Mr. Easterly read an account of the speech at the Bethel Literary.
“We’ll look this young man up,” he decided; “he may help. Of course, Mrs. Vanderpool, we’ll probably win; we can buy these Negroes off with a little money and a few small offices; then if you will use your influence for the part with the Southerners, I can confidently predict from four to eight years’ sojourn in Paris.”
Mrs. Vanderpool smiled and called her maid as Mr. Easterly went.
“Zora!” She had to call twice, for Zora, with widened eyes, was reading the Washington Post.
Meantime in the office of Senator Smith, toward which Mr. Easterly was making his way, several members of the National Republican campaign committee had been closeted the day before.
“Now, about the niggers,” the chairman had asked; “how much more boodle do they want?”
“That’s what’s bothering us,” announced a member; “it isn’t the boodle crowd that’s hollering, but a new set, and I don’t understand them; I don’t know what they represent, nor just how influential they are.”
“What can I do to help you?” asked Senator Smith.
“This. You are here at Washington with these Negro office-holders at your back. Find out for us just what this revolt is, how far it goes, and what good men we can get to swing the darkies into line—see?”
“Very good,” the Senator acquiesced. He called in a spectacled man with bushy eyebrows and a sleepy look.
“I want you to work the Negro political situation,” directed the Senator, “and bring me all the data you can get. Personally, I’m at sea. I don’t understand the Negro of today at all; he puzzles me; he doesn’t fit any of my categories, and I suspect that I don’t fit his. See what you can find out.”
The man went out, and the Senator turned to his desk, then paused and smiled. One day, not long since, he had met a colored person who personified his perplexity concerning Negroes; she was a lady, yet she was black—that is, brown; she was educated, even cultured, yet she taught Negroes; she was quiet, astute, quick and diplomatic—everything, in fact, that “Negroes” were not supposed to be; and yet she was a “Negro.” She had given him valuable information which he had sought in vain elsewhere, and the event proved it correct. Suppose he asked Caroline Wynn to help him in this case? It would certainly do no harm and it might elect a Republican president. He wrote a short letter with his own hand and sent it to post.
Miss Wynn read the letter after Alwyn’s departure with a distinct thrill which was something of a luxury for her. Evidently she was coming to her kingdom. The Republican boss was turning to her for confidential information.
“What do the colored people want, and who can best influence them in this campaign?”
She curled up on the ottoman and considered. The first part of the query did not bother her.