to the public without delay.

Mr. Plummer asked him to name the issue, and when Mr. Crayon did so,
without reserve, the "King's" face once more bore the stamp of approval,
and he nodded his head again.

"If Mr. Grayson accepts the law as we lay it down," said Mr. Crayon,
with satisfaction, "he places himself in our hands and we control him.
Our policies prevail, and, if he becomes President of the United States,
we remain the power that rules him, and that, therefore, rules the
country. If he resists us, well, that is the end of him!"

Mr. Crayon had lighted a cigar, and as he said "that is the end of him"
he flicked off the ash with a quick gesture that had in it the touch of
finality.

Mr. Plummer said nothing, and Mr. Crayon was content; he could do enough
talking for two.

"Mr. Goodnight and other of my associates are coming West very soon," he
continued. "The velvet glove will be taken off, and it is high time."

Then they went forth into the streets of Boisé and they were seen
walking together by many people, to which Mr. Crayon was not averse, and
in an hour three or four local correspondents were sending eastward
vivid despatches stating that Mr. Crayon, the representative of the
conservative and dissatisfied minority in the party, was in Boisé in
close conference with "King" Plummer, the political ruler of the
mountains. And the burden of all these despatches was fast-coming evil
for Jimmy Grayson.

Nor was the candidate long in hearing of it. The very next day a Boisé
newspaper containing a full first-page account of it reached them, and
was read aloud to the party by Mr. Heathcote. Mr. Grayson made no
comment as it was being read, but Harley once saw his face darken and
his lips close tightly together; this was the only sign that he gave,
and it quickly passed.

But the others were not so chary of words. The train was full of
indignant comment, and the ears of "King" Plummer in the distance must
have burned.

"I could not have believed it of him," said Mr. Heathcote. "It is untrue
to the man's whole nature, even if he is swayed suddenly by some
powerful emotion."

Hobart glanced at Sylvia, who had withdrawn to the far end of the car,
where she was apparently gazing at the mountains that fled by, although
she said not one word and her face was red. Nor did Harley join in the
talk, but, taking advantage of the slight bustle caused by Mr. Grayson's
retirement to the drawing-room, he took refuge in a day car to which
their own coach was attached for the time. That evening, while the
others were at dinner, he saw Sylvia alone.

"I ought to tell you," she said, "that I have asked to leave the train,
but my aunt has refused to consent to it. She says she needs me, and as
I cannot go now to my old home in Boisé, it is better for me to stay
with her. I have heard that you asked to be recalled to the East, and I
honor you for it."

"Are you sorry that my request was refused?" asked Harley.

She did not falter, although the red in her cheeks flushed deeper.

"No, I am not sorry; I am glad," she replied. "Why should I tell an
untruth about what is so great a matter to both of us? But it cannot
change anything."

Harley felt that this was, indeed, a maid well worth winning, and his
hope yet to find a way, which had been weakened somewhat lately, grew
high again. That night wild resolves ran through his mind. He would
sacrifice his pride, hitherto an unthinkable thing--he would see "King"
Plummer and tell him that Sylvia and he loved each other, that neither
of them could possibly be happy unless they were wedded, then he would
appeal to the older man's generosity; he would tell him how Sylvia
loyally meant to keep her word and pay her debt of gratitude with
herself, then he would ask him to release her from the promise. But he
gave up the idea as one that required too much; he could never humiliate
himself so far, and even then it would be a humiliation without result.

If Harley had undertaken to carry out such a wild idea, he would have
found it difficult, because no one in the party then knew where "King"
Plummer was; they were hearing of him all over the West, and the Denver,
Salt Lake, and smaller newspapers were filled with accounts of his
doings, all colored highly. His bolt, they said, was now an accomplished
fact; he showed the deepest hostility to the candidate, and he was also
in constant correspondence with a powerful and dissatisfied wing in the
East.

Mr. Grayson never said a word, he never spoke of Mr. Plummer in any of
his speeches, and Harley believed there was only sadness in his mind,
not anger, whenever he thought of the "King."

But there could be no doubt of the effect of all these events upon the
campaign; to the public Jimmy Grayson seemed as one lost in the
wilderness, and only in the mountains, where the people were far from
the great centres of information, did they yet cherish a hope of his
election. Churchill wrote to the _Monitor_ that Jimmy Grayson himself
had abandoned hope.

Ominous rumblings were coming from the East, too. Goodnight, Crayon, and
their friends had found a pretext upon which to take drastic action, and
they were about to take it.



XX

THE GREAT PHILIPSBURG CONFERENCE


If ever you go to Philipsburg, which is in Wyoming, not far from the
Montana line, you will hear the people proclaim the greatness of the
town in which they live. You expect this sort of thing in the Far West,
and you are prepared for it, but you will be surprised at the nature of
the Philipsburg boast. Its proud inhabitants will not tell you that it
is bound to be the largest city between the Missouri and the coast, they
will not assert that since the horizon touches the earth at an equal
distance on all sides of the town, it is, therefore, the natural centre
of the world; but they will tell you stories of the Great Philipsburg
Conference, and some of them will not be far from the truth.

Philipsburg is but a hamlet, fed by an irrigation ditch that leads the
life-giving waters down from a distant mountain, and it has neither the
beauty of nature nor that given by the hand of man, but the people will
point importantly to the square wooden hotel of only two stories, and
tell you that there occurred the great crisis in the most famous and
picturesque Presidential campaign ever waged in the United States; they
will even lead you to the very room in which the big talk occurred, and
say, in lowered voices, that the furniture is exactly the same, and
arranged just as it was on that momentous night when the history of the
world might have been changed. In this room the people of Philipsburg
have a reverential air, and there is cause for it.

The affair did not begin at Philipsburg--it merely had its climax
there--but far away on the dusty plains of eastern Washington, where the
wheat grows so tall, and it bubbled and seethed as the candidate and his
party travelled eastward, stopping and speaking many times by the way.
It was all about the tariff, a dry subject in itself, but, as tall oaks
from little acorns grow, so a dry subject often can make interesting
people do interesting things.

At the convention that nominated Mr. Grayson for the Presidency the
subject of the tariff had been left somewhat vague in the platform, not
from deliberate purpose, but merely through the drift of events; the
question had not interested the people greatly in some time; other
things connected with both the foreign and internal policy of the
government, particularly the continued occupation of the Philippines and
a projected new banking system, were more to the fore; but as the
campaign proceeded certain events caused the tariff also to be brought
into issue and to receive a large share of public attention.

Now, a clever man--above all, one as clever as Jimmy Grayson--could
avoid giving a decided opinion upon this subject. It is party creed for
a candidate to stand upon his platform, and, as the platform contained
no tariff plank, he was not obliged to take any stand upon the tariff.
Such a course would seem good politics, too, but Harley knew that Mr.
Grayson favored a reduction of the tariff and a liberal measure of
reciprocity with neighboring states, and he dreaded the time when the
candidate should declare himself upon the subject; he did not see how he
could do it without losing many votes, because there was a serious
difference of view inside his own party. And Harley's dread grew out of
his intense desire to see Mr. Grayson elected. His hero was not
perfect--no man was; there were some important truths which he did not
yet know, but he was honest, able, and true, and he came nearer to being
the ideal candidate than any other man whom he had ever seen. Above all,
he represented the principles which Harley, from the bottom of his soul,
wished to triumph.

The fight had been begun against great odds, against powerful interests
consolidated in a battle-line that at first seemed impervious, but by
tremendous efforts they had made progress; the vast energy and the
winning personality of Mr. Grayson were a strong weapon, and Harley was
gradually sensible that the people were rallying around him in
increasing numbers, and by people he did not merely mean the masses of
the lowest, those who never raise themselves; Harley was never such a
demagogue as to think that a man was bad because he had achieved
something in the world and had prospered; he had too honest and clear a
mind to put a premium upon incapacity and idleness.

Lately he had begun to have hope--a feeling that Mr. Grayson might be
elected despite the "King" Plummer defection was growing upon him, if
they could only abide by the issues already formed. But at the best it
would be a fight to the finish, with the chances in favor of the other
man. Yet his heart was infused with hope until this hateful tariff
question began to raise its head. Harley knew that a declaration upon it
would split the party, or at least would cut from it a fragment big
enough to cause defeat. He devoutly hoped that they would steer clear of
this dangerous rock, but he was not so sure of Jimmy Grayson, who, after
all, was his own pilot. And his amiability did not alter the fact that
he had a strong hand.

Harley at first heard the mutterings of the thunder only from afar; it
was being debated in the East among the great manufacturing cities, but
as yet the West was untouched by the storm. Mr. Heathcote, the Eastern
committeeman, called his attention to it after they had passed the
mountain-range that divides western Washington from eastern Washington.

Harley was looking out of the window at the rippling brown plain, which
he was told was one of the best wheat countries in the world. "At
first," said his informant, a pioneer, "we thought it was a desert, and
we thought so, too, for a long time afterwards; it looked like loose
sand, and the wind actually blew the soil about as if it were dust. Now,
and without irrigation, it produces its thirty bushels of wheat per acre
season after season."

Harley was thinking of this brilliant transformation, when the
committeeman, who was sitting just behind him, suddenly changed the
channel of his thoughts.

"I have here a Walla Walla paper that will interest you, Mr. Harley," he
said. "In fact, it is likely to interest us all. The despatch is
somewhat meagre, but it will suffice."

He put his finger on the top head-line of the first page, and Harley
read: "The Tariff an Issue." He took the paper and read the article
carefully. The debate had occurred before an immense audience in Madison
Square Garden, in New York City, and according to the despatch it had
excited the greatest interest, a statement that Harley could easily
believe.

"I was hoping that we would be spared this," he said, as he laid the
paper down and his face became grave. "Why do they bring it up? It's not
in the platform and it should not be made an issue, at least not now."

"But it is an issue, after all," replied Mr. Heathcote, "and I am
surprised that the enemy did not raise the question sooner. They must
have had some very bad management. They are united on this question, and
we are not. If we are forced to come into line of battle on it, then we
are divided and they are not; don't you see their advantage?"

"Yes, it is manifest," replied Harley, gloomily. Then, after a little
thought, he began to brighten.

"It is not necessary for Jimmy Grayson to declare himself."

"He will, if he is asked to do so."

"But we are away out here in the Western mountains, out of immediate
touch with the great centres of population. These thinly settled states
are doubtful, those more populous are not. Here they are not interested
in the tariff either one way or the other; the subject has scarcely been
mentioned on our Western tour; why can we not still keep it in the
dark?"

"But, I tell you, if the issue is presented to Jimmy Grayson, he is sure
to speak his mind about it."

"It is for us to see that it is not presented. I don't think it will be
done by any of the local population, and we must exercise a censorship
over the press. We must try to keep from him all newspapers containing
accounts of the tariff debates; we must not let him know that the issue
is before the public off there in the East. There is only a month more
of the campaign, and, while it is not likely that we can suppress the
matter entirely, we may keep it down until it is too late to do much
harm."

"The plan isn't a bad one," said Mr. Heathcote; "but we've got to take
everybody into the plot. Mr. Grayson alone is to be left in ignorance."

"They are all his devoted personal friends except Churchill, of the
_Monitor_, and I can bully him into silence."

Harley's face flushed slightly as he made this assertion with emphasis.
Mr. Heathcote, who was learning much these days, smiled as he observed
him.

"Mr. Harley," he said, "no one could doubt the reality of your wishes
for Mr. Grayson's success."

All went willingly into the little conspiracy against the extension of
Mr. Grayson's knowledge, even Churchill, under the whip and spur of
Harley's will, promising a sullen silence. The case itself presented
aspects that stirred these men, calling as it did for an alertness of
mind and delicacy of handling that appealed to their sense of
responsibility; hence it aroused their interest, which in turn begat a
desire to succeed.

But Harley, as well as Mr. Heathcote and the others, knew very well that
it was not the enemy alone who had raised this new and, as they all
feared, fatal issue; even if they had not read it in the despatches, the
hand of the minority within their own party was too clearly visible. In
the newspapers that reached them constant allusions were made to Mr.
Goodnight, Mr. Crayon, and their associates, who were deeply interested
in the maintenance of the tariff, and who, it was said, would force Mr.
Grayson to pledge himself to its support; this, it was predicted, they
could easily do, as it was obvious that he could not win without the
help of this minority.

Harley knew that the Goodnight faction now intended to force the
issue--that is, either to subject Mr. Grayson or to ruin him, and he saw
that the affair would require the most delicate handling; only that and
the best of fortune could postpone the issue long enough.

They took Sylvia into their confidence, both by necessity and choice,
but they were rather surprised to find that in this case she did not
believe in diplomacy.

"If I were Uncle James," she said, with indignant anger, "I would tell
them to go to--well, well, where a man would tell them to go to, and I
would not be polite about it, either."

Harley laughed at her heat, although he liked it, too.

"And then you'd lose the election," he said.

"I'd lose it, if I must, but at least I'd save my independence and
self-respect in doing so. Is Uncle James the nominee, or is he not? If
he is the nominee, shouldn't he say what he ought to do?"

"Perhaps, but it isn't politics; even if he were elected he wouldn't be
absolutely free; no ruler ever was, whether president or king."

But she clung to her opinion.

It was no easy matter to hide the tariff issue from Jimmy Grayson, who
was exceedingly watchful of all things about him, despite his great
labors in the campaign; yet his associates were aided to some extent by
the rather meagre character of the newspapers which now reached them,
newspapers published in small towns, and therefore unable to pay for
long despatches from the East. But even these were censored with the
most jealous care; if they contained anything about the hot tariff
discussion off there in the Atlantic States, they disappeared before
they could reach the candidate. All the news was inspected with the most
rigid care, just as if the real feeling of his subjects was being hidden
from a kaiser or a czar.

But Harley and his friends soon found that they had laid upon themselves
a great and onerous task, and to Harley, at least, it was all the
heavier because he found, at last, that his heart was not wholly in it.
Despite all their caution, references to the tariff debate would dribble
in; Jimmy Grayson began to grow suspicious; he would ask about the work
of the campaign orators in the East, and he seemed surprised that his
friends, above all the correspondents, should have so little news on the
subject.

"I should like to see some of the New York or Chicago newspapers, even
if they are ten days old," he said. "It seems odd that we have not had
any for a week now."

"The metropolitan press scarcely reaches these isolated regions," said
Harley.

"We have been in isolated regions before, and we had the New York and
Chicago newspapers every day."

Harley did not answer, and presently contrived some excuse for leaving
Jimmy Grayson, being much troubled in mind, not alone because the
candidate was growing suspicious, but because of a rising belief that he
ought to know, that the truth should not be hidden from him. If the
tariff was to be an issue, then the candidate should declare himself,
cost what it might. Yet Harley, for the present, followed the course
that he had set. But he shivered a little when he looked at the New
York and Chicago newspapers that were smuggled about the train; the
tariff question was swelling in importance, and the head-lines over the
debates were growing bigger.

A stray copy of the _Monitor_ reached them, and it was big with
prophecy: "At last the gauntlet has been thrown down by the wise, the
conservative, and the high moral element of the party." It said,
editorially: "Our impulsive young man will learn that there are older
and soberer heads, and he must bow his own to them. The _Monitor_ has
long foreseen this necessary crisis, although the blind multitude would
not believe us, and we are both glad and proud to say that we have had
our modest little share in forcing it."

The candidate sent for Harley the next noon, and when the correspondent
entered the state-room set aside for his use, he saw that Mr. Grayson's
face was grave. He held a yellow sheet of paper, evidently a telegraph
form, in his right hand, and was tapping it lightly with the forefinger
of his left hand.

"Harley," he said, smiling the frank smile that made him so many
friends; "I've got in the habit of looking upon you as a friend and sort
of confidential adviser."

"It makes me happy to hear you say so," said Harley, who was gratified.

Jimmy Grayson looked at the telegram, and his face became grave. Then he
handed it to Harley, saying, "I have here something that I do not
altogether understand. Read it."

It was from New York, and it said:

"Your silence on tariff issue admirable. Keep it up. Don't let enemy
force you into action."

It was signed with the name of a New York politician well-known as a
trimmer.

Mr. Grayson looked Harley squarely in the eye, and the correspondent's
face fell.

"Now what does it mean?"

Harley was silent.

"What does it mean?" continued Mr. Grayson, in a perplexed tone. "The
tariff has not been a real issue in this campaign. Now why does he
congratulate me on my silence?"

Harley did not speak and Jimmy Grayson's face grew grave.

"I am sorry that we have not been able to keep fully informed about the
campaign in the East," he said. "I am bound to assume from this that the
tariff issue has been raised there, and if a fight is to be made upon it
I, as the head of the ticket, must do my share."

Then Harley confessed, and in doing so relieved his conscience, in which
he was wise, both from the moral and prudential points of view, because
the truth about the situation could not be hidden any longer from the
acute mind of Jimmy Grayson. He concealed nothing, he showed that he was
the leader of the conspiracy, and he described their devious attempts,
with their relative success and failure.

"Harley," said the candidate, when the tale was told, "I am more than
ever convinced that you are my sincere friend. You would not have done
this if you were not. It was a mistake, but you certainly meant well."

"I did it because I thought I could help."

