“On whom neither man nor woman could depend!”
“Neither the one nor the other.”
The exasperation of his tone amused me, as did this chance importance of what seemed to me at the time merely a petticoat situation.
“Silk! Mr. Calhoun,” I grinned. “Still silk and dimity, my faith! And you!”
He seemed a trifle nettled at this. “I must take men and women and circumstances as I find them,” he rejoined; “and must use such agencies as are left me.”
“If we temporarily lack the Baroness von Ritz to add zest to our game,” I hazarded, “we still have the Dona Lucrezia and her little jealousies.”
Calhoun turned quickly upon me with a sharp glance, as though seized by some sudden thought. “By the Lord Harry! boy, you give me an idea. Wait, now, for a moment. Do you go on with your copying there, and excuse me for a time.”
An instant later he passed from the room, his tall figure bent, his hands clasped behind his back, and his face wrinkled in a frown, as was his wont when occupied with some problem.
THE LADY FROM MEXICO
As soon as women are
ours, we are no longer theirs.
After a time my chief reentered the office room and bent over me at my table. I put before him the draft of the document which he had given me for clerical care.
“So,” he said, “’tis ready—our declaration. I wonder what may come of that little paper!”
“Much will come of it with a strong people back of it. The trouble is only that what Democrat does, Whig condemns. And not even all our party is with Mr. Tyler and yourself in this, Mr. Calhoun. Look, for instance, at Mr. Polk and his plans.” To this venture on my part he made no present answer.
“I have no party, that is true,” said he at last—“none but you and Sam Ward!” He smiled with one of his rare, illuminating smiles, different from the cold mirth which often marked him.
“At least, Mr. Calhoun, you do not take on your work for the personal glory of it,” said I hotly; “and one day the world will know it!”
“’Twill matter very little to me then,” said he bitterly. “But come, now, I want more news about your trip to Montreal. What have you done?”
So now, till far towards dawn of the next day, we sat and talked. I put before him full details of my doings across the border. He sat silent, his eye betimes wandering, as though absorbed, again fixed on me, keen and glittering.
“So! So!” he mused at length, when I had finished, “England has started a land party for Oregon! Can they get across next fall, think you?”
“Hardly possible, sir,” said I. “They could not go so swiftly as the special fur packets. Winter would catch them this side of the Rockies. It will be a year before they can reach Oregon.”