“Is that answer worth more than Van Zandt?” I smiled.
“Yes,” she answered, also smiling.
I spread the page upon the cloth before me; my eyes raced down the lines. I did not make further reply to her.
“Madam,” went on the communication, “say to your august friend Sir Richard that we have reached the end of our endurance of these late delays. The promises of the United States mean nothing. We can trust neither Whig nor Democrat any longer. There is no one party in power, nor will there be. There are two sections in America and there is no nation, and Texas knows not where to go. We have offered to Mr. Tyler to join the Union if the Union will allow us to join. We intend to reserve our own lands and reserve the right to organize later into four or more states, if our people shall so desire. But as a great state we will join the Union if the Union will accept us. That must be seen.
“England now beseeches us not to enter the Union, but to stand apart, either for independence or for alliance with Mexico and England. The proposition has been made to us to divide into two governments, one free and one slave. England has proposed to us to advance us moneys to pay all our debts if we will agree to this. Settled by bold men from our mother country, the republic, Texas has been averse to this. But now our own mother repudiates us, not once but many times. We get no decision. This then, dear Madam, is from Texas to England by your hand, and we know you will carry it safe and secret. We shall accept this proposal of England, and avail ourselves of the richness of her generosity.
“If within thirty days action is not taken in Washington for the annexation of Texas, Texas will never in the history of the world be one of the United States. Moreover, if the United States shall lose Texas, also they lose Oregon, and all of Oregon. Carry this news—I am persuaded that it will be welcome—to that gentleman whose ear I know you have; and believe me always, my dear Madam, with respect and admiration, yours, for the State of Texas, Van Zandt.”
I drew a deep breath as I saw this proof of double play on the part of this representative of the republic of the Southwest. “They are traitors!” I exclaimed. “But there must be action—something must be done at once. I must not wait; I must go! I must take this, at least, to Mr. Calhoun.”
She laughed now, joyously clapping her white hands together. “Good!” she said. “You are a man, after all. You may yet grow brain.”
“Have I been fair with you thus far?” she asked at length.
“More than fair. I could not have asked this of you. In an hour I have learned the news of years. But will you not also tell me what is the news from Chateau Ramezay? Then, indeed, I could go home feeling I had done very much for my chief.”
“Monsieur, I can not do so. You will not tell me that other news.”