From across the lobby Charles Norton had watched Randolph’s discomfiting encounter with Haines with amusement.
“Now that I’ve got the young fellow to sew up his old man’s money in Altacoola land,” he chuckled, “reckon Senator William H. Langdon won’t see anything wrong with that same noble tract of universe when he comes to vote for the naval base. Senator Stevens will be pleased.”
“Just the man we need”
As Bud Haines returned from young Langdon’s room, where he had left the latter in bed, with a towel filled with cracked ice around his head, he saw two familiar figures standing in a secluded corner of the lobby. They were talking earnestly in a low voice.
“Whew!” whistled the newspaper man. “It must be something important that brings both the boss of the Senate and Stevens of Mississippi here.”
“Good-afternoon, Haines. How are you?” Senator Stevens said, cordially, as, looking up, he saw the newspaper man approaching. “Senator Peabody, you know Haines, don’t you? The brightest young correspondent in Washington.”
Senator Peabody of Pennsylvania, the leading power in the upper house, was a man of commanding character and of strong personality. The fact he used these attributes to advance in the Senate the financial interests of himself, of Standard Steel and other commercial organizations met with very little protest in Washington. That he deserved the title frequently used in referring to him, “boss of the Senate,” none would deny who had knowledge of the inner workings of the Senate and the various committees.
Senator Peabody was very affable to the reporters, especially to those of Haines’ stamp, who had never accepted any favors from him and who opposed his methods. He aimed to win the friendship of these opponents by diplomacy—as he had found that reporters of the Haines sort could not be influenced by money. He considered a reporter who would take a bribe as a constructive, conservative member of society, and frequently regretted that so many of the correspondents sent to Washington could not be bought nor had bills they wanted passed or defeated. He extended his hand to Haines as Stevens concluded and said, warmly:
“Of course I know the representative of the Morning Star! How do you do, Haines?”
“I wonder if we’re not all here on the same errand,” suggested the newspaper man.
Senator Peabody appeared to be all candor.
“We came to call on Senator Langdon, Senator Stevens’ new colleague,” he said.
Bud Haines opened his eyes wide. “By Jove! Langdon stock is going up when the chairman of the naval committee drops in to welcome him.”
“You see, Langdon went in on a naval base platform,” explained Stevens. “Our section of the South is red hot in favor of the Government spending its naval base appropriation right there.”