“Great heavens! but how did you know where to ’phone?”
They were at the door of the Senate chamber.
“Norton gave me the tip—for your sake and Carolina’s—for old times’ sake, he said,” was Bud’s reply.
ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE
Too much occupied in concentrating his thoughts on his speech, Langdon failed to notice the consternation on the faces of Peabody and Stevens as he walked to his seat in the Senate. They had failed to succeed in getting Milbank to conclude, and consequently could not push the naval base report through. But they noted the passing of over an hour after their opponent’s appointed time and had felt certain that he would not appear at all.
“The boss of the Senate” leaned across to Stevens and whispered, hurriedly:
“We must tear him to pieces now—discredit him publicly. It’s his own fault. Our agents can sell the land to Standard Steel. Our connection with the scheme will be impossible to discover—after we have made the public believe Langdon is a crook.”
“But how about our supposed combination to protect the Government that Langdon will tell about?” asked Stevens. “We can’t deny that, of course.”
“No,” answered Peabody. “We can’t deny it, but we will not affirm it. We will tell interviewers that we prefer not to talk about it.”
“It’s our only chance,” replied Stevens, cautiously.
“Yes; and we owe it all to Jake Steinert,” went on Peabody. “That fellow Telfer will do anything to please Jake. Jake has convinced Telfer that Langdon was responsible for the defeat of Gulf City, and the Mayor is wild for revenge.”
“The boss of the Senate” rose and walked to the rear of the Senate chamber to issue orders to two of his colleagues.
“Report of the committee on naval affairs.” droned the clerk, mechanically. “House Bill No. 1,109 is amended to read as follows—” And his voice sank to an unintelligible mumble, for every Senator present he well knew was aware that the amendment named Altacoola as the naval base site.
Senator Langdon rose in his seat.
“Mr. President,” he called.
“Chair recognizes the gentleman from Mississippi,” said the presiding officer, as he leaned back to speak to Senator Winans of Kansas, who had approached to the side of the rostrum.
The Langdon speech on “The New South and the South of the Future” proved more than a document suited only to a reverent burial in the Congressional Record. Although wearied at the start owing to the exciting happenings of the day, the Mississippian’s enthusiasm for his cause gave him strength and stimulation as he progressed. His voice rose majestically as he came to the particular points he wished to accentuate, and even those in the uppermost rows in the galleries could hear every word.