"I know it, but I repeat that it was a mistake. Such an important matter
could not be kept permanently in the background. It was bound to come
forward, and with all the greater force because it had been restrained
so long. I don't think any harm has been done, but I'll have to take the
management of it into my own hands now."

He smiled again with such frankness and sincerity that Harley's feelings
were not hurt by his words, but he quickly realized the truth of his
assertion about the increased force of the disclosure because it had
been kept back so long. Now the avalanche struck them. When Harley left
the state-room, Churchill came to him.

"Harley," he said, "the _Monitor_ has telegraphed me to get a thousand
words from Mr. Grayson, if I can, on the tariff issue. My first duty is
to my paper, and I am bound to obey these instructions."

"It's all right, he knows now; go right in to see him; but I am sure he
won't talk to you about it; he isn't ready yet."

Three or four more correspondents received instructions of the same
character, and in addition there was a rain of telegrams for Jimmy
Grayson himself and for his party associates. It seemed that the issue
had suddenly culminated in the East, and the candidate would be bound to
speak. But the telegrams to Mr. Grayson were of a varying nature; many
of them were opposed to revision, and they were usually signed by men of
wealth and power, those who furnished the sinews of war, as necessary in
a political campaign--and entirely within the confines of honesty,
too--as the cannon and the rifles are on the field of battle. Others
took another view, and it was apparent to everybody that great trouble
in the party was at hand.

Gloom settled over the train. They were ready at all times to fight the
enemy, but how to handle defection among their own men was a puzzling
thing, and there was cause for despair. Sylvia, however, was glad that
Mr. Grayson knew. She said that he would do right, whatever it might be.

"I've been in to see Mr. Grayson," said Mr. Heathcote to Harley, "and I
suggested that he might continue his silence on the great question. You
see, he is not bound to speak. If he doesn't want to, nobody can make
him."

"No, nobody can make him speak, nor can anybody keep him from it if he
wishes to do so."

While they talked the train was slowing down for a stop at a tiny
village of a dozen houses, and when there a long telegram was brought to
Mr. Heathcote. He read it with absorbed attention, and when he looked up
at Harley his face showed relief.

"This is good! This is good!" he said. "The telegram is dated Chicago,
and it tells me that a big committee of New York, Philadelphia, and
Boston men is coming on to see Mr. Grayson. They are good members of our
own party, all in favor of letting the tariff alone, and I think they
can bring such pressure to bear that they will save us."

Harley himself felt relief. The committee might achieve something, and,
at any rate, the responsibility would rest upon more heads.

"When can we expect these men?" he asked.

"In two days; they are already well on their way."

"Being an Eastern man yourself, it will fall to your lot to be the
intermediary."

"I suppose so," said Mr. Heathcote, and he sighed a little.

True to Mr. Heathcote's prediction, the committee overtook them two days
later at a way-station, and Harley saw at once that strenuous days were
ahead, because the committee had a full sense of its own largeness and
importance, a fact evident even to those less acute than Harley; and it
was led by Mr. Goodnight and Mr. Crayon themselves. It was composed of
eight men, all middle-aged or more, and every one was set in a way of
thinking peculiar to the business in which he had spent many years and
in which he had made much money.

All glittered with the gloss of prosperity. When they left the train
they put on polished silk-hats, brought forth by ready servants, and
when they walked through the streets of the little villages they were
resplendent in long, black frock-coats and light trousers. They were
not, as Mr. Heathcote had been in his primordial condition, young and
merely mistaken, but they had passed the time of life when there was
anything to be learned; in fact, they were quite well aware that they
knew everything, particularly those subjects pertaining to the growth
and prosperity of the country.

The leader of the committee was Mr. Clinton Goodnight, who, as has been
told, was a manufacturer of immense wealth and also a member of the
Lower House of Congress, thus combining in himself the loftiest
attributes of law-making and money-making. He was helped, too, by a
manner of great solemnity and a slow, deep voice that placed emphasis
upon every alternate word, thus adding impressiveness to everything he
said. He was assiduously seconded by Mr. Henry Crayon, thin-faced and
alert as ever, speaking in short, snappy sentences, from which all
useless adjectives were elided. Mr. Crayon was self-made, and was
willing that it should be known. He, too, had fathomed the depths of
knowledge.

They were introduced to Mr. Grayson by Mr. Heathcote, who, with useful
experience of his own not far behind him, was able to show much tact.

"I am glad to meet you again, Mr. Grayson," said Mr. Goodnight, in a
large, rotund manner. "I am sorry I did not see more of you when we were
together in the House. But you were very young then, you know. Who'd
have thought that you would be so conspicuous now? I dare say you did
not expect to see us here. We business-men are usually so much engrossed
with affairs that we do not have time for politics, but there come
occasions when our help, especially our advice, is needed, and this is
one of them."

Harley saw a faint smile pass over the face of the candidate, but Jimmy
Grayson was a man of infinite tact, which, instead of being allied to
greatness, is a part of greatness itself, and he took no notice of
anything in Mr. Goodnight's words or manner. On the contrary, he
welcomed him and his associate with real warmth; he was glad to see the
great business interests of the country represented in person in the
campaign; it ought always to be so; if the solid men took more part in
the elections it would be better for all.

Every member of the committee smiled a satisfied smile and admitted that
Mr. Grayson's remarks were true. This was progress, as Harley could see.
The committee may have come with advice and reprobation in its soul, but
clearly it was placated, for the present.

"We give proof of devotion to cause," said Mr. Crayon, in his sharp,
snappy way. "Have come all the way from great financial centres to these
lonely plains. Heavy sacrifice of time. Hope it will be duly
appreciated."

"You can rest easy on that point," said Jimmy Grayson, as the faint
smile again passed over his face. "Your intentions will be taken at
their full value."

"We wish to have a long and thorough talk with you a little later on,"
said Mr. Goodnight. "The subject is one of the greatest importance, and
the age and experience of the members of this committee fit us to deal
with it."

"Undoubtedly," said Jimmy Grayson, and Harley thought that his voice was
a little dryer than usual.

Fortunately the members of the committee had their own special car,
equipped with many luxuries, and it was attached to Jimmy Grayson's
train. Hence there was no crowding and no displacing of the old
travellers, but it was clear that there were now two parties following
the candidate, since the old and the new did not coalesce. The members
of the committee showed at once that they knew themselves to be the
mainstay of the country, while the others were merely frivolous and
unstable politicians.

Sylvia, of course, was eager to know what they had said and how they
bore themselves, and Harley was anxious to gratify her.

"They said they were very great men, and they bore themselves
accordingly."

"Uncle James is a greater man than all of them put together."

"I foresee trouble," said Hobart, joyfully, to Harley a little later. "I
can feel it in the air around me, I breathe it, I can even see it."

"Hobart," said Harley, pityingly, "you only obey your instincts."

"Wherein I am a wise man," replied Hobart, with satisfaction. "I am out
here to get news, and the livelier the news the better. Now I think
that these gentlemen will soon furnish us something worth writing
about."

"I am afraid so," said Harley, despondently.

The committee was in no haste to speak. Its members dined luxuriously in
their private car, and invited to join them those whom they thought
worthy of the honor--only a very few besides the ladies. Among these was
Harley; but it was Jimmy Grayson who took him.

The conversation was exclusively commercial and financial. Mr.
Goodnight, Mr. Crayon, and their associates were well aware that the
whole science of government pertained to the development of trade, and
it was the business of a people, as well as of a man, to stick to the
main point. It was for this reason, too, that Mr. Crayon incidentally
let it be understood that he did not value a college education. He had
several university graduates working for him on small salaries, while he
had never been inside the walls of a university, and that was the
beginning and end of the matter; there could be no further discussion.

"I understand you are connected with the press," he said to Harley, who
sat in the next chair. "I should think there was not much in that; but
still, with careful, diligent man, it might serve as opening into
financial circles. You must come in contact with men of importance. I
know a man, originally a writer for press, who has risen to be a bank
cashier. Worthy fellow."

"I am sure that he must be," said Harley, and Mr. Crayon's opinion of
him rose.

The atmosphere of which Hobart spoke with such emphasis did not permeate
the special car. There was no sign of trouble around the bountiful
dining-table. The committee had its own way and did all the talking,
leaving Mr. Grayson, Mr. Heathcote, and the others in silence. Hence
there was no chance of a disagreement, and, as Harley judged, Mr.
Goodnight and Mr. Crayon were assured that this pleasant state of
affairs would continue.

Mr. Crayon, who was pleased with his neighbor, again gave Mr. Harley
enlightenment. He asked him about the country through which they were
passing, and was kind enough to consider his information of some weight.
But he permitted Harley to furnish only the premises; it was reserved
for himself to draw the conclusions; he predicted with absolute
certainty the future of this region and the amount of revenue it would
yield through its threefold interests--agricultural, pastoral, and
mineral. He added that only the trained mind could make these accurate
estimates.

"Well, what happened?" asked Hobart, when Harley returned to his own
car.

"Nothing."

"Nothing? Maybe so, but it won't remain nothing long. You just wait and
see."

Sylvia, to whom these men were, of course, polite, summed them up very
accurately in a remark that she made to Harley.

"It is impossible to teach them anything," she said, "because they know
everything already."

An hour later the candidate spoke at a small station to a large audience
composed of people typical of the region--miners, farmers, and cowboys,
variously attired, but all quiet and peaceful. There was not a sign of
disorder, there was nothing even remotely resembling the toughs of the
great Eastern cities. This seemed to be a surprise to the members of
the committee, who sat in a formidable semicircle on the stage behind
the candidate. But as the surprise wore away a touch of disdain appeared
in their manner; they seemed to doubt whether the region and its people
were of any importance.

To Harley the speech of the morning was of particular interest, and he
watched Jimmy Grayson with the closest attention. He wanted to see
whether he would venture upon the treacherous ocean of the tariff, and
he had been unable to draw from his manner any idea of his intention.
But Jimmy Grayson did not launch his bark upon those stormy waters. He
handled many issues, and never did he allow any one in the audience to
doubt his meaning; it was a plain yea or nay, and he drew applause from
the audience or a disapproving silence, according to its feelings.

But the committee was satisfied, the faces of the members shone with
pleasure, and Harley, reading their minds, saw how they told themselves
of the quick effect their presence had upon Jimmy Grayson. It was well
for men of weight to surround a Presidential candidate; despite himself,
with strong, grave faces beside him he would put a prudent restraint
upon his words. The long trip from the East and the temporary sacrifice
of important interests was proving to be worth the price. When the
speech was over, they congratulated him upon his caution and wisdom.

But that afternoon they were caught under a deluge of Eastern
newspapers, and in them all the tariff discussion loomed formidably.
There was every indication, too, that this big storm-cloud was moving
westward; already it was hovering over the Missouri River Valley,
because the newspapers of Kansas City and Omaha, like those of Chicago
and New York, fairly darkened with it.

And the telegrams, too, continued to fall on Jimmy Grayson thick and
fast. They came in yellow showers; all the correspondents received
orders to get long interviews with him upon the subject, if possible,
and the leaders in every part of the country were telegraphing to do
this and to do that, or not to do either. It was evident that a great
population wanted to know just how Jimmy Grayson stood on the tariff.

The members of the committee took alarm; Harley saw them bustling in
uneasily to Jimmy Grayson, and whispering to him much and often.

"It's begun! It's begun! The war is on!" said Hobart, gleefully. "I hear
the dropping bullets of the skirmishers!"

"Hobart, you'd exult over an earthquake!" exclaimed Harley, wrathfully.

But he knew Hobart's words to be true, and presently he drifted back to
Jimmy Grayson.

"Mr. Harley is my intimate personal friend," said the candidate to some
of the members of the committee who looked askance at the correspondent;
"and what you say before me you can say before him. He knows what to
print and what not to print."

"It is this," said Mr. Goodnight, and Mr. Crayon nodded violently in
affirmation; "all the news shows that this tariff agitation is growing
fast. But it is only a trick of the enemy to force an expression from
us. They are united in favor of the tariff and we are not. There is a
division within our ranks. Many of us, and I may say it is the more
solid and conservative wing of the party, the men who really understand
the world, know that it is not wise to meddle with the question. Leave
well enough alone. We are interested in this ourselves, and, as you
know, we furnish the sinews of war."

He stopped and coughed significantly, and Mr. Crayon also coughed
significantly. The remaining members of the committee did likewise.
Jimmy Grayson looked thoughtful.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I confess to you that my mind has been upon this
subject for several days past."

"But you will listen to advice," said Mr. Goodnight, hastily.

"Certainly! Certainly!" said Jimmy Grayson. "But you see the time is
coming when I must decide upon some course in regard to it. I appreciate
the self-sacrifice of you gentlemen in leaving your business interests
to come so far, and I shall be glad if we can co-operate. We reach
Philipsburg to-night; I make a speech there, but it will be over early.
Suppose we have our talk immediately afterwards."

The committee at once accepted the offer and expressed satisfaction. Mr.
Grayson showed every sign of tractability, and they began to feel again
that their valuable time had not been expended in vain.

Harley told Sylvia that the affair was now bound to come to a head very
soon, but she repeated her confidence in her uncle.

Hobart, however, was gloomy; his joy of the morning seemed to have
passed quickly.

"I don't like it," he remarked to Harley. "Jimmy Grayson seems to have
followed the lead of these men without once saying: 'I am the nominee
and it is for me to say.'"

"And why not? Every dictate of prudence requires that he should. What is
the use of taking up such a troublesome question at this late day of the
campaign?"

"But there will be no fight!" This was said very plaintively.

Harley smiled.

"I sincerely hope we will escape one," he said.

Mr. Grayson, after the brief talk, retired to his state-room, and for a
long time did not see anybody. Harley knew that he was thinking deeply,
and when the time came for the next speech at another way-station, he
followed close behind and was keenly watchful.

Again the members of the committee arranged themselves on the stage in a
formidable semicircle behind the speaker, and surveyed the audience with
an air that bore a tinge of weary disdain. They were in one of the most
barren parts of the country, a section that could never be developed
into anything great, and Mr. Crayon looked upon a speech there as a
sheer waste of time.

The candidate spoke upon many important issues, and then he began to
skirmish gingerly around the edge of one that hitherto had been
permitted to slumber quietly. He did not show any wish to make a direct
attack, just a desire to worry and tease, as it were, a disposition to
fire a few shots, more for the sake of creating an alarm than to do
damage.

The committee at once felt apprehension. This was forbidden ground. The
candidate was growing entirely too frivolous; he should be reminded of
his duty to the country and to great business interests. Yet they could
do nothing at the moment; Mr. Grayson was speaking, and it was
impossible to interrupt him.

But Harley, attentive and knowing everything that passed in their minds,
enjoyed their uneasiness. He saw them quiver and shrink, and then grow
angry, as Mr. Grayson skirmished closer and closer to the forbidden
ground, that area sown with traps and pitfalls, in which many a man has
broken his political limbs, yea, has even lost his political life. He
watched the massive Mr. Goodnight as he swelled with importance and
indignation. He knew that the great manufacturer was on pins to get at
the candidate, to tell him the terrible mistake that he was so near to
making, and perhaps to lecture him a little on the indiscretions of
youth and inexperience. But, perforce, he remained silent until Mr.
Grayson concluded, and then as the crowd was leaving, he approached him.
The candidate seemed to be in a light and joyous humor, and he lifted
his hand in a gesture that was a dismissal of care.

"Remember our coming conference to-night, Mr. Goodnight," he said. "We
will discuss everything then."

He smiled as he spoke, and walked on, but Mr. Goodnight felt himself
waved aside in a manner that was not pleasing to his sense of dignity;
he was sixty years old, and he had done great things in the world.

Harley and Hobart saw it all, and light began to appear on Hobart's
gloomy countenance.

"Harley," he said, "I believe that after all my first intuition was
correct. We may yet have trouble."

Harley was not so sure. It seemed to him that the affair, which was
really not an affair, merely the bud and promise of one, could be
adjusted, especially in these shortening days of the campaign. Tact
would do it, and he was full of hope.

The members of the committee went into their private car and were
inhospitable the remainder of the day; apparently they wished to be
alone, and no one was inclined to violate their wish. Harley supposed
that they were in conference, and he was correct.

They arrived at Philipsburg in a gorgeous twilight that wrapped the
Western mountains in red and gold, but Harley scarcely noticed either
the town or the colors over it. He was full of anxiety, as he began to
share Hobart's view that something was going to happen, although he did
not take the same cheerful view of trouble.

The speech at Philipsburg was not long. Again Jimmy Grayson skirmished
around the dangerous question, but, as before, he did not make any
direct attack upon it. Just when the committee became most alarmed, he
withdrew his forces, and the speech once more closed with the decisive
things unsaid.

But as soon as the crowd dispersed, the Great Philipsburg Conference
began. The large parlor of the hotel had been obtained, and when Jimmy
Grayson started, he put his hand on Harley's shoulder, saying:

"Harley, the press is excluded from this conference, which is secret,
but I take you with me in your capacity as a private citizen. I have
made it a requisite with the committee, because you are a friend and I
may need your help."

Harley gave him a glance of gratitude and appreciation, and the two
together entered the designated room. It was a large, cheerful
apartment, with a wood-fire burning on the broad hearth. The members of
the committee were already there, and Mr. Goodnight stood importantly,
back to the fire, with a hand in either pocket, and a coat-tail under
either arm. Mr. Crayon leaned against the wall and gently stroked his
arm.

