Most women will forgive a liberty,
rather than a slight.
When I crossed the White House grounds and found my way to the spot where I had left my horse, I discovered my darky boy lying on his back, fast asleep under a tree, the bridle reins hooked over his upturned foot. I wakened him, took the reins and was about to mount, when at the moment I heard my name called.
Turning, I saw emerge from the door of Gautier’s little cafe, across the street, the tall figure of an erstwhile friend of mine, Jack Dandridge, of Tennessee, credited with being the youngest member in the House of Representatives at Washington—and credited with little else.
Dandridge had been taken up by friends of Jackson and Polk and carried into Congress without much plan or objection on either side. Since his arrival at the capital he had been present at few roll-calls, and had voted on fewer measures. His life was given up in the main to one specialty, to-wit: the compounding of a certain beverage, invented by himself, the constituent parts of which were Bourbon whiskey, absinthe, square faced gin and a dash of eau de vie. This concoction, over which few shared his own personal enthusiasm, he had christened the Barn-Burner’s Dream; although Mr. Dandridge himself was opposed to the tenets of the political party thus entitled—which, by the way, was to get its whimsical name, possibly from Dandridge himself, at the forthcoming Democratic convention of that year.
Jack Dandridge, it may be said, was originally possessed of a splendid constitution. Nearly six feet tall, his full and somewhat protruding eye was as yet only a trifle watery, his wide lip only a trifle loose, his strong figure only a trifle portly. Socially he had been well received in our city, and during his stay east of the mountains he had found occasion to lay desperate suit to the hand of none other than Miss Elisabeth Churchill. We had been rivals, although not enemies; for Jack, finding which way the wind sat for him, withdrew like a man, and cherished no ill will. When I saw him now, a sudden idea came to me, so that I crossed the street at his invitation.
“Come in,” said he. “Come in with me, and have a Dream. I have just invented a new touch for it; I have, ’pon my word.”
“Jack,” I exclaimed, grasping him by the shoulder, “you are the man I want. You are the friend that I need—the very one.”
“Certainly, certainly,” he said; “but please do not disarrange my cravat. Sir, I move you the previous question. Will you have a Dream with me? I construct them now with three additional squirts of the absinthe.” He locked his arm in mine.
“You may have a Dream,” said I; “but for me, I need all my head to-day. In short, I need both our heads as well.”
Jack was already rapping with the head of his cane upon the table, to call an attendant, but he turned to me. “What is the matter? Lady, this time?”