“Changes of maps, my friend? Listen to me. The geography of America for the next fifty years rests under a little roof over in M Street to-night—a roof which Sir Richard secretly maintains. The map of the United States, I tell you, is covered with a down counterpane a deux, to-night. You ask me to go on with my fight. I answer, first I must find the woman. Now, I say, I have found her, as you know. Also, I have told you where I have found her. Under a counterpane! Texas, Oregon, these United States under a counterpane!”
Doctor Ward sighed, as he shook his head. “I don’t pretend to know now all you mean.”
Calhoun whirled on him fiercely, with a vigor which his wasted frame did not indicate as possible.
“Listen, then, and I will tell you what John Calhoun means—John Calhoun, who has loved his own state, who has hated those who hated him, who has never prayed for those who despitefully used him, who has fought and will fight, since all insist on that. It is true Tyler has offered me again to-day the portfolio of secretary of state. Shall I take it? If I do, it means that I am employed by this administration to secure the admission of Texas. Can you believe me when I tell you that my ambition is for it all—all, every foot of new land, west to the Pacific, that we can get, slave or free? Can you believe John Calhoun, pro-slavery advocate and orator all his life, when he says that he believes he is an humble instrument destined, with God’s aid, and through the use of such instruments as our human society affords, to build, not a wider slave country, but a wider America?”
“It would be worth the fight of a few years more, Calhoun,” gravely answered his old friend. “I admit I had not dreamed this of you.”
“History will not write it of me, perhaps,” went on my chief. “But you tell me to fight, and now I shall fight, and in my own way. I tell you, that answer shall go to Pakenham. And I tell you, Pakenham shall not dare take offense at me. War with Mexico we possibly, indeed certainly, shall have. War on the Northwest, too, we yet may have unless—” He paused; and Doctor Ward prompted him some moments later, as he still remained in thought.
“Unless what, John? What do you mean—still hearing the rustle of skirts?”
“Yes!—unless the celebrated Baroness Helena von Ritz says otherwise!” replied he grimly.
“How dignified a diplomacy have we here! You plan war between two embassies on the distaff side!” smiled Doctor Ward.
Calhoun continued his walk. “I do not say so,” he made answer; “but, if there must be war, we may reflect that war is at its best when woman is in the field!”
BY SPECIAL DESPATCH
In all eras and all
climes a woman of great genius or beauty has
done what she chose.—Ouido.