[Footnote B: See Reports of Congressional Committee of Investigation.]
Foster attempted no denial of these facts, but spoke bitterly of corruption among the state government officials, resulting in ruinous taxation etc.
His antagonists freely admitted that there had been frauds and great extravagance, yet claimed that neither party was responsible for these, but members of both and persons belonging to neither who cared only for their own gains.[C] “And who,” they asked, “are responsible for their success in obtaining the positions which enable them thus to rob the community?”
[Footnote C: See Reports of Congressional Committee of Investigation.]
“They had no vote from me,” said Foster. “But, I say it again, we have been shamefully treated; if they’d confiscated my property and cut off my head, I’d have suffered less than I have as things have gone.”
“Why not petition Congress for those little favors? Possibly it may not yet be too late;” returned Leland, laughing.
This ended the talk, Foster put spurs to his horse and rode off in a rage.
“Come, Conly, we’ve surely had enough of this Republican discourse: let us go also,” said Boyd, and with a haughty wave of his hand to the others, he hurried into the road and remounted.
But Conly did not follow. Elsie joined the group at that moment and laying her hand on his arm, said with one of her sweetest smiles, “Don’t go, Cal, you must stay and take tea with us; it is already on the table.”
“Thank you, I will,” he said with a pleased look.
He was one of his cousin’s ardent admirers, thinking her the most beautiful, intelligent, fascinating woman he had ever seen.
She extended her invitation to Leland and Boyd, Mr. Travilla seconding it warmly, but it was courteously declined by both, and each went his way.
“Papa, you will not forsake us?” Elsie said gayly, putting both hands into his and smiling up into his face, her sweet soft eyes, brimful of fond, filial affection; “but you know you are at home and need no invitation.”
“Yes,” he said, returning the smile, and holding the hands fast for a moment, “I am at home and shall stay for an hour or so.”
“Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness,
Wherein the pregnant enemy does much.”
—SHAKESPEARE’S TWELFTH NIGHT.
“Will you walk into the library, gentlemen? I have just received a package of new books, which, perhaps, you would like to examine,” said Mr. Travilla to his guests as they left the tea-table.
“Presently, thank you,” Mr. Dinsmore answered, catching Elsie’s eye, and perceiving that she had something for his private ear.
She took his arm and drew him out to her flower garden, while her husband and Calhoun sought the library.
“Papa, I want a word with you about Cal. I do not like Foster and Boyd; that is, they seem to me to be unprincipled men, of violent temper and altogether very bad associates for him; and you must have noticed how intimate he is with them of late.”