“Of all the men I have ever known,” says one of the guests to his wife, as they walk the few steps they must take, “I think David Lockwin is the most blessed. All that money could do was dedicated to his education. He is a brilliant man naturally. He has married Esther Wandrell. He is sure to be elected to-morrow, and I heard a very prominent man say the other day that he wouldn’t be surprised if Lockwin should some day be President of the United States. They call him the people’s idol. I don’t know but he is.”
“I don’t believe he appreciates his good fortune,” says the wife. “Perhaps he has had too much.”
Yes, this is distinctly happy—this night at home, in the chamber after the music, with Davy to sleep over here, too.
“There, Davy,” urges Esther, “you have romped and romped. You have not slept a wink to-day. It is far too late for children to be up, David. I only took down the stove to-day, for fear we might need it.”
But it is difficult to moderate the spirits of the boy. He is playing all sorts of pranks with his father. The little lungs come near the man’s ear. There is a whistling sound.
The north wind has blown for two weeks. It is howling now outside the windows.
“Pshaw!” the man laughs, “it is that cut-throat wind!”
For orators dislike the north wind.
“Pshaw! Esther!” he repeats, “I mistook the moaning of the wind in the chimney.” But he is pale at the thought.
“I hardly think you did, David. I can hear him wheeze over here.”
“You can! Come here, Davy.” But the child must be caught. His eyes flash. He is all spirit. His laugh grows hoarse.
“How stupid I am,” thinks the man. He seizes the arch boy and clasps him in his arms.
Then Lockwin takes that white and tiny wrist. He pulls his watch. In five seconds he has fifteen beats. Impossible! Wait a few minutes.
“Sit still for papa. Please, Davy.”
The indefinable message is transmitted from the man’s heart to the child’s. The child is still. The animation is gone.
Now, again. The watch goes so slowly. Is it going at all? Let us see about that.
The watch is put to ear. Yes, it is going fast enough now. Of course it is going. Is it not a Jurgensen of the costliest brand? Well, then, we will count a full minute.
“Hold still, Davy, pet.”
What is Congress and President now, as the wheeze settles on this child, and the north wind batters at the windows?
The man looks for help to Esther. “Esther,” he says, “I have counted 140 pulsations.”
“Is that bad for a child, David? I guess not.”
“I am probably mistaken. I will try again.”
The child lays the curly head against Lockwin’s breast. The full vibration of the struggling lungs resounds through the man’s frame.