“Now, you two men stay still one moment, and I’ll tell you what really will happen to-morrow,” he exploded, “and I’m only a beginner in the game that’s your specialty. The naval base is going to Altacoola—”
“Good!” simultaneously cried both Peabody and Stevens. “You’re coming in with us?”
“No, I’m not, but I’ll pass the bill so that nobody makes a cent, just as I said I would. I’ll fool you both and make you both honest for once in spite of your natural dispositions.”
Stevens and the Pennsylvanian stared at each other in disgust.
“Furthermore,” continued Langdon, “Altacoola must have the base because I’ve known for some time that Gulf City was impossible. But some crooked Senators would have made money if they’d known it, so they didn’t learn it. Altacoola, that proud arm of our great gulf, will have those battleships floating on her broad bosom and the country will be the better off, and so will the sovereign State of Mississippi—God bless it—but neither Senator Peabody of Pennsylvania nor Senator Stevens of Mississippi is going to be any better because of it. No, and if you men come to my committee room at 12:30 to-morrow noon you’ll have a chance to hear how all that’s coming about. If you are not there by that time I’ll bring in a minority report in favor of Gulf City, just to show you that I know how to play the game—this Washington game—”
“Come, let’s go. We can do nothing with him,” said Peabody to the senior Senator from Mississippi.
“Well, Senator, in the name of goodness, what are you going to do? How can you win for Altacoola without letting these grafters make money out of it?” asked Haines in astonishment as the other two walked away. “What are you going to do at 12:30 to-morrow?”
Langdon turned to him and rolled his eyes toward the ceiling despairingly.
“I’m blamed if I know!” he exclaimed.
[Illustration: “To-morrow at 12:30.”]
LOBBYISTS—AND ONE IN PARTICULAR
Washington has known many lobbyists in its time, and it keeps on knowing them. The striking increase in legislation that aims to restrict unlawful or improper practices in business, the awakening of the public conscience, has caused a greater demand than ever for influence at the national capital, for these restrictive measures must be either killed or emasculated to a point of uselessness by that process which is the salvation of many a corrupt manipulator, the process of amendment.