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Title: A Spoil of Office: A Story of the Modern West
Author: Garland, Hamlin
Language: English
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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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Hamlin Garland's Books.

Uniform edition.
Each, 12mo, cloth, $1.25.

Wayside Courtships.
Jason Edwards.
A Spoil of Office.
A Member of the Third House.

A Little Norsk.    16mo.    50 cents.

D. APPLETON & COMPANY, NEW YORK.



A SPOIL OF OFFICE

A STORY OF THE MODERN WEST

BY HAMLIN GARLAND

AUTHOR OF JASON EDWARDS,
A MEMBER OF THE THIRD HOUSE,
A LITTLE NORSK, ETC.


NEW AND REVISED EDITION

NEW YORK
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
M DCCC XCVII

Copyright, 1897, by
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

Copyright, 1892, by Hamlin Garland



TO

WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS,

THE FOREMOST HISTORIAN OF OUR COMMON LIVES
AND THE MOST VITAL FIGURE IN OUR LITERATURE,
I DEDICATE THIS STUDY
OF THE GREAT MIDDLE WEST,
ITS CONTEMPORARY LIFE AND LANDSCAPE.



PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION.


In this story of "A Spoil of Office" it was my intention to treat life
as it would present itself to a young Western man of humble condition,
who should set himself to the task of winning a political success. I
have therefore maintained with considerable care the point of view of
Bradley Talcott. Such a design loses in variety but gains, it seems to
me, in unity and continuity of movement.

It has one marked disadvantage, however: it is apt to be misunderstood
by the reader who may take the characters, events, and theories, judged
by the central figure, to be the author's estimate. To illustrate: Ida
Wilbur is presented as she appeared to Bradley Talcott, and not as the
reader would see her, and not as the author would have delineated her
had she been taken as the central figure of the book. This explanatory
word seemed needed; being given, I leave its working out to the reader.

The three great movements of the American farmer, herein used as
background--the Grange, the Alliance, and the People's party--seem to
me to be as legitimate subjects for fiction as any war or crusade. They
came in impulses with mightiest enthusiasms, they died out like waves
upon the beach; but the power which originated them did not die; it
will return in different forms again and again, so long as the love of
liberty and the hatred of injustice live in the hearts of men and
women.

What the next movement will be I do not know; but when it comes,
Bradley Talcott and Ida his wife will be foremost among its leaders.

HAMLIN GARLAND.

CHICAGO, _May, 1897._



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER                                                          PAGE

     I.  THE GRANGE PICNIC                                          1
    II.  THE DINNER UNDER THE OAKS                                 17
   III.  BRADLEY RESOLVES TO GO TO SCHOOL                          26
    IV.  BRADLEY'S TRIALS AT SCHOOL                                38
     V.  BRADLEY RISES TO ADDRESS THE CARTHAGINIANS                58
    VI.  BRADLEY ATTENDS A CONVENTION                              78
   VII.  THE FARMERS OUST THE RING                                 87
  VIII.  BRADLEY OFFENDS NETTIE'S FATHER                           95
    IX.  BRADLEY MEETS MRS. BROWN                                 102
     X.  A COUNTRY POLLING PLACE                                  111
    XI.  STUDYING WITH THE JUDGE                                  122
   XII.  THE JUDGE ADVISES BRADLEY                                129
  XIII.  BRADLEY SEES IDA AGAIN                                   136
   XIV.  BRADLEY CHANGES HIS POLITICAL VIEWS                      158
    XV.  HOME AGAIN WITH THE JUDGE                                169
   XVI.  NOMINATION                                               180
  XVII.  ELECTION                                                 195
 XVIII.  "DON'T BLOW OUT THE GAS"                                 203
   XIX.  CARGILL TAKES BRADLEY IN HAND                            218
    XX.  AT THE STATE HOUSE                                       232
   XXI.  BRADLEY AND CARGILL CALL ON IDA                          242
  XXII.  THE JUDGE PLANS A NEW CAMPAIGN                           253
 XXIII.  ON TO WASHINGTON                                         265
  XXIV.  RADBOURN SHOWS BRADLEY ABOUT THE CAPITAL                 272
   XXV.  IDA COMES INTO HIS LIFE AGAIN                            289
  XXVI.  CONGRESSIONAL LIFE                                       296
 XXVII.  BRADLEY'S LONG-CHERISHED HOPE VANISHES                   306
XXVIII.  SPRING CONVENTIONS                                       314
  XXIX.  BRADLEY DISCOURAGED                                      327
   XXX.  THE GREAT ROUND UP                                       334
  XXXI.  IDA SHOWS BRADLEY THE WAY OUT                            350
 XXXII.  CONCLUSION.                                              367



A SPOIL OF OFFICE.



I.

THE GRANGE PICNIC.


Early in the cool hush of a June morning in the seventies, a curious
vehicle left Farmer Councill's door, loaded with a merry group of young
people. It was a huge omnibus, constructed out of a heavy farm wagon
and a hay rack, and was drawn by six horses. The driver was Councill's
hired man, Bradley Talcott. Councill himself held between his vast
knees the staff of a mighty flag in which they all took immense pride.
The girls of the grange had made it for the day.

Laughter and scraps of song and rude witticisms made the huge wagon a
bouquet of smiling faces. Everybody laughed, except Bradley, who sat
with intent eyes and steady lips, his sinewy brown hand holding the
excited horses in place. This intentness and self-mastery lent a sort
of majesty to his rough-hewn face.

"Let 'em out a little, Brad," said Councill. "We're a little late."

Behind them came teams, before them were teams, along every lane of the
beautiful upland prairie, teams were rolling rapidly, all toward the
south. The day was perfect summer; it made the heart of reticent
Bradley Talcott ache with the beauty of it every time his thoughts went
up to the blue sky. The larks, and bobolinks, and red-wings made every
meadow riotous with song, and the ever-alert king-birds and flickers
flew along from post to post as if to have a part in the celebration.

On every side stretched fields of wheat, green as emerald and soft as
velvet. Some of it was high enough already to ripple in the soft winds.
The corn fields showed their yellow-green rows of timid shoots, and
cattle on the pastures luxuriated in the fullness of the June grass;
the whole land was at its fairest and liberalest, and it seemed
peculiarly fitting that the farmers should go on a picnic this day of
all days.

At the four corners below stood scores of other wagons, loaded to the
rim with men, women and children. Up and down the line rode Milton
Jennings, the marshal of the day, exalted by the baton he held and the
gay red sash looped across his shoulders. Everywhere rose merry shouts,
and far away at the head of the procession the Burr Oak band was
playing. All waited for the flag whose beautiful folds flamed afar in
the bright sunlight.

Every member of the grange wore its quaint regalia, apron, sash, and
pouch of white, orange, buff and red. Each grange was headed by
banners, worked in silk by the patient fingers of the women. Counting
the banners there were three Granges present--Liberty Grange, Meadow
Grange, and Burr Oak Grange at the lead with the band. The marshal of
the leading grange came charging back along the line, riding
magnificently, his fiery little horse a-foam.

"Are we all ready?" he shouted like a field officer.

"Yaas!"

"All ready, Tom?"

"Ready when you are," came the fusillade of replies.

He consulted a moment with Milton, the two horses prancing with
unwonted excitement that transformed them into fiery chargers of
romance, in the eyes of the boys and girls, just as the sash and baton
transfigured Milton into something martial.

"All ready there!" shouted the marshals with grandiloquent gestures of
their be-ribboned rods, the band blared out again and the teams began
to move toward the west. The men stood up to look ahead, while the boys
in the back end of the wagons craned perilously over the edge of the
box to see how long the line was. It seemed enormous to them, and their
admiration of the marshals broke forth in shrill cries of primitive
wildness.

Many of the young fellows had hired at ruinous expense the carriages in
which they sat with their girls, wearing a quiet air of aristocratic
reserve which did not allow them to shout sarcasms at Milton, when his
horse broke into a trot and jounced him up and down till his hat flew
off. But mainly the young people were in huge bowered lumber wagons in
wildly hilarious groups. The girls in their simple white dresses tied
with blue ribbon at the waist, and the boys in their thick woolen suits
which did all-round duty for best wear.

As they moved off across the prairie toward the dim blue belt of timber
which marked the banks of Rock River, other processions joined them
with banner, and bands, and choirs, all making a peaceful and
significant parade, an army of reapers of grain, not reapers of men.
Some came singing "John Brown," or "Hail, Columbia." Everywhere was a
voiced excitement which told how tremendous the occasion seemed. In
every wagon hid in cool deeps of fresh-cut grass, were unimaginable
quantities of good things which the boys never for a moment forgot even
in their great excitement.

On the procession moved, with gay flags and flashing banners. The dust
rolled up, the cattle stared across the fences, the colts ran snorting
away, tails waving like flags, and unlucky toilers in the fields
stopped to wave their hats and gaze wistfully till the caravan passed.
The men shouted jovial words to them, and the boys waved their hats in
ready sympathy.

At ten o'clock they entered the magnificent grove of oaks, where a
speaker's stand had been erected, and where enterprising salesmen from
Rock River had erected soda water and candy stands, with an eye to
business.

There was already a stupendous crowd, at least so it seemed to the
farmers' boys. Two or three bands were whanging away somewhere in the
grove; children were shouting and laughing, and boys were racing to and
fro, playing ball or wrestling; babies were screaming, and the marshals
were shouting directions to the entering teams, in voices that rang
through the vaulted foliage with thrilling effect, and the harsh bray
of the ice cream and candy sellers completed the confusion.

Bradley's skill as a horseman came out as he swung into the narrow
winding road which led through threatening stumps into the heart of the
wood past the speaker's stand. Councill furled his great flag and
trailed it over the heads of those behind, and Flora and Ceres, and all
the other deities of the grange upheld the staff with smiling
good-will. And so they drew up to the grand stand, the most imposing
turn-out of the day. They sprang out and mingled with the merry crowd,
while Bradley drove away. After he had taken care of the team he came
back towards the grand stand and wandered about alone. He was not a
native of the country and knew very few of the people. He stood about
with a timid expression on his face that made him seem more awkward
than he really was. He was tall, and strong, and graceful when not
conscious of himself as he was now. He felt a little bitter at being
ignored--that is, he felt it in a vague and wordless way.

Lovers passed him in pairs, eating peanuts or hot candy which they bit
off from a huge triangular mass still hot from the kettle. He had never
seen any candy just like that, and wondered if he had better try a
piece. The speaking on the stand attracted and held his attention,
however. Oratory always had a powerful attraction for him. He moved
forward and stood leaning against a tree.

Seats had been arranged in a semi-circle around the stand, on which the
speakers of the day, the band, and the singers were already grouped.
All around, leaning against the trees, twined in the branches of the
oaks, or ranked against the railing, were the banners and mottoes of
the various granges. No. 10, Liberty Grange, "Justice is our Plea."
Meadow Grange, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall." Bethel Grange,
"Fraternity." Other mottoes were "Through Difficulties to the Stars";
"Equal Rights to All, Special Privileges to None." A small organ sat
upon the stand surrounded with the singers. Milton, resplendent in his
sash and his white vest and black coat, sat beside the organist Eileen,
the daughter of Osmond Deering.

The choir arose to sing, accompanied by the organ, and their voices
rolled out under the vaulted aisles of foliage, with that thrilling,
far-away effect of the singing voice in the midst of illimitable
spaces. This was followed by prayer, and then Mr. Deering, the
president, called upon everybody to join in singing the national
anthem, after which he made the opening address.

He spoke of the marvellous growth of the order, how it had sprung up
from the soil at the need of the farmer; it was the first great
movement of the farmer in history, and it was something to be proud of.
The farmer had been oppressed. He had been helpless and would continue
helpless till he asked and demanded his rights. After a dignified and
earnest speech he said:--"I will now introduce as the next speaker Mr.
Isaac Hobkirk."

Mr. Hobkirk, a large man with a very bad voice, made a fiery speech.
"Down with the middlemen," he cried, and was applauded vigorously.
"They are the blood-suckers that's takin' the life out of us farmers.
What we want is to deal right with the manufacturers, an' cut off these
white-handed fellers in Rock River who git all we raise. Speechifyin'
and picnickin' is all well an' good, but what we want is _agents_. We
want agents f'r machinery, wheat buyers, agents f'r groceries, that's
what we want; that's what we're here for; that's what the grange was
got together for. Down with the middlemen!"

This brought out vigorous applause and showed that a very large number
agreed with him. Bradley sat silently through it all. It didn't mean
very much to him, and he wished they'd sing again.

The chairman again came forward. "Napoleon said 'Old men for counsel,
but young men for war.' But our young men have listened patiently to us
old fellows for years, and mebbe they don't think much of our counsel.
I'm going to call on Milton Jennings, one of our rising young men."

Milton, a handsome young fellow with yellow hair and smiling lips,
arose and came forward to the rail, feeling furtively in his coat-tail
pocket to see that his handkerchief was all right. He was a student at
the seminary, and was considered a fine young orator. This was his
first attempt before so large an audience.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he began after clearing his throat. "Brothers
and sisters of the Order: I feel highly honored by the president by
being thus called upon to address you. Old men for counsel is all
right, if they counsel what we young men want, but I'm for war; I'm for
a fight in the interests of the farmer. Not merely a defensive warfare
but an offensive warfare.

"How? By the ballot. Mr. President, I know you don't agree with me. I
know it's a rule of the Order to keep politics out of it, but I don't
know of a better place to discuss the interests of the farmer. It's a
mistake. We've got to unite at the ballot box; what's the use of our
order if we don't? We must be represented at the State legislature, and
we can't do that unless we make the grange a political factor.

"You may talk about legislative corruption, Mr. President, and about
county rings, to come near home. (Cheers and cries, 'Now you're getting
at it,' 'That's right,' etc.) But the only way to get 'em out is to
vote 'em out. ('That's a fact.') You m'say we can talk it over outside
the order. Yes, but I tell you, Mr. President, the order's the place
for it. If it's an educational thing, then I say it ought to educate
and educate in politics, Mr. President.

"I tell you, I'm for war! Let's go in to win! When the fall's work is
done, in fact, from this time on, Mr. President, the farmers of this
county ought to organize for the campaign. Cut and dry our tickets, cut
and dry our plans. If we begin early and work together we can strangle
the anacondy that is crushing us, and the eagle of victory will perch
on our banners on the third of November, and the blood-suckers trouble
us no more forever."

With this remarkable peroration, spoken in a high monotonous key, after
the fashion of the political orator, Milton sat down mopping his face,
while his admirers cheered.

The chairman, who had been nervously twisting in his chair, hastened to
explain.

"Fellow-Citizens: I'm not to be held responsible for anything anybody
else speaks on this platform. I do not believe with our young brother.
I think that politics will destroy the grange. To make it a debating
school on political questions would bring discord and wrangling into
it. I hope I shall never see the day. I now ask Brother Jennings to say
a few words."

Mr. Jennings, a fat and jolly farmer, came to the front looking very
hot. His collar had long since melted.

"I aint very much of a speech-maker, Mr. President, brothers and
sisters. Fact is, I sent my boy down to the seminary to learn how to
talk, so't I wouldn't haf to. I guess he represents my idees purty
well, though, all except this political idee. I don't know about that.
I aint quite made up my mind on that point. I guess I'd better leave
the floor for somebody else."

"Glad you left the floor," whispered Milton to his father as he sat
down by his side. Milton was a merciless joker, especially upon his
father.

"We have with us to-day," said the chairman, in the tone of one who
announces the coming in of the dessert, "one of the most eloquent
speakers in the State, one whose name all grangers know, our State
lecturer, Miss Ida Wilbur."

The assembly rose to its feet with applause as a slender young woman
stepped forth, and waited, with easy dignity to begin her speech. There
was something significant in her manner, which was grave and dignified,
and a splendid stillness fell upon the audience as she began in a
clear, penetrating contralto:

"Brothers and sisters in the Order: While I have been sitting here
listening to your speakers, I have been looking at the mottoes on your
banners, and I have been trying to find out by those expressions what
your conception of this movement is. I wonder whether its majesty
appears to you as it does to me." She paused for an instant. "We are in
danger of losing sight of its larger meaning.

"Primarily, the object of the grange has been the education of the
farmers. It has been a great social educator, and I am glad, my friends
and neighbors, when I can look out upon such an assembly as this. I see
in it the rise of the idea of union, and intelligent union; but
principally I see in it the meeting together of the farmers who live
too much apart from the rest of the world.

"I believe," she cried with lifted hand, "I believe this is the
greatest movement of the farmer in the history of the world. It is a
movement against unjust discrimination, no doubt, but it has another
side to me, a poetic side, I call it. The farmer is a free citizen of a
great republic, it is true; but he is a _Solitary_ free citizen. He
lives alone too much. He meets his fellow-men too little. His dull
life, his hard work, make it almost impossible to keep his better
nature uppermost. The work of the grange is a social work." She was
supported by generous applause.

"It is not to antagonize town and country. The work of the grange to me
is not political. Keep politics out of it, or it will destroy you. Use
it to bring yourselves together. Let it furnish you with pleasant
hours. Establish your agencies, if you can, but I care more for
meetings like this. I care more for the poetry there is in having
Flora, and Ceres, and Pomona brought into the farmer's home."

Her great brown eyes glowed as she spoke and her lifted head thrilled
those who sat near enough to see the emotion that was in the lines of
her face. The sun struck through the trees, that swayed in masses
overhead, dappling the upturned faces with light and shade. The leaves
under the tread of the wind rustled softly, and the soaring hawk looked
down curiously as he drifted above the grove, like a fleck of cloud.

On Bradley, standing there alone, there fell something mysterious, like
a light. Something whiter and more penetrating than the sunlight. As he
listened, something stirred within him, a vast longing, a hopeless
ambition, nameless as it was strange. His bronzed face paled and he
breathed heavily. His eyes absorbed every detail of the girl's face and
figure. There was wonder in his eyes at her girlish face, and something
like awe at her powerful diction and her impersonal emotion. She stood
there like an incarnation of the great dream-world that lay beyond his
horizon, the world of poets and singers in the far realms of light and
luxury.

"I have a dream of what is coming," she said in conclusion, and her
voice had a prophetic ring. "I see a time when the farmer will not need
to live in a cabin on a lonely farm. I see the farmers coming together
in groups. I see them with time to read, and time to visit with their
fellows. I see them enjoying lectures in beautiful halls, erected in
every village. I see them gather like the Saxons of old upon the green
at evening to sing and dance. I see cities rising near them with
schools, and churches, and concert halls, and theatres. I see a day
when the farmer will no longer be a drudge and his wife a bond slave,
but happy men and women who will go singing to their pleasant tasks
upon their fruitful farms." The audience did not cheer, it sat as if in
church. The girl seemed to be speaking prophecy.

"When the boys and girls will not go West nor to the city; when life
will be worth living. In that day the moon will be brighter and the
stars more glad, and pleasure, and poetry, and love of life come back
to the man who tills the soil."

The people broke into wild applause when she finished. All were deeply
stirred. Tears were streaming down many faces, and when Deering arose
to announce a song by the choir his voice shook and he made no secret
of his deep emotion. After the song, he said: "Neighbors, we don't want
to spoil that splendid speech with another this day. The best thing we
can do is to try to think that good time is here and eat our dinner
with the resolution to bring that good time as soon as possible."

Bradley stood there after the others had risen. The dazzling pictures
called up by the speaker's words were still moving confusedly in his
brain. They faded at last and he moved with a sigh and went out to feed
the horses their oats.



II.

THE DINNER UNDER THE OAKS.


The dinner made a beautiful scene, the most idyllic in the farmer's
life. The sun, now high noon, fell through the leaves in patches of
quivering light upon the white table-cloth, spread out upon the planks,
and it fell upon the fair hair of girls, and upon the hard knotted
fingers of men and women grown old in toil. The rattle of dishes, the
harsh-keyed, unwonted laughter of the women, and the sounding
invitations to dinner given and taken filled the air. The long plank
seats placed together made capital tables, and eager children squatted
about wistfully watching the display of each new delicacy. The crude
abundance of the Iowa farm had been brought out to make it a great
dinner. The boys could hardly be restrained from clutching at each new
dish.

The Councills and the Burns families took dinner together. Mrs. Burns,
fretful and worn, cuffed the children back from the table while
bringing out her biscuit and roast chicken. Some sat stolidly silent,
but big-voiced Councill joked in his heavy way with everyone within
earshot.

"Well, the Lord is on our side, neighbor Jennings, to-day, anyhow," he
roared across the space of two or three tables.

"He's always on our side, brother Councill," smiled Jennings.

"Wal, I'd know about that. Sometimes I'm a leettle in doubt."

"Got something good to eat?" inquired Jennings of Mrs. Councill.

"Land sakes, no! We never have anything fit to eat since Jane's gone to
havin' beaux; my cookin' aint fit for a hawg to eat."

"I aint a-goin' to eat it, then," roared Councill in vast delight at
his joke on himself. "I'll go over and eat with Marm Jennings." They
all laughed at this.

"Tell us so't we c'n laff," called Mrs. Smith, coming over to see what
they did have.

"Where's Brad?" said Mrs. Councill, looking about her. "Aint he comin'
to dinner?"

"I don't see him around anywheres. Mebbe he's out feed'n the horses,"
replied Councill, without concern.

"Say! that was a great speech that girl made," put in Brother Smith,
coming over with a chicken leg in one hand and a buttered biscuit in
the other. "But what we want is free trade"--

"What we want is a home market," said Milton, some distance away.

"Oh, go to--Texas with y'r home market!"

"Tut, tut, tut, no politics, brethren," interrupted Jennings.

Bradley, ignored by everybody, was standing over by the trunk of a
large oak tree, watching from afar the young girl who had so stirred
him. She was eating dinner with Deering, his wife, and daughter, and
Milton, who was there, looking very bright and handsome, or at least he
appeared so to Eileen Deering, a graceful little girl, his classmate at
the seminary.

Miss Wilbur sat beside Deering, who was a large man with a type of face
somewhat resembling Lincoln's. She was smiling brightly, but her smile
had something thoughtful in it, and her eyes had unknown deeps like a
leaf-bottomed woodland pool across which the sun fell. She was feeling
yet the stress of emotion she had felt in speaking, and was a little
conscious of the admiring glances of the people.

She saw once or twice a tall, roughly dressed young farmer, who seemed
to be looking at her steadily, and there was something in his glance, a
timid worshipful expression, that touched her and made her observe him
more closely. He was very farmer-like, she noticed; his cheap coat
fitted him badly, and his hat was old and shapeless. Yet there was
something natively fine and chivalrous in his admiration. She felt
that.

"You're a farmer's daughter yourself," said Deering, as if they had
been speaking of somebody else who was.

"Yes, my father was a farmer. I'm a teacher. I only began a little
while ago to speak in the interest of the farmer. It seems to me that
everybody is looking out for himself except the farmer, and I want to
help him to help himself. I expect to speak in every county in the
State this winter."

Bradley crept nearer. He was eager to hear what she was saying. He grew
furtive in his manner, when she observed him, and he felt as if he were
doing something criminal. He saw Miss Wilbur say something to Mr.
Deering, who looked up a moment later and said to Bradley, whom he did
not know, "Why, certainly, come and have some dinner, plenty of it."

Bradley flushed hot with shame and indignation, and moved away deeply
humiliated. They had taken him for a poor, friendless, lonely tramp,
and there was just enough truth in his loneliness to make it sting.

"Say, Brad, don't you want some grub?" called Councill, catching sight
of him.

"Quick, 'r'y lose it," said Burns.

He sat down and fell upon the dinner silently, but there was a hot
flush still upon his face. He was not a beau. It had always been
difficult for him to address a marriageable woman, and a joke on that
subject threw him into dumb confusion. He had lived a dozen tender
dreams of which no one knew a word. Indeed, he never acknowledged them
to himself. He had admired in this way Eileen Deering whom he had seen
with Milton a few times during the year. He now envied Milton his easy
air of calm self-possession in the presence of two such beautiful
girls. There was a bitter feeling of rebellion in his heart.

Miss Wilbur had stirred his unexplored self. Down where ambitions are
born; where aspirations rise like sun-shot mists, her words and the
light of her face had gone. Already there was something sacred and
ineffably sweet about her voice and face. She had come to him as the
right woman comes sometimes to a man, and thereafter his whole life is
changed.

He walked away from the few people he knew, and tried to interest
himself in the games they were playing but he could not. He drifted
back to the grand stand and sought about till he could see Miss Wilbur
once more. She was so pure, so beautiful to him.

The hour or two after dinner was spent in visiting and getting
acquainted, and the time seemed all too short. Each granger took this
opportunity of inquiring after the health of the other grangers of the
county. The young people wandered in laughing, romping groups about the
grounds, buying peanuts and sugar candy, and drinking the soda water
and lemonade which the venders called with strenuous enterprise.

On the shadowed side of the stand the leading men of the grange
gathered, consulting about plans and measures.

"Now, it seems to me that we're going on all right now," said Deering.
"We're getting our goods cheap and we're cuttin' off the middleman."

"And we're getting hold of the railways."

"Yes, but it don't amount to nothin' compared to what ought to be done.
We ought 'o oust them infernal blood-suckers that's in our court-house,
and we want to do it as a grange."

"No," said Jennings in his placid way, "we can do that better. I've got
a plan."

"What we want," said Hobkirk, "is a party, a ticket of our own, then we
can"--

"No, we can't do that. It won't be right to do that. We must stand by
the party that has given us our railway legislation."

Milton and several of the younger farmers drew off one side and talked
earnestly about the fall campaign.

"They'll beat us again unless we go in together," Milton said with
emphatic gesticulation. Milton was a natural politician. His words
found quick response in the erratic Hobkirk, who had good ideas but
whose temperament made all his words jagged shot. He irritated where he
meant to convince.

Bradley listened to it all without feeling that he had any part in it.
It didn't seem to him that politics had anything to do with the
beautiful words of the girl. On the stand the choir began to sing again
and he walked toward them. They sang on and the people listened while
they packed away the dishes. They sang "Auld Lang Syne," and "We'll
Meet Beyond the River," with that characteristic attraction of the
common people for wistful, sorrowful cadences which is a paradox not
easily explained.

"All aboard!" called Councill from his wagon as Bradley drove the team
up to the band stand. While the merry young people clambered in and
paired off along the seats he was seeing Miss Wilbur shaking hands with
the people who paused to say good-by. His heart ached for a glance of
her brown eyes and a word, but he held the reins in his great hands and
his face showed only his usual impassive reticence. He was only
Councill's hired man.

The banners were taken up, the children loaded in, the boys looking
back wistfully to the games and the candy-stands. Councill unfurled his
flag to the wind, and Bradley swung the eager horses into the lane. On
all sides the farmers' teams were getting out into the road; the work
of the marshals was done. Each man went his own gait.

The young people behind Bradley began to sing:--

    "Out on an ocean all boundless we ride,
        We're homeward bound,
        Homeward bound."

And so along each lane through the red sunset the farmers rolled home.
Home through lanes bordered with velvet green wheat, across which the
sunlight streamed in dazzling yellow floods. Home through wild
prairies, where the birds nested and the gophers whistled. The dust
rose up, transformed into gold by the light of the setting sun. The
children fell asleep in their tired mothers' arms. The men shouted to
each other from team to team, discussing the speakers and the crops.

Smiles were few as each wagon turned into its gateway and rolled up to
the silent house. The sombre shadow of the farm's drudgery had fallen
again on faces unused to smiling.

Only the lovers lingering on the road till the moon rose and the
witchery of night came to make the girlish eyes more brilliant,
softening their gayety into a wistful tenderness, only to these did the
close of the day seem as sweet and momentous as the morning. While the
trusty horse jogged on, impatient of the slow pace set by his driver,
the lovers sat with little to say, but with hearts lit by the light
that can glorify for a few moons, at least, even the life of ceaseless
toil.



III.

BRADLEY RESOLVES TO GO TO SCHOOL.


A farm is a good place to think in, if a man has sufficient
self-sustaining force--that is, if work does not dominate him and force
him to think in petty or degrading circles.

It is a lonely life. Especially lonely on a large farm in the West. The
life of a hired man like Bradley Talcott is spent mainly with the
horses and cattle. In the spring he works day after day with a drag or
seeder, moving to and fro an animate speck across a dull brown expanse
of soil. Even when he has a companion there is little talk, for there
is little to say, and the extra exertion of speaking against the wind,
or across distances, soon forces them both into silence.

True, there is the glory of the vast sweep of sky, the wild note of the
crane, the flight of geese, the multitudinous twitter of sparrows, and
the subtle exalting smell of the fresh, brown earth; but these things
do not compensate for human society. Nature palls upon the normal man
when he is alone with her constantly. The monotone of the wind and the
monochrome of the sky oppress him. His heart remains empty.

The rustle of flashing, blade-like corn leaves, the vast clean-cut
mountainous clouds of June, the shade of shimmering popple trees, the
whistle of plover and the sailing hawk do not satisfy the man who
follows the corn-plow with the hot sun beating down all day upon his
bent head and dusty shoulders. His point of view is not that from the
hammock. He is not out on a summer vacation. If he thinks, he thinks
bitter things, and when he speaks his words are apt to be oaths.

Still a man has time to think and occasionally a man dominates his work
and refuses to be hardened and distorted. Many farmers swear at the
team or the plow and everything that bothers them. Some whistle
vacantly and mechanically all day, or sing in endless succession the
few gloomy songs they know. Bradley thought.

He thought all summer long. He was a powerful man physically and turned
off his work with a ready knack which left him free to think. All day
as he moved to and fro in the rustling corn rows, he thought, and with
his thinking, his powers expanded. He had the mysterious power of
self-development.

The centre of his thinking was that slender young woman and the words
she had uttered. He repeated her prophetic words as nearly as he could
a hundred times. He repeated them aloud as he plowed day after day,
through the dreamful September mist. He began to look ahead and wonder
what he should do or could do. Must he be a farmer's hired man or a
renter all his life? His mind moved slowly from point to point, but it
never returned to its old dumb patience. His mind, like his body, had
unknown latent forces. He was one of those natures whose delicacy and
strength are alike hidden.

"Brad don't know his strength," Councill was accustomed to say. "If he
should ever get mad enough to fight, the other feller'd better go
a-visitin'." And a person who knew his mind might have said, "If
Bradley makes up his mind to do a thing he'll do it." But no one knew
his mind. He did not know its resources himself.

His mind seized upon every hint, and bit by bit his resolution was
formed. Milton, going by one Monday morning on his way to the seminary,
stopped beside the fence where Brad was plowing and waited for him to
come up. He had a real interest in Bradley.

"Hello, Brad," he called cheerily.

"Hello, Milt."

"How's business?"

"Oh, so so. Pretty cold."

The wind was blowing cold and cuttingly from the north-west. Milton,
rosy with his walk, dropped down beside the hedge of weeds in the sun
and Brad climbed over the fence and joined him. It was warm and cosy
there, and the crickets were cheeping feebly in the russet grass where
the sunlight fell. The wind whistled through the weeds with a wild,
mournful sound. Bradley did not speak for some time. He listened to
Milton. At last he said abruptly--

"Say, Milt, what does it cost to go to school down there?"

"Depends on who goes. Cost me 'bout forty dollars a term. Shep an' I
room it and cook our own grub."

"What's the tuition?"

"Eight dollars a term."

"Feller could go to the public school for nauthin', couldn't he?"

"Yes, and that'd be all it 'ud be worth," said Milton with fine scorn
at an inferior institution.

"What does a room cost?" Brad pursued after a silence.

"Well, ours cost 'bout three dollars a month, but we have two rooms.
You could get one for fifty cents a week."

He looked up at Brad with a laugh in his eyes. "Don't think of starting
in right off, do you?"

"Well, I don't know but I might if I had money enough to carry me
through."

"What y' think o' doin', study law?"

"No, but I'd kind o' like to be able to speak in public. Seems t' me a
feller ought 'o know how to speak at a school meetin' when he's called
on. I couldn't say three words to save m' soul. They teach that down
there, don't they?"

"Yes, we have Friday exercises and then there are two debating clubs.
They're boss for practice. That's where I put in most o' my time. I'm
goin' into politics," he ended with a note of exalted purpose as if
going into politics were really something fine. "Are you?"

"Well, there's no tellin' what minit a feller's liable to be called on
and I'd kinder like to"--He fell off into silence again.

Milton jumped up. "Well, hold on, this won't do f'r me; I must mosey
along. Good-by," he said, and set off down the road.

"When does the next term begin?" called Bradley.

"November 15th," Milton replied, looking about for an instant. "Better
try it."

Bradley threw the lines over his shoulder and, bending his head, fell
into deep calculation. Milton's clear tenor was heard ringing across
the fields, fitfully dying away. Milton made the most of everything,
and besides he was on his way to see Eileen. He could afford to be gay.

Bradley thought, even while he husked the corn, one of the bitterest of
all farm tasks when the cold winds of November begin to blow. Councill
had a large field of corn and every morning in the cold and frosty
light Ike and Bradley were out in the field, each with a team.
Beautiful mornings, if one could have looked upon it from a window in a
comfortable home. There were mornings when the glittering purple and
orange domes of the oaks and maples swam in the mist dreamfully, so
beautiful the eyes lingered upon them wistfully. Mornings when the dim
lines of the woods were a royal purple, and gray-blue shadows streamed
from the trees upon the yellow-green grass.

Husking was the last of the fall work and the last day of husking found
Bradley desolately undecided. They had been working desperately all the
week to finish the field on Saturday. It was a bitter cold morning. As
they leaped into the frost-rimmed wagon-box and caught up the reins,
the half-frozen team sprang away with desperate energy, making the
wagon bound over the frozen ground with a thunderous clatter.

In every field the sound of similar wagons getting out to work could be
heard. It was not yet light. A leaden-gray dome of cloud had closed in
over the morning sky and the feeling of snow was in the air. There was
only a dull flush of red in the east to show the night had been
frostily clear.

Ike raised a great shout to let his neighbors know he was in the field.
Councill, with a fork over his shoulder, was on his way down the lane
to help a neighbor thresh. Ike jovially shook the reins above his colts
and Bradley followed close behind, and the two wagons went crashing
through the forest of corn. The race started the blood of the drivers
as well as that of the teams. The cold wind cut the face like a knife
and the crackling corn-stalks flew through the air as the wagons swept
over them. Reaching the farther side they turned in and faced toward
the house, the horses blowing white clouds of breath.

"Jee Whitaker!" shouted Ike, as he crouched on the leeward side of his
wagon, and threshed his arms around his chest, after having finished
blanketing his team to protect them against the ferocious wind. "I'm
thunderin' glad this is the last day of this kind o' thing."

He looked like a grizzly bear in bad repair. He had an old fur cap on
his head that concealed his ears and most of his face. He wore a ragged
coat that was generally gray, but had white lines along the seams.
Under this he wore another coat still more ragged, and the whole was
belted at the waist with an old surcingle. Like his father, he was
possessed of vast physical strength, and took pride in his powers of
endurance.

"Wal, here goes," he said, stripping off his outside coat. "It's tough,
but it aint no use dreadin' it."

Bradley smiled back at him in his wordless way, and caught hold of the
first ear. It sent a shiver of pain through him. His fingers, worn to
the quick, protruded from his stiff, ragged gloves, and the motions of
clasping and stripping the ear were like the rasp of a file on a naked
nerve. He shivered and swore, but his oath was like a groan.

The horses, humped and shivering, looked black and fuzzy, by reason of
their erected hair. They tore at the corn-stalks hungrily. Their tails
streamed sidewise with the force of the wind, which had a wild and
lonesome sound, as it swept across the sear stretches of the corn. The
stalks towered far above the heads of the huskers, but did little to
temper the onslaught of the blast.

Occasional flocks of geese drifted by in the grasp of the inexorable
gale, their necks out-thrust as if they had already caught the gleam of
their warm southern lagoons. Clouds of ducks, more adventurous, were
seen in irregular flight, rising and falling from the lonely fields
with wild clapping of wings. Only the sparrows seemed indifferent to
the cold.

There was immensity in the dome of the unbroken, seamless, gray
threatening sky. There was majesty in the dim plain, across which the
morning light slowly fell. The plain, with its dark blue groves, from
which thin lines of smoke rose and hastened away, and majesty in the
wind that came from the illimitable and desolate north. But the lonely
huskers had no time to feel, much less to think, upon these things.

They bent down to their work and snatched the red and yellow ears bare
of their frosty husks with marvelous dexterity. The first plunge over,
Bradley found as usual that the sharpest pain was over. The wind cut
his face, and an occasional driving flake of snow struck and clung to
his face and stung. His coat collar chafed his chin, and the frost wet
his gloves through and through. But he warmed to it and at last almost
forgot it. He fell into thought again, so deep that his work became
absolutely mechanical.

"Say, Brad, let's go to that dance over at Davis's," shouted Ike, after
an hour of silence.

"I guess not."

"Why not?"

"Because I aint invited."

"Oh, that's all right; Ed, he told me to bring anyone I felt like."

"I aint going, all the same. I may be in Rock River by next Wednesday."

"They aint no danger o' you're going to Rock River."

Bradley fell once more into the circle of his plans and went the round
again. He had saved two hundred dollars. It was enough to take him to
school a year, but what then? That was the recurring question. It was
the most momentous day in his life. Should he spend his money in this
way? Every dollar of it represented toil, long days of lonely plowing
or dragging, long days under the burning harvest sun. It was all he
had, all he had to show for his life. Was it right to spend it for
schooling?

"What good'll it do yeh?" Ike asked one day when Bradley was feeling
out for a little helpful sympathy. "Better buy a team with it and rent
a piece of land. What y' goan to do after you spent the money?"

"I don't know," Bradley had replied in his honest way.

"Wal, I'd think of it a dum long spell 'fore I'd do it," was Ike's
reply, and Councill had agreed with it.

Bradley fell behind Ike, for he wanted to be alone. He had grown into
the habit of accounting to _Her_ for his actions, and when he wished to
consult with _Her_, he wanted to be alone. There was something sacred,
even in the thought of _Her_, and he shrank from having his thoughts
broken in upon by any careless or jesting word.

As he pondered, his hands grew slower in their action and, at last, he
stopped and leaned against the wagon-box. Something came into his heart
that shook him, a feeling of unknown power, a certainty of faith in
himself. He shivered with an electric thrill that made his hair stir.

He lifted his face to the sky and his eyes saw a crane sailing with
stately grace, in measureless circle, a mere speck against the unbroken
gray of the sky. There seemed something prophetic; something mystic in
its harsh, wild cry that fell, like the scream of the eagle, a defiant
note against wind and storm.

"I'll do it," he said, and his hands clinched. At the sound of his
voice he shivered again, as if the wind had suddenly penetrated his
clothing. His dress made him grotesque. The spaces around him made him
pathetic, but in his golden-brown eyes was something that made him
sublime.

The thought which he dared not utter, but which lay deep under every
resolution and action he made, was the hope, undefined and
unacknowledged to himself, that sometime he might meet her and have her
approve his action.



IV.

BRADLEY'S TRIALS AT SCHOOL.


The morning on which Bradley was to begin his term at the seminary was
a clear, crisp day in later November. He had rented a room in the
basement of a queer old building, known as the Park Hotel, a crazy
mansard-roofed structure which held at regular intervals some rash men
attempting to run it as a hotel.

Bradley had rented this cellar because it was the cheapest place he
could find. He agreed to pay two dollars a month for it, and the use of
the two chairs, and cooking stove, which made up its furnishing. He had
purchased a skillet and two or three dishes, Mrs. Councill had lent him
a bed, and he seemed reasonably secure against hunger and cold.

He looked forward to his entrance into the school with dread. All that
Monday morning he stood about his door watching for Milton and seeing
the merry students in procession up the walk. The girls seemed so
bright and so beautiful, he wondered how the boys could walk beside
them with such calm unconcern. Their laughter, their mutual greetings
threw him into a profound self-pity and disgust. When he joined Milton
and Shepard, and went up the walk under the bare-limbed maple trees, he
shivered with fear. They all seemed perfectly at home, with the
exception of himself.

Milton knowing what to expect smuggled him into the chapel in the midst
of a crowd of five or six others, and thus he escaped the derisive
applause with which the pupils were accustomed to greet each new-comer
at the opening of a term. He gave one quick glance at the rows of
faces, and shambled awkwardly along to his seat beside Milton, his eyes
downcast. He found courage to look around and study his fellow-students
after a little and discovered that several of them were quite as
awkward, quite as ill at ease as himself.

Milton, old pupil as he was (that is to say, this was his second term),
sat beside him and indicated the seniors as they came in, and among the
rest pointed out Radbourn.

"He's the high mucky-muck o' this shebang," Shep whispered.

"Why so?" asked Bradley, looking carefully at the big, smooth-faced,
rather gloomy-looking young fellow.

Shep hit his own head with his fist in a comically significant gesture.
"Brains! What d' ye call 'em, Milt? Correscations of the serry beltum."

Shepard was a short youth with thick yellow hair, and a comically
serious quality in the twist of his long upper lip.

Milton grinned. "Convolutions of the cerebrum, I s'pose you're driving
at. Shep comes to school to have fun," Milton explained to Bradley.

"Chuss," said Shep, by which he meant yes; "an' I have it, too,
betyerneck. I enter no plea, me lord"--

There came a burst of applause as a tall and attractive girl came in
with her arms laden down with books. Her intellectual face lit up with
a smile at the applause, and a pink flush came into her pale cheek.
"That's Miss Graham," whispered Shepard; "she's all bent up on
Radbourn."

The teachers came in, the choir rose to sing, and the exercises of the
morning began. Bradley thought Miss Graham, with her heavy-lidded,
velvety-brown eyes, looked like Miss Wilbur. Her eyes were darker, he
decided, and she was taller and paler; in fact, the resemblance was
mainly in her manner which had the same dignity and repose.

At Milton's suggestion Bradley remained in his seat after the rest of
the pupils had marched out to the sound of the organ. Then Milton
introduced him to the principal, who took him by the hand so cordially
that his embarrassment was gone in a moment. "Come and see me at
eleven," he said. After a short talk with him in his room a couple
hours later, his work was assigned.

"You'll be in the preparatory department, Mr. Talcott, but if you care
to do extra work we may get you into the junior class. Jennings, look
after him a little, won't you?"

The principal was a kind man, but he had two hundred of these rude,
awkward farmer-boys, and he could not be expected to study each one
closely enough to discover their latent powers. Bradley went away down
town to buy his books, with a feeling that the smile of the principal
was not genuine, and he felt also that Milton was a little ashamed of
him here in the town. Everything seemed to be going hard with him. But
his hardest trial came when he entered the classroom at one o'clock.

He knew no one, of course, and the long, narrow room was filled with
riotous boys and girls all much younger than himself. All the desks
seemed to be occupied and he was obliged to run the gauntlet of the
entire class in his search for a seat. As he walked down the room so
close to the wall that he brushed the chalk of the blackboard off upon
his shoulder, he made a really ludicrous figure. All of his fine, free,
unconscious grace was gone and his strength of limb only added to his
awkwardness.

The girls were of that age where they find the keenest delight in
annoying a bashful fellow such as they perceived this new-comer to be.
His hair had been badly barbered by Councill and his suit of cotton
diagonal, originally too small and never a fit, was now yellow on the
shoulders where the sun had faded the analine dye, and his trousers
were so tight that they clung to the tops of his great boots, exposing
his huge feet in all their enormity of shapeless housing. His large
hands protruded from his sleeves and were made still more noticeable by
his evident loss of their control.

"Picked too soon," said Nettie Russell, with a vacant stare into space,
whereat the rest shrieked with laughter. A great hot wave of blood
rushed up over Bradley, making him dizzy. He knew that joke all too
well. He looked around blindly for a seat. As he stood there helpless,
Nettie hit him with a piece of chalk and someone threw the eraser at
his boots.

"Number twelves," said young Brown.

"When did it get loose?"

"Does your mother know you're out?"

"Put your hat over it," came from all sides.

He saw an empty chair and started to sit down, but Nettie slipped into
it before him. He started for her seat and her brother Claude got there
apparently by mere accident just before him. Bradley stood again
indecisively, not daring to look up, burning with rage and shame. Again
someone hit him with a piece of chalk, making a resounding whack, and
the entire class roared again in concert.

"Why, its head is _wood!_" said Claude, in apparent astonishment at his
own discovery.

Bradley raised his head for the first time. There came into his eyes a
look that made Claude Russell tremble. He again approached an empty
chair and was again forestalled by young Brown. With a bitter curse he
swung his great open palm around and laid his tormenter flat on the
floor, stunned and breathless. A silence fell on the group. It was as
if a lion had awakened with a roar of wrath.

"Come on, all o' ye!" he snarled through his set teeth, facing them
all. As he stood thus the absurdity of his own attitude came upon him.
They were only children, after all. Reeking with the sweat of shame and
anger which burst from his burning skin, he reached for a chair.

Nettie, like the little dare-devil that she was, pulled the chair from
under him, and he saved himself from falling only by wildly clutching
the desk before him. As it was, he fell almost into her lap and
everybody shrieked with uncontrollable laughter. In the midst of it,
Miss Clayson, the teacher, came hurrying in to silence the tumult, and
Bradley rushed from the room like a bull from the arena, maddened with
the spears of the toreador. He snatched his hat and coat from the rack
and hardly looked up till he reached the haven of his little cellar.

He threw his cap on the floor and for a half hour raged up and down the
floor, his mortification and shame and rage finding vent in a fit of
cursing such as he had never had in his life before. All awkwardness
was gone now. His great limbs, supple and swift, clenched, doubled, and
thrust out against the air in unconscious lightning-swift gestures that
showed how terrible he could be when roused.

At last he grew calm enough to sit down, and then his mood changed to
the deepest dejection. He sank into a measureless despair. A terrible
ache came into his throat.

They were right, he was a great hulking fool. He never could be
anything but a clod-hopper, anyway. He looked down at his great hand,
at his short trousers, and the indecent ugliness of his horrible boots,
and studied himself without mercy to himself. He acknowledged that they
were hideous, but he couldn't help it.

Then his mind took another turn and he went over the history of that
suit. He didn't want it when he bought it, but he found himself like
wax, moulded by the soft, white, confidential hands of the Jew
salesman, who offered it to him as a special favor below cost. In
common with other young men of his sort he always felt under obligation
to buy if he went into a store, even if there were nothing there that
suited him. He knew when he bought the suit and paid eleven dollars for
it that he would always be sorry, and its cheapness now appalled him.

He always swore at himself for this weakness before the salesman, and
yet, year by year he had been cheated in the same way. For the first
time, however, he saw his clothing in all its hideousness. Those cruel
girls and grinning boys had shown him that clothes made the man, even
in a western school. The worst part of it was that he had been
humiliated by a girl and there was no redress. His strength of limb was
useless here.

He sat there till darkness came into his room. He did not replenish the
coal in the stove that leered at him from the two broken doors in
front, and seemed to face him with a crazy, drunken reel on its
mis-matched legs. He was hungry, but he sat there enjoying in a morbid
way the pang of hunger. It helped him someway to bear the sting of his
defeat.

