“All right. It is a bargain.”
“And you won’t feel bad when we knock you out, in three years?”
“No. I will probably be glad to come home.”
“Very well; we will carry the primaries. But that district needs watching. Spend lots of money.”
There is no chapter on sneezes in “Tristam Shandy.” The faithful Boswell has recorded no sneeze of Dr. Johnson. Spinoza does not reckon it among the things the citizen may do without offense to a free state. Montesquieu does not give the Spirit of Sneezing, nor tell how the ancients sneezed. Pascal, in all his vanities of man, has no thought on sneezing. Bacon has missed it. Of all the glorious company of Shakespeare’s brain, a few snored, but not one sneezed or spoke of sneezing. Darwin avoids it. Hegel and Schlegel haven’t a word of it. The encyclopedias leave it for the dictionaries.
We might suppose the gentle latitudes and halcyon seas of Asia and the Mediterranean had failed to develop the sneeze, save that the immortal Montaigue, a friend in need to every reader, will point you that Aristotle told why the people bless a man who sneezes. “The gods bless you!” said the Athenian. “God bless you!” says the Irishman or Scotchman of to-day.
A sneeze is to enter the politics of the First District. Could any political boss, however prudent or scholarly, foresee it? A sneeze is to influence the life of David Lockwin. Does not providence move in a mysterious way?
A great newspaper has employed as its marine reporter a singular character. He once was rich—that is, he had $10,000 in currency. How had he made it? Running a faro bank. How did he lose it? By taking a partner, who “played it in”—that is, the partner conspired with an outside player, or “patron” of the house. Why did not our man begin over again? He was disheartened—tired of the business. Besides, it gives a gambler a bad name to be robbed—it is like a dishonored husband.
The marine reporter’s ancestors were knights. The ancestral name was Coeur de Cheval. The attrition of centuries, and the hurry of the industrial period, have diminished this name in sound and dignity to Carkey, and finally to Corkey.
Naturally of a knightly fiber, this queer man has no sooner established himself in command of the port of Chicago than he has found his dearest dreams realized. To become the ornament of the sailor’s fraternity is but to go up and down the docks, drinking the whisky which comes in free from Canada and sneezing.
“We steer toward Corkey’s sneeze,” the sailors declare.
To produce the greatest sneeze that was ever heard in the valley of the Mississippi, give us, then, a man who is called a “sawed-off” by those who love him—a very thick, very short, very tobaccofied, strong man in cavalry pants, with a jacket of the heaviest chinchilla—a restless, oathful, laconic, thirsty, never-drunk “editor.” It is a man after the sailor’s own heart. It is a man, too, well known to the gamblers, and they all vote in Lockwin’s district.