“My dear Senator Dunwody,” he said, “we were just passing down to the boat to see that the luggage is aboard. With you, I regret very much that your journey takes you from us.”
The sudden consternation which sat upon Dunwody’s face was almost amusing. He was very willing to prolong this conversation. Into his soul there had flashed the swift conviction that never in his life had he seen a woman so beautiful as this. Yet all he could do was to smile and bow adieu.
“A fine man, that Dunwody, yonder,” commented the young captain, as they parted, and as he turned to his prisoner. “We’ll see him on in Washington some day. He is strengthening his forces now against Mr. Benton out there. A strong man—a strong one; and a heedless.”
“Of what party is he?” she inquired, as though casually.
“What a man’s party is in these days,” was his answer, “is something hard to say. A man like Dunwody is pretty much his own party, although the Bentonites call him a ‘soft Democrat.’ Hardly soft he seems, when he gets in action at the state capital of Missouri yonder. Certainly Dunwody is for war and tumult. None of this late weak-kneed compromise for him! To have his own way—that is Dunwody’s creed of life. I thank God he is not going with us now. He might want his own way with you, from the fashion of his glances. Did you see? My word!” Young Carlisle fumed a shade more than might have seemed necessary for military reasons.
Josephine St. Auban turned upon him with her slow smile, composedly looking at him from between her long, dark lashes.
“Why do you say that?” she inquired.
“Because it is the truth. I don’t want him about.”
“Then you will be disappointed.”
“Why do you say that? Did you not hear him say that he was going West by coach from here?”
“You did not give him time. He is not going West by coach.”
“What do you mean?”
“He will be with us on the boat!”
THE GATEWAY, AND SOME WHO PASSED
When Captain Edward Carlisle made casual reference to the “weak-kneed compromise,” he simply voiced a personal opinion on a theme which was in the mind of every American, and one regarded with as many minds as there were men. That political measure of the day was hated by some, admired by others. This man condemned it, that cried aloud its righteousness and infallibility; one argued for it shrewdly, another declaimed against it loudly. It was alike blessed and condemned. The southern states argued over it, many of the northern states raged at it. It ruined many political fortunes and made yet other fortunes. That year was a threshold-time in our history, nor did any see what lay beyond the door.
If there existed then a day when great men and great measures were to be born, certainly there lay ready a stage fit for any mighty drama—indeed, commanding it. It was a young world withal, indeed a world not even yet explored, far less exploited, so far as were concerned those vast questions which, in its dumb and blind way, humanity both sides of the sea then was beginning to take up. America scarce more than a half century ago was for the most part a land of query, rather than of hope.