It was the darkest hour of his life. He swore never to go back again to
that room. He couldn't face that crowd of grinning faces. He turned hot
and cold by turns as he thought of his folly. He was a cursed fool for
ever thinking of trying to do anything but just dig away on a farm. He
might have known how it would be; he'd got behind and had to be classed
in with the children; there was no help for it; he'd never go back.

The thought of _Her_ came in again and again, but the thought couldn't
help him. _Her_ face drove the last of his curses from his lips, but it
threw him into a fathomless despair, where he no longer defined his
thoughts into words. _Her_ face shone like a star, but it stood over a
bottomless rift in the earth and showed how impassable its yawning
barrier was.

There came a whoop outside and a scramble at the door and somebody
tumbled into the room.

"Anybody here?"

"Hello, where are you, Brad?"

He recognized Milton's voice. "Yes, I'm here; but wait a minute."

"Cæsar, I _guess_ we'll wait! Break our necks if we don't," said the
other shadow whom he now recognized as Shep Watson. "Always live in the
dark?"

They waited while he lighted the dim little kerosene lamp on the table.
"O conspiracy, shamest thou to show thy dangerous brow by night,"
quoted Shep in the interim.

"Been 'sleep?" asked Milton.

"No. Se' down, anywheres," he added on second thought, as he realized
that chairs were limited.

"Say, Brad, come on; let's go over t' the society."

"I guess not," said Brad sullenly.

"Why not?" asked Milton, recognizing something bitter in his voice.

"Because, I aint got any right to go. I aint goin' t' school ag'in. I'm
goin' west."

"Why, what's up?"

"I aint a-goin', that's all. I can't never ketch up with the rest of
you fellers." His voice broke a little, "an' it aint much fun havin' to
go in with a whole raft o' little boys and girls."

"Oh, say now, Brad, I wouldn't mind 'em if I was you," said Milton,
after a pause. He had the delicacy not to say he had heard the details
of Bradley's experience. "We all have to go through 'bout the same row
o' stumps, don't we, Shep? The way to do with 'em is to jest pay no
'tention to 'em."

But the good-will and sympathy of the boys could not prevail upon
Bradley to go with them. He persisted in his determination to leave
school. And the boys finally went out leaving him alone. Their
influence had been good, however; he was distinctly less bitter after
they left him and his thoughts went back to Miss Wilbur. What would she
think of him if he gave up all his plans the first day, simply because
some mischievous girls and boys had made him absurd? When he thought of
her he felt strong enough to go back, but when he thought of his
tormentors and what he would be obliged to endure from them, he
shivered and shrank back into despondency.

He was still fighting his battle, when a slow step came down the stairs
ending in a sharp rap upon the door. He said, "Come in," and Radbourn,
the most powerful and most popular senior, entered the room. He was a
good deal of an autocrat in the town and in the school, and took
pleasure in exercising his power on behalf of some poor devil like
Bradley Talcott.

"Jennings tells me you're going to give it up," he said, without
preliminary conversation.

Bradley nodded sullenly. "What's the use, anyhow? I might as well. I'm
too old, anyhow."

Radbourn looked at him a moment in silence. "Put on your hat and let's
go outside," he said at length, and there was something in his voice
that Bradley obeyed.

Once on the outside Radbourn took his arm and they walked on up the
street in silence for some distance. It was still, and clear, and
frosty, and the stars burned overhead with many-colored brilliancy.

"Now I know all about it, Talcott, and I know just about how you feel.
But all the same you must go back there to-morrow morning."

"It aint no use talkin', I can't do it."

"Yes, you can. You think you can't, but you can. A man can do anything
if he only thinks he can and tries hard. You can't afford to let a
little thing like that upset your plans. I understand your position
exactly. You're at a disadvantage," he changed his pace suddenly,
stopping Bradley. "Now, Talcott, you're at a disadvantage with that
suit. It makes you look like a gawk, when you're not. You're a stalwart
fellow, and if you'll invest in a new suit of clothes as Jennings did,
it'll make all the difference in the world."

"I can't afford it."

"No, that's a mistake, you can't afford _not_ to have it. A good suit
of clothes will do more to put you on an equality with the boys than
anything else you can do for yourself. Now let's drop in here to see my
friend, who keeps what you need, and to-morrow I'll call for you and
take you into the class and introduce you to Miss Clayson, and you'll
be all right. You didn't start right."

When he walked in with Radbourn the next morning and was introduced to
the teacher, Nettie Russell stared in breathless astonishmemt. He was
barbered and wore a suit which showed his splendid length and strength
of limb.

"Well said! Aint we a big sunflower! My sakes! aint we a-coming out!"
"No moon last night." "Must 'a ben a fire." "He got them with a basket
and a club," were some of the remarks he heard.

Bradley felt the difference in the atmosphere, and he walked to his
seat with a self-possession that astonished himself. And from that time
he was master of the situation. The girls pelted him with chalk and
marked figures on his back, but he kept at his work. He had a firm grip
on the plow-handles now, and he didn't look back. They grew to respect
him, at length, and some of the girls distinctly showed their
admiration. Brown came over to get help on a sum and so did Nettie, and
when he sat down beside her she winked in triumph at the other girls
while Bradley patiently tried to explain the problem in algebra which
was his own terror.

He certainly was a handsome fellow in a rough-angled way, and when the
boys found he could jump eleven feet and eight inches at a standing
jump, they no longer drew any distinctions between his attainments in
algebra and their own. Neither did his poverty count against him with
them. He sawed wood in every spare hour with desperate energy to make
up for the sinful extravagance of his new fifteen dollar suit of
clothes.

                     *      *      *      *      *

He was sawing wood in an alley one Saturday morning where he could hear
a girl singing in a bird-like way that was very charming. He was
tremendously hungry, for he had been at work since the first faint gray
light, and the smell of breakfast that came to his senses was
tantalizing.

He heard the girl's rapid feet moving about in the kitchen and her
voice rising and falling, pausing and beginning again as if she were
working rapidly. Then she fell silent, and he knew she was at
breakfast.

At last she opened the door and came out along the walk with a
tablecloth. She shook her cloth, and then her singing ceased and
Bradley went on with his work.

"Hello, Brad!" called a sudden voice.

He looked up and saw Nettie Russell's roguish face peering over the
board fence.

"Hello," he replied, and stood an instant in wordless surprise. "I
didn't know you lived there."

"Well, I do. Aint tickled to death to find it out, I s'pose? Say, you
aint so very mad at me, are yeh?" she added insinuatingly.

He didn't know what to say, so he kept silent. He noticed for the first
time how childishly round her face was!

She took a new turn. "Say, aint you hungry?"

Bradley admitted that he had eaten an early breakfast. He did not say
it was composed of fried pork and potatoes and baker's bread, without
tea, coffee, or milk.

The girl seemed delighted to think he was hungry.

"You wait a minute," she commanded, and her smiling face disappeared
from the top of the fence. Brad went to work to keep from catching
cold, wondering what she was going to do. She reappeared soon with a
fat home-made sausage and a couple of warm biscuits which she insisted
upon his taking.

"They're all buttered and--they've got sugar on 'em," she whispered
significantly.

"Say, you eat now, while I saw," she commanded, coming around through
the gate.

She had put on her fascinator hood, but her hands and wrists were bare.
She struggled away on a log, putting her knee on it in a comically
resolute style.

"The saw always goes crooked," she said in despair. Bradley laughed at
her heartily.

"Say, do you do this for fun?" she asked, stopping to puff, her cheeks
a beautiful pink.

"No, I don't. I do it because I'm obliged to."

She threw down the saw. "Well, that beats me; I can't saw, but I can
cook. I made them biscuits." She challenged his opinion, as he well
knew.

"They're first rate," he admitted, and they were friends. She watched
him eat with apparent satisfaction.

"Say, I can't stay here, I'll freeze. Are yeh going to be here till
noon?"

"Yes."

"Well, when I whistle you come in and get some grub, will yeh?" Bradley
smiled back at her laughing face.

"This ain't your folks' wood pile."

"What's the difference?" she replied. "You jest come in, will yeh?"

"Yes, I'll come."

"Like fun you will! Honest?" she persisted.

"Hope to die," he said solemnly.

"That's the checker," she said, and disappeared with a click of the
tongue.

Bradley worked away in a glow of cheerfulness. It was astonishing how
much this little victory over a roguish girl meant to him. He had
changed one person's ridicule to friendship, and it seemed to be
prophetic of other victories.

The time seemed very short that forenoon. Once or twice Nettie came out
to bring some news about the cooking.

"Say, I'm making an apple pie. I'm a dandy on pies and cakes."

"I guess they would be 'pizen' cakes."

She threw an imaginary club at him.

"Well, if that ain't the sickest old joke! You'll go without any pie if
you get off such a thing again."

But as dinner-time drew on he felt more and more unwilling to go into
the kitchen.

He heard her whistle, but he remained at the saw-horse. It would do in
the country, but not here. He had no right to go in there and eat.

There was a note of impatience in her voice when she looked over the
fence and said, "Why don't you come?"

"I dassant!"

"Oh, bother! What y' 'fraid of?"

"What business have I got to eat your dinner? This aint your
wood-pile."

"Say, if you don't come in I'll--I dunno what!"

"Bring it out here, it's warm."

"I won't do it; you've got to come in; the old man's gone up town and
mother won't throw you out. There isn't anybody in the kitchen. Come on
now," she pleaded.

Bradley followed her into the house, feeling a good deal like a very
large dog, very hungry, who had followed a child's invitation into the
parlor, and felt out of place.

He sat down by the fire, and silently ate what she placed before him,
while she chattered away in high glee. When Mrs. Russell came in,
Nettie did not take the trouble to introduce him to her mother, who
moved about the room in a wordless way, smiling a little about the
eyes. She was entirely subject to her daughter. She heard them
discussing lessons and concluded they were classmates.

Bradley went back to his wood-sawing and soon finished the job. As he
shouldered his saw and saw-buck, Nettie came out and peered over the
fence again.

"Say, goin' to attend the social Monday?"

"Guess not. I ain't much on such things."

"It's lots o' fun; we spin the platter and all kinds o' things. I'm
goin'," she looked archly inviting.

Bradley colored. He was not astute, but hints like this were not far
from kicks. He looked down at his saw as he said, "I guess I won't go,
I've got to study."

"Well, good-by," she said without mortification. She was so much of a
child yet that she could be jilted without keen pain. "See y' Monday,"
she said as she ran into the house.

Someway Bradley's life was lightened by that day's experience. He went
home to his bleak little room in a resolute mood. He sat down at his
table upon which lay his algebra, determined to prepare Monday's
lessons, but the pencil fell from his hand, his head sank down and lay
upon the open page before him. Woodsawing had worn him down and
algebra had made him sleep.



V.

BRADLEY RISES TO ADDRESS THE CARTHAGINIANS.


He was now facing another terror, the Friday afternoon recitals, in
which alternate sections of the pupils were obliged to appear before
the public in the chapel to recite or read an essay. It was an ordeal
that tried the souls of the bravest of them all.

Unquestionably it kept many pupils away. Nothing could be more terrible
to a shrinking awkward boy or girl from a farm than this requirement,
to stand upon a raised platform with nothing to break the effect of
sheer crucifixion. It was appalling. It was a pillory, a stake, a
burning, and yet there was a fearful fascination about it, and it was
doubtful if a majority of the students would have voted for its
abolition. The preps and juniors saw the seniors winning electrical
applause from the audience and fancied the same prize was within their
reach. There was no surer or more instant success to be won than that
which followed a splendid oratorical effort on the platform. It was
worth the cost.

Each new-comer dreaded it for weeks and talked about it constantly.
Bradley, like all the rest before him, could not eat a thing on the
morning preceding his trial, and in fact had suffered a distinct loss
of appetite from the middle of the week.

Mary Barber, a tall, awkward, badly-dressed girl, met him as he was
going up the steps after the first bell.

"Say, how you feelin'! I've shook all the mornin'. I don't know what
I'm goin' to do. I'm just sick."

"Why don't you say so an' get off?" Bradley suggested.

"Because that's what I did last time, and it won't work any more." The
poor girl's teeth were chattering with her fright. She laughed at
herself in an hysterical way, and wrung her hands, as if with cold, and
dropped back into the broadest kind of dialect. "Oh, I feel 'sif my
stomach was all gone."

Nettie Russell regarded it all as merely another disagreeable duty to
be shirked. Nothing troubled her very much. "You just wait and see how
I get out of it," she said, as she passed by. At two o'clock the
principal came in, and removed even the small pulpit, so that nothing
should stand between the shrinking young orators and the keen derisive
eyes below.

The chapel was a very imposing structure to Bradley. It was square and
papered in grey-white with fluted columns of the Corinthian order of
architecture, and that touch of history and romance did not fail of its
effect on the country boys fresh from the barn-yard and the corn-rows.
It added to their fear and self-abasement, as they rolled their slow
eyes around and upward. The audience consisted mainly of the pupils
arranged according to classes, the girls on the left and the boys on
the right. In addition, some of the towns-people, who loved oratory, or
were specially interested in the speakers of the day, were often
present to add to the terror of the occasion.

Radbourn came in with Lily Graham, talking earnestly. He was in the
same section with Bradley, a fact which did not cheer Bradley at all.
Jack Carver came in with a jaunty air. His cuffs and collar were linen,
and his trousers were tailor-made, which was distinction enough for
him. He had no scruples, therefore, in shirking the speaking with the
same indifference Nettie Russell showed.

Milton, who came in the first section, was joking the rest upon their
nervousness.

"Say, when did you eat y'r last meal?" he whispered to Bradley.

"Yesterday morning," Bradley replied, unable to smile.

All the week the members of the last section had been prancing up and
down the various rooms in boarding-houses, to the deep disgust of their
fellow students, who mixed harsh comments throughout their practice, as
they shouted in thunder tones:

"I came not here to talk. ('Then why don't you shut up?') You know too
well the story of our thraldom. ('You bet we do, we've heard it all the
week.') The beams of the setting sun fall upon a slave. ('Would a beam
of some sort would fall on you.') O Rome! Rome!"--('Oh, go roam the
wild wood.')

All the week the boarding-house mistresses had pounded on the
stove-pipe to bring the appeal of "Spartacus to the Romans" down to a
key that would not also include all the people in the block. All to no
purpose. Spartacus was aroused, and nothing but a glaive or a
battle-axe could bring him to silence and submission. The first section
now sat smiling grimly. Their revenge was coming.

After the choir had sung, the principal of oratory, note-book in hand,
came down among the pupils, and began the fateful roll-call.

The first name called was Alice Masters, an ambitious, but terribly
plain and awkward girl. She had not eaten anything since the middle of
the week, and was weak and nervous with fright. She sprang out of her
seat, white as a dead person, and rushed up the aisle. As she stepped
upon the platform she struck her toe and nearly fell. The rest laughed,
some hysterically, the most of them in thoughtless derision. The blood
rushed into her face and when she turned, she seemed to be masked in
scarlet. She began, stammeringly, her fingers playing nervously with
the seams of her dress.

"Beside his block the sculptor--

"Beside his block--

"Beside, the sculptor stood beside"--

She could not think of another word, not one, and she fell into a
horrible silence, wringing her hands piteously. It was impossible for
her to go on, and impossible for her to leave the floor till the word
of release came.

"That will do," said the principal in calm unconcern, and she rushed
from the room, and the next name was called. At length Nettie Russell
faced the audience, a saucy smile on her lips, and a defiant tilt to
her nose. She spoke a verse of "Twinkle, twinkle, little star," to the
vast delight of the preps, who had dared her to do it. The principal
scowled darkly, and put a very emphatic black mark opposite her name.

As name after name was called, Bradley's chill deepened, and the cold
sweat broke out upon his body. There was a terrible weakness and nausea
at his stomach, and he drew long, shivering inspirations like a man
facing an icy river, into which he must plunge. His hands shook till he
was forced to grasp the desk to hide his tremor.

He was saved from utter flight by Radbourn, who came before him.
Whatever nervousness the big senior had ever felt, he was well over
now, for he walked calmly up the aisle, and took his place with easy
dignity. He scorned to address the Romans, or the men of England. He
was always contemporaneous. He usually gave orations on political
topics, or astounded his teachers by giving a revolutionary opinion of
some classic. No matter what subject he dealt with, he interested and
held his audience. His earnest face and deep-set eyes had something
compelling in them, and his dignity and self-possession in themselves
fascinated the poor fellows, who sat there in deathly sickness, shaking
with terror.

Bradley felt again the fascination of an orator, and again his heart
glowed with a secret feeling that he, too, could be an orator like
that. He felt strong, and cool, and hopeful, while Radbourn was
speaking, but afterward that horrible, weakening fear came back upon
him.

He couldn't look at poor Harry Stillman, who came on a few names
further. Harry had pounded away all the week on Webster's reply to
Hayne, and he now stood forth in piteous contrast to his ponderous
theme. His thin, shaking legs toed-in like an Indian's, and his
trousers were tight, and short, and checked, which seemed to increase
the tightness and shortness. He had narrow shoulders and thin, long
arms, which he used like a jumping jack, each gesture being curiously
unrelated to his facial expression, which was mainly appealing and
apprehensive. As Shep Watson said, "He looked as if he expected a barn
to fall on him."

At last Bradley's name was spoken, and he rose in a mist. The windows
had disappeared. They were mere blurs of light. As he walked up the
aisle the floor fell away from the soles of his feet. He no longer
walked, he was a brain floating in space. He made his way to the stage
without accident, for he had rehearsed it all so many times in his mind
that unconscious cerebration attended to the necessary motions. When he
faced the assembly, he seemed facing a boundless sea of faces. They in
their turn were awed by something they saw in his eyes. His face was
white and his eyes burned with a singular light. A mysterious power
emanated from him as from the born orator.

Like all the rest he had taken a theme that was far beyond his apparent
powers, and the apparent comprehension of his audience; but they had
been fed so long upon William Tell, Rienzi, Marc Antony and Spartacus,
that every line was familiar. Nothing was too ponderous, too lofty, too
peak-addressing for them.

He mispronounced the words, his gestures were awkward and spasmodic,
but lofty emotion exalted him and vibrated in his voice. He thrilled
every heart. He had opened somewhere, somehow, a vast reservoir of
power. A great calm fell upon him. A wild joy of new-found strength
that awed and thrilled his own heart. It seemed as if a new spirit had
taken his flesh. As he went on he grew more dignified and graceful. His
great arms seemed to be gigantic, as he thundered against the
Carthaginians. Everybody forgot his dress, his freckled face, and when
he closed, the applause was instant and generous.

As he walked back to his seat, the exultant light went out of his eyes,
his limbs relaxed, the windows and the sunlight cleared to vulgar day,
and his face flushed with timidity. He sat down with a feeling of
melancholy in his heart, as if something divine had faded out of his
life.

But Radbourn reached out his hand in the face of the whole school and
said, "First rate!" The pupils had the western love for oratory, and
several of them crowded about to congratulate him on his speech.

Bradley did not feel at all sure of his success. He had been something
alien to himself in that speech, and he could not remember what he had
said or done. He was not at all sure that he had done the right thing
or the best thing. He was suspicious of his power because he no longer
felt it. He was like a man who had dreamed of flying and woke to find
himself paralyzed. After his triumph he was the same great, awkward,
country hired-man.

"Say, look here, Talcott," said Radbourn, as they met at the door of the
chapel going out, "I'm going to propose you as a member of the Delta;
come up Monday, and I'll put you through."

"Oh, they don't want me."

"Don't be so modest. They're in need of just such men. You'll be in
demand now, no fear about that."

There was a struggle now to get him into the societies, which were,
as usual, bitter rivals. He was secretly anxious to be one of the
debaters. In fact he had counted more on that than upon all the rest of
the advantages of the school. He thought it would please _Her_ better.

He joined the Delta, over which Radbourn presided, and wore the society
pin with genuine pride. He sat for several meetings silently in his
seat, awed by the excessive formality of proceedings, and the
strictness of the parliamentary rules. It was a curious thing to see
the meeting come to order out of a chaos of wrestling, shouting,
singing members whose excess of life filled the room like a crowd of
prize-fighters.

_Rap! Rap!_ And the sound of the gavel stilled the noise as if each man
had received a blow on his head.

They took their seats while the stern president remained standing. One
final rap, and the room was perfectly quiet, and every member an
inexorable parliamentarian, ready to question decisions, or rise to
points of order at the slightest infraction of Cushing's manual.
Radbourn ruled with a gavel of iron, but they all enjoyed it the more.
Half the fun and probably half the benefit of the society would have
been lost with the loss of order.

This strenuous dignity awed Bradley for a time. His fellows seemed
transformed into something quite other than their usual selves, into
grave law-makers. This strangeness wore away after a time and he grew
more at ease. He began to study Cushing along with the rest. It laid
the foundation for a thorough knowledge of the methods of conducting a
meeting, which was afterward of so much value to him.

His first attempt at debating was upon the question, "Should farmers be
free traders?" a question which was introduced by Milton, who was
always attempting to introduce questions which would strike fire.
Nothing pleased his fun-loving nature more than to take part in a "live
debate."

As real free traders were scarce, Mason, a brilliant young Democrat,
requested Radbourn to take the side of free trade, and he consented.
Milton formed the third part of the free trade cohort. He liked the fun
of trying to debate on the opposite side, a thing which would have been
impossible to Bradley's more intense and simple-hearted nature. What he
believed he fought for.

Mason led off with a discussion of the theory of free exchange and made
a passionate plea, florid and declamatory, which gave Fergusson, a
cool, pointed, scholarly Norwegian, an excellent chance to raise a
laugh. He called the attention of the house to the "copperhead
Democracy," which the gentleman of the opposition was preaching. He
asked what the practical application would mean. Plainly it meant cheap
goods.

"That's what we want," interrupted Mason, and was silenced savagely by
the chairman.

"England would flood us with cheap goods."

"Let 'em flood," said somebody unknown, and the chairman was helpless.

Fergusson worked away steadily and was called down at last.

He was distinguished as one of the few men who always talked out his
ten minutes.

Radbourn astonished them all by saying with absolute sincerity: "Free
trade as a theory is right. Considered as a question of ethics, as a
question of the trend of things, it's right. The right to trade is as
much my right, as my right to produce. The one question is whether it
ought to be put into operation at once. There is no reason why the
farmer should uphold protection."

From this on his remarks had a mysterious quality. "I'm a free trader,
but I'm not a Democrat. Tariff tinkering is not free trade, and I don't
believe the Democrats would do any more than the Republicans, but that
aint the question. The question is whether the farmers should be free
traders."

After the discussion along familiar lines had taken place, Radbourn
resumed the chair and called on any one in the room to volunteer a word
on either side. "We would like to hear from Talcott," he said.

"Talcott, Talcott," called the rest.

Bradley rose, as if impelled by some irresistible power within himself.
He began stammeringly. He had but one line of thought at his command,
and that was the line of thought indicated by Miss Wilbur in her speech
at the picnic, the Home Market idea, upon which he had spent a great
deal of thought. "Mr. Chairman, I don't believe in free trade. I
believe if we had free trade it would make us all farmers for England.
It aint what we ought t' do. We've got gold in our hills, an' coal an'
timber to manufacture. What we want t' do is to build up our
industries; make a home market."

As he went on with these stock phrases, he seemed to get hold of things
which before had seemed out of his reach, scraps of speeches, newspaper
comments, an astonishing flood of arguments, or at least what he took
for arguments, came rushing into his mind. He reached out his hands and
grasped and used phrases not his own as if they were bludgeons. He
assaulted the opposition blindly, but with immense power.

He sat down amid loud applause, and young Mason arose to close the
affirmative. He was sarcastic to the point of offence.

"He has said 'em all," he began, alluding to Bradley, "all the
regulation arguments of Republican newspapers. And as for the leader of
the opposition, he has got off the usual sneer at copperhead Democracy.
This debate wouldn't have been complete without that remark from my
esteemed leader of the opposition. Where argument fails,
misrepresentations and sneers may do service with the injudicious. I
trust the judges will remember that the argument has been on our side,
and the innuendoes on the side of the opposition."

The verdict of the judges was in favor of the free traders, but the
decision of the judges had less effect on Bradley than the surprising
revelation of Radbourn's thought. There were phrases whose reach and
significance he did not realize to the full, but their effect was not
lost. He never forgot such things.

He was thinking how diametrically opposite Miss Wilbur's ideas were,
when Radbourn came up, and said with a significant smile:

"Well, Talcott, you _did_ get hold of all the regulation stock
material. The Home Market idea is a great field for you. You think a
city is of itself a good thing? You think a city means civilization.
Well, I want to tell you, and maybe you won't believe me, cities mean
vice, and crime, and poverty, and vast wealth for the few, and as for
the Home Market idea, how would it do to let the farmer buy in the same
market in which he sells? He sells in the world's market, but you'd
force him to buy in a protected market."

Radbourn went off with a peculiar smile, which left Bradley uncertain
whether he was laughing at him or not. He began from that moment to
overhaul his stock of phrases, to see if they were really shopworn and
worthless. He was growing marvellously, his whole nature was now awake.
He thought, as he sawed wood in the back alleys of the town, and at
night he toiled at his books. Those were great days. New powers were
swiftly burgeoning.

Radbourn spoke to several of the politicians of the town about Bradley.

"There is a good deal in that man Talcott. Of course he's just
beginning, but you'll hear from him on the stump. He is an orator that
reaches people. He has the advantage of most of us; he's in dead
earnest when he's advocating Republicanism."

Radbourn had times of saying things like this when his hearers didn't
know what to make of him.

"It's just his way," some one usually said, and the rest sat in
silence. They didn't enjoy it, but as Radbourn was not running for any
office and was known to be a powerful thinker, they thought it best not
to antagonize him.

"I wonder if he intends the law?" asked Judge Brown.

"I see what the Judge is driving at," Radbourn said quickly, "he thinks
he can make a Democrat of him."

The group laughed. Democrats were in a hopeless minority, but the judge
and Colonel Peavey never lost their proselyting zeal.

"The Judge is always on hand like a sore thumb," said Amos.

"The Judge'll be on the right side of the tariff one of these fine
days, and have the laugh on the lot of yeh."

"What y' idee about that, Rad?"

"Good heavens! You don't expect to have protection always, do yeh?" was
his only reply.

A day or two later he said to Bradley--

"Talcott, Brown wants to see you. He wants to make you a 'lawyer's
hack'! Now I'd say to most men, don't do it, but if he offers to give
you a place take it. It won't be worse than sawing wood thirty hours a
week."

Following Radbourn's direction he passed up a narrow, incredibly grimy
stairway, and knocked at a door at the end of a hall, whose only light
came through the letter-slit in the door.

"Come in!" yelled a snarling voice.

Bradley entered timidly, for the voice was not at all cordial. The
Judge, in his own den, was a different man from the Judge at Robie's
grocery, and this day he was in bad humor. He sat with his heels on a
revolving book-case, a law-book spread out on his legs, a long pipe in
his hand.

If he uttered any words of greeting they were lost in the crescendo
growl of a fat bull-dog lying in supple shining length at his feet.

"Down with yeh!" he snarled at the dog, who ceased his growling, but
ran lightly and with ferocious suggestiveness toward Bradley and clung
sniffing about his heels.

"Si' down!" the Judge said, indicating a chair with his pipe, which he
held by the bowl. He made no other motion.

Bradley sat down. This greeting drove him back into his usual stubborn
silence. He waited for developments, his eyes on the dog.

"Well, young man, what can I do for you?" asked the lawyer after a long
silence, during which he laid down one book, and read a page in
another.

"Nothin', I guess."

"Well, what the devil did yeh come in here for?" he inquired, with a
glare of astonishment. "Want 'o buy a dog?"

Bradley was mad. "I came because Radbourn sent me. I c'n git out agin,
mighty quick."

The Judge took down his heels. "Oh, you're that young orator. Why
didn't yeh say so, you damned young Indian?" He now rose and walked
over to the spittoon before going on. Bradley knew that this rough tone
was entirely different from the first. It was a sort of affectionate
blackguardism. "I heard you speak last Friday. All you need, young man,
is a chance to swing y'r elbows. You want room according to y'r
strength, but you never'd find it in the Republican party. It's struck
with the palsy."

The judge had been talking this for two presidential campaigns and
didn't take himself at all seriously.

"What are you going to do?"

"I don't know, yet."

"Do you want 'o study law?"

"I don't know, sir. Do you think I can be a lawyer?"

"If you're not too damned honest. If you want 'o try it, I'll make an
arrangement with you, that will be better than sawing wood anyhow, this
winter, and you can keep right on with your studies. We'll see what can
be done next year."

The old man had taken a liking to Bradley on account of his oratory,
and the possibilities of making him a Democratic leader had really
taken possession of him. He had no son of his own, and he took a deep
interest in young men of the stamp of Milton and Bradley.

After he reached home that night, Bradley extended his ambitions. He
dared to hope that he might be a lawyer, and an orator, which meant
also a successful politician to him. Politics to him, as to most
western men, was the greatest concern of life, and the city of
Washington the Mecca whose shining dome lured from afar. To go to
Washington was equivalent to being born again. "A man can do anything
if he thinks so and tries hard," he thought, following Radbourn's
words.

He bustled about cheerily, cooking his fried potatoes and scraps of
meat, and boiling his tea. The dim light made his large face softer and
more thoughtful than it had appeared before, and his cheerfulness over
his lonely meal typed forth the sublime audacity, profound ignorance,
and pathetic faith with which such a man faces the world's millions and
dares to hope for success.



VI.

BRADLEY ATTENDS A CONVENTION.


On a dreamful September day of the following year, Bradley was helping
Milton Jennings to dig potatoes. It was nearly time for his return to
school and to Judge Brown's office, and the two young men were full of
plans. Milton was intending to go back for another year, and Bradley
intended to keep up with his studies if possible, and retain his place
with Brown also.

"Say," broke out Milton suddenly, "we ought to attend this convention."

"What convention?"

"Why, the nominating convention at Rock. Father's going this afternoon.
I never've been. Let's go with him."

"That won't dig taters," smiled Bradley in his slow way.

"Darn the taters. If we're goin' into politics we want 'o know all
about things."

"That's so. I would like to go if your father'll let us off on the
taters."

Mr. Jennings made no objection. "It'll be a farce, though, the whole
thing."

"Why so?"

"I'll tell you on the way down. Git the team ready and we'll take
neighbor Councill in."

Bradley listened to Mr. Jennings' explanation with an interest born of
his expanding ambition. His marvellously retentive mind absorbed every
detail and the situation cleared in his mind.

For sixteen years the affairs of the country had been managed by a
group of persuasive, well-dressed citizens of Rock River, who played
into each other's hands and juggled with the county's money with such
adroitness and address that their reign seemed hopelessly permanent to
the discontented and suspicious farmers of the county. Year after year
they saw these gentlemen building new houses, opening banks, and buying
in farm mortgages "all out of the county," many grangers asserted.

Year after year the convention assembled, and year after year the
delegates from the rural townships came down to find their duties
purely perfunctory, simply to fill up the seats. They always found the
slate made up and fine speakers ready to put it through with a rush of
ready applause, before which the slower-spoken, disorganized farmers
were well-nigh helpless. It was a case of perfect organization against
disorganization and mutual distrust. Banded officialism fighting to
keep its place against the demands of a disorganized righteous mob of
citizens. Office is always a trained command. The intrenched minority
is capable of a sort of rock-like resistance.

Rock River and its neighboring village of Cedarville, by pooling
together could tie the convention, and in addition to these towns they
always controlled several of the outlying townships by judicious
flattery of their self-constituted managers, who were given small
favors, put on the central committee, and otherwise made to feel that
they were leading men in the township; and it was beginning to be
stated that the county treasurer had regularly bribed other influential
whippers-in, by an amiable remission of taxes.

"Why don't you fight 'em?" asked Milton, after Mr. Jennings had covered
the whole ground thoroughly.

Councill laughed. "We've been a-fightin' um; suppose you try."

"Give us a chance, and we'll do our part. Won't we, Brad?"

Bradley nodded, and so committed himself to the fight. He was fated to
begin his political career as an Independent Republican.

On the street they met other leading grangers of the county, and it
became evident that there was a deep feeling of resentment present.
They gathered in knots on the sidewalks which led up under the splendid
maples that lined the sidewalks leading toward the court-house.

The court-house was of the usual pseudo-classic style of architecture,
that is to say, it was a brick building with an ambitious facade of
four wooden fluted columns. Its halls echoed to the voices and
footsteps of the crowd that passed up its broad, worn and grimy steps
into the court-room itself, which was grimier and more hopelessly
filthy than the staircase with its stratified accumulations of cigar
stubs and foul sawdust. Its seats were benches hacked and carved like
the desks of a country schoolhouse. Nothing could be more barren, more
desolate. It had nothing to relieve it save the beautiful stains of
color that seemed thrown upon the windows by the crimson and orange
maples which stood in the yard.

They found the room full of delegates, among whom there was going on a
great deal of excited conversation. From a side room near the Judge's
bench there issued, from time to time, messengers who came out among
the general mob, and invited certain flattered and useful delegates to
come in and meet with the central committee. There was plainly a
division in the house.

"The rusty cusses are on their ears to-day," said Milton, "and there's
going to be fun." His blue eyes were beaming with laughter, and his
quick wit kept those who were within hearing on the broad grin.

"Goin' to down 'em t' day?" he asked of Councill.

"We're goin' t' try."

In one dishonest way or another the ring had kept its hold upon the
county, notwithstanding all criticism, and now came to the struggle
with smiling confidence. They secured the chairman by the ready-made
quick vote, by acclamation for re-election. The president then
appointed the committee upon credentials and upon nominations, and the
work of the convention was opened.

The committee on nominations, in due course presented its slate as
usual, but here the real battle began. Bradley suddenly found himself
tense with interest. His ancestry must have been a race of orators and
politicians, for the atmosphere of the convention roused him till it
transformed him.

Here was the real thing. No mere debate, but a fight. There was battle
in the air, now blue with smoke and rank with the reek of tobacco.
There was fight in the poise of the grizzled heads and rusty, yellow
shoulders of the farmers who had now fallen into perfect silence. In
looking over them one might have been reminded of a field of
yellow-gray boulders.

Colonel Russell moved the election of the entire slate, as presented by
the nominating committee, in whom, he said, the convention had the
utmost confidence. Four or five farmers sprang to their feet instantly
and Osmond Deering got the floor. When he began speaking the loafers in
the gallery stopped their chewing in excess of interest. He was one of
the most influential men in the county.

"Mr. President," he began in his mild way, "I don't want to seem
captious about this matter, but I want to remind this convention that
this is the eighth year that almost the same identical slate has been
presented to the farmers of Rock County and passed against our wishes.
It isn't right that it should pass again. It sha'n't pass without my
protest." Applause. "This convention has been robbed of its right to
nominate every year, and every year we've gone home feeling we've been
made cat's paws of, for the benefit of a few citizens of Rock River. I
protest against the slate. I claim the right to nominate my man. I
don't intend to have a committee empowered to take away my rights to"--

The opposition raised a clamor, "Question! Question!" attempting to
force a vote, but the old man, carried out of himself by his
excitement, shook his broad flat hand in the air, and cried: "I have
the floor, gentlemen, and I propose to keep it." The farmers applauded.
"I say to this convention, vote down this motion and set down on the
old-fashioned slate-making committee business. It aint just, it aint
right, and I protest against it."

He sat down to wild excitement, his supporters trying to speak, the
opposition crying, "Question, Question." Several fiery speeches were
made by leading grangers, but they were met by a cool, smooth
persuasive speech from the chairman of the nominating committee, who
argued that it was not to be supposed that this committee chosen by
this convention would bring in a slate which would not be a credit and
honor to the country. True, they were mainly from Rock River and
Cedarville; but it must be remembered that the population of the county
was mainly in these towns, and that no ticket could succeed which did
not give a proper proportion of representation to these towns. These
men could not be surpassed in business ability. They were old in their
office, it was true, but the affairs of the county were passing through
a critical period in their history, and it was an old and well-tried
saying: "Never swap horses in the midst of a stream," anyhow, he was
content to leave the matter to the vote of this convention.

The vote carried the slate through by a small majority, leaving the
farmers again stunned and helpless, and the further business of the
convention was to restore peace and good-will, as far as possible among
the members. It was amazing to Bradley to find how easily he could be
swayed by the plausible speeches of the gentlemanly chairman of the
nominating committee. It was a great lesson to him in the power of
oratory. The slate was put through simply by the address of the
chairman of the committee.

On the way out they met Councill and Jennings walking out with Chairman
Russell, who had his hand on a shoulder of each, and was saying, with
beautiful candor and joviality: "Well, we beat you again. It's all fair
in politics, you know."

"Yes, but it's the last time," said Jennings, who refused to smile. "We
can't give this the go-by."

"Oh, well, now, neighbor Jennings, you mustn't take it too hard; you
know these men are good capable men."

"They are capable enough," put in Deering, "but we want a change."

"Then make it," laughed Russell, good-naturedly defiant.

"We will make it, bet y'r boots," said Amos Ridings.

"Let's see yeh," was Russell's parting word, delivered with a jaunty
wave of his hand.

The farmers rode home full of smoldering wrath. They were in fighting
humor, and only needed an organizer to become a dangerous force.



VII.

THE FARMERS OUST THE RING.


The following Saturday Bradley, who was still at work with Milton, saw
Amos Ridings gallop up and dismount at the gate, and call Jennings out,
and during the next two hours, every time he looked up he saw them in
deep discussion out by the pig pen. Part of the time Jennings faced
Amos, who leaned against the fence and whittled a stick, and part of
the time he talked to Jennings who leaned back against the fence on his
elbows, and studied Amos whittling the rail. Mrs. Jennings at last
called them all to dinner, and still the question remained apparently
unsolved, though they changed the conversation to crops and the price
of wheat.

"Brad, set down here and make a lot o' copies of this call. Milt, you
help him."

The call read:

    "A NEW DEAL. REFORM IN COUNTY POLITICS."

    A mass convention of the citizens of Rock County will be held at
    Rock Creek Grove on September 28th, for the purpose of nominating a
    people's ticket. All who favor reform in politics and rebel against
    the ring-rule of our county officers are invited to be present.

    Per order,

    AMOS RIDINGS,
    JOHN JENNINGS,
    WILLIAM COUNCILL,

    _People's Committee._

"What's all this?" asked Milton of his father.

"We're going to have a convention of our own."

"We're on the war path," said Amos grimly. "We'll make them fellers
think hell's t' pay and no pitch hot."

After dinner Amos took a roll of the copies of the call and rode away
to the north, and Jennings hitched up his team and drove away to the
south. Milton and Bradley went back to their corn-husking, feeling that
they were "small petaters."

"They don't intend to let us into it, that's dead sure," said Milton.
"All the same, I know the scheme. They're going to bolt the convention,
and there'll be fun in the air."

The county woke up the next morning to find its schoolhouse doors
proclaiming a revolt of the farmers, and the new deal was the talk of
the county. It was the grange that had made this revolt possible. This
general intelligence and self-cognizance was the direct result of the
work of the grange. It had brought the farmers together, and had made
them acquainted with their own men, their own leaders, and when they
came together a few days later, under the open sky, like the Saxon
thanes of old, there was a spirit of rebellion in the air that made
every man look his neighbor in the face with exultation.

It was a perfectly Democratic meeting. They came together that
beautiful September day, under the great oaks, a witenagemote of
serious, liberty-loving men, ready to follow wherever their leaders
pointed.

Amos Ridings was the chairman, tall, grim-lipped and earnest-eyed. His
curt speech carried the convention with him. His platform was a wagon
box, and he stood there with his hat off, the sun falling upon his
shock of close-clipped stiff hair, making a powerful and resolute
figure with a touch of poetry in his face.

"Fellow-citizens, we've come together here to-day to organize to oust
the ring that has held our county affairs in their hands so long. We
can oust them if we'll stand together. If we don't, we can't. I believe
we will stand together. The grange has learned us something. It's made
us better acquainted with each other. An' the time has come f'r a
fight. The first thing is a permanent chairman. Who'll y' have for
chairman?"

"I nominate Amos Ridings."

"Second the motion," cried two voices in quick succession.

The chairman's grim visage did not relax. He had no time for false
delicacy. "Are y' ready f'r the question?"

"Yes, yes," shouted the crowd.

"All in favor, say 'Aye'."

There was a vast shout of approval.

Contrary minds, "No! It's a vote."

The other officers were elected in the same way. They were there for
business. They passed immediately to the nominations, and there was the
same unanimity all down the ticket until the nominations for the county
auditor began.

A small man lifted his hand and cried, "I nominate James McGann of Rock
for auditor."

There was a little silence followed by murmurs of disapproval. The
first false note had been struck. Someone seconded the motion. The
chairman's gavel fell.

"I want to ask the secretary to take the chair for a few minutes," he
said, and there was something in his voice that meant business.
Something ominous. The delegates pressed closer. The secretary took the
chair. "I've got something to say right here," Ridings began.

"Fellow-citizens, we're here in a big fight. We can't afford t' make
any mistake. We can't afford to be tolled off the track by a bag of
anise seed. Who is the man makin' this motion? Does anybody know him? I
do. He's a spy. He's sent here f'r a purpose. Suppose he'd nominated a
better man? His motion would have been out of place. His nomination of
Jim McGann was a trick. Jim McGann can't git a pound o' sugar on credit
in his own town. He never had any credit n'r influence. Why was he
nominated? Simply to make us ridiculous--a laughin' stock. I want to
put you on your guard. If we win it's got t' be in a straight fight.
That's all I've got t' say. Recognize no nomination that don't come
from a man y' know."

The convention clamored its approval, and the small spy and trickster
slunk away and disappeared. There was a certain majesty in the action
of this group of roused farmers. Nominations were seconded and ratified
with shouts, even down through the most important officers in the
county and town. It was magnificent to see how deep was the harmony of
action.

Deering was forced to accept the nomination for treasurer by this
feeling of the unanimity and genuineness which pervaded each succeeding
action, and when the vote was called, and the men thrust their hands in
the air and shouted, they had something of the same feeling that lay at
the heart of the men of Uri, and Unterwalden, and Schwyz when they
shouted their votes together in the valley with the mighty cordon of
guarding mountains around them.

The grange had made this convention and its magnificent action
possible. Each leading member of the grange, through its festivals, and
picnics, and institutes, had become known to the rest, and they were
able to choose their leaders instantly. The ticket as it stood was very
strong. Deering as treasurer and Councill as sheriff, insured success
so far as these officers were concerned.

On the way home Councill shouted back at the young men riding with
Jennings: "Now's a good time for you young chaps t' take the field and
lectioneer while we nominees wear biled collars, and set in the parlor
winder."

"What you want to do is stay at home and dig taters," shouted Milton.
"A biled collar would defeat any one of yeh, dead sure."

This was, in fact, the plan of the campaign.

Amos Ridings assumed practical direction of it.

"Now we don't want a candidate to go out--not once. Every man stay at
home and not open his head. We'll do the work. You tend your knittin'
and we'll elect yeh."

The boys went out on Friday nights, to electioneer for the Granger
ticket, as it was called.

"It's boss fun," Milton said to his father. "It's ahead o' husking
corn. It does tickle me to see the future sheriff of the county diggin'
pertaters while I'm ridin' around in my best clo'es makin' speeches."

"We'll have the whip-row on you when we get into office," replied Mr.
Jennings.

"Don't crow till y'r out o' the woods," laughed Milton.

The boys really aroused considerable enthusiasm, and each had stanch
admirers, though they were entirely opposed in style. Milton told a
great many funny stories, and went off on what he considered to be the
most approved oratorical flights. He called on the farmers to stand
together. He asked them whether it was fair that the town should have
all the offices. In short, he made very taking political harangues.

Bradley always arose in the same slow way. He was a little heavy in
getting started. His deep voice was thick and husky at beginning, but
cleared as he went on. His words came slowly, as if each were an iron
weight. He dealt in facts--or what he believed to be facts. He had
carefully collated certain charges which had been made against the
officials of the county, and in his perfectly fearless way of stating
them, there was immense power.



VIII.

BRADLEY OFFENDS NETTIE'S FATHER.


It was a singular thing to see the farmers suddenly begin to ask
themselves why they should stand quietly by while the townsmen
monopolized all the offices and defied the farmers to make a change.
They laughed at the charges of chicanery in office, and openly said
that "no man with corns on his hands and hayseed in his hair can be
elected to office in the county." This speech was of the greatest value
to the young champions. It became their text.

The speech that made Bradley famous among the farmers came about the
middle of October. It was an open-air meeting in the Cottonwood
township, one Saturday afternoon. He and Milton drove out to their
appointment in a carriage which Milton had borrowed. It was a superb
Indian summer day, and they were both very happy. Each had his
individual way of showing it. Milton put his heels on the dash-board,
and sung or whistled all the way out, stopping only occasionally to
say:

"Aint this boss? This is what I call doin' a thing up brown. Wish I
could do this for a stiddy business."

Bradley smiled at his companion's fun. He felt the pride and glory of
it all, but he couldn't express it as Milton did. It was such a
magnificent thing to be thus selected to push on a campaign. The mere
idea of the crowd waiting out there for their arrival had something
royal in it. And then this riding away into a practically unknown part
of the county to speak before perfect strangers had an epic quality.
Great things seemed coming to him.

They found quite an assembly of farmers, notwithstanding the busy
season. It showed how deep was the interest in the campaign, and Milton
commented upon it in beginning his speech.

"If a farmer ever gets his share of things, he's got to take time to
turn out to caucuses and meetings, and especially he's got to stop work
and vote."

Bradley arose after Milton's speech, which pleased the farmers with its
shrewdness and drollery, feeling at a great disadvantage.

"My colleague," he began (preserving the formality of the Delta Society
debates), "has told you of the ring that has controlled the officers of
this county for so long, but he hasn't told you of the inside facts. I
aint fightin' in this campaign to put the town people out and the
farmers in; I'm fightin' to put thieves out and honest men in."

This was a blow straight out from the shoulder and was followed by
great applause. But a few voices cried:

"Take that back!"

"I won't take anything back that I know is the truth."

"Yes, you will! That's a lie, an' you know it!" shouted an excited man
a short distance away.

"Let me tell you a story," Bradley went on slowly. "Last session of
court a friend of mine was on the jury. When court adjourned, he took
his order on the county to the treasurer and asked for his pay. The
treasurer said, 'I'm sorry, but they aint any funds left for the
jurors' fees.'

"'Can't you give me some out of some other fund?'

"'No, that won't do--can't do that.'

"'Well, when will yeh have some money in?'

"'Well, it's hard tellin'--in two or three months, probably.'

"'Well, I'd like the money on this order. I need it. Can't I git
somebody to cash it for me?'

"'Well, I dunno. I guess they'll take it at the store. My brother John
might cash it--possibly, as an accommodation.'

"Well, my friend goes over to Brother John's bank, and Brother John
cashes the order, and gives him eight dollars for it. Brother John then
turns in the order to the treasurer and gets twelve dollars for it, and
then they 'divvy' on the thing. Now, how's that for a nice game?"

"It's a damn lie!" shouted an excited man in the foreground. He had his
sleeves rolled up and kept up a continual muttering growl.

