When he rose to ask the privilege of introducing a bill, interrupting the order of business, he anticipated objection.
No objection was made.
The opposition did not propose to waste effort on pettifogging preliminaries.
The bill went in and on its way—and that night the capital buzzed with the discussion of it.
Harlan Thornton spent half the night at the telegraph-office, his mind intent on something far from prospective legislation.
But no word came to comfort him—no clew that he could pursue.
Days grew into weeks. He did not attempt search in person. It would have been vague wandering about the country. He remained to hold up the hands of Governor Waymouth, finding relish for fight in the rancor that settled within him.
He and Linton silently faced the gossip that beat about them in regard to their encounter—and kept away from each other. Theirs was a balanced account.
And Madeleine Presson somewhat ostentatiously permitted the attentions of the young Secretary of State!
THE EVERLASTING PROBLEM
Day after day, during that session, an old man sat in the executive chamber of the State House. His face grew as white as his hair. There were deeper lines in his countenance than mere old age had tooled across the skin. One after the other the men of the two branches of the legislature came before him at his summons. He did not entreat of them. There was no more of that suave political diplomacy in the executive chamber, after the fashion of the old days of easy rule. This Governor declared himself to be the mouthpiece of the people of his State. He showed to the legislators their path toward absolute honesty. He ordered them to follow it. One or two of the first ones who were called upon the carpet dared to refuse—attempted to evade. He promptly issued statements to the press, holding those men up to the people of their State as traders and tricksters. Voters had always understood that trades and tricks were in progress in the legislature, and had never bothered their heads much about the matter. But this incisive showing up of individuals was new and startling and effective. It afforded no opportunity for the specious reasoning along mere political lines which had excused dishonesty in the past.
Protests poured in on the would-be rebels. Their experience warned the others. The State was in a mood to try reform. The reform was promised on the usual broad lines. Individuals did not stop to reflect what effect the suggested legislation would have on their own interests. Every man was after “the other fellow.”
“I’ll keep you here until you pass these laws,” stated the grim old man in the executive chamber, “even if you stay here till snow flies again.”
Legislators are paid by the session, not by the week. The prospect of spending the summer fighting an obstinate old man, with the people behind him, was not alluring when personal expenses were considered. Even lobbyists and corporations and political considerations fail to hold sway under such conditions.