When the tumult began again—almost delirium this time—David Everett appeared from the wings, white, stricken, overwhelmed by the suddenness with which the prize had been snatched beyond his reach, driven out upon the stage by the State Committee like a whipped cur forced to perform his little trick in public. He began to speak, but the delegates did not listen—they knew what he was saying, and were cheering him. Not all of it was enthusiasm for General Waymouth; men instantly realized that a nasty split in the party had been bridged; men felt that in this new candidate both factions had the ownership that puts one “in right.” A united party could now march to the polls.
The nomination was by acclamation!
They came to General Waymouth, where he stood patiently at the door of his room—the committee appointed to escort him before the convention. He signalled for them to precede him—his hand was inside the arm of Harlan Thornton, and he did not withdraw it even to shake the eager hands that were outstretched. He walked upon the stage with the young man, and, still holding his arm, faced the hurricane of enthusiasm until it had blown itself out.
It was a breathless hush in which he spoke.
“Our party, in State Convention assembled, has to-day declared for honesty.” They did not exactly understand, but they gave voice like hounds unleashed. That sentiment complimented them. “I pledge the last strength of my old age to the task you have imposed upon me. Give me your pledge, man to man, in return. Shall it be for all of us: honesty in principle and unswerving obedience to every party profession we make? I await your ’Yes’!”
It came like a thunderclap—two thousand voices shouting it.
He stood there, his hand upraised, waiting again until the hush was upon them once more. They were ready for the usual speech of acceptance. But he said simply this:
“I accept the trust!”
He put his hand behind Harlan’s guarding elbow and retired.
“A carriage at once, Mr. Thornton,” he directed. “I must save myself for performance, not parade.”
They were away before even the eager platform notables could intercept them. The cheering was still going on when the carriage started. From the open windows of the hall the riot of the convention—voices and music—pursued them until the racket of the busy street drowned it out.
“At the present moment, Mr. Thornton, it is not likely that the Republican State Committee is in a mood for poetry,” remarked General Waymouth. Gayety that was a bit wistful had succeeded his sombre earnestness.
“But something in the sentiment of this old song might appeal to them while they are thinking of me just now:
“’The mother may forget the child
That smiles so sweetly on her knee;
But I’ll remember thee, Glencairn,
And all that thou hast done to me.’”