"It's the truth," repeated Bradley. There was a strong Russell
contingent in the meeting, and they were full of fight. The angry man
in front repeated his shout:

"That's a lie! Take it back, or I'll yank yeh off'n that wagon box."

"Come and try it," said Bradley, throwing off his coat.

The excitement had reached the point where blows begin. Several
irresponsible fellows were urging their companion on.

"Jump 'im! Jump 'im, Hank! We'll see fair play."

"Stand yer ground, Brad!" shouted the friends of the speaker. "We'll
see they come one at a time."

"Oh, see here! No fightin'," shouted others. The man Hank was not to be
silenced. He pushed his way to the wagon-wheel and shook his extended
fist at the speaker.

"Take that back, you"--

Bradley caught him by his uplifted wrist, and bracing himself against
the wheel, jerked his assailant into the wagon-box, and tumbled him out
in a disjointed heap on the other side before he could collect his
scattered wits.

Then Bradley stood up in his splendid height and breadth. "I say it's
the truth; and if there are any more rowdies who want 'o try yankin' me
out o' this wagon, now's your time. You never'll have a better chance."
Nobody seemed anxious. The cheers of the crowd and the young orator's
determined attitude discouraged them. "Now I'll tell yeh who the man
was who presented that order. It was William Bacon; mebbe some o' you
fellers want to tell him _he_ lies."

He finished his speech without any marked interruption, and was roundly
congratulated by the farmers. On the way back to Rock River, however,
he seemed very much depressed, while Milton exulted over it all.

"Gosh! I wish I had your muscle, old man! I ain't worth a cent in
things like that. Cæsar! But you snatched him bald-headed."

"Makes me feel sick," Bradley said. "I ain't had but one squabble
before since I was a boy. It makes me feel like a plug-ugly."

Milton was delighted with it all. It made such a capital story to tell!
"Say Brad, do you know what I thought of when you was yankin' that
feller over the wheel? Scaldin' hogs! You pulled on him just as if he
was a three-hundred pound shote. It was funny as all time!"

But Bradley had trouble in going to sleep that night, thinking about
it. He was wondering what _She_ would have thought of him in that
disgraceful row. He tried to remember whether he swore or not. He felt,
even in the darkness, her grave, sweet eyes fixed upon him in a
sorrowful, disappointed way, and it made him groan and turn his face to
the wall, to escape the picture of himself standing there in the wagon,
with his coat off, shouting back at a band of rowdies.

But the story spread, and it pleased the farmers immensely. The
boldness of the charge and the magnificent muscle that backed it up
took hold of the people's imagination strongly, and added very greatly
to his fame.

When the story reached Judge Brown, he was deeply amused. On the
following Monday morning, as Brad was writing away busily, the Judge
entered the room.

"Well, Brad, they say you called the Russells thieves."

"I guess perhaps I did."

"Well, aint that goin' to embarrass you a little when--when you're
calling on Nettie?"

"I aint a-goin' to call there any more."

"Oh, I see! Expect the colonel to call on you, eh?"

"I don't care what he does," Bradley cried, turning and facing his
employer. "I said what I know to be the truth. I call it thieving, and
if they don't like it, they can hate it. I aint a-goin' to back down an
inch, as long as I know what I know."

"That's right!" chuckled the Judge. As a Democrat, he rejoiced to see a
Republican ring assaulted. "Go ahead, I'll stand by you, if they try
the law."



IX.

BRADLEY MEETS MRS. BROWN.


Though Bradley had called a good many times at the Russell house, to
accompany Nettie to parties or home from school, yet he had never had
any conversation to speak of with Russell, who was a large and somewhat
pompous man. He knew his place, as a Western father, and never
interfered with his daughter's love affairs. He knew Bradley as a
likely and creditable young fellow, and besides, his experience with
his two older daughters had taught him the perfect uselessness of
trying to marry them to suit himself or his wife.

He was annoyed at this attack of Bradley upon him and his brother, the
treasurer. It was really carrying things too far. Accustomed to all
sorts of epithets and charges on the part of opposing candidates, he
ought not to have been so sensitive to Bradley's charge, but the case
was peculiar. It was exactly true, in the first place, and then it came
from a young man whom his daughter had brought into the family, and
whom he had begun to think of as a probable son-in-law.

On Tuesday morning, just as Bradley was tumbling his dishes into a pan
of hot water ("their weekly bath," Milton called it), there came a
sharp knock on the door, and a girl's voice called out clearly:

"Hello, Brad! Can I come in?"

"Yes, come in."

Nettie came in, her cheeks radiant with color, her eyes shining. "Oh,
washing your dishes? Wait a minute, I'll help." She flung off her coat
in a helter-skelter way, and rolled up her sleeves.

Bradley expostulated: "No, no! Don't do that! I'll have 'em done in a
jiffy. They aint but a few."

"I'll wipe 'em, anyway," she replied. "Oh, fun! What a towel!" she held
up the side of a flour-sack, on which was a firm-name in brown letters.
She laughed in high glee. There was a delicious suggestion in the fact
that she was standing by his side helping him in his household affairs.

Bradley was embarrassed, but she chattered away, oblivious of space and
time. Her regard for him had grown absolutely outspoken and without
shame. There was something primitive and savage in her frank confession
of her feelings. She had come to make all the advances herself, in a
confidence that was at once beautiful and pathetic. She met him in the
morning on the way to school, and clung to him at night, and made him
walk home with her. She came afternoons with a team, to take him out
driving. The presence of the whole town really made no difference to
her. She took his arm just the same, proud and happy that he permitted
it.

"Oh, say," she broke off suddenly, "pa wants to see you about
something. He wanted me to tell you to come down to-night." She was
dusting the floor at the moment, while he was moving the furniture. "I
wonder what he wants?" she asked.

"I don't know," he replied, evasively.

"Something about politics, I suppose." She came over and stood beside
him in silence. She was very girlish, in spite of her assumption of a
young lady's dress and airs, and she loved him devouringly. She stood
so close to him that she could put her hand on his, as it lay on the
table. Her clear, sweet eyes gazed at him with the confidence and
purity of a child.

It was a relief to Bradley to hear the last bell ring. She withdrew her
hand and threw down the broom which she had been holding in her left
hand. "Oh, that's the last bell. Help me on with my cloak, quick!" He
put her cloak on for her. She stamped her foot impatiently. "Pull my
hair outside!"

He took her luxuriant hair in both his hands, and pulled it outside the
cloak, and fitted the collar about her neck. She caught both his hands
in hers, and looking up, laughed gleefully.

"You dassent kiss me now!"

He stooped and kissed her cheek, and blushed with shame. On the way up
the walk to the chapel, he suffered an agony of remorse. He felt dimly
that he had done his ideal an irreparable wrong. Nettie talked on, not
minding his silence, looking up into his face in innocent glee,
planning some new party or moonlit drive.

All that morning he was too deep in thought to give attention to his
classes, and at noon he avoided Nettie, and went home to think, but try
as he might, something prevented him from getting hold of the real
facts in the case.

He was fond of Nettie. She stood near him, an embodied passion. His
love for Miss Wilbur, which he had no idea of calling love, was a vague
and massive feeling of adoration, entirely disassociated from the
flesh. She stood for him as the embodiment of a world of longings and
aspirations undeveloped and undefined.

One thought was clear. He ought not to allow--that is the way it took
shape in his mind--he ought not to allow Nettie to be seen with him so
much, unless he intended to marry her, and he had never thought of her
as a possible wife.

He didn't know how to meet Russell, so put off going down to his house,
as he had promised. He excused himself by saying he was busy moving,
anyway. He had determined upon taking a boarding-place somewhere in
correspondence with his change of fortunes and when he had spoken of
it, the Judge had said:

"Why not come up to my house? Mrs. Brown and I get kind of lonesome
sometimes, and then I hate to milk, an' curry horses, an' split
kindlings, always did. Come up and try living with us."

Bradley had accepted the offer with the greatest delight. It meant a
great deal to him. It took him out of a cellar and put him into one of
the finest houses in town--albeit it was a cold and gloomy house. It
was large, and white, and square, with sharp gables, and its blinds
were always closed. He went up to dinner that day with the judge, to
meet Mrs. Brown, whom he had never seen; nobody saw her, for she was a
"perfect recluse."

She looked at her husband through her glasses in a calm surprise, as he
introduced Bradley, and stated he had invited him to dinner.

"Well, Mr. Brown, if you will do such things, you must expect your
company to take every-day fare."

"Maybe our every-day fare, Mrs. Brown, will be Sunday fare for this
young man."

They sat down at the table, which Mrs. Brown waited upon herself,
rising from her place for the tea or the biscuits. She said very little
thereafter, but Bradley caught the gleam of her glasses fixed upon him
several times. She had a beautiful mouth, but the line of her lips
seemed to indicate sadness and a determined silence.

"Mrs. Brown, I wish you'd take care of this young man for a few weeks.
He's my clerk, and I--ahem!--I--suppose he's going to milk the cow and
split the kindlings for me, to pay for his board in that useful way."

She looked at him again in silence, and the line of her lips got a
little straighter, as she waited for the Judge to go on.

"This young man is going to study law with me, and I hope to make a
great man of him, Mrs. Brown."

"Mr. Brown, I wish you'd consult with me once in a while," she said
without anger.

"Mrs. Brown, it was a case of necessity. I was on the point of giving
up the milking of that cow, and my back got a crick in it every time I
split the kindlings. I consider I've done you a benefit and myself a
favor, Mrs. Brown."

She turned her glasses upon Bradley again, and studied him in silence.
She was a very dignified woman of fifty. Her hair was like wavy masses
of molasses candy, and her brow cold and placid. Her eyes could not be
seen, but her mouth and chin were almost girlish in their beauty.

The Judge felt that he had done a hazardous thing. He took a new tone,
his reminiscent tone. "Mrs. Brown, do you remember the first time you
saw me? Well, I was 'pirating' through Oberlin--(chopping wood, you
remember we didn't saw it in those days) and living in a cellar, just
like this young man. He's been cookin' his own grub, just as I did
then, because he hasn't any money to pay for board. Now I think we
ought to give him a lift. Don't you think so, Mrs. Brown?"

Her mouth relaxed a little. The glasses turned upon Bradley again, and
looked upon him so steadily that he was able to see her gray eyes.

"Mr. Brown is always doing things without consulting me," she explained
to Bradley, "but you are welcome, sir, if our lonesome house aint worse
than your cellar. Mr. Brown very seldom takes the trouble to explain
what he wants to do, but I'll try to make you feel at home, sir."

They ate the rest of the meal in silence. The Judge was evidently
thinking over old times, and it would be very difficult to say what his
wife was thinking of. At last he rose saying:

"Now if you'll come out, I'll show you the well and the cow." As he
went by his wife's chair, he stopped a moment, and said gently, "He'll
do us two lonely old fossils good, Elizabeth." His hand lay on her
shoulder an instant as he passed, and when Bradley went out of the
room, he saw her wiping her eyes upon her handkerchief, her glasses in
her hand.

The Judge coughed a little. "We never had but one child--a boy. He was
killed while out hunting"--he broke off quickly. "Now here's the meal
for the cow. I give her about a panful twice a day--when I don't forget
it."

Somehow, Mrs. Brown didn't seem so hard when he met her again at
supper. The line of her mouth was softer. In his room he found many
little touches of her motherly hand--a clean, sweet bed, and little
hand-made things upon the wall, that made him think of his own mother,
who had been dead since his sixteenth year. He had never had such a
room as this. It appeared to him as something very fine. Its frigid
atmosphere and lack of grace and charm did not appear to his eyes. It
was nothing short of princely after his cellar.

His knowledge of the inner life of the common Western homes made him
feel that this rigid coldness between the Judge and his wife was only
their way. The touch of the Judge's hand on her shoulder meant more
than a thousand worn phrases spoken every day. Under that silence and
reserve there was a deep of tenderness and wistful longing which they
could not utter, and dared not acknowledge, even to themselves. Their
lonely house had grown intolerable, and Bradley came into it bringing
youth and sunlight.



X.

A COUNTRY POLLING PLACE.


The suffering of the county papers was acute. They had supported the
"incumbents" for so long, and had derived a reciprocal support so long,
that they could not bring themselves to a decision. The Democratic
paper, the _Call_, was too feeble to be anything distinctive at this
stage of its career. Chard Foster had not yet assumed control of it. It
lent a half-hearted support to the Independent movement, and justified
its action on the ground that it was really a Democratic movement
leading toward reform, and it assumed to be the only paper advocating
reform. The other paper, unequivocally Republican, supported the
regular ticket with that single-heartedness of enmity, born of bribery,
or that ignorance which shuts out any admission that the other side has
a case.

The Oak Grove schoolhouse was the real storm-centre of the election,
and there was a great crowd there all day. It was a cold, raw day. The
men and boys all came in their overcoats and stood about on the leeward
side of the schoolhouse--where a pale sunlight fell--and scuffled, and
told stories, and bet cookies and apples on the election.

Some of the boys made up fires out in the woods near by, to which they
ran whooping whenever the cold became intolerable. They crouched around
the flames with a weird return of ancestral barbarism and laughed when
the smoke puffed out into their faces. They made occasional forages in
company with boys who lived near, after eggs, and apples, and popcorn,
which they placed before the fire and ate spiced with ashes.

Horsemen galloped up at intervals, bringing encouraging news of other
voting places. Teams clattered up filled with roughly-dressed farmers,
who greeted the other voters with loud and hearty shouts. They tumbled
out of the wagons, voted riotously, and then clattered back into the
corn-fields to their work, with wild hurrahs for the granger ticket.

The schoolhouse itself roared with laughter and excited talk, and the
big stove in the centre devoured its huge chunks of wood, making the
heat oppressive near it. No presidential election had ever brought out
such throngs of voters, or produced such interested discussion.

Bradley had been made clerk. His capital handwriting and knowledge of
book-keeping made him a valuable man for that work. He sat behind his
desk with the books before him, and impassively performed his duties,
but it was his first public appointment, and he was really deeply
gratified. He felt paid for all his year's hard study.

About two o'clock, when the voters were thickest at the polls, a man
galloped up with an excited air, and reining in his foaming horse,
yelled:

"Deering has withdrawn in favor of Russell!" The crowd swarmed out.

"What's the matter?"

"Who spoke?"

"Deering has withdrawn in favor of Russell. Cast your votes for
Russell," repeated the man, and plunged off up the road.

The farmers looked at each other. "What the hell's all this?" said
Smith.

"Who was it?"

"I don't know."

"He's a liar, whoever he is," said Councill. "Where've I seen him
before?"

"I know--it's Deering's hired man."

"You don't say so!" This seemed like the truth.

"I know who it is--it's Sam Harding," shouted Milton. "But that ain't
Deering's horse. It's a Republican trick. Jump y'r horse there,
Councill." He was carried out of himself by his excitement and anger.
The men leaped upon their horses.

"Some o' you fellers take his back trail," shouted Councill. "He'll
come from Shell-rock and Hell's Corner."

The men saw the whole trick. This man had been sent out to the most
populous of the county voting places to spread a lying report, trusting
to the surprise of the announcement to carry a few indecisive votes for
Russell.

Other men leaped their horses and rode off on Harding's back trail,
while Councill, Milton, and old man Bacon rode away after him. Bacon
growled as he rode:

"I'm agin you fellers, but by God! I b'lieve in a square game. If I kin
git my paw on that houn'"--

They rode furiously in the hope of overtaking him before he reached the
next polling-place. Milton was in the lead on his gray colt, a
magnificent creature. He was light and a fine rider, and forged ahead
of the elder men. But the "spy" was also riding a fine horse, and was
riding very fast.

When they reached the next polling-place he was just passing out of
sight beyond. They dashed up, scattering the wondering crowd.

"It's a lie! It's a trick!" shouted Milton. "Deering wouldn't withdraw.
Cast every vote for Deering. It's all done to fool yeh!"

The others came thundering up. "It's a lie!" they shouted.

"Come on!" cried Milton, dropping the rein on Mark's neck, and darting
away on the trail of the false courier.

The young fellows caught the excitement, and every one who had a horse
leaped into the saddle and clattered after, with whoop and halloo, as
if they were chasing a wolf.

The rider ahead suddenly discovered that he was being followed, and he
urged his horse to a more desperate pace along the lane which skirted
the woods' edge for a mile, and then turned sharply and led across the
river.

Along the lane is the chase led. There was something in the grim
silence with which Milton and Bacon rode in the lead that startled the
spy's guilty heart. He pushed his horse unmercifully, hoping to
discourage his pursuers.

Milton's blood was up now, and bringing the flat of his hand down on
the proud neck of his colt--the first blow he ever struck him, he
shouted--

"Get out o' this, Mark!"

The magnificent animal threw out his chin, his ears laid flat back, he
seemed to lower and lengthen, his eyes took on a wild glare. The air
whizzed by Milton's ears. A wild exultation rose in his heart. All the
stories of rides and desperate men he had ever read came back in a
vague mass to make his heart thrill.

Mark's terrific pace steadily ate up the intervening distance, and
Milton turned the corner and thundered down the decline at the very
heels of the fugitive.

"Hey! Hold on there!" Milton shouted, as he drew alongside and passed
the fellow. "Hold on there!"

"Git out o' my way!" was the savage answer.

"Stop right here!" commanded Milton, reining Mark in the way of the
other horse.

The fellow struck Mark. "Git out o' my way!" he yelled.

Milton seized the bit of the other horse and held it. The fellow raised
his arm and struck him twice before Bacon came thundering up.

"H'yare! Damn yeh--none o' that!"

He leaped from his horse, and running up, tore the rider from his
saddle in one swift effort. The fellow struggled fiercely.

"Let go o' me, 'r I'll kill yeh!"

Bacon growled something inarticulate as he cuffed the man from side to
side, shook him like a rag, and threw him to the ground. He lay there
dazed and scared, while Bacon caught his horse and tied it to a tree.

He came back to the fellow as he was rising, and again laid his
bear-like clutch upon him.

"Who paid you to do this?" he demanded, as Councill and the others came
straggling up, their horses panting with fatigue.

The fellow struck him in the face. The old man lifted him in the air
and dashed him to the ground with a snarling cry. His gesture was like
that of one who slams a biting cat upon the floor. The man did not
rise.

"You've killed him!" cried Milton.

"Damn 'im--I don't care!"

The man was about thirty-five years of age, a slender, thin-faced man
with tobacco-stained whiskers. The fellows knew him for a sneaking
fellow, but they plead for him.

"Don't hit 'im agin, Bacon. He's got enough."

The fellow sat up and looked around. The blood was streaming from his
nose and from a wound in his head. He had a savage and hunted look. He
was unsubdued, but was too much dazed to be able to do anything more
than swear at them all.

"What a' yuh chasen' me fur, y' damn cowards? Six on one!"

"What're you do-un ridin' across the country like this fur?"

"None o' your business, you low-lived"--

Bacon brought the doubled leading-strap which he held in his hand down
over the fellow's shoulders with a sounding slap.

"What you need is a sound tannun," he said. He plied the strap in
perfect silence upon the writhing man, who swore and yelled, but dared
not rise.

"Give him enough of it!" yelled the crowd.

"Give the fool enough!"

Bacon worked away with a curious air of taking a job. The strap fell
across the man's upheld hands and over his shoulders, penetrating even
the thick coat he wore--but it was not the blows that quelled him, it
was the look in Bacon's eyes. He saw that the old man would stand there
till sunset and ply that strap.

"Hold on! Dam yeh--y' want 'o kill me?"

"Got 'nough?"

"Yes, yes! My God, yes!"

"Climb onto that horse there."

He climbed upon his horse, and with Bacon leading it, rode back along
the road he had come, covered with blood.

"Now I want you to say with y'r own tongue ye lied," Bacon said, as
they came to the last polling-place he had passed.

The crowd came rushing out with excited questions.

"What y' got there, Bacon?"

"A liar. Come, what ye goun't' say?" he asked the captive.

"I lied--Deering aint withdrawn."

They rode on, Councill and Milton following Bacon and his prisoner. At
the Oak Grove schoolhouse a great crowd had gathered, and they came out
in a swarm as the cavalcade rode up. Bradley left his book and came out
to see the poor prisoner, who reeled in his saddle, covered with blood
and dirt.

They rode on to the next polling-place, relentlessly forcing the man to
undo as much of his villainy as possible. Milton remained with Bradley.
"That shows how desperate they are," he said as they went back into the
schoolhouse. "They see we mean business this time."

                     *      *      *      *      *

All was quiet, even gloomy, when Bradley and Milton reached Rock River.
The streets were deserted, and only an occasional opening door at some
favorite haunt, like the drug-store or Robie's grocery, showed that a
living soul was interested in the outcome of the election. There were
no bonfires, no marching of boys through the street with tin pans and
horns.

Some reckless fellows tried it out of devilment, but were promptly put
down by the strong hand of the city marshal, whose sympathies were with
the broken "ring." It had been evident at an early hour of the day that
the town of Rock River itself was divided. Amos Ridings and Robie had
carried a strong following over into the camp of the farmers. A general
feeling had developed which demanded a change.

Milton was wild with excitement. He realized more of the significance
of the victory than Bradley. He had been in politics longer. For the
first time in the history of the county, the farmers had asserted
themselves. For the first time in the history of the farmers of Iowa,
had they felt the power of their own mass.

For the first time in the history of the American farmer there had come
a feeling of solidarity. They perceived, for a moment at least, their
community of interests and their power to preserve themselves against
the combined forces of the political pensioners of the small towns.
They made the mistake of supposing the interests of the merchant,
artisan, and mechanic were also inimicable.

They saw the smaller circle first. They had not yet risen to the
perception of the solidarity of all productive interests. That was sure
to follow.



XI.

STUDYING WITH THE JUDGE.


After this campaign Bradley went back to his studies at the seminary
and to his work in Brown's office. Milton did not go back. Deering made
him his assistant in the treasurer's office, and he confided to Bradley
his approaching marriage with Eileen.

In talking about Milton's affairs to Bradley, Mr. Jennings said sadly:
"Well, that leaves me alone. He'll never come back to the farm. When he
was at school I didn't miss him so much, because he was always coming
back on a Saturday, but now--well, it's no use making a fuss over it, I
s'pose, but it's going to be lonesome work for us out there."

"Mebbe he'll come back after his term of office is up."

Mr. Jennings shook his head. "No, town life and office'll spoil
'im--and then he'll get married. You'll never go back on the farm.
Nobody ever does that gets away from it and learns how to get a livin'
anywhere else."

This melancholy sat strangely upon Mr. Jennings, who usually took
things as they came with smiling resignation. It affected Bradley
deeply to see him so gloomy.

Bradley found a quiet and comfortable home with Judge Brown and his odd
old wife, who manifested her growing regard for him by little touches
of adornment in his room, and by infrequent confidences. As for the
Judge, he took an immense delight in the young fellow, he made such a
capital listener. Between Bradley and the grocery he really found
opportunity to tell all his old stories and philosophize upon every
conceivable subject. He talked a deal of politics, quoting Jefferson
and Jackson. He criticised members of Congress, and told what he would
have done in their places. He criticised, also, the grange movement,
from what he considered to be a lofty plane.

"They profess to have for a motto 'equal rights to all and special
privileges to none,' and then they go off into class legislation. It's
easy to talk that principle, but it means business when you stand by
it. I haint got the sand to stand by that principle myself. It goes too
deep for me, but it's something you young politicians ought to study
on. One o' these days that principle will get life into it, and when it
does things will tumble. The Democratic party used to be a party that
meant that, and if it ever succeeds again it must head that way. That's
the reason I want to get you young fellows into it."

These talks didn't mean as much to Bradley as they should have done. He
was usually at work at something and only half listened while the Judge
wandered on, his heels in the air, his cheek full of tobacco. Old
Colonel Peavy dropped in occasionally, and Dr. Carver, and then the air
was full of good, old-time Democratic phrases. At such times the Judge
even went so far as to quote Calhoun.

"As a matter of fact, Calhoun was on the right track. If he hadn't got
his States' Rights doctrine mixed up with slavery, he'd 'a' been all
right. What he really stood for was local government as opposed to
centralized government. We're just comin' around back to a part of
Calhoun's position."

This statement of the Judge stuck in Bradley's mind; months afterward
it kept coming up and becoming more significant each time that he
talked upon it.

He thought less often of Miss Wilbur now, and he could hear her name
mentioned without flushing. She had become a vaguer but no less massive
power in his life. That beautiful place in his soul where she was he
had a strange reverence for. He loved to have it there. It was an
inspiration to him, and yet he did not distinctly look forward to ever
seeing her, much less to meeting her.

Indefinite as this feeling was, it saved him from the mistake of
marrying Nettie. Poor girl! She was in the grasp of her first great
passion, and was as helpless as a broken-winged bird in the current of
a river. She was feverishly happy and unaccountably sad by turns. The
commands of her father not to see Bradley only roused her antagonism,
and her mother's timid entreaties made no impression upon her. Not even
Bradley's unresponsiveness seemed to have a decided discouraging
effect.

Her classmates laughed at her, as they did at three or four other pairs
in the school who proclaimed their devouring love for each other by
walking to and from the chapel with locked arms, or who sat side by
side in their classes with clasped hands, indifferent to any rude jest,
reprimand from the teacher, or slyly-flung eraser. The principal gave
it up in despair, calling it a "sort of measles which they'll outgrow."

It was really pitiful to the comprehending observer. There was so much
that was pain mixed with this pleasure. There were so many keen and
benumbing disappointments, like that of waiting about the door of the
office for Bradley to come down, and then to see him appear in company
with some client of Judge Brown. Not that the client made so much
difference, but the cold glance of Bradley's eyes did. At such times
she turned away with quivering lip and choking throat.

She had lost much of her pertness and brightness. She talked very
little at home, and it was only when with Bradley that she seemed at
all like her old bird-like self. Then she chattered away in a wild
delight, if he happened to be in a responsive mood, or feverishly and
with a forced quality of gayety if he were cold and unresponsive.

Bradley knew he ought to decide one way or the other, and often he
promised himself that he would refuse to walk or ride with her, but the
next time she came he weakly relented at sight of her eager face. It
took so little to make her happy, that the temptation was very great to
yield, and so their lives went along. He took her to the parties and
sleigh-rides with the young people, but on his return he refused to
enter the house. He met her at the gate, and left her there upon his
return.

The colonel had met him shortly after the election, and had threatened
to whip him for his charges against him as an office-holder. He
concluded not to try it, however, and contented himself by saying,
"Don't you never darken my door again, young man."

But in general Bradley's life moved on uneventfully. He applied himself
studiously to his work in the office. He was getting hold of some
common law, and a great deal of common sense, for the Judge was strong
on both these points.

"Young man," said the Judge one day, after Bradley had returned from a
sleigh-ride with Nettie, "I see that the woman-question is before you.
Now don't make a mistake. Be sure you are right. In nine cases out of
ten, back out and you'll be right."

Bradley remained silent over by the rickety red-hot stove, warming his
stiffened fingers. The Judge went on in a speculative way:

"I believe I notice a tendency in the times that makes it harder for a
married man to succeed than it used to be. I think, on the whole, my
advice would be to keep out of it altogether. More men fail on that
account, I observe, than upon any other. You see it's so infernally
hard to tell what kind of a woman your girl is going to turn out."

"You needn't worry about me," said Bradley a little sullenly.

"That's what Mrs. Brown said. I just thought I'd say a word or two,
anyway. If I've gone too far, you may kick my dog over there."

Bradley looked at the sleeping dog, and back at the meditative Judge,
and smiled. He sat down at his work and said no more upon the subject.



XII.

THE JUDGE ADVISES BRADLEY.


It was at the Judge's advice that he decided to take a year at the
law-school at Iowa City. He had been in the office over a year and a
half, and though he had not been converted to Democracy, the Judge was
still hopeful.

"Oh, you'll have to come into the Democratic camp," he often said. "You
see, it's like this: the Republicans are so damn proud of their record,
they're going to ossify, with their faces turned backward. They have a
past, but no future. Now the Democratic party has no past that it cares
particularly to look back at, and so it's got to look into the future.
You progressive young fellows can't afford to stand in a party where
everything is all done, because that leaves nothing for you to do but
to admire some dead man. You'll be forced into the party of ideas,
sure. I aint disposed to hurry you, you'll come out all right when the
time comes."

Bradley never argued with him. He had simply shut his lips and his mind
to it all. Democracy had lost some of its evil associations in his
mind, however, and Free Trade and Secession no longer meant practically
the same thing, as it used to do.

"Now people are damn fools--excepting you an' me, of course," yawned
the Judge, one day in midsummer. "What you want to do is to take a
couple of years at Iowa City and then come back here and jump right
into the political arena and toot your horn. They'll elect you twice as
quick if you come back here with a high collar and a plug-hat, even
these grangers. They distrust a man in 'hodden gray'--no sort of doubt
of it. Now you take my advice. People like to be pollygoggled by a
sleek suit of clothes. And then, there is nothing that impresses people
with a man's immense accumulation of learning and dignity like a
judicious spell of absence."

It was very warm, and they both sat with coats and vests laid aside.
The fat old bull-dog was panting convulsively from the exertion of
having just climbed the stairs. The Judge went on, after looking
affectionately at the dog:

"Ah, we're a gittin' old together, Bull an' me. We like the shady side
of the street. Now you could make a good run in the county to-day, as
you are, but your election would be doubtful, and we can't afford to
take any chances. There are a lot o' fellers who'd say you hadn't had
experience enough--too young, an' all that kind o' thing. We'll suppose
you could be elected auditor. It wouldn't pay. It would only stand in
the way of bigger things. Now you take my advice."

"I'd like to, but I can't afford it, Judge."

"How much you got on hand?"

"Oh, couple of hundred dollars or so."

The Judge ruminated a bit, scratching his chin. "Well, now, I'll tell
yeh, Mrs. Brown and I had a little talk about the matter last night,
and she thinks I ought to lend you the money, and--she thinks you ought
to take it. So pack up y'r duds in September and start in."

Bradley's first impulse, of course, was to refuse, because he felt he
had no claim upon the Judge's charity. It took hold of his imagination,
however, and he talked it all over thoroughly during the intervening
weeks, and the Judge put it this way:

"Now, there's no charity about this thing--I simply expect to get three
hundred per cent. on my money, so you go right along and when you come
back we'll have a new shingle painted--'Brown & Talcott.' We aint
anxious to lose yeh. As a matter of fact, Mrs. Brown and I'll be pretty
lonesome for the first few weeks after you go away--and what I'll do
about that cussed cow and kindling-wood I really don't know. Mrs. Brown
suggested we'd better take in another homeless boy, and I guess that's
what we'll do."

A couple of nights later, while Bradley was sitting before his trunk,
which he had begun to pack like the inexperienced traveller he was,
several days in advance, Mrs. Brown came to the stairway to tell him
Nettie was below and wanted to see him.

The poor girl had just heard that he was going away and she met him
with a white, scared face. He sat down without speaking, for he had no
defence, except silence, for things of that nature. The girl's fury of
grief appalled him. She came over and flung herself sobbing upon his
lap, her arms about his neck.

"Oh, Brad! Is it true? Are you going away?"

"I expect to," he replied coldly.

"You mustn't! You sha'n't! I won't let you!" she cried, tightening her
arms about him, as if that would detain him. From that on, there was
nothing but sobs on her side, and explanations on his--explanations to
which her love, direct and selfish, would not listen for a moment. The
unreserve and unreason of her passion at last disgusted him. His tone
grew sharper.

"I can't stay here," he said. "You've no business to ask me to. I can't
always be a lawyer's hack. I want to study and go higher. I've got to
leave this town, if I ever amount to anything in the world."

"Then take me with you!" she cried.

"I can't do that! I can't any more'n make a livin' for myself. Besides,
I've got to study."

"I'll make father give you some money," she said.

He closed his lips sternly, and said nothing further. Her agony wore
itself out after a time, and she was content to sit up and look at him
and listen to him at last while he explained. And her suppressed sobs
and the tears that stood in her big childish eyes moved him more than
her unrestrained sorrow. It was thus she conquered him.

He promised her he would come home often, and he promised to write
every day, and by implication, though not in words, he promised to
marry her--that is to say, he acquiesced in her plans for housekeeping
when he returned and was established in the office. He ended it all by
walking home with her and promising to see her every day before he
went, and as he kissed her good-night at the gate, she was smiling
again and quite happy, although a little catching of the breath (even
in her laughter) showed that she was not yet out of the ground-swell of
her emotion.

Mrs. Brown was waiting for him when he returned, and as he sat down in
the sitting-room, where she was busy at her sewing, she looked at him
in her slow way, and at last arose and came over near his chair.

"Have you promised her anything, Bradley?" she asked, laying her
thimbled hand upon his shoulder, as his own mother might have done.
Bradley lifted his gloomy eyes and colored a little.

"I don't know what I've said," he answered, from the depth of his swift
reaction. "More'n I had any business to say, probably."

"I thought likely. You can't afford to marry a girl out of pity for
her, Bradley--it won't do. I've seen how things stood for some time,
but I thought I wouldn't say anything." She paused and considered a
moment, standing there by his side. "It's a good thing for both of you
that you're going away. You hadn't ought to have let it go on so long."

"I couldn't help it," he replied with more sharpness in his voice than
he had ever used in speaking to her.

Her hand dropped from his shoulder. "No, I don't s'pose you could. It
aint natural for young people to stop an' think about these things. I
don't suppose you knew y'rself just where it was all leading to. Well,
now, don't worry, and don't let it interfere with your plans. She'll
outgrow it. Girls often go through two or three such attacks. Just go
on with your studies, and when you come back, if you find her
unmarried, why, then decide what to do."

Her touch of cynicism was accounted for, perhaps, by the fact that she
had never had a daughter.



XIII.

BRADLEY SEES IDA AGAIN.


Bradley felt that the world was widening for him, as he took the train
for Iowa City a few days later. He was now very nearly thirty years of
age, and was maturing more rapidly than his friends and neighbors knew,
for the processes of his mind, like those of an intricate coil of
machinery, were hidden deep away from the casual acquaintance.

He had secured, in the two years at the seminary, a fairly good
groundwork of the common English branches, and his occasional reading,
and especially his attendance upon law-suits, had given him a really
creditable understanding of common law. The Judge always insisted that
law was simple, but it wasn't as profitable as--chicanery.

"Any man, from his fund of common sense, can settle nine tenths of all
law-suits, but that aint what we're here for. A successful lawyer is
the fellow who tangles things up and keeps common law and common sense
subordinated to chicanery and precedent. Damn precedent, anyway. It
means referring to a past that didn't know, and didn't want to know,
what justice was."

In the atmosphere of lectures like these, Bradley had unconsciously
absorbed a great deal of radical thought about law-codes, and now went
about the study of the history of enactments and change of statutes
without any servile awe of the past. The Judge's irreverence had its
uses, for it put a law on its merits before the young student.

He found the law-school a very congenial place to study. He passed the
examinations quite decently.

His life there was quiet and studious, for he felt that he had less
time than the younger men. His age seemed excessive to him, by
contrast. He was very generally respected as a quiet, decent fellow,
who might be a fine consulting lawyer, but not a good man in the
courts. They changed this opinion very suddenly upon hearing him
present his first plea.

His life consisted for the most part of passing to and fro from his
boarding-place to his recitation-room, or to long hours of digging in
the library. He saw from time to time notices of Miss Wilbur's lectures
in the interests of the grange and upon literary topics. He determined
to hear her if she came into any neighboring city. There was no one to
spy upon him, if he made an expedition of that sort.

One beautiful winter day he read in the weekly paper of the town that
she was about to appear at the Congregational church in a lecture
entitled, "The Real Woman-question." He had an impulse to sing, which
he wisely repressed, for he couldn't sing--that is, nothing which the
hearer would recognize as singing. The Fates seemed working in his
favor.

He had preserved a marked sweetness and purity of thought through all
his hard life that made him a good type of man. His clear, steady eyes
never gave offence to any woman, for nothing but sympathy and
admiration ever looked out of them. The very thought that she was
coming so near brought a curious numbness into his muscles and a tremor
into his hands. He looked forward now to the evening of the lecture
with the keenest interest he had ever felt.

The dazzling winter day seemed more radiant than ever before, when he
heard some ladies in the post-office say Ida was in town. The blue
shadows lay on the new-fallen snow vivid as steel. The warm sun
showered down through the clear air a peculiar warmth that made the
eaves begin to drop in the early morning. Sleighs were moving to and
fro in the streets, and bright bits of color on the girls' hoods and in
the broad knit scarfs which the young men wore, formed pleasing reliefs
from the dazzling blue and white. Bells filled the air with jocund
music.

Bradley walked straight away into the country. He wanted to be alone.
It seemed so strange and sweet to be thus shaken by the coming of a
woman. In the first few minutes he gave himself up to the thought that
she was near and that he was going to hear her speak again. It made his
hand shake and his heart beat quick.

He wondered if she would be changed. She would be older a little, but
she would look just the same. He saw her stand again under the waving
branches of the oaks, the flickering shadow on her brown hair, speaking
again the words which had become the measure of his ambition, the
prophecy of a social condition:

"I want to have everything I do to help us all on toward that time when
the country will be filled with happy young people, and hale and hearty
old people, when the moon will be brighter, and the stars thicker in
the skies."

This was his thought. He had not risen yet to the conception of the
real barrenness and squalor of the life he had lived.

His studies had made him a little more self-analytical, but there were
inner deeps where he did not penetrate and there was one sacred place
which he dared not enter. A whirl of thought confused him, but out of
it all he returned constantly to the thought that he should hear her
speak again.

That evening he dressed himself with as much care as if he were to call
upon her alone, and he dressed very well now. His clothes were
substantial and fitted him well. His year's immunity from hard work had
left his large hands supple and delicate of touch, and his face had
attained refinement and mobility. His eyes had become more
introspective and had lost entirely the ox-like roll of the
country-born man. He was a handsome and dignified young man. His
bearing on the street was noticeably manly and unaffected.

The lecture was in the church and the seats were all filled. It
gratified him, at the same time that it hopelessly abased him to
observe all this evidence of her power. As he waited for her to appear
that tremor came into his hands again, and that breathlessness, and
curiously enough he felt that horrible familiar sinking of the heart
which he always felt just before he himself rose to speak.

Somebody started to clap hands, and the rest joined in, as two or three
ladies entered the back part of the church and passed up the aisle. He
looked up as they went by him, and caught a glimpse of a stately head
of brown hair, modestly bent in acknowledgment of the applause, and he
caught a whiff of the delicate odor of violets. His eyes followed the
strong, firm steps of the young woman who walked between the two older
women. There was something fine and dignified in her walk, and the odor
of her dress as she passed lingered with him, but he did not feel that
this was the same woman, till she turned and faced him on the platform.

He sat impassively, but his pulse leaped when her clear brown eyes
running calmly over the audience seemed to fall upon him. She was the
same woman, his ideal and more. She was fuller of form and the poise of
her head was more womanly, but she was the same spirit that had come to
be such a power and inspiration in his life.

As a matter of fact she had grown also. If she had not, she would have
seemed girlish to him now; growing as he grew, she seemed the same
distance beyond him. Her self-possession in the face of the audience
appealed to him strongly. Something in her manner of dress pleased him,
it was so individual, so like her simple, dignified, beautiful self in
every line.

She spoke more quietly, more conversationally than when he heard her
before, but her voice made him shudder with associated emotions. Its
cadences reached deep, and the words she spoke opened long vistas in
his mind. She was defending the right of women to live as human beings,
to act as human beings, and to develop as freely as men.

"I claim the right to be an individual human being first and a woman
afterward. Why should the accident of my sex surround me with
conventional and arbitrary limitations? I claim the same right to find
out what I can do and can't do that a man has. Who is to determine what
my sphere is--men and men's laws or my own nature? These are vital
questions. I deny the right of any man to mark out the path in which I
shall walk. I claim the same right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness that men are demanding.

"It is not a question of suffrage merely--suffrage is the smaller part
of the woman-question--it is a question of equal rights. It is a
question of whether the law of liberty applies to humanity or to men
only. Absolute liberty bounded only by the equal liberties of the rest
of humanity is the real goal of the race--not of man only, but woman
too."

The ladies dimly feeling that liberty was a safe thing to cheer,
clapped their hands softly under the cover of the nosier clapping of a
few radicals who knew what the speaker was really saying. Bradley did
not cheer--he was thinking too deeply.

"The woman question is not a political one merely, it is an economic
one. The real problem is the wage problem, the industrial problem. The
real question is woman's dependence upon man as the bread-winner. So
long as that dependence exists there will be weakness. No individual
can stand at their strongest and best while leaning upon some other. I
believe with Browning and Ruskin that the development of personality is
the goal of the race."

The ladies took it for granted that this was true as it was bolstered
by two great names. A few, however, sat with wrinkled brows scenting
something heretical in all that.

"The time is surely coming when women can no longer bear to be
dependent, to be pitied or abused by men. They will want to stand
upright and independent by their husbands, claiming the same rights to
freedom of action, and demanding equal pay for equal work. She must be
able to earn her own living in an _honorable_ way at a moment's notice.
Then she will be a free woman even if she never leaves her kitchen."

It was trite enough to a few of the audience, but, to others, it was
new, and to many it was revolutionary. She was destined to again set a
stake in Bradley's mental horizon. The woman question had not engaged
his attention; at least not in any serious way. He had not thought of
woman as having any active part in living. In the thoughtless way of
the average man, he had ignored or idealized women according as they
appealed to his eye. He had not risen to the point of pitying or
condemning, or in any way consciously placing them in the social
economy.

The speaker had appealed to his imagination before, and now again he
sat absolutely motionless while great new thoughts and impersonal
emotions sprang up in his brain. He saw women in a new light, and the
aloofness of the speaker grew upon him again. He felt that she was
holding her place as his teacher. Around him he heard the rustle of
approval upon the gown she wore, upon her voice, and some few favorable
comments upon her ideas. He saw some of the people crowd forward to
shake her hand, while others went out talking excitedly.

He lingered as long as he dared, longing to go forward to greet her,
but he went slowly out at last, home to his boarding place and sat down
in his habitual attitude when in deep thought, his elbow on his knee,
his chin in his palm. He wanted to see her, he must see her and tell
her how much she had done for him.

How to do it was the question which absorbed him now. He got away from
the noisy merriment of the house, out into the street again. The stars
were more congenial company to him now; under their passionless
serenity he could think better. He felt that he must come to an
understanding with himself soon, but he put it off and turned his
attention to his future, and more immediately to the plans which must
be carried out, of seeing her.

When he came in he was desperately resolved. He would go to see her on
the next day in her hotel. He justified himself by saying that she was
a lecturer, a person before the public, and that she would not think it
strange; anyhow, he was going to do it.

                     *      *      *      *      *

In the broad daylight, however, it was not so easy as it seemed under
the magic of the moon. The conventions of the world always count for
less in the company of the moon and the stars. He heard during the
morning that she was going away in the afternoon, and he was made
desperate. He started out to go straight to the hotel, and he did, but
he walked by it, once, twice, a half dozen times, each time feeling
weaker and more desperate in his resolution.

At length he deliberately entered and astonished himself by walking up
to the clerk and asking for Miss Wilbur.

The clerk turned briskly and looked at the pigeon-holes for the keys.
"I think she is. Send up a card?"

True, he hadn't thought of that. He had no cards. He received one from
the clerk that looked as if it had done duty before, and scrawled his
name upon it, and gave it to the insolent little darky who served as
"Front."

"Tell her I'd like to see her just a few minutes."

On the stairs he tried to prepare what he should say to her. His mouth
already felt dry, and his brain was a mere swirl of gray and white
matter. Almost without knowing how, he found himself seated in the
ladies' parlor, to which the boy had conducted him. It was a barren
little place, in spite of its excessively florid gilt and crimson
paper, and its ostentatious harsh red-plush furniture.

His heart sent the blood into his throat till it ached with the
tension. His lips quivered and turned pale as he heard the slow sweep
of a woman's dress, and there she stood before him, with smiling face
and extended hand. "Are you Mr. Talcott? Did you want to see me?"

She had the frank gesture and ready smile a kindly man would have used.
Instantly his brain cleared, his heart ceased to pound, and the
numbness left his limbs. He forgot himself utterly. He only saw and
heard her. He found himself saying:

"I wanted to come in and tell you how much I liked your speech last
night, and how much I liked a speech you made up at Rock River, at the
grange picinic."

"Oh, did you hear me up there? That was one of my old speeches. I've
quite outgrown that now. You'll be shocked to know I don't believe in
a whole lot of things that I used to believe in." As she talked, she
looked at him precisely as one man looks at another, without the
slightest false modesty or coquettishness. She evidently considered him
a fellow-student on social affairs. "I'm glad you liked my talk on the
woman question. It was dreadfully radical to the most of my audience."

"It was right," Bradley said, and their minds seemed to come together
at that point as if by an electrical shock. "I never thought of it
before. Women have been kept down. We do claim to know better what she
ought to do than she knows herself. The trouble is we men don't think
about it at all. We need to have you tell us these things."

"Yes, that's true. As soon as I made that discovery I began talking the
woman question. One radicalism opened the way to the other. Being a
radical is like opening the door to the witches. Are you one?" she
asked, with a sudden smile, "I mean a radical, not a witch."

"I don't know," he replied simply, "I'm a student. I know I can't agree
with some people on these things."

"_Some_ people! Sometimes I feel it would be good to meet with a single
person--a single one--I could agree with! But tell me of yourself--are
you in the grange movement?"

"Well, not exactly, but I've helped all I could."

"What is the condition of the grange in your county?"

"It seems to be going down."

She was silent for some time. Her face saddened with deep thought.
"Yes, I'm afraid it is. The farmers can't seem to hold together.
Strange, aint it? Other trades and occupations have their organizations
and stand by each other, but the farmer can't seem to feel his kinship.
Well, I suppose he must suffer greater hardships before he learns his
lesson. But God help the poor wives while he learns! But he _must_
learn," she ended firmly. "He must come some day to see that to stand
by his fellow-man is to stand by himself. That's what civilization
means, to stand by each other."

Bradley did not reply. He was looking upon her, with eyes filled with
adoration. He had never heard such words from the lips of anyone. He
had never seen a woman sit lost in philosophic thought like this. Her
bent head seemed incredibly beautiful to him, and her simple flowing
dress, royal purple. Her presence destroyed his power of thought. He
simply waited for her to go on.

"The farmer lacks comparative ideas," she went on. "He don't know how
poor he is. If he once finds it out, let the politicians and their
masters, the money-changers, beware! But while he's finding it out, his
children will grow up in ignorance, and his wife die of overwork. Oh,
sometimes I lose heart." Her voice betrayed how strongly she perceived
the almost hopeless immensity of the task. "The farmer must learn that
to help himself, he must help others. That is the great lesson of
modern society. Don't you think so?"

"I don't know. I'm losing my hold on things that I used to believe in.
I've come to believe the system of protection is wrong." He said this
in a tone absurdly solemn as if he had somehow questioned the law of
gravity.

"Of course it is wrong," she said. "The moment I got East, I found
free-trade in the air, and my uncle, who is a manufacturer, admitted it
was all right in theory, but it wouldn't do as a practical measure.
That finished me. I'm a woman, you know, and when a thing appears right
in theory, I believe it'll be right in practice. Expediency don't count
with me, you see. But tell me, do you still live in Rock River?"

