The effect is electric.
“Jiminy!” whistles the hungry saloonkeeper, “ain’t we lucky we put him up? I could sell fifty kag if he spoke anywhere in the same block.”
THE NIGHT BEFORE ELECTION
“The art of declamation,” says Colton, “has been sinking in value from the moment that speakers were foolish enough to publish and readers wise enough to read.”
All speakers are not foolish enough to publish; all readers are not wise enough to read. Besides, there is still a distinct art of oratory which has not lost its hold on the ears of men.
The orator weeps and he thunders. His audience by turns laments and clamors. But the orator, on the inner side of his spirit, is more calm. The practice of his wiles has dulled the edge of his feelings.
It may be, therefore, that the orator’s art is not honest. Yet who knows that the painter himself really admires the landscape which, in his picture, gathers so much fame for him? The interests of the nation are now to be husbanded in this First Congressional district. The silvery voice of the gifted orator is to reclaim the wandering or lagging voter.
The man who has lost faith in the power of the ballot is to be revived with the stimulus of human speech. It can be done. It is done in every campaign.
Lockwin is doing it each afternoon and night. Bravely he meets the cry of “Money and machine.” One would think he needed no better text.
But his secret text is Davy. Davy, whose life has been intrusted to Dr. Floddin, the friend of the poor, the healer who healed the eyes of the peddling huckster’s son’s sister, the eyes of the housekeeper’s relatives, and the eyes of Davy himself.
The orator’s speech may be impassioned, but he is thinking of Davy.
The orator may be infusing the noblest of patriotism in his hearers’ hearts, but often he hardly knows what he is saying.
At a telling point he stops to think of Davy.
The hearer confesses that the question is unanswered.
Is Davy safe? Of course. “Then, my fellow-citizens, behold the superb rank of America among nations!” [Cheers.]
Is Dr. Tarpion to be gone another week, and is the cook right when she says Davy must eat? “Can we not, my friends and neighbors, lend our humble aid in restoring these magnificent institutions of liberty to their former splendor?” [Cries of “Hear!” “Hear!” “Down in front!”]
“The winning candidate,” says the majority press, “is making a prodigious effort. It is confidentially explained that he was wounded by the charges of desertion or lukewarmness, which were circulated during the week of the primaries.”
Dr. Floddin is therefore to take care of Davy. Dr. Floddin’s horse is sick. It is a poor nag at best—a fifty-cents-a-call steed. The doctor meantime has a horse from the livery.