“Finding your old State campaign sicker than you thought for, hey, Luke?”
He was now as Presson had always known him, but the little man did not seem to be consoled thereby.
“I’d like to know what’s come over you to-day?” he complained. “Giving a helpless little girl hell-an’-repeat, and then standing for what you did back there right now!”
“Luke, both of us have seen a great many men lose their dignity fighting hornets. But I’ve come to myself, and I’ve stopped running and swatting. Well, Briggs, what is it?”
The man who had brought the alarm to Aunt Charette’s was crowding close, plainly with something to say.
“I only wanted to tell you, Squire, that Sheriff Niles brought in word to the boys that high-uppers was back of him.”
“Thinks he’s running with the pack, eh? Well, Briggs, that’s hardly news about Bart Niles.”
“Thought I’d warn you, Squire. He says things ain’t goin’ on runnin’ in this State the way they have been runnin’. Way he talks, him and them back of him think they’ve got you layin’ with all four paws in the air. But we in the village here, that’s behind you, don’t understand it that way. Nor we can’t figger what started it.”
“Don’t bother your heads about it to-day, Briggs. Simply stand by and be ready to grab in, you and the boys. That’s all.”
The post-office was in the lower story of the town house. The walls were brick to the second story. This upper part was a barn-like structure propped on the lower walls. Broad outside stairs led up to it.
Thornton and Presson were obliged to push their way through a crowd to reach the foot of the stairway. They were stopped there by an obstruction. Some men were lifting off a low wagon a cripple in a wheel-chair. He had an in-door pallor that made him seem corpselike. A man in a frock-coat and with a ministerial white tie was bossing the job.
The Duke stopped and gazed on the work amiably. The man of the white tie scowled.
“Raising a few reliable Republicans from the dead, are you, elder?” inquired the Duke, pleasantly.
The elder did not reply until he had started the cripple’s chair bumping up the stairs. Then he turned on Thornton. He was not amiable.
“It’s time some of the voters with honest convictions got a chance to attend a caucus in this district, even if they have to be brought from beds of pain.”
Thelismer Thornton did not lose his smile.
“I’d like to have you meet the Rev. Enoch Dudley, evangelist, Luke. This is Mr. Presson, chairman of the State Committee, elder. Now that you’re getting into politics you’d ought to be acquainted with your chief priest.”
But Rev. Mr. Dudley, not approving the company that the State chairman was keeping, did not warm up.
“I thank you for your pleasantries, Mr. Thornton,” he returned, stiffly. “I hope your sneers may make you as many votes to-day as they have in the past.”