"Yes, I'm only studying law down here."

"Oh, I see. I suppose you know many of the people at Rock River." She
asked about Milton, whom she remembered, and about Mr. Deering. Then
she returned again to the subject of the grange. "Yes, it has been
already a great force, but I begin to suspect that the time is coming
when it must include more or fail. I don't know just what--I aint quite
clear upon it--but as it stands now, it seems inadequate."

She ended very slowly, her chin in her palm, her eyes on the floor. She
made a grand picture of thought, something more active than meditation.
Her dress trailed in long, sweeping lines, and against its rich dark
purple folds her strong, white hands lay in vivid contrast. The most
wonderful charm of her personality was her complete absorption in
thought, or the speech of her visitor. She was interested in this
keen-eyed, strong-limbed young fellow as a possible convert and
reformer. She wanted to state herself clearly and fully to him. He was
a fine listener.

"I'm afraid I see a tendency that is directly away from my ideal of a
farming community. There is a force operating to destroy the grange and
all other such movements."

"You mean politics?"

"No, I mean land monopoly. I believe in thickly settled farming
communities, communities where every man has a small, highly cultivated
farm. That's what I've been advocating and prophesying, but I now begin
to see that our system of ownership in land is directly against this
security, and directly against thickly-settled farming communities. The
big land owners are swallowing up the small farmers, and turning them
into renters or laborers. Don't you think so?"

"I hadn't though of it before, but I guess that's so--up in our county,
at least."

"It's so everywhere I've been. I don't understand it yet, but I'm going
to. In the meantime I am preaching union and education. I don't see the
end of it, but I know"--Here she threw off her doubt--"I know that the
human mind cannot be chained. I know the love of truth and justice
cannot be destroyed, and marches on from age to age, and that's why I
am full of confidence. The farmer is beginning to compare his mortgaged
farm with the banker's mansion and his safe, and no one can see the end
of his thinking. The great thing is his thinking."

She arose and gave him her hand. "I'm glad you came in. Give my regards
to Mr. Deering and other friends, won't you? Tell them not to think I'm
not working because I'm no longer their lecturer. You ought to be in
the field. Will you read something which I'll send?" she asked, the
zeal of the reformer getting the upper hand again.

"Certainly. I should be very glad to."

"I'll send you some pamphlets I've been reading." Her voice seemed to
say the interview was ended, but Bradley did not go. He was struggling
to speak. After a significant pause, he said in a low voice:

"I'd--I'd like to write to you--if you don't--mind."

Her eyes widened just a line, but they did not waver. "I should like to
hear from you," she said cordially. "I'd like to know what you think of
those pamphlets, which I'll surely send."

He had the courage to look once more into her brown eyes, with their
red-gold deeps, as he shook hands. The clasp of her hand was firm and
frank.

"Good-by! I hope I shall see you again. My address is always Des
Moines, though I'm on the road a great deal."

Out into the open air again he passed like a man sanctified. It seemed
impossible that he had not only seen her, but had retained his
self-possession, and had actually dared to ask permission to write to
her!

The red-gold sunlight was flaming across the snow, and the shadows
stood out upon the shining expanse vivid as stains in ink. The sky,
aflame with orange and gold clouds, was thrown into loftier relief by
the serrate blue rim of trees that formed the western horizon. As he
walked, he had a reckoning with himself. It could not longer be
delayed.

He had been a boy to this day, but that hour made him a man, and he
knew he was a lover. Not that he used that word, for like the farm-born
man that he was, he did not say, "I love her," but he lifted his face
to the sky in an unuttered resolution to be worthy her.

He had come under the spell of her womanly presence. He had seen her in
her house-dress, and his admiration for her intellect and beauty had
added to itself a subtle quality, which rose from the potential
husbandship and fatherhood within him.

Now that he was out of her immediate presence, thoughts came thick and
fast. Every word she had spoken seemed to have a magical power of
arousing long trains of speculation. He walked far out into the quiet
evening, walked until he grew calmer, and the emotion of the hour faded
to a luminous golden dusk in his mind as the day changed into the
beautiful winter night.

As he sat down at his desk, an hour later, he saw a letter lying there.
It was one of Nettie's poor little school-girl love letters. A feeling
of disgust and shame seized him. He crumpled the letter in his hands,
and was on the point of throwing it away, when his mood changed, and he
softened. By the side of Miss Wilbur poor little Nettie was a willful
child.

                     *      *      *      *      *

A few days after there came to him a pamphlet directed in a woman's
hand. Its title page struck him as something utterly new, but it was
only the first of a flood of similar publications.

"The Coming Conflict. A Series of Lectures prophetic of the Coming
Revolution of the Poor, when they will rise against the National Banks
and against all Indirect Taxation."

Its dedication was marked with a pencil and he read it over and over:
"To the Toiling Millions who produce all the wealth, yet because they
have never controlled legislation, have been impoverished by unjust
laws made in the interests of the Land-holder and the Money-changer,
who seize upon and hold the surplus wealth of the nation by the same
right that the slave-master held his slave, _legal_ right and that
alone, this tract is inscribed by the author."

It was Bradley's first intimation of the mighty forces beginning to
stir in the deeps of American society. He found the pamphlet filled
with great confusing thoughts. He confessed frankly in his letter to
Miss Wilbur that he got nothing satisfactory out of it, though it made
him think.

It was astonishing to himself to find his thoughts flowing out to her
upon paper with the greatest ease. He was stricken with fear after he
had mailed his letter, it was so bulky. He was appalled at the length
of time which must pass before he might reasonably expect to hear from
her. He counted the days, the hours that intervened. Her note came at
last, and it made his blood leap as the clerk flung it out with a grin.
"She's blessed yeh this time!" It was a red-headed clerk, and his grin,
by reason of a quid of tobacco in his thin cheek, was particularly
offensive. Bradley felt an impulse to call him out of his box and whip
him.

When he opened the letter in his own room he felt a sort of fear. How
would she reply? The letter gave out a faint perfume like that he
remembered floated with her dress. It was a rather brief note, but very
kind. She called his attention to two or three passages in the
pamphlet, and especially asked him to read the chapters touching on the
land and money questions. But the part over which he spent the most
time was the paragraph at the close:

    "I liked your letter very much. It shows a sincere desire for the
    truth. You will never stop short of the truth, I'm sure, but you
    will have sacrifices to make--you must expect that. I shall take
    great interest in your work.

    "Very sincerely,

    "IDA WILBUR."



XIV.

BRADLEY CHANGES HIS POLITICAL VIEWS.


The West had always been Republican. Its States had come into the Union
as Republican States. It met the solid South with a solid North-west
year after year, and it firmly believed that the salvation of the
nation's life depended on its fidelity to the war traditions and on the
principle of protection to American industries.

Its orators waved the bloody shirt to keep the party together, though
each election placed the war and its issues farther into the background
of history, and an increasing number of people deprecated the action of
fanning smouldering embers into flame again. Iowa and Kansas and
Nebraska were Stalwarts of the Stalwart. Kansas was the battle-ground
of the old Abolition and Free Soil forces, and their traditions kept
alive a love and reverence for the Republican party long after its real
leaders had passed away, and long after it had ceased to be the party
of the people.

Iowa was hopelessly Republican, also. A strong force in the Rebellion,
dominated by New England thought, its industries predominantly
agricultural, it held rigidly to its Republicanism, and trained its
young men to believe that, while "all Democrats were not thieves, all
thieves were Democrats," and, when pressed to the wall, admitted,
reluctantly, that there were "_some_ good men among the Democrats."

In the fall of Bradley's last year at Iowa City, another presidential
campaign was coming on, but few men considered that there was any
change impending. Local fights really supplied the incitement to action
among the Republican leaders. There was no statement of a general
principle, no discussion of economic issues by their political leaders.
They carefully avoided anything like a discussion of the real condition
of the people.

Rock County had been the banner Republican county. For years the
Democrats of Rock County had met in annual convention to nominate a
ticket which they had not the slightest expectation of electing. There
was something pathetic in the habit. It was not faith--it was a sort of
desperation; and yet the Republicans as regularly had their joke about
it, regardless of the pathos presented in the action of a body of men
thus fighting a forlorn and hopeless battle. Each year some
old-fashioned Democrat dropped away into the grave, and yet the remnant
met and nominated a complete ticket, and voted for it solemnly, even
religiously.

The young Republicans of the county called this remnant "Free traders"
and "Copperheads," exactly as if the terms were synonymous. The
Republican boys of the country felt that there was something
mysteriously uncanny in the term "Free Trader" (and always associated
"Copperhead" with the yellow-backed rattlesnakes that made their dens
in the limestone cliffs), and in their snowballing took sides with
these mysterious words as shibboleths.

In truth, many of these Democrats were very thoughtful men--old-line
Jeffersonians, who held to a principle of liberty. Others had been born
Democrats a half-century ago, and had never been able to make any
change. They continued the habit of being Democrats, just as they
continued the habit of wearing fuzzy old plug hats, of old-fashioned
shapes, and long, polished frock coats. Then there were a few of that
perpetually cross-grained class who will never agree with anybody else
if they can help it. They belonged to the Democracy because the
Democrats were in the minority, and considered it wrong to belong to a
majority, anyhow. Of this sort were men like Colonel Peavy and old Judd
Colwell.

The Colonel had been nominated for treasurer and Colwell for sheriff on
the Democratic ticket year after year, and each year the leaders of the
party had prophesied decided gains, but they did not come. The State
remained apparently hopelessly Republican. The forces which were really
preparing for change were too far below the surface for these old-line
politicians to understand and measure.

As a matter of fact, the schools and debating clubs and newspapers were
preparing the whole country for a political revolution. Radicals were
everywhere being educated. Men like Radbourn, who still remained
nominally a Republican, and a host of other young men and progressive
men were becoming disabused of the protective idea, and were ready for
a revolt. There needed but a change of leadership to make a change of
the relation of parties and of party names.

The Grange, which was still non-partisan, seemed not destined to play a
very strong part in politics, though it was still at work wresting some
advanced forms of legislation from one or the other of the old parties.

But the deeper change was one which Judge Brown and a few of the
progressive men had only just dimly perceived. The war and the issues
of the war were slowly drawing off. The militant was being lost in the
problems of the industrial. Each year a larger mass of people
practically said, "The issues of to-day are not the issues of
twenty-five years ago. The bloody shirt is an anachronism."

Here and there a young man coming to maturity caught the spirit of the
new era, and turned away from the talk of the solid South, and
addressed himself to a consideration of the questions of taxation and
finance. These men formed a growing power in the State, and chafed
under the restraint of their leaders.

And above all, death, the great pacificator, unlooser of bonds, and
aider of progress, was doing his work. The old men were dying and
carrying their prejudices with them, while each year thousands of young
voters, to whom the war was an echo of passion, sprang to the polls and
faced the future policy of the parties, not their past. Not only all
over the State of Iowa, but all over the West, they were silent
factors, in many cases kept so by the all-compelling power of party
ties; but they represented a growing power, and they were to become
leaders in their turn.

This spreading radicalism reached Bradley in the quiet of his life in
Iowa City. The young fellows in the school were debating it with fierce
enthusiasm, and several of them capitulated. They all recognized that
the liquor question once out of the way, the tariff was the next great
State issue. At the Judge's suggestion, Bradley did not return to Rock
River during vacation, but spent the time reading with a prominent
lawyer of the town who had a very fine law library.

He did not care to return particularly, for the quiet studious life he
led, almost lonely, had grown to be very pleasant to him. He read a
great deal outside his law, and enjoyed his days as he had never done
before. Unconsciously he had fallen into a mode of life and a habit of
thought which were unfitting him for a politician's career. He gave
very little thought to that, however; his ambition for the time had
taken a new form. He wished to be well read; to be a scholar such as he
imagined Miss Wilbur to be.

He began reading for that purpose, and kept at it because he really had
the literary perception. He wrote to her of his reading; and when in
her reply she mentioned some book which he had not read, he searched
for it, and read it as soon as possible. In this quiet way he spent his
days, the happiest he had ever known.

He had just two disturbing factors: one was Nettie's relation to him,
and the other was his desire to see Miss Wilbur. Nettie wrote quite
often at first, letters all very much alike, and very short, sending
love and kisses. She was not a good letter writer, and even under the
inspiration of love could not write above two pages of repetitious
matter. "It's dreadfully hard work to write," she kept saying. "I wish
you was to home. When are you coming back?"

It was very curious to see the different way in which he came to the
writing of letters to these two persons.

"Dear Nettie," he would begin, with a scowling brow, "I _can't_ write
any oftener, because in the first place I'm too busy, and in the second
place nothing happened here that you would care to hear about. I don't
know when I'll be home. I ought to finish my course here. No, I don't
expect you to mope. I expect you to have a good time, go to parties and
dances all you want to."

But when Miss Wilbur's letters arrived, he devoured them with tremulous
eagerness, and sat up half the night writing an elaborate answer, while
Nettie's letters lay unanswered for days.

"Miss Ida Wilbur, Dear Miss." (That was the way he addressed her. He
was afraid to call her Dear Miss Wilbur, it seemed a little too
familiar.) In the body of his letters there was no expressed word of
his regard for her. It was only put indirectly into the length of his
letters, and was shown in the eager promptness of his reply. She wrote
kindly, scholarly replies, giving him a great deal to think about. Her
letters were very far apart, however, as she was moving about so much.
She advised him to read the modern books.

"I'm always on the wrong side of everything," she wrote once, "so I'm
on the side of the modern novel. I champion Mr. Howells. Are you
reading his story in the _Century_? I like it because it isn't like
anybody else; and Mr. Cable, too, you should read, and Henry James and
Miss Jewett; they're all of this modern school, that most Western
people know nothing about. The West is so afraid of its own judgments.
My friends go about praising the classics because they know it's safe
to do so, I suppose, while I am an image breaker to them. Mr. Howells
says the idea of progress in art does not admit of the conception that
any art is finished. Just like the question of social advance, there is
always new work to be done and new victories to be won."

But more often she wrote upon economic subjects, as being more
impersonal; and then her wish to make Bradley a reformer was greater
than her desire to make him a lover of modern art.

"The spirit of reform is beginning to move over the face of the great
deep," she wrote at another time. "No one who travels about as I do,
can fail to see it. The labor question in the cities, and the farmer
question in the country, will soon be the great disturbing factors in
politics. The protective theory will go down: it is based on a
privilege; and the new war, like the old war, is going to be against
all kinds of special privileges."

It was with a peculiar feeling of pain and relief that he read Miss
Wilbur's renunciation of her home-market idea. It seemed as if
something sweet and fine had gone with it; and yet it strengthened him,
for he had come to believe that a home-market built up by legislation
was unnatural and a mistake. Judge Brown's constant hammerings had left
a mark.

He wrote to her something of his hesitation, and she replied
substantially that there was no abandonment of the home-market idea;
only the method of bringing it about had changed. She had come to
believe in what was free and natural, not what was artificial and
forced.

"If you will study the past," she went on, "you will find that advance
in legislation has always been in the direction of less law, less
granting of special privileges. Take the time of the Stuarts, for
example, when the king granted monopolies in the sale of all kinds of
goods. It is abhorrent to us, and yet I suppose those protected
merchants believed their monopolies to be rights. Slowly these rights
have come to be considered wrongs, and the people have abolished them.
So all other monopolies will be abolished, when people come to see that
it is an infringement of liberty to have a class of men enjoying any
special privilege whatever. The way to build up a home-market is to
make our own people able to buy what they want.

"There never was a time when our own people were not too poor to buy
what they wanted. Goods lie rotting in our Eastern factories, and we
export many products which the farmer would be very glad to consume, if
he were able. The farmer is poor; but it isn't because he needs
protection, it isn't because he doesn't produce enough--it's because
what he does produce is taken from him by bankers and corporations."

Bradley read her letters over and over again. Every word which she
uttered had more significance than words from any one else. She seemed
a marvellous being to him. He looked eagerly in every letter for some
personal expression, but she seemed carefully to avoid that; and though
his own letters were filled with personalities, she remained studiously
impersonal. She replied cordially and kindly, but with a reserve that
should have been a warning to him; but he would not accept warnings
now--he was too deeply moved. Under the influence of her letters he
developed a tremendous capacity for work. The greatest stimulus in the
world had come to him, and remained with him. If it should be withdrawn
at any time, it would weaken him. He did not speculate on that.



XV.

HOME AGAIN WITH THE JUDGE.


The day that came to close his work at Iowa City had something of an
awakening effect in it. The mere motion of the train brought back again
in intensified form the feelings he had experienced on the day he left
Rock River. Life was really before him at last. His studies were ended,
and he was prepared for his entrance into law. He looked forward to a
political career indefinitely. He left that in the hands of the Judge.

It was in June, and the country was very beautiful. Groves heavy with
foliage, rivers curving away into the glooms of bending elm and
bass-wood trees, fields of wheat and corn alternating with smooth
pastures where the cattle fed--a long panorama of glorified landscape
which his escape from manual labor now enabled him to see the beauty
of, its associations of toil and dirt no longer acutely painful.

He thought of the June day in which he had first met Miss Wilbur--just
such a day! Then he thought of Nettie with a sudden twinge. She had not
written for several weeks; he really didn't remember just when she had
written last. He wondered what it meant; was she forgetting him? He
hardly dared hope for it; it was such an easy way out of his
difficulty.

The Judge met him at the depot with a carriage. There were a number of
people he knew at the station, but they did not recognize him: his
brown beard had changed him so, and his silk hat made him so tall.

"Right this way, colonel," said the Judge, in a calm nasal. He was
filled with delight at Bradley's appearance. He shook hands with
dignified reserve, all for the benefit of the crowd standing about.
"You paralyzed 'em," he chuckled, as they got in and drove off. "That
beard and hat will fix 'em sure. I was afraid you wouldn't carry out my
orders on the hat."

"The hat was an extravagance for your benefit alone. It goes into a
band-box to-morrow," replied Bradley. "How's Mrs. Brown?"

"Quite well, thank you; little older, of course. She caught a bad cold
somewhere last winter, and she hasn't been quite so well since. We keep
a girl now; I forced the issue. Mrs. Brown had done her own work so
long she considered it a sort of high treason to let any one else in."

Mrs. Brown met him at the door; and she looked so good and motherly,
and there was such a peculiar wistful look in her eyes, that he put his
arm around her in a sudden impulse and kissed her. It made her lips
tremble, and she was obliged to wipe her glasses before she could see
him clearly. Supper was on the table for him, and she made him sit
right down.

"How that beard changes you, Bradley! I would hardly have known you.
What will Nettie think?"

"How is Nettie?"

"Haven't you heard from her lately?"

"Not for some weeks."

"Then I suppose the neighborhood gossip is true." He looked at her
inquiringly, and she went on, studying his face carefully, "They say
she's soured on you, and is sweet on her father's new book-keeper."

Bradley took refuge in silence, as usual. His face became thoughtful,
and his eyes fell.

"I've hoped it was true, Bradley, because she was no wife for you.
You'd outgrown her, and she'd be a drag about your neck. I see her out
riding a good deal with this young fellow; he's just her sort, so I
guess she isn't heart-broken over your absence."

There was a certain shock in all this. He recurred to his last evening
with her, when in her paroxysm of agony she had thrown herself at his
feet. Much as he had desired such an outcome, it puzzled him to find
her in love with some one else. It was not at all like books.

"Well, Mrs. Brown, what do you think of my junior partner?" said the
Judge, coming in and looking down on Bradley with a fatherly pride.

"I suppose, Mr. Brown, you refer to our adopted son."

Bradley dressed for church the next day with a new sort of
embarrassment. He felt very conscious of his beard and of his
tailor-made clothes, for he knew everybody would observe any change in
him. He knew he would be the object of greater attention than the
service; but he determined to go, and have the whole matter over at
once.

The windows were open, and the sound of the bell came in mingled with
the scent of the sunlit flowers, the soft rustle of the maple leaves,
and the sound of the insects in the grass. His heart turned toward Miss
Wilbur now whenever any keen enjoyment came to him; instinctively
turned to her, with the wish that she might share his pleasure with
him. He sat by the open window, dreaming, until the last bell sounded
through the heavy leaf-scented air.

"Won't you go to church with me, Judge?" he said, going out.

The Judge turned a slow look upon him. He was seated on the shady
porch, his feet on the railing, a Chicago daily paper in his lap. He
said very gravely: "Mrs. Brown, our boy is going to church."

"Can't you let him, Mr. Brown? It'll do him good, maybe," said Mrs.
Brown, who was at work near the window.

"Goes to see the girls. Know all about it myself. Go ahead, young man,
and remember the text now, or we'll put a stop to this"--Bradley went
off down the walk. He passed by a tiny little box of a house where a
man in his shirt sleeves was romping with some children.

"Hello, Milton," called Bradley cheerily.

The young man looked up. His face flashed into a broad smile. "Hello!
Brad Talcott, by thunder! Well, well. When'd you get back?"

"Last night. Yours?" he inquired, nodding toward the children.

"Yep. Well, how are you, old man? You look well. Couldn't fool me with
that beard. Come in and sit down, won't yeh?"

"No, I'm on my way to church. Can't you come?"

"Great Cæsar, no! not with these young hyenas to attend to." He had
grown fat, and his chin beard made him look like a Methodist minister;
but his sunny blue eyes laughed up into Bradley's face just as in the
past. "Say!" he exclaimed, "you struck it with the old Judge, didn't
you? He's goin' to run you for governor one of these days. County
treasurer ain't good enough for you. But say," he said, as a final
word, "I guess you'd better not wear that suit much; it's too soft
altogether. Stop in when you come back. Eileen'll be glad to see you,"
he called after him.

The audience had risen to sing as he entered, and he took his place
without attracting much attention. As he stood there listening to the
familiar Moody and Sankey hymn, there came again the touch of awe which
the church used to put upon him. He was not a "religious" man. He had
no more thought of his soul or his future state than a powerful young
Greek. His feeling of awe arose from the association of beauty, music,
and love with a church. It was feminine, some way, and shared his
reverence for a beautiful woman.

The churches of the town were the only things of a public nature which
had any touch of beauty or grace. They were poor little wooden boxes at
best; and yet they had colored windows, which seemed to hush the
dazzling summer sun into a dim glory, transfiguring the shabby
interior, and making the bent heads of the girls more beautiful than
words can tell. It was the one place which was set apart for purposes
not utilitarian, and a large part of what these people called religious
reverence was in fact a pathetic homage to beauty and poetry, and
_rest_.

When they all took their seats, and while the preacher was praying,
Bradley was absorbing the churchy smell of fresh linen, buoyant
perfumes, (camphor, cinnamon, violets, rose) and the hot, sweet odor of
newly-mown grass lying under the sun just outside of the windows. The
wind pulsed in through the half-swung window, a bee came buzzing wildly
along, a butterfly rested an instant on the window sill, and the
preacher prayed on in an oratorical way for the various departments of
government.

Bradley felt a sharp eye fixed upon him, and, turning cautiously,
caught Nettie looking at him. She nodded and smiled in her audacious
way. Two or three of the young fellows saw him and nodded at him, but
mainly the people sat with bowed heads, feeling some presence that was
full of grace and power to banish, for a short time at least the stress
of the struggle to live.

The young fellows were mainly in the back seats; and while they were
decorously quiet, it was evident that they had very little interest in
the prayer. Death and hell and the grave! Why should one trouble
himself about such things when the red blood leaped in the heart, and
the June wind was flinging a flickering flight of leaf shadows across
the window pane? There sat the girls with roguish eyes, the rounded
outline of their cheeks (as tempting as peaches), displayed with
miraculous skill at just their most taking angle. Their Sunday gowns
and gloves and hats transfigured them into something too dainty and
fine to be touched, and yet every glance and motion was an invitation
and a lure.

Here was the proper function of the church; to enable these young
people to see each other at their best, and to bring into their sordid
lives some hint, at least, of music and beauty.

Bradley did not hear the sermon. He was wondering just what Nettie's
smile meant, and what he was going to say to her. He was not subtle
enough to take a half-way or an ambiguous stand. He must either treat
her tenderness as a forgotten thing or hold himself to his promise as
something which he was under orders from his conscience to fulfill.

When the service was over he went out into the anteroom with the young
fellows, who were anxious to meet him. Quite a number of farmers were
in from the country, and they all crowded about, shaking his hand with
great heartiness. He moved on with them to the sidewalk, where many of
the congregation stood talking subduedly in groups. The women came by in
their starched neatness, leading rebellious boys in torturing suits of
winter thickness topped with collars, stiff as sauce pans; while the
little girls walked as upright as dolls, looking disdainfully at their
sulking brothers. Some of the merchants passing by discussed the sermon,
some talked about crops with the farmers, and those around Bradley
dipped into the political situation guardedly.

While he was talking to some of the town people, he saw Nettie come up
and join a young man at the door whom he had recognized as the tenor in
the choir; and they sauntered off together under the full-leafed
maples--she in dainty white and pink, he in a miraculously modish suit
of gray, a rose in his lapel. Bradley looked after them without special
wonder. It was only as he went back to his room that he began to see
how fully Nettie had outgrown her passion for him.

                     *      *      *      *      *

He met her the next day as he was going home from the office.

"Hello, Bradley," she said, without blushing, though her eyes wavered
before his.

He held out his hand with a frank smile. "Hello, Nettie, which way are
you going?"

"Going home now, been up to the grocery. Want to go 'long?"

"I don't mind. How are you, anyway?"

"Oh, I'm all right. Say! that beard of yours makes you look as funny as
old fun."

"Does it?" he said.

"You bet! It makes you look old enough to go to Congress. Say! heard
from Radbourn lately?" Bradley shook his head. "Well, I haven't, but
Lily has. He's writing--writing for the newspapers, she said."

"Is that so? I haven't heard it."

"E-huh! Say, do you know Lily's all bent on him yet! Funny, ain't it? I
ain't that way, am I?" she ended, with her customary audacity.

"No, it's out o' sight, out o' mind with you," he replied, with equal
frankness.

"Oh, not quite so bad as that. Ain't yeh comin' in?" They were at the
gate.

"Guess not. You remember your father's command; I must never darken
his door."

She laughed heartily. "I guess that don't count now."

"Don't it? Well, some other time then."

"All right, but gimme that basket. Goin' to lug that off with you?"



XVI.

NOMINATION.


On the Monday evening following Bradley's return, there was quite a
gathering at Robie's along about sundown. Colonel Peavy and Judge Brown
came down together, and Ridings and Deering were there also, seated
comfortably under the awning, in mild discussion with Robie, who had
taken the side of free trade, to be contrary, as Deering said.

"No, sir; I take that side for it's right." There was something sincere
in his reply, and Ridings stared.

"How long since?"

"About a week."

"What's got into yeh, anyhow?"

"A little horse sense," said Robie. "I've been a readin' the other
side; an' if a few more of yeh'd do the same, you'd lose some of your
damn pig-headed nonsense." The Democrats cheered, but the Republicans
stared at Robie, as if he had suddenly become insane.

"Well, I'll be dinged!" said Smith, his brother-in-law. "I'd like to
know what you'd been a readin' to make a blazin' old copperhead of
you."

Robie held up two or three tracts. The Judge took them, looked them
over, and read the titles out loud to the wondering crowd.

"'The Power of Money to Oppress.' 'Free Trade Philosophy.' 'The Money
Question.' 'The Right to the Use of the Earth,' by Herbert Spencer.
'Land and Labor Library.' 'Progress and Poverty,' by Henry George."

"Oh, so you've got hold of Spencer and George, have you?" said the
Judge.

"No; they've got hold 'f me."

"_Spencer!_" said Smith, in vast disgust. "What the hell has he to do
with it?" The rest sat in silence. The occasion was too momentous for
jokes.

"Where'd you get hold o' these?" said the Judge, fingering the leaves.

"Radbourn sent 'em out."

"I'll bet yeh! If there was a rank, rotten book anywhere on God's green
footstool, that feller'd have it," said Smith.

The Judge ruminated: "Well, if that's the effect, guess I'll circulate
a few copies 'mong the young Republicans of the county. Gentlemen, this
is our year."

"You've been a sayin' that for ten years, Judge," said Ridings.

"And it's been a comin' all the time, gentlemen. I tell you, I've had
my ear to the ground, and there's something moving. The river is
shifting its bed. Look out for a flood. I'm going to make an entirely
new move this fall; I'm going to put up a man for legislature that'll
sweep the county; and you'll all vote for 'im, too. He's young, he's
got brains, he's an orator, and he can't be bought."

Robie brought his fist down on the counter in an excitement such as he
had never before manifested. "Brad Talcott! We'll elect him sure as
hell!"

Amos hastened to put in a word. "Brad's a Republican."

"He's a Free Trade Republican," said the Judge, quietly.

"How do yeh know?"

"Oh, I know. Haven't I been a workin' 'im for these last two years? Did
you expect a man to live with me and not become inoculated with the
Simon-pure Jeffersonian Democracy?"

"I don't believe it," Amos replied; "and I won't till I hear him say so
himself. I want to see him go to Des Moines, but I want to see him go
as a Republican."

"Well, you attend the Independent convention next week, and you'll hear
something that'll set you thinking. Your Grange is losing force. You
failed to elect your candidate last year. Now, if we put up a man who
is a farmer and a clean man--a man that can sweep the county and carry
Rock River--why not join in and elect him?"

The railroad interest was the great opposing factor; and the Judge, who
was a great politician, had calculated upon a fusion of the farmer
Republicans and the Democrats. He was really the ablest man in that
part of the State, and could wield the Democratic party like a pistol.
He succeeded in getting Amos, Councill, Jennings, and a few other
leading grangers to sign his call for a people's convention to nominate
county officers and the member of the legislature. It really amounted
to a union of the independent Republicans and the young Democrats.

The old liners, however, were there, and set out from the first to
control the convention, as was shown in the opening words of the
chairman, old man Colwell, whom the Judge had kindly allowed in the
chair, in order that he might have a chance to speak on the floor.

"This is a great day for us," said the chairman. "We've waited a long
time for the people to see that Republican rings were sapping the
foundations of political honesty, but they see it now. This crowded
convention, fellow-citizens, shows that the deathless principles of
Jacksonian Democracy still slumber under the ashes of defeat."

He went on in this strain, calmly taking to himself and the other old
moss-backs (as young Mason contemptuously called them) all the credit
of the meeting, and bespeaking, at the same time, all the offices.

Following this intimation, Colonel Peavy presented a slate, wherein all
the leading places on the ticket had been given "to the men who stood
so long for the principles of Jackson and Jefferson. It was fitting
that these men should be honored for their heroic waiting outside the
gates of emolument."

Young Mason was on his feet in an instant. "Mr. Chairman," he said,
penetratingly.

"Mr. Mason."

"While I appreciate, sir, the fortitude, the patience, of the men who
have been waiting outside the gates of emolument so long, I want to say
distinctly, that if that slate is not broken, we'll all wait outside
the gates of emolument twenty years longer. But I want to say further,
Mr. Chairman, that the strength of this new movement is in its freedom
from spoils-seeking; is in its independence from the old party lines.
Its strength is in its appeal to the farmer, in its support of his war
against unjust tariff and against railway domination. Its strength also
is in its appeal to the young men of this county, sir."

Applause showed that the young orator had his audience with him. He was
a small man, but his voice was magnificent, and his oratory powerful,
self-contained, full of telling points.

"If we win, gentlemen of this convention," he said, turning, "we must
put at the head of this movement a man who is absolutely
incorruptible--a man who can command the granger vote, the temperance
vote, the young man's vote, and the Independent vote. That man"--

"Mr. Chairman," snarled Colonel Peavy, rising with impressive dignity
and drawing his coat around him with ominous deliberation.

"Colonel Peavy," acknowledged the chairman.

"Mr. Chairman," shouted young Mason, "I have the floor. I deny the
right of your recognition of another member while I'm speaking."

"Mr. Chairman, I rise to a point of information," said the Colonel.

"State your point, Colonel."

"I would like to ask this young gentleman who holds the floor how many
votes he has cast in his whole life."

Young Mason colored with anger, but his voice was cool and decisive.
"For the gentleman's information, Mr. Chairman, I will say that I have
voted once, but that vote entitles me to stand here as a delegate, and
I have the floor."

The delegates were mainly with young Mason, and the Colonel sat down
grimly in the midst of the Old Guard. Milton and Bradley, sitting
together, rejoiced in the glorious attitude of the young champion, who
went on--

"I say, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, that we cannot win this election on
old party lines. I'm a Democrat." (Applause.) "But we are not strong
enough as a party in this district to elect, and I'm willing to work
with the Independents. There is just one man who can be elected from
this convention. He is a young man; he is sound on the tariff; he is an
orator; he can sweep the county. I present, as nominee for our next
representative, Bradley Talcott, of Rock River."

Bradley sat still, stunned by the applause which burst forth at the
mention of his name. Brown had prepared him for the presentation of his
name, but he had not dared to hope that any considerable number of
delegates would support him.

Judge Brown rose to his feet. "I second the nomination, Mr. Chairman. I
am a Democrat--an old Democrat, but I'm damned if I'm a moss-back. I
don' allow any young man to get ahead of me on radicalism. I stand for
progress; and because I know Bradley Talcott stands for progress, I
second his nomination. His canvass will be an honor to himself, and a
historical event in this county."

Amos Ridings arose. "Mr. Chairman, I second that nomination as a
Granger-Republican. I second it because I know Brad Talcott can't be
bought, and because I know he's honest in his convictions. I'll stand
by him as long as he stands by principle."

This practically brought to Bradley's support the winning force, for
Amos was a power in the county. Somebody called for Milton Jennings,
and after some hesitation he got upon his feet.

"Mr. Chairman, I'm not a delegate to this convention, and so it isn't
my place to speak here; but I want to say that if I was, I should
second this nomination. It's a complete surprise to me to have him
nominated. If I had known of it before, I would have been working for
him all along. I'm pledged in another direction; but if I could
honorably withdraw my support from the regular nominee, I would do
everything I could to elect my old classmate and esteemed colleague."

With this boom, the vote was wildly enthusiastic. The chairman
pronounced it unanimous.

"Give us a speech!" shouted the crowd.

Young Mason leaped up, a sardonic gleam in his eye. "Mr. Chairman, I
move that Colonel Peavy and Amos Ridings escort the nominee to the
platform."

The motion was put and carried amid laughter. As they dragged Bradley
out of his chair and pushed him up the aisle, everybody laughed and
cheered. William Councill kicked the Colonel as he went past and Robie
hit him a sounding slap between the shoulders. The Colonel bore it all
with astonishing good nature. As they reached the platform, young Mason
stepped into the aisle and shouted:

"Three cheers for the Honorable Bradley Talcott!"

With the roar of these cheers in his ears, Bradley turned and faced his
fellow-citizens. His knees shook, and his voice was so weak he could
hardly be heard.

"Fellow-citizens, do you know what you're doing?" he said, in a
curiously colloquial tone.

"You bet we do!" roared the crowd. "What d'ye think we've done?"

"You've nominated a man for your legislature who hasn't got a dollar in
the world."

"So much the better! The campaign 'll be honest!" shouted young Mason.

Bradley's throat was too full to speak, and his head whirled. "I can't
make a speech now, gentlemen; I am all out o' breath. All I can say is,
I'm very thankful to have such friends, and I'll try to do my duty in
the campaign, and in the legislature, if I'm elected."

The delegates swarmed about him to shake his hand and promise him their
support. Bradley, dazed by the suddenness of it, could only smile and
grip each man's hand. The Judge was jubilant. Had Bradley been his son,
he couldn't have felt more sincerely pleased.

"We'll see such a campaign this fall as this county never had," he said
to everybody; "a campaign with a principle; a campaign that will be
educational."

Bradley had now a greater work before him than he had ever undertaken
before. He had now to go to his old friends and neighbors in a new
light, practically as a Democrat. He had to face audiences mainly
hostile to his ideas, and defend opinions which he knew not only cut
athwart the judgment of the farmers of the county, but squarely across
their prejudices.

But he had something irresistible on his side; he was debating a
principle. He was widening the discussion, and he made men feel that.
He rose above local factions and local questions to the discussion of
the principles of justice and freedom. He voiced this in his speech of
acceptance in the Opera House the next day. The house was packed to its
anteroom with people from every part of the county. A curious feeling
of expectancy was abroad. Men seemed to feel instinctively that this
was the beginning of a change in the thought of Rock River. Everybody
remarked on the change in Bradley, and his beard made him look so much
older.

Judge Brown and Dr. Carver sat on the stage with the speakers, young
Mason and Bradley. The Judge was very dignified, but there was an
exultant strut in his walk and a special deliberation in his voice
which proclaimed his pride in his junior partner. He alluded, in his
dry, nasal way, to the pleasure it gave him to inaugurate the new era
in politics in Rock River. "The liquor question I regard as settled in
this State," he said. "And now the discussion of the tariff has free
sailing. But you don't want to hear us old fellows, with our
prejudices; you want to hear our young leaders, with their principles."

He introduced young Mason, who made one of his audacious speeches.
"Death is a great friend of youth and progress," he said. "The old men
die, off, thank God! and give young men and new principles a chance. I
tell you, friends and neighbors, the Democratic party is being born
again--it must be born again, in order to be worth saving."

When Bradley stepped forward, he was very pale.

"Friends and fellow-citizens," he began, after the applause had ended,
"I can't find words to express my feeling for the great honor you have
done me. I thank the citizens of Rock River for their aid, but I want
to say--I'm going to run this campaign in the farmers' interest,
because the interests of this county and of this State are
agricultural, and whatever hurts the farmer hurts every other man in
the State. There is no war between the town and the country. The war is
between the people and the monopolist wherever he is, whether he is in
the country or in the town. It is not true that the interests of the
town dweller and of the farmer are necessarily antagonistic; the cause
of the people is the same everywhere. It's like the condition of
affairs between England and Ireland. People say that Ireland is
fighting England--fighting the English people, but that is not the
fact. The antagonism is between the Irish people and the English
landlord. So the fight in America is the people against the special
privileges enjoyed by a few. It's because these few generally live in
towns that we _seem_ to be fighting the towns.

"As the Judge said, we've settled the liquor question in this State; it
won't come up again unless office seekers drag it up. It has been our
State issue--that and the railroads; and now that is settled, we can
turn our attention to the finishing up of the railway problem and to
the discussion of the tariff."

"And the money!" shouted some one; "abolish the national banks!"

Bradley hesitated a little. "No, we can't do that, but we can destroy
any special privilege they hold. But the first thing that stares us in
the face is the war tariff that is eating us up. I'm going to state
just what I think in this campaign, and you can vote for me or not. It
is sheer robbery to continue a tariff that was laid at a time when we
needed enormous revenue. See the surplus piling up in the public vault.
You say it's better to have a surplus than a deficit. Yes, but I'd
rather have the surplus in the pockets of the people. This taxing the
people to death, in order to have a surplus to expend in senseless
appropriations, is poor policy."

In this strain his whole speech ran, and it had an electrical effect.
They cheered him tremendously, and the meeting broke up, and discussion
burst out all over the hall with appalling fury, and continued each day
thereafter. The railroad question and the tariff question began right
there to divide the county into two camps. The young leader carried the
same disturbing influence into every township in which he spoke, and
the whole county became a debating school. It took a position far ahead
of the other counties of the State in the questions.

Men stopped each other, and talked from plow to plow across the line
fence. They met in the road upon dusty loads of wheat, and sat hours at
a time under the burning August sun to discuss the matter of railroad
commissions, and the fixing of rates, and the question of reducing the
surplus in the treasury.

The old greenbackers came out of their temporary retirement, and helped
Bradley's cause simply because he was young and a dissenter. They were
a power, for most of them were deeply read on the tariff and on the
railroad problem; in fact, were all round radicals and fluent speakers.

Judge Brown kept out of it. "I don't want to seem too prominent in this
campaign," he said to Colonel Peavey. "We old Mohawks are a damage to
any man's campaign just now. The time is coming, Colonel, when we'll
help, but not now. We've set the mischief afoot; now let the young
fellows and the farmers do the rest of it. Besides, my young man here
is quite able to look out for himself. All that scares me is he'll get
too radical, even for the Democracy, one of these days. If he does, all
is we'll have to build a party up to his principle, for he'll be right,
Colonel; there's no two ways about that."



XVII.

ELECTION.


The interest of the election was very great; and as the vote of Rock
River practically settled the contest, the centre of interest was the
Court House, which was crowded to suffocation on election night. There
was a continual jam and a continual change. Crowds stood around the
doorway, or moved up and down the sidewalk. Crowds were constantly
running up and down the stairway, and crowding in and out the dingy,
dimly lighted court-room, which was roaring with voices, blue with
smoke, and foul as a dungeon--with tobacco and vitiated breaths.

All the men of the town seemed to be present, from old man Dickey, the
chicken thief and fisherman, to cold, aristocratic R. F. Russell, the
banker. Rowdyish boys pushed and banged and howled, playing at
hide-and-seek among the legs of the men, who filled every foot of
standing space, or were perched on the railings or tables near the
Judge's bench, from which the returns were being called. The kerosene
lamp shed a dim light, through the smoke. There was no fire, and the
excited partisans kept their hats and coats on, and warmed themselves
by wild gestures and stamping.

Occasionally a boy's shrill yell or whistle, or some excited Democrat's
calling, "It's a whack! I'll take yeh!" rose above the clamor. Upon the
benches piled up along the wall, to leave the middle space free, groups
of the less demonstrative citizens of both parties sat discussing the
chances of the different candidates. Bradley was not there, but young
Mason and Milton were considered his representatives, and were
surrounded by a constant crowd of sympathizers. It was about nine
o'clock at night before the decisive returns began to come in.

Occasionally the sound of furious pounding was heard, and a momentary
lull was enforced while the clerk read some telegraphic message or
report of a neighboring town. While he stood upon the Judge's bench, at
about nine o'clock, the crowd, aware in some mysterious way of the
arrival of decisive news, made a wild surge toward the clerk, and
shouted for silence, while he announced in a high nasal key: "Rock
River gives a hundred and ninety-one for Kimball, two hundred and
twenty-five for Talcott." At this a wild cheer broke forth, led by
Milton and young Mason.

"That means victory!" said Milton.

"Don't be too sure of it! Wait for Cedarville."

The reading went on, with occasional yells from either the Democrats or
Republicans, according to the special quality of the report, but it was
plain that the most interest was centered in the contest for
representative.

As the evening wore on, messengers clattered up on horseback from other
towns of the county, and amid yells and cheers were hustled up the
stairway, through the crowd to the clerk, carrying in their hands
envelopes filled with election returns. These returns from the
townships were almost entirely in Bradley's favor, but Cedarville was
the decisive vote. Messengers from the little telegraph station dashed
to and fro, and the excitement was fanned into greater fury by the
accounts of Democratic gains from other counties and other States. "It
is a political landslide," exclaimed Mason. "The Democrats are in it
this time."

At length there rose the cry of "Cedarville! Cedarville!" and a
messenger bearing a telegraph blank was rushed through to the
reading-desk, where his message was snatched by the clerk. Again there
was a wild surge toward the desk, and a silence, broken only by
derisive cheers from the boys, while the clerk glanced over it.

"Cedarville gives seventy votes for Kimball, and a hundred and ten for
Talcott."

The Independents shouted themselves hoarse, and flung their caps in the
air. Talcott had carried both of the towns of the county; he was sure
of the farmers. The boys howled like savages, and tripped each other
over the railings and seats, boxed hats, punched the men in the back,
and hid around their legs; while the clerk went on with his reading, at
more and more frequent intervals, of reports from other States and
districts of the congressional field. The old-line Democrats were
delirious with joy. The promised land was in sight.

It was about half past twelve o'clock when Colonel Russell conceded
Bradley's election, and two stout men toiled up the stairs, bringing
his forfeit of two barrels of apples. Amid wild yells from the crowd,
they threw the barrels to the floor, where they burst, and sent
Northern Spys rolling in every direction.

Then came a wilder roar and scramble, that outdid everything that had
gone before, and a surging mass of struggling men and boys covered the
apples. They threw themselves upon each other's backs. They clawed like
wild-cats, barked like wolves. They kicked each other out of the way,
and scratched and mauled each other, crushing hats, tearing coats,
bruising shins. As fast as one man filled his hands or arms or pockets,
the others set upon him, struck them from his arm, snatched them from
his hands, tore them from his pockets, or tripped him headlong to the
floor, where he rolled in the filthy sawdust, under the feet of the
crazy mob.

The wrestle of starving wild hogs for corn or potatoes could not have
been more tumultuous or ear-splitting than this ferocious, jovial
scramble. It ceased only when the last apple was secured, so that none
could snatch it away. Then began the fusilade of cores and parings.
Shining stove-pipe hats were choice game, and to throw a core clean
through a silk hat was a distinction which everybody seemed to covet.
In five minutes not a tall hat was to be seen. Colonel Peavy wrapped
his handkerchief around his, thus drawing upon himself the attack of
the entire crowd, and he was forced to retreat.

Then they threw at faces and bald heads. The uproar redoubled. No one
was drunk, no one was mad; but the scene was furious with mirth. It was
contagious. Word spread outside, and the whole male population of the
town jammed into the stairway, and struggled furiously to reach the
court-room, where the fun was going on. A stranger would have imagined
it the loosing of the hordes of hell.

In the streets of the town, the boys, without the slightest care about
who was elected, were stealing kerosene barrels and dry-goods boxes, in
order to keep the bonfire going. When they heard of the free apples
which they had missed by their zeal in bonfiring, a bitterness came
upon them, and they came together and tried to organize a committee to
go down and see Judge Brown and state their grievance.

At last one desperate young fellow took the lead, and the rest marched
after. He moved off down the street, shouting through his closed lips
"_Bum, bum, bum, bum, bum!_" The rest took up the drum-like cry, and
marched after him two and two. They made straight toward Judge Brown's
office, where they knew Bradley was. They halted and raised a great
shout.

"Three cheers for the Honorable Brad," and gave them wildly.

This brought the Judge out; and when they saw him, they yelled in
lugubrious tones, as if they were starving, "Apples! apples!"

The Judge shouted down, "All right, boys, I'll send Robie up. He'll
roll out all the apples you want." The boys gave another cheer, and
left.

Bradley sat there in the Judge's office in a sort of daze. He could not
say a word. His thought was not clear. He was not at all anxious.
Somehow he could not feel that it was his fate that was being decided.
On the contrary, it seemed to be some other person. He was not excited;
he was only puzzled and wondering.

At last the crowd was heard coming from the Court House. Wild cheers
sounded faintly far up the street. The sound of a band was heard, and
the marching of feet, rhythmic on the sidewalks. There came the sound
of rapid footsteps, and so familiar was Bradley with the sidewalk that
he knew exactly where the runners were by the different note given out
by each section of planking. They were crossing the street. Now they
came across the warped and clattering length before the butcher shop.
Then over the crisp, solid planking before Robie's. Then came a rush up
the stairway, and Milton and young Mason burst into the room.

"Hurrah, we've carried you through! You're elected, sure as guns!"

