Thelismer Thornton was one of the first to stir next morning in the big hotel. All night roisterers had flanked his room, there had been the buzz of eager argument overhead, riot of dispute below, and continual thudding of hurrying feet in the corridors. He had gone to sleep realizing that the hive was in a state of upheaval extraordinary, but he slept calmly in spite of it, and woke refreshed.
He picked his way past cots in the corridors. Men were snoring there.
His grandson had not returned to their apartments. But the Duke divined his whereabouts. He had ascertained by the house telephone the number of Linton’s room. He tried the door when he arrived there. It was not locked. He entered. Linton was asleep on the bed. Harlan was on a cot. They had taken off only their coats and waistcoats. They did not wake when he came in. He pulled a chair to the centre of the room and sat astride it, his arms on its back. In a few moments both sleepers woke, stirring under his intent regard. They sat up and returned his gaze.
“Well, my boys, what’s the programme?” he inquired, pleasantly.
Heavy with sleep, perturbed, a bit apprehensive, neither answered.
“You didn’t come back to your room last night, Harlan. You weren’t afraid of this old chap, were you? Didn’t think I’d be running around the room on all fours, eh, or climb the wall, or growl and try to bite you?”
“I didn’t want to disturb you, and Mr. Linton and I wanted to talk after we left General Waymouth,” said Harlan.
“It’s all right if you weren’t afraid of me, my boy. We can’t afford to have politics put us in that state of mind. Now, own up! You thought I’d pitch in and pull you over to the machine—you were afraid of that, now, weren’t you?”
“To be perfectly honest, I didn’t want any argument with you, grandfather, but I wasn’t afraid you’d convert me. You couldn’t do that.”
“Bub, ‘politics before friendship’ is all right for a code. I practice that myself, but it hurts me to have you put politics before relationship—the kind that’s between us.”
“Grandfather,” replied the young man, firmly, “you remember that you told me you were going to put me into politics right. I consider that you’ve done so. I’m going to stay where you put me.”
“Oh, you mean one thing and I mean another, my boy, as matters stand just now. You’re in wrong. A man isn’t in right when he’s playing on the losing end.”
“I stay where you put me,” insisted Harlan, doggedly. “I’m with General Waymouth.”
“General Waymouth was a winner till he committed hari-kari there last night. He had Luke’s machine, and he had my scheme. He kicked over the machine, and the scheme won’t work now; it could have been snapped through, but it can’t be bulled through—not with the bunch forewarned and on the lookout. Your political chances with Vard Waymouth, Harlan, don’t amount to that!” He clicked his finger smartly above his head. “You may as well go back up-country and boss the Quedaws.”