“Franklin told me that this was harder for him to bear than the abuse, but he kept his countenance as blank as a sheet of white paper,” Jack wrote. “There was much vehement declamation against the measure and it was rejected.
“When we had left the chamber, Franklin said to me:
“’That motion was made by the first statesman of the age, who took the helm of state when the latter was in the depths of despondency and led it to glorious victory through a war with two of the mightiest kingdoms in Europe. Only a few of those men had the slightest understanding of its merits. Yet they would not even consider it in a second reading. They are satisfied with their ignorance. They have nothing to learn. Hereditary legislators! There would be more propriety in hereditary professors of mathematics! Heredity is a great success with only one kind of creature.’
“‘What creature?’ I asked.
“‘The ass,’ he answered, with as serious a countenance as I have seen him wear.
“No further word was spoken as we rode back to his home,” the young man wrote. “We knew the die had been cast. We had seen it fall carelessly out of the hand of Ignorance, obeying intellects swelled with hereditary passion and conceit. I now had something to say to my countrymen.”
That evening Jack received a brief note from Preston. It said:
“I learn that young Clarke is very ill. I think you would better get out of England for fear of what may come. A trial would be apt to cause embarrassment in high places. Can I give you assistance?”
Jack returned this note by the same messenger:
“Thanks, good friend, I shall go as soon as my business is finished, which I hope may be to-morrow.”
Just before the young man went to bed a brief note arrived from Margaret. It read;
“DEAREST JACK. My father has learned of our meeting yesterday and of how it came about. He is angry. He forbids another meeting. I shall not submit to his tyranny. We must assert our rights like good Americans. I have a plan. You will learn of it when we meet to-morrow at eleven. Do not send an answer. Lovingly, MARGARET.”
He slept little, and in the morning awaited with keen impatience the hour of his appointment.
On his way to the place he heard a newsboy shouting the words “duel” and “Yankee,” followed by the suggestive statement: “Bloody murder in high life.”
Evidently Lionel Clarke had died of his wound. He saw people standing in groups and reading the paper. He began to share the nervousness of Preston and the wise, far-seeing Franklin. He jumped into a cab and was at the corner some minutes ahead of time. Precisely at eleven he saw the coach draw near. He hurried to its side. The footman dismounted and opened the door. Inside he saw, not Margaret, but the lady of the hidden face.