“Our Senator Calkins?”
“Yes. This is the despatch from Washington: ’United States Senator Calkins dropped dead suddenly in the lobby of the Senate chamber, at ten o’clock this morning, while talking with friends. His age was 52. The cause of his death was heart-failure. His decease has cast a gloom over the Capital, and the Senate adjourned promptly out of respect to the memory of the departed statesman.’”
“What a dreadful thing!” Selma murmured.
“The ways of Providence are inscrutable,” said Lyons. “No one could have foreseen this public calamity.” He poured out a glass of ice-water and drank it feverishly.
“It’s fortunate we have everything arranged to return to-morrow, for of course you will be needed at home.”
“Yes. Waiter, bring me a telegram.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Communicate to Mrs. Calkins our sympathy on account of the death of her distinguished husband.”
“That will be nice,” said Selma. She sat for some moments in silence observing her husband, and spell-bound by the splendid possibility which presented itself. She knew that Lyons’s gravity and agitation were not wholly due to the shock of the catastrophe. He, like herself, must be conscious that he might become the dead Senator’s successor. He poured out and drained another goblet of ice-water. Twice he drew himself up slightly and looked around the room, with the expression habitual to him when about to deliver a public address. Selma’s veins were tingling with excitement. Providence had interfered in her behalf again. As the wife of a United States Senator, everything would be within her grasp.
“James,” she said, “we are the last persons in the world to fail in respect to the illustrious dead, but—of course you ought to have Senator Calkins’s place.”
Lyons looked at his wife, and his large lips trembled. “If the people of my State, Selma, feel that I am the most suitable man for the vacant senatorship, I shall be proud to serve them.”
Selma nodded appreciatively. She was glad that her husband should approach the situation with a solemn sense of responsibility.
“They are sure to feel that,” she said. “It seems to me that you are practically certain of the party nomination, and your party has a clear majority of both branches of the Legislature.”
Lyons glanced furtively about him before he spoke. “I don’t see at the moment, Selma, how they can defeat me.”
The body of Senator Calkins was laid to rest with appropriate ceremonies in the soil of his native State, and his virtues as a statesman and citizen were celebrated in the pulpit and in the public prints. On the day following the funeral the contest for his place began in dead earnest. There had been some quiet canvassing by the several candidates while the remains were being transported from Washington, but public