The Governor’s bills went through.
“They’ve abolished fees,” drawled Thelismer Thornton, one day in the lobby, “to get square with Constable Emerson Pike up my way. Em went down to replevin some hens, and after he’d chased each hen a dozen times around the barn he sat down and charged up mileage to the county. The rest of this legislation is on the same basis. Here’s a legislature that’s like Dave Darrington’s hogs. After old Dave lost his voice and couldn’t holler to the hogs, he used to rap on the trough with his cane at feeding-time. Then a woodpecker made his home in the pig-pen and the hogs went crazy. Vard Waymouth is all bill! I’d reckoned I’d go home. But I guess I’ll stay and see just how far dam foolishness can go!”
So he patrolled the lobby, puffing everlastingly at his cigar, watching the activity of Harlan with a disgust that he did not try to conceal and occasionally flinging a sour remark at that devoted young man.
“A calf leaving the cow to chase a steer,” he growled. “He’ll know better when it comes supper-time!”
One day a man halted him. “You may be interested in what’s going on in the House, just now, Mr. Thornton. Your grandson is making a speech.”
“Then he has lost his mind!” snapped the Duke. “I’d only suspected it up to now!”
But when he edged in at the door he discovered that his grandson was not making the usual spectacle which the untried orator affords. The zeal which had driven him into the fight was supporting him as he faced the men who were his associates. He stood at his desk, pale—but unfaltering. He was talking to them, man to man.
“It has met me to my face, it has followed at my back through all these weeks,” he was saying. “I’m accused of helping to wreck my party. You know better than that, gentlemen. You know who did the wrecking. It has been going on for years. And we have been asked to hide the retreat of the wreckers. I refuse to allow those men who have wrecked our party to call themselves the true prophets and summon us to follow them. Our party is not simply the men who hold office for their personal gain. If making them honest or putting them out is destroying the party, then let’s destroy and rebuild.
“We need to rebuild.
“Up in our woods it’s dangerous to leave slash on the ground after a winter’s cutting. The politicians have left a lot of slash in this State. The fire has got into it. It is burning up the old dead branches and tops, but it is hurting the standing timber, too—I understand that. Why not see to it after this that the men who leave political slash shall not be allowed to operate!
“It’s a bad litter, gentlemen, that has been left around the roots of our prohibitory law. I have introduced the bill that’s now under consideration. It has nothing to do with the principle of prohibition—the theory of that was threshed out in these chambers before I was born. But isn’t it time, gentlemen, to have a test of the practice of prohibition?