They exchanged the usual commonplaces about the weather and the
campaign, and, as they spoke, most of the committee looked darkly at
Harley, but they said nothing. It was quite evident that his presence
was a matter arranged definitely by Mr. Grayson, and it was politic for
them to endorse it.

Mr. Grayson settled himself easily into an armchair, and looked around
as if to say he was ready to listen. Harley stood by a window, careless
in manner, seemingly, but never more watchful in his life, and on fire
with curiosity.

Mr. Goodnight glanced at Mr. Crayon, and Mr. Crayon glanced at Mr.
Goodnight. There came at once to Harley an amusing thought about putting
the bell on the tiger. But perhaps these men regarded themselves as
tigers.

Mr. Goodnight gave a premonitory cough, and taking his hands out of his
pockets let his coat-tails drop. This also was a signal.

"Mr. Grayson," he said, "we have admired your campaign--have admired it
greatly; we have appreciated the skill with which you have kept away
from dangerous subjects, and we have been sure that it would continue to
the end, but I must confess that this confidence of ours was shaken a
little to-day--I trust that I am not hurting your feelings."

"Oh no, not at all. I also have a statement to make," said Jimmy
Grayson, ingenuously. "But I shall be glad to hear yours first."

The big men were somewhat disconcerted, and Mr. Crayon spoke up briskly:

"Great issues at stake. In such emergencies Presidential nominees must
hear advice."

"You are right," said Jimmy Grayson, gravely. "A Presidential nominee
ought always to listen to advice."

Mr. Goodnight's face cleared.

"We feel that we are in a position to speak plainly, Mr. Grayson," he
said. "We are elderly men, used to the handling of large affairs,
and--and this cannot be said of all others in our party. We noticed
to-day how you skirted dangerously upon the tariff question, which we
think--in fact, which we know--should be avoided. It is a dangerous
thing, and we trust it is only an indiscretion that will not be
repeated; or, perhaps, it might be a little sop to these people out
here, who really do not count."

Harley glanced at Jimmy Grayson, who was distinctly in the position of
one receiving a lecture from his elders, and, therefore, from those who
knew more than he. But the face of the candidate expressed nothing save
gravity and attention.

"That is quite true," he said.

"I am glad that you recognize our need," said Mr. Goodnight. "I do not
know how you feel personally upon this great question, but, as I take
it, politics and one's private opinion are different things."

Jimmy Grayson raised his head as if he were going to speak, but he let
it drop without saying anything, and the great manufacturer continued:

"It is often necessary to submerge the lesser in the greater, and never
was there a more obvious instance of it than this. We, and by 'we' I
mean the great financial interests of the party, are interested in the
tariff, and believe that it is best as it is. We do not know how you
stand personally, but there is no question how you should stand
politically. We men of finance may be in a minority within the party in
the matter of votes, but perhaps we may constitute a majority in other
and more important respects."

"All wings of the party are entitled to an opinion," said Jimmy Grayson.

"True, but the opinion of one wing may be worth more than the opinion of
another wing," continued Mr. Goodnight; "and for that reason we who
stand at the centres from which the affairs of America are conducted are
here. We see the unwisdom of approaching such a subject, and, above all,
the destruction that would be caused if you were to speak fully upon it.
It is a topic that must be eliminated."

Harley saw a quick glitter appear in the eyes of Jimmy Grayson, and then
it was shut out by the lowered lids.

"But if this is an issue, and if I am to judge from the overwhelming
testimony of the press it is an issue," said Mr. Grayson, gently, "ought
I not in duty both to my party and myself declare how I stand upon it? I
freely confess to you that the matter looks somewhat troublesome, and,
therefore, I am glad that we can consult with one another."

"Why troublesome?" exclaimed Mr. Crayon, shortly. "Seems to me, Mr.
Grayson, that your shrewd political eye would see point at once. Above
all things must avoid split in the party. Campaign will soon close, you
are here in Far West, nothing can force you to speak, you avoid issue to
the last; clever politics, seems to me."

And Mr. Crayon rubbed his smooth chin, his eye lighting up with a
satisfied smile. Harley glanced again at Jimmy Grayson, and saw a frown
pass over his face, but it was fleeting, and when he spoke once more his
voice was unemotional.

"Clever politics is a phrase hard to define," he said. "One does not
always know just where cleverness lies. I have not said anything
definite upon this issue, but it doubtless occurs to you gentlemen that
I may have opinions."

The committee stirred, and Mr. Crayon and Mr. Goodnight looked at each
other; it was evident to them that they had not taken the candidate in
hand too soon. Harley felt no abatement of interest.

"That is just the point," said Mr. Goodnight, "and so we have come West.
We felt that we must act."

Harley expected to see a flame of wrath appear on Jimmy Grayson's face,
but the candidate was unmoved.

"Of course you know what would happen if you were to declare for
reduction," said Mr. Goodnight. They seemed to take it for granted that
if he declared at all it would be for reduction.

"Not at all," replied Mr. Grayson.

"But I do," said Mr. Goodnight, with emphasis. "The wealthy, the
important wing of the party, would be bound to disown you."

"Ah!" said Jimmy Grayson.

Harley felt a thrill of anger, but he did not move.

The silent members of the committee, who were sitting, stirred in their
chairs, and their clothes rustled importantly. They felt that
equivocation and indirection were thrust aside, and the law was now
being laid down.

"Then I am to understand that silence on this question is a requisite,"
said Mr. Grayson, mildly.

"Undoubtedly," replied Mr. Goodnight, with growing emphasis. "We are
quite convinced of its necessity, and it is the demand that we make. A
Presidential candidate must always listen to advice."

"But sometimes it has seemed to me," said Mr. Grayson, musingly, "that
in a Presidential campaign the public is entitled to certain privileges,
or, rather, that it has certain rights, and chief among these is to know
just how its candidate stands on any important issue."

"It would never do! It would never do!" exclaimed Mr. Goodnight,
hastily, and with some temper. "We cannot allow it!"

Harley glanced again at Jimmy Grayson, but the candidate's lids were
lowered, and no flash came from his eye.

"I put it forward in a tentative way," he said, in the same mild and
musing tone. "Of course, I may be mistaken. I have received many
telegrams from important people asking how I stand, and I notice that
the press is discussing the same question very actively."

"They can be waved aside," said Mr. Crayon, loftily. "Telegrams can go
unanswered, and why bother about a foolish press?"

"Still," said Jimmy Grayson, mildly, but tenaciously, "the public has
certain rights."

"An ignorant mob that can be left in ignorance," said Mr. Crayon,
briskly.

"Nothing must be said! Nothing must be said! Quite resolved upon that!"
exclaimed Mr. Goodnight, brusquely.

"This resolution is unchangeable, I take it?" asked Jimmy Grayson, in
tones milder than ever.

"There is not the least possibility of a change," replied Mr.
Goodnight, in a tone of finality. "We have considered the question from
every side, and nothing is to be said. Of course, if you were to declare
for a revision, we should have to abandon you at once to overwhelming
defeat."

"But I should like to say a few words upon the subject," said Jimmy
Grayson, and there was a slight touch of pleading in his tone, "just as
a sort of salve to my conscience. You see I am troubled about all these
requests that I should declare myself, and I have certain ideas about
what a candidate should do, in which I differ from you, and in which
probably I am wrong, but I cannot help it. I should like to ease my
mind, and hence I ask you that I be permitted to say a few words. Just
one little speech, and I will not handle the subject again, if you
direct me not to do so."

"We are against it; we are against saying a single word," declared Mr.
Goodnight.

"Just one little speech," pleaded Jimmy Grayson. "I think the people are
entitled to it. We stop to-morrow at a small station, a place of not
more than twenty houses; I should like to say something there, and that
would serve as a claim later on that I had not avoided the issue. But,
as I said, I promise you that I will not touch the subject again without
your permission."

"Don't believe in it! Don't believe in it!" said Mr. Crayon, snappily.

"I am afraid I shall have to insist," said Jimmy Grayson, plaintively.
"I do not like to say anything that would displease such powerful
friends, but our people are peculiar, sometimes. I feel that I must
touch the subject a little when we reach Waterville to-morrow morning."

He spoke in his most propitiatory tones, but the committee was still
stirred. Mr. Goodnight, Mr. Crayon, and their associates demanded
absolute silence, and they had not found it difficult to overawe the
candidate. Yet there was a certain mild persistence in his tone which
told them that they should humor him a little, as one would a spoiled or
hurt child. They, as men of the world, knew that it was not well to bear
too hard on the bit.

They conferred a little, leaving Jimmy Grayson alone in his chair, where
he remained silent and with inexpressive face. Harley still stood by the
window. He had never spoken, but nothing escaped his attention. More
than once he was hot with anger, but none of the committeemen ever
looked at him.

"If you insist, and as you say you will, we yield this little point,"
said Mr. Goodnight, "but we only do so because Waterville is such a
small place. Even then we are not sure that it is not an indiscretion,
to call it by a mild name, and if anything should come of it you would
have to bear the full responsibility, Mr. Grayson."

"That is true," said Jimmy Grayson, cheerfully, "but as you have said,
Waterville is a small, a very small place; one could hardly find a
smaller on the map."

"In that event it will doubtless do no harm," said Mr. Goodnight,
relaxing a little, and Mr. Crayon, stroking his smoothly shaven chin,
said after him: "No harm; no harm, perhaps, in so small a place!"

Harley had never moved from the window, and again he studied Jimmy
Grayson's face with the keenest attention. Harley was a fine judge of
character, but he could read nothing there, save gravity. As for
himself, he felt often those hot thrills of anger at the words of these
men; would nothing stir them from their complacency? He had, too, a
sense of pain at Jimmy Grayson's lack of resentment. It was true that
their support was a necessity, but after all they were a minority within
the party, and one might remind them of the fact. Yet Jimmy Grayson
probably knew best; he understood politics, and perhaps his course was
the wiser. But Harley sighed.

After the victory, although it had not been a difficult one to win, the
members of the committee were disposed to condescend a little. They sent
to their private car for champagne and other luxuries which the
candidate and Harley touched but lightly, and they treated even Harley,
the newspaper-man, with graciousness.

Mr. Crayon felt the flame of humor sparkling in his veins, and he jested
lightly on the little speech at Waterville. "Just think of our candidate
wasting sweetness on desert air," he said, "for Waterville is in desert,
and, as I am reliably informed, has less than forty inhabitants."

Jimmy Grayson showed no resentment, but smiled gravely.

"Of course Mr. Harley understands that all this is _sub rosa_," said Mr.
Goodnight, looking severely at the correspondent.

"Mr. Harley knows it, and he is to be trusted entirely," said Jimmy
Grayson. "Otherwise I should not have brought him with me. I vouch for
the fact that he will say nothing of this meeting until we give him
permission."

Mr. Grayson presently excused himself, on the plea that he needed sleep,
a plea which was admitted by everybody, and Harley also withdrew, while
the members of the committee went to their private car pleased with the
evening's work. Thus the Great Philipsburg Conference came to an end.

The candidate and Harley walked together to their rooms through a rather
dim hall, but it was not too dim to hide from Harley a singular
expression that passed over the face of the candidate. It was gone like
a flash, but it seemed to Harley to be a compound of anger and
anticipation. Wisely he kept silent, and Jimmy Grayson, stopping a
moment at his own door, said, in the grave but otherwise expressionless
tone that he had used throughout the discussion:

"Good-night, Harley; I don't think we shall forget this evening, shall
we?"

"No," replied Harley, and he tried to decipher a meaning in Jimmy
Grayson's tone, but he could not.

When Harley turned away, he found Hobart, Blaisdell, Churchill, and all
the other correspondents waiting for him at the end of the hall to get
the news of the conference.

"There is nothing, not a line," said Harley.

They looked at him incredulously.

"It is the truth, I assure you," continued Harley. "I am not sending a
word to my own paper. I am going straight to my bed."

"If you say so, Harley, I believe you," said Churchill. "Besides, it's
past one o'clock now, and that's past four o'clock in New York and past
three in Chicago; all the papers have gone to press, and we couldn't
send anything if we wanted to do so."

"There is nothing to tell you," said Harley, "except that Mr. Grayson
will allude to the tariff in his speech to-morrow, or, rather, this
morning, at Waterville. He has promised the committee not to do so
again--they were not very willing to grant him even so little--but it is
a sort of sop to Cerberus; later on, if any one twits him with avoiding
the revision, he can say, and say truthfully, that he has spoken on it."

"I see," said Churchill.

And before they could ask him anything more Harley had entered his own
room and was going to bed.

The morning dawned badly. The sun shone dimly through a mass of dirty
brown clouds, and the mountains were hidden in mist. A slow and
provoking cold rain was falling. It was also a start at the first
daylight, and, forced to rise too early from their beds, all were in a
bad humor. Even Sylvia was hid in a heavy cloak, and she did not smile.
Harley had told her that he could make nothing of the conference the
night before.

They reached Waterville an hour later, and they found it even smaller
and bleaker than they expected. Although the usual body of citizens was
on hand to meet them at the train, the attendance was less than at any
point hitherto. The shed under which Jimmy Grayson was to speak would
easily hold them.

But the members of the committee, when they came from their private car,
showed satisfaction. They had enjoyed a good breakfast, their _chef_, as
Harley could testify, was one of the best, and they were not averse to
hearing the candidate make his record good. Hence they were all
comfortably arranged on the platform in their usual solid semicircle
when Mr. Grayson appeared. The candidate himself was a bit later than
usual, but he gave them a cheerful good-morning when he appeared, and
then proceeded at once to the matter of the speech.

The audience, though small, greeted Mr. Grayson with the heartiest
applause, and he soon had them under his spell. He talked a while on the
customary issues, and then he said:

"Gentlemen, there is one question which seemed in previous campaigns to
be of paramount importance, but in this it has been suffered a long time
to rest. Lately, however, it has been rising into prominence again. In
the great centres of population to the eastward it has become a question
first in the minds of the people, and before the campaign closes it is
bound to become as momentous here."

Harley, in a seat at the corner of the stage, glanced at the committee,
and he noticed a slight shade of disapproval on all their faces. The
candidate was a little too strong in his preamble, but they smiled again
when they noticed his face which wore an expression so gentle and
innocent.

"It has been but recently that the matter came to my attention,"
continued the candidate, in an easy, conversational tone, "but in the
time since then I have been thinking about it a great deal. This
question I need scarcely tell you is the revision of the tariff, and I
am going to speak to you about it this morning."

There was a sudden cheer from the audience, and the people seemed to
draw closer around the speaker's stand. Their faces glowed with
interest. Sylvia sat up straight and her eyes sparkled. The committee
looked a warning at Jimmy Grayson, but he did not see it.

"This question has come up late," he said, "and perhaps it could have
been put aside. I have been told that it would be for the good of our
party, particularly in this campaign, to do so, and many have advised
me to keep silence, saying that I could consistently and honorably
follow such a course, as our platform does not declare itself on the
question; but there are some things that trouble me. This is an issue, I
feel sure, which must be threshed out sooner or later, and as it is now
so importantly before the country I think that I, as the standard-bearer
of our party, should have an opinion upon it."

The audience cheered again, and longer and louder than ever. Sylvia's
eyes not only sparkled, they flashed. Mr. Goodnight half rose in his
seat and said something in a loud whisper to the candidate, but Mr.
Grayson did not hear it and went on with his speech.

"It did not take me long to make up my mind," he continued. "I have
decided opinions upon the subject, and what they are I shall tell you
before I leave this stage; but first I want to tell you a story."

Mr. Grayson did not tell stories often; he did so only when they were
thoroughly relevant, and Hobart, Blaisdell, and the other correspondents
leaned forward with sudden interest. Sylvia's face glowed.

"I think I'll sharpen my lead-pencils," said Hobart.

"I would if I were you," said Harley.

"This story," continued the candidate, in an easy, confidential manner,
"is about a man who was in a position much like mine. He was the nominee
of his party for a most important office, and towards the close of his
campaign a great issue came up again, just as in my case. He did not
think that he ought to keep silent about it, but when he was thinking
over what he ought to say a committee of men, representing a minority in
his party, arrived from the great centres of population, industry, and
finance--he was then far away in a thinly settled and somewhat
isolated region."

Again the committee stirred, and they whispered loudly both to one
another and to Mr. Grayson, but he paid no heed to them and spoke on.
All the correspondents were writing rapidly, eagerly, and with rapt
attention, while Sylvia's eyes still sparkled and flashed.

"Well, the members of this committee and the man met," continued the
candidate, "and from the first they treated him as one who might have an
opinion of his own but who must not be allowed to express it. They were
not bad men, perhaps, but a long course of exclusive attention to their
own personal interests had, we will say, narrowed them. That personal
advantage was always dangling before them; they could see nothing else.
The sun rose and set in its interest, and such an affair as the
government of a mighty nation like the United States must be regulated
with sole regard to it. They thought they knew everything in the world
when they knew only one thing in it. Their ignorance was equalled only
by their presumption."

The rolling cheer came once more from the audience, but Harley saw that
the faces of the committee had turned red. They whispered no more, but
stared angrily and uneasily at Jimmy Grayson, who did not notice them.

"How glad I am that I sharpened all my lead-pencils!" said Hobart, in a
low tone to Harley.

