“You’re right, I reckon, Carolina,” said Norton, dejectedly. “Your father is a real type of the Southern gentleman. He hasn’t seen any real money in so long he can’t even bear to think of it. Somebody’s got to make money out of this, and we should be the ones.”
“We’d lose frightfully, Charlie, if they changed to Gulf City, wouldn’t we?” said the girl, apprehensively. “I’m horribly afraid sometimes, Charlie. That’s why I came here to-day. I wanted to influence Haines, to keep him straight. Is there any danger that they’ll change? You don’t think there is, do you?”
“Of course not, child. Stevens has got his money in, and Peabody. There are only five on the committee. It’s bound to go through.”
“Then why is father so important to them?” asked Carolina.
“It’s past my understanding, Carolina. I don’t see how he’s done it, but the whole country has come to believe whatever your father does is right, and they’ve got to have him.”
“And father is completely under the domination of this secretary,” murmured the girl, thoughtfully.
“We’ve got to get rid of him, Carolina. That’s all there is to it. He has to go! When it comes to bossing the Senator and making love to you, too, he’s getting too strong.”
“How can you do it?” she asked. “You know when father likes any one he won’t believe a thing against him.”
Norton agreed, sorrowfully.
“That’s right. Seems like the Senator’s coming to think more of this fellow than he does of his own family. Why, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d even let one of you girls marry him if he wanted to marry you.”
“We’d have something to say about that,” Carolina laughed, amusedly. “Do you think that Hope or I could ever care for a man like this fellow? Of course not. This Altacoola business must go through right. It would be too cruel not to have it so. And then—”
“And then you and I’ll be married at once, Carolina, whether your father likes it or not,” ended Norton for her. “With Altacoola safe, we can do as we please, as between us we’ll be rich. What does it matter how we get the money, as long as we get it?”
WHEN A DAUGHTER BETRAYS HER FATHER
Bud returned to find Miss Langdon and Norton still in the room. New buoyancy, new courage, thrilled in his veins. He would give this Congressman the battle of his life for this prize, of that he was confident.
“I have an engagement with Mrs. Holcomb, Senator Holcomb’s wife,” she said, “so I must hurry away, but I expect to be back to see father.”
“I think I’ll just wait,” suggested Norton. “I have to see the Senator as soon as possible, and he ought to return from that ways and means committee meeting pretty soon.”
When Carolina had gone a slight feeling of constraint settled over the two.