He stood in front of the man whose terrible secret he had surprised, and outwardly he was as calm as ever.
“Professor Nicolovius,” he said, with a faint emphasis upon the name, “all this is as though it had never passed between us. And now let’s go and get some supper.”
Surface rose to his height and took Queed’s hand in a grip like iron. His eyes glistened with sudden moisture.
“God bless you, boy! You’re a man!”
* * * * *
It had been a memorable conversation in the life of both men, opening up obvious after-lines of more or less momentous thought. Yet each of them, as it happened, neglected these lines for a corollary detail of apparently much less seriousness, and pretty nearly the same detail at that. For Surface sat long that evening, meditating how he might most surely break up the friendship between his young friend and Sharlee Weyland; while Queed, all during his busy hours at the office, found his thoughts of Nicolovius dominated by speculations as to what Miss Weyland would say, if she knew that he had formed a lifelong compact with the man who had betrayed her father’s friendship and looted her own fortune.
Of the Bill for the Reformatory, and its Critical Situation; of West’s Second Disappointment with the Rewards of Patriotism; of the Consolation he found in the most Charming Resolve in the World.
In January the legislature met again. All autumn and early winter the Post had been pounding without surcease upon two great issues: first, the reform of the tax-laws, and, second, the establishment of a reformatory institution for women. It was palpably the resolve of the paper that the legislature should not overlook these two measures through lack of being shown where its duty lay.
To the assistant editor had been assigned both campaigns, and he had developed his argument with a deadly persistence. A legislature could no more ignore him than you could ignore a man who is pounding you over the head with a bed-slat. Queed had proved his cases in a dozen ways, historically and analogically, politically, morally, and scientifically, socially and sociologically. Then, for luck, he proceeded to run through the whole list again a time or two; and now faithful readers of the Post cried aloud for mercy, asking each other what under the sun had got into the paper that it thus massacred and mutilated the thrice-slain.
But the Post, aided by the press of the State which had been captivated by its ringing logic, continued its merciless fire, and, as it proved, not insanely. For when the legislature came together, it turned out to be one of those “economy” sessions, periodically thrust down the throats of even the wiliest politicians. Not “progress” was its watchword, but “wise retrenchment.” Every observer of events, especially in states where