"Three cheers for Democracy and progress," shouted the Judge, in high
excitement, from the open windows. They were given with tremendous
vigor by the crowd from below and the band struck up "Hail Columbia."

                     *      *      *      *      *

It was two o'clock when Bradley and the Judge got away from the crowd
and went home to bed. They found Mrs. Brown sitting up. With the
customary thoughtlessness of men, neither of them had taken her anxiety
into account.

"Well, Mrs. Brown, are you up?"

"Yes, Mr. Brown; I wanted to hear the news. You didn't suppose I could
go to bed without it," she replied calmly, though she was trembling
with eagerness.

"Well, we're elected, Mrs. Brown," said the Judge proudly.

She came up to Bradley timidly, a longing mixed with pride expressed in
her face. Bradley took her in his arms, and laid her cheek on his
shoulder. She stood before him like a mother now. He felt her pride in
him, and she had grown very dear to him.



XVIII.

"DON'T BLOW OUT THE GAS."


Des Moines appeared to Bradley to be very great and very noisy. It was
the largest city he had ever seen. He was born in Eastern Wisconsin on
a farm, and his early life had been spent far from any populous centre;
very largely, indeed, in the timber-lands. He had been in Lacrosse,
that is to say, he changed cars there, and Rock River and Iowa City
were the only towns he had ever lived in.

He had the preconception that Des Moines was a fine city, but its
streets seemed endless to him that cold, clear night that he got off
the train and walked up the sidewalk. He had been told to go right to
the Windom House, because there was the legislative headquarters. He
walked, carrying his valise in his hand, and looking furtively about
him. He knew he ought not to do so, but the life about him and the
endless rows of vast buildings fascinated him--drew his attention
constantly.

The portico of the hotel awed him with its red sandstone magnificence,
and he moved timidly on toward the centre of the rotunda with
hesitating and uncertain steps. It seemed to be the realization of his
imaginings of Chicago. It subdued him into absolute clownishness; and
the porter who rushed toward him and took his valise from his hands,
classified him off-hand as another one of those country fellows who
must be watched and prevented from blowing out the gas. Bradley signed
his name on the book without any flourishes, and without writing the
"Honorable" before his name, as most of the other members had done.

"Front!" yelled the clerk, in an imperative voice. Bradley started, and
then grew hot over his foolishness. "Show this gentleman to No. 30.
Like dinner?" the clerk asked, in a kindly interest. Bradley nodded,
suddenly remembering that in fashionable life dinner came at six
o'clock. "All ready in about ten minutes," the clerk said, looking at
the clock.

Bradley followed the boy to the elevator. He noticed that the darkey
did not enter with him, but ran up the stairs. He could see him rushing
around the curves, his hands sliding on the railings. He met him at the
door of the elevator and motioned to him--"This way, suh." There was
something in his tone that puzzled Bradley; and as he walked along the
hall, he thought of the soft carpet under his feet (it must have been
two inches thick) and of that tone in the boy's voice.

A dull fire of soft coal was burning on the grate, and the boy punched
it up, and said, "'Nother gent jes' left. I git some mo' coal."

The room, like all hotel rooms, was a desolate place, notwithstanding
its one or two elaborate pieces of furniture, its fine carpet, and its
easy chair. It had a distinctly homeless quality. Bradley sat down in
the big chair before the fire, and took time to think it all over. He
was really here as a legislator for a great State. The responsibility
and honor of the position came upon him strongly as he sat there alone
in this great hotel looking at the fire. That he, of all the men in his
county, should have been selected for this office, was magnificent. He
drew a long sigh, and said inwardly:

"I'll be true to my trust." And he meant, in addition, to be so
dignified and serious that he would not seem young to the other
legislators.

He was reading, from a little frame on the wall, the rules of the house
when the boy knocked on the door, and started away toward the fire so
that the boy should not suspect what he had been doing. He returned to
the reading, however, after the boy had gone out. He read "Don't Blow
out the Gas," without feeling it an impertinence, and went over to read
the code of signals posted above the bell punch.

    RING ONCE FOR BELL BOY.
    RING TWICE FOR ICE WATER.
    RING THREE FOR FIRE.
    RING FOUR FOR CHAMBERMAID.

His mind went off in a pursuit of trivial matters concerning this code.
What would happen if he rang three times--which he thought stood for
alarm of fire. In imagination he heard the outcries throughout the
various floors and rooms of the house. Then his mind went back to the
fact that the boy was not allowed to ride in the elevator. He wondered
if this touch of southern feeling would ever get any farther north. For
the first time in his life he had met the question of caste.

He went down to supper, as he called it himself, in the dining-room,
which he found to be a very large and splendid apartment. A waiter in a
dress coat (he had never seen a live figure in a dress coat before) met
him at the door, and with elaborate authority called another darkey, in
a similar dress coat, to show him to a chair.

The second darkey led his way down the polished floor (which Bradley
walked with difficulty), his coat tails wagging in a curious fashion,
by reason of the action of his bow legs. He was obliged to take the
uncomprehending Bradley by the arm, while he shoved the chair under
him; but he did it so courteously that no one noticed it. He was
accustomed to give this silent instruction in ceremonials. Bradley
noticed that, notwithstanding the splendor of his shirt-front, collar
and dress-coat, his shoes were badly broken, though highly polished.

A man sat at the opposite side of the table reading a paper over his
coffee. He attracted Bradley's attention because he had a scowl on his
face, and his hair was tumbled picturesquely about his forehead. Even
his brown moustache contrived to have an oddly dishevelled look.

They ate in silence for some time, or rather Bradley did; the other man
read and sipped his coffee, and continued to frown and swear under his
breath. At length he burst forth in a suppressed exclamation: "Well,
I'll be damned." When he looked at Bradley, his eyes were friendly, and
he seemed to require some one to talk to.

"These devilish railroads will own the country, body and breeches yet."

"What are they up to now?" said Bradley.

"They've secured Joe Manley as their attorney, one of the best lawyers
in the State. It's too cussed bad." He looked sad. "I can't account for
it. I suppose he got hard up, and couldn't stand the pressure. I wonder
if you know how these infernal corporations capture a State!"

"No, but I'd like to know. I'm down here to fight 'em."

"That so? From where?"

"From Rock County. I'm the representative; Talcott is my name," Bradley
said, seizing an excuse to announce himself.

"_Is_ that so! Well, now, I'm an old cock in the pit, and I want to
warn you. I've known many a fine, honest fellow to get involved. Now
I'll tell you how it's done. Before you have been here a week, some of
these railroads will send for you, and tell you they've heard of you as
a prominent young lawyer of the State. Oh, they've heard of you, we've
all heard of your canvass; and as they are in need of an attorney in
your county, they'd like very much to have you take charge, etc., of
any legislation that may arise there, and so on. There may not be a
week's work during the year, and there may be a great deal, etc., but
they will be glad to pay you six hundred dollars or eight hundred
dollars, if you will take the position.

"Well, we'll suppose you take it. You go back to Rock, there is very
little business for the railroad, but your salary comes in regularly.
You say to yourself that, in case any work comes in which is
dishonorable, you'll refuse to take hold of it. But that money comes in
nicely. You marry on the expectations of its continuance. You get to
depending upon it. You live up to it. You don't find anything which
they demand of you really dishonest, and you keep on; but really cases
of the railroad against the people do come up, and your sense of
justice isn't so acute as it used to be. You manage to argue yourself
into doing it. If you don't do it, somebody else will, etc., and so you
keep on."

After an impressive pause, during which the speaker gazed in his face,
he finished: "Suddenly the war of the corporation against the people is
on us, and you find you are the paid tool of the corporation, and that
the people are distrustful of you, and that you are practically
helpless."

The man spoke in a low voice, but somehow his words had the quality of
exciting the imagination. Bradley thrilled at the picture of moral
disintegration hinted at. The imaginative tragedy was brought very
close to him.

"Do they really do that?" he asked.

"That's a part of their plan. The proof of it will be in the offer
which they'll make to you in less than ten days. They're always on the
lookout for such men, especially men who have the confidence of the
farmers. The next war in this State and in the nation is to be a
railway war."

"You think so. I think the tariff"--

"What is the tariff, compared to the robbery that makes Gould and Sage
and Vanderbilt? I tell you, young man, the corporations in this country
are eating the life out of it. This power of three men to get together,
steal the privilege from the people, and by their joint action to
produce a fourth body (_corpus_), behind which they hide and push their
schemes--an intangible something which outlives them all--that is
the power that is undermining this government. It's against the
Constitution. Old Chief Justice Marshall in his verdict (which ushered
in the reign of corporations, in this country) distinctly said that it
was based on usurpation, dating back to the Stuarts or the Georges; and
the hint in that was, that it was un-American and un-Constitutional."

Bradley perceived that he was in the presence of another reformer like
himself. He wondered if he seemed so cranky to other men. He was
interested by the man's evident thought and honesty of purpose and by
the sympathy of a city man with a farmer's fight.

"You're with us in our fight against the railroads?"

The man threw one arm back over the top of his chair and looked at
Bradley out of his half-closed eyes. "Of course. Only you're so damned
narrow. Excuse me. You don't see that you've got to kill _every_
corporation. _Every_ corporation is an infringement of individual
rights. When three men go into business as a firm, they should every
one be liable for every contract which they make. The creation of an
intangible corporate personality is a trick to evade liability. Make
war against the whole system," he said, rising. "Don't go fooling about
with regulating fares and forming commissions. Declare corporations
illegal, and let the people know their practices."

They went down to the rotunda floor together. The electric lights
flooded the brilliant marbles with a dazzling light. Groups of men were
gathered around spittoons, talking earnestly, gesticulating with fists
and elaborate broad-hand, free-arm movements--political gestures, as
Bradley recognized.

"These are your colleagues and their parasites," said Bradley's
companion, whose name was Cargill. "Know any of 'em?"

"No; I don't know any of the legislators."

Cargill led Bradley up to a group which surrounded a gigantic old man
who leaned on a cane and gesticulated with his powerful left hand.

"Senator Wood, let me introduce Hon. Bradley Talcott, of Rock."

"Ah, glad to see you, sir. Glad to see you. Gentlemen, this is the
young man who made that gallant fight up in Rock. This is the Hon.
Jones of Boone, Mr. Talcott, and this is Sam Wells of Cerro Gordo, one
of the most remorseless jokers in the House. Look out for him!"

After shaking hands all about, Bradley hastened to say, "Don't let me
interrupt. Go on, senator. I want to listen." This made a fine
impression on the senator, who loved dearly to hear the sound of his
own voice. He proceeded to enlarge upon his plan for gerrymandering the
state--to the advantage of the Democratic party, of course.

In the talk which followed, Bradley was brought face to face with the
fact that these men were more earnest in maintaining the hold of their
parties upon the offices than principles of legislation. They were not
legislators in any instances; they were gamesters.

"Now, let me tell you something more," said Cargill, as he led his way
back to a settee near the wall. He drew up a chair for his feet,
lighted his cigar, pulled his little soft hat down to the bridge of his
nose, put one thumb behind his vest, and began in a peculiarly sardonic
tone: "Now, here is where the legislation really takes place--here and
at the Iowa House. See those fellows?" He waved his hand in a circle
around the rotunda, now filled with stalwart men laughing loudly or
talking in confidential, deeply interested groups, with their heads
close together. "There are the supposed law-makers of the State. What
do you think of them, anyway?"

Bradley was silent. He was so filled with new sensations and ideas that
he could not talk.

Cargill mused a little. "I suppose it all appears to you as something
very fine and very important. Now, don't make a mistake. The most of
these fellows are not even average men. I have a theory that, take it
one ten years with another, the legislatures of our country must be
necessarily beneath the average, because the man who is a thinker or a
moralist necessarily represents a minority. Anyhow, these men support
my theory, don't they?"

There was a distinct bitterness in his tone that made his words sink
deep. There was a touch of literary grace also in his phrases, quite
unlike anything Bradley had ever heard. "You imagine these men honest.
You say 'they differ from me' honestly. But I know there is no question
of principle in their action. They simply say No. 1 first, party next,
and principle last of all. I remember how awe-struck I was during my
first term. Now, don't waste any nervous energy on admiring these men
or standing in awe of them. Jump right in and take care of yourself.
Vote for party, but make arrangements before you vote--no; I forgot.
You stand for a real principle, and success may lie for you in standing
by it. Yes, on the whole, I believe I would stand by principle; it will
bring you out in greater relief from the rest of them, and then the
people may begin to think. I doubt it, however."

"You are a pessimist, then," said Bradley, feeling that there was an
undercurrent of dark philosophy in Cargill's voice.

"I am. The whole damned thing is a botch, in my opinion. You may find
it different," he said, with a mocking gleam in his eyes as he rose and
walked away. Bradley did not believe the man meant half he said, and
yet his bitterness had thrown a sombre shadow over his heart. The vista
ahead was not quite so bright as it had been except where Miss Wilbur
seemed to walk. He longed to go out and find her, and tried to content
himself with walking up and down the street, which seemed incredibly
brilliant with its lighted windows and streams of gay young people
coming and going.

At last he came to a corner where he saw the name of her street upon
the lamp post, and the hunger to see her was irresistible. He rushed up
the street with desperate haste. He wished he had started sooner. It
was eight o'clock and there was danger that she might be gone out. The
electric cars hardly diverted him as they came floating weirdly down
the line--the trolley invisible, the wheels emitting green sheets of
light at the crossings.

The street grew more quiet as it climbed the hill, and at last became
quite like Rock River, with its rows of small wooden houses on each
side of the maple-lined streets, through which the keen wind went
hissing. The stars glittered through the clear cold air like crystals
of green and gold and white fire. As he walked along, his newly
acquired honors fell away from him, together with his war for the
grange, and his ambitious plans displayed their warmer side. He began
to feel that all he was and was to do must be shared with a woman in
order that he could enjoy it himself, and he had known for a long time
that Ida was that woman.

His face lifted to the stars as he implored their aid in a vast and
dangerous enterprise. It meant all or nothing to him. He was in the
mood to risk all his life and plans that night if she had been with
him. The strangeness of the city had exalted him to the mood where his
timidity was gone.

When he came to the house, he found it all dark save a dim light in the
rear, and it made him shiver with a premonition of failure. A servant
girl answered his ring. He had the hope that this was the wrong house
after all.

"Can you tell me if Miss Wilbur lives here?"

"Yassir, but she nat haar," answered the girl, with the Norwegian
accent.

"Where is she?"

"Ay nat know. Ay tank she ees good ways off; her moder she ees gawn to
churtz."

Bradley no longer looked at the stars as he walked along the street.
All his doubts and fears and his timidity and his reticence came back
upon him, and something warm and sweet seemed to go out of the far
vista of his life. He felt that he had lost her.



XIX.

CARGILL TAKES BRADLEY IN HAND.


Cargill was not at the table the next morning, but he came in later,
and greeted Bradley brusquely, as he flung his rag of a hat on the
floor.

"Well, legislator, what is on the tapis this morning? Anything I can do
for you?"

"No, I guess not. I am going to look up a new boarding-house."

"What's the matter with this?"

"Too rich for my blood."

"Just repeat that, please."

"Can't stand the expense."

Cargill poured the cream on his oatmeal before he replied: "But, dear
sir, nothing is too good for a representative. Young man, you don't
seem to know how to farm yourself out."

All day Saturday the Windom rotunda was crowded with men. The
speakerships, the house offices, were being contested for here; the
real battle was being fought here, and under Cargill's cynical comment
the scene assumed great significance to Bradley's uninitiated eyes.
They took seats on the balcony which ran around the "bear pit," as he
called it. Around them, flitting to and fro, were dozens of bright,
rather self-sufficient young women.

"This is one of the most dangerous and demoralizing features of each
legislature," he said to Bradley. "These girls come down here from
every part of the State to cajole and flatter their way into a State
House office. You see them down there buttonholing every man they can
get an introduction to, and some of them don't even wait for an
introduction. They'd be after you if you were a Republican."

Bradley looked out upon it all with a growing shadow in his eyes. He
suddenly saw terrible results of this unwomanly struggle for office. He
saw back of it also the need for employment which really forced these
girls into such a contest.

"They soon learn," Cargill was saying, "where their strength lies. The
pretty ones and the bold ones succeed where the plain and timid ones
fail. It has its abuses. Good God, how could it be otherwise! It's a
part of our legislative rottenness. Legal labor pays so little, and
vice and corruption pay so well. Now see those two girls button-holing
that leprous old goat Bergheim! If it don't mean ruin to them both, it
will be because they're as knowing as he is. Every year this thing goes
on. What the friends and parents of these girls are thinking of, I'll
be damned if I know."

Bradley was dumb with the horror of it all. He had such an instinctive
reverence for women that this scene produced in him a profound, almost
despairing sorrow. He sat there after Cargill left him, and gazed upon
it all with stern eyes. There was no more tragical thing to him than
the woman who could willingly allure men for pay. It made him shudder
to see those bright, pretty girls go down among those men, whose hard,
peculiar, savage stare he knew almost as well as a woman.

They did not know that he was a legislator, and he escaped their
importunities; but he overheard several of them, as they came up with
some member--sometimes a married man--and took seats on the balcony
near him.

"But you had no business to promise Miss Jones! How could you when I
was living?"

"But I didn't know you then!"

"Well, then, now you've seen me, you can tell Miss Jones your contract
don't go," laughed the girl.

"Oh, that wouldn't do, she'd kick."

"Let'er kick. She aint got any people who are constituents. My people
are your constituents."

Bradley walked away sick at heart. As he passed a settee near the
stairway, he saw another girl with a childish face looking up at a
hard-featured young man, and saying with eager, wistful voice, her
hands clasped, "Oh, I _hope_ you can help me. I need it so much."

Her sweet face haunted him because of its suggested helplessness and
its danger. His heart swelled with an indefinable and bitter rebellion.
Everywhere was a scramble for office--everywhere a pouring into the
city from the farms and villages. Why was it? Was he not a part of the
movement as well as these girls? Did it not all spring from the
barrenness and vacuity of rural life?

Bradley went to church, for the reason that he had nothing better to
do, and, in order to get as much out of it as possible, went to the
largest sanctuary in the city. The hotels were thronged by men who took
little thought of the day. The rotunda echoed with roaring laughter and
the tramp of feet. Every new member was being introduced and
manipulated, but Bradley shrank from declaring himself. His name, B.
Talcott, conveyed no information to those who saw it on the register,
and so he sat aside from the crowd all day, untouched by the male
lobbyist or the girl office seekers.

He went next day, according to promise, to call at Cargill's office,
which was on the fifth floor of a large six-story building on the main
street. There were two ornamental ground-glass doors opening from the
end of a narrow hall. One was marked, "Bergen & Cargill, Commission
Merchants, Private," and Bradley entered. A man seated at a low table
was operating a telegraphic machine. He was in his shirt sleeves, and
wore blue checked over-sleeves, and carried a handkerchief under his
chin to keep his collar from getting soiled. He sat near two desks
which separated the private room from the larger room, in which were
seated several men looking at one side of the wall, which was a
blackboard checked off in small squares by red lines. Columns of
figures in chalk were there displayed.

Cargill did not seem to be about, and the busy operator did not see the
visitor. A brisk young man of Scandinavian type was walking about in
the larger office with a piece of chalk in his hand. He came to the
desk and looked inquiringly at Bradley, who started to speak, but the
sonorous voice of the operator interrupted him.

"Three eighths bid on wheat," he called, and handed a little slip of
paper to the brisk young man with the flaxen mustache.

"Wheat, three eighths," he repeated in a resonant tone, and proceeded
to put the figures in a small square under the section marked "Wheat"
on the blackboard. When he came back, Bradley asked for Cargill.

"He'll be in soon; take a seat."

"Three eighths bid. They still hammer the market, as they sold short,"
shouted the operator.

Bergen repeated the telegram to the crowd. "Of course they'll do that,"
said one of the smokers, a young man with an assumption of great wisdom
on all matters relating to wheat. He looked prematurely knowing, and
spit with a manly air.

As Bradley took a seat at the desk, Bergen was calling into the
telephone in a high, sonorous, monotonous voice, "Wheat opened at
ninety-three, three quarters; sold as high as ninety-four; is now
ninety-three and three eighths. Corn opened at forty-two; is now
forty-one and seven eighths. Bradstreet's decrease on both coasts the
past week, two and a quarter millions. Cables very strong."

Cargill came in a little later, and greeted Bradley with a nod while
crossing the room to look at the blackboard.

"Draw up a chair," he said, and they took a seat at the table, while
the business of the office went on. "You'll be interested in knowing
something about this business," he said to Bradley. "It's as legitimate
as buying or selling real estate on a commission; but so far as the
popular impression goes, there is no difference between this and a
bucket-shop."

"It's all very new to me," said Bradley. "I don't know the difference
between this and the bucket-shop."

"Ninety-three and seven eighths bid on wheat," called Bergen from a
slip, as he walked back and chalked the latest intelligence upon the
board.

"Well, there is a difference. In this case, we simply buy and sell on
commission. These are real purchases and sales. The order for wheat is
transmitted to Chicago and registered, and has its effect upon the
market; whereas in a bucket-shop the sale does not go out of the
office, and, if there is a loss to the customer, the proprietor gains
it. In other words, we buy and sell for others, with no personal
interest in the sale; the bucket-shop is a pure gambling establishment,
where men bet on what other men are going to do. But that ain't what I
had you call to talk over. I want you to meet Bergen. Chris, come over
here," he called. "I want to introduce the Honorable Talcott of Rock
River. He's started in, like yourself, to reform politics.

"The reason why I wanted you to meet Bergen," Cargill went on, "is
because he is a sincerer lover of literature than myself, and like
yourself, I imagine, believes thoroughly in the classics. He's
translating Ibsen for the Square Table Club. His idea of amusement
ain't mine, I needn't say."

"New York still hammers away on the market. Partridge quietly buying to
cover on the decline."

"Excuse me a moment," said Bergen, returning to business.

Cargill took an easy position. "I don't know why I have sized you up as
literary in general effect, but I have. That's one reason why I took to
you. It's so damned unusual to find a politician that has a single idea
above votes. And then I'm literary myself," he said, his face a mask of
impenetrable gravity. "I wrote up the sheep industry of Iowa for the
Agricultural Encyclopædia. That puts me in the front rank of Des Moines
literary aspirants.

"Towns like this," he said, going off on a speculative side track,
"have a two-per-cent. population who are inordinately literary. They
recognize my genius. The other ninety-eight per cent. don't care a
continental damn for Shakespeare or anybody else, barring Mary Jane
Holmes, of course, and the five-cent story papers. But literary Des
Moines _is_ literary. They stand by Shakespeare and Homer, I can tell
you, and they recognize genius when they see it. By the way, Bergen,"
he said, calling his brother-in-law to him again, "we must make this
young man acquainted with our one literary girl."

"Wheat is ninety-four bid. New York strong." It was impossible to hold
Bergen's attention, however, with a sharp bulge on the market, and
Cargill was forced to turn to Bradley again.

"There is a girl in this town who has the literary quality. True, she
has recognized my ability, which prejudices me in her favor, of course.
In turn I presented her with my report on the sheep industry."

Bradley laughed, but Cargill proceeded as if there were nothing funny
in the situation--

"And she read it, actually, and quoted it in one of her great speeches.
It made the reporter bug out his eyes. He said he had observed of late
quite a vein of poetry running through Miss Wilbur's speeches, which
lifted them out of the common rut."

Bradley lost sight of the humor in this speech at the sound of Ida's
name, and his face flushed. He had not heard her name spoken by a third
person in months, and had never dared to say it out loud himself.

Cargill went on: "She's an infernal heretic and suffragist and all
that, but she's a power. Her name is Wilbur--Ida Wilbur. Used to
lecture for the Grange or something of that kind. Is still lecturing, I
believe, but the Grange has snuffed out."

Six or eight men came into the larger room talking loudly and excitedly
about the market, and Cargill's attention was drawn off by the resonant
reports of the Chicago market.

"The market shows great elasticity. Western advices contribute to the
Bull feeling."

"Do you know Miss Wilbur?" Bradley asked when Cargill came back, being
afraid Cargill might forget the topic of conversation.

"Yes, I meet her occasionally. I meet her at the Square Table Club,
where we fight on literature. They call it the Square Table Club,
because they disagree with the opinions of the most of us real literary
people of the town."

Bradley managed to say, in a comparatively firm tone of voice, that he
had heard of Miss Wilbur as a Grange lecturer, and that he would like
to know more about her.

"Well, I'll introduce you. She aint very easy to understand. She is one
of these infernal advanced women. Now, I like thinkers, but what right
has a woman to think? To think is our manly prerogative. I'm free to
admit that we don't exercise it to much better advantage than we do our
prerogative to vote; but then, damn it, how could we stand wives that
think?"

Bradley had given up trying to understand when Cargill was joking and
when he was in earnest. He knew this was either merciless sarcasm or
the most pig-headed bigotry. Anyhow he did not care to say anything for
fear of drawing him off into a discussion of an impersonal subject,
just when he seemed likely to tell something about Ida's early life.

It was a singular place to receive this information. He sat there with
his elbow on the desk, leaning his head on his palm, studying Cargill's
face as he talked. Over at the other end of the room, the operator was
feeding himself on a pickle with his left hand, and receiving the
telegrams from the far-off, roaring, tumultuous wheat exchange, every
repeated message being a sort of distant echo of the ocean of cries and
the tumult of feet in the city. They were as much alone and talking in
private as if they were in Cargill's own room at the hotel. Cargill
talked on, unmindful of the telephone, the telegraphic ticking, and the
brisk, business-like action of his partner.

"Yes, I have known her ever since she was a girl. Her father was a
queer old seed of a farmer, just out of town here, cranky on
religion--a Universalist, I believe. Had the largest library of his
town; I don't know but the largest private library outside of a city in
the State. His house was literally walled with books. How he got 'em I
don't know. It was currently believed that he was full of information,
but I never heard of any one who was able to get very much out of him.
His wife had been a beauty; that was her dowry to her daughter.

"The girl went to school here at sixteen. I was a student then, six or
seven years older than she, and I remember there were about six of us
who used to stand around the schoolhouse door to carry her books for
her; but she just walked past us all without a turn of the head. She
didn't seem to know what ailed us. She was one of these girls born all
brains, some way. I never saw her face flushed in my life, and her big
eyes always made me shiver when she turned them on me."

"Wheat falls to ninety-three and a fourth. There is a break in the
market. New York is still hammering," called the operator, his mouth
full of pie.

Cargill was distinctly talking to himself, almost as much as to
Bradley. The hardness had gone out of his eyes, and his voice had a
touch of unconscious sadness in it.

"Does Miss Wilbur live here?" Bradley asked, to start him off again.

"Yes, she went into the Grange when she was eighteen, just after she
graduated from our university here. Had a good deal of your enthusiasm,
I should judge. Expected to revolutionize things some way. I don't take
very much interest in her public work, but I thoroughly appreciate her
literary perception." He had got back to his usual humor.

"Chris, when does the club meet next?"

"Friday night, I believe."

"All right. I'll take you up, and introduce you into the charmed
circle. They pride themselves on being modern up there, though I don't
see much glory in being modern."

Bradley stood for a moment at the door, looking at this strange scene.
It appealed to him with its strangeness, and its suggestion of the
great battles on the street which he had read of in the papers. The
telegraph machine clicked out every important movement in Chicago and
New York. The manager called up his customers, and bawled into the
telephone the condition of the market and the significant gossip of the
far-off exchange halls. It was so strange, and yet so familiar, that he
went away with his head full of those cabalistic sentences--

"New York still hammering away. Partridge quietly buying to cover on
the decline."



XX.

AT THE STATE HOUSE.


That the invitation to attend the Square Table Club over-shadowed the
importance and significance of Bradley's entrance into public life, was
an excellent commentary upon his real character. The State House,
however, appealed to his imagination very strongly as he walked up its
unfinished lawn, amid the heaps of huge limestone blocks, his eyes upon
the looming façade of the west front. He walked the echoing rotunda
with a timid air; and the beautiful soaring vault was so majestic in
his eyes, he wondered if Washington could be finer. There were a few
other greenhorns, like himself, looking the building over with the same
minute scrutiny. He entered all of the rooms into which it was possible
to penetrate, and at last into the library, a cheerful, rectangular
room, into which the sun streamed plenteously.

There was hardly any one in either the Senate or the Representative
Halls except farmer-like groups of people, sometimes a family group of
four or five, including the grandmother or grandfather. They were
mainly in rough best suits of gray, or ostentatiously striped
cassimere. The young men wore wide hats, pushed back, in some cases, to
display a smooth, curling wave of hair, carefully combed down over
their foreheads. He was able to catalogue them by reference to his old
companions, Ed Blackler, Shep Watson, Sever Anderson, and others.

Soon the crowds thickened, and groups of men entered, talking and
laughing loudly. They were wholly at their ease, being plainly old and
experienced members. They greeted each other with boisterous cries and
powerful handshaking.

"Hello, Stineberg, I hoped you'd git snowed under. Back again, eh?"

"Well, I'll be damned! Aint your county got any more sense than to send
such a specimen as you back? Why weren't you around to the caucus?"

Bradley stood around awkwardly alone, not knowing just what to do.
Perhaps some of these men would be glad to see him if they knew him,
but he could not think of going to introduce himself. Being new in
politics, there was not a man there whose face he recognized. The few
that he had met at the hotel were not in sight. He felt as if he had
been thrust into this jovial company, and was unwelcome.

The House was called to order by one of the members of the capital
county, and prayer was offered. He sat quietly in his seat as things
went on. The session adjourned after electing temporary speaker, clerk,
etc. Bradley felt so alien to it all that he scarcely took the trouble
to vote; and when the committee on credentials was appointed, he felt
nervously in his pocket to see that his papers were safe. He felt very
much as he used to when, as a boy, he went to have his hair cut, and
sat in torture during the whole operation, in the fear that his quarter
(all he had with him) might be lost, and trembling to think what would
happen in such a case.

That night he moved to a new boarding-place. He secured a room near the
Capitol, and went to supper in a small private house near by, which had
a most astonishing amplitude of dining-room. He felt quite at home
there, for the food was put on the table in the good old way, and
passed around from hand to hand. The mashed potato tasted better, piled
high, with a lump of butter in the top of it; and the slices of roast
beef, outspread on the platter, enabled him to get the crisp outside,
if it happened to start from his end of the table. There were judges
and generals and senators and legislators of various ranks all about
him. Crude, rough, wholesome fellows, most of them, with big, brawny
hands like his own, and loud, hearty voices. It was impossible to stand
in awe of a judge who handled his knife more deftly than his fork, and
spooned the potato out of the big, earthen-ware dish with a resounding
slap. He began to see that these men were exactly like the people he
had been with all his life. He argued, however, that they were perhaps
the poorer and the more honorable part of the legislature.

He wrote a note to Judge Brown, telling him that he was settled, but
was taking very little part in the organizing of the House. He did not
say that he was disappointed in his reception, but he was; his vanity
had been hurt. His canvass had attracted considerable attention from
the Democratic press of the country, and he expected to be received
with great favor by them. He had come out of Republicanism for their
sake, and they ought to recognize him. He did not consider that no one
knew him by sight, and that recognition was impossible.

He was at the Capitol again early the next morning, and found the same
scene being re-enacted. Straggling groups of roughly-dressed farmers
loitered timidly along the corridors, brisk clerks dashed to and fro,
and streams of men poured in and out the doors of the legislative
halls. Bradley entered unobserved, and took a seat at the rear of the
hall on a sofa. He did not feel safe in taking a seat.

It was a solemn moment to the new legislator as he stood before the
clerk, and, with lifted hand, listened to the oath of office read in
the clerk's sounding voice. He swore solemnly, with the help of God, to
support the Constitution, and serve his people to the best of his
ability; and he meant it. It did not occur to him that this oath was a
shuffling and indefinite obligation. The room seemed to grow a little
dimmer as he stood there; the lofty ceiling, rich in its colors, grand
and spacious to him, seemed to gather new majesty, just as his office
as lawmaker gathered a vast and sacred significance.

But as he came back to his seat, he heard a couple of old members
laugh. "Comin' down to save their country. They'll learn to save their
bacon before their term is up. That young feller looks like one of
those retrenchment and reform cusses, one of the fellers who never want
to adjourn--down here for business, ye know."

Their laughter made Bradley turn hot with indignation.

The selection of seats was the next great feature. The names of all the
members were written upon slips of paper and shaken together in a box,
while the members stood laughing and talking in the back part of the
house. A blind-folded messenger boy selected the slips; and as the
clerk read, in a sounding voice, the name on each slip, the
representative so called went forward and selected his seat.

Bradley's name was called about the tenth, and he went forward timidly,
and took a seat directly in the centre of the House. He did not care to
seem anxious for a front seat. The Democratic members looked at him
closely, and he stepped out of his obscurity as he went forward.

A young man of about his own age, a stalwart fellow, reached about and
shook hands. "My name is Nelson Floyd. I wanted to see you."

Floyd took the first opportunity to introduce him to two or three of
the Democratic members, but he sat quietly in his seat during the whole
session, and took very little interest in the speakership contest,
which seemed to go off very smoothly. He believed the speaker
implicitly, when he stated the usual lie about having no pledges to
redeem, and that he was free to choose his committee with regard only
to superior fitness, etc., and was shocked when Floyd told him that a
written contract had been drawn up and signed, before the legislature
met, wherein the principal clerkships had been disposed of to party
advantage. It was his second introduction to the hypocrisy of
officialism.

If he had been neglected before, he was not now; all sorts of people
came about him with axes to grind.

"Is this Mr. Talcott? Ah, yes! I have heard of your splendid
canvass--splendid canvass! Now--ahem!--I'd like you to speak a good
word for my girl, for the assistant clerkship of the Ways and Means";
while another wanted his son, Mr. John Smith, for page.

He told them that he had nothing to say about those things. "I am
counted with the Democrats, anyhow; I haven't any influence."

They patted him on the shoulder, and winked slyly. "Oh, we know all
about that! But every word helps, you know."

Going out at the close of the session, he met Cargill.

"Well, legislator, how goes it?"

"Oh, I don't know; smoothly, I guess. I've kept pretty quiet."

"That's right. The Republicans have everything in their hands this
session."

"Hello, Cargill!" called a smooth, jovial voice.

"Ah, Barney! Talcott, this is an excellent opportunity. This is Barney,
the great railway lobbyist. Barney, here is a new victim for
you--Talcott, of Rock."

"Glad to see you, Mr. Talcott."

Bradley shook hands with moderate enthusiasm, looking into Barney's
face with great interest. The lobbyist was large and portly and
smiling. His moustache drooped over his mouth, and his chin had a
jolly-looking hollow in it. His hazel eyes, once frank and honest, were
a little clouded with drink.

"Cargill is an infernal old cynic," he exclaimed, "and he is
corporation mad. Don't size us up according to his estimate."

It did not seem possible that this man could be the great tool of the
railway interest, and yet that was his reputation.

Cargill moralized on the members, as they walked on: "Barney's on his
rounds getting hold of the new members. He scents a corruptible man as
the buzzard does carrion. Every session young fellows like you come
down here with high and beautiful ideas of office, and start in to
reform everything, and end by becoming meat for Barney and his like.
There is something destructive in the atmosphere of politics."

Bradley listened to Cargill incredulously. These things could not be
true. These groups of jovial, candid-looking men could not be the moral
wrecks they were represented. He had expected to see men who looked
villainous in some way, with bloated faces--disreputable, beery
fellows. He had not risen to the understanding that the successful
villain is always plausible.

When he left the Capitol and went down the steps with Cargill, he felt
that he had fairly entered upon the work of his term.

"Now, young man," said Cargill, as they parted, "let me advise you. The
fight of this session is going to be the people against the
corporations. There are two positions and only two. You take your
choice. If you side with the corporation, your success will be
instantaneous. You can rig out, and board at the Richwood, and be dined
out, and taken to see the town Saturday nights, and retire with a nice
little boost and a record to apologize for when you go back to Rock
River; that is, you can go in for all that there is in it, or you can
take your chances with the people."

"I will take the chances with the people."

"Well, now, hold on! Don't deceive yourself. The people are a mob yet.
They are fickle as the flames o' hell. They don't know what they do
want, but in the end the man that leads them and stands by them is sure
of success."

The daily walk down from the Capitol was very beautiful. As the sun
sank low it struck through the smoke of the city, and flooded the
rotunda of the building with a warm, red light, which lay along the
floor in great streams of gold, and warmed each pillar till it glowed
like burnished copper. At such moments the muddy streets, the poor
hovels, the ugly bricks, lost to sight beneath the majesty and mystery
of the sun-transfigured smoke and the purple deeps of the lower levels
(out of which the searching, pitiless light had gone), became a sombre
and engulfing flood of luminous darkness.

"Here, here!" Cargill said one day, when Bradley called his attention
to the view, "a man can swear and get drunk and be a politician; but
when he likes flowers or speaks of a sunset, his goose is cooked. It is
political death."



XXI.

BRADLEY AND CARGILL CALL ON IDA.


Bradley had come to like Cargill very much. He was very thoughtful in
his haphazard way, but not at all like Radbourn. Bradley compared every
man he met with Radbourn and Judge Brown, and every woman suffered
comparison with Ida Wilbur.

He went down to meet Cargill on the night of the promised call. He
found him seated on the small of his back, his hands in his pockets.
His absurd little hat (that seemed to partake of his every mood) was
rolled into a point in front, and pulled down aggressively over his
eyes. He was particularly violent, and paid no attention whatever to
Bradley.

"No, sir; I am not a prohibitionist. My position is just this: If we
vote prohibition in Iowa, the government has no business to license men
to sell contrary to our regulations."

"That's state's rights!" burst in the other man who was trembling with
rage and excitement.

Cargill slowly rose, transfixing him with a glare. "Go way, now; I
won't waste any more time on you," he said, walking off with Bradley.
"Let me see, we were going to the club to-night." He looked down at his
boots. "Yes, they are shined; that puts a dress suit on me." As he
walked along, he referred to Miss Wilbur. "She is a great woman, but
she is abnormal from my point of view."

"Why so?" inquired Bradley.

"Well, look at the life she leads. On the road constantly, living at
hotels. A woman can't hold herself up against such things."

"It depends upon the woman," was Bradley's succinct protest against
sweeping generalizations.

It was crisp and clear, and the sound of their feet rang out in the
still air as if they trod on glass at every step. They talked very
little. Bradley wanted to tell Cargill that he had already met Miss
Wilbur, but he could not see his way clear to make the explanation.
Cargill was unwontedly silent.

The Norwegian girl ushered them into a pretty little parlor, where a
beautiful fire of coal was burning in an open grate. While they stood
warming their stiffened hands at the cheerful blaze, Ida entered.

"Mr. Cargill, this is an unexpected pleasure."

"I wonder how sincere you are in that. This is my friend Mr. Talcott."

Ida moved toward Bradley with her hand cordially extended. "I think we
have met before," she said.

"I call him my friend," said Cargill, "because he has not known me long
enough to become my enemy."

"That is very good, Mr. Cargill. Sit down, won't you? Please give me
your coats." She moved about in that pleasant bustle of reception so
natural to women.

Cargill slid down into a chair in his disjointed fashion. "We came to
attend the intellectual sit-down."

"Why, that doesn't meet to-night! It meets every other Friday, and this
is the other Friday."

"Oh, is it? So much the better; we will see you alone."

Ida turned gravely to Bradley. "Mr. Cargill is not often in this mood.
I generally draw him off into a fight on Mr. Howell's, Thackeray or
Scott."

"She prefers me in armor," Cargill explained, "and on horseback. My
intellectual bowleggedness, so to say, and my moral squint are less
obtrusive at an altitude."

Ida laughed appreciatively. "Your extraordinary choice of figures would
distinguish you among the symbolists of Paris," she replied.

This all seemed very brilliant and droll to Bradley, and he sat with
unwavering eyes fixed upon Ida, who appeared to him in a new light,
more softly alluring than ever--that of the hostess. She was dressed in
some loose, rich-colored robe, which had the effect of drapery.

"When did you get back?" Cargill inquired, a little more humanly.

"Yesterday, and I am just in the midst of the luxury of feeling at
home, with no journeys to make to-morrow. I have a friend I would like
to introduce to you," she said, rising and going out. She returned in a
few moments with a tall young lady in street dress, whom she introduced
as Miss Cassiday.

In a short time Cargill had involved Miss Cassiday in a discussion of
the decline of literature, which left Ida free to talk with Bradley. It
was the most beautiful evening in his life. He talked as never before.
He told her of his reading, and of his plans. He told her of his
election to the legislature.

"Ah, that is good!" she said; "then we have one more champion of women
in our State House."

"Yes, I will do what I can," he said.

"I will be here to hear you. I am one of the committee in charge of the
bill."

The firelight fell upon her face, flushing its pallor into a beauty
that exalted the young farmer out of his fear and reticence. They
talked upon high things. He told her how he had studied the social
question, since hearing her speak in Iowa City. He called to her mind
great passages in the books she had sent him, and quoted paragraphs
which touched upon the fundamental questions at issue. He spoke of his
hopes of advancement.

"I want to succeed," he said, "in order that I may teach the new
doctrine of rights. I want to carry into the party I have joined the
real democracy. I believe a new era has come in our party."

"I am afraid not," she said, looking at the fire. "I begin to believe
that we must wait till a new party rises out of the needs of people,
just as the old Free-soil Party rose to free the slaves. Don't deceive
yourself about your party in this State. It is after the offices, just
the same as the party you have left. They juggle with the tariffs and
the license question, because it helps them. They will drop any
question and any man when they think they are going to lose by
retaining him. They will drop you if you get too radical. I warn you!"
she said, looking up at him and smiling with a touch of bitterness in
her smile; "I am dangerous. My counsel does not keep men in office. I
belong to the minority. I am very dangerous."

"I'm not afraid," he said, thrilling with the intensity of his own
voice. "I will trust human reason. I'm not afraid of you--I mean you
can't harm me by giving me new thoughts, and that's what you've done
ever since that day I heard you first at the picnic. You've helped me
to get where I am."

"I have?" she asked, in surprise. His eyes fell before hers. "It will
be strange if I have helped any one to political success."

Bradley was silent. How could he tell her what she had become to him?
How could he tell her that she was woven into the innermost mesh of his
intellectual fibre.

"You've taught me to think," he said, at last. "You gave me my first
ambition to do something."

"I am very glad," she replied, simply. "Sometimes I get discouraged. I
speak and people applaud, and I go away, and that seems to be all there
is to it. I never hear a word afterwards; but once in a while, some one
comes to me or writes to me, as you have done, and that gives me
courage to go on; otherwise I'd think people came to hear me simply to
be amused."

She was looking straight into the fire; and the light, streaming up
along her dress, transfigured her into something alien and
unapproachable. The easy flex of her untrammelled waist was
magnificent. She had the effect of a statue, draped and flooded with
color.

Cargill's penetrating voice cut through that sacred pause like the rasp
of a saw file. He had been listening to his companion till he was full
of rebellion. He was a bad listener.

"But what is success? Why, my dear young woman"--

"Don't patronize us, please," Ida interposed. "I speak for poor Miss
Cassiday, because she's too timid to rebel. Nothing angers me more than
that tone. Call us comrades or friends, but don't say 'My dear young
woman!'" She was smiling, but she was more than half in sober earnest.

Cargill bowed low, and proceeded with scowling brow and eyes
half-closed and fixed obliquely upon Ida. "Dear comrades in
life-battle, what is success? You remember the two lords in Lilliput
who could leap the pack thread half its width higher?"

"Don't drag Swift into our discussion," Ida cried. "Mr. Cargill's a
sort of American Swift," turning to Bradley. "Don't let him spoil your
splendid optimism. There is a kind of pessimism which is really
optimism; that is to say, people who believe the imperfect and unjust
can be improved upon. They are called pessimists because they dare to
tell the truth about the present; but the pessimism of Mr. Cargill, I'm
afraid, is the pessimism of personal failure."

There was a terrible truth in this, and it drove straight into
Cargill's heart. Bradley was pleased to see Ida dominate a man who was
accustomed to master every one who came into his presence. There was a
look on her face which meant battle. She did not change her attitude of
graceful repose, but her face grew stern and accusing. Cargill looked
at her, wearing the same inscrutable expression of scowling attention;
but a slow flush, rising to his face, showed that he had been struck
hard.

There was a moment's pause full of intense interest to Bradley. The
combatants were dealing with each other oblivious of every one else.

"I admire you, friend Cargill," Ida went on, "but your attitude is not
right. Your influence upon young people is not good. You are always
crying out against things, but you never try to help. What are you
doing to help things?"

"Crying out against them," he replied, curtly.

Ida dropped her glance. "Yes, that's so; I'll admit that it has that
effect, or it would if you didn't talk of the hopelessness of trying to
do anything. Don't feel alarmed," she said, turning to the others, "Mr.
Cargill and I understand each other very well. We've known each other
so long that we can afford to talk plain."

"This is the first time she ever let into me so directly," Cargill
explained. "Understand we generally fight on literature, or music, or
the woman question. This really is the first encounter on my personal
influence. I'm going home to stanch my wounds." He rose, with a return
to his usual manner.

Ida made no effort to detain them. "Come and see me again, Mr. Talcott,
and don't let Mr. Cargill spoil you."

After leaving the house, the two men walked on a block in silence,
facing the wind, their overcoats drawn up about their ears.

"There's a woman I like," Cargill said, when they turned a corner and
were shielded from the bitter wind. "She can forget her sex
occasionally and become an intellect. Most women are morbid on their
sex. They can't seem to escape it, as a man does part of the time. They
can't rise, as this woman does, into the sexless region of affairs and
of thought."

Bradley lacked the courage to ask him to speak lower, and he went on.
"She's had suitors enough and flattery enough to turn her into a
simpering fashion-plate; but you can not spoil brains. What the women
want is not votes; it's brains, and less morbid emotions."

"She's a free woman?" said Bradley.

"Free! Yes, they'd all be free if they had her brains."

"I don't know about that; conditions might still"--

"They'd make their own conditions."

"That's true. It all comes back to a question of human thinking,
doesn't it?"

This seemed a good point to leave off the discussion, and they walked
on mainly in silence, though two or three times during the walk Cargill
broke out in admiration. "I never saw a woman grow as that woman has.
That's the kind of a woman a man would never get tired of. I've never
married," he went on, with a sort of confession, "because I knew
perfectly well I'd get sick of my choice, but"--

He did not finish--it was hardly necessary; perhaps he felt he had gone
too far. They said good-night at the door of the Windom, and Bradley
went on up the avenue, his brain whirling with his new ideas and
emotions.

Ida had rushed away again into the far distance. It was utter
foolishness to think she could care for him. She was surrounded with
brilliant and wealthy men, while he was a poor young lawyer in a little
country town. He looked back upon the picture of himself sitting by her
side, there in the light of the fire, with deepening bewilderment. He
remembered the strange look upon her face as she rebuked Cargill. He
wondered if she did not care for him.



XXII.

THE JUDGE PLANS A NEW CAMPAIGN.


The first three or four weeks of legislative life sickened and
depressed Bradley. He learned in that time, not only to despise, but to
loath some of the legislators. The stench of corruption got into his
nostrils, and jovial vice passed before his eyes. The duplicity, the
monumental hypocrisy, of some of the leaders of legislation made him
despair of humankind and to doubt the stability of the republic.

