“Senator Langdon,” he said, “I’m beaten. You’ve beaten the leader of the Senate, something difficult to believe. What’s more, you’ve given me the chance of a lifetime to become known as a public benefactor. As soon as you’ve finished your speech in the Senate I will get up and make another one—to second yours. Here’s my hand. Anything you may ever want out of Peabody in the future shall be yours for the asking.”
Langdon refused to grasp the proffered hand.
Senator Stevens made a show of protesting against his superior’s seeming surrender.
“But,” he objected, “look here—”
Peabody turned upon him instantly.
“Oh, shut up, Stevens; don’t be a fool. Come on in. The water’s fine.”
The pair of schemers, with Norton at their heels, turned away.
The Pennsylvanian drew Stevens into committee room 6 and, ordering the stenographer to leave, drew up chairs where both could sit, facing the door.
“We’ve thrown dust in that old gander’s eyes,” whispered Peabody. “It’s now ten after 1. He is to be recognized to make his speech at 3:30. That gives us two hours and twenty minutes—”
“Yes, but for what?” asked Stevens, excitedly. “I’ve been trying myself to think of something. What will you do—what can you do?”
“The boss of the Senate” smiled patronizingly on the senior Senator from Mississippi, as though amused and scornful of his limitations as a strategist, as a tenacious fighter. Then his jaw set hard, and his brows contracted.
“I will not do anything. I cannot do anything”—he hesitated a full ten seconds—“but Jake Steinert can.”
Stevens’ hands twitched nervously.
“And,” continued Peabody, “I’m expecting a ’phone call from him any moment. I told him this morning that he might be able to make $1,000 before night if—”
The telephone bell at the desk interrupted him.
Peabody leaned over and eagerly clutched the receiver.
The senior Senator from Mississippi jerked himself to his feet. He stood at a window and looked out over the roof tops of the city.
MRS. SPANGLER GIVES A LUNCHEON
When Senators Peabody and Stevens had gone Langdon and Bud went over the situation together and concluded that their opponents had no means of defeating Langdon’s program—that, after all, Peabody might really have meant his words of surrender.
“But they might try foul play. Better stay right here in the Capitol the rest of the day,” suggested Bud.
Langdon scoffed at the idea.
Haines bustled away to get a few mouthfuls of lunch to fortify himself for a busy afternoon—one that was going to be far busier than he imagined.
The telephone bell rang at the Senator’s desk. It was Mrs. Spangler’s voice that spoke.
“Senator Langdon,” she said, “Carolina and Hope Georgia are here at my home for luncheon, and we all want you to join us.”