She sat, her fan tight at her white teeth. “It would be death to me if it were known,” she said. But still she pondered, her eye alight with somber fire, her dark cheek red in a woman’s anger.
“But it never will be known, my dear lady. These things, however, must be concluded swiftly. We have not time to wait. Let us not argue over the unhappy business. Let me think of Mexico as our sister republic and our friend!”
“And suppose I shall not do this that you ask, Senor?”
“That, my dear lady, I do not suppose!”
“You threaten, Senor Secretary?”
“On the contrary, I implore! I ask you not to be treasonable to any, but to be our ally, our friend, in what in my soul I believe a great good for the peoples of the world. Without us, Texas will be the prey of England. With us, she will be working out her destiny. In our graveyard of state there are many secrets of which the public never knows. Here shall be one, though your heart shall exult in its possession. Dear lady, may we not conspire together—for the ultimate good of three republics, making of them two noble ones, later to dwell in amity? Shall we not hope to see all this continent swept free of monarchy, held free, for the peoples of the world?”
For an instant, no more, she sat and pondered. Suddenly she bestowed upon him a smile whose brilliance might have turned the head of another man. Rising, she swept him a curtsey whose grace I have not seen surpassed.
In return, Mr. Calhoun bowed to her with dignity and ease, and, lifting her hand, pressed it to his lips. Then, offering her an arm, he led her to his carriage. I could scarce believe my eyes and ears that so much, and of so much importance, had thus so easily been accomplished, where all had seemed so near to the impossible.
When last I saw my chief that day he was sunk in his chair, white to the lips, his long hands trembling, fatigue written all over his face and form; but a smile still was on his grim mouth. “Nicholas,” said he, “had I fewer politicians and more women behind me, we should have Texas to the Rio Grande, and Oregon up to Russia, and all without a war!”
BUT YET A WOMAN
Woman turns every man the wrong side out,
And never gives to truth and virtue that
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.
My chief played his game of chess coldly, methodically, and with skill; yet a game of chess is not always of interest to the spectator who does not know every move. Least of all does it interest one who feels himself but a pawn piece on the board and part of a plan in whose direction he has nothing to say. In truth, I was weary. Not even the contemplation of the hazardous journey to Oregon served to stir me. I traveled wearily again and again my circle of personal despair.