Mrs. Earle wiped her eyes, which were running over as the result of this combination of confidence and eloquence.
“If you don’t mind my saying so, Selma, I never saw anyone so much improved as you. You always had ideas, and were well equipped, but now you speak as though you could remove mountains if necessary. It’s a blessing for us as well as you that you’re back among us once more.”
When Selma uttered her edict that Luella Bailey must be elected she did not know that the election was only three days off. When she was told this by Mrs. Earle, she cast about feverishly during a few hours for the means to compass certain victory, then promptly and sensibly disclaimed responsibility for the result, suggesting even that her first appearance as a remover of mountains be deferred to the time when the bill should be before the Legislature. As she aptly explained to Mrs. Earle, the canvass was virtually at an end, she was unacquainted with the practical features of the situation, and was to all intents a stranger in Benham after so long an absence. Mrs. Earle was unable to combat the logic of these representations, but she obtained from Selma a ready promise to accompany the Benham Institute to the final rally on the evening before election day and sit in a prominent place on the platform. The Institute was to attend as a body by way of promoting the cause of its candidate, for though the meeting was called in aid of the entire Democratic municipal ticket, Hon. James O. Lyons, the leading orator of the occasion, had promised to devote special attention to Miss Bailey, whose election, owing to the attitude of the Reform Club, was recognized as in doubt. Selma also agreed to accompany Mrs. Earle in a hack on the day itself, and career through the city in search of recalcitrant or indifferent female voters, for the recently acquired right of Benham women to vote for members of the School Board had not as yet been exercised by any considerable number of the emancipated sex.
As a part of the programme of the meeting the Benham Institute, or the major portion of it (for there were a few who sympathized openly with Mrs. Taylor), filed showily on to the platform headed by Mrs. Earle, who waved her pocket handkerchief at the audience, which was the occasion for renewed hand-clapping and enthusiasm. Selma walked not far behind and took her seat among the forty other members, who all wore white silk badges stamped in red with the sentiment “A vote for Luella Bailey is a vote for the liberty of the people.” Her pulses were throbbing with interest and pleasure. This was the sort of thing she delighted in, and which she had hoped would be a frequent incident of her life in New York. It pleased her to think how naturally and easily she had taken her place in the ranks of these earnest, enthusiastic workers, and that she had merely to express a wish in order to have leadership urged upon her. Matters had shaped themselves exactly as she desired. Mr. Parsons not only treated her completely as an equal, but consulted her in regard to everything. He had already become obviously dependent on her, and had begun to develop the tendencies of an invalid.