Then Babbitt slid into a sea of eloquence:
“Ladies and gentlemen of the Sixteenth Ward, there is one who cannot be with us here to-night, a man than whom there is no more stalwart Trojan in all the political arena—I refer to our leader, the Honorable Lucas Prout, standard-bearer of the city and county of Zenith. Since he is not here, I trust that you will bear with me if, as a friend and neighbor, as one who is proud to share with you the common blessing of being a resident of the great city of Zenith, I tell you in all candor, honesty, and sincerity how the issues of this critical campaign appear to one plain man of business—to one who, brought up to the blessings of poverty and of manual labor, has, even when Fate condemned him to sit at a desk, yet never forgotten how it feels, by heck, to be up at five-thirty and at the factory with the ole dinner-pail in his hardened mitt when the whistle blew at seven, unless the owner sneaked in ten minutes on us and blew it early! (Laughter.) To come down to the basic and fundamental issues of this campaign, the great error, insincerely promulgated by Seneca Doane—”
There were workmen who jeered—young cynical workmen, for the most part foreigners, Jews, Swedes, Irishmen, Italians—but the older men, the patient, bleached, stooped carpenters and mechanics, cheered him; and when he worked up to his anecdote of Lincoln their eyes were wet.
Modestly, busily, he hurried out of the hall on delicious applause, and sped off to his third audience of the evening. “Ted, you better drive,” he said. “Kind of all in after that spiel. Well, Paul, how’d it go? Did I get ’em?”
“Bully! Corking! You had a lot of pep.”
Mrs. Babbitt worshiped, “Oh, it was fine! So clear and interesting, and such nice ideas. When I hear you orating I realize I don’t appreciate how profoundly you think and what a splendid brain and vocabulary you have. Just—splendid.” But Verona was irritating. “Dad,” she worried, “how do you know that public ownership of utilities and so on and so forth will always be a failure?”
Mrs. Babbitt reproved, “Rone, I should think you could see and realize that when your father’s all worn out with orating, it’s no time to expect him to explain these complicated subjects. I’m sure when he’s rested he’ll be glad to explain it to you. Now let’s all be quiet and give Papa a chance to get ready for his next speech. Just think! Right now they’re gathering in Maccabee Temple, and waiting for us!”
Mr. Lucas Prout and Sound Business defeated Mr. Seneca Doane and Class Rule, and Zenith was again saved. Babbitt was offered several minor appointments to distribute among poor relations, but he preferred advance information about the extension of paved highways, and this a grateful administration gave to him. Also, he was one of only nineteen speakers at the dinner with which the Chamber of Commerce celebrated the victory of righteousness.