“Let the General get to bed,” he advised, jocosely. “He ought to have pleasant dreams to-night.”
Harlan expected that his grandfather would have some rather serious talk for his ear. But he merely remarked, leaving him at the door of his room: “If you keep on, son, I’ll be passed down to posterity simply as ‘Harlan Thornton’s grandfather.’”
FROM THE MOUTH OF A MAID
Under a sudden stimulus of rallies, red fire, and band-music, the campaign blossomed promisingly. Democracy’s dark hints that the dominant party had been rent by factional strife were suddenly answered by an outrush of spellbinders from Republican headquarters, a flood of literature, and an astonishing display of active harmony. Chairman Luke Presson received compliments for the manner in which he had held his fire until he “had seen the whites of the enemy’s eyes.” He replied to such compliments with fine display of modest reserve, and in private gritted his teeth and swore over the statement that General Waymouth issued to the voters of the State—a document that bound the party to a professed programme of honest reorganization. The treasurer of the State Committee drew checks amounting to more than fifteen thousand dollars to pay for the printing, postage, and mailing of those statements—a bitter expense, indeed, considering the nature of the promises. Presson saw only gratuitous stirring of trouble in the hateful declarations the General made. It was his theory that in politics voters never arose and demanded reforms until some disturber shook them up and reminded them that reforms were needed.
General Waymouth did not take the stump. His age forbade. He remained away from headquarters. But Harlan Thornton was posted there, his vigilant representative and executive. In his attitude toward Harlan the State chairman ran the gamut of cajolery, spleen, wrath, and resentment—and final disgust. It was a situation almost intolerable for Presson. But a chain of circumstances—events unescapable and unique in politics—bound him to the wheel of the victor.
Harlan understood the chairman’s state of mind. Day by day he made his discourse with that gentleman as brief as possible, and he kept away from the Presson home. His action was dictated by a feeling of delicacy, in view of the father’s sentiments. Presson treated him in business hours as a prisoner would treat his ball and chain. And Presson showed no desire to take that badge of his servitude home with him. Enduring Harlan in the committee headquarters strained his self-possession daily.
So the young man lied brazenly in reply to the blandly courteous notes of invitation from Mrs. Presson, who continued alert to the promising social qualifications of General Waymouth’s chief lieutenant. He pleaded work. It was true in a measure. The day was filled with duties to which he applied himself unflaggingly.