“And sometimes put the big apples at the top of the barrel,” nodded Mr. Caldwell.
“And sometimes put too much salt on top of the butter,” I added—“all that, but on the whole we get only what we earn by the hard daily work of ploughing and planting and reaping: You admit that.”
“I admit it,” said Mr. Caldwell.
“And we’ve got the impression that a good many of the men down in New York and Boston, and elsewhere, through the advantages which the tariff laws, and other laws, are giving them, are getting more than they earn—a lot more. And we feel that laws must be passed which will prevent all that.”
“Now, I believe that, too,” said Mr. Caldwell very earnestly.
“Then we belong to the same party,” I said. “I don’t know what the name of it is yet, but we both belong to it.”
Mr. Caldwell laughed.
“And I’ll appoint you,” I said, “my agent in Washington to work out the changes in the laws.”
“Well, I’ll accept the appointment,” said Mr. Caldwell—continuing very earnestly, “if you’ll trust to my honesty and not expect too much of me all at once.”
With that we both sat back in our chairs and looked at each other and laughed with the greatest good humour and common understanding.
“And now,” said I, rising quickly, “let’s go and get a drink of buttermilk.”
So we walked around the house arm in arm and stopped in the shade of the oak tree which stands near the spring-house. Harriet came out in the whitest of white dresses, carrying a tray with the glasses, and I opened the door of the spring-house, and felt the cool air on my face and smelt the good smell of butter and milk and cottage cheese, and I passed the cool pitcher to Harriet. And so we drank together there in the shade and talked and laughed.
I walked down with Mr. Caldwell to the gate. He took my arm and said to me:
“I’m glad I came out here and had this talk. I feel as though I understood my job better for it.”
“Let’s organize a new party,” I said, “let’s begin with two members, you and I, and have only one plank in the platform.”
“You’d have to crowd a good deal into that one plank,” he said.
“Not at all,” I responded.
“What would you have it?”
“I’d have it in one sentence,” I said, “and something like this: We believe in the passage of legislation which shall prevent any man taking from the common store any more than he actually earns.”
Mr. Caldwell threw up his arms.
“Mr. Grayson,” he said, “you’re an outrageous idealist.”
“Mr. Caldwell,” I said, “you’ll say one of these days that I’m a practical politician.”
* * * * *
“Well, Harriet,” I said, “he’s got my vote.”
“Well, David,” said Harriet, “that’s what he came for.”
“It’s an interesting world, Harriet,” I said.