Its deafening clamor beat in echoes between the high buildings, the mob was roaring huzzas. The bedlam blocked conversation.
Thelismer Thornton pulled down the windows and twitched the curtains together.
“Let ’em hoorah,” he said. “With Spinney’s band on tap, any fellows that try to listen at our keyholes will be bothered. I’m glad his band is out there. Now, gentlemen, I have something to say to you.”
They listened to him, all standing. Only General Waymouth kept his seat, his head tipped back, his finger-tips together.
The Duke was brief, but he was cogent and he was emphatic. He explained what he had done and why he had done it. He was frank and free with that selected few. He delicately made known the General’s reluctance, but stated in his behalf his willingness to step into the breach at this eleventh hour for the sake of his party. Then Thornton went first to Colonel Wadsworth, drew him along to Linton, and told them what their party asked of them.
Senator Pownal did not wait for this explanation to be finished. He was the first to reach General Waymouth with congratulations and endorsement.
“You cannot understand how immensely relieved I am to know this plan,” he declared. “I have been here only a few hours, but I was just beginning to realize what the situation had developed into. I hadn’t the proper perspective at Washington. Thornton is right. We’re on the edge of an upheaval in this State; I’m afraid Everett would have plunged us straight into it.”
Thornton had made no mistake in his selection of advocates. Colonel Wadsworth rushed to the chair of his old commander, and Linton, with a young man’s loyal zeal, followed. The lawyer came back to Harlan, his eyes shining.
“We’ve got a man to follow now, Mr. Thornton, not a political effigy nor a howl on two legs! I was down there hiding myself. I hadn’t stomach for either of the others.”
There had been a brief silence outside. Then the band struck up Hail to the Chief, and the uproar broke out once more.
“That’s our tune, and they don’t know it yet!” cried the Senator, gayly. “Let’s have the benefit of that to spice our little celebration, now and here!” He started for the window to open it, but General Waymouth put out his hand and checked him. He had stood up to receive their handclasps.
“One moment, Senator,” he entreated. “I have a word to say for myself now. You have just come from Room 40. Have they finished drafting the platform?”
“It’s in shape—practically so.”
“Will you send for it?”
The Duke nodded to Harlan, and the young man arose. “Tell Wasgatt I want him to come down here with the resolutions,” he directed.
And while he was gone there was no conversation in the parlor. It might have been because the band was playing too loudly; it might have been because General Waymouth’s visage, grave, stern, almost forbidding, rather dampened the recent cordiality of the gathering.