But Harley never stopped writing.

"They did not even have the tact to treat this candidate with courtesy
and consideration," continued Mr. Grayson. "They lectured him on his
comparative youth and his ignorance of the world, when it was they who
were ignorant. They told him, without hesitation, regardless of his own
opinion and the fact that he was a free man among free men, that he must
not speak on this issue. They threatened him."

"Did he take the bluff?" shouted a big man in the audience.

"Wait and we shall see," said Jimmy Grayson, sweetly. "They were
entitled to their opinion, and he would have heard their advice, but
their manner was intolerable; they undertook to treat him as a child.
They called him to a conference, and there they laid down the law to him
as a school-master would order a sulking child to be good."

"Did he take the bluff?" again shouted the big man in the crowd.

"Wait and we shall see," repeated Jimmy Grayson, as sweetly as ever.
"Well, this conference came to pass, and it lasted a long time, but only
the committee talked; they gave the candidate scarcely a chance to say a
word. They treated him with increasing arrogance. They said that if he
declared himself upon this great issue they would bolt the party and let
him go headlong to destruction."

"The traitors!" shouted the big man in the audience. But the members of
the committee, from some strange cause, seemed to be struck speechless.
Their jaws fell, but the faces of them all were as red as fire. Sylvia
leaned forward and clapped her gloved hands.

"Blaisdell," whispered Hobart, "slip away and arrange at the
telegraph-office; any of us will give you his report. I shall have at
least five thousand words myself."

Blaisdell slid noiselessly away.

"The candidate endured it all, but only for the time," thundered Jimmy
Grayson, and now his voice was swelling with passion, while his eyes
fairly sparkled with heat and anger--"but only for the time. He had
decided opinions upon this subject, as I have upon the question of
tariff revision, and he intended to utter them as I intend to utter
mine. They said--and they said it with intolerable condescension and
patronage--that for the sake of his record he might make one little
speech upon the subject before a few people out in what they called the
desert, and he accepted the concession. But there was rage in his heart.
He was willing to be beaten by the biggest majority ever given against a
Presidential candidate before he would yield to such insolent dictation.
Moreover, there was the question of his true opinion, which the people
had a right to know, and he took his resolve. There was that little
speech, and he remembered the telegraph wire, the thin line that binds
the farthest little village to the great world, and I say he took his
resolve."

"He called the bluff!" shouted the big man in the audience, in a perfect
roar of triumph, and Jimmy Grayson smiled sweetly.

Suddenly Mr. Goodnight, in all the might of his majesty and importance,
rose up and stalked from the stage, and the eleven other members of the
committee, headed by Mr. Crayon, followed him in an angry file,
accompanied by the derisive shouts of the audience. They quickened their
pace somewhat when they reached solid ground, but before they were
within the sheltering confines of their private car, Jimmy Grayson was
launched upon his great and thrilling tariff speech, in which he
invested the driest subject in the world with an interest that absorbed
the attention of ninety million people.

All day the wires eastward and westward sang with the burden of the
great speech made in the tiny hamlet of Waterville, in the Wyoming
mountains, and the next morning it occupied the front pages of ten
thousand newspapers. It was absolutely clear and decisive. No one could
doubt how the candidate stood. He was heart and soul for revision.
Sylvia threw her arms around his neck, and said, "Uncle James, I was
never prouder of you than I am at this moment."

When they left Waterville the private car of the committee was still
attached to their train, but there was no communication between it and
the other cars. About the middle of the afternoon they reached a
junction with another railroad line. There the private car was cut off
and attached to a new engine. Then it sped eastward at the rate of fifty
miles an hour.

Meanwhile the correspondents were holding a little conference of their
own.

"They will bolt him sure," said Hobart. "Will it ruin Jimmy Grayson?"

"I believe not," said Harley, who had been thinking much. "Of course
there will be a split, but such courage, and his way of meeting their
attack, will appeal to the people; it will bring him thousands of new
votes."

"Whether it does or does not," said Hobart, "if I had been in his place
I'd have done as he did."



XXI

ALONE WITH NATURE


When the party returned to the train after Jimmy Grayson's thrilling
defiance there was an air of relief, even joyousness, about them all. No
more diplomacy, no more watching for blows in the dark, no more waiting,
now they knew who their friends were, and they knew equally well their
enemies. They could strike straight at Goodnight, Crayon, and all the
others. Only in the heart of nearly every one of them there was still
mourning for the lost leader, for "King" Plummer, whom a gust of passion
had led astray.

"Well," said Hobart, "I thank God that the split has come at last. Even
if we are beaten out of our boots, I've got that defiance to remember,
and the picture of Jimmy Grayson refusing either to be browbeaten or
cajoled, even though the price was the Presidency."

"We know where we stand," said Mr. Heathcote, "and that at least is a
gain."

As for Sylvia, she was thrilling with pride. Her uncle's high heroism,
his superb truthfulness appealed to every quality in her woman's soul,
and with another impulse full as womanly she hated Goodnight, Crayon,
and their associates with all her heart; she believed them capable of
any crime, personal as well as political. She felt so intensely upon
the subject that she wanted to speak of it to somebody else, but Mr. and
Mrs. Grayson had withdrawn to the drawing-room, and all the
correspondents were deep in their work, as it would be necessary to send
very long despatches to the great cities that day.

Harley wrote five or six thousand words full of fire and zeal. As usual,
he wrote from the "inside," and his was not a bare record of facts; one
reading it, though three thousand miles away, was upon the scene
himself; everything passed before him alive; he saw the heroic figure of
the candidate thundering forth his denunciation; he knew all that it
cost, the full penalty, and he shared the stern impulse which such a
speaker in such a situation must feel; he, too, saw the astonishment on
the faces of the committee, astonishment followed by fear and rage, and
he shared also the noble thrill that must come to a man who had lost all
save honor, but was proud in the losing. Harley was always a good
writer, but now as he wrote he saw every word burning before him, so
intense were his feelings, and even across the United States he
communicated the same thrill to those who read.

His despatch brought from his abrupt editor the one word "Splendid!" and
it attracted marked attention not only wherever the _Gazette_ went, but
where also went the numerous journals into which it was copied.
Everybody who read it said, "What a magnificent figure Jimmy Grayson
is!" and the impression was deepened and widened by other writers on the
train who were inferior in powers only to Harley. In this his day of
great disaster the candidate was to find that there were friends who
were truly bound to him with "hooks of steel." Nor was he ungrateful.
The moisture rose in his eyes when he first heard of their accounts,
and in privacy he confided to his wife that he did not know how to thank
them.

"If I were you I should not say anything," she advised. "They will like
it better if you don't."

And he did not.

Now the campaign took on a new phase. Even in the beginning it had
differed from any other ever waged in America, and since the Philipsburg
conference that difference, already great, increased. It was permeated
throughout by the personal element, party platforms sank into the
background, and in the foreground stood the titanic figure of Jimmy
Grayson fighting single-handed against a host of foes.

His hero appealed more powerfully than ever to Harley; every sympathy
within him was aroused by this lone figure who stood like Horatius at
the bridge--the old simile was always coming to him--and under its
influence his despatches took on a vivid coloring and a keen, searching
quality that thrilled all who read. And many other newspapers gave the
same lifelike impression.

The figure of the candidate, although he was admittedly a beaten man,
loomed larger than ever to the whole country, and his enemies, although
counting already the fruits of victory, began to feel a certain awe of
him. They showed an anxiety to keep away from him, even in what they
considered his dying moments, and no speaker dared to meet him on the
platform, despite the recollections of his defeat at Egmont. The
opposition often alluded to this "defeat," and sought to make great
capital of it, but the sensation that it had created at first faded. It
was surrounded by too many brilliant triumphs; people would say that on
the day of his defeat he was ill, like Napoleon at Leipsic; that he was
giving daily proofs that he was without a match in the world, and one
such little incident did not count.

The split in the party was made complete. Mr. Goodnight, Mr. Crayon, and
eighteen of their associates, all men of wealth and influence, came out
in a formal signed statement published first in the _Monitor_, stating
their position in calmness and moderation and in measured language. They
said that they had tried to support Mr. Grayson; they had given him
every chance; they had always been ready with advice; they had sought to
instil in him a full sense of his responsibility, and to impart to his
mind the breadth and solidity so necessary in a Presidential nominee;
they were strong in party loyalty, and they hesitated long before taking
such a momentous step; but they knew that in every great crisis brave
men who would not hesitate at great risk to lead must be found;
therefore they stepped into the breach. Reluctantly and with much grief
they announced that they could not support Mr. Grayson. He was a menace
to the country, and they felt that they must remove this danger; hence
they would support the other side, and they advised all the solid worth
of the country, those who cared for the national honor, to do likewise.

The _Monitor_ commented editorially in its finest vein upon this tribute
to conscience. It was glad to know that there were yet brave and honest
men; it was never worth while to despair of the republic so long as such
lofty and heroic citizens as Mr. Goodnight and Mr. Crayon were
vouchsafed to it. The American people were frivolous and superficial,
but there was a saving remnant, men who might almost compare with the
great statesmen of Europe, and in every emergency, every crisis, it was
they who would make enormous sacrifice of private interest and save the
state.

Churchill followed the lead, and in a long despatch made a ferocious
attack upon Jimmy Grayson, the man. Then, with a concealed sense of
importance, he waited until the paper arrived, and when the two hours
that he thought necessary to make the impression deep had passed he went
in to Mr. Grayson and announced with an air of great dignity that he was
prepared to leave the train; he felt that as a keen and remorseless
critic his presence would put a severe constraint upon the candidate;
there was nothing personal in his course, and he did not wish to prevent
anybody from doing his best; he was aware that he must be regarded with
the greatest hostility and apprehension, and therefore he would retire,
seeking his news either by going before or by following.

"Why, Mr. Churchill!" exclaimed the candidate, in surprise, "we do not
dream of letting you go. You have been so long with us that your place
could not be filled. I cannot consent to such a thing! You must stay
with us to the end!"

Churchill felt that his shot had missed again, but he said:

"I spoke out of consideration. I thought that my continued presence here
might have a somewhat disconcerting effect upon you."

"Not at all! Not at all!" replied the candidate, courageously. "It's a
blow, but we prefer to bear it rather than lose you. Ah, here is my
niece, Sylvia; perhaps she can persuade you. Sylvia, Mr. Churchill
speaks of leaving us; he thinks that he ought to do so because he is a
critic of us. Sylvia, I leave him in your hands, and I want you to
persuade him that it is only his exaggerated sense of honor."

Sylvia was not averse to the task. She was wholly feminine, and hence
there was in her a trace of cajolery which she now used. She told
Churchill that her uncle and all his friends felt the truth and edge of
his criticisms, but they felt, too, that although he was in the
opposition now, they might, nevertheless, profit by them. And there was
the influence of his personal presence on the train--his gravity of
manner and his weighed and measured speech were a useful antidote to the
flippancy and levity of his associates.

Sylvia said these things rather by indirection than by plain words, and
under the influence of such soothing speech Churchill gradually melted
and became forgiving; he would stay, but it was partly for the sake of
Miss Morgan that he stayed, and later in the day he confided to Mr.
Heathcote that he was surprised at the way Sylvia was coming out; she
really had strong and attractive qualities; if she were to marry a man
of refinement and knowledge of the world who would exercise a
stimulating and also a corrective influence upon her, she might become a
very fine woman. Mr. Heathcote bowed assent, but looked away from
Churchill and out of the window. Churchill's opinion of Mr. Heathcote
also improved.

There was yet one element in the situation that was not clarified. Mr.
Plummer not only failed to appear upon the scene, but did not
communicate in any manner with either the Graysons or Sylvia. They heard
of him as floating about the Northwest and full of hot talk, but no one
could put his hand upon him, and they were puzzled, because they had
expected decisive, straight-from-the-shoulder action from the "King."

In this week Harley saw Sylvia almost every hour in the day, but never
once did he speak of the subject that was nearest both their hearts.
Sometimes he thought that it would have been better had the Graysons
granted her request to go, because he could see that she was suffering
from a constant nervous strain, and that her gayety with the group was
often forced.

They came at last to Grafton, a village in the corner of North Dakota,
where a sweep of low mountains opens out for a space and forms a wide
valley. In that hollow lies Grafton, and to Harley it looked warm and
inviting. The candidate was to speak here, and as Harley ascertained in
advance that Mr. Grayson did not intend to say anything new, merely
repeating a speech of the day before, he did not consider it necessary
to be present; instead, he chose to take a walk through the town and its
outskirts for the sake of fresh air, exercise, and some solitary musing.

The autumn was far advanced in that Northern latitude, but the chill of
winter had not yet come. The wide sky of glittering blue hung high, and
in the thin air the mountain-peaks that stood far away came near; the
wooden houses of the new town were gilded and softened by the yellow
sunshine.

Harley saw the usual audience--the ranchmen, the sheep-herders, the
miners, and the railroad-men--all flocking towards the stand where the
candidate would speak, and exchanging jocose or admiring comment,
because this was to them both a holiday and a ceremony.

Only a minute or two sufficed to carry him to the outskirts of the
little town, and he would have paid no further attention to the crowd,
but he thought he saw on its fringe a broad, powerful back that he knew.
When he undertook to take the second look and make sure the back was
gone, and Harley went on, telling himself, as one is apt to do, that it
was only his fancy. The echo of cheering came to his ears, and he knew
that the candidate, as usual, held the audience in his grasp. Presently
the echo died, and those that followed it did not come to him, as he had
left the town behind; although from the low crest of a swell he could
see the heads of the people surrounding Jimmy Grayson, and by the way
they bobbed back and forth he knew that the enthusiasm was boiling.

He went down the far side of the swell, passed a clump of bushes, and
came face to face with Sylvia Morgan. She, too, leaving the speech, had
been walking, and the color of her face was deepened by the exercise and
the crisp, bracing air. It had given her, also, an obvious exhilaration,
probably physical, that Harley had not seen before in a long time, and
her smile was of pure welcoming joy.

Harley's was an answering smile, but his heart was full of a longing and
an anger equally fierce. Never had she seemed to him more to be desired
than on that morning; tall, straight, and young, instinct with the life
and strength of the great upland reaches upon which she lived, her pure
soul looking out of her pure eyes, she was a woman to be won by the man
to whom her love was given, and he rebelled because he did not have the
right. Temptation was strong within him, and he had excuse.

"Speeches, however good, do not appeal to you to-day?" he said.

"No, I prefer the mountains."

She pointed to the line of peaks that formed a border of darker blue on
the horizon.

"So do I," said Harley, with emphasis, but he meant, at that moment,
that he was glad to be alone with her.

"Since chance has brought us together," he said, "why should we not
continue in this way?"

They walked on, and he was very close to her, so close that when a
wanton wind caught a stray ringlet of her hair it brushed lightly
against his cheek. Faint and fleeting as was the touch, every nerve
thrilled. He said fiercely to himself that she was his and should remain
his.

They came to a little brook, a stream of ice-cold water flowing down
from the distant mountains, and he helped her across, although a single
step would have carried her from bank to bank. Then, too, he held her
hand in his longer than the case warranted, and again he tingled. He
said nothing, nor did she, but she glanced at him and she was a little
afraid; his lips were closed in the firm fashion that she knew, and his
eyes were on the distant mountains. Behind them came a broad shadow, but
neither looked back.

Jimmy Grayson was a great man, but Cæsar and his fortunes were now
completely forgotten by both Harley and Sylvia; each was thinking only
of the other, and though they were still silent, they wandered on and
on, Sylvia content that Harley was by her side, and Harley happy to feel
her so near that her hair blown in the wind had touched his face. Had
they looked back they would have seen the shadow come a little nearer
and raise its arm in an angry gesture. The town sank behind the swells,
and before lay only a brown expanse of country that rolled away with
unbroken monotony. A slight grayish tint, as of a mist, crept into the
glittering blue of the sky, but Harley and Sylvia did not notice it.

Sylvia felt, in a way, as if she were in a state of suspended animation.
The world had paused for a moment, and for that reason she knew that
fate was impending; she, too, felt a thrill running through every nerve,
and she felt the presence, so near her, of the man whom she loved, and
would always love. He was master to-day, and she knew that she would do
whatever he should ask her; all her resolves, all the long course of
strengthening through which she might put herself would melt away in the
heat of an emotion that was too strong for her; if he said that they
should slip back to the town, take a train to the next station and get
married there, forgetful of her promise, "King" Plummer, the campaign,
her uncle, and everything else, she would go with him. But she
remembered to pray that he would not say it.

Harley still did not speak. He, too, was struggling with himself, and
saying, over and over under his breath, that he should remember his
duty. Sylvia glanced at him covertly from time to time, and, while she
yet felt a little fear, she admired the firm curve of his chin and the
clear cut of his face. They came at last to a clump of dwarfed trees,
sheltered between the swells, and they stopped.

"Sylvia," said Harley, "I felt only joy when I met you, but I am sorry
now that the chance brought us together this time, because it is a
greater grief to see you go. I thought once that we might be together
always, because I know that you are mine, mine in spirit at least, no
matter to whom the law may give you, but now--"

He broke off and looked at her with longing.

"It is better that I should leave you and go alone," she said.

She held out her hand.

"This is a good-bye," she said.

"But it shall not be so cold a one!" he exclaimed.

