Colonel Wadsworth was twisting his imperial with one hand and fingering his Loyal Legion button with the other.
“I’m not the kind that waits for a draft, General,” he said. “I didn’t in ’61. I volunteer now.”
General Waymouth smiled, bowed the three ahead of him through the door of the parlor, and softly closed it behind himself and his little party.
“Well, Thelismer,” raved the State chairman, “you can certainly take rank, at your time of life and after all you’ve been through, as a top-notch hell of a politician. You start out to run a State campaign, and you wind up by not being able to run even your grandson!”
“What I started running seems to be still running,” said the old man, undisturbed by the attack.
“And it’s costing the Republican party something, this mix-up,” Presson went on.
“You think it looks expensive, taking the thing right now at apparent face value?”
“Look here! I don’t relish humor—not now! I’m not in a humorous mood. You can see what it’s costing—blast that infernal band!”
Mr. Spinney’s serenaders had not had their fill of music. There was din outside. The tune, “A Hot Time in the Old Town To-night,” won a grunt of approval from Mr. Wasgatt, still holding his documents, more pop-eyed than ever.
“Pretty expensive, eh?” said the Duke, lifting his knee between his hands and leaning back on the table. “You heard about—”
“I don’t want any more of your cussed stories! Not to-night!” Presson rushed out. He went into the main parlor, where the members of the State Committee were in informal session.
Wasgatt was left with the Duke, and the latter fixed him with benevolent gaze.
“Old Zavanna Dodge, up our way, got to courting two old maids, trying to make up his mind which he’d take—and the one he didn’t take sued him for breach o’ promise. After Zavanna put in his evidence in court, he sat across from the court-house in the tavern window, waiting for the arguments to be made and the case to be decided. Toward night Squire Enfield, his lawyer, came across. ‘How did she end out?’ says Zavanna. ‘Agin ye—for eight hundred,’ says the Squire. ‘Pretty expensive, Zav!’ Zavanna tucked a spill of whisker between his lips and chewed on it and rocked for a little while. ‘Unh huh!’ says he, figuring it over. And then he spoke up cheerful: ’Well, Squire, I reckon there’s that much difference between the two women.’”
“The point to that is—but no matter! It was to Luke that I was going to show the point.”
The old man got his hat from the window-sill and trudged toward the private door, saying, partly to Wasgatt, partly to himself: “I reckon I’ll go to bed! Just at this minute the campaign doesn’t seem to be needing my help.”
THE ODD TRICK