In the eyes of the politicians, therefore, Governor Waymouth had become safe and sane. They construed his earlier declarations as the ambitions of an old man dreaming a dream of perfection. The legislature swung into the routine of its first weeks in the usual fashion. The business consisted of the presentation of bills, acts, and resolves. The daily sessions lasted barely half an hour. The committee hearings had not begun, and the legislators found time hanging heavy on their hands.
Harlan Thornton continued to be a frequent caller at the Presson home. But he did not seem to find an opportunity for a tete-a-tete with Madeleine. She did not show constraint in his presence. She did not avoid him. She treated him with the same frank familiarity. But he did not find himself alone with her. He did not try to force such a situation, in spite of the provocation she had given him once. He was not yet sure that he could command the words that real love might demand for expression. That was his vague excuse to his own heart for delaying—for his heart insisted that he did love her. He had to admit to himself that this was not the headlong passion the poets described, but he consoled himself with the reflection that he was not a poet. So he made the most of her cordial acceptance of him as he was, and felt sure that Herbert Linton had won no more from her.
A GOVERNOR AND A MAID
The Honorable Arba Spinney was in the lobby as usual that winter. The Duke’s sarcastic prediction was fulfilled. He appeared promptly at the session’s opening, and was the most insistent and persistent member of the “Third House,” as the paid legislative agents were called. Most of the men who wormed their way here and there operated craftily and tried to be diplomatic. Spinney strove by effrontery. As usual, he made the country members his especial prey. The story of his knavery at the State Convention had been smothered in the interests of the party. He reappeared among men with as much assurance as ever. He even approached Harlan Thornton to solicit his support of one bill. It was a measure to grant State subsidy, through exemption of taxation, to assist a railroad to extend its lines into the timber-land country.
Harlan checked him promptly. “I don’t propose to discuss that question or any other with you, Mr. Spinney.”
“If that road is built it will double the value of half your lands,” insisted the lobbyist. “It’s business for you and it’s business for us, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t talk business, is there?”
“It doesn’t interest me, Mr. Spinney.” He went on, hotly: “I know just as much about the matter as you do. It’s an attempt to evade the State constitution, which forbids subsidizing railroads. Governor Waymouth has explained it to me. I don’t propose to profit by any such methods. And I’ll inform you, further, that it’s just about the sort of a scheme I’d expect to find you working for. Do you understand me?”