“Nothing in the world,” repeated the other. “I have the political game figured out to an exact science. I know how to shape my policies, how to get the money backing I need, how to handle the farmer and labor. It may be news to you to know that I now control eight of the leading farm journals of the country and half a dozen labor organs. However, this is beside the question. My point with you is this. With my election as governor, my chief interest in The Patriot ceases. The paper will have set me on the road; I’ll do the rest. Reserving only the right to determine certain very broad policies, I purpose to turn over the control of The Patriot to you.”
“To me!” said Banneker, thunderstruck.
“Provided I am elected governor,” said Marrineal. “Which depends largely—yes, almost entirely—on the elimination of Judge Enderby.”
“What are you asking me to do?” demanded Banneker, genuinely puzzled.
“Absolutely nothing. As my right-hand man on the paper, you are entitled to know my plans, particularly as they affect you. I can add that when I reach the White House”—this with sublime confidence—“the paper will be for sale and you may have the option on it.”
Banneker’s brain seemed filled with flashes of light, as he returned to his desk. He sat there, deep-slumped in his chair, thinking, planning, suspecting, plumbing for the depths of Marrineal’s design, and above all filled with an elate ambition. Not that he believed for a moment in Marrineal’s absurd and megalomaniacal visions of the presidency. But the governorship; that indeed was possible enough; and that would mean a free hand for Banneker for the term. What might he not do with The Patriot in that time!... An insistent and obtrusive disturbance to his profound cogitation troubled him. What was it that seemed to be setting forth a claim to divide his attention? Ah, the telephone. He thrust it aside, but it would not be silenced. Well ... what.... The discreet voice of his man said that a telegram had come for him. All right (with impatience); read it over the wire. The message, thus delivered in mechanical tones, struck from his mind the lesser considerations which a moment before had glowed with such shifting and troublous glory.
D. died this morning. Will write. I.
Work, incessant and of savage ardor, now filled Banneker’s life. Once more he immersed himself in it as assuagement to the emptiness of long days and the yearning of longer nights. For, in the three months since Delavan Eyre’s death, Banneker had seen Io but once, and then very briefly. Instead of subduing her loveliness, the mourning garb enhanced and enriched it, like a jet setting to a glowing jewel. More irresistibly than ever she was