“BIG BOY,—Go on and let the world make you a great man. I’m groping. Perhaps I’ll see my way some day and can follow. But just as there’s a cure for ignorance, so there’s a cure for hearts, maybe. Your friend, CLARE.”
Harlan looked over the edge of the paper into the twinkling little eyes of the father. Mr. Kavanagh seemed to be getting much satisfaction from the expression on his victim’s face.
“Can’t you tell me what this means, Mr. Kavanagh? I beg of you humbly, and in all sincerity.”
“The Kavanaghs are never backward in politeness, Mr. Harlan Thornton. It means that my girl is done playing child and riding cock-horse. She’s off to learn to be the finest and knowingest lady in all the land—she’s off because she wanted to go, and she’s got all of Dennis Kavanagh’s fat wallet behind her!” He slapped his breast-pocket.
“Where they know things and teach things better than they do over in your Yankeeland of airs and frills. And now good-day to ye!”
He climbed the porch steps, and relighted his pipe, gazing with much relish past the flame of the match, studying Harlan’s dismay.
The young man suddenly came to himself, struck his horse, and galloped wildly away.
The next morning he departed to offer political hand and sword in the cause of General Waymouth.
STARTING A MULE TEAM
Some men are extremely good and loyal politicians so long as the machine runs smoothly, and they are not called upon to sacrifice their interests and their opinions. Luke Presson and his associates on the State Committee were of that sort. But Thelismer Thornton was a better politician than they.
The Duke had saved the chairman and his committeemen from themselves at that critical moment in the little room off the convention stage, when they were ready to invite ruin by defying General Waymouth. It had been as bitter for Thornton as it had been for the others. Beyond question, he would have gone down fighting were the question a private or a personal one. But when the interests of his party were at stake he knew how to compromise, taking what he could get instead of what he had determined to get. After the convention he gave fatherly advice to the committee, and then Presson went up to Burnside village with the olive-branch. But while he extended that in one hand, he held out his little political porringer in the other. He couldn’t help doing it. The chairman was no altruist in politics. He didn’t propose to cultivate the spirit.