Even in the gloom she understood that he was puzzled.
“Really, you know, I haven’t written any handbook on practical politics, Mr. Thornton,” she said, her humor coming to the rescue. “I have talked to you as though I had. But I’ve only talked to you with a woman’s intuition in such matters—and you remember, too, I’ve seen much of legislative life. You can be good in politics—but, oh, don’t be impractical! I want you to succeed.”
“I most certainly do.” She said it heartily.
No other word passed between them until they arrived in front of the hotel.
He reached up, after he had alighted, and grasped her hand. She had impulsively put out her own to meet his.
“I’ll try to be—” he began, and then hesitated. He had been pondering. But his thoughts were still so confused that he could not think of the word that expressed exactly what he desired to make himself.
“Be human,” she said, smiling down on him. “You won’t find yourself of much use in the world unless you cultivate the faculty of personal contact, and you musn’t try to leap into politics in this State right from the pedestal of a demigod. You may be able to elevate yourself later, but just now, my dear young friend, you should be reasonable. That’s a word that means much in handling men and affairs. Now I hope I’ve softened you so that you will listen to your good grandfather when he has advice for you.”
She did not allow herself to be too serious. There was the delicious drawl in her tone that had attracted him at first.
He went to his room and sat down to digest that political philosophy. If some one beside Madeleine Presson had said it, it would have seemed to him like the voice of the temptress. But she had already won his confidence in her sincerity. He wished that he could feel that her interest in him had more of a personal quality than she had admitted. He did not like to remember that it was simply affection for his grandfather that prompted her. He did not understand very well what he was to do to obey her suggestions. He did not understand himself exactly at that moment. But along with his loyalty to General Waymouth a new desire sprang into life within him. He wanted to show Luke Presson’s daughter that Harlan Thornton could play the game of practical politics as well as Herbert Linton, and in the end would be more deserving of her respect.
Gen. Varden Waymouth was elected Governor. In spite of the sullen torpor of his party managers and the snarls of the Reverend Prouty and his radical ilk, he surmounted by mere momentum of his party a certain bland and trustful and destructive indifference of the general public, and won at the polls. The narrow margin by which he won would have scared a really loyal and conscientious State Committee. But the before-and-after gloom of Chairman Presson and his intimates was not caused by any worriment over the size of the plurality. They were languid spectators. They felt like dispossessed tenants. They took little interest in the temple of the party faith.