“Just what I thought and know!” exclaimed Langdon, sharply. “It couldn’t be; it isn’t possible. Now you go, sir, and let it be your greatest disgrace that you are not fit to enter any gentleman’s house.”
“Oh, don’t rub it in too hard, Senator. You may need my help some day, but you’ll have to deliver the goods beforehand.”
“I said, ‘Go!’”
“I’m goin’, but here’s a tip. Don’t blame me for fightin’ you. I’ve got to fight to live. I’m a human bein’, an’ humans are pretty much the same all over the world; all except you—you’re only half natural. The rest of you is reformer.”
After Sanders’ departure the Colonel sat at his table, his head resting in his hand, the events of the day crowding his brain bewilderingly.
“The battles of peace are worse than any Beauregard ever led me into,” he murmured. “Fighting o conquer oneself is harder than turning the left flank of the Eighth Illinois in an enfilading fire.”
But the new Senator from Mississippi did not know that for him the wars of peace had only just begun, that perhaps his own flesh and blood and that of the wife and mother who had gone before would turn traitor to his colors in the very thickest of the fray.
HOW TO PLEASE A SENATOR
The International Hotel in Washington was all hustle and bustle. Was it not preparing for its first Senator since 1885? No less a personage than the Hon. William H. Langdon of Mississippi, said to be a warm personal friend of Senator Stevens, one of the leading members of his party at the capital, had engaged a suit of rooms for himself and two daughters.
“Ain’t it the limit?” remarked the chief clerk to Bud Haines, correspondent of the New York Star. “The Senator wrote us that he was coming here because his old friend, the late Senator Moseley, said back in ’75 that this was the best hotel in Washington and where all the prominent men ought to stay.”
Haines, the ablest political reporter in Washington, had come to the International to interview the new Senator, to describe for his paper what kind of a citizen Langdon was. He glanced around at the dingy woodwork, the worn cushions, the nicked and uneven tiles of the hotel lobby, and smiled at the clerk. “Well, if this is the new Senator’s idea of princely luxury he will fit right into the senatorial atmosphere.” Both laughed derisively. “By the way,” added Haines, “I suppose you’ll raise your rates now that you’ve got a Senator here.”
The clerk brought his fist down on the register with a thud.
“We could have them every day if we wanted them. This fellow, though, we’ll have all winter, I guess. His son’s here now. Been breaking all records for drinking. Congressman Norton of Mississippi has been down here with him a few times. There young Langdon is now.”
Haines turned quickly, just in time to bump into a tall, slender young man, who was walking unevenly in the direction of the cafe.