He put his arms around her, and kissed her full upon the lips.

"Oh, John!" she cried, and when he released her she ran back upon their
path, her face very red, although she was in no wise angry with him.
Harley walked on, and he did not raise his head until the shadow that
followed them stood across his way. Then, when he looked up, he found
himself gazing into the muzzle of a very large revolver, held by a
large, brown hand. Behind the hand, and lowering at him, was the
inflamed and determined face of "King" Plummer.

In this crisis neither of the two wasted words. Each was a man of
action, and each knew that long speech was vanity of vanities.

Harley was pale; life was sweet, never sweeter than when it seemed to be
leaving, but he did not flinch.

"You have stolen her from me," said the "King." "I saw what you did
there; you ought to be willing to pay the price."

"I object to the word 'stolen,'" said Harley, calmly. "The love of
Sylvia Morgan is not a thing that could be stolen by anybody."

"Words differ, but acts don't. I've been a border man, and I've got to
do things in the border way."

"One of which is to come armed upon an unarmed man?"

Harley saw the "King" flinch, but the finger did not leave the trigger.

"You took from me when I wasn't looking all that I love best, and I'll
take from you all I can."

The red face of "King" Plummer suddenly turned gray, and Harley saw it,
but he did not see what caused it. There was the light, swift tread of
footsteps behind him, a warm breath upon his face, and then Sylvia's
arms were around his neck and she was upon his breast.

"Shoot if you want to," she said to the "King," "but your bullet will
strike me first."

Her eyes, for the first time in her life, sparkled defiance at him, and
their gaze stabbed the "King" to the heart.

Harley strove to put her aside, but she clung to him with strong, young
arms.

The "King's" face, pale before, now became white. It was, perhaps, the
first time in his life that all the blood had left it, and it showed the
power of this new and sudden emotion. "King" Plummer, in a flash, saw
many things. The finger that lay upon the trigger trembled, and then,
with a cry of fear, this man who feared no other man threw his pistol to
the earth.

"My God, Sylvia!" he exclaimed. "What do you think I am?"

"Not a murderer!"

"No, I am not; but I came very near to being one."'

He looked at the two, in each other's arms as it were, and turned away,
leaving the pistol upon the ground. "King" Plummer had seen enough for
one day.

They watched him until the broad back passed over a swell and was lost.
Then Sylvia, blushing, remembered, and took her arms from Harley's neck.

"You have saved my life," said Harley.

"I do not think that he would have fired."

"You have saved it, anyhow. Now it is yours, and you must take it. He
cannot claim you after this."

The blush became brilliant.

"He has not given me up. He has not said so."

"But he will give you up. He shall. You are mine now. Come!"

He took her unresisting hand in his, and again they walked side by side,
so close that the strong wind once more brushed the little ringlet
against his cheek.

It is a peculiarity of Grafton that the low swells around it, rolling
away towards the mountains, look just alike everywhere. One has to be a
resident, and an old-timer at that, to be able to tell one from another.
Harley and Sylvia, hand-in-hand, had little thought of such things as
these, nor were they anxious to reach Grafton quickly; yet the time when
they must be there would come, and Harley at last interrupted a
pleasanter occupation by exclaiming:

"Why, where is Grafton? We should have reached it long ago!"

Sylvia saw only the low swells, rolling away, one after the other; there
was no glimpse of a house, no smoke on the horizon to tell where the
village had hid itself so suddenly. Around them were the low ridges, and
afar the circle of blue mountains. Save for themselves, it seemed a lone
and desolate world. Sylvia became white; she knew their situation better
than Harley.

"We have lost the town! We mistook the direction!" she said.

"We can easily find it again; it must be there."

He pointed in the direction in which he thought Grafton lay, and
continued:

"It will merely make our walk back to town the longer, and that is what
I like."

But she, who had lived her life on the plains and in the mountains, was
not so sure. She knew that they had walked far, because not even the
smoke of Grafton could be seen now. Yet he was with her.

"Suppose we try that direction," she assented.

"And if it isn't right, we will try another; our train stays at Grafton
all day."

They walked on, saying to each other the little things that mean nothing
to others, but which lovers love, and Grafton yet lay hidden in its
place between the swells. The skies, changing now from a bright to a
steely gray, were unmarred by a single wisp of smoke.

Harley felt at last an uneasiness which increased gradually as they went
on; the country was provokingly monotonous, one swell was like another,
and the dips between were just the same; there were patches of brown
grass eaten down by cattle, but mostly the soil was bare; it seemed to
Harley, at that moment, a weary and ugly land, but it set off the star
in the midst of it--Sylvia--like a diamond in the dust. He looked up;
the mountains, before blue and distinct in the clear sky, were now gray
and vague.

"We must have walked fast and far," he said. "Look how that range of
mountains has moved away."

Sylvia looked, and her face whitened again.

"It is not distance, John," she said. "It is a mist. See, the clouds are
coming!"

The mountains moved farther away and became shadowy; the steel-gray of
the skies darkened; up from the southwest rolled ugly brown clouds;
there was a rush of chill air.

Harley understood all, and a shiver passed over him. But his fear was
for her, not for himself.

"It is going to snow," said Sylvia.

"And we are lost in this desert; it was I, too, who brought you here,"
said Harley.

She looked up into his eyes, and her face was not pale.

"We are together," she said.

He bent his head and kissed her, for the second time that day.

"You are the bravest woman in the world, Sylvia," he said. "Now we live
or die together, and we are not afraid."

"We are not afraid."

He put his arm around her waist, and she did not resist. Both expected
to die, and they felt that they belonged to each other for eternity. A
strange, spiritual exaltation possessed them; the world about them was
unreal now--they two were all that was real.

"The snow comes, dearest," she said.

Up from the southwest the ugly brown clouds were still rolling, and the
sky above them still darkened; the mountains were gone in the mist, the
chill wind strengthened and shrieked over the plain. Harley kept his arm
around Sylvia's waist, and drew her more closely to him that he might
shelter her.

"Let the snow come," he said.

Great white flakes, borne upon the edge of the wind, fell damp upon
their faces, and suddenly the air was filled with them as they came in
blinding clouds; the wind ceased to shriek and died, and the brown
clouds, now fused into one mass that covered all the heavens, opened and
let down the snow in unbroken volume.

"We must go on, sweetheart," said Harley, rousing himself. "To stand
here is death. We may find some kind of shelter if we go; there is none
in this place."

They walked on, their heads bent a little, as the snow was coming
straight down. They could not see twenty yards before them through the
white cloud, and Harley was scarcely conscious whether they climbed the
swells or descended into the dips between.

Sylvia covered her head with a small shawl that she wore. Harley wanted
to take off his coat and wrap it around her, but she would not let him.

"I am not cold," she said; "I think it is the walking that keeps me
warm."

It was partly that, but it was more the presence of Harley and the state
of spiritual exaltation in which they remained. Both took it as a matter
of course that they were to die in a few hours, but they had no fear of
this death, and it was not even worth while to talk or think of it.
Harley had spoken merely through habit and instinct of moving on lest
they die, and it was these same unconscious motives that made them
struggle, although they took no interest in their own efforts.

"We may come to a clump of trees," said Sylvia, "or to a hollow in a
rocky hill-side; that happens sometimes in this part of the Dakotas."

"Maybe we shall," said Harley, but he thought no more about it.

The wind rose again and swept over the plain with a shriek and a howl.
Columns and cones of snow were whirled past them and over them; wind and
snow together made it harder for them to keep their feet.

"If we don't find that hollow soon, we won't need it," said Harley.

"No," she said.

She was very close to him, and when she looked up he could see a smile
on her face.

"Death is not terrible," she said.

"Not with you."

The shriek of the wind had now become a moan like the moan of a desolate
world. They came to two or three dwarfed trees growing close to one an
other, but they gave no shelter, and, Harley being in dread lest
branches should be blown off and against Sylvia, they went on.

"What will they think has become of us?" said Sylvia.

But the only thought it brought into Harley's mind at that moment was
the interruption it would cause to the campaign. He was sorry for Jimmy
Grayson. He felt that the girl's step was growing less steady. Obviously
she was becoming weaker.

"Lean against me," he said; "I am strong enough for both."

She said nothing, but he felt her shoulder press more heavily against
him. He drew his hat-brim down that he might keep the whirling flakes
from his eyes, and staggered blindly forward. His knee struck against
something hard, and, putting out his hand, he touched stone and earth.

"Here is a hill," he said, without joy, and he uncovered his eyes again
to seek shelter. He did not find it there, but farther on, in another
hill, was a rocky alcove that in earlier days had been the den of some
wild animal. It was carpeted with old dead leaves, and it faced the
east, while the wind and the snow came from the southwest. It was only a
hollow, running back three or four feet, and one must crouch to enter;
but except near the door there was no snow in it, and the storm drove by
in vain.

"Here is our house, Sylvia," exclaimed Harley, with a strong ring in his
voice, and he drew her in. He raked up the old, musty, dead leaves in a
heap, and made her sit upon them. He was the man now, the masculine
animal who ruled, and she obeyed without protest.

"Hark to the storm! How the wind whistles!" he said.

Pyramids and columns of snow whirled by the mouth of their little
hollow, and they crouched close together. Out upon the plain the shriek
of the wind was weird and unearthly. Now and then some blast, fiercer
and more tortuous than the rest, drove a fringe of snow so far into the
hollow that it fell a wet skim across their faces.

Sylvia did not move or speak for a long time, and when Harley looked out
again the snow was thinner but the wind was still high, and it was
growing much colder. The blast lashed his face with a whip of ice.

He turned back in alarm, and took Sylvia's hand in his. It was cold, and
it seemed to him that the blood in it had ceased to run.

"Sylvia! Sylvia!" he cried in fear, and not knowing what else to say.
"What is the matter?"

"This, I think, is death," she replied, in sleepy content.

It was dark in the hollow, whether the darkness of coming night or the
darkness of the storm Harley did not know nor care. He could not see her
face, but he touched it; it, too, was cold.

He felt a pang of agony. When both expected to die he had neither fear
nor sorrow; now she was about to die alone and leave him!

"Sylvia! Sylvia!" he cried. "It is not death! You cannot go!"

He rubbed her hands violently, and even her cheeks. He called to her
over and over again, and she awoke from her numbing torpor.

"It was beginning to be like an easy sleep," she said.

"That is what we must fight," said Harley.

He brushed up all the leaves at the mouth of the hollow as a sort of
barrier, and he believed that it gave help. Then he sat down on a small
ledge of stone and leaned against the wall.

"Sylvia," he said, "I want you to live, and you cannot live if this cold
creeps into your body again. Sit here."

She hesitated, and in the darkness he did not see her blush.

"Why should you not? It may be our last day."

He drew her down upon his knees, then closer to him, and put his arms
around her. Presently he could feel her face against his, and it was
cold no longer. Neither spoke nor moved, but Harley could feel that she
was warm, and he could hear her soft, regular breathing. After a while
he stirred a little, and he found that she was asleep. Her hands and
face were still warm. He did not move again. She spoke once in her
sleep, and all that she said was his name.

Outside the plain was a vast sheet of snow, over which the cold wind
moaned, and out of the east the night was coming.



XXII

THE "KING'S" AWAKENING


When "King" Plummet left Harley and Sylvia on the plain, he strode
blindly forward, his heart filled with rage, grief, and self-accusation.
He said aloud: "William Plummer, you are fifty years old, and you have
made of yourself the damnedest fool in the whole Northwest!"

Hitherto he had always held the belief that if Harley were away she
would soon forget him and would be happy as his wife. Now he knew that
this could never come to pass, and the truth filled him with dismay.

He had ridden across country with no knowledge of Mr. Grayson's presence
in Grafton until he was very near the place; then, when he heard of it,
he was overwhelmed with a great desire to see these people and bid them
defiance. He was a man who fought his enemies, and he would show them
what he could do. So he rode into Grafton, and slipped quietly into a
saloon to get a tonic. He was a border man bred in border ways, and
usually liquor would have had no effect on him, but to-day it was fire
to a brain already on fire. All his grievances now became great
wrongs--he was an injured man whom the world persecuted; Grayson, for
whom he had done so much in political life, had betrayed him; the girl
whom he was going to marry had betrayed him, too, and this young
Eastern slip, Harley, was surely laughing at him.

These thoughts were intolerable to the "King," who had hitherto been
victorious always, and now his rage centred on Harley; he saw Harley
everywhere, at every point of the compass wherever he looked, and when
he came out of the saloon and went down the deserted street he saw
Harley in reality, strolling along absently, his eyes upon the ground.
He thought first that the correspondent was on his way to join the crowd
around the speaker's stand, but he soon perceived that he was going in
another direction. It was "King" Plummer's first impulse--there was
still liquid fire in his veins--to overtake Harley and demand the only
kind of satisfaction that such a man as he should have. Then he wished
to see where Harley was going, because he had a premonition--false in
this case, the meeting was by accident--that he was on his way to
Sylvia; so he decided to follow as an animal stalks its game. Only the
most powerful emotion conjoined with other circumstances could have made
the "King" do such a thing, as his nature was essentially open, and he
loved open methods. Yet he trailed his enemy with the skill and cunning
of an Indian.

He saw Harley and Sylvia meet, and all his suspicions were confirmed.
Again he felt a fierce impulse, and it was to rush upon the guilty pair,
but he restrained it and still followed. His perceptions were trained to
other things, but he was in no danger of being seen by them; they were
too much absorbed in each other, and all the world passed by them
unnoticed. The "King," though a rough, blunt man, saw this, and it made
the fire in him burn the hotter.

He saw them stop at last, he saw Harley kiss Sylvia, and then he saw
the girl turn away. He waited until he saw Sylvia pass over the swell,
and then he took his opportunity. Whether he would have fired if Sylvia
had not come he could not say to himself afterwards in his cooler
moments. Remorse upon this point tortured him for some time.

When he turned away he saw nothing. He was agitated by the powerful
truth that Sylvia preferred death with Harley to life with him, and all
his views were inward. He still did not know what he would do, but there
was much of a moving nature to him in the scene that he left. He had
never before seen such a look on a woman's face as that on Sylvia's when
she threw herself upon Harley's breast and defied his bullet; it was
beautiful and wonderfully pathetic, and something like a sob came from
the burly "King." Harley, too, had borne himself like a man; there was
no fear in the face of the Eastern youth when he looked into the muzzle
of the pistol that threatened instant death; "King" Plummer remembered
more than once in the early days when he had been covered by the
levelled weapon of an enemy, and he knew how hard it was in such a case
to control one's nerves and keep steady. He could not help respecting a
courage fully the equal of his own.

He wandered on in a series of circles that did not take him far, and in
a half-hour he stopped at the crest of a swell higher than the rest. He
saw Sylvia and Harley far away--but he knew them well--walking side by
side. "Well, I suppose they have the right!" he said, moodily. The fire
within him was dying down, but he added; "I'll be damned if I look at
them making love."

The "King" had the habits bred by long years of necessity and
precaution, and unless the distracting circumstances were very powerful
he was always a keen observer of weather and locality. Now the fire was
low, but he was almost at the edge of the town before his blood became
normal and cool. Then he looked about. A half-mile away he saw a mass of
heads, sometimes rising and falling, and a faint echo of cheers came to
him. He knew that the candidate was still speaking, and he smiled rather
sourly. Then he was conscious that the sunshine was not so brilliant,
and there was a feeling of chill damp in the wind that came up from the
southwest.

The "King" glanced up at the sky; it had turned a steely gray, and ugly
brown clouds were coming up over the rim of the southwestern horizon.
"There's going to be an early snow," he said, and for the moment the
matter gave him no further concern. Then Sylvia and Harley suddenly shot
up and filled his whole horizon. He had seen them far from where he
stood, and they were going directly away from the town, not towards it!
And one was a girl and the other a tenderfoot!

Now Harley disappeared from the "King's" horizon as suddenly as he had
come into it, and the solitary figure of Sylvia filled all its space.
She was not a woman now, but the desolate little girl whom he had found
alone in the mountains, vainly trying to bury her massacred dead, and
whom he had carried away on his saddle-bow. All the long years of
protection and tenderness that he had given her came back to him; there
was only the image of the slim little girl with flying curls who ran to
meet him and who called him "Daddy!"

That little girl was lost out there on the plain, and as sure as the sun
had gone from the heavens a snow-storm was coming fast on the wings of
the southwestern wind. He knew, and his heart was filled with grief and
despair; no rage was left there; that fire had burned out completely,
and it seemed to the "King" that it never could be lighted again. It was
wonderful now to him that the flame could ever have been so fierce. And
the boy Harley was lost, too. Mr. Plummer again remembered, and with a
certain admiration, how brave Harley had been, and he remembered, too,
that when he first saw him his impulse was to like him greatly.

He ran back towards the swell where he had last beheld them, hoping to
find them or at least to follow upon their traces before the snow fell
and hid the trail. He was an old frontiersman, and with a favorable soil
he might do it. But long before he reached the swell the snow flew, and
the brown clouds and the whirling flakes together blotted out all the
plain, save the little circle in which he stood.

