There were yet others—and at the sight of these Bles stood straighter and breathed like a man. They were well dressed, and well appearing men and women, who walked upright and looked one in the eye, and seemed like persons of affairs and money. They had arrived—they were men—they filled his mind’s ideal—he felt like going up to them and grasping their hands and saying, “At last, brother!” Ah, it was good to find one’s dreams, walking in the light, in flesh and blood. Continually such thoughts were surging through his brain, and they were rioting through it again as he sat waiting in Senator Smith’s office.
The Senator was late this morning; when he came in he glanced at the morning paper before looking over his mail and the list of his callers. “Do fools like the American people deserve salvation?” he sneered, holding off the headlines and glancing at them.
“‘League Beats Trust.’ ... ’Farmers of South Smash Effort to Bear Market ... Send Cotton to Twelve Cents ... Common People Triumph.’
“A man is induced to bite off his own nose and then to sing a paean of victory. It’s nauseating—senseless. There is no earthly use striving for such blockheads; they’d crucify any Saviour.” Thus half consciously Senator Smith salved his conscience, while he extracted a certificate of deposit for fifty thousand dollars from his New York mail. He thrust it aside from his secretary’s view and looked at his list as he rang the bell: there was Representative Todd, and somebody named Alwyn—nobody of importance. Easterly was due in a half-hour. He would get rid of Todd meantime.
“Poor Todd,” he mused; “a lamb for the slaughter.”
But he patiently listened to him plead for party support and influence for his bill to prohibit gambling in futures.
“I was warned that it was useless to see you, Senator Smith, but I would come. I believe in you. Frankly, there is a strong group of your old friends and followers forming against you; they met only last night, but I did not go. Won’t you take a stand on some of these progressive matters—this bill, or the Child Labor movement, or Low Tariff legislation?”
Mr. Smith listened but shook his head.
“When the time comes,” he announced deliberately, “I shall have something to say on several of these matters. At present I can only say that I cannot support this bill,” and Mr. Todd was ushered out. He met Mr. Easterly coming in and greeted him effusively. He knew him only as a rich philanthropist, who had helped the Neighborhood Guild in Washington—one of Todd’s hobbies.
Easterly greeted Smith quietly.
“Got my letter?”