For West had not a moment’s uncertainty as to what this announcement meant. Meachy T. Bangor spoke, nay invented, the language of the tribe. He was elect of the elect; what the silent powers that were thought was his thought; their ways were his ways, their people his people. When Meachy T. Bangor announced that he was a candidate for the nomination for Mayor, it meant that the all-powerful machine had already nominated him for Mayor, and whom the organization nominated it elected. Meachy T. Bangor! Plonny Neal’s young, progressive candidate of the reformer type!
Bitterness flooded West’s soul when he thought of Plonny. Had the boss been grossly deceived or grossly deceiving? Could that honest and affectionate eye, whose look of frank admiration had been almost embarrassing, have covered base and deliberate treachery? Was it possible that he, West, who had always been confident that he could see as far into a millstone as another, had been a cheap trickster’s easy meat?
Day by day, since the appearance of the reformatory article, West had waited for some sign of appreciation and understanding from those on the inside. None had come. Not a soul except himself, and Plonny, had appeared aware that he, by a masterly compromise, had averted disaster from the party, and clearly revealed himself as the young man of destiny. On the contrary, the House spokesmen, apparently utterly blind to any impending crisis, had, in the closing hours of the session, voted away some eighty thousand dollars of the hundred thousand rescued by West from the reformatory, in a multiplication of offices which it was difficult to regard as absolutely indispensable in a hard times year. This action, tallying so closely with what his former assistant had predicted, had bewildered and unsettled West; the continuing silence of the leaders—“the other leaders,” he had found himself saying—had led him into anxious speculations; and now, in a staggering burst, the disgraceful truth was revealed to him. They had used him, tricked and used him like a smooth tool, and having used him, had deliberately passed him, standing fine and patient in the line, to throw the mantle over the corrupt and unspeakable Bangor.
By heavens, it was not to be endured. Was it for this that he had left Blaines College, where a career of honorable usefulness lay before him; that he had sacrificed personal wishes and ambitions to the insistent statement that his City and State had need of him; that he had stood ten months in the line without a murmur; and that at last, confronted with the necessity of choosing between the wishes of his personal intimates and the larger good, he had courageously chosen the latter and suffered in silence the suspicion of having played false with the best friends he had in the world? Was it for this that he had lost his valuable assistant, whose place he could never hope to fill?—for this that he was referred to habitually by an evening contemporary as the Plonny Neal organ?