He was naturally a pure-minded, simple-hearted man, and when one of the
leaders of the moral party of his State was dragged out of a low
resort, drunk and disorderly, in company with a leader of the Senate,
his heart failed him. He was ready to resign and go home.

Trades among the committees came obscurely to his ears; hints of jobs,
getting each day more definite, reached him. Railway lobbyists swarmed
about and began to lay their cajoling, persuasive hands upon members;
and he could not laugh when the newspaper said, for a joke, that the
absent-minded speaker called the House to order one morning by saying:
"Agents of the K. C. & Q. will _please_ be in order." It seemed too
near the simple fact to be funny. The School Book Lobby, the University
Lobby, the Armour Lobby, each had its turn with him, through its
smooth, convincing agent.

He reached his lowest deep one night after a conversation with Lloyd
Smith, an ex-clerk, and a couple of young fellows who called upon him
at his room. Lloyd noticed his gloomy face, and asked what the trouble
was. He told them frankly that he was disgusted.

"Oh, you'll get used to it!" the ex-clerk said. "When I first went into
the House, I believed in honesty and sincerity, like yourself; but I
came out of my term of office knowing the whole gang to be thieves. My
experience taught me that legislators in America think it's a Christian
virtue to break into the government treasury."

The others broke out laughing, believing him to be joking; but there
was a ferocious look on his face, and Bradley felt that he might be
mistaken, but he was not joking.

"They stole stationery, spittoons, waste baskets, by God! They stole
everything that was loose, and at the end of the term, they seemed to
be looking around unsatisfied, and I told 'em there was just one thing
left--the gold leaf on the dome."

The others roared with laughter, and Bradley was forced to join in. But
the face of the ex-clerk did not lose its dark intensity.

"Take salary grabbing. Why! they wanted me to certify to their demands
for Sunday pay for themselves and their clerks, and I refused, and they
were wild. I'm not an angel nor a Christian man, but I won't sign my
name to a lie, and blamed if they didn't pass the order without my
signature! Yes, sir; it's there on the record.

"Take nepotism. The members bring their wives and daughters down here,
put them in as pages and clerks, or divide the proceeds when they have
no relatives. Every device, every imaginable chicanery, every possible
scheme to break into the State money box, is legitimate in their eyes,
and worthy of being patented. Public money is fair game; and yet," he
said, with a change of manner, "we have the fairest, purest and most
honorable legislators, take it as a whole, that there is in the United
States, because our State is rural, and we're comparatively free from
liquor. Our legislature is a Sunday School, compared to the leprous
rascals that swarm about the Capitol at Albany or Springfield."

"What is the cure?" asked Bradley, whose mind had been busy with the
problem.

"God Almighty! there is no cure, except the abolition of government.
Government means that kind of thing. Look at it! Here we enthrone the
hungry, vicious, uneducated mob of incapables, and then wonder why they
steal, and gorge and riot like satyrs. The wonder is they don't scrape
the paint off the walls."

"Oh, you go too far; a legislator wouldn't steal a spittoon."

"No, but the fellow he recommends for clerkship does."

"My idea is that there are very few men who take money."

"I admit that, but they'll all trade their job for another job. Honesty
is impossible. The Angel Gabriel would become a boodler under our
system of government. The cure is to abolish government."

This conclusion, impotent to Bradley, was practically all the savage
critic had to offer. Either go back to despotism or go ahead to no
government at all.

After they went out, Bradley sat down and wrote a letter to Judge
Brown, embodying the main part of this conversation: "It's enough to
make a man curse his country and his God to see how things run," he
said, at the end of writing out the ex-clerk's terrible indictment. "I
feel that he is right. I'm ready to resign, and go home, and never go
into politics again. The whole thing is rotten to the bottom."

But as the weeks wore on, he found that the indictment was only true of
a certain minority, but it was terribly true of them; but down under
the half-dozen corruptible agents, under the roar of their voices,
there were many others speaking for truth and purity. The obscure mass
meant to be just and honest. They were good fathers and brothers, and
yet they were forced to bear the odium that fell on the whole
legislature whenever the miscreant minority rolled in the mire and
walked the public streets.

There was one count, however, that remained good against nearly all of
the legislators: they seemed to lack conscience as regards public
money. Bradley remembered that this dishonesty extended down to the
matter of working on the roads in the country. He remembered that every
man esteemed it a virtue to be lazy, and to do as little for a day's
pay as possible, because it "came out of the town." He was forced to
admit that this was the most characteristic American crime. To rob the
commonwealth was a joke.

He ended by philosophizing upon it with the Judge, who came down in
late February to attend the session during the great railway fight.

The Judge put his heels on the window sill, and folded his arms over
the problem.

"Well, now, this thing must be looked at from another standpoint. The
power of redress is with the voter. If the voter is a boodler, he will
countenance boodling. Here is the mission of our party," he said, with
the zeal of an old-fashioned Democrat, "to come in here and educate the
common man to be an honest man. We have got a duty to perform. Now, we
mustn't talk of resigning or going out of politics. We've got to stay
right in the lump, and help leaven it. It will only make things worse
if we leave it." The Judge had grown into the habit of speaking of
Bradley as if he were a partner.

Bradley, going about with him on the street, suddenly discovered that
the Judge's hat was just a shade too wide in the brim, and his coat a
little bit frayed around the button-holes. He had never noticed before
that the Judge was a little old-fashioned in his manners. No thought of
being ashamed of him came into his mind, but it gave him a curious
sensation when they entered a car together for the first time, and he
discovered that the Judge was a type.

When Bradley made his great speech on the railroad question, arraigning
monopoly, the Judge had a special arrangement with a stenographer. He
was going to have that speech in pamphlet form to distribute, if it
took a leg. He was already planning a congressional campaign.

Ida sat in the balcony on the day he spoke for woman's suffrage, and he
could not resist the temptation of looking up there as he spoke.
Everything combined to give great effect to his speech. It was late in
the afternoon and the western sun thrust bars of light across the dim
chamber which the fresh young voice of the speaker had hushed into
silence. Ida had sent a bunch of flowers to his desk and upon that
bouquet the intrusive sun-ray fell, like something wild that loved the
rose, but as the speaker went on it clambered up his stalwart side and
rested at last upon his head as though to crown him with victory.

But defeat came as usual. The legislators saw nothing in the sun-ray
except a result of negligence on the part of the door-keeper. They all
cheered the speech, but a majority tabled the matter as usual. The
galleries cheered and the women swarmed about the young champion, Ida
among them. Her hand-shake and smile was his greatest reward.

"Come and see me," she said. "I want to thank you."

The Judge was immensely proud of him. "A great speech, Brad; if I
wasn't so old-fashioned and set--you'd have converted me. In private I
admit all you say, but it ain't policy for me to advocate it just now."

"Policy! I'm sick of policy!" cried Bradley. "Let's try being right
awhile."

The Judge changed the subject. He told the members at the
boarding-house that it wouldn't hurt Bradley's chances. "People won't
down a man on that point any more."

"Perhaps not in your county, but I don't want to experiment down in my
county," said Major Root, of MacIntosh.

"I don't believe the people of Iowa will down any man for stating what
he believes is right."

"Don't bet too high on that," said the Major in final reply.

The Judge dined with Bradley at the dining-room in the little cottage,
and it gave Bradley great satisfaction to see that he used his fork
more gracefully than the Supreme judge, who sat beside him, and better
than the senator, who sat opposite. They had a most delightful time in
talking over old legal friends, and the Judge was beaming as he came to
pudding. He assured them all that the Honorable Talcott would be heard
on the floor of Congress.

"We're the winning party now," he said. "We're the party of the
future."

The others laughed good naturedly. "Don't be too certain of that." They
all rose. "You surprised us sleeping on our arms," the general said,
"but we're awake now, and we've got pickets out."

The Judge enjoyed his visit very much, and only once did he present
himself to Bradley with a suspicious heaviness in his speech. He had
reformed entirely since he had adopted a son, he explained to his old
cronies.

On the day when the Judge was to return, as they walked down to the
train together, he said, "Well, Brad, we'll go right into the
congressional campaign."

"I don't believe we'd better do that, Judge."

"Why not?"

"Well, I could not be elected--that's one thing."

The Judge allowed an impressive silence to intervene.

"Why not? I tell you, young man, they're on the run. We can put you
through. You've made a strong impression down here."

"I don't believe I want to be put through. I'm sick of it. I don't
believe I'm a politician. I'm sick all through with the whole cursed
business. I never'd be here only for you, pulling wires. I can't pull
wires."

"You needn't pull wires. I'll do that. You talk, and that's what put
you here, and it'll put you in Congress."

Bradley was in a bad mood.

"What's the good of my going there? I can't do anything. I've done
nothing here."

"Yes, y' have. You've been right on the railroad question, on the oleo
question, and the bank question. It's going to count. That speech of
yours, yesterday, I'm going to send broadcast in Rock County. The
district convention will meet in June early. Foster will pave the way
for your nomination, by saying Rock County should have a congressman.
We'll go into the convention with a clear two-thirds majority, and then
declare your nomination unanimous. You see, your youth will be in your
favor. Your election will follow, sure. The only fight will be in the
convention."

"Looks like spring, to-day," Bradley said. It was his way of closing an
argument.

"Well, good-by. You'll find the whole pot boiling when you come home,"
the Judge said, as the train started.

As February drew on and the snow fled, the earth-longing got hold upon
Bradley. It was almost seed time, with its warm, mellow soil, its
sweeping flights of prairie pigeons, its innumerable swarms of tiny
clamorous sparrows, its whistling plovers, and its passing wild fowl.
The thought came to him there, for the first time, that nature was not
malignant nor hard; that life on a farm might be the most beautiful and
joyous life in the world. The meaning of Ida's words at last took
definite and individual shape in his mind. He had assimilated them now.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Bradley gave himself up to the Judge's plans. He went home in April
with eagerness and with reluctance. He was eager to escape the smoke of
the city and reluctant to leave behind him all chance to see Ida. This
feeling of hungry disappointment dominated him during his day's ride.
He had seen her but twice during his stay in Des Moines, and now--when
would he see her again?

This terrible depression and sharp pain wore away a little by the time
he reached home, and the active campaign which followed helped him to
bear it. He still wrote to her, and she replied without either
encouragement and without explicit displeasure. The campaign was really
the Judge's fight. Bradley was his field officer. Victory in the
convention only foreshadowed the sweeping victory in October. He
resigned as legislator, to become a congressman.



XXIII.

ON TO WASHINGTON.


In the west (as in rural America anywhere), the three types of great
men in the peoples' eyes are the soldier, the politician and the
minister. The whole people appear to revere the great soldier, the men
admire the successful politician, and the women bow down before the
noted preacher.

These classes of hero-worshipers melt into each other, of course, but
broadly they may be said to separately exist. In colonial days the
minister came first, the soldier second, the politician last. Since the
revolution the soldier has been the first figure in the triumvirate,
and in these later times the politician and his organ of voice the
newspaper have placed the preacher last.

And there is something wholesome in such an atmosphere, the atmosphere
of the West, at least by contrast. The worship of political success,
low as it may seem, is less deplorable than the worship of wealth,
which is already weakening the hold of the middle-class Eastern man
upon the American idea. In the West mere wealth does not carry
assurance of respect, much less can it demand subservience.

Bradley never dreamed of getting rich, but under Radbourn and the Judge
he had developed a growing love for the orator's dominion. He hungered
to lead men. Notwithstanding his fits of disgust and bitterness he
loved to be a part of the political life of his time. It had a powerful
fascination for him. The deference which his old friends and neighbors
paid him as things due a rising young man, pleased him.

He looked now to Washington, and it fired his imagination to think of
sitting in the hall where the mighty legislators of generations now
dead had voiced their epoch-marking thoughts. It amazed the Judge to
see how the wings of his young eagle expanded. The transformation from
a farmer's hired man to a national representative appealed to him as
characteristically American, and he urged Bradley to do his best.

The election which the young orator expected to be another moment of
great interest really came as a matter-of-fact ending to a long and
triumphant canvass. He had held victory in his hand until she was
tamed. The election simply confirmed the universal prophecy. He was
elected, and while the Democrats went wild with joy, Bradley slept
quietly in his bed at home--while the brass band played itself
quiescent under his window.

Now he fixed his eyes on Washington as an actuality. It was a long time
before his term began, and at the advice of Judge Brown and others he
packed his trunk in January to go on and look around a little in the
usual way of new members. He went alone, the Judge couldn't spare the
time.

The ride from Chicago to Washington was an epic to him. It was his next
great departure, his entrance into another widening circle of thinking.
He had never seen a mountain before; and the wild, plunging ride among
the Alleghany Mountains was magnificent. He sat for hours at a time
looking out of the window, while the train, drawn by its two tremendous
engines, crawled toward the summit. He saw the river drop deeper and
deeper, and get whiter and wilder; and then came the wooded level of
the summit, and then began the descent.

While the reeling train alternately flung him to the window and against
the seat, he gazed out at the wheeling peaks, the snow-laden pines, and
the mighty gorges, through which the icy river ran, green as grass in
its quiet eddies. On every side were wild hillsides meshed with fallen
trees, and each new vista contained its distant peak. It was the
realization of his imagination of the Alleghanies.

As the train swooped round its curves, dropping lower and lower, the
valley broadened out, and the great mountains moved away into ampler
distances. The river ran in a wide and sinuous band to the east and the
south. He realized it to be the Potomac, whose very name is history. He
began to look ahead to seeing Harper's Ferry, and in the nearing
distance was Washington!

He had the Western man's intensity of feeling for Washington. To him it
was the centre of American life, because he supposed the laws were made
there. The Western man knows Boston as the centre of art, which he
affects to despise, and New York appeals to him as the home of the
millionaire, of the money-lender; but in Washington he recognizes the
great nerve centre of national life. It is the political ganglion of
the body politic. It appeals to the romantic in him as well. It is
historical; it is the city that makes history.

Slowly the night fell. After leaving Harper's Ferry the outside world
vanished, and when the brakeman called "Washington," it was nearly
eight o'clock of a damp, chilly night. He was so eager to see the
Capitol, which the kindly fat man behind him had assured him was but a
few steps away from the station, that he took his valise in his hand,
and started directly for the dome, which a darkey with a push-cart,
pointed out to him with oppressive courtesy.

There was an all-pervasive, impalpable, blue-gray mist in the air, cold
and translucent; and when he came to the foot of the grounds, and faced
the western front of the Capitol building, he drew a deep breath of
delight. It thrilled him. There it loomed in the misty, winter night,
the mightiest building on the continent, blue-white, sharply outlined,
massive as a mountain, yet seemingly as light as a winter cloud.
Weighing myriads of tons, it seemed quite as insubstantial as the mist
which transfigured it. Against the cold-white of its marble, and out of
the gray-white enveloping mist, bloomed the warm light of lamps, like
vast lilies with hearts of fire and halos of faint light.

He stood for a long time looking upon it, musing upon its historic
associations. Around him he heard the grinding wheels, the click of the
horses' hoofs upon the asphalt pavement, and heard the shouts of
drivers. Somewhere near him water was falling with a musical sound in a
subterranean sluiceway. At last he came to himself with a start, and
found his arm aching with the fatigue of his heavy valise. He struck
off down the avenue. It seemed to swarm with colored people. They were
selling papers, calling with musical, bell-like voices--

"Evenin' Sty-ah!" "Evenin' Sty-ah!"

Horse cars tinkled along, and a peculiar form of elongated 'bus, with
the word "Carette" painted upon it, rolled along noiselessly over the
asphalt pavement. An old man in business dress, with rather
aristocratic side-whiskers, came toward him, walking briskly through
the crowd, an open hand-bag swung around his neck; and as he walked he
chanted a peculiar cry--

"Doc-tor Ferguson's, selly-brated, double X, Philadelphia cough-drops,
for coughs _and_ colds, sore throat or hoarseness; five _cents_ a
package."

Innumerable signs invited him to "meals at 15 and 25 cts." "Rolls and
French drip coffee, 10 cts." "Oysters in every style," etc.

The oyster saloons were, in general, very attractive to him, as a
Western man, but specifically he did not like the looks of the places
in which they were served. He came at last to a place which seemed
clean and free from a bar, and ventured to call for a twenty-five cent
stew.

After eating this, he again took his way to the street, and walked
along, looking for a moderate-priced hotel. He did not think of going
to a hotel that charged more than seventy-five cents for a room. He
came at length to quite a decent-looking place, which advertised rooms
for fifty cents and upwards. He registered under the clerk's calm
misprision, and the brown and wonderfully freckled colored boy showed
him to his room.

It was all quite familiar to him--this hotel to which a man of moderate
means is forced to go in the city. The dingy walls and threadbare
carpet got geometrically shabbier at each succeeding flight of stairs,
until at length the boy ushered him into a little room at the head of
the stairway. It was unwarmed and had no lock on the door; but the bed
was clean, and, as he soon found, very comfortable.



XXIV.

RADBOURN SHOWS BRADLEY ABOUT THE CAPITAL.


He woke in the morning from his dreamless sleep with that peculiar
familiar sensation of not knowing where he had lain down the night
before. There was something boyish in the soundness of his sleep. He
heard the newsboys calling outside, although it was apparently the
early dawn. Their voices made him think of Des Moines, for the reason
that Des Moines was the only city in which he had ever heard the
newsboys cry. He sprang from his bed at the thought of Radbourn. He
would hunt him up at once! He was surprised to find that it had snowed
during the night, and everywhere the darkies were cleaning the walks.

Walking thus a perfect stranger in what seemed to him a great city he
did not feel at all like a rising young man. In fact the farther he got
from Rock River the smaller his importance grew, for he had the
imagination that comprehends relative values.

On the street he passed a window where a big negro was cooking
griddle-cakes, dressed in a snowy apron and a paper cap. He looked so
clean and wholesome that Bradley decided upon getting his breakfast
there, and going in, took his seat at one of the little tables. A
colored boy came up briskly.

"I'd like some of those cakes," said Bradley, to whom all this was very
new.

"Brown the wheats!" yelled the boy, and added in a low voice,
"Buckwheat or batter?"

"Buckwheat, I guess."

"Make it bucks!" the boy yelled, by the way of correction, and asked
again in a low voice, "Coffee?"

"If you please."

"One up light."

While Bradley was eating his cakes, which were excellent, others came
in, and the waiters dashed to and fro, shouting their weird orders.

"Ham _and_, two up coff, a pair, boot-leg, white wings."

Bradley had a curiosity to see what this order would bring forth, and,
watching carefully, found that it secured ham and eggs, two cups of
coffee, a beefsteak, and an omelet. He was deeply interested in the
discovery.

He recognized the most of the men around him as Western or Southern
types. Many of them had chin whiskers and wore soft crush hats. The
negroes interested and fascinated him: they were so grimly ugly of
face, and yet apparently so good natured and light hearted.

On the street again he saw the same types of men. He wondered if they
were not his colleagues. As for them, they probably took him for a
Boston or New York man, with his full brown beard and clear complexion.

The negroes attracted his eyes constantly. They drifted along the
street apparently aimlessly, many of them. Their faces were mostly
smiling, but in a meaningless way, as if it were a habit. He soon found
that they were swift to struggle for a chance to work. They asked to
carry his valise, to black his boots; the newsboys ran by his side, in
their eagerness to sell.

As he went along, he noticed the very large number of "Rooms to Let,"
and the equally large number of signs of "Meals, Fifteen and
Twenty-five Cents." Evidently there would be no trouble in finding a
place to board.

As he entered Radbourn's office, he saw a young lady seated at a desk,
manipulating a typewriter. She had the ends of a forked rubber tube
hung in her ears, and did not see Bradley. He observed that the tube
connected with a sewing-machine-like table and a swiftly revolving
little cylinder, which he recognized as a phonograph. At the window sat
Radbourn, talking in a measured, monotonous voice into the mouthpiece
of a large flexible tube, which connected with another phonograph. His
back was toward Bradley, and he stood for some time looking at the
curious scene and listening to Radbourn's talk.

"Congress brings to Washington a fulness of life which no one can
understand who has not spent the summer here," Radbourn went on, in a
slow, measured voice, his lips close to the bell-like opening of the
tube. It had a ludicrous effect upon Bradley--like a person talking to
himself.

"The city may be said to die, when Congress adjourns. Its life is
political, and when its political motor ceases to move the city lies
sprawled out like a dead thing. Its streets are painfully quiet. Its
street cars shuttle to and fro under the burning sun, and its teamsters
loaf about the corners drowsily. The store-keepers keep shop, of
course, but they open lazily of a morning and close early at night. The
whole city yawns and rests and longs for the coming of the autumn and
Congress.

"It is amusing and amazing to see it begin to wake up at the beginning
of the session. Then begins the scramble of the hotels and
boarding-houses to secure members of Congress. Then begins"--

The girl suddenly saw Bradley standing there, and called out, "Some one
to see you, Mr. Radbourn!"

Radbourn stopped the cylinder, and turned.

"Ah, how do you do," he said, as if greeting a stranger.

Bradley smiled in reply, knowing that Radbourn did not recognize him.
"I'm very well. I don't suppose you remember me, but I'm Brad Talcott."

Radbourn rose with great cordiality. "Well, well, I'm glad to see you,"
he said, his sombre face relaxing in a smile, as he seized Bradley by
the hand. "Sit down, sit down. I'm glad to see an old class-mate."

"Don't let me interrupt your work. I was interested in hearing you talk
into that thing there."

"Oh, yes, I was just getting off my syndicate letter for this week. Sit
down and talk; you don't interrupt me at all. Now tell me all about
yourself. Of course I have heard of your success, State Legislature and
Congress and all that, but I would like to have you tell me all about
it."

"There aint very much to tell. I had very little to do with it," said
Bradley.

They took seats near the window, looking out upon the square, and upon
the vast, squat, Egyptian, tomb-like structure, that rose out of the
centre of the smooth, snow-covered plat, across which the sun streamed
with vivid white radiance.

There was a little pause after they sat down. Radbourn leaned his head
on his arm, and studied Bradley earnestly. He seemed older and more
bitter than Bradley expected to see him. He asked of the old friends in
a slow way, as if one name called up another in a slowly moving chain
of association. They talked on for an hour thus, sitting in the same
position. At last Radbourn said--

"How far I've got from all those scenes and people! and yet the memory
of that little old town and its people has a powerful fascination. I
never'll go back, of course. To tell the truth, I am afraid to go back;
it would drive me crazy. I am a city man naturally. I am gregarious. I
like to be in the centre of things. It'll get hold of you, too. This
city is full of ruined young men and women, who came here from the
slow-moving life of inland towns and villages, and, after two or three
years of a richer life, find it impossible to go back; and here they
are, struggling along on forty-five cents a day at hash-houses, living
in hall bedrooms, preferring to pick up such a living, at all kinds of
jobs, than to go back home. I'd do it myself, if I were"--

He broke off suddenly, and looked at Bradley in a keen, steady way.
"And so you're a congressman, Talcott? Well, I'm glad of your success,
because it shows a man _can_ succeed on the right lines--in a measure,
at least."

"Well, I've tried to live up to most of your principles," smiled
Bradley. "I've read all the things you've sent me."

"Well, you're the wildest and most dangerous lunatic that ever got into
Congress," Radbourn said, gravely. "Do you expect to talk any of that
stuff on the floor?"

"Well, I--I hoped to be able to say something before the session
closes."

"If you do, it will be a miracle. The House is under the rule of a
Republican Czar, and men with your ideas or any ideas are to be shut
out remorselessly. Let me tell you something right here; it will save
time and worry: You want to know the Speaker, cultivate him. He's the
real power. That's the reason the speakership becomes such a terrible
struggle. It decides the most tremendous question. In his hand is the
appointing of committees, which should be chosen by the legislators
themselves. The power of these committees is unlimited, you'll find.
They can smother bills of the utmost importance. Theoretically they are
the servants of the House. Actually they are its autocrats."

"I didn't realize that."

"I don't suppose it is realized by the people. This appointing of the
committee is supposed to save time, and yet the speakership contest
consumes weeks, sometimes months. It will grow in ferocity."

"Can't something be done?"

"Try and see," he said rising. "Well, suppose we got out and walk about
a little. I infer you're on to see the town. Where are you stopping?"

Bradley named the hotel with a little reluctance. He knew how cheap it
was; and since he had discovered that congressmen were at a premium in
boarding-houses, he saw that he must get more sumptuous quarters than
he had hitherto occupied. They went out into the open air together. The
sun was very brilliant and warm. The eaves were running briskly. The
sky was gentle, beautiful, and spring-like. The fact that he was in
Washington came upon Bradley again, as he saw the soaring dome of the
capitol at the head of the avenue.

"What you want to do is to get on good social terms with the so-called
leaders," Radbourn was saying. "Recognition goes by favor on the floor
of the House. We might go up to the capitol and look about," Radbourn
suggested.

They walked up the steps leading to the west front of the building.
Everywhere the untrodden snow lay white and level.

"This is the finest part of the whole thing," Radbourn remarked, as
they reached the level of esplanade. "It has more beauty and simple
majesty than the main building itself, or any structure in the city."

It was magnificent. Bradley turned and looked at it right and left with
admiring eyes. It gleamed with snow, and all about was the sound of
dripping water, and in the distance the roll of wheels and click of
hoofs. The esplanade was a broad walk extending the entire width of the
building, and conforming to it. It was bottomed with marble squares,
and bordered with a splendid wall, breast-high on one side, and by the
final terrace running to the basement wall on the other. Here and there
along the wall gigantic brazen pots sat, filled with evergreens, whose
color seemed to have gradually dropped down and entered into the marble
beneath them. The bronze had stained with rich, dull green each
pedestal and irregular sections of the marble wall itself.

Below them the city was outspread. Radbourn pointed out the Pension
Office, the White House, the Treasury, and other principal buildings
with a searching word upon their architecture. The monument, he
evidently considered, required no comment.

As they entered the dome, they passed a group of men whose brisk, bluff
talk and peculiar swagger indicated their character--legislators from
small country towns.

"Some of your colleagues," Radbourn said, indicating them with his
thumb. As they paused a moment in the centre of the dome, one of the
group, a handsome fellow with a waxed mustache and hard, black eyes,
gave a stretching gesture, and said, "I'm in the world now."

His words thrilled Bradley to the heart. He was in the world now. Des
Moines and its capitol were dwarfed and overshadowed by this great
national city, to which all roads ran like veins to a mighty heart. He
lifted his shoulders in a deep breath. It was glorious to be a
congressman, but still more glorious to be a citizen of the world.

They passed through the corridors in upon the house floor, which
swarmed with legislators, lobbyists, pages, newspaper men and visitors.
Radbourn led the way down to the open space before the speaker's desk,
and together they turned and swept the semi-circular rows of seats.

"Everywhere the visitor abounds," said Radbourn. "Western and Southern
men predominate. It's surprising what deep interest the negro takes in
legislation," he went on, lifting his eyes to the gallery, which was
black with their intent and solemn faces. "See this old fellow with his
hat off as if he were in the midst of a temple," he said, nodding at a
group before the speaker's desk.

Bradley looked at the poor, bent, meek, old man with a thrill of pity.
He observed that many of the negroes were splashed with orange-colored
clay.

Members began to take their seats and to call pages by clapping their
hands. The cloak-rooms and barber-shop resounded with laughter.
Newspaper men sauntered by, addressing Radbourn and asking for news.
And here and there others, like Radbourn, were acting as guides to
groups of visitors.

In the midst of the growing tumult a one-armed man entered the
speaker's desk and called out in snappy tenor--

"Gentlemen, I am requested by the door-keeper to ask all persons not
entitled to the floor to please retire."

Bradley started, but Radbourn said, "No hurry, you have fifteen minutes
yet. As a member-elect you have the courtesy of the floor anyway. Do
you want to meet anybody?"

"No, I guess not. I just want to look on for to-day."

"Well, we'll go up in the gallery."

Looking down upon the floor and its increasing swarm of individuals,
Bradley got a complete sense of its vastness and its complexity and
noise.

"It makes the Iowa legislature seem like a school-room," he said to
Radbourn.

At precisely noon the gavel fell with a single sharp stroke, and the
speaker called persuasively, "The house will _please_ be in order." The
members rose and stood reluctantly, some of them sharpening their
pencils, others reading while the chaplin prayed sonorously with many
oratorical cadences, taking in all the departments of government in the
swing of his generous benediction.

Instantly at the word "Amen," like the popping of a cork, the tumult
burst out again. Hands clapped, laughter flared out, desks were
slammed, papers were rattled, feet pounded, and the brazen monotonous
clanging voice of the clerk sounded above it all like some new steam
calliope whose sounds were words.

"You see how much prayer means here," said Radbourn.

A good deal of the business which followed was similar in character to
the proceedings at Des Moines. Resolutions were passed with two or
three aye votes and no noes at all, while the rest of the members
looked over the Record, read the morning papers, or wrote on busily.
The speaker declared each motion carried with glib voice.

At last a special order brought up an unfinished debate upon some
matter, and the five minute rule was enforced.

"You're in luck," said Radbourn. "The whole procession is going to pass
before you."

As the debate went on he pointed out the great men whose names
suggested history to Bradley and whose actual presence amazed him.
There was Amos B. Tripp, whom Radbourn said resembled "a Chinese
god"--immense, featureless, bald, with a pout on his face like an
enormous baby. The "watch dog of the house," Major Hendricks, was tall,
thin, with the voice and manner of an old woman. His eyes were
invisible, and his chin-beard wagged up and down as he shouted in high
tenor his inevitable objection.

An old man with abundant hair, blue-white under the perpendicular
light, arose at the back part of the room, making a fine picture
outlined against the deep red screen. His manner was courtly, his ruddy
face pleasing, his voice musical and impassioned.

"He's the dress parade orator of the house," observed Radbourn.

"I like him," said Bradley, leaning forward to absorb the speaker's
torrent of impassioned utterance. When he sat down the members
applauded.

Most of the orators conformed to types familiar to Bradley. There was
the legal type, monotonously emphatic, with extended forefinger, which
pointed, threatened and delineated. His speaking wore on the ear like a
saw-filing. Then there was the political speaker, the stump orator, who
was full of well-worn phrases, who could not mention the price of wool
or the number of cotton bales without using the ferocious throaty-snarl
of a beast of prey.

He was followed by the clerical type, a speaker who used the most
mournful cadences in correcting the gentleman on his left as to the
number of cotton bales. His voice and manner formed a distinct
reflection of the mournful preacher, and the tune of his high voice had
the power of calling up the exact phraseology of sermons--"Repent, my
lost brother, ere it be too late," "Prepare for the last great day, my
brother," while he actually asserted the number of cotton bales had
been grossly over-stated by the gentleman from Alabama.

On going down the stairs, Radbourn called his attention to the
paintings, hanging here and there, which he called "hideous daubs" with
the reckless presumption of a born realist to whom allegory was a
personal affront. Radbourn showed him about the city as much as he
could spare time to do, and when he released him, Bradley went back to
the capitol, which exercised the profoundest fascination upon him.

He had not the courage to go back to the private gallery into which
Radbourn had penetrated, but went into the common gallery, which was
full of negroes, unweariedly listening to the dry and almost
unintelligible speeches below.

He sat there the whole afternoon and went back to his hotel meek and
very tired.

Radbourn introduced him to a few of the members the next day. It was
evident that nobody cared very much whether he had been elected or not.
Each man had his own affairs to look after, and greeted him with a
flabby hand-shake and looked at him with cold and wandering eyes. It
was all very depressing.

He grew nervous over the expenses which he was incurring, although he
constantly referred himself back to the fact that he was a Congressman,
at a salary of six thousand dollars. His economy was too deeply
ingrained to be easily wiped out. He seldom got into a street-car that
he did not hold a mental debate with himself to justify the
extravagance.

He went about a good deal during the next two or three days, but he
continued at the cheap hotel, where he was obliged to keep his overcoat
on in order to write a letter or read a newspaper. He went twice to the
theatre. He bought a dollar seat the first time, which worried him all
through the play, and he did penance the following evening by walking
the twenty blocks (both ways), and by taking a fifty-cent seat. He
figured it a clear saving of sixty cents. He really enjoyed the play
more than he would have done in a dollar seat and consoled himself with
the reflection that no one knew he was a Congressman, anyway.

                     *      *      *      *      *

He told Radbourn at the station that he had enjoyed every moment of his
stay. As the train drew out he looked back upon the city, and the great
dome its centre, with a deep feeling of admiration, almost love. It had
seized upon him mightily. He had only to shut his eyes to see again
that majestic pile with its vast rotundas, its bewildering corridors
and its tumultuous representative hall. Life there would be worth
while. He began to calculate how long it would be before he should
return. It seemed a long while to wait.



XXV.

IDA COMES INTO HIS LIFE AGAIN.


After his return home he accepted every invitation to speak, because
that relieved the tedium of his life in Rock River. He took an active
part in the fall campaign in county politics, and he delivered the
Fourth of July address at the celebration at Rock River amid the usual
blare of bands and bray of fakirs and ice-cream vendors, while the
small boys fired off crackers in perfect oblivion of anybody but
themselves.

It was magnificent to occupy a covered carriage in the parade and to
sit on the platform as the centre of interest, and to rise amid cheers,
to address the citizens of the United States, to point to cloud-capped
towering peaks, to plant the stars and stripes upon battlements of
ancient wrong, and other equally patriotic things.

No occasion was complete now without him. The strawberry festival that
secured his presence felicitated itself upon the fact and always
insisted on "just a few words, Mr. Congressman."

The summer passed rather better than he had anticipated. About a month
before his return to Washington he received a letter from Ida asking
him to be present at a suffrage meeting in Des Moines, and he accepted
the invitation with great pleasure. He had been wondering how he could
see her again without making the journey for that purpose, which he
could not bring himself to do.

It was a soft, hazy October day and the ride to Des Moines was very
beautiful. The landscape seemed to be in drowse, half-sleeping and
half-waking. The jays flew from amber and orange-colored coverts of
maples and oaks across the blue haze of the open, and quails piped from
the hazel-thickets. Crows flapped lazily across the fields where the
ploughmen were at work. The threshing machines hummed and clattered
with a lower, quieter note, and as Bradley looked upon it all, the
wonder of his release from the toil of reaping and threshing and
ploughing came upon him again.

Ida was glad to see him. She gave him her hand in a frank, strong
clasp.

"You'll stay to tea with us, of course," she said. "There is no one
here but mother and I, and we can talk things all over. This is my
mother," she said, presenting an elderly lady with a broad, placid
face. She said nothing whatever during his stay, but listened to all
that was said with unchanging gravity. It was plain she worshipped her
daughter, and never questioned what she said.

They sat down at the table.

"Mr. Talcott, this is Christine," said Ida, introducing a comely
Norwegian girl who came in with the tea. "Christine takes care of
mother while I'm away."

"Ay tank sometime she take care of me," Christine smilingly replied.

Avoiding family matters, Ida talked on general subjects while the rest
listened. She over-estimated Bradley's education, his reading, but he
was profoundly thankful for it. He had never heard such talk. It was
literature to him. She spoke with such fine deliberation and such
choice of words. He felt its grace and power without understanding it.
It seemed to him wonderful.

"I should like to be a novelist," she said. "I'd like to treat of this
woman's movement."

"Why can't you do it?" he asked.

"I lack the time, the freedom from other interests. But if I could be a
novelist, it would be a novelist of life."

He never remembered all that she said, but she made an impression that
was almost despair upon him by her incidental mention of books that he
had never read, and of authors of whom he had never even heard.

They walked to the church together along the side-walks littered with
fallen leaves, and when they entered the side door she began to
introduce him to the ladies who swarmed about her the moment they
caught sight of her. Bradley felt embarrassed by their multiple
presence, but was proud to be introduced by Ida. They moved to the
platform. He had never spoken at such a meeting before and he was
nervous. He spoke first and spoke well, but he would have done better
with Ida's face before him. When she spoke he sat looking up at the
beautiful head and feeling rather than seeing the splendid lines of her
broad, powerful and unconfined waist. The perfume of her dress and its
soft rustle as she moved to and fro before him made him forget her
words.

Cargill came up to the platform after the speaking and said jocosely,
"Well, Legislator, you're getting ahead. You're laying a foundation for
post-mortem fame, anyway. I hear you've been on to Congress."

"Yes, I went on and stayed a few days."

"How'd you like it?"

"How do you do, Mr. Cargill," said Ida at his elbow. "Aren't you out of
place here?"

"Not more than usual," replied Cargill. "I'm always out of place."

"Do you know Mr. Birdsell?" she asked, presenting a powerful young man
with a singularly handsome face. He had clear brown eyes and a big,
graceful mustache. For just a moment as he stood beside Ida, Bradley
shivered with a sudden suspicion that they were lovers.

"Mr. Birdsell happens to be on from Muscatene," Ida explained, "and
happened in to see a suffrage meeting. He's trying to reconcile himself
to the idea of woman's emancipation."

"He'll find a sympathizer in me," put in Cargill.

Bradley studied Birdsell with round-eyed steady stare. He was a superb
type of man. It gave Bradley a feeling of awkwardness to stand beside
him and a consciousness of stupidity to listen to their banter, but Ida
dismissed Cargill and Birdsell summarily and walked home with Bradley.
He was not keenly perceptive enough to see that Ida put Birdsell off
with a brusqueness that argued a perfect understanding.

They walked home by the risen moon side by side. He had not the courage
to take her arm and she did not offer it. He referred again to
Washington and she asked him to remember the women in his legislation.

"I don't know what I'm going to do next, but I must reach the farmer's
wives again as I did in the days of the grange. I feel for them. They
are to-day the most terrible proofs of man's inhumanity. My heart aches
for them. There is a new farmer's movement struggling forward, the
Alliance. I'm thinking of going into that as a lecturer. Do you know
anything about it?"

"No, not much."

They had reached the gate, and they stood there like lovers in the
cold, clear moonlight just an instant, but in that lingering action of
the woman there was something tender which Bradley seized upon. He
asked again--

"You'll let me write to you again, won't you?"

"Certainly. I shall follow your career with the deepest interest. I
wish you'd think of this alliance movement and advise me what to do.
Good-by." She extended her hand.

"Good-by," he said, and his voice choked. When he turned and walked
away Washington was very far away indeed and political honors cheap as
dust.



XXVI.

CONGRESSIONAL LIFE.


He found Washington less lonely for him on his return. There were many
new members, and they sought each other socially and soon managed to
have a good deal of talk among themselves, notwithstanding the studied
slights of the old members. One member, Clancy, who grew profane at
times, said, "These old seeds think they're hell's captains, but I
guess we can live if they don't shake hands."

Most of the members were married and lived with their families in
rented houses, but others, who were too poor to bring their families or
who were bachelors like Bradley, lived in boarding houses. Bradley
secured a room and board in a house near the capitol, because he seemed
to be nearer the centre of things when he could look out upon the dome.

It surprised him to learn how humbly most of the congressmen lived.
They were quite ordinary humans in all ways. Of course some of the
senators of great wealth lived in fine houses, but they were the
exception, and the poorer members did not conceal their suspicion of
these great men.

"It aint a question of how much a man's got," Clancy of Iowa said, "but
how he got it. I've simmered the thing down to this: Living in a
hash-house aint a guarantee of honesty any more than living in a
four-story brown-stone is a sure sign of robbery, but it's a tolerably
safe inference."

These rich senators and representatives, owners of vast coal tracts, or
iron mines, or factories, rode up to the capitol with glittering
turn-outs, their horses' clanking bits and jingling chains, warning
pedestrians like Clancy and Talcott, to get out of the way. For the
first time in his life Bradley met great wealth with all of its power.
It shocked him and made him bitter.

He took little interest in the organizing of the house. His experience
in Des Moines taught him to sit quietly outside the governing circle.
He accepted a place on one of the minor committees and waited to see
what would develop.

His life was very quiet. Nothing was done before the holidays but
organize, and he found a great deal of time to study. Radbourn came
back during the early weeks of the session and resumed his work.

Clancy went to the theatre very often and attended all manner of shows,
especially all that were free or that came to him as a courtesy.

"I've lived where I couldn't get these things," he said, "and I propose
to improve each shining hour."

Attending Congress was quite like attending the legislature. Every
morning the members went up to the great building, which they soon came
to ignore, except as a place to do business in. They trooped there
quite like boys going to school. It was the state legislature
aggrandized--noisier, more tumultuous and confusing.

In a little while, Bradley ceased to notice the difference in gilding
and jim-crackery between the senate and representative ends of the
corridors. He no longer noticed the distances, the pictures, or the
statues in the vaulted dome, but passed through the vast rotundas with
no thought of them. The magnificence of it all grew common with
familiarity.

The vast mass, and roar, and motion of the hall itself soon ceased to
confuse or abase him. In proportion to membership, he doubted whether
there were more able men there than in the State legislature. They were
more acute politicians; they were wilier, and talked in larger terms,
manipulating states instead of counties--that was all. The routine of
the day was of the same general character, and gave him no trouble.

Some of the more famous of the leaders he absolutely loathed--great,
bloated, swaggering, unscrupulous, treacherous tricksters. "I'll lend
you my _support_," they said, as if it were something that could be
loaned like a horse. He often talked them over with Radbourn, whose
experience in and about Congress as a newspaper correspondent had given
him an intimate knowledge of men, and had rendered him contemptuous, if
not rebellious.

"The men counted party leaders are manipulators, as a matter of fact.
They subordinate everything to party success. We've got to have another
great political revolution to--to de-centralize and de-machinize the
whole of our political method. Our system will break of its own weight;
it can't go on. It is supposed to be popular, when in fact, it is
getting farther and farther away from the people every year. Just see
the departments. Do you know anything about them?"

"No, I don't," Bradley admitted.

"You're like all the rest. Every year the army of useless clerks
increases; every year the numbers of useless buildings increases. The
whole thing is appalling, and yet the people are getting apparently
more helpless to reform it. Laws pile upon laws, when the real reform
is to abolish laws. Wipe out grants and special privileges. We ought to
be legislating toward equality of opportunity in the world, and here we
go with McKinley bills, and the devil knows what else. By the way, to
change the subject, what has become of Milton Jennings? He started out
to be a great Republican politician."

"Well, he lives there yet; he's still in politics, but doesn't seem to
get higher than a county office."

"He was a brilliant fellow, but he started in on the wrong side; there
is no hope for him on that side in the West."

"He's married, lives just opposite the Seminary, seems to be reasonably
contented."

Radbourn turned suddenly. "You are not married?"

Bradley colored. "No, I'm not."

Radbourn mused a little. "Seems to me, I remember some talk about your
marrying that little--Russell girl?"

"Well, I didn't." Bradley had just a moment's temptation to tell
Radbourn his whole secret, but he gave it up as preposterous.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Legislation was incredibly slow.

"Beats the devil how little we fellows amount to here," Clancy said one
night after they had been sitting all day in their seats, while Brown
of Georgia, Dixon of Maine, and others of their like had wasted hour
after hour in all sorts of tedious discussions upon mere
technicalities. "We can't even vote, by thunder! I'm going to make a
great break one of these days and make a motion to adjourn."

Bradley laughed dutifully, for this was the ancient joke.

"It's an outrage," Clancy fumed. The speaker had refused to recognize
him and he was furious. "The speaker's got everything in his hands.
Say, do you know that it's all made up the day before who's goin' to be
recognized?"

"Yes, I found that out some time ago," said Bradley quietly.

"Well, I feel like making a great big kick."

"It wouldn't do any good."

"Yes, it would, it would relieve my feelings. It's a pretty how de do,
to send a man here to represent his constituents and then put the whole
power of the house into the hands of the speaker and the committee on
rules."

Bradley's seat came between two of the old members, Samuels of
Mississippi and Col. Maxwell of South Carolina, and they were
constantly talking across Bradley's back or before his face, ignoring
him completely. It wore on him so that he fell into the habit of
sitting over beside the profane Clancy in Bidwell's seat. Bidwell
occupied the leather-covered lounge behind the screen so industriously
that no one else felt privileged to throw himself down there.

The drinking disgusted Bradley, and the obscene talk which he heard in
snatches as he went past sickened him. The same sort of attitude toward
the female clerks was expressed by a certain class of the legislators.
He began to wonder if he were not abnormal in some way by reason of his
repugnance to all this desolating derision of really holy things. He
found that while he had less religion than these men, they had
infinitely less reverence for the things which he considered sacred.

Some of the better class of members invited him to their houses and he
went occasionally, and if he found them uncongenial he never went
again. He could not make calls out of duty. It seemed to him that they
took very little interest in the higher side of politics and some of
them he found were unaware of any higher side of life.

He could not help noticing that Washington was a city full of beautiful
girls. His idolatry of Miss Wilbur could not prevent him from admiring
them as they streamed along the walk to church. He sometimes looked
wistfully at this flood of sunny laughing life that moved by him so
near and yet so completely out of his reach. He knew at such times that
he had missed something sweet out of his own lonely life.

But these moments were few. He realized that there was no place in the
social life of the city for him, and the librarian knew him better than
the butlers in the houses of rich senators. He attended one or two
public receptions and was thoroughly disgusted with the crush, and felt
the essential vulgarity of the whole thing.

His life at the capital was not entirely that of the politician. He had
in him capabilities for appreciating art and literature, which most of
his colleagues had not. He studied upon economic problems, rather than
upon partisan politics, and tried to grasp the meaning of social change
and social condition, and to comprehend economic causes and tendencies.
He spent many hours upon problems which were unconsciously unfitting
him for partisan success.

His life was very full and happy, save for the dull hunger at his heart
whenever he thought of Ida. He wrote to her still, but her replies
still kept their calm, impersonal tone. One night, when he returned
from the capitol, he found a letter from her enclosing some clippings.

"I have joined the Farmers' Alliance," she wrote. "I begin to believe
that another great wave of thought is about to sweep over the farmers.
The _spirit_ of the grange did not die. It has passed on into this new
organization. The difference is going to be that this new alliance of
the farmers will be deeper in thought and broader in sympathy. I never
believed the grange a failure. It taught people by its failure. I'm
going to Kansas to speak for them there. The alliance is very strong
there. This order will become political. Its leaders are very
enthusiastic."

She passed on to write of other things, but Bradley was deeply affected
by this news. He had heard of the alliance obscurely, but had felt
that it was only an attempt to revive the old grange movement, and that
it could not succeed. But her letter set him thinking.

He wrote away on a speech till nine o'clock, and then went out for his
usual walk about the capitol and its grounds, which had never lost
their charm, as the city itself had. He had grown into the habit of
going out whenever he wished to escape the paltry decoration, the hot
colors, the vitiated air, of his boarding-place and the importunities
of his fellow-boarders. He went out whenever he wanted to think great
and refreshing thoughts, or whenever he felt the need of beauty or the
presence of life.



XXVII.

BRADLEY'S LONG-CHERISHED HOPE VANISHES.


It had been snowing all the afternoon, and the shrubbery hung heavy and
silent with heaped, clinging, feathery snow, dazzling white by contrast
with the dark sustaining branches, and the yellow lamps flamed warmly
amid the all-surrounding steely blue and glistening white. The damp
pavements, where the snow had melted, were banded with gold and crimson
from the reflected light of the lamps and the warning glare of car and
carriage lights.

