The Iron Game eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 420 pages of information about The Iron Game.

CHAPTER IV.

Guelph and GHIBELLINE.

The shifting of Jack’s company to the regimental camp in Warchester left a broad gap in the lines of the social life of Acredale.  Jack’s going alone, to say nothing of the others, would have eclipsed the gayety of many home groups besides his own, in which the Sprague primacy in a social sense was acknowledged.  Since the influx of the new-made rich, under the stimulus of the war and Acredale’s advantages as a resort, there were a good many who disputed the Sprague leadership—­tacitly conceded rather than asserted.  Chief of the dissidents was Elisha Boone, who, by virtue of longer tenure, vast wealth, and political precedence, divided not unequally the homage paid the patrician family.  Boone was fond of speaking of himself as a “self-made man,” and the satirical were not slow to add that he had no other worship than his “creator.”  This was a gibe made rather for the antithesis than its accuracy, for even Boone’s enemies owned that he was a good neighbor, and, where his prejudices were not in question, a man with few distinctly repellent traits.  He delighted in showing his affluence—­not always in good taste.  He filled his fine house with bizarre crowds, and made no stint to his friends who needed his purse or his influence.  He had in the early days when he came to Acredale aspired to political leadership in the Democratic party.

But Senator Sprague was too firmly enshrined in the loyalty of the district to be overcome by the parvenu’s manoeuvres or his money.  His ambition in time turned to rancor as he marked the patrician’s disdainful disregard of his (Boone’s) efforts to supplant him.  Hatred of the Spragues became something like a passion in Boone.  Sarcasms and disparagement leveled at his social and political pretensions he attributed to the Senator and his family.  All sorts of slurs and gossip were reported to him by busybodies, until it became a settled purpose with Boone to make the Sprague family feel heavy heart-burnings for the sum of the affronts he had endured.  It was to them he attributed the whispered gibes about his illiteracy; his shady business methods; the awful story of his handiwork in the ruin of Richard Perley, the spendthrift brother of the Misses Perley.  Once, too, when he had so well manipulated the district delegates that he was sure of nomination in the convention, Senator Sprague had hurried home from Washington and defeated him just as the prize was in his grasp.  The Senator made a speech to the delegates, in which he pointedly declared that it was men of honor and brains, not men of money, that should be chosen to make the laws.

“The time will come, Senator, that you’ll be sorry for this hour’s work,” Boone said, joining Sprague at the door as he was leaving the hall.

“How’s that?” the other asked, with just the shade of superciliousness in the tone admired in the Senate for suavity.  “I hope I am always sorry when I do wrong, in speech or act; I teach my children to be.”

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The Iron Game from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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