“I don’t know,” said Dunwody. “Suppose we make it one more jack-pot all around?” They agreed to this. It was Judge Clayton’s deal.
“Gimme at least three,” began the senator from Belmont, puckering out his lips in discontent.
“Three good ones,” consented the judge. “How many for the rest of you?”
Dunwody shook his head. “I’ll stand as it is, please.”
The judge quietly discarded two cards, Carlisle having done the same. The betting now went about with more than one increase from the Honorable William Jones, whose eyes apparently were seeing large. At last the “call” came from Carlisle, who smilingly moved the bulk of his remaining fortune toward the center of the table. Thereupon, with a bland and sane smile, the Honorable William Jones shook his head and folded his cards together. The judge displayed queens and tens, the gentleman opposite queens and deuces. Dunwody laid down his own hand, which showed aces and fours. They all sighed.
“Gentlemen, you all deserve to win,” said Dunwody. “I feel like a thief.”
“I have a thousand acres of niggers ’n four hunnerd cotton lands,” remarked the Honorable William Jones, amiably, “says you can’t do it again. I can prove it from Mr. Gibbon’s ’Cline ’n Fall.”
Judge Clayton rose, laughing, slapping Dunwody on the shoulder and giving an arm to Mr. Jones, whom he assisted to his room.
Dunwody remained seated at the table, carelessly shuffling the cards between his fingers. Once in a while he cast an amused glance toward Carlisle, and at last remarked, as though continuing an arrested thought:
“Amanuensis, is she?” He chuckled. The other ventured no reply.
“My dear sir, at your age, I congratulate you! The choice of an amanuensis is one very important for a public man, not less so, I imagine, for a military man. Consider the need—”
“I think that will do, my dear Dunwody,” rejoined Carlisle at length, the hot blood in his face. “Frankly, this conversation is unwelcome to me.”
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do with you,” exclaimed the Missourian suddenly. “I’ll bet you every cent in this pile of my winnings here that that young lady isn’t your amanuensis, and never has been. I’ll bet its like that she is no relative of yours. I’ll bet it all over again that she is the most beautiful woman that ever set foot on a boat on this river, or ever set foot on any land. Moreover, I’ll bet again—”
“You might win a certain share of these wagers,” smiled the young officer, willing to pass by a possible argument. “Moreover, I am quite willing to discuss arrangements for changing the term of servitude of this young lady. I’ve been doing a little thinking about one or two matters since this morning.”