“Wish you’d think about it for yourself,” observed the Senator, while Hope Georgia again nodded approval. “It would be a hard job. There are so many matters of political detail about which I am sadly inexperienced that really most of the work would fall on the secretary.”
Bud Haines paused. Again he thought over Langdon’s offer. Its genuineness appealed to him. Suddenly there dawned on him an idea of just what it might mean to be associated with this honest old citizen who had asked for his help—who needed it, as Haines knew only too well. He would be the Senator’s guide and confidant—his adviser in big matters. Why, he would practically be United States Senator himself. He knew the “inside” as few others in Washington. Here was a chance to match his wit against that of Peabody, the boss of the Senate; a chance to spoil some of the dishonest schemes of those who were adroitly “playing the game.” He could bother, too, the intriguing members of the “third house,” as the lobbyists are called.
He could direct a lightning bolt into the camp of Andy Corrigan, who claimed the honor of being “speaker of the third house.” These thoughts crowded into his mind. Then, too, he would become practically a member of the Langdon family and have association with the two charming daughters—with Carolina Langdon.
“It would be a great chance,” he murmured half aloud; “next thing to being a Senator.”
The old Mississippian heard the young man’s words.
“I reckon it would,” he drawled, in agreement.
“You feel sure you want me?” urged the other.
“I asked you,” he said.
Haines came abruptly to decision.
“I’ve thought it over, Senator, and it seems to me it will be a great chance in every way. I’ll accept. We’ll fix it up to-morrow, and I’ll try to make you a good secretary.”
Langdon held forth his hand.
“And I’ll try to make you a good Senator, my boy. Fix up nothing to-morrow. Your duties begin to-night. You are to come to dinner with me and my daughters.”
A NEW KIND OF POLITICAL PARTNERSHIP
The combination of the forces of Langdon and Haines did not find much favor among the powers that are—at the Capitol. Senator Peabody peremptorily demanded an explanation from Stevens as to how he had allowed “his Senator” to engage as his secretary “this inquisitive man Haines, a reporter who didn’t know his place.”
“Here we’ve put Langdon on naval affairs because we knew he didn’t understand what’s going on, and you, Stevens, supposed to be the finished, product of the political mill, you fall asleep and let him take up a man whom nobody can control, one who knows the inside workings of Washington and who will take par-tic-u-lar pleasure in teaching your fellow Mississippian far too much for our good.”