“Anyway, your idea is not constitutional, Langdon,” continued Peabody. “You want everybody to have a share in the national government. That wouldn’t meet the theory of centralization woven into our political system by its founders. They intended that our Government should be controlled by a limited number of representatives, so that authority can be fixed and responsibility ascertained.”
“You distort my meaning!” cried Langdon. “And, Senator, I would like to ask why so many high-priced constitutional lawyers who enter Congress spend so much time in placing the Constitution of the United States between themselves and their duty, sir, between the people and their Government, sir, between the nation and its destiny? I want to know if in your opinion the Constitution was designed to throttle expression of the public will?”
“Of course not. That’s the reason you and I, Langdon, and the others are elected to the Senate,” added Peabody, starting to leave. Then he halted. “By the way, Senator,” he said, “I’ll do my best to arrange what you want regarding aluminium hydrates for the sake of the South, and I’ll also stand with you for Altacoola for the naval base. Our committee is to make its report to-morrow.”
Langdon observed the penetrating gaze that Peabody had fixed on him. It seemed to betray that the Pennsylvanian’s apparently careless manner was assumed.
“H’m!” coughed Langdon, glancing at Haines. “I’m not absolutely committed to Altacoola until I’m sure it’s the best place. I’ll make up my mind to-day definitely, and I think it will be for Altacoola.”
The boss of the Senate went out, glaring venomously at Haines, slamming the door.
A moment later a page boy brought in a card. “Colonel J.D. Telfer, Gulf City,” read the Senator.
“Bud,” he remarked to the secretary, “I’m going to send my old acquaintance, Telfer, Mayor of Gulf City, in here for you to talk to. He’ll want to know about his town’s chances for being chosen as the naval base. I must hurry away, as I have an appointment with my daughters and Mrs. Spangler before going before ways and means.”
[Illustration: The senator accepts an invitation to tea.]
On the trail of the “Insiders”
Colonel J.D. Telfer (J.D. standing for Jefferson Davis, he explained proudly to Haines) proved a warm advocate of the doubtful merits of Gulf City as a hundred-million-dollar naval base. His flushed face grew redder, his long white hair became disordered, and he tugged at his white mustache continually as he waxed warmer in his efforts to impress the Senator’s secretary.
“I tell you, Mr. Haines, Gulf City, sah, leads all the South when it comes to choosin’ ground fo’ a naval base. Her vast expanse of crystal sea, her miles upon miles of silvah sands, sah, protected by a natural harbor and th’ islands of Mississippi Sound, make her th’ only spot to be considered. She’s God’s own choice and the people’s, too, for a naval base.”