“I haven’t been able to offer mine, either,” said the chairman, grimly.
“I’ll endure no more of this foolery, Luke! If you propose to make a plaything of your own wife from now on—”
“I’m telling you the truth. General Waymouth hurried out of the hall before I could get to him. That devilish Canibas bull moose picked him up, like he’s been picking up—”
But the astonishment in his wife’s eyes stopped him. He was revealing too much of his secret.
“Why, Harlan Thornton went away with him—Thelismer’s grandson! Some one told me who saw them in the carriage together. What do you mean by Canibas moose?”
“Can’t you see that I’m all stirred up by the excitement of this convention?” he demanded. “I don’t know what I’m saying. I’ll explain to you later, Lucretia.”
“I think you’d better. Where did General Waymouth go?”
“To the hotel, I suppose.”
“No, he’s not there. I have telephoned. Luke, we must have him at lunch with us. It’s his place to lunch with us—you’re the chairman of the State Committee! It’s a late start for me—and it’s your own fault because it is so. But you must find the General and make him come to luncheon. I have arranged for the party in the English Room at the hotel. You must have him there!” She hurried away to where the ladies were waiting for her.
Presson, the politician’s instinct of self-preservation now getting the better of his rancor, promptly determined that his own interests would be helped by his wife’s luncheon-party, provided the victor could be cajoled and coralled. He put pride behind him. It was not so easy to do as much with his shame and the downright fear that assailed him when he reflected on his plot and its outcome. But he decided that although little might be gained for him by making up to the victorious General, a great deal would be surely lost if the antagonism were emphasized.
He put on his hat and hurried to the street. Inquiry at the cab-stand afforded him the information that General Waymouth and his companion had not given a definite destination. “But there’s the man who took them,” said the manager. “He’s just back. Ask him.”
The driver said that he had dropped them at the park, at their request, and the chairman jumped into the carriage, directing that he be conveyed to the same place.
He found them sitting democratically on a bench, taking the air.
Without preliminary the chairman extended Mrs. Presson’s invitation. “There will be a very small party of us, and it may save you from the annoyances of the public rooms,” added Chairman Presson, humbly.
The General arose and accepted with cordiality, somewhat to Harlan’s surprise, for his unbending youth could not yet understand how political hatchets could be buried so quickly.