54-40 or Fight eBook

Emerson Hough
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 265 pages of information about 54-40 or Fight.

She chuckled at the memory.  “You see, when you left me at Mr. Calhoun’s door in care of the Grand Vizier James, I wondered somewhat at this strange country of America.  The entresol was dim and the Grand Vizier was slow with candles.  I half fell into the room on the right.  There was Mr. Calhoun bolt upright in his chair, both hands spread out on the arms.  As you promised, he wore a red nightcap and long gown of wool.  He was asleep, and ah! how weary he seemed.  Never have I seen a face so sad as his, asleep.  He was gray and thin, his hair was gray and thin, his eyes were sunken, the veins were corded at his temples, his hands were transparent.  He was, as you promised me, old.  Yet when I saw him I did not smile.  He heard me stir as I would have withdrawn, and when he arose to his feet he was wide-awake.  Monsieur, he is a great man; because, even so clad he made no more apology than you do, showed no more curiosity; and he welcomed me quite as a gentleman unashamed—­as a king, if you please.”

“How did he receive you, Madam?” I asked.  “I never knew.”

“Why, took my hand in both his, and bowed as though I indeed were queen, he a king.”

“Then you got on well?”

“Truly; for he was wiser than his agent, Monsieur.  He found answers by asking questions.”

“Ah, you were kinder to him than to me?”

“Naturally.”

“For instance, he asked—­”

“What had been my ball gown that night—­who was there—­how I enjoyed myself!  In a moment we were talking as though we had been friends for years.  The Grand Vizier brought in two mugs of cider, in each a toasted apple.  Monsieur, I have not seen diplomacy such as this.  Naturally, I was helpless.”

“Did he perhaps ask how you were induced to come at so impossible a time?  My own vanity, naturally, leads me to ask so much as that.”

“No, Mr. Calhoun confined himself to the essentials!  Even had he asked me I could not have replied, because I do not know, save that it was to me a whim.  But at least we talked, over our cider and toasted apples.”

“You told him somewhat of yourself?”

“He did not allow me to do that, Monsieur.”

“But he told you somewhat of this country?”

“Ah, yes, yes!  So then I saw what held him up in his work, what kept him alive.  I saw something I have not often seen—­a purpose, a principle, in a public man.  His love for his own land touched even me, how or why I scarcely know.  Yes, we spoke of the poor, the oppressed, of the weary and the heavy laden.”

“Did he ask you what you knew of Mexico and England?”

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54-40 or Fight from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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