As Bradley breathed the pure air and walked soundlessly along the
narrow paths and looked across the unflecked, untrodden snow up to the
vast and silent dome, he shuddered in wordless delight. He hungered to
share it with Ida. It was like fairy-land--so far removed from daylight
reality; and yet the sound of sleigh-bells, the occasional shouts of
coasters, and the laughter of girls added a familiar human quality to
it all, and added an ache to the mysterious shuddering delight of it
all. It was so evanescent; it would decay so quickly. The wind, the
morning sun, would destroy it.

He walked up to the lonely esplanade, and saw the city's lights shine
below him like rubies and amethysts, and saw far beyond the snow-heaped
highlands, above which Jupiter hung poised, serene and lone, the king
of the western sky.

How far away all this seemed from the brazen declamation, the
monotonous reiterations of the reading-clerk, and from the sharp clank
of the speaker's gavel! His ear wearied, his heart sick of the whole
life of the farcical legislature, with its flood of corrupt bills, got
back serenity and youth and repose in the presence of the snows, the
silences, and the stars.

Again the impulse seized him to write to Ida and show her his whole
soul; to dare and end once for all his ache of suspense. He went back
to his room, and seized pen and paper. Everything he wrote seemed too
formal or too presumptuous. At last he finished a short letter--

    _Dear Miss Wilbur_:--

    I do not know how to begin to say what I want to say. I am afraid
    of losing you out of my life by not writing, and I'm afraid if I
    write, I will lose you. It is impossible for me to say what you've
    done for me. I never would have been anything more than a poor
    farmer, only for you. I don't want to apologize to you for telling
    you how much you are to me. I want to appeal to you to give me a
    chance to work for you; that's all. I want you to give me some
    hope, if you can.

    I know I am asking a great deal even in that. I realize how
    unreasonable it is. You've only seen me a few times; and yet I'm
    not going to apologize for it. I must have it over with; I can't go
    on in this way. Won't you write to me and tell me that I can look
    forward to the future with hope?

    Yours sincerely,
    BRADLEY TALCOTT.

For the next ten days he was of little service to his country except
the day he made his speech on the tariff question. It was his first set
speech, and he had twenty minutes yielded to him by the gentleman from
Missouri, who had charge of the bill. He had the close attention of the
House, not only for his thoughts, which were fresh and direct, but also
for the natural manner in which he spoke. He had lost a good deal of
his "oratory," but had gained a powerful, flexible and colloquial style
which made most of the orators around him seem absurd. The fine
shadings of emotion and of thought in his voice struck upon the ear
wearied with rancous yells and monotonous brazen declamations, with a
cool and restful effect. At the close, the members crowded about to
congratulate him upon his efforts, and for the moment he felt quite
satisfied with himself.

It gave him a shock to see Ida's fateful letter lying upon the hat-rack
in his boarding-house, where it had been pawed over by the whole
household. He hastened to his room, and dropped into a chair with that
familiar terrible numbness in his limbs, and with his heart beating so
hard it shortened his breathing. He was like a man breathless with
running. When his eyes fell on the writing, his hands ceased to shake,
and his quick breathing fell away into a long, shuddering inspiration.
He read the first page twice without moving a muscle. Then he turned
the page, and finished it. It was not long, and it was very direct.

    _Dear Mr. Talcott_:--

    Your letter has moved me deeply, very deeply. I would have
    prevented its being written if I could. It is the greatest
    tribute--save one--that has ever come to me; and yet I wish I had
    not read it. I'm not free to make you any promise. I'm not free to
    correspond with you any more--now. I've been trying to find a way
    to tell you so indirectly, but your letter makes it necessary for
    me to do so directly.

The rest of the letter was an attempt to soften the blow, but it fell
upon him very hard.

The possibility which he had always feared had become a fact, the hope
which he had kept in the obscure processes of his thought and which had
filled a vital place in his action, dropped out and left him
purposeless. This hope of somehow, someway having her near to him had
been the mainspring of his action and it could not be withdrawn without
leaving him disabled.

He returned to the letter again, and again studying each word, each
mark. He saw in it her acceptance of some other--probably Birdsell.

Then he saw that she had withdrawn the privilege--the blessed
privilege--of writing to her. She was determined to go out of his life
completely. At times as he imagined this strongly, his throat swelled
till he could hardly breathe. He would have cried if nature had not
denied him that relief.

He saw how baseless his hope had been, and he exonerated her from all
blame. She had been kind and helpful till he spoiled it all by a fool's
presumption. He had always exaggerated her social position and her
attainments, but in the depths of his self-abasement and despair every
kindness she had done him and every letter she had written took on a
new significance. On every one he saw her warnings. Every meeting he
had ever had with her he now went over and over with the strange
pleasure one takes in bruising an aching limb.

She had never been other than reserved, impersonal in his presence. She
had shown him again and again that her intimate life was not for him to
know. He remembered now the peculiar look of perfect understanding
which flashed between Birdsell and Ida, which troubled him at the time,
but which his cursed egotism had brushed away as of no significance.

His speech lay there on the table, it was waste paper now. He had no
one left to address it to. His utter loneliness came back to him. His
mind went back over the line of his life till it came again into the
little opening in the Wisconsin woods where the pines wept or snarled
ceaselessly--till his mother died in the moan and the snarl and shadow
of them. His heart went out to her as never before since Ida came into
his life.

The gloom and reticence of those dark-green forests had wrought him
into the reticent, serious man he was. He was not gloomy naturally, he
was strong and hopeful, but this was one of those moments which appall
a man, even a young man--or more properly, especially a young man.

He did not go down to dinner, but sat in his room till late; then when
hunger compelled, he went out to a vast cafe, where he could be more
alone. It seemed that night as if all incentive to live were gone; but
he went to the session next day in a mechanical sort of a way, and each
day thereafter in the same way, though he took no interest in the
proceedings.

Clancy had his suspicions and had to verify them.

"Talcott, you're off y'r feed. Girl gone back on yeh?"

Bradley refused to reply and Clancy took delight in spreading the story
among his gang. They respected Bradley's physique too much to push him
unduly, however.

Nature slowly reasserted itself, and as the weeks went by he regained
his interest in the work; but the sparkle, the allurement of life, was
gone, and he went about with more of the purely mechanical in his
actions.

He read now every available bit of news relating to the farmers' rising
in the West, in the hope that Ida's work would be mentioned in it. The
papers were getting savage in their attack upon the movement in Kansas.
It was said to mean repudiation; that it was a movement of the
shiftless and unscrupulous citizens which destroyed the credit of the
State and disturbed social conditions wantonly. The West seemed on the
point of upheaval, and Kansas seemed to be the centre of the feeling of
unrest.



XXVIII.

SPRING CONVENTIONS.


The session wore along monotonously--at least to those who like Bradley
took no interest in the bitter partisan wrangling--and suddenly it came
upon him that spring was near. There came a couple of sunny days after
three days of warm rain and the grass grew suddenly green. A robin
hunting worms on the lawn laughed out audaciously one morning as
Bradley went across the path. There seemed to be a mysterious awakening
thrill in every plant and animal. The distant hills grew soft in
outline.

A few days and the Spirea Japonica flamed out in yellow, the quince in
the hedges showed its rose-colored tips of bursting blooms and on the
red buds grew wonderful garnet-colored fists soon to open into
beautiful palms of flowers. The gardeners got out with rakes and
wheel-barrows and lazily plodded to and fro upon the beautiful seamless
green of the lawns, or spaded about the flowers beds in the countless
little parks of the city.

A few days later and the old white mule and darkey driver came out upon
the springing grass with the purring mower, and it made Bradley's blood
leap with recollections of the haying field. The air began to grow
sweet with the odor of flowers. The sky took on a warm look. The
building took on a deeper blue in its shadows and the north windows
became violet at noon. Bradley longed for the country, but the
orange-colored mud of the suburbs kept him confined to the sidewalks.

On Easter Sunday the girls came out in their delicious dresses, looking
dainty and sweet as the lilies each church displayed. New hats, new
grasses and springing plants announced that spring had come. The
"leaves of absence" indicated spring in the House.

As June came on, the question of re-election began to trouble some of
the members. They began to get "leave of absence on important
business," and to go home to fix up their political fences. There was
no sign of adjournment. It was the policy of the Republicans to keep
the Democrats out of the field.

The profane Clancy was one of the first to go. He came to Bradley one
day, "Say, Talcott, I wish you'd ask for indefinite leave for me, my
fences are in a hell of a fix and besides I want to see my wife. I'm no
earthly use here--though you needn't state that in your request."

"What'll I say?"

"Oh, important business--or sickness--the baby's cutting a tooth--just
as you like. It all goes."

"I guess I'll try important business. The other is too much worn."

"All right. It does beat hell the amount of sickness there is on
pension bill nights and on convention week."

Clancy was a type of legislator whose idea of legislation was to have a
good time and look out for re-election. Bradley, however, did not worry
particularly about his re-election until he received a letter from the
Judge asking him to come home and attend the convention.

"It's just as well to be on the ground," the Judge wrote; "there is a
good deal of opposition developing in the north-west part of the
district. Larson wants the nomination for the Legislature, and he is
trying to swing the Scandinavians for Fishbein. They are making a good
deal of your attitude on the pension bill, and that interview on the
oleo business where you go back on your legislative vote is being
circulated to do you harm."

This letter alarmed Bradley, and at once showed him what a fight the
Judge was making. Suddenly he woke to the fact that defeat would be
unwelcome. Congress had come at last to have a subtle fascination, and
he loved the city and its noble buildings, its theatres, and its
libraries. Since that fatal letter from Ida he had been forced to go
more often to the theatres and concerts. They seemed now like
necessities to him, and the thought of going back to private life was
not at all pleasant. He therefore got leave of absence, and took the
train for Rock River.

He did not see so much of the outside world on this return trip. His
trouble came back upon him, mixed, too, with something sweet which lay
in the fact of a return to the West. He caught a thrill of this as the
train dipped and swung round a peak on the west slope of the
Alleghanies, and for a single instant the sea of sun-illumined swells
and peaks of foliage broke upon the eyes and then was lost, and the
train dropped down into the rising darkness of the valley.

It came to him again the next afternoon as he rode away over the wide,
low swells of the prairies between Chicago and the Mississippi. It was
a beautiful showery June day. A day of alternate warm rain and
brilliant sunshine, and the rushing engine plunged into trailing clouds
of rain only to burst forth into sunshine again with exultant shrieks
of untamed energy, and listening to it one might have fancied it a
living thing with capability to snuff the glorious west wind, and eyes
to reflect the cool green swells of pasture.

It was a magnificent thing to step off the Chicago sleeper into the
broad morning at Rock River. Soaring streamers of red and flame-color
arched the eastern sky like the dome of a mighty pagoda. Birds were
singing in the cool, sweet hush; roosters were crowing; the air was
full of the scent of fresh leaves and succulent, springing grain.
Bradley abandoned himself to the spring, and his walk up the quiet
street was a keen delight. The town seemed wofully small and shabby and
lifeless; but it had trees and birds and earth-smell to compensate for
other things.

There was no one at the station to receive him, not even a 'bus. The
station agent said:

"Guess the Judge didn't know you was comin' or he'd been down here with
a band-wagon."

Mrs. Brown was in the kitchen bent above a pan of sizzling meat. A
Norwegian girl with vivid blue eyes and pink and white complexion was
setting the table with great precision. She smiled broadly as Bradley
put his finger to his lips and crept toward Mrs. Brown, who gave a
great start as she felt the clasp of his arm.

"Gracious sakes alive! Bradley Talcott!"

"Did I scare yeh?" he inquired, smiling. "Where's the Judge?"

She looked at him fondly as he held her a moment in his arms.

"He's out by the well--I think he's at work at something, for I've
heard him swearing and groaning out there."

Bradley found the Judge weeding a bed of onions. He had a couple of
folded newspapers under his knees and was in his shirt-sleeves. He
looked like a felon condemned for life to hard manual labor.

"Judge, how are you?" called Bradley.

The Judge looked up with a scowling brow. "Hello, Brad." He wiped his
hand on his thigh and rose with a groan to shake hands. "I'm slavin'
again. Mrs. Brown insists on my working on the garden. How's Congress?"

"Piratical as ever. Nothing doing that ought to be done. How's
everything here?"

The Judge put on his coat; "I guess I'll quit for this time," he said,
referring to the onions. "Let's wash up for breakfast."

They washed at the kitchen sink as usual. Mrs. Brown watched Bradley
with maternal pleasure as he hung his coat on a nail and went about in
his shirt-sleeves scrubbing his face and combing his hair.

"It's good to see you around again, Bradley."

"Well, it seems good to me. Seems like old times to sit down here to
your cooking with the kitchen door open and the chickens singing."

"We're all right in this county," said the Judge, referring back to
politics; "but as I wrote you, it aint all clear sailing. We've got
work to do. I've called the Convention at Cedarville, in order to keep
some useful people in the field. We'll take dinner with old Jake
Schlimgen--he's a power with the Germans."

Bradley avoided political talk as much as possible, but when on the
street there seemed nothing else to talk about. Councill and Ridings
assured him he was all right in the eastern part of the county, and
under their flattery he grew quite cheerful. Their simple, honest
admiration did him good.

On the day named, Bradley and the Judge drove off up the road in a
one-horse buggy. The Judge talked spasmodically; Bradley was silent,
looking about him with half-shut eyes. The wheat had clothed the brown
fields; crows were flying through the soft mist that dimmed the light
of the sun, but did not intercept its heat. Each hill and tree
glimmered across the waves of warm air, and seemed to pulse as if
alive. Blackbirds and robins and sparrows everywhere gave voice to the
ecstasy which the men felt, but could not express.

The Judge roused up, slapping the horse with the reins. "It's going to
be a fight; but Fishbein will be left on the first ballot by
twenty-five votes."

Cedarville was wide-awake--feverishly so. The street was lined with
knots of gesticulating politicians. As he alighted Bradley's friends
swarmed about him with "three cheers for the Hon. Brad Talcott." He
shook hands all round with unfeigned pleasure.

"Hurrah, boys, let's all go over to the Palace Hotel and have some
dinner," said the Judge at last.

The rest whooped with delight. "That's the cooky, Judge."

They swarmed in upon Jake like the locusts into Egypt. They washed
(some of them) in the wash-room, out of tin basins, laughing and
talking in hearty clamor over the water and the comb. Others flung
their nondescript wind-worn hats upon the floor, brushed their hair
with their fingers and went into the dining-room as if going into a
farm-kitchen in threshing time.

The girls were in a flutter of haste, and giggled and bumped against
each other trying to serve the dinner to order--

"Quick as the Lord' ll let yeh."

Bradley's constituents were mostly farmers, clean-eyed and hearty. They
all felt sure of success and jeered the opposition good-naturedly.

                     *      *      *      *      *

When the Judge and Bradley rode home that night, they were silent for
another cause. They had been defeated on the tenth ballot, and bitter
things had been said by both sides.

It was again beautiful around them, but they did not notice it. The low
sun flung its level red rays of light across the flaming green of the
springing grain, and lighted every western window-pane into burning
squares of crimson. The train carrying the successful Waterville crowd
passed them, and they waved their hats in return to their opponents'
salute.

The Judge was as badly defeated as Bradley. He took it very hard. It
seemed to give the lie to all his prophecies of Democratic progress. It
seemed to him a defeat of Jeffersonian principle. He consoled himself
by saying--

"Those fellows don't represent the people. The thing to do is to bolt
the convention"; and then he went on planning an independent campaign.

Bradley maintained gloomy silence. The comment of his friends hurt him
more than his defeat. Their tone of pity cut him, and left him raw to
the gibes of his opponents. The fact that an honorable, honest man
could have enemies in his own party was borne in upon him with
merciless force. What had he done that men should yell in hell-like
ferocity of glee over his defeat?

This defeat cut closer into the Judge's life than anything that had
come to him since the death of his son. If Bradley had not been so
blind in his selfish suffering he would have seen how the Judge had
aged and saddened since the morning.

But the old man's vital nature would not rest under defeat. He almost
forced Bradley to issue a card to the public announcing his independent
candidacy for Congress. Bradley had no heart in it, however. The energy
of youth seemed gone out of him.

The Judge gathered his forces together for battle, but Bradley fled
away from Rock River to escape the comments of his friends as well as
his enemies. He was too raw to invite strokes of the lash. He dreaded
the meeting with his colleagues at Washington, but there was a little
more reserve in their comment and there were fewer who took a vital
interest in his affairs.

He met Radbourn a few days after his return.

"Well," Radbourn said, "I see by the papers that your defeat in the
convention was due to your advocacy of 'cranky notions.' I told you the
advocacy of heresies was dangerous; I have no comfort for you. You had
your choice before you. You can be a hypocrite and knuckle down to
every monopoly or special act, or you can be an individual and--go out
of office."

"I'll go out of office, I guess, whether I want to or not," was his
bitter reply. He suffered severely for a few days with the
commiseration of friends and the thinly-veiled ridicule of his
political enemies, but each man was too much occupied to hold Bradley's
defeat long in mind. He soon sank back into quiet, if not into repose.

As the hot weather came on, the city became almost as quiet as Rock
River itself. Save taking care of the few tourists who drifted through,
there was very little doing. The cars ground along ever more thinly
until they might be called occasional. The trees put forth their
abundance of leaf, and under them the city seemed to sleep. Congress
had settled down into a dull and drowsy succession of daily
adjournments and filibustering. The speaker ruled remorselessly,
"counting the hats in the cloak-room to make up his quorum," his
critics said.

Nothing was doing, but vast accumulations of appropriations were piling
up, waiting the hurried action of the last few days of the session. The
senators dawdled in and out dressed in the thinnest clothing; the House
looked sparse and ineffectual.

Bradley grew depressed, and at last he became positively ill. He was
depressed by the incessant relentless attacks made upon him through the
_Waterville Patriot_, and by his apparently hopeless outlook. The
_Patriot_ published some of his radical utterances much garbled, of
course, and called him "an anarchist and a socialist, a fit leader for
the repudiating gang of _alleged_ farmers in Kansas."

Radbourn became alarmed for him, and advised him to get indefinite
leave of absence and go home. "Go back into the haying-field; that's
what you need; they won't miss you here. Go home and go out of
politics, and stay out till the revolution comes; then go out and chalk
death on your enemies' door."

The advice to go home was so obviously sound that Bradley took it at
once. It seemed as if the atmosphere of the city would destroy him. As
a matter of fact it was inactivity that was killing him. He found it so
hard to exercise--except by walking, and that did not rest his
over-active mind.



XXIX.

BRADLEY DISCOURAGED.


The Judge and Mrs. Brown were alarmed at the change in him. He was
gloomy and pale, but he protested he was all right.

"I'm going out on the farm. I believe it'll do me good to go out and
help Councill put up his hay. It seems to me if I could get physically
tired and wolfishly hungry again it would do me good."

The Judge drove him out to Councill's one afternoon. Everybody they met
seemed delighted to see him. Mrs. Councill came out to the horse-block,
her bare arm held up to shield her eyes.

"Well, Brad Talcott, how are you--anyway? you're jest in time to help
me pick berries."

Bradley sprang out and shook hands with hearty force. "Give us your
dish."

"H'yare!" yelled Councill from the load of hay he was driving in, "I
can use you out here."

"Oh, you go long," replied Mrs. Councill. "He's got better company and
a better job."

Out in the berry patch he talked over the neighborhood affairs and
picked berries and killed mosquitoes, while the wind wandered by with
rustling steps on the lombardy poplar leaves. The locusts sang and the
grasshoppers snapped their shining wings. It was a blessed relief to
his troubled older self, for he slipped back into the more tranquil
life of his boyhood.

At supper he sat at the table with the men, whose wet shirts showed how
fierce the work of pitching the hay had been.

"Be ye out f'r play or work, Brad?" asked Councill.

"Work. Need a hand?"

"They's plenty to do--but I'm afraid you can't take a hand's place, for
a while."

"Try me and see."

They were all curious to hear of Washington, but he was more inclined
to talk of the crops and the cattle.

He went to sleep that night in the bare garret with the men, and woke
the next morning at sun-rise at sound of Councill's voice calling him,
just as he used to do when he was a hired man.

"_Hello_, Brad! Roll out!"

He went down to breakfast, sloshed his face at the cistern pump and was
ready to eat when the men came in.

"We live jest the same as ever, Brad," said Mrs. Councill, "you'll haf
to put up with it jest as if y' wa'n't a Congressman."

"I guess he can stand a few days what we stand all the while," Councill
interjected.

There was a good deal of banter during the meal about "downing" the
Congressman.

Bradley's physical pride was roused and he took his place in the field
determined to show them their mistake. Night came bringing weariness
that was exhaustion, and next morning he was too lame to lift a fork.
It emphasized the unnatural inactivity into which he had fallen.

He improved physically and by the end of the week was able to pitch hay
with the rest. The Judge drove up for him on Saturday afternoon, and
found him pitching hay upon the stack behind the wind-break, wet with
sweat and covered with timothy bloom. Councill was stacking.

"Hello, Congressman," called the Judge.

"Get off, 'n take right hold, Judge," said Councill. "A Judge aint no
better'n a Congressman, not a darn bit."

"I'll take a hand at the table," the Judge replied.

"I've had about enough of it," Bradley said to him privately while
Councill was putting his team in the barn. "I'm better, but it begins
to seem like a waste of time."

They drove home that night through the still, warm, star-lit air, like
father and son in slow talk of the future.

The Judge told of the plan for the fall campaign, to which Bradley
listened silently.

"We'll win yet if you only keep your grit."

He planned also a broadening out of their law business. A new block had
just been built and they were to take two adjoining rooms.

"You need a library of your own and a chance to work where you won't be
disturbed. I'll do the consulting business and leave you the business
in court." For a time Bradley was interested and occupied in moving
into the new office and in getting in some new books and arranging the
shelves.

But the narrowness, the quiet, the mental stagnation of the life of
Rock River settled down on him at last. There were days when he walked
the floor of the office, wild with dismay over his prospect. How could
he settle down again to this life of the country lawyer? The honors and
ease that accompanied his office, the larger horizon of Washington, had
ruined him for life in Rock River. Love might have enabled him to bear
it, but he had given up the thought of marriage and he longed for the
larger life he had left.

There was a sorrowful scene when the Judge read for the first time
Bradley's letter of withdrawal from the canvass. The Judge was deeply
hurt because he had not been consulted, and was depressed by Bradley's
despair. He tried to reason with him, but Bradley was in no mood to
reason.

"I'm out of it, Judge; it's of no use to go on; I'm beaten; that's all
there is about it; we'd only get a minority vote, and show how weak we
are; I'm a failure as a politician, and every other way. I give it up."

The Judge sat staring at him without words to express his terrible
disappointment and alarm, for the condition into which his lieutenant
had sunk alarmed him and he communicated his fear to Mrs. Brown.

They discussed the matter that night in bed. Bradley heard their voices
still mumbling on when he sank to sleep.

"You don't suppose, Mrs. Brown," the Judge said a little timidly, "it
can't be possible it's a woman"--

"If it had been, Mr. Brown, he would have told me," she said
convincingly. "It's just the heat, and then his defeat has told on him
more than you admit."

"If I felt sure of that, Mrs. Brown," the Judge said in answer, "but I
don't. All ambition seems to have gone out of him. I hate to
acknowledge myself mistaken in the man. I've believed in Brad. I am
alarmed about him. He isn't right; I've a good mind to send him down to
St. Louis and Kansas City on some collection cases."

"I think he'd better do that, Mr. Brown, if he will go."

"Oh, he'll go; he wants to get away from the campaign; it seems to wear
upon him some way; he avoids everybody, and won't speak of it at all if
he can help it."

Bradley was very glad to accept the offer, and made himself ready to go
with more of his old-time interest than he had shown since his
sickness. The Judge brightened up also, and said to him, as he was
about to step into the train: "Now, Brad, don't hurry back; take your
time, and enjoy yourself. Go around by Chicago, if you feel like it."

After the train pulled out, and they were riding home, the Judge said
to his wife: "Mrs. Brown, you must take good care of me now. I want to
live to see a party grow up to the level of that young man's ideas.
This firm is crippled, but it is not in the hands of a receiver, Mrs.
Brown."

"I'll be the receiver," Mrs. Brown said.

The Judge shifted the lines into his left hand.

The horse fell into a walk. "Mrs. Brown, if this weren't a public road,
I'd be tempted to put my strong right arm around you and give you a
squeeze."

"I don't see any one looking," she said, and her eyes took on a
pathetic suggestion of the roguishness her face must have worn in
girlhood.

He put his arm about her, and gave her a great hug. After that she laid
her head against his shoulder, and cried a little; the Judge sighed.

"Well, we'll have to get reconciled to being alone, I suppose; we can't
expect to keep him always. I think it's a woman, Mrs. Brown."



XXX.

THE GREAT ROUND UP.


During his stay in St. Louis Bradley found the papers filled with the
Alliance movement in Kansas, and looked for Ida's name each morning.
She was in the western part of the State, but moving eastward; and when
a few days later he saw her announced in the Kansas City morning papers
to speak at the great "round up" at Chiquita, he packed his valise on
the sudden impulse, and started on the next train, determined to hear
her speak once more at least.

It was just noon when he alighted from the train at Chiquita. The day
was dry, hazy, resplendent October. The wind was strong but amiable,
and was full of the smell of corn and of that warm, pungent, smoky odor
which forms the Indian summer atmosphere of the West. The wind rushed
up the broad street past him, carrying the dust and leaves in its
powerful clutches, and laying strong hands upon his broad back. The sky
was absolutely without speck, but a pale mist seemed to dim the
radiance of the sun, and lent a milky white tone to the blue of the
sky.

As he moved slowly off up the street, he studied the town and the
people from the standpoint his life in the East had given him.
Everywhere was an air of security. Men moved slower. Their faces were
less anxious and more placid; they had leisure to talk as they met at
the shop door. The _boss_ seemed farther away. But all this security
did not conceal the poverty which he now saw everywhere. The houses
were mainly low, unpainted buildings, containing only three or four
cramped rooms. They were a little smarter in appearance than the
country type, but not much more commodious.

"I wonder if you are one of the speakers here to-day," said a voice
behind him.

Bradley turned, and saw a small man with a stubby mustache, under whose
derby hat-rim a pair of round black eyes shone with a keen glitter.

"No, sir, I'm not."

"Beg pardon, no harm done. Saw you get off with your valise; knew you
weren't a native by the cut o' y'r jib. Excuse me, I hope?"

"Certainly; I'm just on to see some friends here."

"_Pre_cisely; I'm up from Kansas City to see the big 'round up,' as
they call it. Here's my card. I represent what our Alliance friends
call the 'plutocratic press.'" His card stated that his name was Mr.
Davis, and that he represented the _Chronicle_. "I'm afraid the parade
must be over by this time, but I missed my train. Perhaps we had better
step along a little."

They had reached the main street, a broad avenue which ran north and
south across a gentle swell in the prairie. There were a great many
people on the sidewalks, and teams were moving in various directions
slowly and in apparent confusion.

"Let's go over here to the Commercial House; that's the headquarters of
all the brethren," said Davis.

They went across the street to the Commercial House, which they found
full of men in groups, talking very earnestly, but quietly. Most of
them were farmer-like looking figures, big and brown, and dressed in
worn, faded clothing, but here and there a young man stood, wearing a
broad white hat, and with a gay handkerchief knotted loosely about his
neck. On all sides could be heard the slightly-drawling speech of the
Kansan.

They went up to a little balcony which projected over the walk. Four or
five other young fellows were already seated there. Some of them were
magnificent-looking fellows, keen, wholesome, and picturesque in their
dress.

"Excuse me now, gentlemen," said Davis, whipping out his note-book.
"I'm a reporter, and here they come!"

Up the broad street, under that soaring sky, from their homes upon a
magnificently fertile soil, came the long procession of revolting
farmers. There were no bands to lead them; no fluttering of gay flags;
no cheers from the bystanders. They rode in grim silence for the most
part, as if at a funeral of their dead hopes--as if their mere presence
were a protest.

Everywhere the same color predominated--a russet brown. Their faces
were bronzed and thin. Their beards were long and faded, and tangled
like autumn corn silk. Their gaunt, gnarled, and knotted hands held the
reins over their equally sad and sober teams. The women looked worn and
thin, and sat bent forward over the children in their laps. The dust
had settled upon their ill-fitting dresses. There were no smart
carriages, no touch of gay paint, no glittering new harnesses; the
whole procession was keyed down among the most desolate and sorrowful
grays, browns, and drabs.

Slowly they moved past. In some of the wagons, banners, rudely painted
on cotton cloth, uttered the farmers' protest in words.

"Good God!" said Davis, as he dashed away at his writing. "Did you ever
see such a funeral in your life? See that banner!"

    DOWN WITH MONOPOLIES.

"All right, down with them; you're the doctor," muttered Davis as he
wrote.

    FREE TRADE, FREE LAND,
    MONEY AT COST,
    TRANSPORTATION AT COST.

"Now you _are_ shouting, brother."

    EQUAL RIGHTS TO ALL IS AS DEAR TO
    THE HEART OF THE FARMER AS IT WAS IN
    THE DAYS OF OUR FOREFATHERS.

"Well, now, sure you mean that--that's all. Stop talking, and act."

Bradley remained perfectly silent through it all. As these farmers
passed before his eyes, there came into his mind vast conceptions which
thrilled him till he shuddered--a realization that here was an army of
veterans, men grown old in the ferocious struggle against injustice and
the apparent niggardliness of nature,--a grim and terrible battle-line.
It was made up, throughout its entire length, of old or middle-aged men
and women with stooping shoulders, and eyes dim with toil and
suffering. There was nothing of lovely girlhood or elastic, smiling
boyhood; not a touch of color or grace in the long line of march. It
was sombre, silent, ominous, and resolute.

It appeared to him the most pathetic, tragic, and desperate revolt
against oppression and wrong ever made by the American farmer. It was
the Grange movement broadened, deepened, and made more desperate and
wide-reaching by changing conditions.

At Davis' suggestion they went off down the street, joining the crowd
on the sidewalk, which was streaming away towards the fair grounds. A
roasted ox was to be served there, and speeches were to follow. The
road kept on to the south, down over the gentle slope, and turned aside
under the jack-oaks, and led through a wooden gate into an enclosure
which was used for the county fair. Down under the great shed by the
side of the race-track the people swarmed in thousands.

They were all standing about the rude tables, behind which helpers were
busily hewing off great lumps of beef and mutton, and slicing fat slabs
of bread, which were snatched and carried away in little paper plates
by the hungry men. Here and there beside their wagons, families were
eating a dinner of their own.

The same sober color predominated. There was a little more life and
gayety in their speech here. Their grim, harsh faces relaxed a little,
and now and then broke into unwonted smiles as they stood about
devouring their food and discussing the meeting, which they counted a
success. Everywhere were hearty handshakings and fraternal greetings.

All about the grounds stood feeble women in ill-fitting clothes, with
tired children in their aching arms, a painful sag in their weakened
loins. Bradley marvelled to think why such festivals had ever seemed
mirthful and happy to him. He wondered if there used to be so many
tired faces at the Grange picnics in Iowa. Were the farmers really less
comfortable and happy, or had he simply grown clear-sighted?

Kansas as it stood there was Democratic. Poverty has few distinctions
among its victims. The negro stood close beside his white brother in
adversity, and there was a certain relation and resemblance in their
stiffened walk, poor clothing, and dumb, imploring, empty hands. There
lay in the whole scene something tremendous, something far-reaching.
The movement it represented had the majesty, if not the volcanic
energy, of the rise of the peasants of the Vendée.

After the dinner was eaten, the people gradually took their seats on
the grand stand, facing a platform upon which the speakers were already
assembled. Bradley looked about for Ida, but she had not come. The
choir amused the people with a few Alliance songs, whose character may
be indicated by their titles: "Join the Alliance Step," "Get off the
Fence, Brother," "We're Marching Along," etc.

The people were watching eagerly for Ida's appearance; and when she
came in view, escorted by the chairman, the people on the platform
swarmed about to greet her, and hid her from Bradley's eager eyes. He
was tremulous with emotion as the chairman introduced her. It carried
him back to the day when he first saw her.

As she rose to speak now, it was in a broad, garish light. No dapple of
shadows was there, no rustle of leaves, no green, mossy trunks of
trees. She stood on a bare platform facing five thousand faces under a
shed-like roof.

She was changed too. She was now a mature woman. There was nothing
girlish about her talk or her manner. There was decision in the tones
of her voice, and a sense of power in the poise of her head and in the
lofty gesture of her hand. She no longer made a set oration. She talked
straight at her audiences.

"I wish the whole world could see this meeting," she said, "and
understand it for what it is. It is an _expression_ of a movement, not
the movement itself. It is a demand; but the revolt that lies back of
the demand is greater than the expression of it. The demand, the
expression, may change, the form of our whole movement may pass away;
but the spirit that makes it great, that carries it forward, is
invincible and imperishable. All the ages have contributed to this
movement. It is an outgrowth of the past.

"The heart and centre of this movement is a demand for justice, not for
ourselves alone, but for the toiling poor wherever found. If this
movement is higher and deeper and broader than the Grange was, it is
because its sympathies are broader. With me, it is no longer a question
of legislating for the farmer; it is a question of the abolition of
industrial slavery."

The tremendous cheer which broke forth at this point showed that the
conception of the movement had widened in the minds of the people
themselves; it was no longer a class movement. It stirred Bradley as if
some swift electric wind had blown upon him.

"Wherever a man is robbed, wherever a man toils and the fruits of his
toil are taken from him; wherever the frosty lash of winter stings or
the tear of poverty scalds, there the principle of our order reaches."

As she continued, the people turned to each other with shining faces.
She was thrilling them by her passionate, simple utterance of their
innermost thoughts.

While she spoke Bradley had eyes for nothing else; but when she sat
down amid wild applause, and the choir rose to sing, he turned to look
back over the audience, banked there in rows on the hard, wooden seats,
and felt again its majesty and its desolation. There was the same
absence of beauty, youth, color, and grace that he had noticed in the
procession. Everywhere worn and weary women in sombre dresses, a
wistful light in their faces, as if they felt dimly the difference
between the lithe and beautiful figure of the girl and their own
stiffened joints and emaciated forms.

The great throng sat silent, listening intently, their eyes fixed upon
the speaker. They were there for a purpose; they were there to find out
why it was that their toil, their sobriety, their self-deprivation,
left them at middle life with distorted and stiffened limbs, gray hair,
and empty hands. They were terribly in earnest, and Bradley felt his
kinship with them. They were his kind.

The music, which set them wild with enthusiasm, was of the simplest and
most stirring sort. That it pleased them so much, showed all too
clearly how barren their lives were of songs and color and light.

                     *      *      *      *      *

The people pressed forward to speak a word to Ida; and Bradley,
yielding to the pressure of the crowd, was carried forward with it. It
stirred him very deeply to see the love and admiration they all felt
for her. On all sides he heard words of affection which came straight
from the heart. Their utter sincerity could not be doubted. He knew he
ought to turn and go away before she saw him, but he could not.

Something in his face attracted a grizzled old farmer, who was moving
along beside him, and he turned with a beaming look.

"How's that for a speech, eh? Did y' ever hear the like of it?"

"No, I never did."

"Ain't she a wonder, now? D' you s'pose there's another woman like her
in the world?"

Bradley shook his head. He was sure of that!

A gaunt old woman, who wore a dark green-check sunbonnet hanging at the
back of her head, put in a word.

"Shows what a woman can do if you give 'er a chance."

"Hello, Sister Slocum, you're always on hand."

"Like a sore thumb, Brother Tobey, an' I don't know of any one got a
bigger interest in downin' the plutes than the farmers' wives--do you?"

It was pathetic, it was unforgettable, to see these people as they
stood beside the rounded, supple, splendid figure of the speaker and
took her strong, smooth hand in their work-scarred, leathery
palms--these women of many children and never-ending work, bent by toil
above the wash-tub and the churn, shut out from all things that
humanize and make living something more than a brute struggle against
hunger and cold.

Ida greeted them smilingly, but her face was quivering with a sadness
which she could hardly conceal. Bradley pushed on desperately toward
her. At length, as the crowd began to thin out, he moved up and thrust
his long arm in over the shoulders of the women.

"Won't you shake hands with me, too?" he said, and his voice trembled.

She turned quickly, and her face flashed into a smile--a smile
different, somehow, from that with which she had greeted the others,
and they saw it. It warmed his melancholy soul like a sudden ray of
June sunlight.

Her hand met his, strong and firm in its grasp. "Ah! Mr. Talcott, I'm
glad to see you."

The farmers' wives began to leave, saying good-by over and over again.
They clung to the girl's hand, gazing at her with wistful eyes. It
seemed as if they could not bear to let her go out of their lives
again.

"We may never see you again, dearie," one old woman said, "but we
never'll forgit you. You've helped us. I reckon life won't seem quite
so hard now. We kind o' see a glimmer of a way out."

The tears were on her face, and Ida put her arms about the old lady's
neck and kissed her, and then turned away, unable to speak. The
chairman, followed by Bradley and Ida, made his way down the steps and
out on the grounds, where the streams of people were setting back
toward the city. The chairman placed Miss Wilbur in a carriage, and
said, "I'll see you at the hotel."

"Won't you ride?" she asked.

"No, thank you," he replied, with a jovial gleam in his eyes, and Ida
said no more in protest. Bradley, in great trepidation, took a seat
beside her.

"Well, Brother Talcott, what do you think of such a meeting as that?"
she asked, after the carriage started, turning upon him with sudden
intensity.

"It was like that first meeting of the Grange, when I heard you speak
first, only this is more earnest--more desperate, I should say."

"Yes, these people _are_ desperate. It is impossible for the world to
realize the earnestness of these farmers. Just see the interest the
women-folks take in it! No other movement in history--not even the
anti-slavery cause--appealed to the women like this movement here in
Kansas. Why, sometimes I go home and walk the floor like a crazy
woman--I get so wrought up over it. While our great politicians split
hairs on the tariff, people starve. The time has come for rebellion."

Bradley was silent. He sympathized with her feeling, but he could not
see very much hope in a revolt.

Her eyes glowed with the fire of prophecy. Bradley gazed at her with
apprehensive eyes. She seemed unwholesomely excited. But she broke into
a hearty laugh, and said: "You stare. Well, I won't lecture you any
more. What did you do in Washington?"

"Nothing," he replied; and there was something silencing in his voice.

She glanced at his face sharply. She hesitated an instant, then asked:

"Do you go back?"

"No, my political career is ended. I was knifed in the convention."

"You are young."

"I'm not young enough to outgrow such a defeat as that. I'm done."

This mood seemed singularly unlike him, as she had known him before.
She seized upon the situation.

"Come with us. 'There is more wool and flax in the fields,'" she
quoted.

"I can't. I don't see things as you do--I mean I don't see any cure."

She laid her hand on his arm. "I'm going to convert you. Will you
attend one more meeting with me?"

"I'll go wherever you say," he answered, with an attempt at gallantry.

"I want to take you with me to show you what the people are doing, and
what my work is. You're to ask no questions, but just make yourself
ready to go."

Bradley's mind was in a whirl. Ida seemed so different--not at all like
that last letter she had written to him. He felt rather than perceived
the change in her. She left him at the hotel door and her parting
hand-clasp quickened his breath. An indefinite and unreasonable
exultation filled his eyes with light. In the privacy of his room he
croaked a few notes before he realized that he could not sing. His
gloomy sky had let fall a sudden ray of dazzling sunshine.



XXXI.

IDA SHOWS BRADLEY THE WAY OUT.


He did not see her again till the next afternoon. She came out into the
ante-room in the hotel looking so lovely he could hardly believe his
good fortune.

"Now you are in my hands, Mr. Talcott."

He noticed that she did not call him "Brother" Talcott. He was as
boyish and timid as ever, quite subdued by her presence, and followed
her out to the omnibus in a daze of delight. He had forgotten all he
knew, but he was very content to listen.

She, however, did not seem at all self-conscious. She wore a large
cloak and warm gloves, and under the wide rim of her black hat her face
was like silver and her eyes like stars. A delicate perfume came from
her dress, and reached him across the carriage.

"It takes about an hour to go down," she said, as they alighted and
stood waiting on the platform, "and then the 'college' is some distance
away from the station."

It was an unspeakable pleasure to sit beside her in the train and
listen to her talk. It was one of the things he had dreamed of so many
times, but had really never dared to expect.

"The reason I want you to attend this meeting is because the
schoolhouse, after all, is the place where a real reform among the
farmers must have its base. I'd like to see you working with us," she
said, turning suddenly towards him.

"I would if I felt as you do about it, but I can't."

"Why not? You're really one of us. Your letters showed me that. Why
can't you work with us?"

"Well, I'll tell you: because it looks like a last resort. It would
look as though, after having been kicked out of both parties, I had
gone into the third party out of revenge."

"Well, I see some force in that. But you can't be idle. You are too
strong and fine to be beaten so. Do you know, I think it was
providential that you were defeated." She turned to him now, and there
was something in the nearness of her face that awed him. "Your letters
to me told me more than you knew. I read beneath the lines; I saw how
nearly the atmosphere of Congress had ruined you. The greed of office
had got hold of you--now hadn't it?"

He dropped his eyes. "Something got hold of me," he said at length.

She went on in a voice which moved him so deeply he could not reply.
"I've wanted to see you. I believed in you, and it made my heart ache
to hear your despondent words yesterday. Life is a battle at best. You
can't afford to surrender so early. The way of the thinker is always
hard. Take up your sword again. Oh, it's glorious to be in such a
revolution! I never was so happy in my life. Happy and sad too! I never
was so sad. Now _that's_ like a woman, isn't it? What I really mean is
that I never saw so clearly the poverty and helplessness of the people
before, and it makes me happy to think I can do something for them."

Bradley sat silently looking at her with his big brown eyes. He was
thrilling with the vibration of her voice and the touch of her hand on
his arm.

She colored a little, and dropped her eyes suddenly. "There I go again!
I _must_ keep the oratorical tone out of my voice. Don't mind my
preaching at you, will you?"

"I like it," said Bradley, smiling. He had a beautiful smile, she
noticed; and he looked so big and strong and thoughtful, she suddenly
grew a little timid before him.

The warning whistle of the engine announced they were nearing a
crossing, and she said, "I think this is our station."

The wind was strong and cold as they stepped out upon the platform. It
was nearly six o'clock, and quite dark. They stood for a few moments in
the lee of the one-room depot, looking about in the obscurity.

"Well, what are we to do now?" Bradley inquired.

She seemed at a loss. "Really, I don't know. Colonel Barker was to meet
me here, I believe."

Bradley took her arm. "There's a light up there in the cold," he said.
"Let's go for that; and if you'll tell me the name of the schoolhouse,
I'll see that we get a team, and get out there."

In the cold and darkness she lost something of her imperiousness, and
yielded herself to his guidance with a delicious return to woman's
weakness in the face of practical material details. To Bradley this
seemed vastly significant and his spirits rose. He grew quite facetious
and talkative for him.

"It seems to me that's a store up there; must be a town near by.
Perhaps _this_ is the town. Two houses on one side and three houses on
the other make a town in the West. We must get some supper, too; any
provision for that?"

"No, I left the whole matter in Colonel Barker's hands."

The road ran up the huge treeless swell of prairie toward the lighted
windows of a grocery store.

Together they climbed the hill, and opposite the store they came upon a
gate on which was a battered sign, "Hotel; meals twenty-five cents."
Bradley knocked on the door, but there was no reply.

After waiting a decent while, he said, "If it's a hotel, we might as
well go right in without knocking."

They entered a bare little room whose only resemblance to a hotel
bar-room was in its rusty cannon stove set in the midst of a box of
sawdust, and a map of Kansas hanging on the wall. Bradley knocked on
the inner door, and it was opened by a faded little woman with a sad
face.

"We'd like supper for two," Bradley said.

"All right!" she replied, moving forward to the stove, which she
rattled in order to give her time to scrutinize Ida, who sat on the
lounge by the window. "Lay off your things, won't ye?"

Bradley helped Ida to lay off her cloak. It was incredible what
pleasure it gave him to do these little things for her. He left her a
few minutes to go out and look up the matter of the team. When he
returned he found Ida leaning back wearily in a big chair, her face
very grave and pale. He told her that a team would be ready soon.

"You can come right out to supper," announced the landlady; and they
went out into the kitchen, where the table sat. It was lighted with a
kerosene lamp that threw dull-blue shadows among the dishes, and
dazzled the eyes of the eaters with its horizontal rays of light. The
table had a large quantity of boiled beef and potatoes and butter,
which each person was evidently expected to hew off for himself. The
dessert was pumpkin-pie, which they both greeted with smiles.

"Ah, that looks like the pie mother used to make," Ida said, as the
landlady put it down.

"Waal, I'd know. Seems to me the crust is a leetle too short. I've ben
havin' pretty good luck lately; but this pumpkin weren't just the very
best. It was one of them thin-rinded ones, you know. Pumpkins weren't
extry good; weren't thunder enough, I reckon, this summer."

After supper Bradley went out, leaving Ida with the landlady, who was
delighted with her listener.

"Here's our team," called Bradley, coming to Ida's relief a few minutes
later. "It ain't a very gay rig; but it's the best I could do," he
explained, as he helped her in and tucked the quilts about her. "I had
to skirmish in two or three houses to get these quilts, for the wind is
sharp; you'll need them."

"Thank you; I'm afraid you've given me more than my share."

There was only one seat, and Bradley took his place beside Ida, while
the driver crouched on the bottom of the clattering old democrat wagon.
Ida was concerned for him.

"Haven't you another seat?" she inquired.

"No m'm. I don't need any," he replied, in a slow drawl. "I tried to
borrow one from Sam Smalley, but they're all usin' theirs. I'd jest as
soon set here."

There was something singularly attractive in his voice--a simplicity
and candor like a child's, and a suggestion of weakness that went
straight to Ida's tender heart.

"But you'll get cold."

"Oh, no m'm; I'm used to it. Half the time I don't wear no gloves in
winter 'less I'm handlin' things with snow on 'em," he said, to
reassure her.

They moved off down the ravine to the north, the keen wind in their
faces. There was no moon, and it was very dark, notwithstanding the
light of the stars.

"How beautiful the sky is to-night!" said Ida, in a low voice.

"Magnificent!" Bradley replied; but he thought of her, not the stars.
The team started up, and the worn old seat swayed from side to side so
perilously that Bradley with incredible audacity put his arm around,
and grasped the end of the seat on the other side of Ida.

"I'm afraid you'll fall out," he hastened to explain. She made no
reply, and if she smiled he did not know it.

They climbed the slope on the other side of the bridge, and entered
upon the vast rolling prairie, whose dim swells rose and fell against
the stars. The roads were frightful--gullied with rain, and full of
bowlders on the hillsides. The darkness added a certain wild charm and
mystery to it all.

"How lonesome it seems! What a terrible place to live!" said Ida with a
shudder.

"Civilization hasn't made much of an impress here, that's sure. How
long has this prairie been settled?"

