“Indeed! I’m going to Washington this winter; I’ll look him over and see if he’s worth Zora—which I greatly doubt.”
Mrs. Cresswell pursed her lips and changed the subject.
“Have you seen the Easterlys?”
“The ladies left their cards—they are quite impossible. Mr. Easterly calls this afternoon. I can’t imagine why, but he asked for an appointment. Will you go South with Mr. Cresswell? I’m glad to hear he’s entering politics.”
“No, I shall do some early house hunting in Washington,” said Mrs. Cresswell, rising as Mr. Easterly was announced.
Mr. Easterly was not at home in Mrs. Vanderpool’s presence. She spoke a language different from his, and she had shown a disconcerting way, in the few times when he had spoken with her, of letting the weight of the conversation rest on him. He felt very distinctly that Mrs. Vanderpool was not particularly desirous of his company, nor that of his family. Nevertheless, he needed Mrs. Vanderpool’s influence just now, and he was willing to pay considerable for it. Once under obligation to him her services would be very valuable. He was glad to find Mrs. Cresswell there. It showed that the Cresswells were still intimate, and the Cresswells were bound to him and his interests by strong ties. He bowed as Mrs. Cresswell left, and then did not beat around the bush because, in this case, he did not know how.
“Mrs. Vanderpool, I need your aid.”
Mrs. Vanderpool smiled politely, and murmured something.
“We are, you know, in the midst of a rather warm presidential campaign,” continued Mr. Easterly.
“Yes?” with polite interest.
“We are going to win easily, but our majority in Congress for certain matters will depend on the attitude of Southerners and you usually spend the winters in Washington. If, now, you could drop a word here and there—”
“But why should I?” asked Mrs. Vanderpool.
“Mrs. Vanderpool, to be frank, I know some excellent investments that your influence in this line would help. I take it you’re not so rich but that—”
Mrs. Vanderpool smiled faintly.
“Really, Mr. Easterly, I know little about such matters and care less. I have food and clothes. Why worry with more?”
Mr. Easterly half expected this and he determined to deliver his last shot on the run. He arose with a disappointed air.
“Of course, Mrs. Vanderpool, I see how it is: you have plenty and one can’t expect your services or influence for nothing. It had occurred to me that your husband might like something political; but I presume not.”
“Yes. You see, it’s barely possible, for instance, that there will be a change in the French ambassadorship. The present ambassador is old and—well, I don’t know, but as I say, it’s possible. Of course though, that may not appeal to you, and I can only beg your good offices in charity if—if you see your way to help us. Well, I must be going.”