The politicians of the old school remained aloof.
They were pointing to “the wreck of the party.”
“And I’ll be passed down to history as the wrecker,” said the Governor, talking to Harlan under the big elm. “But you’ve got strong arms, my boy. I can see that you’ll have much to do in building anew out of the wreck, you and those who are beginning to appreciate you. I can see a future of much promise for you, Harlan.”
“I’ll be politely, but firmly, invited to go back to the woods,” protested the young man.
“You’ll not be allowed to do it,” replied the Governor, quietly. “You have been tested for your honesty. These newer times have eyes to recognize that quality. And the rogues are being smoked out. But remember that even the end of time will not find all questions solved. That thought will have to serve you for consolation.”
That was hardly the consolation that would satisfy impetuous youth and zeal in accomplishment.
But Harlan had been learning lessons in consolation.
The thought of Clare Kavanagh was with him night and day. In spite of all his searching she remained hidden. He did not confide his grief to any one. It brought pallor to his face and listlessness in the daily duties that bore upon him. Governor Waymouth took note at last. And when the young man asked for permission to go home to the north country for a time he reluctantly sent him away.
On the eve of his departure, which had been announced by a press that now followed his movements with the attention accorded to a man of importance in State affairs, he obeyed a summons from Madeleine Presson. She put a letter into his hands. It was addressed to Clare Kavanagh.
“You will find her, Harlan,” she said, comfortingly. “Love will search her out. And when you find her, give her this letter. There are words from woman to woman that woman understands.”
Harlan found his grandfather sitting on the broad porch of “The Barracks,” smoking and looking out across the river valley.
The spirit in which he had left that hateful legislature seemed to have departed from the Duke. The old quizzical glint was in his eyes as he grasped Harlan’s hand. After their greeting they sat together in silence.
“It’s a beautiful game, hey, my boy?” remarked the Duke, at last. “I see that some of the country papers have already begun to talk of you for Governor of the State. The editors haven’t seen you, but from what they’ve heard they probably think you’re a hundred years old and have grown to enormous size!”
“Don’t make game of me, grandfather,” said Harlan, coloring.
“Oh, I’m only expressing a wicked hope. There are some men in this State that I’d like to see punished to that extent.” He chuckled. “Put me down for fifty thousand dollars, first subscriber to your campaign fund.”
“I can appreciate the humor of that joke,” said Harlan. “For I’ve had a liberal education in the past year—I’ve found out just how little I know.” He added wearily, “And I’ve found out how hard it is to be what you want to be.”