“Friendship, comradeship, mean something when you get old, my boy.”
“I hope they’ll all know who did it when the time comes right. Some of the men who have been growling about you behind your back will have their mouths shut for them.”
“You’ve been hearing the old man cussed thoroughly and scientifically, eh?” drawled the Duke. He squinted, quizzically. “Well, a man who stays in politics fifty years and doesn’t make enemies, stays too close to the ground to be worth anything. Good, healthy, vigorous enemies are a compliment.”
“I wonder whether his party will say that when General Waymouth starts out in his reforms.”
“What reforms?” demanded the old man, tugging off his collar.
“You heard what he said—about what he intended to do—the warning, as he called it.”
Thornton looked at his grandson serenely and with a glint of humor in his eyes.
“You don’t have any idea, do you, that Vard Waymouth is going to play politics with sugar-plums instead of with the chips he finds on the table? Get your wisdom teeth cut, young chap. That’s another branch of the science for you to learn.”
Harlan protested, his loyalty a bit shocked.
“I believe that General Waymouth meant what he said.”
“Well, what did he say?”
“You know what he said. I saw you listening pretty closely, grandfather. He intends a square deal for this State. I may be young, and I probably don’t understand politics, but I know an honest gentleman when I see one.”
“My boy, there’s no question of dishonesty here. Don’t pick up any of the patter that the demagogues are babbling—and they don’t know just what they mean themselves. He is an honest man. Have I known him all my life without finding that out? But he isn’t going to start out and clinch any reputation for honesty by turning his back on his own party and its interests—not for the sake of having the cheap demagogues of the other side pat him on the back and pick his pockets at the same time. He knows politics too well. But we won’t sit up here to-night and discuss that. Keep your faith in him. He’s worth it.”
With his coat on his arm he started for his berth.
“The idea is, then, the party is going to make him stand first of all for things that will help the party, without much regard for what will help the people of this State as a whole? That’s politics according to the code, is it, grandfather?”
“That’s politics, my boy,” stated the Duke with decision. “Once in a while you find a fellow splitting off and trying to play it different, but he doesn’t last. Why the devil should he? It’s his party, isn’t it, that puts him on the job?”
“It’s the majority of the people that do it, if he’s elected.”