He raised his powerful voice and called in tones that carried far,
"Sylvia! Sylvia!" But no sound came back save the lonely cry of the wind
and the soft, whirring rush of the snow, like the soft beat of wings.
The "King" was a brave and sanguine man, physically and mentally
disposed to hope, but his heart dropped like lead in water. He saw the
slim little girl, with flying brown hair, dead and cold in the snow.
Then his courage came back, and with it all his mental coolness. He did
not seek to rush after them, floundering here and there in the
semi-darkness and calling vainly, but hurried back to the town.

The people had just returned from the candidate's speech, and were
crowding into the lobby of the hotel to shake Mr. Grayson's hand and to
tell him that he would win by a "million majority." The candidate was
enduring this ordeal with his usual good-nature and grace, although the
crowded room was hot and close, and the odor of steaming boots arose.

Into this packed mass of human beings "King" Plummer burst like a bomb.
"Help! All of you!" he cried, and his voice cracked like a rifle. "They
are lost out on the plain in the storm, and they were wandering away
from the town! Miss Morgan! Sylvia! My child! And the young man,
Harley!"

There was no mistaking the "King's" meaning. Here was a mountain man,
one who knew of what he was talking, one who would raise no false alarm.
Both grief and command were in his voice, and the Dakotans responded
upon the instant; they knew Sylvia, too--her fresh, young beauty, coming
into so small a town, was noticed at once. To the last man they went out
into the storm to the rescue; and there were many women who were
willing, too.

The candidate seized Mr. Plummer's arm in a fierce grasp.

"Do you mean to say that Sylvia and Harley are lost in that?" he cried,
and he pointed into the mass of driving snow.

"Ay, they are there," said the "King," "but we will find them."

"We will find them," echoed Jimmy Grayson, and, though they strove to
make him stay at the hotel, he drew his overcoat about his ears and was
by his side as "King" Plummer led the way. Hobart, Blaisdell, even old
Tremaine, and Churchill as well, were there, too.

They knew that Sylvia and Harley were somewhere north of the town, and,
dividing into groups, five or six to a group, they spread out to a
great distance. They carried whiskey for warmth, and lanterns with
which to signal to each other, and for guidance in the night that might
come before they returned. In the twilight of the storm these lanterns
twinkled dimly.

The "King" himself carried a lantern, and Jimmy Grayson, by his side,
could read his face. Mr. Plummer had not told him a word, but he could
guess the story. He had come upon them, there was a violent scene of
some kind, and now the "King," with death threatening "his little girl,"
was stricken with remorse. All the candidate's anger against Mr. Plummer
was gone, melted away suddenly--and he saw that the "King's" wrath
against himself was gone the same way. Now he felt only pity for the
stricken man.

The great line of men moved across the plain towards the north, calling
to each other now and then and waving the dim lanterns. Jimmy Grayson
listened for the welcome cry that the lost had been found, but it did
not come. The "King" did not speak save to give orders--he had naturally
assumed command of the relief party, and his position was not disputed.

They advanced far northward, and they noticed with increased alarm the
thickening of the storm. Whirlwinds of snow beat in their faces. Jimmy
Grayson once heard the big, burly man by his side say, in a kind of
sobbing whisper, "Oh, my little girl!" and he felt a catch in his own
throat.

Then he repeated the "King's" own words, "We will find them."

"And alive!" said the "King," in fierce defiance.

He did not speak again for a long time. He seemed to become unconscious
of the presence by his side of Jimmy Grayson, the man whom in his hot
wrath he had threatened to betray. At last he turned his head and said,
as if it were an impulse:

"Mr. Grayson, they said I was going to knife you, and I meant to do it!
They tempted me, and I was willing to be tempted by them; but, by God! I
gave them no promise and I won't. I was your friend, and I'm your friend
again!"

"A better I never hope to have," said Jimmy Grayson, and in the storm
the hands of the two men met in a grasp as true as it was strong.

"We will not speak of this again," said Mr. Grayson and they never did.
A resident of Grafton, Mr. Harrison, came up to them, fighting his way
through the snow.

"Mr. Plummer," he said, "there are some rocky hills three or four miles
north of here, with hollows and sort of half-way caves here and there in
their sides. It's barely possible that Mr. Harley and Miss Morgan have
got to one of those places. I think we ought to go there at once,
because, because--"

The man's voice failed.

"Speak out," said the "King," "I can stand it."

"Well, it's just this, though I hate to say it. It's a sure thing that
they've gone a long distance, an' if they've hit on one of the hollows
we're likely to find 'em alive if we get there pretty soon, but if they
ain't in a hollow they'll be--they'll be--"

"They'll be dead when we do find them. Take us to the hills, Mr.
Harrison."

The man, lantern in hand, strode on, and with him were Mr. Grayson and
Mr. Plummer. Hobart was at the candidate's elbow. Twilight was at hand
and the darkness was increasing, although the snow was thinning. Hobart,
peering out on the plain, saw only the swells of snow rising and
falling like a white sea, and overhead the sky of sullen clouds. He
marked the agony on the faces of the candidate and the "King," and his
own heart was heavy. There was no thrill over a mystery now; the lost
were too dear to him.

"It's night," said Mr. Plummer. In his heart was the fear that the two,
overpowered, had fallen down and slowly frozen to death under the snow,
but he did not dare to whisper it to others.

It was heavy work going through the drifts and keeping the right way
over a plain that had the similarity of the sea, but the men did not
falter. Jimmy Grayson was always looking into the darkness, striving to
see the darker line or blur that would mark the hills, but he asked no
questions. The snow ceased, and after a while low, black slopes appeared
against the dusky horizon.

"The hills!" said the candidate, and the Grafton man nodded. They
increased their pace until they were almost running. Neither Mr. Grayson
nor Mr. Plummer knew it, but the Grafton man had little hope; he had
merely suggested the place as a last chance.

It took them much longer than they thought or hoped to reach the hills,
but when they came to them they began a rapid search. The "King" and the
candidate were still together, and the former had taken a lantern from
one of the men. They had been looking among the hills for about a
quarter of an hour, and they drew somewhat away from the others. The
"King" raised his lantern at intervals and threw ribbons of light along
the white slopes. They came to a hill a little higher than the rest, and
he raised the lantern again. It was not a white reflection that came,
but something misty and brown.

"Dead leaves!" cried the "King." "It's a cave or a hollow."

He raised the lantern higher, and the light shone directly in at the
opening; it shone, too, upon Sylvia's face as she lay asleep in Harley's
arms.

"Babes in the wood!" muttered Hobart, who had come up behind them.

The "King" paused a moment. The picture appealed to him, too, and he saw
then in Harley only the rescuer of "his little girl." His heart yearned
over Harley also. Then he uttered a joyous shout, dropped his lantern,
and seized Sylvia. "Daddy," she said, awakening and putting her arms
around his neck, "I've come back."

"God bless you, my child, my daughter!" he said.

To Harley it was all a dream; there was something the matter with
him--there was a sort of dull, unreal feeling, and these men that he
knew seemed to be very far away. Nor did he understand why they pulled
him out so roughly, rubbed snow on his face and ears, and chafed his
hands violently. Afterwards he remembered hearing dimly some one say,
"We're just in time; he was freezing to death," and then he wished they
would be gentler. Fiery stuff was poured down his throat, and he coughed
and struggled, but they had no mercy. Then they committed the crowning
outrage--they took him by the arms, held him up and made him run back
and forth in the snow. After that the pain came; there were strong
needle-pricks all through him, and he heard some one say in a foolish
tone of satisfaction, "He's coming around all right." Then they poured
more fiery stuff down his throat.

After a while the needle pains ceased, and Harley understood that they
had saved him from freezing to death. He thought at once of Sylvia;
there she stood wrapped from chin to heel in a great fur coat, and she
smiled at him.

It was a slow but happy walk back to Grafton. The "King's" joyful shout
had been repeated and passed on to all the searchers, and all the
lanterns had been whirled aloft in rejoicing signal. Messengers were
already hurrying on to Grafton with the news.

Harley walked by the side of Mr. Grayson, who had given his hand one
strong clasp and who had said, "Harley, it was like finding a brother."
Sylvia leaned on Mr. Plummer's arm because the whole of her strength had
not yet come back. "Daddy," she whispered, "where did you come from?
We've been waiting for you a long time."

"Something up there must have called me," he replied, reverently,
pointing to the heavens, in which the new stars twinkled. "Sylvia," he
continued, "I'm not a fool any more. Forgive your old daddy and you can
love the boy."

"Not unless you are really, truly, and wholly willing, daddy."

"Really, truly, and wholly, my little girl."

"Now you must tell him so, daddy."

"I'll tell him so."

They were startled by Sylvia suddenly stopping, throwing her arms around
Mr. Plummer's neck, and kissing him. But they ascribed it to the
hysteria natural in a woman under such circumstances.

The world was still unreal to Harley. Now and then the people with whom
he was walking seemed very far away, merely vague black shadows on the
white plain of snow; all but Sylvia, who smiled again at him, and who
he thought had drawn him back to earth.

As they approached the town the "King" gave Sylvia to her uncle and fell
back a little, until he was by the side of Harley.

"Lad," he said, and he used the word because he felt that Harley was
very much younger than he, "you've won her and she's yours; I'll give
her to you. I've played the part of father to her, and it's what I ought
to keep on playing. I see it now. I guess I keep a daughter and gain a
son."

Harley looked squarely into his eyes--the world was real now--and he saw
the utmost sincerity there.

"Mr. Plummer," he said, "you are one of God's noblemen."

The "King's" hand and Harley's met in a strong and true grip, and those
who noticed thought it was another incident due wholly to the stress of
the night and the storm.

When they reached the town Mrs. Grayson took Sylvia in her arms and the
others left her. Jimmy Grayson was to speak the next day at Freeport, a
village a little farther on, but that speech was never delivered, and
when the Freeport people heard the reason they made no complaint.

It was announced the next morning that Mrs. Grayson and Sylvia would
leave at once for the candidate's home, as their part of the campaign
was finished, but Harley found Sylvia alone in the little parlor of the
hotel. She was sitting by the window looking out at the vast snowy
plains and the dim blue mountains afar, and apparently she did not hear
him as he entered, although he closed the door behind him with a slight
noise. He leaned over her and took one of her hands in both of his.

"Sylvia," he said, "won't you come away from the window a moment?"

He did not wait for her answer, but drew her away.

"I do not want any one in the street to see me kiss you," he said, and
he kissed her.

Her cheeks, already red, grew redder.

"You mustn't do that," she said.

"I can't help myself," he said, humbly, and did it again.

"I have the right," he added, "because you are mine now. Last night Mr.
Plummer, of his own free will and volition, gave you to me."

"Good old daddy!" she murmured.



XXIII

ELECTION NIGHT


At last came the great day which was to tell whether their efforts were
a brilliant success or a dire failure--there was no middle ground--and
the special train took them to the small city in which the candidate
lived. All the correspondents were yet with him, as on the eventful
night following the eventful day they must tell the world how Jimmy
Grayson looked and what he said when the wires brought the news, good or
bad. A few faithful political friends had been invited also to stay with
him to the end, and they completed the group which would share the
hospitality of the candidate, who must smile and be the good host while
the nation was returning his sentence. Harley thought it a bitter
ordeal, but it could not be helped.

After his recognition of the great fact that Sylvia and Harley loved
each other and belonged to each other, "King" Plummer had gone to Idaho
for a while, but he rejoined them on the homeward journey, and his
spirits seemed fully recovered. He drifted easily in conversation about
her into the old paternal relationship with Sylvia which became him so
well, and he never again alluded to that vain dream of his that he might
be something else. Moreover, after his temporary alienation he had
become a more ardent Graysonite than ever, and would not hear of
anything except his triumphant election, despite the immense power of
the forces allied against him.

While they changed cars often in the West, the one that bore them to the
candidate's town had been their home for several weeks, and even the
engine was the same; thus the train attendants fell under the spell of
Jimmy Grayson, and when he walked down their car-steps for the last time
they came around him in their soiled working clothes and wished him
success. It was scarcely dawn then, the east was not yet white, but
Harley could see sincerity written all over their honest faces, and
Jimmy Grayson, who had listened to ten thousand words of the same kind,
some true and some false, was much moved.

"Sir," said the engineer, "at midnight, when the tale is told, I shall
be three hundred miles from here, but if you are not the man, then it is
a tale that I shall not care to hear."

"Friends," said Jimmy Grayson, gravely, "I am glad to have your good
wishes; the good wish is the father of the good act, and whatever tale
the coming night has to tell let us endure it without vaunting or
complaint."

As Mr. Grayson and his friends walked away in the growing dawn, the
railroad men raised a cheer. A little later Harley heard the puff, puff
of a locomotive followed by the grinding of wheels, and the train which
had been their home whirled away into that West where they had seen and
done so many strange things. Harley tried to follow it awhile with his
eyes, because this was like a parting with a human being, an old and
faithful friend; he felt, too, that the most vivid chapter yet in his
life was closing. Unconsciously he raised his hand and waved good-bye;
the others, noticing the act, understood and were silent.

All were under the influence of the morning, which was dawning slowly
and ill. There are fine days in November, yet we cannot depend upon it,
and now the month was in one of its bad humors. An overcast sun was
struggling through brown, ominous clouds, and its light was pale and
cold. A sharp wind whistled against the houses, yet shuttered and silent
in these early morning hours. The city was still asleep, and did not
know that the candidate had come home to hear his fate.

"Is this ugly sky an omen of ill?" asked Churchill, who, despite his
supercilious nature and the fact that he represented an opposition
newspaper, had come at last under the spell of Jimmy Grayson and was in
a way one of the band.

"If it is a gray sky for Mr. Grayson, it is a gray sky for the other
man, too, and I draw no inference from the circumstance," replied
Harley.

Nevertheless there was an oppression over the whole group--perhaps it
was because they were so near the end; and scarcely another word was
said as they walked along the silent street, each thinking of the day at
hand and the night to follow.

The candidate had offered all the hospitality of his house, but none
would accept, not wishing to intrude upon the first freshness of his
family reunion; they intended to register at the hotels and come to his
home later on for the news of the day. So they stopped at a street
corner, bade him a short farewell, and allowed him to go on alone.

But Harley could not resist the temptation of looking back. They had
arrived in the town two hours ahead of time, and he knew that the
candidate's family were not yet expecting him, but he could see the
house behind its shield of trees, now swept of foliage, and already
there were signs of life about it. He saw the candidate's wife run down
the steps and meet her husband, and then he looked away.

"This is one part of a Presidential campaign that we must not watch," he
said to the group about him, and without a word they walked to their
hotel, not glancing back again, although more than one in the group was
secretly envious of Harley, because of the welcome that they knew
awaited him a little later.

It was a good hotel that received them, and it was an abounding
breakfast that awaited them there. Harley sat near a window of the
dining-room, where he could look out upon the street and see the city
coming to life, a process that began but slowly, because it is always a
holiday when the people cast their votes for a President. Yet the city
awoke at last, men began to appear in the streets, a polling-booth
opposite the hotel was opened, and the Presidential election had begun.

The dining-room was now filling up, and all around Harley and his
friends rose the hum of interested talk. People were beginning to
speculate on the result, and to point out the strangers whom Jimmy
Grayson had brought among them.

Harley presently went into the lobby and found it crowded. All there
were touched by a keen, eager interest, and were balancing the chances.
The correspondent, alert, watchful, saw that the bulk of opinion was
against Jimmy Grayson. He saw, too, that while there was much local
pride in the candidate, it was tinctured by envy, and here and there by
malice. He realized to the full the truth of the old adage that a
prophet is never without honor save in his own country.

In that crowded lobby were men who had been conspicuous in local public
life when Jimmy Grayson was a mere boy, and they could not understand
how he had passed them; it was a chance, they said and believed--mere
luck, not merit. Others, in a tone of patronage, told stories of the
days when he was a threadbare and penniless young attorney, and they
named at least five other men of his age who had been more promising.
Then they depreciated his gifts, and in the same breath disclaimed all
intention of doing so, believing, too, that the disclaimer was genuine.
Yet Harley had no great blame for these men; he understood how bitter it
was for them to see the hero march by while they stood still, and it was
not the first instance of the kind that he had noticed.

But the crowd, on the whole, was loyal, and sincerely wished Jimmy
Grayson success. Yet they could not keep down gloomy forebodings. There
had been a defection of a minority within the party, led by Mr.
Goodnight, Mr. Crayon, and their associates, who had gone bodily into
the enemy's camp, a procedure which had made much noise in the American
world, and none could tell how much it would cost. The story of the
Philipsburg conference and Jimmy Grayson's great speech at Waterville
was known to everybody, and now, while the old politicians applauded his
courage and honesty, they began to fear its effects. Harley felt the
same thrill of apprehension, the momentary timidity, that even the
bravest experience when about to go into battle.

Those in the lobby soon knew Harley and his friends, and the nature of
their business, and many questions which they could not answer were
asked them. "You have been with Jimmy Grayson all along; will he win?"
and whether it was Harley or another he was forced to reply that he did
not know.

Harley now looked at his watch, something he had been eager to do for a
time that seemed interminable to him; it was yet early, so the watch
told him, but he looked out next at the heavens and the day was
unfolding. "I will go now; I refuse to wait any longer," he said to
himself, and he slipped away from the crowd.

