At the door the General gave Harlan the last word, grasping his hand again.
“You brought me a message from the young men that touched me.”
“I spoke for myself, but I believe that all of them would like to have the same opportunity that I had,” faltered Harlan. “I know they would. Will you let us come to you at the right time and make it plain?”
“I shall depend upon you in a great many ways in the months to come. You know it’s to be a young man’s administration by an old man made young again. I’m proud of my first volunteer!”
“He’s a good boy, and he’s got the makings in him,” declared the Duke.
“I’ve been too long with men not to appreciate a good chief of staff when I see him,” laughed the General.
Framed in the big door, with the dim glow of light behind him, he watched them depart.
The Duke walked in the far shadows of the station platform in silence, smoking, until the train whistled.
“Bub, you remember that I told you I’d put you in right,” he said, climbing the car steps. “Now follow your hand.”
But Harlan Thornton, fresh from that presence, understood that he had pledged a loyalty deeper than the loyalty of mere politics or preferment.
DEALS AND IDEALS
There was no one in the smoking-room of the car, so the Duke discovered with relief. It was late, and the passengers were in their berths. There was no one to spy, ask questions, or guess.
“Complete!” he grunted, satisfiedly, as he sat down. “We’ve come through with the job in good shape, Harlan. It’ll have to be a mind-reader that finds out what I’ve put up to-day.”
He swung his feet upon the seat opposite and sighed.
“I’m a pretty old man to be tearing ’round nights in this fashion, bub, but I feel younger by twenty years just this minute. Now I didn’t tell you my plans this morning. Reckoned I’d wait till I had a clear view ahead. I’ve got it now. I’ll wire ahead to the junction for our baggage to be brought from the hotel and put on board this train. We’ll stay on. State capital next. Down to Luke’s place. We’ll stay there till State Convention. Finger right on the pulse after this.”
He called the porter and arranged for his berths, and ordered the telegram sent from the next station.
He began leisurely to unfasten his necktie and collar.
“Got to tell Luke, you know. A close corporation of four—that’s enough to know it. Can’t trust the rest. We’ll let ’em keep their old political hen sitting on their china egg. We’ll hatch the good egg in our own nest. Then for a glorious old cackle! Vard Waymouth will be the next Governor of this State! Sure!”
“And this State will have the right man on the job with him as Governor!” cried the young man, enthusiastically. “I’m proud of what you did to-night, grandfather. I don’t believe he would have listened to anyone else.”