The State chairman had his eyes on the fire again.
“As far as my business goes—that’s my business,” said the Duke, placidly. “As for the expense—well, I never got a great deal of fun out of anything except politics, and politics is always more or less expensive. When the bills get in for what has happened to-day I reckon I’ll find the job was worth the price. You needn’t worry about me, Luke—not about my failing to get my money’s worth. For when I walk across the lobby of the State House, and they can say behind my back, ‘There’s old Thornton—a gone-by. Got licked in his district!’ When they can say that, Luke, life won’t be worth living, not if I’ve got thousand-dollar bills enough to wad a forty-foot driving-crew quilt!”
WITH THE KAVANAGH AT HOME
When Harlan Thornton rode away out of the yard of the town house he was the bitterest rebel in the Duke’s dominions. But he realized fully the futility of standing there in public and wrangling with his grandfather.
He understood pretty well the ambitious motive his grandfather had in forcing his will; Thelismer Thornton had urged the matter in the past. It had been the only question in dispute between them. And the young man had never resented the urgings. He appreciated what his grandfather hoped to accomplish for the only one who bore his name. But this high-handed attempt to shanghai him into politics outraged his independence. His protests had been unheeded. The old man had not even granted him an interview in private, where he could plead his own case. In business matters they had been co-workers, intimate on the level of partnership, with the grandfather asking for and obeying the suggestions the grandson made. On a sudden Harlan felt that he hardly knew this old man, who had shown himself contemptuous, harsh, and domineering. And then he thought of the girl who had been so grievously insulted in his presence, and he rode to find her.
His way took him across the long bridge that spanned the river. The river marked the boundary-line of his country. After that day’s taste of the politics of his native land he felt a queer sense of relief when he found himself on foreign soil.
Beyond the little church and its burying-ground, with the tall cross in its centre, the road led up the river hill to the edge of the forest. Here was set Dennis Kavanagh’s house, its back to the black growth, staring sullenly with its little windows out across the cleared farms of the river valley.
To one who knew Kavanagh it seemed to typify his attitude toward the world. He had seen other men clutching and grabbing. He had clutched and grabbed with the best of them. When one deals with squatter claims, tax titles, forgotten land grants and other complications that tie up the public domain, it often happens that the man who waits for the right to prevail finds the more unscrupulous and impetuous rival in possession, and claiming rather more than the allowed nine points at that. So Dennis Kavanagh had played the game as the others had played it. When one looked up at the house, with its back against the woods, staring with its surly window-eyes, one saw the resoluteness of the intrenched Kavanagh put into visible form.