He went rapidly down the street, and the Presidential campaign was not
in his mind at all; the only thought there was Sylvia! Sylvia! He stood
presently before the Grayson door and rang the bell. He remembered how
he had rung that same bell five months ago, never dreaming that his fate
would answer his ring. And now that same happy fate was answering it
again, because, when the door swung back, there was Sylvia, her hand
upon the bolt and the smile of young love that has found its own upon
her face.

"I knew it was you--I knew your ring," she said, unconscious of the fact
that one ring is like another.

"And you came to meet me," said Harley. "It is fitting; you opened it
first to me and you let my happiness in."

"And you brought mine with you when you came."

They were young and much in love.

Harley stepped inside, and she closed the door.

"I think I shall kiss you," he said.

"Uncle James and Aunt Anna are in the next room."

"I don't want to kiss either Uncle James or Aunt Anna."

"They might come."

"I defy them--yes, I bid defiance even to a Presidential nominee."

He put his arm around her waist and kissed her.

"You know that he hasn't had time to come."

"Then I give him another chance. I defy that terrible man again. Yes, I
defy him twice, thrice, and more times."

She struggled a little, and her cheeks flamed, but she thought how fine,
tall, and masterful he was, and how long it was since she had seen
him--it had not really been long.

"Sylvia," he said, "this is the next best day."

"The next best day?" wonderingly.

"The next best day to the one on which we shall be married. I think I
shall defy your terrible uncle again."

And she blushed redder than ever. As a matter of fact the "terrible
uncle," hearing a step in the hall, came to the door of his room and saw
this defiance issued to him not only once, but twice. Whereupon he
promptly went back into his own room, shut the door, and said to his
wife, "Anna, you must not go into the hall for at least ten minutes." He
remembered some meetings of his own, and Mrs. Grayson, although she had
not looked into the hall, understood perfectly.

Presently Sylvia, keeping herself well into the background, showed
Harley into the parlor, and he paid his respects to Mrs. Grayson, who
was sincerely glad to see him again. She looked upon him now as one of
the family. "King" Plummer came before long, and by-and-by he and Harley
went into the town to seek political news. "But I'll be back soon," he
said to Sylvia.

"And I'll be at the door when you come," she said to him.

They did not spend more than an hour in the town, and when they returned
the other correspondents were with them. The day had not improved, the
lowering clouds still stalked across the horizon, and the wind came cold
and sharp out of the northwest.

"I've had a telegram from New York saying that a great vote is being
polled," said Hobart, "and I've no doubt it's the case throughout the
East. Yet Jimmy Grayson is bound to sit at home helpless while all this
great battle is going on."

"He has done his work already," said Harley; "and now it is the rank and
file who count."

There was no sign of gloom at the Grayson home. The candidate,
refreshed, and with his half-dozen young children around him, was
unfeignedly happy, while Mrs. Grayson, hovering near her husband, who
had been practically lost to her for, lo! these many months, showed the
same joy and relief. She received the group with genuine warmth--her
husband's friends were hers--and bade them make the house their home
until the fight was over. Sylvia greeted them as old comrades, which, in
fact, they were. A room with tables for writing was already set apart
for their use.

The children were in holiday attire and thrilled by excitement; they
could not be suppressed. They were well aware what it was to be
President of the United States, and they failed to understand how any
one could vote against their father. "If he is beaten," thought Harley,
"it is not Mr. Grayson nor Mrs. Grayson who will feel the most
disappointment, but these little children."

Neither the candidate nor his wife alluded to the Presidential race,
seeming to enjoy this short respite after the long strain and before the
crucial trial yet to come. They talked of the small affairs of the home,
and she gave the news of their neighbors, as if they would make the most
of this brief hour; yet it was not wholly natural, there was in it a
note of suspense, and Harley knew that, despite the joy of reunion, the
shadow of the coming night was already over them. Jimmy Grayson must
feel that while he idled about his own home the ballots were falling in
the boxes off to the East and to the West by the hundred thousand, and
his own fate was being decided.

Harley and Sylvia, after the greetings and the casual talk, slipped away
from the others. There was a little glass-covered piazza at the back of
the house, and there they sat.

"Now you must tell me all that you have been doing since I left you."

"Nothing worth the telling. How could anything interesting happen after
you had gone? But I've been doing some fine thinking."

"Of what?"

"Of you!--always you! I've had to tear up the first page of many of my
despatches."

"Why?"

"Because I would address them to Sylvia instead of to the _Gazette_."

"John, I didn't know that you had imagination."

"It isn't imagination; I don't need imagination when I'm near you or
thinking of you, which is all the time."

"And you are going to marry a Western girl, after all?" irrelevantly.

"I wouldn't marry any other kind, and there is only one of them that I
would marry."

They did not speak again for a half-minute, but what they said was
relevant.

But the best of times must come to an end, even if it is merely to give
way to another good time, and Harley could not remain long at the
candidate's house, but strolled with Blaisdell and two or three others
through the city. He, too, had a sense of helplessness in regard to the
campaign. Like Jimmy Grayson, he was now condemned to a period of
inaction, and, strive as he might, he could not aid his friend a
particle. They went to the local headquarters of the party--two parlors
of the largest hotel in the city.

The rooms, which had been thrown together, were packed with men and
thick with tobacco-smoke, making the air heavy and hot. News there was
none, but clouds of rumor and gossip. The telegraph said bad weather,
cold and raw, with gusts of rain, prevailed all over the United States,
but that an enormous vote was being polled, nevertheless. In all the
booths in all the great cities long lines of people were waiting, and
reports of the same character were coming from the country districts.
But with the secret ballot there was nothing whatever to indicate which
way this vote was being cast, nor would there be until the polls were
closed and the official count was begun. It was said that in many of the
precincts of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia more than half the vote
was cast already, so eager were both sides for victory. These bulletins,
more or less vague as they came from time to time, were posted on a
blackboard, and their vagueness did not keep them from arousing the
keenest interest.

Dexter, the chairman of the state committee, a thin-faced man who talked
little, shook his head ominously.

"I don't like the enormous vote they are polling so early in the big
cities," he said. "It shows that the band of traitors led by Goodnight,
Crayon, and their kind are getting in their work."

"But we don't know it to be a fact," said Harley, resolved that the
cloud should have its silver lining. "For every man in that crowd eager
to cast a vote against Jimmy Grayson, there may be one eager to cast a
vote for him."

Dexter shook his head again, and with increased gloom. Harley's argument
might appeal to his hopes, but not to his judgment.

"I'm sorry that Jimmy Grayson made his attack upon that committee," he
said. "It spoke well for his courage and honesty, but it was bad
politics."

"I think that courage and honesty are good politics," said Harley, and
he left Dexter to his pessimistic thoughts.

The rooms were growing too close, and there was an absence of definite
news, so he went again into the open air. The character of the day was
unchanged; it was still dark with ominous clouds trooping across the
sky, and the wind had grown more bitter.

Harley now found himself under the strain of an extreme anxiety. He did
not realize until this day how deeply his own feelings were interwoven
with the fate of the campaign, and how bleak the night would look to him
and Sylvia if Mr. Grayson were beaten--and he knew that the odds were
against him; despite himself, he, a man of calm mind and strong will,
was a prey to nerves. He began to shrink at the thought of the count of
the votes, and to fear the first real bulletins.

He walked about the streets awhile to steady himself, and then looked at
his watch. It was past noon there, but later in the East and earlier in
the West; yet the bulk of the ballots were cast already. In three or
four hours more the tabulated vote in the states farthest east would
begin to arrive, and they would listen to the opening chapter of the
story, a story which he feared to hear.

Absorbed in his thoughts, he had strolled unconsciously towards the
country. There, at a turn of the road, he met two people in a light
wagon, and they were the candidate and his wife Mrs. Grayson driving.
Harley looked up in surprise at their calm, cheerful faces. How could
they assume such an air with the combat at its height?

"I'm sorry you and Sylvia were not with us," said Mr. Grayson; "Mrs.
Grayson has been taking me to see the changes in the country since I
went campaigning. There are a half-dozen new residences in the suburb
out yonder, and they've built a new foot-bridge, too, over the river.
Oh, our city is looking up!"

They drove on cheerfully, and Harley went back to town. All the
arrangements for the night were made; the two great telegraph companies
would handle their despatches in equal proportion, and would send
bulletins of the count, as fast as they came, to the candidate.
Headquarters would do the same, and there would be no lack of news.

Harley rejoined his comrades at the hotel, but stayed with them only a
little while, because he, of course, was to dine with Sylvia and the
Graysons. All the others had been invited, but they did not wish to
overwhelm the candidate on this day of all days, and none except "King"
Plummer would go.

"Lucky fellow," said Hobart, as Harley walked away.

"But not luckier than he deserves," said Blaisdell.

After dinner Hobart looked at his watch, then shut it, and with a quick
motion thrust it into his pocket.

"The polls have closed in three-fourths of the states," he said, "and
probably somebody is elected. I wonder who it is?"

Nobody replied, but on their way to Jimmy Grayson's house they passed
through the party headquarters. The rooms were so crowded that they
could scarcely move, but they managed to approach the blackboard, and
they saw written upon it:

"Goodnight, Crayon, and others claim decisive defeat of Grayson. Assert
that he will not get one-third the vote of the electoral college."

"What nonsense!" exclaimed Hobart, who felt a thrill of anger. "Why,
they have not begun the count of the vote anywhere!"

They left the rooms and went into the street. The November twilight was
coming earlier than ever under the shadow of the thickening clouds, and
already lights were beginning to shine from many windows. Uniformed
messenger-boys were passing.

"The wires will soon be talking," said Churchill.

The candidate's house was not inferior to any in the number of its
lights. In the cold, dark twilight it reared a cheerful front, and the
candidate himself, when he received them, was steady and calm.

"Some of our friends are here already," he said, and he had them shown
into the large room, where the tables for their use had been placed.

It was brilliantly illuminated, and a dozen men were sitting about
speculating on the events of the day and hoping for a happy result.
Among them was old Senator Curtis, who had come all the way from
Wyoming, and he was loudly declaring that if Mr. Grayson were not
elected he would never take any interest in another Presidential
election. The others made no comment on his declaration.

Harley came in late. At dinner with the Graysons he had been thinking,
when he looked at Sylvia's lovely face across the table, that it would
always be just across the table from him now, and the thought was such a
happy one that it clung to him.

The correspondents disposed themselves about the room, and placed pencil
and paper on the tables; yet there would be nothing for them to write
for a long time. They were only to tell the story of how the candidate
took it, after the story itself was told. Their business was with either
a pæan or a dirge.

Harley looked around at the group, all of whom he knew.

"Have you fellows thought that this is our last meeting?" he asked.

There was a sudden silence in the room. All seemed to feel the solemnity
of the moment. Out in the street some happy men, who had helped to empty
the bowl, were singing a campaign song, and its sound came faintly to
the group.

"A wager to you boys that none of you can name the state from which the
first completed return will come. What odds will you give?" said "King"
Plummer, who was resolutely seeking to be cheerful.

"We won't take your wager because we'd win, sure," said Hobart. "It will
be a precinct in New York City, up-town. They get through quick there;
they never fail to be first."

"Whatever the vote there is, I am going to look upon it as an omen,"
said Mr. Heathcote. "If our majority is reduced it will mean a bad
start, good ending; if our majority is increased, it will mean that a
good beginning is half the battle."

Dexter, the chairman of the state campaign committee, entered, his thin
face still shadowed by gloomy thoughts.

"We've had a few bulletins at headquarters, but nothing definite," he
said. "All the reports so far are from the East, of course, owing to the
difference in time, but I'd like mighty well to know what they are doing
out there on the Slope and in the Rockies."

"We'll know in good time, Charlie; just you wait," said Jimmy Grayson,
who was the calmest man in the room.

"I've done enough waiting already to last me the rest of my life," said
Dexter, moodily.

The door was opened softly, and four or five pairs of young eyes peeped
shyly into the room. The candidate, with assurances that there was
nothing to be told, gently pushed the youthful figures away and closed
the door again.

"I would put them to bed," he said, apologetically, "but they can't
sleep, and it is not any use for them to try; so they are supposed to be
shepherded in another part of the house by a nurse, but they seem to
break the bounds now and then."

"I claim the privilege of carrying them the good news when we get it, if
they are still awake," said Harley.

A messenger-boy entered with a despatch, but it contained no
information, merely an assurance from a devoted New England adherent
that he believed Jimmy Grayson was elected, as he felt it in his bones.

"Why does a man waste time and money in telegraphing us a thing like
that?" said Dexter. "It isn't worth anything."

But Harley was not so sure. He believed with Jimmy Grayson that good
wishes had more than a sentimental value. He went to the window and
gazed into the street. The number of people singing campaign songs as
they waited for the news was increasing, and the echoes of much laughter
and talk floated towards the house. Farther down the street they were
throwing flash-lights on white canvas in front of a great crowd, but so
far the bulletins were only humorous quotations or patent-medicine
advertisements, each to be saluted at the beginning with a cheer and at
the end with a groan. He turned back to the table just as another boy
bearing a despatch entered the room.

Mr. Dexter had constituted himself the clerk of the evening--that is, he
was to sit at the centre-table and read the despatches as they came. He
took the yellow envelope from the boy, tore it open, and paused a
moment. Then all knew by the change upon his face that the first news
had come. Dexter turned to Hobart.

"You were right," he said, "it is from New York City, up-town. The
Thirty-first Assembly District in the City of New York gives a majority
of 824 for Grayson. This is official."

At another table sat a man with a book containing the complete vote of
all the election districts in every state of the Union at the preceding
Presidential election. All looked inquiringly at him, and he instantly
made the comparison.

"We carried the Thirty-first Assembly District of the City of New York
by 1077 four years ago," he said. "Our majority suffers a net loss of
253."

"Did I not tell you?" exclaimed Heathcote. "A bad start makes a good
ending."

"It's a happy sign," said Sylvia, with her usual resolute hopefulness.

But, despite themselves, a gloom settled upon all; the first report from
the battle was ominous--such a loss continued would throw the election
heavily in favor of the other man--and after her remark they were
silent.

Mrs. Grayson looked into the room, but they told her there was nothing,
and, whether she believed them or not, she closed the door again without
further question.

"Here comes another boy," said Hobart, who was at the window, watching
the crowd before the transparency.

"Now this is good news, sure," said "King" Plummer.

It was from another assembly district in New York City, and the party
majority was cut down again, but this time the reduction was only 62
votes.

"That's better," said Mr. Heathcote.

"It will have to be a great deal better to elect our man," whispered
Hobart to Harley.

Harley went to the window again, and looked down the street towards the
transparency, where the opposition voters were cheering wildly at the
first news so favorable to their side. Despite himself, Harley felt an
unreasoning anger towards them. "You cheer about nothing," he said to
himself. "This is only a few thousand votes among millions." Then he was
ashamed of his feeling, and left the window.

"The Hub speaks!" exclaimed Mr. Dexter, as he tore open another
envelope. Then he announced a vote from one of the wards of Boston.

"And it speaks right," said the man with the book. "Mr. Grayson cuts
down the majority polled against us there four years ago by 433 votes."

A little cheer was raised in the room, and down the street at the
transparency there was a cheer, too, but the voices were not the same as
those that cheered a few moments ago.

"Good old Boston," said Hobart, "and we made that gain right where the
enemy thought he was strongest!"

The first gain of the evening had a hopeful effect upon all, and they
spoke cheerfully.

But a vote from Providence, a minute later went the other way, and it
was followed by one of a similar nature from New Haven. The gloom
returned. Their minds fluctuated with the bulletins.

"It was too good to last," whispered Hobart, downcast.

The children again appeared at the door and wanted to know if their
father was elected. Sylvia took upon herself the task of assuring them
that he was not yet elected, but he certainly would be before many
hours. Then they went away sanguine and satisfied, and trying to keep
sleepy eyelids from closing. In the street the noise was increasing as
the crowd received facts, and the cheers were loud and various. But
those of the enemy predominated, and Harley thrilled more than once with
silent anger. A half-dozen men passed the house singing a song in
derision of Jimmy Grayson; some of the words came to them through the
window, and Sylvia flushed, but Mr. Grayson himself showed no sign that
he understood.

The telegrams now were arriving fast; there were two streams of boys,
one coming in at the door and the other going out, and Mr. Dexter, at
the table, settled to his work. For a while the chief sounds in the room
were the tearing of paper, the rustling of unfolded despatches, and the
dry voice of the chairman announcing results. These votes were all from
Eastern cities, where the polls closed early and the ballots could be
counted quickly. Over the West and the Far West darkness still brooded,
and the country districts everywhere were silent.

Yet Harley knew that throughout the United States the utmost activity
prevailed. To him the night was wonderful; in a day of perfect peace
nearly twenty million votes had been cast, and the most powerful ruler
in the world had been made by the free choice of the nation, just as
four years or eight years hence another ruler would be made in his place
by the same free choice, the old giving way to the new. Now to-night
they were trying to find out who this ruler was, and no one yet could
tell.

But the tale would be told in a few hours. Harley knew that over an area
of three million square miles, as large as the ancient civilized world,
men were at work counting, down to the last remote mountain hamlet, and
putting the result on the wires as they counted it. And ninety million
people waited, ready to abide by the result, whether it was their man or
the other. To him there was something extraordinary in this organized,
this peaceful but tremendous activity. To-night all the efforts of the
world's most energetic nation were bent upon a single point. In each
state the wires talked from every town and village to a common centre,
and each state in turn, through its metropolis, talked to the common
centre of them all, and the general result of all they said would be
known to everybody before morning. It seemed marvellous to him, although
he understood it perfectly, that a few hours after the boxes were opened
the votes should be counted and accredited to the proper man.

