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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 308 pages of information about The Ramrodders.

“Ours doesn’t seem to be the largest parade of the day, Mr. Thornton,” said the veteran mildly, when they were on the street, “but we’ll see—­we’ll see!”

CHAPTER XVIII

THE SHEPHERD AND THE SHEEP

Like a beacon marking shoals, Thelismer Thornton stood at the head of the broad granite steps that led up to the convention hall.  An unlighted cigar was set hard between his teeth.  Men flocked past him with obsequious greetings, but he merely grunted replies.  He was watching for some one.  He swore under his breath when he saw his man.  General Waymouth and Harlan came up the steps together.  He swung between them, and went along into the hall.

From open doors and windows band-music blared, welded with the roar of two thousand voices, each man shouting his conversation to be heard above his neighbors.  It still lacked ten minutes of the hour set for the opening of the convention.

Under the cover of the uproar, as they walked along, the Duke delivered some very vigorous opinions to his grandson, expressing himself as to the latter’s state of intellect, judgment, and general fitness to be allowed loose among men.

Harlan did not retort.  He took his cue from the General, who smiled and listened.

“I’ll tell you what I ought to do with you, boy!  I ought to skin you.  I’d find a ready sale for the hide.  They could use it to make bindings for New Testaments.  Your’re too d—­n—­d righteous, altogether!  I’ve been easy and patient with you, but I don’t propose to stand at one side now, and see you ruin yourself politically.  Why are you letting the boy do it, Varden?” he demanded, turning on the General.  “You’re old enough to know better.  He’s no help to you now.  I supposed I had a grandson until you got hold of him!”

“You’ve still got a grandson, but you haven’t got a political tool to use in prying open a new governorship deal every fifteen minutes,” declared the young man.  “You took me to General Waymouth, you pledged me to him—­I pledged myself to him.  I don’t propose to discuss this matter any further.  I’m my own man when it comes to politics!”

“Thelismer, I wouldn’t say any more just now,” suggested the General.  “You are angry, and I’ve told you many times in past years that your judgment is not good when you are angry.  But this is no place for talking these matters!”

The curious had already begun to throng about them.  General Waymouth was a marked figure in a gathering.  It had not become a matter of general knowledge that he was attending the convention.  He had not appeared frequently in public since his retirement, and men were glad to see him.  The early buzz that greeted his first appearance in the hall grew louder and louder, and swelled into an uproar as delegates turned in larger numbers and recognized him.

The vast body of the auditorium was crowded with men.  Posts supporting huge placards indicated the division of delegates into counties.  The General’s own county was nearest the door by which he had entered.  At a call from some one these delegates climbed upon their settees.  They gave three cheers for him.  It was a spontaneous tribute to the one great man of the State—­their county’s favorite son.

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