“It’s worse,” affirmed Miss Wynn, quietly positive.
“And you are still friendly with him?”
“What would you have? I use the world; I did not make it; I did not choose it. He is the world. Through him I earn my bread and butter. I have shown him his place. Shall I try in addition to reform? Shall I make him an enemy? I have neither time nor inclination. Shall I resign and beg, or go tilting at windmills? If he were the only one it would be different; but they’re all alike.” Her face grew hard. “Have I shocked you?” she said as they went toward the door.
“No,” he answered slowly. “But I still—believe in the world.”
“You are young yet, my friend,” she lightly replied. “And besides, that good Miss Smith has gone and grafted a New England conscience on a tropical heart, and—dear me!—but it’s a gorgeous misfit. Good-bye—come again.” She bowed him graciously out, and paused to take the mail from the box. There was, among many others, a letter from Senator Smith.
Mr. Easterly sat in Mrs. Vanderpool’s apartments in the New Willard, Washington, drinking tea. His hostess was saying rather carelessly:
“Do you know, Mr. Vanderpool has developed a quite unaccountable liking for the idea of being Ambassador to France?”
“Dear me!” mildly exclaimed Mr. Easterly, helping himself liberally to cakes. “I do hope the thing can be managed, but—”
“What are the difficulties?” Mrs. Vanderpool interrupted.
“Well, first and foremost, the difficulty of electing our man.”
“I thought that a foregone conclusion.”
“It was. But do you know that we’re encountering opposition from the most unexpected source?”
The lady was receptive, and the speaker concluded:
“Yes. There are five hundred thousand or more black voters in pivotal Northern States, you know, and they’re in revolt. In a close election the Negroes of New York, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois choose the President.”
“What’s the matter?”
“Well, business interests have driven our party to make friends with the South. The South has disfranchised Negroes and lynched a few. The darkies say we’ve deserted them.”
Mrs. Vanderpool laughed.
“What extraordinary penetration,” she cried.
“At any rate,” said Mr. Easterly, drily, “Mr. Vanderpool’s first step toward Paris lies in getting the Northern Negroes to vote the Republican ticket. After that the way is clear.”
Mrs. Vanderpool mused.
“I don’t suppose you know any one who is acquainted with any number of these Northern darkies?” continued Mr. Easterly.
“Not on my calling-list,” said Mrs. Vanderpool, and then she added more thoughtfully:
“There’s a young clerk in the Treasury Department named Alwyn who has brains. He’s just from the South, and I happened to read of him this morning—see here.”