He resumed his seat at a table, although there was yet but little for
him to write, and listened to the dry, monotonous voice of Dexter as he
called the vote. The results were still of a variable nature, gains here
and losses there, but on the whole the losses were the larger, and the
atmosphere of the room grew more discouraging. The great state of New
York, upon which they had relied, was showing every sign that it would
not justify their faith. The returns from the city of New York, from
Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, were all bad, and the most resolute hopes
could not make them otherwise.

"'As goes New York, so goes the Union,'" whispered Hobart, quoting an
old proverb.

"Maybe that rule will be broken at last," replied Harley, hopefully.

But even Sylvia looked gloomy. There was one thought, as these returns
came, in the minds of them all. It was that the members of the
Philipsburg Committee had made good their threat; their defection had
drawn from Grayson thousands of votes in a pivotal state, and if he had
ever had a chance of election this took it from him. Yet no one uttered
a word of reproach for Jimmy Grayson, although Harley knew that those
who called themselves practical politicians were silently upbraiding
him. He feared that they might consider their early warnings justified,
and he resented it.

A discordant note, too, was sounded by the South; Alabama, a state that
they considered sure, although by a small majority, would go for the
other man if the returns continued of the same tone. The only ray of
light came from New England, whence it had not been expected. The large
cities there were showing slight increases for Jimmy Grayson.

"Who would have thought it?" said Mr. Heathcote.

But it seemed too small to have any effect, and they turned their minds
to other parts of the country that seemed to be more promising ground.
The voice of Mr. Dexter, growing hoarse from incessant use and wholly
without expression, read a bulletin from New York:

"Great crowd in front of the residence of the Honorable Mr. Goodnight,
on upper Fifth Avenue, and he is speaking to them from the steps. Says
the election of their man is assured. Derides Mr. Grayson; says no man
can betray predominant interests and succeed. Crowd hooting the name of
Grayson."

"The traitor!" exclaimed Hobart.

But Jimmy Grayson said nothing. Harley watched him closely, and he knew
now that the candidate's expressionless face was but a mask--it was only
human that he should feel deep emotion. Harley saw his lips quiver
faintly now and then, and once or twice his eyes flashed. Down the
street, in front of the transparency, there was a tremendous noise, the
people had divided according to their predilections and were singing
rival campaign songs, but there was no disorder.

Waiters came in bearing refreshments, and during a lull in the bulletins
they ate and drank. Mrs. Grayson also joined them for a little while.
She said nothing about the news, and Harley inferred from her silence
on the point that she knew it to be discouraging. But he saw her give
her husband a glance of pride and devotion that said as plain as print,
"Even if you are beaten, you are the man who should have been elected."
She reported that the younger of the children had dropped off to sleep,
but the others were still eager.

Again some men passing the house raised a cry in derision of Jimmy
Grayson, and Mrs. Grayson's face flushed. The others did not know what
to do; they could not go out and rebuke the deriders, as that would only
make a bad matter worse, but the men soon passed on. Mrs. Grayson stayed
only a little while in the room, retiring on the plea of domestic
duties. Jimmy Grayson, too, went out to see his children, he said, but
Harley thought that man and wife wished to talk over the prospect.

The news, after the lull, began to come faster than ever. The West spoke
at last, and its first words came through Denver and Salt Lake, but its
voice was non-committal. There was nothing in it to indicate how
Colorado and Utah, both doubtful states, would go. But presently, when
Mr. Dexter broke an envelope and opened a bulletin, he laughed.

"Boys," he said, "here's faith for you: the precinct of Waterville, in
Wyoming casts every one of her votes for Grayson."

They cheered. Certainly the people who had heard Mr. Grayson's decisive
speech were loyal to him, and they should have honor despite their
fewness. But immediately behind it came a bulletin that gave them the
heaviest blow they had yet received.

"Complete returns from more than three-fourths of the precincts in the
state," read Mr. Dexter, "show beyond doubt that New Jersey has gone at
least 20,000 against Grayson."

"I never did think much of New Jersey, anyhow," said Hobart, sourly.

They laughed, but there was no mirth in the laugh. Tears rose in
Sylvia's eyes. Ten minutes later, Alabama had wheeled into line with New
Jersey it was certainly against Grayson and the news from New York was
growing worse. Harley, in his heart, knew that there was no hope of the
state, although he tried to draw encouragement from scattered votes here
and there. From the Middle West the news was mixed, but its general
tenor was not favorable. But New England was still behaving well.

"Our vote in Massachusetts surprises me," said Mr. Heathcote; "we shall
more than cut their majority in half. We shall carry Boston and
Worcester, and we are even making gains in the country districts."

"Almost complete returns from Michigan and Wisconsin show that the
former has gone for Grayson by a substantial majority, and the latter
against him by a majority about the same," read Mr. Dexter.

"Which shows that Michigan is much the finer state of the two," said
Hobart.

"One state at least is secure," said Harley.

They heard a tremendous cheer down the street in front of the
transparency, and Harley went to the window. His heart fell when he saw
that the cheer, was continued, came from the opposition crowd. It was
announced definitely on the cloth that New York had gone against
Grayson; the returns permitted no doubt of it, and there was reason why
the enemy should rejoice. Presently their own bulletins confirmed the
bad news, and announced that off in another city the bands were
serenading the other man.

Blow followed blow. Connecticut, despite gains made there, went against
Grayson by a majority, small it is true, but decisive, and Illinois and
Indiana speedily followed her bad lead. To Harley all seemed over, and
he could not take it with resignation. Jimmy Grayson was the better man
on the better platform, and he should have been elected. It was a crime
to reject him. An angry mist came over his eyes, and he walked into the
hall that no one should see it. But Mr. and Mrs. Grayson stood at the
end of the hall, evidently having just come from the children's room,
and before he could turn away he heard her say:

"We have lost, but you are still the man of the nation to me."

As he was returning he met Sylvia, and now the tears in her eyes were
plainly visible.

"John, it can't be true! He isn't beaten, is he?"

"No, it is not true, Sylvia," he said, telling what he did not believe.
"We still have a chance."

They returned at once to the room, and Mr. Grayson came in a minute
later, his face wearing the same marble mask. When two or three forced
themselves to speak encouraging words, he smiled and said there was yet
hope. But Harley had none, and he felt sure that Jimmy Grayson, too, was
without it.

"Good news from Iowa!" suddenly cried Mr. Dexter. "A despatch from Des
Moines reports heavy gains for Grayson throughout the south and west of
the state."

Here was a fresh breath of life, and for a moment they felt glad, but
North Dakota, a state for which they had hoped but scarcely expected,
soon reported against them. The good news could not last.

"Anything more from Massachusetts?" asked Mr. Heathcote.

Mr. Dexter was opening a despatch and he gave a gasp when he looked at
it.

"Massachusetts in doubt!" he exclaimed. "Grayson makes heavy gains in
the country districts as well as in the cities. Our National Committee
is claiming Massachusetts!"

There was a burst of cheering in the room. They had never even hoped for
Massachusetts. From first to last it was conceded to the enemy.

"Oh, if Massachusetts only had as many votes as New York!" groaned
Hobart. "This is so good it can't be true!"

But Sylvia smiled through her tears.

Soon there was another cheer. Fresh despatches from Massachusetts
confirmed the earlier news and made it yet better; then the state was in
doubt, now it inclined to Jimmy Grayson; the gains came in, steady and
large.

"We've got it by at least 20,000," exclaimed Mr. Dexter, exultantly.
"It's a regular upset. Who'd have thought it?"

It was true. It was known in a quarter of an hour that Massachusetts had
given a majority of 25,000 for Grayson, and behind their big sister came
New Hampshire and Rhode Island, with small but sure majorities. Jimmy
Grayson had carried three New England states, when all of them had been
conceded to the enemy, one of the most surprising changes ever known in
a Presidential election.

There were repeated cheers in the room. Even Jimmy Grayson was compelled
to smile in satisfaction. But Harley did not have hope. This, in his
opinion, was merely a pleasant incident--it could not have much effect
on the result; Massachusetts had a large vote, but those of New
Hampshire and Rhode Island were small, and there against them stood the
gigantic state of New York, towering like a mountain. New York had the
biggest vote of all, and he did not see how it could be overcome.

Harley now and then wrote a paragraph of his despatch to his newspaper,
telling of the scene at the candidate's house and how he and his friends
looked and talked, but it did not take all his time. By-and-by he went
out on the steps to see the crowd in the streets and to get the fresh
air. The night was cold and raw, but its touch was soothing. His
thoughts were with Jimmy Grayson. He yet had little hope, and he was
thinking of all those gigantic labors wasted; it was a case where a man
must win or lose every thing. At the transparency the rival crowds were
cheering or groaning according to the news that came.

Harley turned back and met Mrs. Grayson.

"Tell me, Mr. Harley," she said, and her eyes were eager, "just how the
election stands so far. I know that you will tell me the truth; is there
really as much hope as the others seem to feel?"

Harley looked into her clear, brave eyes, and he replied honestly:

"I think there is some hope, Mrs. Grayson, but not much. Too many big
states have gone against us, and we cannot offset big states with little
ones. New York, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Alabama are all in the
hostile line."

"Thank you for the truth," she said. "I can stand it, and so can Mr.
Grayson."

But Harley was not sure. He felt at times that this ordeal was too
great for any man or woman. When he returned to the room they were
announcing news from the Pacific coast.

"We have Washington," said Mr. Dexter; "and Oregon is against us, but
California is in doubt."

"But we mean to have California," said Sylvia, and the others smiled.

Good reports came from the Rocky Mountain region, all the states there
except Utah going for Grayson. It had been thought once by both sides
that these doubtful states would decide the election, but with the great
upset in the East and Middle West affairs took on another complexion,
and they must make new calculations.

"Has anything been heard from Pennsylvania?" asked Mr. Heathcote.

Several laughed, and the laugh was significant.

"Nothing at all," replied Mr. Dexter, and there was a suggestion of
contempt in his tone; "but why should we want to hear anything? It's
sure for the enemy by at least 100,000, and he may get 200,000.
Pennsylvania is one state from which I don't want to hear anything at
all."

They laughed again, but, as nothing yet came from Pennsylvania, Harley's
curiosity about it began to rise. "Strange that we do not hear
anything," he said; but Mr. Dexter laughed, and promised to read in an
extra loud tone the first Pennsylvania bulletin they should get.

It was nearly midnight now and the election was still undecided;
midnight came and the situation was yet unchanged, but a full half-hour
later Mr. Dexter cleared his throat and said, in a high voice:

"Listen, Mr. Harley! Here's your first Pennsylvania bulletin!"

He was sarcastic both in voice and look.

"Complete reports from Pittsburg, Alleghany, and their surrounding
districts show remarkable change. This district gives 20,000 majority
for Grayson."

Then Mr. Dexter, holding the telegram in his hand, sat open-mouthed,
barely realizing what he had read. But Harley sprang up with exultant
cry. For once he lost his self-control.

"We are not beaten yet!" he cried.

"We are not beaten yet!" echoed Sylvia.

They waited feverishly for more Pennsylvania news, and presently it came
in a despatch from Philadelphia. Grayson had carried that great city by
a small majority, and the enemy was frightened about the state. A third
despatch from Harrisburg, the state capital, confirmed the news; the
state of Pennsylvania, coming next to New York in the size of its vote,
was in doubt. It was the most astonishing fact of the election, but
every return showed that Grayson had developed marvellous strength
there. The National Committee issued a bulletin claiming it, but the
other side claimed it, too; it would be at least two hours yet before
the claim could be decided, and they must suffer in suspense.

Harley and Hobart walked together into the street. Harley's forehead was
damp.

"This is getting on my nerves," he said.

"If Pennsylvania goes for Grayson, what then?" asked Hobart.

"It means that Grayson is elected; an hour ago I could not have dreamed
of such a thing."

Down the street the crowd was roaring and cheering, and the roars and
cheers were about equally divided between the two parties.

When they returned to the room the volunteer secretary was just
announcing that Iowa was safely in the Grayson column. It was conceded
to him by 15,000. Further news from Pennsylvania was indecisive, but it
continued good.

Mrs. Grayson was in the room, and Harley looked at her and her husband.
The faces of both had become grave, and Harley knew why. The
Presidential chair was not wholly out of sight, after all, and the
chance was sufficient to bring upon them both a sense of mighty
responsibilities. There was a great shout down the street.

"They have posted a bulletin," said Hobart, who was at the window. "It
says that California has gone for Grayson by 10,000, and that all
indications point to his carrying Ohio."

"I was right, and we do have California," said Sylvia.

Again Jimmy Grayson and his wife exchanged that grave look. It seemed
that each was frightened a little. But Mr. Dexter did not notice it. He
was reading a telegram from New York saying that consternation over the
news from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Iowa prevailed in the hostile
ranks; they no longer claimed the election, they merely asserted that it
was in doubt; it was admitted that while Goodnight, Crayon, and their
friends had taken many votes from Jimmy Grayson, he was making up the
difference, and perhaps more, elsewhere.

"If Jimmy Grayson were to come so near and yet miss, it would be more
than mortal flesh could bear," whispered Hobart.

"It would have to be borne," replied Harley.

It was far past one o'clock in the morning. The room was hot and close.
The floor was littered with envelopes and telegrams. The two lines of
telegraph-boys had trodden two trails in the carpet, and Harley began
to feel the long strain. All the men had red eyes and black streaks
under them. Yet they were as keen as ever to hear the last detail. It
seemed to every one that the fate of Jimmy Grayson was now hanging in
the balance; a feather would tip it this way or that, and the room sank
into an unusual silence, the silence of painful suspense.

There was a long wait and then came a telegram rather thicker than the
others. Somehow all of them felt that this told the story, and the
fingers of Mr. Dexter trembled as he tore open the envelope. He paused,
holding it a moment between his fingers, and then, in a quivering voice,
he read:

"Complete returns from the state of Pennsylvania give it to Grayson by
18,000, and he is chosen President of the United States by a majority of
36 in the electoral college. Our enemies concede their defeat. We send
our heartiest congratulations to Mr. Grayson on his victory, and on the
great campaign he made. Everybody here recognizes that it was Grayson
who won for Grayson."

It was signed with the name of the chairman of the National Committee,
and with a deep "Ah!" the reader let it fall upon the table, where it
lay. Then there was a half-minute of intense silence in the room. That
for which they had long fought and for which they had scarcely hoped had
come at the eleventh hour. Mr. Grayson was the President-elect. They
could not speak; they were awed.

It was Mrs. Grayson who first broke the silence. She ran to her husband,
threw her arms around him, and exclaimed:

"Oh, Jimmy! It is almost too much for us to undertake!"

But Jimmy Grayson was not afraid. He stood up and Harley saw a glow of
deep emotion come over his face.

"As God is my judge," he said, "I shall try with my utmost strength to
fulfil the duties of this high place."

Sylvia, not knowing what else to do, put her hand in Harley's; and he
held it.

There was a tremendous burst of cheering in front of the house, and a
band began to play. Above the music swelled a continuous roar for the
President-elect, "Grayson!" "Grayson!" "Grayson!" They were all for him
now. There was no need for Harley to wake up the children; the thunders
of applause already brought them, triumphing in a result of which they
had never felt any doubt.

"You will have to speak to the people, Mr. Grayson," said Mr. Dexter.
"It is their right. You are no longer a free man; you belong to the
nation now."

The President-elect went out on the veranda and spoke to them with a
certain solemnity and majesty while they listened in respectful silence.
Meanwhile telegrams of congratulation were pouring into the house from
all parts of the world, and out in the distant mountains men came down
to the camps and spoke to each other about the President-to-be.


Harley's last despatch was sent, the crowd was gone, the other
correspondents were on their way to the hotel, and the people were
turning out the lights, but he yet lingered at the Grayson home. It was
Jimmy Grayson who asked him to wait a moment, and they stood alone on
the dark veranda.

"Harley," said Jimmy Grayson, and there was much feeling in his voice,
"you have been the best friend I ever had, and I am so selfish that I
do not want to lose you. Stay with me; be my secretary. In these later
days the office of the President's secretary has grown to be a big one.
I think that you are the best man in the world for it, and if I am
re-elected you shall go into the Cabinet. You will be old enough then.
Remember, Harley, that it is I who ask a favor now, and it is for you to
grant it."

The hands of the two strong men met in a strong grasp.

"I accept the offer," said Harley.

The President-elect turned away, faded into the darkness of his own
house, and another figure took his place. A small, warm hand slipped
into Harley's, and he held it fast.

"What was he saying to you?" asked Sylvia.

"He was asking me to be his secretary."

"And your reply?"

"I hesitated and asked for a bribe."

"Oh, John!"

"I said that if, one month from to-day and with the assistance of a
minister, he would give you to me forever, I would take the place."

"What did he say then?"

"He said the price was high, but I could have it. And we shall all be
together again for four years more, and perhaps eight."

Her eyes, very close to his, were shining through a mist of happy tears,
and, standing there at the doorstep, he kissed her in the darkness.


THE END





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