"'Bout twenty-two years," answered the driver; and, being started, he
prattled away, telling the story of his pitiful, tragic life--a life of
incessant toil and hardship. Men cheated and trampled upon him; society
and government ignored him; science and religion never knew him, and
cared nothing for him--and yet this atom bore it all with unapplauded
heroism.

There was something in his voice which made the hearts of his hearers
ache. Ida glanced up at Bradley now and then, at the most dramatic
points, and they seemed to grow nearer together in their sympathy.

"There's the schoolhouse," said the driver joyously, pointing at a dim
red light ahead. They had been riding for nearly an hour across the
treeless swells of prairie, and the wind had penetrated their very
blood. Ida was shivering, and Bradley was suffering with her out of
sympathy. He longed to fold her close in his arms and shield her from
the wind.

Suddenly the schoolhouse loomed upon their eyes. It was a bare little
box, set on the wind-swept crest of a hill, not a tree to shelter it
from the winds of winter or the sun of summer. Teams were hitched about
at the fences, and others could be heard on the hard ground, clattering
along the lanes. Men coming across the fields on foot could be heard
talking. The plain seemed cold and desolate and illimitable.

Bradley helped Ida to alight, and hurried her towards the open door,
from which the hum of talk came forth. They found the room crammed with
men and women--the women all on one side of the room and the men as
decorously on the other, or standing about the huge cannon stove, that
was filled with soft coal, and sending out a flood of heat and gas.
They stopped talking when they saw the strangers enter, and gazed at
them curiously.

Then a tall man, with a military cut of beard, pushed his way forward.

"Good-evenin', Sisto' Wilboo, I'm right glad to see you."

"I am glad to see you, Brother Barker."

"I must apologize fo' not coming myself."

"This is Mr. Talcott," Ida interrupted, introducing Bradley.

"Glad to meet you, Brotho' Talcott. As I was sayin', Sisto' Wilboo, I
was late, and so I sent Brotho' Williams. I am ver' sawry"--

"Oh, no matter; we got here."

Colonel Barker introduced them to the people who stood near. The
crowded condition of the room did not allow of a general introduction,
although they all looked longingly at Ida, whom they knew by
reputation.

At first glance the effect was unpromising. Most of the men had their
hats on. All of them were fresh from the corn-fields, and their hands
were hard as leather, and cracked and seamed, and lumpy with great
muscles. Every man wore cots upon his fingers, which were rasped to the
quick with husking. Everyone had a certain unkempt look, and everywhere
color was in low tones: browns, grays, drabs; nothing light and gay
about dress or bearing. Bradley noticed a few girls in the middle
seats, but only a few.

It looked like an uncouth audience for Ida to address.

Colonel Barker called the meeting to order, and made an astonishingly
able and dignified speech. He then asked Brother Williams to say a
word.

Brother Williams was a middle-aged farmer with unkempt hair. His
clothes were faded to a russet brown; his collarless neck was like
wrinkled leather, and his fingers were covered with cots; but he was a
most impressive orator. His words were well chosen, and his gestures
dignified and appropriate. He spoke in a conversational way, but with
great power and sincerity. He ended by introducing "Sister Wilbur."

Ida began to speak in a low voice, as if talking to friends: "Brothers
and sisters, this is not the first time I've driven across the Western
prairies in a wagon to speak at such a meeting as this, and it isn't
the last time. I expect to continue to speak just as long as there is a
wrong to be righted, just as long as it does you good to have me come."

"That will be while you live," said the colonel gallantly.

"I hope not," she replied quickly. "I hope to see our reforms
established before the gray comes into my hair. If we are true to
ourselves; if our leaders are true to themselves; if they do not become
spoils of office"--she looked at Bradley, and the others followed her
glance; she saw her mistake, and colored a little as she went on--"if
they are true to their best convictions, and speak the new thoughts
that come to them, poverty will not increase her dominion."

She closed by saying: "We have with us tonight a very distinguished
young Congressman from Iowa,--the Honorable Mr. Talcott. I hope he will
feel like saying something to you."

While the people stamped and clapped hands, Ida went over to Bradley
and said: "You _must_ talk to them. Tell them just what you think."

Bradley rose. He would have done more had she asked it. He began by
speaking of the Grange and its decline, and of the apparent
hopelessness of expecting the farmers to remain united.

"I am not quite convinced the time has come for a political movement.
If I were, I'd join it, even though some of the planks in your platform
were objectionable, for I am a farmer. My people for generations have
been tillers of the soil. They have always been poor. All the blood in
my heart goes out, therefore, towards the farmer and the farmers'
movement. It seems a hopeless thing to fight the privileged classes,
with all their power and money. It can be done, but it can be done only
by union among all the poor of every class. Since coming to your State,
since day before yesterday, my mind has been changed. If I thought--if
I could believe--" As he paused he caught Ida's eyes shining into his,
and at the moment the one thing in all the world worth doing was to
follow her wish. "I do believe, and I'm with you from this time
forward." He ended there, but he stood for a moment numb, and tingling
with emotion. He had uttered a resolution which changed the course of
his life.

The people seemed to realize the importance of this confession on the
part of the speaker. There was a vibrant intensity in the tone of his
voice, which every listener felt, and they broke out in wild applause
as he abruptly ended and sat down.

Ida, with her eyes shining and wet, reached forward over the seat, and
clasped his hand and held it. "Glorious! Now you're with us, heart and
soul!" In their exaltation it did not occur to either of them what a
strange place this little schoolhouse was for such a far-reaching
compact.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Out under the coruscating skies again, into the crisp air! Bradley
turned and looked back upon the little schoolhouse, packed to
suffocation; it would always remain a memorable place in this wide
land.

"Oh, you've done them good--more than you can tell!" Ida said.

"I begin to believe it is the beginning of the greatest reform movement
in history," he said at last. "They are searching for the truth; and
whenever any great body of men search for the truth, they find it, and
the finding of it is tremendous. Its effect reaches every quarter of
the earth."

They mounted to their perilous seat once more, and moved out into the
night. The wind seemed to have gone down. There was a deep hush in the
air, as if the high stars listened in their illimitable spaces. The
plain seemed as lonely and as unlighted as the Arctic Ocean. Even the
barking of a farm-yard dog had a wolfish and savage suggestiveness.

They rode in silence. Ida sighed deeply. At last she said: "It's only
an incident with us. We go back to our pleasant and varied lives; they
go back to their lonely homes, and to their bleak corn-fields."

"But you have given them something to hope for, something to think of,"
Bradley said, seeking to comfort her.

"Yes, that is the only consolation I can get out of it. This movement
has come into their lives like a new religion. It _is_ a new
religion--the religion of humanity. It does help them to forget mud and
rain and cold and monotony."

Again Bradley's arm seemed necessary to her safety, but this time it
closed around her, strong and resolute, yet he dared not say a word. He
was not sure of her. It seemed impossible that this wonderful,
beautiful, and intellectual woman should care for him; and yet, when he
was speaking, her eyes had pleaded for him.

The driver talked on about the meeting, but his passengers were silent.
Under cover of listening they were both dreaming. Bradley was
forecasting his life, and wondering how much she would make up of it;
wondering if she would make more of it than she had of his past life.
How far off she had always seemed to him, and yet she had always been a
part of his inner life. Now she sat beside him, in the circle of his
arm, and yet she seemed hopelessly out of his reach. She liked him as a
friend and brother reformer--that was all. Besides, he had no right to
hope now, when his fortunes had become failures.

She was thinking of him. She was deeply gratified to think he had
entered the great movement, and that she had been instrumental in
converting him. Her heart warmed to him strangely for his honesty and
his sincerity; and then he was so fine and earnest and strong-limbed!
The pressure of his arm at her side moved her, and she smiled at
herself. Unlike Bradley, she was self-analytical; she knew what all
these things meant.

"There's the station," the driver broke out, indicating some colored
lights in the valley below them. "We're 'most home."

At his word a vision of the plain, and the significance of its life,
rushed over Ida--the serene majesty of the stars, the splendor and
unused wealth of the prairies, the barriers to their use, the limitless
robbery of the poor, in both city and country, the pathetic _homes_ of
the renter.

"Oh, the pathos, the tragedy of it all! Nature is so good and generous,
and poverty so universal. Can it be remedied? It _must_ be remedied.
Every thinking, sympathizing soul must help us."

Bradley's voice touched Ida deeply as he said, slowly: "Henceforward I
shall work for these people and all who suffer. My life shall be given
to this work."

A great, sudden resolution flashed into Ida's eyes. She lifted her face
to his and laid her hand on his and clasped it hard. There was a little
pause, in which, as if by some occult sense, their minds read each
other.

"We'll work _together_, Bradley," she said; and the driver did not see
the timid caress which Bradley put upon her lips as a sign of his
unspeakable great joy.



XXXII.

CONCLUSION.


One winter evening Ida and Bradley came out of their apartments on
Capitol Hill and struck into one of the winding walks which led
downward toward the city. It was the fourth week of the "short session"
of Bradley's term of office, and the tenth week since their marriage.
He still treated Ida with a certain timidity, and his adoration had
been increased rather than diminished by his daily association with
her. She seemed not to regret her compact with him, and though hardly
more demonstrative than he, she let him know how deeply she trusted and
loved him.

He was transformed by her influence. His life had regained direction
and certainty. No rebuff of the Speaker, no insult of a member, angered
him. He was always in his seat, ready, whenever opportunity offered, to
do battle against wrong knowing that Ida was watching him. Between
times he went with her about the city, and his quiet and dignified
attentions were a source of the keenest pleasure to her, he was so
unobtrusively serene and gentle in all things. They went often to the
theatre. They walked a great deal, and they were already marked figures
about the Hill, they were both so tall and strong and handsome.

They always passed through the Capitol grounds on their way down town,
for it gave them a little thrill of delight to pass the clumps of
trees. On this evening the grounds were specially beautiful. A heavy
fall of damp snow covered every twig and grass-blade. They walked
slowly down the winding path till they reached the open lawn just
before the western gate.

"Wait a moment, Bradley," said Ida. They turned to look back. The
untracked, unstained snow swept in undulating breadth to the deep
shadow of the great building, which rose against the sky as cold, as
seamless, as if it were cut from solid ice. The yellow flare of lamps
about its base only added to its austere majesty. It was at its best,
and Ida and Bradley looked up at it in silence, hearing the jingle of
bells, the soft voices of the negro drivers, the laughter of children
coasting on the mall, and the muffled roll of the "carettes."

"It is beautiful to-night," said Ida softly. "The building is like a
cloud."

"Yes, but I can't think of it without its antithesis, the home of the
workingman and the hut of the poor negro," Bradley replied.

They moved on again in silence. Darky newsboys, shivering with cold,
met them at every corner, holding out to them in their stiffened little
claws their "Styah papahs."

The avenue swarmed with sight-seers, mainly of the West and South.
Every hotel door was like the vent to a hive--black with comers and
goers. The old man with the cough medicine met them again. They could
repeat his singsong cry now, and with a little impulse of fun-making
Ida joined in with him: "_Doc-ter Fergusson's double-ex selly-brated,
Philadelphia cough drops, for coughs or colds, sore throat or
hoarseness; five cents a package._"

They soon struck into the gayer streams of people making their way
towards the theatre; and when they took their seats in the crowded
balcony, poverty was lost sight of.

"There! who says this is not a bright and gay world?" said Ida. "No
poor, no aged, no infirm, no cold or hungry people here."

"This is the bright side of the moon," replied Bradley gravely. They
looked around, and studied the people with a mental comparison with
other throngs they had seen on the far prairies of Kansas and Iowa.
There were girls with eyes full of liquid light, with dainty bonnets
nestling on their soft hair; their faces were like petals of flowers;
the curves of their chins were more beautiful than chalices of lilies;
their dresses, soft, shapely, of exquisite tones and texture, draped
their perfect bodies. Their slender fingers held gold-and-pearl opera
glasses. The young men who sat beside them wore the latest fashions in
clothing cut from the finest fabrics. Heavy men of brutal bulk slouched
beside their dainty daughters, the purple blotches on their bloated and
lumpy faces showing how politics or business had debauched and
undermined them. Everywhere was the rustle of drapery and soft, musical
speech. All that was lacking in "the round up" at Chiquita was
here--shining, fragrant, and rustling.

                     *      *      *      *      *

The curtain rose upon the fair in Nottinghamshire; and with the sweet
imaginative music as solvent and setting, the gay lads and lassies of
far romance sang and danced under the trees in garments upon which the
rain had never fallen, and unflecked with dust. Knights in splendid
dress of silver and green, with jewelled swords and gay sashes, came
and went, while the merry peasant youths circled and sang task-free and
sin-free.

The scene changed to Sherwood Forest; and there, in the land of Robin
Hood, where snow never falls, where rains never slant through the
shuddering leaves, the jocund foresters met to sing and drink October
ale. There came Little John and Will Scarlet and Alan-a-Dale in
glittering garments, with smooth, fair brows and tuneful voices, to
circle and sing. Fadeless and untarnished was each magnificent cloak
and doublet, slashed with green or purple; straight and fair and supple
was every back and limb. No marks of toil anywhere, no lines of care,
no hopeless hunger, no threatening task; nothing to do but to sing and
dance and drink after the hunt among the delightfully dry and
commodious forest wilds--a glorious, free life! A beautiful,
child-like, dream-like, pagan-like life!

As they looked, and while the music, tuneful, soft, and persuasive,
called to them, a shadow fell upon Ida. That world of care-free,
changeless youth, that world of love and comradeship, threw into
painful relief the actual world from which she came. It brought up with
terrible force the low cottage in the moaning pine forest of Wisconsin,
or the equally lonely cabin on the Kansas plain.

When the curtain fell, they rose and went sombrely out. When they
reached the street, Ida pressed Bradley's arm.

"Oh, it was beautiful, _painfully_ beautiful! Do you know what I mean?"

"Yes," replied Bradley simply.

"O Bradley! if we only could discover a land like that, to which all
the poor could go at once and be happy--a land of song and plenty, with
no greed and no grinding need!"

"Yes," Bradley sighed, "But I am afraid you and I will never again
taste anything sweet. There will always be a dash of bitter in it."

"Yes, we were born to feel others' cares. The worst of it is, we could
have that land in America if we only would. Our forefathers thought it
was coming, but instead of it"--She did not finish, and they walked on
in deep thought.

"Yes," said Bradley, "we could have it; but the way is long and weary,
and thousands and millions of us must die on the road, I am afraid."

As they walked on, Bradley could hear the occasional deep-sighing
breath of the heart-burdened woman beside him. Again they passed by the
cold and stately palace of the Government, lifting its dome against the
glittering sky. The moon had swung high into the air, giving a whiter
tinge to the blue, and dimming the brilliancy of the stars, but the
crusted snow sparkled like a cloth of diamonds, and each flake-burdened
branch took on unearthly charm. It was very still and peaceful and
remote, as if no city were near. They stood in silence until Ida
shivered with cold; then without a word Bradley touched her arm, and
they walked on.

When they entered their room, Ida sat down in a chair by the fire
without removing her things; and when Bradley came in from the hall she
still sat there, her eyes shaded by her hat, her chin resting on her
palm, her gloves in her lap. He knew her too well to interrupt her, and
took a seat near her, waiting for her to speak.

At last she turned abruptly, and said, "Bradley, I'm going home."

It made him catch his breath. "Oh, no, I can't let you do that, Ida."

"Yes, I must go; I can't stay here. That play to-night has wakened my
sleeping conscience. I must go back to the West."

"But, Ida, you've only been here four weeks; I don't see why"--

"Because my work calls me. I am cursed. I can't enjoy this life any
more, because I can't forget those poor souls on the lonely farms
grinding out their lives in gloomy toil; I must go back and help them.
I feel like a thief, to be living in this beautiful room and hearing
these plays and concerts, when _they_ are shut out from them."

Bradley experienced a sudden impulse of rebellion. "But we have done
our best, haven't we?"

"Yes, but we must continue to do our best right along; the battle is
only half won yet, and I've enlisted to the end. Besides," she said,
looking up at him with a faint smile, "I've got to go right into your
district and pave the way for your re-election. If you expect to do
your part here, I must do my part in electing you." She looked old and
care-worn. "You know how much good it does the poor wives and mothers
to meet me and to hear me. Now, we mustn't be selfish, dear. We must
not forget that neither of us was born to idleness. I have been very
happy here with you, but there is something of John the Baptist in me:
I must go forth and utter the word--the word of the Lord."

They fell into silence again, and Bradley, facing the fire, felt a
burning pain in his staring eyes. Her presence had been so
inexpressibly sweet and helpful he could not bear to let her go. And
yet he understood her feeling. Slowly through years of thought he had
grown, till now he was level with her altruistic conception of life.
When he spoke again it was in his apparently passionless way.

"All right, Ida. We enlisted for the whole war." He was able to smile a
little as he looked up at her. "My congressional career will soon end,
anyhow."

She rose and came to him and put her arm about his neck. "As a matter
of fact, you'll work better without me, Bradley, and your public career
must not end for many years. You must keep your place for my sake as
well as for the sake of the wronged--and also for the sake of--of our
children, Bradley." Her voice grew tremulous toward the end, and a look
of singular beauty came into her face.

Bradley looked up at her with a questioning, eager light in his eyes,
then his long left arm encircled her like a shield and drew her to his
knee.

"All that I am I owe to you. _Now_, nothing can defeat me!"


THE END.



THE SUCCESSOR TO "LOOKING BACKWARD."

_Equality._

BY EDWARD BELLAMY.

12mo. Cloth, $1.25.


After years of preparation Mr. Bellamy now puts forward a work which
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In this fresh and charming story, which in some respects recalls "The
Lilac Sunbonnet," Mr. Crockett returns to Galloway and pictures the
humor and pathos of the life which he knows so well.


_CLEG KELLY, ARAB OF THE CITY. His Progress and Adventures._
Illustrated.

"A masterpiece which Mark Twain himself has never rivaled.... If there
ever was an ideal character in fiction it is this heroic
ragamuffin."--_London Daily Chronicle._

"In no one of his books does Mr. Crockett give us a brighter or more
graphic picture of contemporary Scotch life than in 'Cleg Kelly.' ...
It is one of the great books."--_Boston Daily Advertiser._

"One of the most successful of Mr. Crockett's works."--_Brooklyn
Eagle._


_BOG-MYRTLE AND PEAT._ Third edition.

"Here are idyls, epics, dramas of human life, written in words that
thrill and burn.... Each is a poem that has an immortal flavor. They
are fragments of the author's early dreams, too bright, too gorgeous,
too full of the blood of rubies and the life of diamonds to be caught
and held palpitating in expression's grasp."--_Boston Courier._

"Hardly a sketch among them all that will not afford pleasure to the
reader for its genial humor, artistic local coloring, and admirable
portrayal of character."--_Boston Home Journal._

"One dips into the book anywhere and reads on and on, fascinated by the
writer's charm of manner."--_Minneapolis Tribune._


_THE LILAC SUNBONNET._ Eighth edition.

"A love story pure and simple, one of the old-fashioned, wholesome,
sun-shiny kind, with a pure-minded, sound-hearted hero, and a heroine
who is merely a good and beautiful woman; and if any other love story
half so sweet has been written this year, it has escaped our
notice."--_New York Times._

"The general conception of the story, the motive of which is the growth
of love between the young chief and heroine, is delineated with a
sweetness and a freshness, a naturalness and a certainty, which places
'The Lilac Sunbonnet' among the best stories of the time."--_New York
Mail and Express._

"In its own line this little love story can hardly be excelled. It is a
pastoral, an idyl--the story of love and courtship and marriage of a
fine young man and a lovely girl--no more. But it is told in so
thoroughly delightful a manner, with such playful humor, such delicate
fancy, such true and sympathetic feeling, that nothing more could be
desired."--_Boston Traveller._

                     *      *      *      *      *

New York: D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.



D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.


_THE STATEMENT OF STELLA MABERLY._ By F. ANSTEY, author of "Vice
Versa," "The Giant's Robe," etc. 16mo. Cloth, special binding, $1.25.

"Most admirably done.... We read fascinated, and fully believing every
word we read.... The book has deeply interested us, and even thrilled
us more than once."--_London Daily Chronicle._

"A wildly fantastic story, thrilling and impressive.... Has an air of
vivid reality,... of bold conception and vigorous treatment.... A very
noteworthy novelette."--_London Times._


_MARCH HARES._ By HAROLD FREDERIC, author of "The Damnation of Theron
Ware," "In the Valley," etc. 16mo. Cloth, special binding, $1.25.

"One of the most cheerful novels we have chanced upon for many a day.
It has much of the rapidity and vigor of a smartly written farce, with
a pervading freshness a smartly written farce rarely possesses.... A
book decidedly worth reading."--_London Saturday Review._

"A striking and original story,... effective, pleasing, and very
capable."--_London Literary World._


_GREEN GATES. An Analysis of Foolishness._ By Mrs. K. M. C. MEREDITH
(Johanna Staats), author of "Drumsticks," etc. 16mo. Cloth, $1.25.

"Crisp and delightful.... Fascinating, not so much for what it suggests
as for its manner, and the cleverly outlined people who walk through
its pages."--_Chicago Times-Herald._

"An original strain, bright and vivacious, and strong enough in its
foolishness and its unexpected tragedy to prove its sterling
worth."--_Boston Herald._


_AN IMAGINATIVE MAN._ By ROBERT S. HICHENS, author of "The Folly of
Eustace," "The Green Carnation," etc. 12mo. Cloth, $1.25.

"A study in character.... Just as entertaining as though it were the
conventional story of love and marriage. The clever hand of the author
of 'The Green Carnation' is easily detected in the caustic wit and
pointed epigram."--_Jeannette L. Gilder, in the New York World._


_CORRUPTION._ By PERCY WHITE, author of "Mr. Bailey-Martin," etc. 12mo.
Cloth, $1.25.

"A drama of biting intensity. A tragedy of inflexible purpose and
relentless result."--_Pall Mall Gazette._


_A HARD WOMAN._ A Story in Scenes. By VIOLET HUNT. 12mo. Cloth, $1.25.

"A good story, bright, keen, and dramatic.... It is out of the
ordinary, and will give you a new sensation."--_New York Herald._

                     *      *      *      *      *

New York: D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.



D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.

GILBERT PARKER'S BEST BOOKS.


_THE SEATS OF THE MIGHTY._ Being the Memoirs of Captain Robert Moray,
sometime an Officer in the Virginia Regiment, and afterwards of
Amherst's Regiment. 12mo. Cloth, illustrated, $1.50.

"Another historical romance of the vividness and intensity of 'The
Seats of the Mighty' has never come from the pen of an American. Mr.
Parker's latest work may, without hesitation, be set down as the best
he has done. From the first chapter to the last word interest in the
book never wanes; one finds it difficult to interrupt the narrative
with breathing space. It whirls with excitement and strange
adventure.... All of the scenes do homage to the genius of Mr. Parker,
and make 'The Seats of the Mighty' one of the books of the
year."--_Chicago Record._

"Mr. Gilbert Parker is to be congratulated on the excellence of his
latest story. 'The Seats of the Mighty,' and his readers are to be
congratulated on the direction which his talents have taken therein....
It is so good that we do not stop to think of its literature, and the
personality of Doltaire is a masterpiece of creative art."--_New York
Mail and Express._


_THE TRAIL OF THE SWORD._ A Novel. 12mo. Paper, 50 cents; cloth, $1.00.

"Mr. Parker here adds to a reputation already wide, and anew
demonstrates his power of pictorial portrayal and of strong dramatic
situation and climax."--_Philadelphia Bulletin._

"The tale holds the reader's interest from first to last, for it is
full of fire and spirit, abounding in incident, and marked by good
character drawing."--_Pittsburg Times._


_THE TRESPASSER._ 12mo. Paper, 50 cents; cloth, $1.00.

"Interest, pith, force, and charm--Mr. Parker's new story possesses all
these qualities.... Almost bare of synthetical decoration, his
paragraphs are stirring because they are real. We read at times--as we
have read the great masters of romance--breathlessly."--_The Critic._

"Gilbert Parker writes a strong novel, but thus far this is his
masterpiece.... It is one of the great novels of the year."--_Boston
Advertiser._


_THE TRANSLATION OF A SAVAGE._ 16mo. Flexible cloth, 75 cents.

"A book which no one will be satisfied to put down until the end has
been matter of certainty and assurance."--_The Nation._

"A story of remarkable interest, originality, and ingenuity of
construction."--_Boston Home Journal._

"The perusal of this romance will repay those who care for new and
original types of character, and who are susceptible to the fascination
of a fresh and vigorous style."--_London Daily News._

                     *      *      *      *      *

New York: D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.



D. APPLETON AND COMPANY'S PUBLICATIONS.

STEPHEN CRANE'S BOOKS.


_THE THIRD VIOLET._ 12mo. Cloth, $1.00.

Mr. Crane's new novel is a fresh and delightful study of artist life in
the city and the country. The theme is worked out with the author's
characteristic originality and force, and with much natural humor. In
subject the book is altogether different from any of its predecessors,
and the author's marked success proves his breadth and the versatility
of his great talent.


_THE LITTLE REGIMENT, and Other Episodes of the American Civil War._
12mo. Cloth, $1.00.

"In 'The Little Regiment' we have again studies of the volunteers
waiting impatiently to fight and fighting, and the impression of the
contest as a private soldier hears, sees, and feels it, is really
wonderful. The reader has no privileges. He must, it seems, take his
place in the ranks, and stand in the mud, wade in the river, fight,
yell, swear, and sweat with the men. He has some sort of feeling, when
it is all over, that he has been doing just these things. This sort of
writing needs no praise. It will make its way to the hearts of men
without praise."--_New York Times._

"Told with a _verve_ that brings a whiff of burning powder to one's
nostrils.... In some way he blazons the scene before our eyes, and
makes us feel the very impetus of bloody war."--_Chicago Evening Post._


_MAGGIE: A GIRL OF THE STREETS._ 12mo. Cloth, 75 cents.

"By writing 'Maggie' Mr. Crane has made for himself a permanent place
in literature.... Zola himself scarcely has surpassed its tremendous
portrayal of throbbing, breathing, moving life."--_New York Mail and
Express._

"Mr. Crane's story should be read for the fidelity with which it
portrays a life that is potent on this island, along with the best of
us. It is a powerful portrayal, and, if somber and repellent, none the
less true, none the less freighted with appeal to those who are able to
assist in righting wrongs."--_New York Times._


_THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. An Episode of the American Civil War._ 12mo.
Cloth, $1.00.

"Never before have we had the seamy side of glorious war so well
depicted.... The action of the story throughout is splendid, and all
aglow with color, movement, and vim. The style is as keen and bright as
a sword-blade, and a Kipling has done nothing better in this
line."--_Chicago Evening Post._

"There is nothing in American fiction to compare with it.... Mr. Crane
has added to American literature something that has never been done
before, and that is, in its own peculiar way, inimitable."--_Boston
Beacon._

"A truer and completer picture of war than either Tolstoy or
Zola."--_London New Review._

                     *      *      *      *      *

New York: D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.



D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.

MISS F. F. MONTRÉSOR'S BOOKS.


_FALSE COIN OR TRUE?_ 12mo. Cloth, $1.25.

"One of the few true novels of the day.... It is powerful, and touched
with a delicate insight and strong impressions of life and character....
The author's theme is original, her treatment artistic, and the book is
remarkable for its unflagging interest."--_Philadelphia Record._

"The tale never flags in interest, and once taken up will not be laid
down until the last page is finished."--_Boston Budget._

"A well-written novel, with well-depicted characters and well-chosen
scenes."--_Chicago News._

"A sweet, tender, pure, and lovely story."--_Buffalo Commercial._


_THE ONE WHO LOOKED ON._ 12mo. Cloth, $1.25.

"A tale quite unusual, entirely unlike any other, full of a strange
power and realism, and touched with a fine humor."--_London World._

"One of the most remarkable and powerful of the year's contributions,
worthy to stand with Ian Maclaren's."--_British Weekly._

"One of the rare books which can be read with great pleasure and
recommended without reservation. It is fresh, pure, sweet, and
pathetic, with a pathos which is perfectly wholesome."--_St. Paul
Globe._

"The story is an intensely human one, and it is delightfully told....
The author shows a marvelous keenness in character analysis, and a
marked ingenuity in the development of her story."--_Boston
Advertiser._


_INTO THE HIGHWAYS AND HEDGES._ 12mo. Paper, 50 cents; cloth, $1.00.

"A touch of idealism, of nobility of thought and purpose, mingled with
an air of reality and well-chosen expression, are the most notable
features of a book that has not the ordinary defects of such qualities.
With all its elevation of utterance and spirituality of outlook and
insight it is wonderfully free from overstrained or exaggerated matter,
and it has glimpses of humor. Most of the characters are vivid, yet
there are restraint and sobriety in their treatment, and almost all are
carefully and consistently evolved."--_London Athenæum._

"'Into the Highways and Hedges' is a book not of promise only, but of
high achievement. It is original, powerful, artistic, humorous. It
places the author at a bound in the rank of those artists to whom we
look for the skillful presentation of strong personal impressions of
life and character."--_London Daily News._

"The pure idealism of 'Into the Highways and Hedges' does much to
redeem modern fiction from the reproach it has brought upon itself....
The story is original, and told with great refinement."--_Philadelphia
Public Ledger._

                     *      *      *      *      *

New York: D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.



D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.


_SIR MARK._ A Tale of the First Capital. By ANNA ROBESON BROWN, 16mo.
Cloth, 75 cents.

"One could hardly imagine a more charming short historical tale.... It
is almost classic in its simplicity and dignity."--_Baltimore News._


_THE FOLLY OF EUSTACE._ By R. S. HICHENS, author of "An Imaginative
Man," "The Green Carnation," etc. 16mo. Cloth, 75 cents.

"In each of these stories the author of 'The Green Carnation' shows his
hand without intending to. There is the same cynicism, the same
epigrammatic wit. Among the new English story writers there are none
more brilliant than Mr. Hichens."--_Chicago Tribune._


_SLEEPING FIRES._ By GEORGE GISSING, author of "In the Year of Jubilee,"
"Eve's Ransom," etc. 16mo. Cloth, 75 cents.

"Intense, extremely well told, and full of discriminating study of life
and character."--_Buffalo Commercial._


_STONE PASTURES._ By ELEANOR STUART, 16mo. Cloth, 75 cents.

"This is a strong bit of good literary workmanship."--_Philadelphia
Public Ledger._


_COURTSHIP BY COMMAND._ By M. M. BLAKE. 16mo. Cloth, 75 cents.

"A bright, moving study of an unusually interesting period in the life
of Napoleon,... deliciously told; the characters are clearly, strongly,
and very delicately modeled, and the touches of color most artistically
done."--_N.Y. Commercial Advertiser._


_THE WATTER'S MOU'._ By BRAM STOKER. 16mo. Cloth, 75 cents.

"Here is a tale to stir the most sluggish nature.... It is like
standing on the deck of a wave-tossed ship; you feel the soul of the
storm go into your blood."--_New York Home Journal._


_MASTER AND MAN._ By Count LEO TOLSTOY. With an Introduction by W. D.
Howells. 16mo. Cloth, 75 cts.

"Reveals a wonderful knowledge of the workings of the human mind, and
it tells a tale that not only stirs the emotions, but gives us a better
insight into our own hearts."--_San Francisco Argonaut._


_THE ZEIT-GEIST._ By L. DOUGALL, author of "The Mermaid," "Beggars
All," etc. 16mo. Cloth, 75 cents.

"Powerful in conception, treatment, and influence."--_Boston Globe._

                     *      *      *      *      *

New York: D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.



D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.


_YEKL. A Tale of the New York Ghetto._ By A. CAHAN. Uniform with "The
Red Badge of Courage." 12mo. Cloth, $1.00.

"A new and striking tale; the charm, the verity, the literary quality
of the book depend upon its study of character, its 'local color,' its
revelation to Americans of a social state at their very doors of which
they have known nothing."--_New York Times._

"The story is a revelation to us. It is written in a spirited, breezy
way, with an originality in the telling of which is quite unexpected.
The dialect is striking in its truth to Nature."--_Boston Courier._

"Is in all probability the only true picture we have yet had of that
most densely populated spot on the face of the earth--the ghetto of the
metropolis, rather the metropolis of the ghettos of the world."--_New
York Journal._

"A series of vivid pictures of a strange people.... The people and
their social life the author depicts with marvelous success."--_Boston
Transcript._

"The reader will become deeply interested in Mr. Cahan's graphic
presentation of ghetto life in New York."--_Minneapolis Journal._

"A strong, quaint story."--_Detroit Tribune._

"Every feature of the book bears the stamp of truth.... Undoubtedly
'Yekl' has never been excelled as a picture of the distinctive life of
the New York ghetto."--_Boston Herald._


_THE SENTIMENTAL SEX._ By GERTRUDE WARDEN. 12mo. Cloth, $1.00.

"The cleverest book by a woman that has been published for months....
Such books as 'The Sentimental Sex' are exemplars of a modern cult that
will not be ignored."--_New York Commercial Advertiser._

"There is a well-wrought mystery in the story and some surprises that
preserve the reader's interest, and render it, when all is said, a
story of considerable charm."--_Boston Courier._

"An uncommonly knowing little book, which keeps a good grip on the
reader up to the last page.... The author's method of handling the plot
is adroit and original."--_Rochester Herald._

"Miss Warden has worked out her contrasts very strikingly, and tells
her story in a cleverly flippant way, which keeps the reader on the qui
vive for the cynical but bright sayings she has interspersed."--_Detroit
Free Press._

"The story forms an admirable study. The style is graphic, the plot
original and cleverly wrought out."--_Philadelphia Evening Bulletin._

                     *      *      *      *      *

New York: D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.



D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.


THE STORY OF THE WEST SERIES.

Edited by Ripley Hitchcock.

"There is a vast extent of territory lying between the Missouri River
and the Pacific coast which has barely been skimmed over so far. That
the conditions of life therein are undergoing changes little short of
marvelous will be understood when one recalls the fact that the first
white male child born in Kansas is still living there; and Kansas is by
no means one of the newer States. Revolutionary indeed has been the
upturning of the old condition of affairs, and little remains thereof,
and less will remain as each year goes by, until presently there will
be only tradition of the Sioux and Comanches, the cowboy life, the wild
horse, and the antelope. Histories, many of them, have been written
about the Western country alluded to, but most if not practically all
by outsiders who knew not personally that life of kaleidoscopic
allurement. But ere it shall have vanished forever we are likely to
have truthful, complete, and charming portrayals of it produced by men
who actually knew the life and have the power to describe it."--_Henry
Edward Rood, in the Mail and Express._


_NOW READY._

_THE STORY OF THE INDIAN._ By GEORGE BIRD GRINNELL, author of "Pawnee
Hero Stories," "Black-foot Lodge Tales," etc. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

"In every way worthy of an author who, as an authority upon the Western
Indians, is second to none. A book full of color, abounding in
observation, and remarkable in sustained interest, it is at the same
time characterized by a grace of style which is rarely to be looked
for in such a work, and which adds not a little to the charm of
it."--_London Daily Chronicle._

"Only an author qualified by personal experience could offer us a
profitable study of a race so alien from our own as is the Indian in
thought, feeling, and culture. Only long association with Indians can
enable a white man measurably to comprehend their thoughts and enter
into their feelings. Such association has been Mr. Grinnell's."--_New
York Sun._


_THE STORY OF THE MINE._ By CHARLES HOWARD SHINN. Illustrated. 12mo.
Cloth, $1.50.

"The author has written a book, not alone full of information, but
replete with the true romance of the American mine."--_New York Times._

"Few chapters of recent history are more fascinating than that which
Mr. Shinn has told in 'The Story of the Mine.'"--_The Outlook._

"Both a history and a romance.... Highly interesting, new, and
thrilling."--_Philadelphia Inquirer._


_IN PREPARATION._

The Story of the Trapper. By GILBERT PARKER.
The Story of the Cowboy. By E. HOUGH.
The Story of the Soldier. By Capt. J. MCB. STEMBEL, U.S.A.
The Story of the Explorer.
The Story of the Railroad.

                     *      *      *      *      *

New York: D. APPLETON & CO. 82 Fifth Avenue.



D. APPLETON AND COMPANY'S PUBLICATIONS.


_IN JOYFUL RUSSIA._ By JOHN A. LOGAN, Jr. With 50 Illustrations in
color and black and white. 12mo. Cloth, $3.50.

"Of extreme interest from beginning to end. Mr. Logan has animation of
style, good spirits, a gift of agreeable and enlivening expression, and
a certain charm which may be called companionableness. To travel, with
him must have been a particular pleasure. He has sense of humor, a way
of getting over rough places, and understanding of human nature. There
is not a dull chapter in his book."--_New York Times._

"Mr. Logan has written of the things which he saw with a fullness that
leaves nothing to be desired for their comprehension; with an eye that
was quick to perceive their novelty, their picturesqueness, their
national significance, and with a mind not made up beforehand--frankly
open to new impressions, alert in its perceptions, reasonable in its
judgment, manly, independent, and, like its environments, filled with
holiday enthusiasm."--_New York Mail and Express._

"No more fresh, original, and convincing picture of the Russian people
and Russian life has appeared.... The author has described picturesquely
and in much detail whatever he has touched upon.... Few books of travel
are at once so readable and so informing, and not many are so
successfully illustrated; for the pictures tell a story of their own,
while they also interpret to the eye a vivid narrative."--_Boston
Herald._

"A chronicle of impressions gathered during a brief and thoroughly
enjoyed holiday by a man with eyes wide open and senses alert to see
and hear new things. Thoroughly successful and well worth perusal....
There will be found within its pages plenty to instruct and entertain
the reader."--_Brooklyn Eagle._

"The book is a historical novelty; and nowadays a more valuable
distinction can not be attached to a book.... No other book of travels
of late years is so unalterably interesting."--_Boston Journal._

"Mr. Logan's narrative is spirited in tone and color.... A volume that
is entertaining and amusing, and not unworthy to be called instructive.
The style is at all times lively and spirited, and full of good
humor."--_Philadelphia Press._

"Mr. Logan has a quick eye, a ready pen, a determination to make the
most of opportunities, and his book is very interesting.... He has made
a thoroughly readable book in which history and biography are brought
in to give one a good general impression of affairs."--_Hartford Post._

"Mr. Logan has presented in attractive language, reenforced by many
beautiful photographs, a most entertaining narrative of his personal
experiences, besides a dazzling panorama of the coronation
ceremonies.... Read without prejudice on the subject of the Russian
mode of government, the book is unusually able, instructive, and
entertaining."--_Boston Globe._

"Mr. Logan departs from the usual path, in telling in clear, simple,
good style about the intimate life of the Russian people."--_Baltimore
Sun._

                     *      *      *      *      *

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK.



D. APPLETON AND CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.


_THE BEGINNERS OF A NATION._ A History of the Source and Rise of the
Earliest English Settlements in America, with Special Reference to the
Life and Character of the People. The first volume in A History of Life
in the United States. By EDWARD EGGLESTON. Small 8vo. Cloth, gilt top,
uncut, with Maps, $1.50.

"Few works on the period which it covers can compare with this in point
of mere literary attractiveness, and we fancy that many to whom its
scholarly value will not appeal will read the volume with interest and
delight."--_New York Evening Post._

"Written with a firm grasp of the theme, inspired by ample knowledge,
and made attractive by a vigorous and resonant style, the book will
receive much attention. It is a great theme the author has taken up,
and he grasps it with the confidence of a master."--_New York Times._

"Mr. Eggleston's 'Beginners' is unique. No similar historical study
has, to our knowledge, ever been done in the same way. Mr. Eggleston
is a reliable reporter of facts; but he is also an exceedingly keen
critic. He writes history without the effort to merge the critic in the
historian. His sense of humor is never dormant. He renders some of the
dullest passages in colonial annals actually amusing by his witty
treatment of them. He finds a laugh for his readers where most of his
predecessors have found yawns. And with all this he does not sacrifice
the dignity of history for an instant."--_Boston Saturday Evening
Gazette._

"The delightful style, the clear flow of the narrative, the
philosophical tone, and the able analysis of men and events will
commend Mr. Eggleston's work to earnest students."--_Philadelphia
Public Ledger._

"The work is worthy of careful reading, not only because of the
author's ability as a literary artist, but because of his conspicuous
proficiency in interpreting the causes of and changes in American life
and character."--_Boston Journal._

"It is noticeable that Mr. Eggleston has followed no beaten track, but
has drawn his own conclusions as to the early period, and they differ
from the generally received version not a little. The book is
stimulating and will prove of great value to the student of
history."--_Minneapolis Journal._

"A very interesting as well as a valuable book.... A distinct advance
upon most that has been written, particularly of the settlement of New
England."--_Newark Advertiser._

"One of the most important books of the year. It is a work of art as
well as of historical science, and its distinctive purpose is to give
an insight into the real life and character of people.... The author's
style is charming, and the history is fully as interesting as a
novel."--_Brooklyn Standard-Union._

"The value of Mr. Eggleston's work is in that it is really a history of
'life,' not merely a record of events.... The comprehensive purpose of
his volume has been excellently performed. The book is eminently
readable."-_-Philadelphia Times._

                     *      *      *      *      *

New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.



D. APPLETON AND COMPANY'S PUBLICATIONS.


RUDYARD KIPLING'S NEW BOOK.

_THE SEVEN SEAS._ A new volume of poems by Rudyard Kipling, author of
"Many Inventions," "Barrack-Room Ballads," etc. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50;
half calf, $3.00; morocco, $5.00.

"The spirit and method of Kipling's fresh and virile song have taken
the English reading world.... When we turn to the larger portion of
'The Seven Seas,' how imaginative it is, how impassioned, how superbly
rhythmic and sonorous!... The ring and diction of this verse add new
elements to our song.... The true laureate of Greater Britain."--_E.
C. Stedman, in the Book Buyer._

"The most original poet who has appeared in his generation.... His is
the lustiest voice now lifted in the world, the clearest, the bravest,
with the fewest false notes in it.... I do not see why, in reading his
book, we should not put ourselves in the presence of a great poet
again, and consent to put off our mourning for the high ones lately
dead."--_W. D. Howells._

"The new poems of Mr. Rudyard Kipling have all the spirit and swing of
their predecessors. Throughout they are instinct with the qualities
which are essentially his, and which have made, and seem likely to
keep, for him his position and wide popularity."--_London Times._

"He has the very heart of movement, for the lack of which no metrical
science could atone. He goes far because he can."--_London Academy._

"'The Seven Seas' is the most remarkable book of verse that Mr. Kipling
has given us. Here the human sympathy is broader and deeper, the
patriotism heartier and fuller, the intellectual and spiritual insight
keener, the command of the literary vehicle more complete and sure,
than in any previous verse work by the author. The volume pulses with
power--power often rough and reckless in expression, but invariably
conveying the effect intended. There is scarcely a line which does not
testify to the strong individuality of the writer."--_London Globe._

"If a man holding this volume in his hands, with all its extravagance
and its savage realism, is not aware that it is animated through and
through with indubitable genius--then he must be too much the slave
of the conventional and the ordinary to understand that Poetry
metamorphoses herself in many diverse forms, and that its one sovereign
and indefeasible justification is--truth."--_London Daily Telegraph._

"'The Seven Seas' is packed with inspiration, with humor, with pathos,
and with the old unequaled insight into the mind of the rank and
file."--_London Daily Chronicle._

"Mr. Kipling's 'The Seven Seas' is a distinct advance upon his
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                     *      *      *      *      *

New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.



D. APPLETON AND COMPANY'S PUBLICATIONS.


_WAGES AND CAPITAL._ An Examination of the Wages Fund Doctrine. By F.
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                     *      *      *      *      *

New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.



Transcriber's Notes


Introduction

Welcome to Doctrine Publishing Corporation's edition of A Spoil of Office by Hamlin
Garland. A scanned copy of this book is available on Hathitrust courtesy
of Cornell University. For background on the themes of this novel, such
as the Grange and the People's Party, please see The Agrarian Crusade by
Solon Buck, a volume from the Chronicles of America series produced by
Yale University in the public domain.

We have made the following emendations to the text:

Contents:

The Chapter Title at the beginning of each chapter should match the
chapter title in the table of contents. What likely happened was that
the chapter titles were updated, but not the table of contents. In any
event, this was the assumption that was made. Therefore, the following
chapter titles were emended in the table of contents:

Ch 2: Change oak to oaks in
      THE DINNER UNDER THE OAKS.
Ch 4: Add Bradley's to
      BRADLEY'S TRIALS AT SCHOOL.
Ch 8: Change attacks to offends in
      BRADLEY OFFENDS NETTIE'S FATHER.
Ch 14: Change his politics to
      BRADLEY CHANGES HIS POLITICAL VIEWS.
Ch 18: Add quotes to
      "DON'T BLOW OUT THE GAS."
Ch 30: Change The great round-up at Chiquita to
      THE GREAT ROUND UP.
Ch 32: Remove Washington again from
      CONCLUSION.


Chapter 1

Page 10: In the paragraph beginning with You may talk about legislative
corruption, these are several double quotes inside of double quotes.
These were changed to single quotes, just like a similarly-structured
paragraph on page 61:

   •    "Now you're getting at it,"
   •    "That's right,"
   •    "That's a fact."


Chapter 5

Page 61: Remove double quote after ('Oh, go roam the wild wood.')


Chapter 7:

Page 88: The call has a lead quote in the body of the message and no
ending quote. One way to resolve is to use quotes similar to the way
Ida's first letter to Bradley is presented, on Page 157. Another way is
to remove the leading quote and present the letter like Bradley's letter
to Ida on Page 308. The latter solution seemed like the way to go.

Page 88: Change All the samee to All the same.

Page 90: Change to Contrary minds, "No! It's a vote." The speaker is
contrary minds, and what is spoken is surrounded by matched quotes. The
original text had a single quote instead of a double quote before No,
and did not have a comma.


Chapter 10:

Page 111: Add missing period after career.


Chapter 15:

Page 170: Change period to question mark in How's Mrs. Brown. In the
short story Lucretia Burns from Prarie Folks and Other Main Traveled
Roads, Garland wrote How is Mrs. Burns! where a question mark seemed
appropriate. When the short story first appeared in the earlier edition
of Prarie Folks, there was a question mark after Burns. Garland changed
the punctuation for the later release of Prarie Folks. The implication
is that the tone of the speaker may override what is said in determining
the punctuation. Or maybe Garland just made an error, both there and
here. We treated the period on Page 170 as errata and changed the text.


Chapter 16:

Page 189: Text has a space between campaign 'll, and this was retained.

Page 194: Change or to of in and the question or reducing the surplus in
the treasury.

Page 194: there is space for an apostrophe between we ll in the sentence
If he does, all is we ll have to build a party up to his principle, for
he'll be right, Colonel; there's no two ways about that.  We put in the
apostrophe.


Chapter 21:

Page 245: Remove closing quote after replied in "... Paris," she
replied.

Chapter 24:

Page 278: Change your're to you're in And so your're a congressman,
Talcott?

Chapter 28:

Page 322: Text has a space between Lord 'll, and this was retained.





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